Wednesday, February 29, 2012
You'll note that this study is being started after EPA ordered the 6 states that drain into the Chesapeake to spend untold billions of dollars on anti-pollution strategies that in many cases would have environmental benefits so small as to not be measurable. Even worse, most of the techniques that have been proposed as part of the required "Chesapeake Bay Initiative" would be totally overwhelmed by the sediment load unleashed from the Conawingo Dam by a single large storm.
MDE: Jay Apperson, 410-537-3003
DNR: Josh Davidsburg, 410-260-8002
USACE: Chris Augsburger, 410-962-2809
Study on Sediment behind Conowingo Dam Launched Lower Susquehanna River Watershed Assessment to address sediment accumulation, potential for storms to affect water quality, aquatic life in Chesapeake Bay
BALTIMORE, MD (September 27, 2011) – Governor Martin O’Malley and Col. Dave Anderson, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, today announced the launch of a study of strategies to protect the Chesapeake Bay from sediment and other pollutants from the lower Susquehanna River watershed, including those that accumulate behind the Conowingo Dam.
“We must do everything we can to protect the health of our Bay for our children and theirs,” said Governor O’Malley. “We are pleased to announce this series of studies to assess how a strong storm could affect our ability to protect the Bay from sediment and other pollutants. Tropical Storm Lee provided a vivid demonstration of the need to take steps to head off what could be a
catastrophic event causing immediate and enormous damage to our restoration processes. The time to address this threat is now.” The Lower Susquehanna River Watershed Assessment – Phase I will provide critical information to address concerns that a strong storm could scour vast amounts of the Susquehanna sediments and negate progress made in restoring the Chesapeake
The storm surge from Tropical Storm Lee earlier this month delivered an estimated 4 million tons of scoured sediment from the lower Susquehanna River watershed to the Bay, along with excess nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus. The last high-flow event of this magnitude was Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972, which devastated the Bay by smothering underwater grasses and oyster beds.
Experts from the Maryland Departments of the Environment and Natural Resources, the Corps, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and the Nature Conservancy will team up for the new study. The study will evaluate the millions of tons of lower Susquehanna River sediment stored behind the Conowingo Dam and three other hydroelectric dams on the Susquehanna River.
It will also assess strategies to manage and reduce sediment from the lower Susquehanna mainstem watershed. The watershed implementation plans for Maryland and Pennsylvania that are being developed to meet the Chesapeake Bay “pollution diet” will be integrated into the assessment.
Experts from the Corps’ Baltimore District and their Engineer Research and Development Center will use cutting-edge modeling techniques to simulate sediment transport and deposition through the river and Bay system, with the goal of evaluating structural and nonstructural strategies for sediment management. “The Chesapeake Bay is one of the world's most important estuaries. This study demonstrates the commitment of our partnership to develop coordinated solutions across multiple stakeholders that will help protect the Bay,” said Colonel Anderson.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water quality standards established for Chesapeake Bay assume that upstream storage in the Susquehanna watershed will continue to trap substantial amounts of sediment and pollutants through at least 2025. If that is not possible, the States in the Susquehanna Basin (New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland) will be required to identify and
implement other pollution control measures to meet the EPA-imposed standards.
Of the dams on the Susquehanna River that are in the study area, only the Conowingo Dam has any remaining capacity for storing sediment. The Conowingo Dam, which is the closest of the dams to the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, can trap about 2 million tons of sediment out of the approximately 3 million tons that reach its pool area yearly. But it is estimated that the
reservoir’s capacity to store sediments will be reached in 15 to 20 years under current conditions. At that time, sediment and nutrient inputs to the Bay would increase dramatically, threatening efforts to improve Bay water quality and increase the health of aquatic life.
The assessment will develop broad, planning-level strategies and anticipated impacts and benefits to the Chesapeake Bay. While the study will not result in a single, recommended plan, it will provide essential information to be further evaluated by the States and federal government.
The assessment will cost $1.4 million over the three-year period. The $344,000 non-federal share of the project will be met in services provided by the Maryland Departments of the Environment and Natural Resources, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the Nature Conservancy.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
View Original Article HERE
The articulate utility executive is nervous at the beginning of the conversation. He is groping for words -- not a common occurrence for the practiced provocateur. After all, Fritz Vahrenholt, 62, who holds a doctorate in chemistry, has been a rebel throughout his life. "Perhaps it's just part of my generation," he says.
He wants to break a taboo. "The climate catastrophe is not occurring," he writes in his book "Die Kalte Sonne" (The Cold Sun), published by Hoffmann and Campe, which will be in bookstores next week.
He has only given the book to one climatologist, Jochem Marotzke, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, to read prior to its publication. Marotzke's assessment is clear: Vahrenholt represents the standpoints of climate skeptics. "A number of the hypotheses in the book were refuted long ago," Marotzke claims, but adds, on a self-critical note, that his profession has neglected to explain that global temperatures will not increase uniformly. Instead, says Marotzke, there could also be phases of stagnation and even minor declines in temperature. "This has exposed us to potential criticism," he says.
While books by climate heretics usually receive little attention, it could be different in Vahrenholt's case. "His fame," says Marotzke, "will ensure that there will be a debate on the issue."
