Sunday, February 18, 2018

Snow-covered beaches? Chilly iguanas? They are part of a mysterious ‘hole’ in global warming

Mysterious is the word.  You can't have a hole in warming. Thermodynamics would not allow it.  The "hole" discussed below is just a fancy name for saying that over large areas reality does not match the theory.  It's just another example of special pleading, which always weakens the theory.  In science, very little special pleading would be tolerated before the theory is discarded

Frigid iguanas in Florida. Snowball fights on North Carolina’s beaches. Recent winters have delivered a bitter chill to the Southeast, reinforcing attitudes among some that global warming is a fraud.

But according to a scientific study published this month, the Southeast’s colder winter weather is part of an isolated trend, linked to a more wavy pattern in the jet stream that crosses North America. That dipping jet stream allows artic air to plunge into the Southeast. Scientists call this colder weather a “hole” in overall global warming, or a “warming hole.”

“What we are looking at is an anomaly,” said Jonathan M. Winter, an assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth College and the principle investigator in the study. “The Southeast is the exception to the rule.”

Winter and lead author Trevor F. Partridge, a Dartmouth graduate student, say this year’s extreme cold in Southeast could be a product of the warming hole. “It is the same mechanism that causes this bitterly cold air to come down,” said Winter.

The Southeast’s warming hole has been studied many times before, but the Dartmouth study in Geophysical Research Letters nails down some of its key features. The study concludes the trend started in the late 1950s, and is concentrated in six states — Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Nearby states are also affected, such as east Texas, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Either because of coincidence or cooler climes, residents of these states tend to be relatively doubtful that global warming is happening and is largely caused by human activities, according to surveys compiled by Yale and George Mason universities.

As some streets flood from king tide events, Miami Beach launched an aggressive and expensive plan to combat the effects of sea level rise. The city will spend between $400 to $500 million over the next five years. (From March 15, 2016.) Emily MichotMiami Herald

Yale researchers are now curious the “warming hole” has influenced opinions about climate change in the region. “That is something we are actively investigating,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

In January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2017 was one of the warmest years on record globally. But during snows and freezes of the last two months, some Americans scoffed at such claims. This included President Trump, who tweeted right before New Year’s Eve that “perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old global warming.”

The unusually cold weather has produced a mix of outcomes for farmers, wildlife and human residents. South Carolina peach farmers welcome a certain number of cold winter days for their trees to produce a full crop. But they’ve been walloped when a freeze arrives late, as have Florida’s citrus growers and Georgia’s Vidalia onion farmers.

Across the region, the cold helps knock pests, but it can stress native flora and fauna. Some 35 manatees died of cold stress syndrome in January, according to a preliminary report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The cold also numbed the state’s invasive iguanas, some of which started falling out of trees in January, prompting Floridians to rush to their rescue.

Climate change scientists say the Southeast is an illustration of how global warming is not a globally uniform phenomena. Certain regions will see different effects than others, based on El Ninos and other natural weather patterns.

In the arctic, a natural phenomenon known as the polar vortex is a huge driver of colder winters. When the polar vortex is stable, arctic cold air is contained by the jet stream flowing to the south.

But when the jet stream is wavy, it allows frigid winds to blow down into the Southeast, a pattern that has repeated itself in many, but not all, years since the 1960s.

What is causing the more wavy jet stream?

A study published last year suggested that rapidly melting arctic ice sheets, an impact of climate change, could be contributing. But cyclical patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans could also be important factors, say the Dartmouth researchers and scientists who wrote about the warming hole for the third National Climate Assessment in 2014.

“From our research, we are confident there is a natural variability component,” said Winter. “We hypothesize there is a contribution of climate change. But we don’t want to get out over our ski tips on that.”

The Southeast’s warming hole tends to last through the winter and spring. After that, the warming hole tends to shift to the Midwest, where evaporation from large-scale agricultural production causes an abnormal cooling affect, says the study.

The Dartmouth researchers based their findings on examining NOAA data from 1,407 temperature stations and 1,722 rain stations across the United States, from 1901 until 2015. They then identified stations that were persistently cooler than average from 1960 to 2015, which gave them their results on the six states at the center of the warming hole.

