Thursday, March 31, 2011

On the bright side: the great recession saves planet

Thursday, March 31, 2011

EIA reports a record-setting 5.8-percent decline in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2009

Total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 6,576 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) in 2009, a decrease of 5.8 percent from the 2008 level, according to Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2009, a report released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Since 1990, U.S. GHG emissions have grown at an average annual rate of 0.4 percent. This is the largest percentage decline in total U.S. GHG emissions since 1990, the starting year for EIA's data on total GHG emissions.

"The large decline in emissions in 2009 was driven by the economic downturn, combined with an ongoing trend toward a less energy-intensive economy and a decrease in the carbon-intensity of the energy supply," said EIA Administrator Richard Newell.

Total estimated U.S. GHG emissions in 2009 consisted of 5,446.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (82.8 percent of total emissions); 730.9 MMTCO2e of methane (11.1 percent of total emissions); 219.6 MMTCO2e of nitrous oxide (3.3 percent of total emissions); and 178.2 MMTCO2e of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) (2.7 percent of total emissions).

Emissions of energy-related carbon dioxide decreased by 7.1 percent in 2009, having risen at an average annual rate of 0.8 percent per year from 1990 to 2008. Among the factors that influenced the emissions decrease was a decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 2.6 percent. The energy intensity of the U.S. economy, measured as energy consumed per dollar of GDP (Energy/GDP), fell by 2.2 percent in 2009. Year-to-year declines in energy intensity are relatively common. There was also a decline in the carbon dioxide intensity of U.S. energy supply (CO2 per unit of energy) in 2009, caused primarily by a drop in the price of natural gas relative to coal that led to more natural gas consumed for the generation of electricity. Also contributing was an increase in renewable energy consumption, led by wind and hydropower.

Methane emissions increased by 0.9 percent, while nitrous oxide emissions fell by 1.7 percent in 2009. Based on partial data constituting about 77 percent of the category, combined emissions of HFCs, PFCs and SF6 increased by 4.9 percent.

The full report Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2009 can be found on EIA's web site at:

[yes- the headline is facetious]

UK 'Greenhouse' gas emissions rise due to record cold weather

  • The Wall Street Journal
For some reason, people aren't worrying much about global warming these days--even though, as we write, it's 40 degrees out in New York City, far warmer than it was just two or three months ago. Gallup finds that only 51% of Americans worry about global warming even a "fair amount," making it the lowest-priority environmental issue. That is to say, the lowest of the low, as a January Gallup poll found "the environment" the subject that fewest voters--less than a quarter--rated "extremely important."
London's Guardian reports that in the United Kingdom, "greenhouse gas emissions rose by nearly 3% last year, according to government statistics released on Thursday." The story is accompanied by a photo of a snow-covered street with the caption: "Last year's rise in carbon emissions was due to an increase in gas used to heat homes driven by the cold weather."
For some reason, the story doesn't mention the connection between cold weather and the increase in greenhouse gases. We suppose the Guardian doesn't want to alarm its readers. After all, if emissions are rising because of cold weather, that's an act of God, there's not much anyone can do to save the planet.
This strikes us as overly fatalistic. For one thing, we're all going to die anyway, and we lose nothing by facing up to the inconvenient truth. What's more, you never know. With some good old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity, maybe man can come up with a way of making the weather warmer so as to avoid the threat of greenhouse gases.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

US Taxpayers blow $529 million to produce play toys for Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio & other rich hypocrites

Architectural Digest reports Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio are among the first in line to receive the new $96,000 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid sports car. This vehicle features 400 horsepower, 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, "eco-friendly" leather seating, and your choice of oak, mahogany, or walnut inlays. AD reports this "fantasy car" was only possible due to $529 million in "stimulus money" courtesy of the Obama administration and US taxpayers.
The Fisker Karma, plaything for the rich

The Karma’s interior is a welcome departure from the chrome-and-black scheme found in so many luxury cars. Various shades of leather—produced by an eco-friendly tannery in Scotland—surround key areas of inlaid oak, mahogany, or walnut (the latter salvaged from 2007’s California wildfires). These earthy aspects contrast with the sleek mid-dash and center EcoLucent polymer consoles that cradle the information and entertainment systems—“a very cool effect when they’re lit up at night,” Fisker says.
The Fisker Karma comes late to a luxury market in which rival Tesla Motors is struggling to sell its pricey $109,000 electric roadsters and while relative bargains the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf only sold 281 and 67 vehicles last month, respectively. Most US electricity production comes from coal or natural gas, negating the claimed environmental benefits of plug-in vehicles, not to mention the large amounts of energy required to mine rare earth minerals and in manufacture of the batteries, which die within 6-8 years. Do US taxpayers really need to subsidize the manufacture of luxury sports cars reserved for hypocritical movie stars and the rich?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

