Archive for May, 2010

Lubos Motl on Steve McIntyre

05/22/2010

“Steve McIntyre turned out to be a key example of a “climate pacifist”. Many people in the audience [of the fourth Heartland climate conference in Chicago] were disappointed to hear that Steve McIntyre doesn’t want the hockey stick graph to be described as “fraud” and the players in the ClimateGate should only be treated as people who are wrong about something, not as evil people who did something bad.

Needless to say, a vast majority of participants disagreed with this statement much like I did (although they were almost certainly more surprised than I was because they don’t follow every detail of these events in the same detail as your humble correspondent: Steve has been consistent about these attitudes at least for a few years, although arguably not from the beginning). But McIntyre has also offered the political explanation of his attitudes:

As a Canadian, he said, he was brought up to believe that governments should govern on behalf of the people – so if CO2 were reckoned to be dangerous, it would be the duty of politicians to make laws to cut emissions.

I completely disagree with this “straightforward” conclusion, too. Even if CO2 were found to be dangerous for the global mean temperature, a rational comparison of costs and benefits would still have to take place, and a competition between possible ways how to attack the problem would have to follow.

In my opinion, it is extremely unlikely that the result of this analysis would be that there should exist laws to cut the production of CO2. Even if one CO2 doubling led to 5 °C of warming, as the insane upper ends of the IPCC intervals suggest, it would still be counterproductive for the industry to be regulated away in the coming decades. The problems caused by this warming would still be smaller than the costs of the elimination of the appropriate portion of the industries.

Moreover, there would almost certainly exist geoengineering methods to compensate for the impact of CO2 that would be vastly cheaper than the CO2 regulation. And a task for sane governments would be to help these methods to materialize – and to fight against anti-civilization tendencies that want to undermine the economy and the sources of income for the government itself.

In this sense the debate is not a “left vs right” debate. The suppression of the industry would be a bad decision for the capitalist economies much like the socialist economies – and all the grey hybrids in between. This is about a careful evaluation of costs and benefits and an impartial comparison of the alternatives – and Steve McIntyre is simply not doing that.

Because of all these reasons, Steve may be viewed as a part of the irrational and pro-government problem who just happened to discover that something is seriously wrong with the basic pillars of the system but who failed to deduce the appropriate conclusions. His not-so-right-wing politics is arguably the main cause behind this failure.”  “BBC:  Roger Harrabin about types of AGW skeptics

Science versus alarmism and advocacy

05/22/2010

Abstract: A continuous data set of Greenland Ice Sheet altimeter height from European Remote Sensing satellites (ERS-1 and ERS-2), 1992 to 2003, has been analyzed. An increase of 6.4 T 0.2 centimeters per year (cm/year) is found in the vast interior areas above 1500 meters, in contrast to previous reports of highelevation balance. Below 1500 meters, the elevation-change rate is –2.0 T 0.9 cm/year, in qualitative agreement with reported thinning in the ice-sheet margins.  Averaged over the study area, the increase is 5.4 T 0.2 cm/year, or È60 cm over 11 years, or È54 cm when corrected for isostatic uplift. Winter elevation changes are shown to be linked to the North Atlantic Oscillation.”  “Recent Ice-Sheet Growth in the Interior of Greenland”  h/t The Hockey Schtick

“[S]cientists at the University of Miami say Greenland’s ice is melting so quickly that the land underneath is rising at an accelerated pace.  …

“It’s been known for several years that climate change is contributing to the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet,” Dixon says. “What’s surprising, and a bit worrisome, is that the ice is melting so fast that we can actually see the land uplift in response,” he says. “Even more surprising, the rise seems to be accelerating, implying that melting is accelerating.”

Dixon and his collaborators share their findings in a new study titled “Accelerating uplift in the North Atlantic region as an indicator of ice loss.”  The paper is now available as an advanced online publication, by Nature Geoscience.  …

Melting of Greenland’s ice contributes to global sea level rise. If the acceleration of uplift and the implied acceleration of melting continue, Greenland could soon become the largest contributor to global sea level rise, explains Yan Jiang, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Miami RSMAS and co-author of the study.