Overall, daily temperatures in the hole have cooled by an average of 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958, whereas global average temperatures have risen 1 degree over the same time period.

The southeastern United States is one of two major warming holes globally. The other is in the North Atlantic Ocean, where a mysterious “blob” of cold water has concentrated near where Greenland’s ice sheets are melting. Is there a connection? Scientists are studying if influxes of fresh water from melting sea ice are disrupting currents, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which carries warm water north from the equator.


New Paper: "No significant trend" in hurricanes

“Continental United States Hurricane Landfall Frequency and Associated Damage: Observations and Future Risks“

The abstract reveals findings that contradicts the mainstream news narrative about hurricanes during 2017. It cites other studies with similar findings (all ignored by journalists). Roger Pielke Jr. mentioning some of this data got him labeled a “climate denier” by climate activists (details here). The conclusions are a clear example of focused research applied to questions important for America.

“While United States landfalling hurricane frequency or intensity shows no significant trend since 1900, growth in coastal population and wealth have led to increasing hurricane-related damage along the United States coastline. Continental United States (CONUS) hurricane-related inflation-adjusted damage has increased significantly since 1900. However, since 1900 neither observed CONUS landfalling hurricane frequency nor intensity show significant trends, including the devastating 2017 season.

“Two large-scale climate modes that have been noted in prior research to significantly impact CONUS landfalling hurricane activity are El Niño-Southern Oscillation on interannual timescales and the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation on multi-decadal timescales. La Niña seasons tend to be characterized by more CONUS hurricane landfalls than do El Niño seasons, and positive Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation phases tend to have more CONUS hurricane landfalls than do negative phases.

“Growth in coastal population and regional wealth are the overwhelming drivers of observed increases in hurricane-related damage. As the population and wealth of the US has increased in coastal locations, it has invariably led to the growth in exposure and vulnerability of coastal property along the US Gulf and East Coasts. Unfortunately, the risks associated with more people and vulnerable exposure came to fruition in Texas and Florida during the 2017 season following the landfalls of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Total economic damage from those two storms exceeded $125 billion.

“Growth in coastal population and exposure is likely to continue in the future, and when hurricane landfalls do occur, this will likely lead to greater damage costs than previously seen. Such a statement is made recognizing that the vast scope of damage from hurricanes often highlight the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of building codes, flood maps, infrastructure, and insurance in at-risk communities.”

We are told that global warming makes hurricanes worse — some combination of more frequent and more intense (depending on the source). There is an easy first test of this. The world has been warming since the middle of the 19th century. The IPCC’s AR5 tells us that…

“It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”

What is the trend in hurricane activity during the past 12 decades? One of the best records is that of landfalls on continental US. The authors show the data. First, all hurricane landfalls. Then landfalls of major hurricanes (Saffir-Simpson Category 3-5). These cause over 80% of all hurricane-related damages. Do you see any trend in either graph, in the “natural” era (1900-1950) or the anthropogenic era (1951-2017)?


Overheated claims on temperature records

It’s time for sober second thoughts on climate alarms

Dr. Tim Ball and Tom Harris

Now that the excitement has died down over the news that Earth’s surface temperature made 2017 one of the hottest years on record, it is time for sober second thoughts.

Did the January 18 announcement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that 2017 was our planet’s third-hottest year since 1880, and NASA’s claim that it was the second hottest year, actually mean anything?

Although the Los Angeles Times called 2017 “a top-three scorcher for planet Earth,” neither the NOAA nor the NASA records are significant. One would naturally expect the warmest years to come during the most recent years of a warming trend. And thank goodness we have been in a gradual warming trend since the depths of the Little Ice Age in the late 1600s! Back then, the River Thames was covered by a meter of ice, as Jan Grifier’s 1683 painting “The Great Frost’ illustrates.

Regardless, recent changes have been too small for even most thermometers to notice. More important, they are often less than the government’s estimates of uncertainty in the measurements. In fact, we lack the data to properly and scientifically compare today’s temperatures with the past.