The book is a source of discomfort within Vahrenholt's party. No one with the SPD leadership is willing to comment on the theories of their prominent fellow party member, from former Environment Minister and current SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel to parliamentary floor leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was given an advance copy of the book.
A lecture Vahrenholt was scheduled to give at the University of Osnabrück in northwestern Germany was recently cancelled.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Vahrenholt, in the week before last, you made the surprising announcement that you are resigning as head of RWE Innogy. And now your book "Die Kalte Sonne," in which you deny the climate catastrophe, is appearing. Were you forced to step down because your ideas could damage RWE's new green image?
Vahrenholt: No. My contract would have expired at the end of the year, anyway. Besides, I will continue to be a member of the company's supervisory board for another three years.
SPIEGEL: How have your fellow executives responded to your provocative prediction that it will get colder instead of warmer in the coming decades?
Vahrenholt: This is not an RWE book. Aside from CEO Jürgen Grossmann, I didn't give an advance copy to anyone in the company. Grossmann, at any rate, found it so engrossing that he read the entire book in one night.
SPIEGEL: Nevertheless, your precipitous withdrawal from RWE management is reminiscent of the scandal surrounding Thilo Sarrazin, who was forced to resign from the board of Germany's central bank in 2010 following the publication of his controversial book on immigration and integration.
Vahrenholt: This isn't a precipitous withdrawal. Besides, I don't need Thilo Sarrazin as a role model. I also didn't need a role model when I drew attention to risks in the chemical industry in my 1978 book "Seveso ist überall" (ed's. note: Seveso is Everywhere -- a reference to the infamous Seveso chemical spill in 1976 in Italy). Today, I want new scientific findings to be included in the climate debate. It would then become clear that the simple equation that CO2 and other man-made greenhouse gases are almost exclusively responsible for climate change is unsustainable. It hasn't gotten any warmer on this planet in almost 14 years, despite continued increases in CO2 emissions. Established climate science has to come up with an answer to that.
SPIEGEL: You are an electric utility executive by profession. What prompted you to get involved in climatology?
Vahrenholt: In my experience as an energy expert, I learned that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is more of a political than a scientific body. As a rapporteur on renewable energy, I witnessed how thin the factual basis is for predictions that are made at the IPCC. In one case, a Greenpeace activist's absurd claim that 80 percent of the world's energy supply could soon be coming from renewable sources was assumed without scrutiny. This prompted me to examine the IPCC report more carefully.
SPIEGEL: And what was your conclusion?
Vahrenholt: The long version of the IPCC report does mention natural causes of climate change, like the sun and oscillating ocean currents. But they no longer appear in the summary for politicians. They were simply edited out. To this day, many decision-makers don't know that new studies have seriously questioned the dominance of CO2. CO2 alone will never cause a warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. Only with the help of supposed amplification effects, especially water vapor, do the computers arrive at a drastic temperature increase. I say that global warming will remain below two degrees by the end of the century. This is an eminently political message, but it's also good news.
SPIEGEL: You make concrete statements on how much human activity contributes to climatic events and how much of a role natural factors play. Why don't you publish your prognoses in a professional journal?
Vahrenholt: Because I don't engage in my own climate research. Besides, I don't have a supercomputer in my basement. For the most part, my co-author, geologist Sebastian Lüning, and I merely summarize what scientists have published in professional journals -- just as the IPCC does. The book is also a platform for scientists who apply good arguments in diverging from the views of the IPCC. The established climate models have failed across the board because they cannot cogently explain the absence of warming.
SPIEGEL: You claim that the standstill has to do with the sun. What makes you so sure?
Vahrenholt: In terms of the climate, we have seen a cyclical up and down for the last 7,000 years, long before man began emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. There has been a warming phase every 1,000 years, including the Roman, the Medieval and the current warm periods. All of these warm periods consistently coincided with strong solar activity. In addition to this large fluctuation in activity, there is also a 210-year and an 87-year natural cycle of the sun. Ignoring these would be a serious mistake …
SPIEGEL: … but solar researchers are still in disagreement over whether the cycles you mention actually exist. What do you think this means for the future?
Vahrenholt: In the second half of the 20th century, the sun was more active than it had been in more than 2,000 years. This "large solar maximum," as astronomers call it, has contributed at least as much to global warming as the greenhouse gas CO2. But the sun has been getting weaker since 2005, and it will continue to do so in the next few decades. Consequently, we can only expect cooling from the sun for now.
Vahrenholt: Many scientists assume that the temperature changes by more than 1 degree Celsius for the 1,000-year cycle and by up to 0.7 degrees Celsius for the smaller cycles. Climatologists should be putting a far greater effort into finding ways to more accurately determine the effects of the sun on climate. For the IPCC and the politicians it influences, CO2 is practically the only factor. The importance of the sun for the climate is systematically underestimated, and the importance of CO2 is systematically overestimated. As a result, all climate predictions are based on the wrong underlying facts.
SPIEGEL: But you are doing exactly what you criticize climatologists of doing: Using a thin body of data, you make exact predictions. In your book, you estimate the sun's influence on the climate down to the last 0.1 degrees. No one can do that. MORE........
Monday, February 27, 2012
View Original Article HERE
The world's greatest snow-capped peaks, which run in a chain from the Himalayas to Tian Shan on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, have lost no ice over the last decade, new research shows.