There He Goes Again: Mann Claims His Hockey Stick was Affirmed by the NAS

Spinmeister Michael Mann has fired off a reply to the editor of  a newspaper which published an article critical of his work, again claiming his hockey stick graph, one of the most thoroughly discredited papers of the modern age, was affirmed by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS): 
"...the National Academy of Sciences, affirmed my research findings in an exhaustive independent review published in June 2006 .."
The NAS report did nothing of the sort, and in fact validated all of the significant criticisms of McIntyre &  McKitrick (M&M) and the Wegman Report:

1. The NAS indicated that the hockey stick method systematically underestimated the uncertainties in the data (p. 107).

2. In subtle wording, the NAS agreed with the M&M assertion that the hockey stick had no statistical significance, and was no more informative about the distant past than a table of random numbers. The NAS found that Mann's methods had no validation (CE) skill significantly different from zero. In the past, however, it has always been claimed that the method has a significant nonzero validation skill. Methods without a validation skill are usually considered useless. Mann’s data set does not have enough information to verify its ‘skill’ at resolving the past, and has such wide uncertainty bounds as to be no better than the simple mean of the data (p. 91). M&M said that the appearance of significance was created by ignoring all but one type of test score, thereby failing to quantify all the relevant uncertainties. The NAS agreed (p. 110), but, again, did so in subtle wording.

3. M&M argued that the hockey stick relied for its shape on the inclusion of a small set of invalid proxy data (called bristlecone, or “strip-bark” records). If they are removed, the conclusion that the 20th century is unusually warm compared to the pre-1450 interval is reversed. Hence the conclusion of unique late 20th  century warmth is not robust—in other word it does not hold up under minor variations in data or methods. The NAS panel agreed, saying Mann’s results are “strongly dependent” on the strip-bark data (pp. 106-107), and they went further, warning that strip-bark data should not be used in this type of research (p. 50).

4. The NAS said " Mann et al. used a type of principal component analysis that tends to bias the shape of the reconstructions", i.e. produce hockey sticks from baseball statistics, telephone book numbers, and monte carlo random numbers.

5. The NAS said Mann downplayed the "uncertainties of the published reconstructions...Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that ‘the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium.’

Mann never mentions that a subsequent House Energy and Commerce Committee report chaired by Edward Wegman totally destroyed the credibility of the ‘hockey stick’ and devastatingly ripped apart Mann’s methodology as ‘bad mathematics’. Furthermore, when Gerald North, the chairman of the NAS panel -- which Mann claims ‘vindicated him’ – was asked at the House Committee hearings whether or not they agreed with Wegman’s harsh criticisms, he said they did:

CHAIRMAN BARTON: Dr. North, do you dispute the conclusions or the methodology of Dr. Wegman’s report?
DR. NORTH [Head of the NAS panel]: No, we don’t. We don’t disagree with their criticism. In fact, pretty much the same thing is said in our report.
DR. BLOOMFIELD [Head of the Royal Statistical Society]: Our committee reviewed the methodology used by Dr. Mann and his co-workers and we felt that some of the choices they made were inappropriate. We had much the same misgivings about his work that was documented at much greater length by Dr. Wegman.
WALLACE [of the American Statistical Association]: ‘the two reports [Wegman's and NAS] were complementary, and to the extent that they overlapped, the conclusions were quite consistent.’ 
Mann uses the 5 rules of propaganda in his defense, including the rule of orchestration: endlessly repeating the same messages in different variations and combinations [e.g. the NAS gave my hockey stick a clean bill of health].

Sources: M&M, Spectator, Wikipedia, Wattsupwiththat, Foxnews,

Monday, March 28, 2011

Understanding the Thermodynamic Atmosphere Effect

By Joseph E. Postma (M.Sc. Astrophysics, Honours B.Sc. Astronomy)
March, 2011


This article began as a brief two-page summary of the theoretical development of the “Greenhouse Effect”. After having several discussions with colleagues, it became apparent that its theoretical basis was not widely understood, even though the theory appeared to be believed in implicitly. In a scientific institution it is generally expected that individuals understand the theories they support and believe in, rather than simply being aware of them and believing in them. Therefore it was curious that there seemed to be so little academic understanding of the theory of the Greenhouse Effect, as opposed to simple awareness of it.

Full article

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Senate's EPA Showdown

  • The Wall Street Journal

Democrats face a moment of truth on regulatory cap and trade.

