Things have settled down a bit since the climate research scandals of early 2010, and some of the crew at the Met Office Hadley Centre have put forth a new paper. In it they claim the ability to “skillfully” predict hurricane activity for several years in advance. This seems a useful and more reasonable thing for this bunch to be doing, as opposed to scaremongering about anthropogenic global warming, but there is a catch. As it turns out, the whole exercise is aimed at blaming a purported increase in hurricane activity on global warming—the climate change scam lives on.
With the American mid-term elections finally over, the deafening din of political propaganda and news punditry has dropped to a dull roar. Having admitted that there were no “shovel ready” jobs in the offing, and that taking a “shellacking” is no fun, Barack Obama has nonetheless continued to talk up the idea of “green jobs.” This flies in the face of both reason and experience. To date, green job creation has been a resounding failure. American intellectuals and left leaning politicians have pointed out that Europe is a decade ahead of the US in embracing the new green economy. Since this White House seems infatuated with all things European, here is a lesson they can borrow from the old continent: creating artificial green jobs is bad for a nation's economy.
After all the fanfare a few months back, when US President Obama announced government loan guaranties for a new nuclear power plant in Georgia, the truth is emerging—Obama is quietly letting the nuclear Renaissance die from neglect and broken promises. Trying to distract green critics and the public with its approval of plans to build the world's biggest solar-thermal power plant in the Southern California, the administration ignored the faltering plans to expand an existing power plant on the Chesapeake Bay. Constellation Energy sent a letter to the US DOE stating that the terms offered by the government to guaranty financing for expanding the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant were “unworkable” and that the project could not go forward. Despite paying lip service to reviving nuclear power by providing government backed loans, the extreme greens in the Obama administration are trying to kill the nuclear power industry.
Climate scientists continue to be fascinated with the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which took place about 55 Myr ago. This period of sudden global warming and increasing atmospheric CO2 represents a possible model our present era of warming climate and growing CO2 emissions. Studying the PETM, therefore, may provide insight into climate system sensitivity and feedbacks. Just such a study, reported in Nature Geoscience, found that CO2 forcing alone was insufficient to explain the PETM warming. Scientists speculate that other processes and/or feedbacks, hitherto unknown, must have caused a substantial portion of the warming during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum. Simply put, CO2 did not cause the PETM climate change.
A new paper, penned by a group of known warmist scare mongers, claims to have proof that CO2 is the control knob that regulates Earth’s temperature. Andrew A. Lacis, Gavin A. Schmidt, David Rind, and Reto A. Ruedy, all from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, are boasting they have experimental proof that “carbon dioxide is the single most important climate-relevant greenhouse gas in Earth’s atmosphere.” Even though this climate alarmist cabal admits that H2O, in the form of water vapor and clouds, accounts for 75% of greenhouse warming, they still claim that that CO2 is king. Why? Because water's contributions are supposedly caused by feedbacks involving carbon dioxide. How have they proven that? By fiddling around with the same biased computer climate models that their other fictitious claims are based on.
It is accepted that volcanic eruptions can have a major impact on short term climate. A new study in Nature Geoscience uses instrument records, proxy data and climate modeling to show that multidecadal variability is a dominant feature of North Atlantic sea-surface temperature (SST), which, in turn, impacts regional climate. It turns out that the timing of multidecadal SST fluctuations in the North Atlantic over the past 600 years has, to a large degree, been governed by changes in external solar and volcanic forcings. Solar influence is not surprising but the fact that volcanoes cause climate change lasting decades has some significant implications for those trying to model climate over the next century.
The 21st Century may well mark the beginning of the hybrid age. New and exciting developments in transportation propulsion systems promise to deliver higher performance, be more efficient and unshackle human energy consumption from the burning of fossil fuels. Once the realization that oil won't last for ever is accepted, all sorts of intriguing possibilities suggest themselves: hybrid jet planes with electric motors helping to drive their high bypass turbofans; diesel electric locomotives that no longer simply throw away the energy captured by dynamic breaking; and a new crop of super cars from Lotus, Ferrari and Porsche that don't take a back seat to any gas guzzler. The future looks green, efficient and even fun.
Evidently 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, a year long celebration of Earth's glorious variety of species and ecosystems. Unfortunately, the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has failed to meet its ambitious goal: a significant slowdown in biodiversity loss by 2010. The AAAS journal Science has acknowledged this celebration with special News Focus section and a Review article. “After failing to meet its major conservation goal, the Convention on Biological Diversity is setting new targets for stemming the loss of species,” its lead article states. But the news is not all bad. In some countries, conservation efforts have helped species recover and reportedly large-scale deforestation in the Amazon has declined by 47.5% over the past 12 months. With eco-alarmists shifting their panicked attention from climate change to biodiversity, it is time to look at the facts.