The discovery has stunned scientists, who had believed that around 50bn tonnes of meltwater were being shed each year and not being replaced by new snowfall.
The study is the first to survey all the world's icecaps and glaciers and was made possible by the use of satellite data. Overall, the contribution of melting ice outside the two largest caps – Greenland and Antarctica – is much less than previously estimated, with the lack of ice loss in the Himalayas and the other high peaks of Asia responsible for most of the discrepancy.
Bristol University glaciologist Prof Jonathan Bamber, who was not part of the research team, said: "The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero."
The melting of Himalayan glaciers caused controversy in 2009 when a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change mistakenly stated that they would disappear by 2035, instead of 2350. However, the scientist who led the new work is clear that while greater uncertainty has been discovered in Asia's highest mountains, the melting of ice caps and glaciers around the world remains a serious concern.
"Our results and those of everyone else show we are losing a huge amount of water into the oceans every year," said Prof John Wahr of the University of Colorado. "People should be just as worried about the melting of the world's ice as they were before."
His team's study, published in the journal Nature, concludes that between 443-629bn tonnes of meltwater overall are added to the world's oceans each year. This is raising sea level by about 1.5mm a year, the team reports, in addition to the 2mm a year caused by expansion of the warming ocean.
The scientists are careful to point out that lower-altitude glaciers in the Asian mountain ranges – sometimes dubbed the "third pole" – are definitely melting. Satellite images and reports confirm this. But over the study period from 2003-10 enough ice was added to the peaks to compensate.
The impact on predictions for future sea level rise is yet to be fully studied but Bamber said: "The projections for sea level rise by 2100 will not change by much, say 5cm or so, so we are talking about a very small modification." Existing estimates range from 30cm to 1m.
Wahr warned that while crucial to a better understanding of ice melting, the eight years of data is a relatively short time period and that variable monsoons mean year-to-year changes in ice mass of hundreds of billions of tonnes. "It is awfully dangerous to take an eight-year record and predict even the next eight years, let alone the next century," he said.
The reason for the radical reappraisal of ice melting in Asia is the different ways in which the current and previous studies were conducted. Until now, estimates of meltwater loss for all the world's 200,000 glaciers were based on extrapolations of data from a few hundred monitored on the ground. Those glaciers at lower altitudes are much easier for scientists to get to and so were more frequently included, but they were also more prone to melting.
The bias was particularly strong in Asia, said Wahr: "There extrapolation is really tough as only a handful of lower-altitude glaciers are monitored and there are thousands there very high up."
The new study used a pair of satellites, called Grace, which measure tiny changes in the Earth's gravitational pull. When ice is lost, the gravitational pull weakens and is detected by the orbiting spacecraft. "They fly at 500km, so they see everything," said Wahr, including the hard-to-reach, high-altitude glaciers.
"I believe this data is the most reliable estimate of global glacier mass balance that has been produced to date," said Bamber. He noted that 1.4 billion people depend on the rivers that flow from the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau: "That is a compelling reason to try to understand what is happening there better."
He added: "The new data does not mean that concerns about climate change are overblown in any way. It means there is a much larger uncertainty in high mountain Asia than we thought. Taken globally all the observations of the Earth's ice – permafrost, Arctic sea ice, snow cover and glaciers – are going in the same direction."
Grace launched in 2002 and continues to monitor the planet, but it has passed its expected mission span and its batteries are beginning to weaken. A replacement mission has been approved by the US and German space agencies and could launch in 2016.
• This article was amended on 9 February 2012. The original sub-heading read "Melting ice from Asia's peaks is much less then previously estimated" as did the photo caption and text: "Melting ice outside the two largest caps - Greenland and Antarctica - is much less then previously estimated". These have all been corrected.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
U.S. News by Jason Koebler View Original Article HERE
Better technology yields better data. The bad news is the extra water from 2003-2010 would fill Lake Erie eight times
Nearly 230 billion tons of ice is melting into the ocean from glaciers, ice caps, and mountaintops annually—which is actually less than previous estimates, according to new research by scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
If the amount of ice lost between 2003 and 2010 covered the United States, the whole country would be under one-and-a-half feet of water, or it'd fill Lake Erie eight times, researchers say. Ocean levels worldwide are rising about six hundredths of an inch per year, according to researcher John Wahr.
While vast quantities of ice melting into the ocean is not exactly good news, Wahr says, according to his team's estimates, about 30 percent less ice is melting than previously thought.
The team used data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite, which was launched as a joint project between NASA and Germany in 2002. The GRACE satellite measures gravity, which is related to mass, in 20 distinct regions worldwide. Wahr says that gives the team more accurate estimates, because previous teams had to measure ice loss at "a few easily accessible glaciers" and then extrapolate it to the 200,000 glaciers worldwide.
"It's tough to get an estimate [with previous methods]," he says.
With GRACE, the team can measure wide swaths of the earth, giving them a more complete picture. "It was time to do a complete global inventory," he says. Although the team used eight years of GRACE's data, Wahr says it's important to realize that melting patterns are hard to predict.
"Even with an eight-year estimate, it's not clear how far into the future you can project," he says. "A lot of people want to predict into the end of the century, but I think it's too dangerous to do that … We don't have enough info to know what'll happen. There's some ebb and flow to these things."