The Environmental Protection Agency debate lands in the Senate this week, amid the makings of a left-right coalition to mitigate the agency's abuses. Few other votes this year could do more to help the private economy—but only if enough Democrats are willing to buck the White House.
This moment arrived unexpectedly, with Majority Leader Harry Reid opening a small business bill to amendments. Republican leader Mitch McConnell promptly introduced a rider to strip the EPA of the carbon regulation authority that the Obama Administration has given itself. Two weeks ago, Mr. Reid pulled the bill from the floor once it became clear Mr. McConnell might have the 13 Democrats he needs to clear 60.
The votes are now due as soon as tomorrow, and Mr. Reid is trying to attract 41 Democrats with a rival amendment from Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus. The Baucus plan is a political veneer that would exempt some farms and businesses from the EPA maw but at the cost of endorsing everything else. The question for Democrats is whether their loyalties to President Obama and EPA chief Lisa Jackson trump the larger economic good, not to mention constituents already facing far higher energy costs.

The story of how we arrived at this pass begins in 1999, when Clinton EPA chief Carol Browner floated the idea that carbon dioxide could be regulated as a pollutant under the 1970 Clean Air Act and its later amendments. The Bush Administration rejected Ms. Browner's theory, in part because Congress kept rejecting statutory language to that effect.
Several states and green groups sued, and the question reached the Supreme Court in 2006. With Massachusetts v. EPA, a 5-4 majority broadly rewrote the definition of "pollutant," but it also narrowly held that "EPA no doubt has significant latitude as to the manner, timing, content, and coordination of its regulations" (our emphasis). In other words, the Court created new powers via judicial invention but left their use to the discretion of the executive branch.

Prof. Robert Carter on the climate counter-consensus

Dr. Robert Carter is a geologist, environmental scientist and paleoclimatologist at the Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Australia and author of the book Climate: The Counter-Consensus. In the recent lecture below he shows that the 20th century global warming was not unusual and that far greater changes have occurred naturally in the past over as little as 3 years (during the Younger Dryas period). He shows that man's influence upon the climate is a local phenomenon, such as warming due to urban heat islands and cooling due to land use changes such as agriculture, with the net effect unknown. Dr. Carter notes, however, that there is no direct evidence of warming due to CO2 emissions.

Powerpoint slides from the lecture

Related: Professor Carter in Quadrant Magazine explains some of the technical mistakes of the Australian climate commission:

Assertion: Human-caused global warming is continuing, and we are in danger of seeing it augmented by positive feedback loops.

Reality: There is no direct evidence that the mild warming that occurred between 1979 and 1998 was mostly, or even measurably, a result of human carbon dioxide emissions, despite the pseudo-scientific assertion to that effect by the IPCC.

Second, there has been no global warming at all for the last 15 years despite, the operation throughout of the self-same feedback loops.

Assertion: Industrial carbon dioxide emissions are currently ~300 billion tonnes annually and they need to be limited to ~700 billion tonnes in future to stabilize the temperature at no more than 2 deg. C above the pre-industrial temperature.

Reality: There is no evidence that a 2 deg. C warming (which would take the planet back to about the temperature levels of the Climatic Optimum that occurred about 10,000 years ago) would be damaging for the environment, or for human activities in any substantial way that we couldn’t adapt to.

And, even should natural global warming resume in the future, as it very well may as part of a continuing bounce back from the hostile conditions of the Little Ice Age, there is no certainty that restricting carbon dioxide emissions will do anything to halt the rise. First, because of the diminishing warming effectiveness of every increment of carbon dioxide that is added to the atmosphere, and second because the assumed efficacy of limiting emissions to 700 billion tonnes is a projection of computer models that are known to be faulty.

Assertion: We live today during a long, stable period of climate with no expectable change for the next 20-30 thousand years, and we are now seeing a temperature increase above that due to human carbon dioxide emissions.

Reality: There are three things wrong with this statement. First, the stable period referred to is called the Holocene. The Holocene has already lasted 10,000 years, during which time (i) a long term cooling of 1-2 deg. C has occurred; and (ii) regular temperature oscillations of about 1 deg. C have occurred on multidecadal and centennial time scales, the last of which occurred during the 20th century.

Second, the average length of recent warm interglacials similar to the Holocene is about 10,000 years, implying we are near the end of the climatic optimum that has so favoured the development of human societies. [An alternative view is that of all the recent interglacial periods, the Earth’s current orbital geometry (which is what controls the glacial and interglacial cycles) is most similar to that of an interglacial that occurred about 400,000 years ago, and which lasted for the unusually long period of 20,000 years. The suggestion that therefore the Holocene might similarly continue for 20,000 years or more is a valid scientific debating point, but nowhere near to the certainty that it was presented as.]