With all of the hype over CO2 emissions, one fact that is not usually addressed is where all the CO2 is supposed to come from. Most assume that, in order to avoid the ravages of global warming, we need to shut down all our fossil fuel electric plants, park our cars and take to planting trees 24x7. But the assumptions used in the IPCC scenarios are seldom examined in detail. In reality they are based on projected changes in population, economic growth, energy demand, and the estimated carbon intensity of energy over time. A new study in the journal Science calculated cumulative future emissions based on existing infrastructure and found a surprising result. The investigators concluded that sources of the most threatening emissions have yet to be built. In other words, they made the whole thing up—the IPCC's models are making predictions based on a future that will never happen.
Even though climate scientists have not been able to identify all of the factors involved in climate regulation, or even develop trustworthy values for the ones they do know about, some eco-activists are proposing that we actively try to alter Earth's climate. Schemes to purposefully alter the environment on a global scale are called geoengineering, and it has been proposed as a way to counter act anthropogenic global warming and its side effects. The two main geoengineering options are limiting incoming solar radiation, or modifying the carbon cycle. Two articles, one in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and another in Nature Geoscience, report that controlling climate through geoengineering would be difficult, if not impossible, and may do more harm than good. At a time when we cannot even predict how climate will change on its own, proposals to engineer climate change are best left as thought experiments.
In Europe and North America, the development of nuclear power effectively halted after the March 1979 accident in Pennsylvania at Three Mile Island. Until recently the building of additional nuclear reactors in most developed nations was unlikely. Meanwhile, the greatest hope of the alternative energy industry has been wind power, but people around the world are starting to question the safety and effectiveness of large wind farms. As the public's infatuation with “green” energy has faded, the resurgent nuclear power industry has been quietly ramping up its efforts to provide the energy the world will need in the future. Even ecological activists have come to realize that nuclear is the only viable option to fossil fuels. As a result, a nuclear surge is underway, with 52 new reactors under construction around the world and more in the planning stages. This about face in energy policy amounts to nothing less than a nuclear renaissance.
Through generous subsidies from the US government, secured by corn-belt politicians, 25% of America's corn (maize) crop is turned into ethanol for use in automobiles. Ignoring the negative impact this has on food production, agricultural runoff and land use, there is new talk of raising government mandated fuel mixture proportions to use even more ethanol. At the same time, the idea of turning farm and forest wastes into "cellulosic" ethanol, a biofuel to power cars and trucks continues to languish. Because of the ongoing economic slump, a plentiful supply of ethanol made from corn, and uncertainty among policymakers, companies have delayed plans to build commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants, some canceling them altogether. Evidently, even the hundreds of millions of dollars on offer from the Department of Energy (DOE) are not enough to lure investors to participate in this latest biofuel boondoggle. Industry understands what biofuel advocates do not—biofuels make no sense in terms of energy policy: neither environmentally nor economically. Instead of propping up wasteful and nonviable biofuel schemes, Congress should stop all biofuel subsidies and kill all ongoing ethanol projects.
Black carbon is generated from burning both fossil fuels and biomass. Black carbon aerosols absorb solar radiation and are purported to be a major source of global warming. A recent study claims that the extent of black-carbon-induced warming is dependent on the concentration of sulfate (SO2) and organic aerosols—which reflect solar radiation and cool the surface—as well as the origin of the black carbon. The ratio of fossil-fuel-based black carbon to SO2 emissions has increased by more than a factor of two during the twentieth century, and the portion of black carbon from fossil fuels has increased threefold. This could account for a 30% increase in global warming from black carbon, which may account for a quarter of the warming usually attributed to CO2. Even worse, black carbon may be causing millions of deaths among those who have to breath it. Far from being green, climate science's demonizing of CO2 is damaging the pursuit of sound environmental policy.
This column is going to be a bit different from my usual fare. I have been doing some renovations to my house and one of the changes was to install a pair of 14 inch light pipes in the living room ceiling. My place is a log house with a lot of interior wood surfaces. This looks warm and comfy when the lights are on but without the lights it can be very dark, particularly on overcast days. While I had already converted most incandescent lights to more efficient CFLs, it still bothered me to be burning electric lights in the middle of the day. The house, being 18 years old, was in need of a new roof so it was easy to add some natural solar lighting to the interior at the same time.
There are two major things the peoples of the world can do to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and protect the environment, and they don't involve wind or solar power. The first is to build new nuclear power plants, as people in Europe, Asia and elsewhere are doing apace. The second is to insist that your next automobile is either a pure electric or a plug-in hybrid. Auto manufacturers from Detroit to Shenzhen are racing to bring new vehicles to market, while forward looking cities like New York and Paris are installing recharging stations in anticipation of the electric future. As stated in The Energy Gap, electric and hybrid vehicles are the only way to cure the world's fossil fuel addiction.