The burning of fossil fuels to generate energy produces carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas which, everything else being equal, could lead to some warming of the global climate. Most scientists believe the Earth experienced a small rise in temperatures during the second half of the twentieth century, but they are unsure how large a role human activities may have played.
The important questions from a public policy perspective are: How much of the warming is natural? How sure are we that it will continue? Would continued warming be beneficial or harmful?
The answers, in brief, are: Probably two-thirds of the warming in the 1990s was due to natural causes; the warming trend already has stopped and forecasts of future warming are unreliable; and the benefits of a moderate warming are likely to outweigh the costs.
Global warming, in other words, is not a crisis.
Why Does Heartland Address Global Warming?
The Heartland Institute has been studying global warming since 1994, when it produced Eco-Sanity: A Common-Sense Guide to Environmentalism (Madison Books). Heartland is a national nonprofit research and education organization that focuses on economics, not science. So why have we become, in the words of the science journal Nature, “a major force among climate sceptics”? (Tollefson, 2011)
We were made curious by the fact that every single environmental group in the U.S. says global warming is “real” and a “crisis,” even though there was in 1994, and still is today, considerable debate going on in the scientific community. Many of the world’s most distinguished scientists believe climate processes are too poorly understood to support calls for immediate action or predictions of catastrophic global warming (Solomon, 2008).
The reason for the consensus among environmentalists is simple: If AGW is true, then stopping or preventing it requires higher taxes, more income redistribution, more wilderness preservation, more regulations on corporations, “smart growth,” subsidies for renewable energy, and on and on. In other words, many of the policies already on the liberal political agenda. Liberals have no reason to “look under the hood” of the global warming scare, to see what the real science says. They believe in global warming because they feel it justifies their ideological convictions (Hulme, 2009).
Independents, conservatives, and libertarians – about 80 percent of the general population, according to surveys, but less than 20 percent of journalists and academics – don’t want to go down the road to higher taxes and more regulations unless it is necessary. They open the hood of the global warming scare and look at the real science. They study the issue and come to understand it. Based on that understanding – not ideological conviction or belief – they conclude global warming is not a crisis.
The Heartland Institute “looked under the hood” and concluded concern over the possibility of catastrophic global warming was being manufactured to advance a political agenda. We then took upon ourselves the task of publicizing the scientific uncertainty behind the global warming scare and documenting the high costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions – economic costs as well as the loss of freedom.
And now you know why an economic think tank is so prominent in a scientific debate. We do not do this to raise money from oil companies or others with a stake in the issue – oil companies never contributed more than 5 percent of our annual budgets, and they give a trivial amount today. We challenge claims that climate change is a crisis because our pursuit of the truth led us to this position.
Isn’t There a Consensus?
Science doesn’t advance by “consensus.” A single scientist or study can disprove a theory that is embraced by the vast majority of scientists. The search for a consensus is actually part of what philosophers call “post-normal science,” which isn’t really science at all. Still, many people ask: What do scientists believe?
Most surveys cited by those who claim there is a consensus ask questions that are too vague to settle the matter. It is important to distinguish between the statement that global warming is a crisis and the similar-sounding but very different statements that the climate is changing and that there is a human impact on climate. Climate is always changing, and every scientist knows this. Our emissions and alterations of the landscape are surely having impacts on climate, though they are often local or regional (like heat islands) and small relative to natural variation.
It is easy to find evidence that scientists disagree about climate change. Climate Change Reconsidered cites thousands of articles appearing in peer-reviewed journals that challenge the basic underlying assumptions of AGW (Idso and Singer, 2009). More than 30,000 scientists have signed a petition saying there is no threat that man-made global warming will pose a threat to humanity or nature (Petition Project).
Alarmists often cite an essay by Naomi Oreskes claiming to show that virtually all articles about global warming in peer-reviewed journals support the so-called consensus. But a no-less-rigorous study by Benny Peiser that attempted to replicate her results searched the abstracts of 1,117 scientific journal articles on “global climate change” and found only 13 (1 percent) explicitly endorse the “consensus view” while 34 reject or cast doubt on the view that human activity has been the main driver of warming over the past 50 years. A more recent search by Klaus-Martin Schulte of 928 scientific papers published from 2004 to February 2007 found fewer than half explicitly or implicitly endorse the so-called consensus and only 7 percent do so explicitly (Schulte, 2008).
A survey that is frequently cited as showing consensus actually proves just the opposite. German scientists Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch have surveyed climate scientists three times, in 1996, 2003, and 2007 (Bray and von Storch, 2010). Their latest survey found most of these scientists say they believe global warming is man-made and is a serious problem, but most of these same scientists do not believe climate science is sufficiently advanced to predict future climate conditions. For two-thirds of the science questions asked, scientific opinion is deeply divided, and in half of those cases, most scientists disagree with positions that are at the foundation of the alarmist case (Bast, 2011).
On August 2, 2011, von Storch posted the following comment on a blog: “From our own observations of discussions among climate scientists we also find hardly consensus [sic] on many other issues, ranging from changing hurricane statistics to the speed of melting Greenland and Antarctica, spreading of diseases and causing mass migration and wars” (von Storch, 2011).
These are not minor issues. Extreme weather events, melting ice, and the spread of disease are all major talking points for Al Gore and other alarmists in the climate debate. If there is no consensus on these matters, then “skeptics” are right to ask why we should believe global warming is a crisis.