Third, we are not seeing any increase in temperature above the long-term Holocene average at the moment, and there is no empirical evidence that the mild warming of the late 20th century had a dominantly human causation.

Assertion: The scientific community is more than 90% sure that we are not seeing a natural warming at the moment; this is as strong a consensus as you will ever get.

Reality: The scientists amongst the Commissioners clearly mix in a different scientific community to the one that I inhabit. I believe that the community that they refer to is the restricted group of scientists who are associated with the IPCC. It is indeed true that the majority of IPCC scientists are convinced that dangerous global warming is occurring, or will occur, and therein lies the problem.

For IPCC scientists hold this belief fiercely at the same time that an intense debate is raging in the wider scientific community, most members of which have a much more balanced, middleground view that goes something like:

Yes, natural climate change and events are definitely an environmental and socio-political hazard, and yes we should prepare better for them and adapt better to them when they occur.

Such a commonsense policy is, of course, not only cost-effective, but is also precautionary against any human-caused change that might occur in the future - but which has not been manifest yet.

Second, and as has been said so many times before, consensus is a political concept that has nothing to do with science. For were the Commissioners to tell us is that there is a scientific consensus that the sun will rise tomorrow, everyone would wonder what was wrong with them that they should choose such peculiar, deliberately non-scientific, language.

Assertion: We do not hear a debate in the scientific community between IPCC-supporting scientists and other, independent scientists because no such debate exists. “There is no debate and there has been no debate for a couple of decades”.

Reality: That credentialed scientists can make statements like this on a public platform is extraordinary. The statement is, of course, false, and reveals far more about its author than it does about the real state of scientific discussion regarding climate change.

Assertion: The Melbourne heat wave in 2009 set a temperature record that was 3 deg. C higher than previously. Similar temperatures will be everyday events by the end of this century.

Reality: This is typical of the sort of nonsensical alarmist statements that are made by persons possessed of a naïve faith that computer models can make predictions about future climate states. They cannot, as even the modelling practitioners themselves concede.

The computer model that yielded the speculative projection regarding future hot days in Victoria was doubtless derived from the same organisation that includes the following disclaimer at the front of all its computer modelling consultancy reports:

This report relates to climate change scenarios based on computer modelling. Models involve simplifications of the real processes that are not fully understood.

Accordingly, no responsibility will be accepted by CSIRO or the QLD government for the accuracy of forecasts or predictions inferred from this report or for any person's interpretations, deductions, conclusions or actions in reliance on this report.

Did you get that?

Assertion: The Great Barrier Reef has experienced about 7-10 bleaching events since 1979. No bleaching events are known before this, and the events result when the ocean temperature SST rises about 1 deg. above the summer long term temperature. If we keep going, the reef will bleach every year by 2030.

Reality: Bleaching events on coral reefs are caused less by regional ocean warming per se than they are by the localised warming that occurs in areas and times of low wind conditions.

Bleaching events have been reported since 1979 because it is only after that date that a network of scientific observers was established on the reef. There is no evidence that any of these events was due to human activity, and to suggest that no similar natural events occurred before 1979 is silly.

In any case, the sea surface temperature of the Great Barrier Reef shows no change over the last 30 years, and the speculation that the reef will bleach every year by 2030 doubtless represents the projection of another of those legendary, and legendarily wrong, computer models.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What?!? More CO2 & global warming are good for plants?!?

Chinese scientists have discovered that global vegetation has 'generally increased' since satellite measurements began in 1981, which might lead to the shocking possibility that more CO2 pollution and global warming are good for plants.
Full paper available here. The leaf-area index (LAI) is a satellite measure of the efficiency of photosynthesis or the health of vegetation. This data needs to be adjusted because top climate scientists know global warming and CO2 pollution are bad for plants.
Perhaps this explains why commercial hothouse operators pay for systems to increase CO2 levels to 3-4 times the atmospheric level to make plants grow up to 50% faster.

Related: CO2 is the magic gas that makes plants grow.

Physicists: 'In science truth is not determined by a majority vote. Words such as consensus and incontrovertible do not play a role.'

"The annals of physics are rife with instances in which the majority of scientists agreed on something that turned out to be wrong."

In a recent letter published in the American Physical Society (APS) Newspaper, two physicists state that the scientific organization should stick to scientific matters, and not allow an anonymous faction of members to use the organization for political advocacy on AGW.

APS Should Stick to Scientific Matters

We read with some interest the story headlined “APS Responds to Member Resignation over Climate Change” (APS News, November 2010.)