“Greenland’s ice melt is very important because it has a big impact on global sea level rise,” Jiang says. “We hope that our work reaches the general public and that this information is considered by policy makers.””  “Greenland Rapidly Rising as Ice Melt Continues

Oil sands critical to U.S. energy supply — naturally enviros on a jihad against

05/22/2010

Canada’s oil sands will become the largest single source of imported oil to the United States this year, and could supply more than a third of America’s foreign oil by 2030, under an aggressive growth scenario that would have to overcome labour shortages and environmental concerns, an influential U.S. think tank said Wednesday.

The growing volume of Canadian oil sands imports “emphasizes the importance they have attained as a supply source for the United States,” Daniel Yergin, Cambridge, Mass.-based chairman of energy research firm IHS CERA, said in releasing a new report on the controversial Alberta oil projects.

Canada is already the largest source of imports for the U.S. market. But as conventional Canadian production declines and oil sands volumes grow, those non-conventional supplies are becoming increasingly critical.

In the third quarter of 2009, oil sands imports to the United States hit one million barrels a day for the first time, of total Canadian exports of 1.9 million. This year, IHS CERA expects oil sands producers to average 1.08 million barrels a day in sales to the U.S., eclipsing imports from both Mexico and Saudi Arabia, which will be declining or flat.

In the report, IHS CERA director Jackie Forrest projects production in the oil sands will grow from 1.35 million barrels a day last year, to as many as 5.7 million barrels a day by 2030 – a figure that would represent 36 per cent of anticipated American imports.  …

The IHS CERA report comes as environmental groups continue their campaign against the oil sands. Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council argued in a report released Wednesday that the development of Alberta’s “tar sands” represents … a “global disaster” because it will “all but guarantee the failure of efforts to combat global warming.”  …

The U.S. State Department has approved pipeline expansion from the oil sands into the U.S. market, saying the Alberta source was critical to U.S. energy security and its efforts to reduce dependence on Middle East oil, Mr. Pumphrey noted. However, the administration also backs climate change legislation that could impose significant additional costs on refiners that process heavy-oil imports which produce more emissions when processed.”  “Oil sands on track to be biggest source of U.S. oil imports

Obama increases already unrealistic and unnecessary CAFE standards AGAIN

05/22/2010

“President Barack Obama today issued a memorandum directing federal agencies to develop tougher new fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks beginning in the 2017 model year and to develop fuel economy standards for medium and big trucks for the first time. This follows the new standards announced in April that will begin with the 2012 model year.  It’s not clear to me that consumers are going to want to buy the models that the Congress and the Obama Administration have decreed will be offered in 2012, but the automakers are now resigned to taking orders from their federal masters rather than their customers. My prediction is that another massive bailout of the automakers is inevitable.”  “Obama Wants To Raise CAFE Again”  Cooler Heads Digest 21 May.

Finally some sanity in California's water war

05/21/2010

“A federal judge has struck a blow for California’s water-deprived Central Valley, ruling that draconian federal water cutbacks violate human rights because — surprise! — people also belong in the ecosystem.  …

Based on a judicial ruling [in lawsuits brought by enviros], some of the most prized and productive agricultural land in the country was turned into a wasteland after its water was shut off.

The ruling was derived from an 800-page “biological opinion” put out by regulators enforcing the National Environmental Policy Act, ostensibly to protect a finger-sized fish called the delta smelt and some other wildlife. Regulators complained that smelt were getting ground up in pumping stations that brought river water from California’s north to its south, so the water had to stop.

Even the judge was appalled at being forced into the ruling but had no choice, given the law, and tried to cushion the impact.

Tuesday, that same judge, District Judge Oliver Wanger declared to federal regulators that they must consider the impact of their “draconian” actions on human communities, something they’ve never done up until now.

“Federal defendants completely abdicated their responsibility to consider alternative remedies,” Wanger wrote.