How can scientists say they believe global warming is a problem, but at the same time not believe there is sufficient scientific evidence to predict future climate conditions? Either this is hollow careerism and ought to be subject to public criticism, or it is cognitive dissonance – holding two contradictory ideas in your mind at the same time. If the latter, it is probably caused by the complexity of the issue (we must trust the judgment of scientists working in other fields to form opinions on subjects we are not ourselves expert about) and its close association with social and economic agendas (we want to believe something is true even if our own research suggests it is not).
This is not an unreasonable claim or an attack on the integrity of working scientists. It is a standard theme in many books on the history of science, dating back at least as far as Charles Mackay’s 1841 classic, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, and as recently as Mike Hulme’s 2009 tome, Why We Disagree About Climate Change. Hulme, not incidentally, is no skeptic: He contributes to the alarmist IPCC reports and works at the University of East Anglia (home of the Climategate scandal). Even he admits that his position is based on belief rather than scientific understanding and is inseparable from his partisan political beliefs.
Bray and von Storch, in an essay in 1999 reporting on the results of their first survey, remarked on how a willingness to make predictions and recommendations about public policy that aren’t supported by actual science is a sign of “post-normal science,” or the willingness to rely on “consensus” rather than actual scientific knowledge when the risks are perceived as being great (Bray and von Storch, 1999). Scientists who express beliefs about global warming that they can’t support with real science are sharing opinions shaped by ideology and trust. Their beliefs should be given no more weight than the beliefs of nonscientists.
Natural or Man-Made?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an agency of the United Nations, claims the warming that has occurred since the mid-twentieth century “is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations” (IPCC, 2007). Many climate scientists disagree with the IPCC on this key issue. As Idso and Singer wrote in 2009,
The IPCC does not apply generally accepted methodologies to determine what fraction of current warming is natural, or how much is caused by the rise in greenhouse gases (GHG). A comparison of “fingerprints” from best available observations with the results of state-of-the-art GHG models leads to the conclusion that the (human-caused) GHG contribution is minor. This fingerprint evidence, though available, was ignored by the IPCC.
The IPCC continues to undervalue the overwhelming evidence that, on decadal and century-long time scales, the Sun and associated atmospheric cloud effects are responsible for much of past climate change. It is therefore highly likely that the Sun is also a major cause of twentieth-century warming, with anthropogenic GHG making only a minor contribution. In addition, the IPCC ignores, or addresses imperfectly, other science issues that call for discussion and explanation (Idso and Singer, 2009).
Scientists who study the issue say it is impossible to tell if the recent small warming trend is natural, a continuation of the planet’s recovery from the more recent “Little Ice Age,” or unnatural, the result of human greenhouse gas emissions. Thousands of peer-reviewed articles point to natural sources of climate variability that could explain some or even all of the warming in the second half of the twentieth century (Idso and Singer, 2009). S. Fred Singer and Dennis Avery documented natural climate cycles of approximately 1,500 years going back hundreds of thousands of years (Singer and Avery, second edition 2008).
It is clear from climate records that the Earth was warmer than it is now in recorded human history, before man-made greenhouse gas emissions could have been the cause. We know enough about how the Earth’s climate works to know that biological and physical processes remove CO2 from the atmosphere at a faster rate when concentration levels are higher and release more heat into space when temperatures rise. These feedback factors and radiative forcings are poorly modeled or missing from the computer models that alarmists use to make their forecasts.
The arguments are complex, but the debate over natural versus man-made climate change is unquestionably still ongoing. The more we learn, the less likely it becomes that human greenhouse gas emissions can explain more than a small amount of the climate change we witness.
How Much Warming?
NASA satellite data recorded since 1979 allow us to check the accuracy of claims that the past three decades have been warming at an alarming rate. The data show a warming rate of 0.123 degrees C per decade. This is considerably less than what land-based temperature stations report during the same time period, and which are relied on by the IPCC (Christy, 2009). If the Earth’s temperature continues to rise at the rate of the past three decades, the planet would see only 1.23 degrees C warming over the course of an entire century.
Most climate scientists, even “skeptics,” acknowledge that rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere would, all other things held constant, cause some small amount of warming. Alarmists claim that small amount will trigger increases in the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, which in turn will cause further warming. But other scientists have found no evidence of rising levels of moisture in those areas of the atmosphere where the models claim it should be found. Without this “amplification,” there is no global warming crisis (Singer, 2011).
While the global climate warmed slightly during the 1980s and 1990s, it has not warmed at all since 2000, and there is some evidence that a cooling trend has begun (Taylor, 2007). This contradicts the predictions of the IPCC and poses a challenge to the theory that CO2 concentrations play a major role in global temperature trends. It confirms the views of many less-politicized climate scientists who acknowledge that the global climate is always warming or cooling (Michaels, 2005; Christy, 2006).
The scientific community’s lack of certainty about future climate trends is rooted in the shortcomings of computer models. These models are the centerpiece of the IPCC’‘s reports, yet it is widely recognized that they fail to account for changes in precipitation, water vapor, and clouds that are likely to occur in a warmer world. It is a case of “garbage in, garbage out.”
If we cannot predict how much warming will occur, how can we claim that continued human emissions of greenhouse gases is harmful?