It seems to us that the real question is not whether global warming ideology is a scam or not. The real question is what type of an organization does APS want to be? Since joining APS in the 1960’s we have noted a constant drift from a scientific agenda toward a socially relevant agenda. We believe that APS should limit its activities and publications to scientific matters and avoid political and societal issues altogether. We are not saying that scientists should not be concerned with politics and social issues. They should. It is their duty to do so.

But they speak for themselves, according to their own beliefs. APS is on a slippery slope.

Once politics and societal issues creep into its agenda scientific integrity will suffer at the hands of political correctness and demagoguery. As a trivial example, in APS’s response the following occurs: “...APS notes that virtually all reputable scientists agree with the following observations:...” In science truth is not determined by a majority vote. Words such as consensus and incontrovertible do not play a role. The annals of physics are rife with instances in which the majority of scientists agreed on something that turned out to be wrong. (Light propagates through the aether, and the atom is the smallest unit of matter.)

We feel that APS should limit its activities to establishing facts and finding the truth by scientific means. Individuals or groups of individuals within the APS membership have every right to express political or policy views as it may affect various funding scenarios, but identification of those individuals who espouse a particular point of view should be explicitly provided. The APS Council, and POPA in particular, should not attempt to speak for the membership as a whole on political policy matters. As a start to move toward openness and transparency, the APS should publish in this newspaper a list of individuals who formulated and wrote the current climate policy statement(s). It is their statement and not necessarily the statement of the APS membership. The APS should also publish on the web the 1600 (or so) members’ commentary statements on the climate issue solicited this past year. Then, we and the public as a whole can begin to see the diversity and divergence of views, knowledge, and expertise amongst physicists in the US.

Thomas Wolfram,
San Clemente, CA

Sam Werner,
Gaithersburg, MD

[emphasis added. Both authors are former chairmen of university physics departments]

Friday, March 25, 2011

New material posted on the NIPCC website

Trends in Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Characteristics (22 Mar 2011)

Sub-sampling of Tropical Cyclones (TCs) back in time artificially introduces increases in a wide array of TC characteristics, including “frequency of hurricanes and major hurricanes, duration of TCs, length of season, peak intensity, and integrated TC measures [like Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) and Power Dissipation Index (PDI)]” ... Read More

Eleven Years of CO2 Enrichment of a Scrub Oak Ecosystem (22 Mar 2011)

At the time of final harvest, the overall CO2-induced biomass stimulation was 67.5% ... Read More

Effects of Elevated CO2 on Defensive Compounds in Bt-Transgenic and Non-Transgenic Cotton (22 Mar 2011)

We may expect cotton to become ever less susceptible to damage by the cotton bollworm as the air’s CO2 content continues to rise ... Read More

Earth’s Incredible Dissolving Corals (22 Mar 2011)

Model calculations of coral calcification suggest that when the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration reaches 560 ppm, all corals will cease to grow and start to dissolve; but real-world data indicate earth’s reefs have a different opinion about the matter ... Read More

Effects of Warming on a Tallgrass Prairie of the U.S. Great Plains (22 Mar 2011)

Do they hinder or enhance its productivity? ... Read More

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet: How Fast Could It Collapse? (22 Mar 2011)

A model of West Antarctic Ice Sheet behavior, created in conjunction with empirical evidence, suggests it will not be disappearing any time soon ... Read More

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet: Is It About to Self-Destruct? (22 Mar 2011)

A study of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet’s behavior during the early Pliocene of five to three million years ago sheds new light on its future stability ... Read More

The Response of Norwegian Sea Temperatures to Solar Forcing (23 Mar 2011)

It would appear that the sun has “outshined” nearly all other forcings of climate change on earth over the past millennium ... Read More

Surface Greenhouse Gas Balance: Woodlands vs. Pastures (23 Mar 2011)

This study finds “there is a triple greenhouse-gas benefit from afforestation of pasture systems” ... Read More

Why Plants Sometimes Migrate Downhill as Temperatures Rise (23 Mar 2011)

It may be a matter of moisture ... Read More

The Impact of Urbanization on Indian Monsoon Rainfall (23 Mar 2011)

It is becoming ever more difficult to be able to distinguish what could be the primary cause of any net increase in the global frequency of intense rainfall events that might yet be detected over land ... Read More

Forest Litter Production and Soil Carbon Sequestration (23 Mar 2011)

Results from this study suggest that “changes in litter inputs under elevated CO2 [slight decreases in nitrogen concentration but sizable increases in biomass] should lead to higher long-term carbon storage in soil,” even “despite higher rates of soil respiration” ... Read More

The Water Use Efficiency of Tropical Dry-Forest Trees (23 Mar 2011)

It has improved in response to the increase in the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration that has been experienced over the past four decades ... Read More

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another reason not to buy a Nissan Leaf: Resale value zip because batteries die within 6-8 years