This is because, until the 1960s, surface temperature data was collected using mercury thermometers located at weather stations situated mostly in the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and eastern Australia. Most of the rest of the planet had very few temperature sensing stations. And none of the Earth’s oceans, which constitute 70 percent of the planet’s surface area, had more than an occasional station separated from its neighbors by thousands of kilometers or miles.

The data collected at the weather stations in this sparse grid had, at best, an accuracy of +/-0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit). In most cases, the real-world accuracy was no better than +/-1 deg C (1.8 deg F). Averaging such poor data in an attempt to determine global conditions cannot yield anything meaningful. Displaying average global temperature to tenths or even hundreds of a degree, as is done in the NOAA and NASA graphs, clearly defies common sense.

Modern weather station surface temperature data is now collected using precision thermocouples. But, starting in the 1970s, less and less ground surface temperature data was used for plots such as those by NOAA and NASA. This was done initially because governments believed satellite monitoring could take over from most of the ground surface data collection.

However, the satellites did not show the warming forecast by computer models, which had become so crucial to climate studies and energy policy-making. So bureaucrats closed most of the colder rural surface temperature sensing stations – the ones furthest from much warmer urban areas – thereby yielding the warming desired for political purposes.

Today, virtually no data exist for approximately 85 percent of the earth’s surface. Indeed, fewer weather stations are in operation now than in 1960.

That means surface temperature computations by NOAA and NASA after about 1980 are meaningless. Combining this with the problems with earlier data renders an unavoidable conclusion: It is not possible to know how Earth’s so-called average surface temperature has varied over the past century and a half.

The data is therefore useless for input to the computer models that form the basis of policy recommendations produced by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and used to justify eliminating fossil fuels, and replacing them with renewable energy.

But the lack of adequate surface data is only the start of the problem. The computer models on which the climate scare is based are mathematical constructions that require the input of data above the surface, as well as on it. The models divide the atmosphere into cubes piled on top of each other, ideally with wind, humidity, cloud cover and temperature conditions known for different altitudes. But we currently have even less data above the surface than on it, and there is essentially no historical data at altitude.

Many people think the planet is adequately covered by satellite observations, data that represents global 24/7 coverage and is far more accurate than anything determined at weather stations. But the satellites are unable to collect data from the north and south poles, regions that the IPCC, NOAA and NASA tout as critical to understanding global warming. Besides, space-based temperature data collection did not start until 1979, and 30 years of weather data are required to generate a single data point on a climate graph.

So the satellite record is far too short to allow us to come to useful conclusions about climate change.

In fact, there is insufficient data of any kind – temperature, land and sea ice, glaciers, sea level, extreme weather, ocean pH,  and so on – to be able to determine how today’s climate differs from the past. Lacking such fundamental data, climate forecasts cited by climate activists therefore have no connection with the real world.

British Professor Hubert Lamb is often identified as the founder of modern climatology. In his comprehensive 1972 treatise, Climate: Past, Present and Future, he clearly showed that it is not possible to understand climate change without having vast amounts of accurate weather data over long time frames. Lamb also noted that funding for improving the weather database was dwarfed by money being spent on computer models and theorizing. He warned that this would result in wild and unsubstantiated theories and assertions, while predictions failed to improve. That is precisely what happened.

Each and every prediction made by the computer models cited by the IPCC have turned out to be incorrect. Indeed, the first predictions they made for the IPCC’s 1990 Assessment Report were so wrong that the panel started to call them “projections” and offered low, medium and high “confidence” ranges for future guesstimates, which journalists, politicians and others nevertheless treated as reliable predictions for future weather and climate.

IPCC members seemed to conclude that, if they provided a broad enough range of forecasts, one was bound to be correct. Yet, even that was too optimistic. All three ranges predicted by the IPCC have turned out to be wrong.

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is right to speak about the need for a full blown public debate among scientists about the causes and consequences of climate change. In his February 6 television interview on KSNV, an NBC affiliate in Las Vegas, Mr. Pruitt explained:

“There are very important questions around the climate issue that folks really don’t get to. And that’s one of the reasons why I’ve talked about having an honest, open, transparent debate about what do we know, and what don’t we know, so the American people can be informed and they can make decisions on their own with respect to these issues.”