Global Warming Benefits as Well as Harms
Alarmists claim global warming will cause massive flooding, more violent weather, famines, and other catastrophic consequences. If these claims are true, then we should have seen evidence of this trend during the twentieth century. Idso and Singer (2009) provide extensive evidence that no such trends have been observed. Even von Storch (2011) admits there is no consensus on these matters.
The preponderance of scientific data suggest sea levels are unlikely to rise by more than several inches, weather may actually become more mild, and since most warming occurs at night and during the winter season, it has little adverse effect (and some positive effect) on plants and wildlife. Hurricanes are likely to diminish, not increase, in frequency or severity (Spencer, 2008; Singer and Avery, 2008).
Higher levels of CO2 have a well-documented fertilizing effect on plants and make them more drought-resistant. Warmer temperatures are also likely to be accompanied by higher soil moisture levels and more frequent rain, leading to a “greening of the Earth” that is dramatically different from the “parched Earth” scenario featured in many biased and agenda-driven documentary films (Idso, 1995).
The current best estimate is that, if left unaddressed, by 2060 global warming is likely to have a small (0.2 percent of GDP) positive effect on the U.S. economy and a small (1 to 2 percent of GDP) negative effect on the global economy (Mendelsohn and Neumann, 1999). These estimates are very small and speculative.
Reducing Emissions is Expensive
While the likelihood that global warming would be a crisis was never large and is getting even smaller as new research is reported, we know the cost of reducing man-made greenhouse gas emissions would be high.
An analysis of a carbon “cap-and-trade” proposal considered by the U.S. Senate in 2008 – the Lieberman-Warner Act – found it would destroy between 1.2 and 1.8 million jobs in 2020 and between 3 and 4 million jobs in 2030; impose a financial cost on U.S. households of $739 to $2,927 per year by 2020, rising to $4,022 to $6,752 by 2030; and would increase the price of gasoline between 60 percent and 144 percent by 2030 and the price of electricity by 77 percent to 129 percent (National Association of Manufacturers/ACCF, 2008).
States that try to reduce emissions on their own are likely to incur costs 10 times greater than a national program because businesses and residents would find it easier to move to nearby states with lower energy costs or less-burdensome regulations and because states would have to rely on more costly command-and control regulatory approaches (Bast, Taylor, and Lehr, 2003).
The record of existing emissions trading programs gives little basis for supposing a massively bigger regime would work. The sulfur dioxide trading program, often pointed to as a model, succeeded only because railroad deregulation made low-cost, low-sulfur coal available from the Powder River Basin (Johnston, 1998).
European emissions trading programs have been characterized by low trading volumes, high price volatility, and mostly paper transactions that do not result in actual reductions in emissions. Most European countries are far behind schedule in meeting their emission reduction goals under the Kyoto Protocol.
So what should be done about global warming? Actually, a lot is being done: The federal government of the U.S. is spending billions of dollars every year on research. State and federal governments are massively subsidizing ethanol producers and wind and solar power generators in the name of “reducing carbon emissions.” Billions of dollars more are being spent by businesses and consumers complying with regulations that are said to be justified by concern over global warming.
In light of the compelling scientific evidence that global warming is not a crisis, policymakers should consider reducing current spending on climate change and repealing regulations and mandates that were previously justified by fear of global warming. More specifically, they should consider the following policies:
- Oppose higher energy taxes or carbon “”cap-and-trade”“ programs.
- Repeal renewable energy mandates that require utilities and their customers to buy high-priced electricity from solar and wind companies.
- Support research independent from government research programs that are biased toward alarmism.
- Remove barriers to energy conservation embedded in state and local laws and regulations, such as restrictive building codes and zoning ordinances.
- Support research and, if appropriate, capital investments in adapting to climate change rather than trying to prevent it.
- Pursue win-win strategies that produce enough benefits to pay their way apart from their possible effect on climate
- Oppose planned increases in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that would reduce car and truck emissions by small amounts while dramatically increasing prices and reducing consumer choices and safety.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
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New natural gas discoveries in shale rock formations and rapid technological advances to recover the gas have improved the U.S. domestic energy outlook. The nation’s domestic natural gas reserves are so abundant that the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts within a few years electricity from natural gas will be less expensive than from coal. Some environmental activist groups, however, are trying to shut down natural gas production, especially production from shale, arguing environmental harms outweigh the economic benefits.
The newfound abundance of domestic natural gas reserves promises unprecedented energy prosperity and security. Mitchell Baer, director of oil and gas analysis for the U.S. Department of Energy, says domestic shale rock formations alone can meet our nation’s natural gas usage for many years at current consumption levels. Shale gas production benefits the regional economies where production takes place. A recent Pennsylvania State University study found shale gas production in 2009 generated 48,000 jobs, $400 million in tax revenues, and $3.8 billion in economic output in Pennsylvania alone.
Shale extraction has proven remarkably safe for the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not found a single instance of drinking water contaminated by hydraulic fracturing, the technique used to extract natural gas from shale rock. Rock formations containing natural gas are hundreds or thousands of feet below groundwater tables and are kept separate from them by impermeable rock layers. Some minor instances of groundwater pollution have been reported, but these have occurred largely due to faulty pipe seals at the surface and are as likely to occur at conventional natural gas production sites as hydraulic fracturing sites.