He also ripped into the environmental regulators for their junk science “guesstimates,” stating that their shut-off “lacked factual and scientific justification, while effectively ignoring the irreparable harm (their regulations) have inflicted on humans and the human environment,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  …

It can’t happen too soon. The water shut-off has been a nightmare for California. Huge farms growing the world’s finest grapes, peaches, almonds, pistachios, plums and walnuts — as well as cotton, carrots, cantaloupe and the other lush truck crops that come out of California’s temperate weather and rich soil — have gone fallow.  …

But the worst part of these decisions is the high human cost. California’s communities have suffered terrible disruption, with unemployment as high as 45% in some towns and farm workers forced to stand in food lines for bags of Chinese-grown carrots near fields they once harvested.  …

Judge Wanger is a hero for ruling that federal water regulators must consider the impact of their rulings on human communities along with the fish they seek to protect. Americans’ rights have been trampled by out-of-control environmentalism, which at times seems to grant more rights to fish and other creatures than humans.

No community should have to bear the entire brunt of a man-made water shortage because of heartless, ignorant bureaucrats.

The judge’s ruling has restored some sanity into what has up until now been an atrocious out-of-control bureaucracy.”  “Water Sanity For Central California

“Wanger is also expected to issue a ruling on a similar lawsuit that seeks to block a 2008 management plan that imposed pumping restrictions to protect a tiny endangered fish called the delta smelt.”  “Judge sides with farmers in delta pumping lawsuit”  [Update]

Junk science devastates farmworkers

05/18/2010

This is truly ironic.  Tens of thousands of farm workers are out of work in California’s devastated central valley because enviros sued the feds to force stopping the pumping of irrigation water from the delta, supposedly because the delta smelt needed more water to survive.  Now it turns out the problem for the smelt was not too little water but pollution from wastewater treatment plants.  Tell it to the devastated farmlands and farm workers:

“A new study to be published in the academic journal Reviews in Fisheries Science recommends that efforts to restore the endangered California delta smelt and other declining pelagic fish should more sharply focus on reducing nutrient pollution to the species’ native waters. The research indicates these fish populations would greatly benefit from reductions in the amount of nitrogen flowing into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta from wastewater treatment plants and balancing the ratio of nitrogen and phosphorus contained in the discharged water.

“While a great deal of emphasis has been placed on ensuring there is enough water for delta smelt, we also need to recognize that the water also has to have the right chemical balance,” said Dr. Patricia Glibert of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “The research shows us that reducing the amount of nitrogen from Bay-Delta wastewater treatment plants should aid the recovery of the delta smelt population. The high nutrient loads are affecting the algae at the base of the food web, which in turn, affect the food supply for the fish. This has altered the ecology of the system over many years.”

For her research, Dr. Glibert analyzed 30 years of water chemistry, river flow, plankton, fish population and effluent discharge data to determine possible linkages to the population of the delta smelt and other pelagic fish in the Bay-Delta system. The analysis reveals that declines in delta smelt population most closely coincide with effluent changes from the region’s major wastewater treatment plant.  …

The Bay-Delta is the subject of considerable national public awareness due to the sociopolitical and socioeconomic tension surrounding the plight of the endangered delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) and the court-ordered modifications of water diversion projects to protect the species.”  “New research links decline of endangered California delta smelt to nutrient pollution

EU bows to energy reality

05/08/2010

“Pressure from the British government and energy companies has encouraged the European Uniion to drop new regulations that could have led to the closure of Drax and other … coal-fired power stations within six years.

The sector was facing tougher emissions targets but has been given an extra three years’ grace period to 2019 after Britain argued it faced an “energy crunch” …

The decision follows a vote on the industrial emissions directive in the European parliament’s committee on environment, public health and food safety in Brussels. This has to be endorsed by the parliament in July but is unlikely to be rejected.”  “EU drops energy regulations that could have shut Drax

Any reason will do to further the agenda

05/08/2010

“So about two weeks ago Sen. John Kerry, a lead author of the looming Kerry-Graham-Lieberman global warming/cap-and-trade legislation said about his bill, to disassociate from Earth Day loopiness: This is not an environment bill.