If the unpredictable limited range, lack of charging stations, and painfully long (minimum 8 hours) recharging time wasn't enough to convince you not to buy the all-electric Nissan Leaf, the Wall Street Journal reveals today another blow that resale values will be hard to come by since the $20,000 battery pack dies within 6-8 years.
Pull the Plug on Electric Car Subsides [paywalled]
Consumer Reports doesn't have good early reviews for Chevrolet's flagship entry into electric vehicles. A top editor from the publication said the Chevy Volt, which has both a plug-in battery and a gasoline engine "isn't particularly efficient as an electric vehicle and it's not particularly good as a gas vehicle either in terms of fuel economy." He concluded that it just "doesn't make an awful lot of sense."
He's right when you consider the cost and performance of PEVs, starting with the batteries, which require major breakthroughs before they will be ready for prime time. A battery for a small vehicle like the Nissan Leaf can cost about $20,000 and still only put out a range of 80 miles on a good day (range is affected by hot and cold weather) before requiring a recharge that takes eight to 10 hours. Even then, those batteries may only last six to eight years, leaving consumers with a vehicle that has little resale value. 
Home installation of a recharging unit costs between $900 and $2,100. And don't forget workplace and retail recharging stations, which will be necessary.
Slick TV ads boast PEVs' supposed environmental benefits, but what they don't tell you is that a substantial increase in the numbers of them on the road will require upgrading the nation's electricity infrastructure. Since half of all U.S. electricity is generated by coal, which produces greenhouse emissions, PEVs may not be any better than hybrid electric vehicles that do not need to be plugged in. Meanwhile, new technology for gasoline-powered vehicles has substantially increased miles per gallon, to as much as 35-50 mpg for several smaller vehicles.
If you're looking for a car that makes good economic sense in these tough times, PEVs simply don't make the grade. Unless crude oil prices rise close to $300 per barrel and battery costs fall by 75%, a PEV is more expensive than a gasoline-powered vehicle.

Geophysicist explains how the Sun controls climate, not CO2

Dr. Vincent Courtillot is a professor of geophysics at the University Paris-Diderot and Chair of paleomagnetism and geodynamics of the Institut Universitaire de France. In the recent lecture below he explains how solar cycles control the climate by influence on cloud formation (the cosmic ray theory of Svensmark et al) and via influence on ocean oscillations and length of day. Dr. Courtillot notes that IPCC climate computer models do not correlate with observations and that temperature trends vary substantially between North America and Europe (which is contrary to IPCC computer model predictions). He also notes that while the total solar irradiance (TSI) only varies by about .1% over a solar cycle, the solar UV varies by about 10% and that secondary effects on cloud formation may vary up to 30% over solar cycles. The IPCC computer models dismiss the role of the sun by only considering the small variations of the TSI and ignore the large changes in the most energetic and influential part of the solar spectrum - the ultraviolet.