Investigative journalists have debunked sensational falsehoods about hydraulic fracturing. The agenda-driven movie Gasland showed a Colorado resident lighting fire to water running from his kitchen faucet, which the movie blamed on recent hydraulic fracturing nearby. Investigative journalists discovered methane-rich natural gas is so prevalent in the area that residents have been able to light their water on fire since at least the 1930s, long before hydraulic fracturing. If anything, natural gas extraction—through hydraulic fracturing or other methods—is likely to reduce the naturally occurring contamination of regional water.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
The Examiner by Joel Gehrke
House investigators wrote the Port of Los Angeles yesterday to review the decision to spend almost half a million dollars in stimulus money on retrofitting a luxury yacht with environmentally-friendly engines. MORE.........
Monday, February 13, 2012
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
View Original Article HERE
Big Green, made up of powerful environmental lobbying groups along with elected and appointed officials, now rules Delaware. Legislation that could not be passed nationally is now routinely approved here. Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires the increased use of expensive solar, fuel cell, and wind power. Delaware also participates in a regional carbon cap and trade program. This will cost Delaware electric ratepayers $38 million in 2012 and could surpass $300 million in 2025. Those higher electric rates will eliminate 2100 jobs and will add $275 a year to residential electric rates according to a study done by the American Traditions Institute.
So far, Delaware has not allowed less expensive clean energy options such as electric grid efficiency improvements, natural gas fueled power, and nuclear power to count against the standard. This may change in 2012 if the legislature replaces the RPS with a Clean Energy Standard. Beware, the new standard could be a Trojan Horse. The details of the new standard could either make energy much more expensive or put us on the road to lower energy costs.
The current RPS requires 25% of electricity used in Delaware come from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2025. Solar is five times as expensive as conventional power and offshore wind and fuel cells cost two to three times more. Meanwhile, energy efficiency and natural gas fueled power reduce greenhouse gas emissions and actually cost less than other conventional power. New nuclear power technologies will also reduce emissions at potentially much lower cost. If we simply allowed these options to count toward the 25% goal we could reach the goal a lot quicker than 2025 and move Delaware toward competitive electric rates.
More likely, however, we will see an effort to dramatically increase the 25% goal combined with larger carve outs for the more expensive renewable options. Big Green is trying to severely curtail the use of coal to produce electricity. Nationally, 43% of electricity (55% in Delaware) comes from coal fired plants and Big Green would like to see that cut in half. The problem is the U. S. is the Saudi Arabia of coal. Eliminating the use of coal is like asking American manufacturers to compete globally with one hand tied behind their backs.
The 1990 Clean Air Act required individual coal fired electric generating plants to reduce air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide, by 90% and that goal was met at a cost of about $30 billion. New EPA regulations aim to reduce emissions another 5% but will likely cost about $300 billion. Coal emits about twice the greenhouse gas as natural gas for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. Congress has rightly refused to pass expensive greenhouse gas reduction legislation so environmental groups are attacking coal with new regulations such as a national Clean Energy Standard that would require 80% of electricity be produced without coal. An Energy Information Agency study of the proposed legislation shows electric rates on the east coast would increase 50% more than a base case without the legislation. The national effort is going nowhere so the battleground is moving to individual states.
We certainly encourage legislative changes to allow the use of energy efficiency, natural gas, and nuclear power be used to meet the current 25% RPS requirement. However, Delaware manufacturers already pay 50% more for electricity than the average state. We should not increase the 25% RPS goal and risk making Delaware even less competitive on the national and world stage. We should also be eliminating carve outs for specific technologies not increasing them. Government initiatives always seem to bet on the wrong horse. The market place can react much faster and favor the best electric generating option.
David T. Stevenson, Director Center for Energy Competitiveness
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
This is what's happening in nearly all the western world and is our single biggest problem. Everyone should be reading America Alone by Mark Stein. The next step is to start discussing solutions.
CNN by Kyung Lah
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Tokyo (CNN) -- Japan's population will shrink by a staggering 30% by 2060, according to a new estimate by the country's government.
The current population will shrink from the current level of 128 million to 86.74 million, as the graying nation's aging accelerates and the birthrate continues to stay low.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's research organization released the data on Monday. The group, called the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, provides a 50-year demographic forecast every five years.
The institute also projects that people age 65 and older will account for 39.9% of the total population in 2060. In 2010, the elderly accounted for 23% of the population.
The country's average life expectancy dipped in 2011 after the March earthquake and tsunami, which killed approximately 19,000 people.
But the institute expects the upward trend for life expectancy to continue. By 2060, the government projects women will live until 90.93 years and men 84.19 years.
The fertility rate, which is currently at 1.39 per woman, will continue to fall, says the institute. The rate by 2060 is expected to fall to 1.35 in 2060. The country's population decline would slow if the birth rate rose to 2.07.
Monday, February 6, 2012
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California regulators have decided to take away choice in vehicles and drive up the price in California. Thanks to DNREC, now that we have to have the same cars as California, we'll get the same thing. Our state won't even get to vote on it. Welcome to the brave new world!
SAN FRANCISCO -- The head of California's air-quality board on Thursday called proposed rules that would require automakers to build less-polluting cars and trucks by 2025 a historic move for a cleaner environment.