On January 30, Pruitt told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that a “red team-blue team exercise” (an EPA-sponsored debate between climate scientists holding differing views) is under consideration. It is crucially important that such a debate take place.

The public needs to understand that even the most basic assumptions underlying climate concerns are either in doubt or simply wrong. The campaign to force America, Canada, Europe and the rest of the world to switch from abundant and affordable coal and other fossil fuels – to expensive, unreliable, land intensive alternatives – supposedly to control Earth’s always fluctuating climate, will then finally be exposed for what it really is: the greatest, most damaging hoax in history.

Via email. Dr. Tim Ball is an environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba. Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition

Bitter cold at Winter Olympics chills global-warming hype

The bone-chilling cold and icy winds in Pyeongchang have contributed to any number of wipe-outs for Olympic skiers and snowboarders, not to mention a public-relations face plant for the climate-change movement.

Its dire warnings about how the Winter Olympics face an existential threat from global warming have been all but buried by the flurry of reports about frigid conditions at the 2018 games in South Korea, which are expected to set an Olympic record for cold temperatures.

Climate activists have also been frustrated by a lack of global-warming coverage by NBC Sports, prompting a social-media campaign led by Public Citizen, Protect Our Winters and Climate Nexus urging the network to stop the “climate whiteout.”

“Winter sports are taking a huge hit from our warming planet and the athletes who depend on cold weather and snow—are witnessing and experiencing climate change first hand,” they said in a statement on Alternet. “We can no longer talk about the Winter Olympics without warming.”

This year, however, it’s impossible to talk about the Olympics without freezing. Organizers handed out blankets and heat pads to spectators at Friday’s opening ceremony, which was shortened by two hours in response to wind-chill temperatures that dipped below zero.

A number of skiing events have been delayed as a result of high winds and ice pellets, and reports of spectators leaving outdoor events early in order to escape the brutal cold are rampant.

“It was unbelievably cold,” ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan told the AP. “The noise of the wind at the top of the jump was incredible. I’ve never experienced anything like that on the World Cup circuit. I said to myself, ‘Surely, they are going to cancel this.’”

Skeptics like Climate Depot’s Marc Morano couldn’t resist needling leading environmental groups as they struggled to keep the global-warming theme afloat.

“More bad luck for climate activists as they push for more talk of ‘global warming’ during what is perhaps the coldest Olympics on record,” said Mr. Morano, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change.”

“The activists had the climate script written well in advance of the Olympics, but their message has literally been frozen out by the extreme cold,” he said in an email. “Despite this cold reality, the activists demand that the climate narrative go forth.”

Climate groups have touted an updated 2014 study by University of Waterloo geography professor Daniel Scott, whose climate models found that nine of the 21 previous host cities would be too warm by midcentury to accommodate the games.

“According to Scott’s research, using emissions projections in which global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise through midcentury and global temperatures increase by 4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, nine of the host locations will be too hot to handle the Games,” said the University of Waterloo in a Jan. 12 press release.

The last two winter games—Sochi in 2014 and Vancouver in 2010—saw organizers bring in artificial snow after being hit with unexpected warm temperatures.

Since the 1920s, the average temperatures at the Winter Olympics have risen from about 33 degrees Fahrenheit to more than 46 degrees for games held since 2000, according to Yale Climate Connections.

“The climate in many traditional winter sports regions isn’t what it used to be, and fewer and fewer places will be able to host the Olympic Winter Games as global warming accelerates,” said Mr. Scott in a statement.

The problem with climate models in general is their shaky track record, said University of Colorado Boulder meteorologist Roger A. Pielke Sr.

“Such claims are based on climate models that have shown essentially no skill at predicting multidecadal changes in regional climate statistics when tested against observed multidecadal regional climate changes and variations over the past decades (called “hindcasting”),” said Mr. Pielke in an email.