No kidding. No one on the planet claims it would change the climate in any way our most sophisticated instrumentation could discern. It’s about power.  …

Today we read in E&E Daily, from another co-sponsor Sen. Lindsey Graham: “It’s not a global warming bill to me. Because global warming as a reason to pass legislation doesn’t exist anymore. ”

Oddly, both remarkable statements have been ignored by the establishment press, slavish as they are to also seeing this agenda through to the end because, as Sen. Tim Wirth said in 1988 and Barack Obama in his 2010 State of the Union address, even if you don’t buy the excuse, their agenda is still “the right thing to do.”

[T]he issue is not the issue. The global warming then climate change then, uh, it’s jobs, that’s it, jobs, or maybe national security or…I dunno, what appeals to you? … agenda for promoting the energy-scarcity list of mandates, wealth transfers and lifestyle restrictions were just excuses for doing what these people have long insisted they, as your betters, be able to do to you.”  “Global warming:  the issue is not the issue

Big Ethanol muscles EPA

05/08/2010

“Three years ago, automakers’ support was crucial for the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act which mandated massive increases in ethanol for the Nation’s gasoline . But back then automakers hadn’t gone into the abyss financially and were looking for ways to sell more flex-fuel vehicles while securing government bailouts. Detroit needed the support of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and the political support of Big Ethanol .

But how times have changed! A few days ago the auto industry urged the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to delay raising the allowable ethanol blend in gasoline from the current 10% to 15% – citing tests which indicate that more ethanol will damage many car engines. EPA signaled last year that it would probably bend to pressure from the ethanol industry and permit the higher blend rates.

Ethanol producers like ADM have been campaigning to reinforce the ethanol mandate by forcing oil companies (and the motoring public) to consume more ethanol. This pressure has been intensified by the introduction of a new association (Growth Energy headed by former general Wesley Clark) combined with existing groups like the National Corn Growers Association, Renewable Fuels Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, Governors’ Coalition for Ethanol, the Ethanol Information and Promotion Council, Corn Refiners Association, National Biodiesel Council and many others — the coalition has practically co-opted “public dialogue” on the subject. Growth Energy alone is reportedly spending more than $2.5 million on an ad campaign hyping ethanol.

As the battle royal shapes up, many drivers of older cars sit helpless on the sidelines. Others are teaming with renegade gas station owners who refuse to convert their storage tanks for ethanol. Signs are emerging along the roadside “No Ethanol in Our Gas!” But it is getting late. If the ethanolics win this round, many cars will be damaged and owners “will be walking, eventually” according to one General Motors executive, C. Coleman Jones, who happens to head GM’s biofuel implementation program. For boat enthusiasts, motorcycle riders and other recreational vehicle owners, the higher ethanol blends could prove disastrous.

Chances of mid-level auto executives blocking the ethanol juggernaut are slim. Never mind that the older cars run fine on so-called “old fashioned (non-ethanol) gas” and those cars may well be the only transport option for many workers who are barely holding on. If EPA folds to ethanol demands this time, the sounds of screeching and clunking will be heard around the world.”  “The Threat of E15

Journos bonkers over one bird

05/08/2010

Windmills kill tens of thousands of birds every year.  Journos yawn.  But if oil spills they go ballistic:

“What does it say when 11 men who perish on an exploding oil platform, or 30 poor souls who die in a 1,000-year Tennessee flood, get less coverage than two oil-soaked birds? It says news is driven from the left.

It is to the credit of the one media outlet that reported the paparazzi-like scrums of reporters trailing rescue workers as they tried to clean off one oil-soaked gannet caught in the oil spill off Louisiana waters after a rig exploded in the Gulf on April 20. Not only did the U.S. and European media obsess breathlessly about the bird, and later about a brown pelican that followed, they seemed to be panting for more.

That’s because birds are convenient tools for driving the radical green agenda to halt all oil drilling. TV media and the national papers pounded the bird story because it served a political purpose.  …

A look at the Los Angeles Times’ oil spill coverage, for one, shows birds featured daily in its blog and paper while the 11 oil platform workers have barely registered. On the blog, the news of the deaths wasn’t acknowledged until May 5, eight days after the workers’ employer identified them in a memorial Web site.”  “Meanwhile, In Nashville