California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols said she hopes the rules to require that vehicles emit about 75 percent less smog-producing pollutants will "lead the nation and the world."
The new standards, which also include big cuts in greenhouse-gas pollutants, would begin with new cars sold in 2015, and get increasingly more stringent until 2025. The rules also mandate that one of every seven new cars sold in 2025 in the state be a zero-emission or plug-in hybrid vehicle.
"We can't afford to wait. We have to act on these issues now," she said at the panel's meeting.
The state's smog emissions standards are often more strict than federal ones.
Fourteen other states, including Washington, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts, have adopted California's current emissions goals, which is why the new regulations could have a wide-ranging effect. Of those states, 10 also adopted the zero-emission vehicle standards as well.
The regulations will continue the state's first-in-the-nation greenhouse-gas emissions standards for cars and trucks, which went into effect in 2009. This time, the greenhouse-gas reduction element was designed with federal regulators so that it will match national standards expected to be passed later this year.
In addition to new smog and greenhouse-gas emissions limits, the regulations being voted on also include a new zero-emissions vehicle mandate. The goal is to have 1.4 million zero-emission and plug-in hybrids on California roads by 2025. But the program also looks ahead to 2050, laying groundwork for a goal of having 87 percent of the state's fleet of new vehicles fueled by electricity, hydrogen fuel cells or other clean technologies.
"This regulation is planned over a 40-year horizon, and that is extremely unusual," said board spokesman David Clegern. "The individual companies can plan for changes and develop the technology, and over the long haul, it will shift us away from reliance on petroleum."
The board's meeting comes just three days after federal regulators met in San Francisco to hear public comment on the Obama administration's national fuel economy standards, the most far-reaching in history. If passed later this year, they would require the average passenger car to reach a 54.5-mph standard by 2025.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 13 automakers, the California Air Resources Board and others worked together so that when the federal government passes its greenhouse gas emissions limits later this year, they will match California's and create one national standard.
Some automakers said the market for clean car technology is already spurring the technology and innovation the regulations seek to influence.
"Yes, the cars will be lighter, compact, far more fuel efficient. That's what the mandate will be. It's not enforced by the government but really by the economics of the future," said Michael Dobrin, a spokesman for Toyota.
But Forrest McConnell, director of the National Automobile Dealers Association, testified during the federal hearing Tuesday that tightening fuel efficiency standards will result in unaffordable cars.
"We all want better fuel economy, but it is not free. By adding $3,200, if not more, to the average cost of a car, over 7 million Americans will be priced out of the market, fleet turnover will be reduced, and public policy benefits will be delayed," McConnell said.
The air board's research and environmental advocates dispute those cost increase estimates.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
The Wall Street Journal
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Editor's Note: The following has been signed by the 16 scientists listed at the end of the article:
A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.
In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"
In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the "pollutant" carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific "heretics" is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.
Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 "Climategate" email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.
The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.
The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.
Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted—or worse. They have good reason to worry. In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years. The international warming establishment quickly mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas removed from his editorial job and fired from his university position. Fortunately, Dr. de Freitas was able to keep his university job.
This is not the way science is supposed to work, but we have seen it before—for example, in the frightening period when Trofim Lysenko hijacked biology in the Soviet Union. Soviet biologists who revealed that they believed in genes, which Lysenko maintained were a bourgeois fiction, were fired from their jobs. Many were sent to the gulag and some were condemned to death.
Why is there so much passion about global warming, and why has the issue become so vexing that the American Physical Society, from which Dr. Giaever resigned a few months ago, refused the seemingly reasonable request by many of its members to remove the word "incontrovertible" from its description of a scientific issue? There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question "cui bono?" Or the modern update, "Follow the money."
Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet. Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them.
Speaking for many scientists and engineers who have looked carefully and independently at the science of climate, we have a message to any candidate for public office: There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to "decarbonize" the world's economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically.
A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls. This would be especially beneficial to the less-developed parts of the world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material well-being, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the world enjoy now. Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.
If elected officials feel compelled to "do something" about climate, we recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data. The better we understand climate, the better we can cope with its ever-changing nature, which has complicated human life throughout history. However, much of the huge private and government investment in climate is badly in need of critical review.
Every candidate should support rational measures to protect and improve our environment, but it makes no sense at all to back expensive programs that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of "incontrovertible" evidence.
Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University; Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society; Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences; William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton; Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K.; William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT; James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University; Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator; Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Heartlander by James M. Taylor
U.S. carbon dioxide emissions continue to track lower than year 2000 levels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Monday, extending this century’s downward trend in U.S. emissions. The new data rebut assertions that the United States needs to impose new restrictions on coal-fired power plants and other sources of carbon dioxide emissions.
Interestingly, EIA reports U.S. emissions rose more than 15% during the eight years of the Clinton-Gore administration but have declined since.
The primary reason for emissions remaining on a downward trajectory this century is the increasing number of natural gas-fired power plants. Recent discoveries of immense amounts of natural gas trapped in shale rock, coupled with the development of new technologies to capture and produce such shale gas, are driving natural gas prices down. U.S. power plants currently produce 50% more power from natural gas than during the year 2000. Natural gas power emits approximately 40% less carbon dioxide than coal power. (Natural gas power also slashes many pollutants tracked by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by more than 80%.)