Powerpoint slides from the lecture

Monday, March 21, 2011

California cap-and-trade plan faces setback

* State must assess cap-and-trade alternatives

* Effect on cap-and-trade timetable not clear

By Peter Henderson and Rory Carroll

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) - California did not adequately consider alternatives to its plan to create a cap-and-trade market for carbon emissions, a judge ruled on Monday, throwing a wrench into the most aggressive U.S. effort to combat climate change.
The state's regulator on climate change matters, the Air Resources Board (ARB), will need to consider other possibilities to meet state environmental law, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith wrote in an opinion.
In particular he said that the state had not made a thorough examination of putting a tax on carbon.
"ARB seeks to create a fait accompli by premature establishment of a cap and trade program before alternatives can be exposed to public comment and properly evaluated by ARB itself," he ruled.
California has forged ahead with its climate change plan, arguing it will attract new "green" business as it improves the environment, and environmentalists see its success as key to any future U.S. federal effort. Key to California's plan is to establish a limit on total greenhouse gas emissions and let companies and power plants trade for the right to pollute.
The court case in question, though, is by "environmental justice" groups who seek to make sure environmental regulation benefits the least wealthy parts of society.
One analyst saw a potential major effect of the ruling.
"This could be huge," said Jon Costantino, a senior advisor with law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in Sacramento and former climate change planning manager at the Air board.
If ARB is able to complete the analysis this summer and go forward with the cap and trade rulemaking, the decision would only amount to a "bump in the road", he said.
"But it could be more problematic if ARB can't satisfy the court's concerns by October" -- the key deadline for adoption of the cap-and-trade regulation, he added.
Plaintiffs in the case challenged the plan, fearing it would inadvertently increase air pollution in some pockets of the state.
With carbon trade due to start in California in 2012, it was not immediately clear if the ruling would threaten that schedule.
Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols at a conference last week dismissed fears by many market participants that the lawsuit would delay the start of the program.
"The lawsuit is not a factor in terms of delay. It's just part of what you have to go through to implement a program," she said.
In a statement on Monday the board said it would appeal the ruling and that it would respond to the court's order, relying on a previously written 500-page environmental analysis that it said addressed the judge's concerns.
The judge, who directed plaintiffs to draft a formal order, or writ of mandate, made clear that cap-and-trade rulemaking should be put on hold but also indicated other measures in the state's master document of climate change measures, called the Scoping Plan, could be held up.
"We are clarifying the scope of the judge's order," the board said, arguing that slowing down other measures in the Scoping Plan, such as energy efficiency and clean car standards, was at odds with the court's focus on cap-and-trade.
"A broadly worded writ puts at risk a range of efforts to move California to a clean energy economy and improve the environment and public health," it said.
But Alegria De La Cruz, lead attorney for the group challenging the state's process, said that the judge clearly wanted a real discussion of alternatives. By holding out the possibility of slowing programs beyond cap-and-trade, it had given her side room to negotiate with the state.
"The order gives us lots of room to play there," she said, rebuffing Nichols' view that the suit was not a big concern.
"It's not an exercise in futility," she said by telephone.
The particular issue regards a document called a Functional Equivalent Document (FED) prepared to assess environmental consequences of the Scoping Plan, which sets out cap-and-trade goals.
"In order to ensure that ARB adequately considers alternatives to the Scoping Plan and exposes its analysis to public scrutiny prior to implementing the measures contained therein, the court must enjoin any further rulemaking until ARB amends the FED in accordance with this decision," the judge wrote.
De La Cruz estimated that the process of a new analysis, public review, state response to public comments, and adoption of the new document could take three and a half to five months.
The Association of Irritated Residents, the plaintiffs in the case, hailed the decision.
"This ruling will compel ARB to fully consider those of us most affected by its decisions, and not just move forward in its haste to make major polluters happy," Association President Tom Frantz said in a statement.
The judge also rejected another challenge to cap and trade, which was part of the same case. That challenge was specifically related to the state's 2006 climate change law, known as AB 32.
The Superior Court case is Association of Irritated Residents vs. California Air Resources Board, CPF-09-509562.

Time's Up: Lack of global warming has falsified the climate computer models

According to the NOAA State of the Climate 2008 report, climate computer model simulations show that if observations find that the globe has not warmed for periods of 15 years or more, the climate models predicting man-made warming from CO2 will be falsified at a confidence level of 95%:
“Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.”
According to Phil Jones, there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995 [16 years, 3 months ago]. Ergo, the climate models have already been falsified at the 95% confidence level and it's time to revert to the null hypothesis that man made CO2 is not causing global warming.

The climategate team anticipated this "problem" in their private communications:

1) I think we have been too readily explaining the slow changes over past decade as a result of variability–that explanation is wearing thin. I would just suggest, as a backup to your prediction, that you also do some checking on the sulfate issue, just so you might have a quantified explanation in case the prediction is wrong. Otherwise, the Skeptics will be all over us–the world is really cooling, the models are no good, etc. And all this just as the US is about ready to get serious on the issue.
We all, and you all in particular, need to be prepared.

2) Yeah, it wasn’t so much 1998 and all that that I was concerned about, used to dealing with that, but the possibility that we might be going through a longer – 10 year – period [it's been over 13 years now since January 1998] of relatively stable temperatures beyond what you might expect from La Nina etc. Speculation, but if I see this as a possibility then others might also. Anyway, I’ll maybe cut the last few points off the filtered curve before I give the talk again as that’s trending down as a result of the end effects and the recent cold-ish years.

3) The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant. [stated by Phil Jones in 2005]

4) The infamous Trenberth quote in the header above.

Related: :"Kudos to NOAA for being among the first to explicitly state what sort of observation would be inconsistent with model predictions -- 15 years of no warming. "

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Search engines know what climate change is...

The Google effort to take on man-made climate change skeptics may want to start with the top 10 search suggestions that appear for search phrases "climate change is ..." or "global warming is...", as almost 90% of the top results on Google, Bing, and Yahoo express skeptical views that climate change/global warming is "natural" "a hoax" "a myth" "not happening" "not man-made" or "a fraud."
related: An open letter to Google

Friday, March 18, 2011

New material posted on the NIPCC website

Alpine Flora Dynamics in a Warming World (15 Mar 2011)

“Alpine flora appears to be more adaptive and responsive to climate change than generally believed” ... Read More

Aerosol Radiative Forcing of Climate (15 Mar 2011)

We probably do not know the current atmosphere’s aerosol radiative forcing to anything better that ± 100%, which does not engender confidence in our ability to simulate earth’s climate very far into the future with state-of-the-art climate models ... Read More

Future Forecasts of Food, Feed and Fuel Needs (15 Mar 2011)

“Commercial biomass production will compete with food crops for arable land and scarce fresh water resources” ... Read More

Heat Shock Proteins in the Copper Butterfly (15 Mar 2011)

Their presence “might represent an adaptation to occasionally occurring heat spells” ... Read More

Urban Warming in Jakarta, Indonesia (15 Mar 2011)

How much has it driven up central “old-city” temperatures over the past three decades? ... Read More

Northern European and North Atlantic Storminess (15 Mar 2011)

The researchers of this analysis say their finding “lends a cautionary note to those who suggest that anthropogenic greenhouse warming probably results in enhanced extratropical storminess, as this is indicated neither by our own nor existing published observational results for the northeast Atlantic for the last ~150 years” ... Read More

Rising Temperatures and Food-Borne Illnesses (15 Mar 2011)

How do the former affect the latter? ... Read More

The Bleaching of Mentawai Island Corals During the 1997-98 El Niño (16 Mar 2011)

In late 1997 -- during the midst of a strong El Niño that pushed global mean temperature to a level of warmth that has not subsequently been eclipsed -- close to 100% of the coral and fish in the reef ecosystem of the Mentawai Islands (located southwest of Sumatra, Indonesia, in the equatorial eastern Indian Ocean) were killed. However, it was not the debilitating global warmth that led to their demise ... Read More

High-Arctic Wet-Sedge Tundra Response to Regional Warming (16 Mar 2011)

The increase in biomass measured by the authors of this paper “indicates that the long-term ambient warming has stimulated the accumulation of carbon in this system” ... Read More

The Impact of Warming on Photosynthesis in Wheat (16 Mar 2011)

The effects of future increases in air CO2 on photosynthetic electron transport and Rubisco kinetics “may improve the photosynthetic response of wheat to global warming” ... Read More

A Shifting of Paradigms in the Study of Ice-Sheet Grounding Lines (16 Mar 2011)

Contrary to previously prevailing assumptions based on earlier analyses of the subject, the results of this analysis “demonstrate that gravity and deformation-induced sea-level changes local to the grounding line contribute a stabilizing influence on ice sheets grounded on reversed bed slopes” ... Read More

Advances and Retreats of Alaska’s Tebenkof Glacier (16 Mar 2011)

The central portion of the Medieval Warm Period in southern Alaska was likely significantly warmer/drier than it was at any time during the 20th century, or at any subsequent time during the period studies by the authors of this paper ... Read More

Biofuel Blunders (16 Mar 2011)

All things considered, the cure that biofuels are supposed to provide for the imaginary climate-change problem currently not facing mankind is far, far worse than the non-problem they are supposed to solve ... Read More

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Add 'em to the list: Global warming causes road rage, hot temper, mood swings, mania, irritability and aggressive behavior

This just in: the 0.7 degrees of global warming since 1850 is causing "more incidents of road rage, hot temper, mood swings, irritability and aggressive behaviour.” as well as "unpredictable weather conditions, untimely rains or draught." Add 'em to the list.

Ozone! Global warming affects us mentally too 

Remarkable new fossil-fuel engine design is 5 times more efficient and reduces emissions 90%

Michigan State University researchers have built a prototype of a remarkable new fossil-fueled engine design which
  • is 5 times more efficient than conventional automobile internal combustion engines, and 3.5 times more efficient than hybrid automobile engines
  • reduces auto emissions up to 90 percent, because the engine uses 60 percent of its fuel for propulsion, compared to a typical car engine that uses only 15 percent of fuel for propulsion.
  • does not have pistons, crankshafts, valves, or a transmission system, cooling system, emissions regulation or fluids reducing costs of the engine system 30% and maintenance costs.
  • can operate on natural gas, gasoline, hydrogen and other fuels.

The Wave Disk Generator revolutionizes auto efficiency at lower vehicle costs.

MSU’s shock wave combustion generator is the size of a cooking pot and generates electricity very efficiently. This revolutionary generator replaces today’s 1,000 pounds of engine, transmission, cooling system, emissions, and fluids resulting in a lighter, more fuel-efficient electric vehicle. This technology provides 500-mile-plus driving range, is 30% lighter, and 30% less expensive than current, new plug-in hybrid vehicles. It overcomes the cost, weight, and driving range challenges of battery-powered electric vehicles.

h/t Physorg 3/17/11  see also Impact lab