“If they cannot skillfully predict such changes in the past, we should have no confidence in what they tell us with respect to the coming decades,” he said. “Claims to the contrary are based on political advocacy and not robust science.”

The 2018 Winter Olympics are on pace to go down as the coldest in recorded history, with night temperatures in Pyeongchang falling as low as -20 degrees Celsius, or -4 Fahrenheit, according to Reuters.

Such a mark would easily surpass the record of -11 degrees Celsius set at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen, argued that the overall trend still supports warmer global temperatures and what his group described as “disappearing winters.”

“Nothing in climate science says the temperature today must always be higher than yesterday or one year ago,” he said in an email. “But the overall warming trend is unmistakable and alarming.”

He pointed to quotes from skiers and other winter athletes who have said deteriorating snow conditions have made it more difficult to train.

“It’s a scary thing right now for winter sports,” U.S. aerials coach Matt Saunders told AP. “There’s fewer and fewer places and all the glaciers are melting. It’s definitely getting harder and harder to get on snow early, for sure. We are having to travel further and further.”

Climate activists have also argued that frigid weather is consistent with global warming—former Vice President Al Gore said last month that bitter cold is “exactly what we should expect from the climate crisis”—prompting skeptics to accuse them of adjusting their theories to fit the latest weather patterns.

The International Olympic Committee has seen a drop in interest in cities interested in hosting both the summer and winter games, although for reasons related more to rising costs—Sochi spent a mind-boggling $51 billion—and lack of public support than climate change.

Six European localities have pulled out or opted not to make bids for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and only four cities have shown interest in the 2026 winter games.


Permitting reform is key for economic growth, infrastructure planning, and national security

You may not know it, but a hearing on Capitol Hill today, in the House Natural Resources Committee, will have an impact on every American. The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources is holding a hearing on legislation introduced by Rep. Mark E. Amodei (R-Nev.), H.R. 520, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act. The U.S. has become increasingly dependent on imports of these minerals despite having an abundance of many of them. Congress and the Trump administration are looking to change the permitting process for not just these mines, but for all projects.

Last year, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released a report frightening report titled, “Critical Mineral Resources of the United States— Economic and Environmental Geology and Prospects for Future Supply.” The report lists minerals that are important for the economic health and national security of the U.S.:

Antimony (Sb), barite (barium, Ba), beryllium (Be), cobalt (Co), fluorite or fluorspar (fluorine, F), gallium (Ga), germanium (Ge), graphite (carbon, C), hafnium (Hf), indium (In), lithium (Li), manganese (Mn), niobium (Nb), platinum-group elements (PGE), rare-earth elements (REE), rhenium (Re), selenium (Se), tantalum (Ta), tellurium (Te), tin (Sn), titanium (Ti), vanadium (V), and zirconium (Zr).

The world as we know it cannot exist without these critical minerals. Cobalt is one of the most essential minerals on the list. Just about every battery on the planet has cobalt in it, including cell phones and electric vehicles. The military and civilian aviation use cobalt in jet engines. Life would be very different from what we know without this mineral.

A group of elements known as rare earth elements is probably the most important. The group represents 15 elements between atomic numbers 57 and 71. The elements have unusual physical and chemical properties that give them multiple applications.

The most common use for rare earth elements is in magnets. Two magnets used extensively in military technologies are samarium cobalt (SmCo), and neodymium iron boron (NdFeB). These are powerful magnets. The NdFeB magnet is considered the world’s strongest permanent magnet. This allows a small magnet to be used instead of a larger device and aides in the miniaturization of technology.  SmCo magnets are used for high-temperature applications where stability over a wide range of temperatures is essential.

The Congressional Research Service listed defense-related applications for REEs:

fin actuators in missile guidance and control systems, controlling the direction of the missile;

disk drive motors installed in aircraft, tanks, missile systems, and command and control centers;

lasers for enemy mine detection, interrogators, underwater mines, and countermeasures;

satellite communications, radar, and sonar on submarines and surface ships; and

optical equipment and speakers.

It’s pretty clear we do not have a worthy Defense Department without these critical minerals. Unfortunately, the U.S. is 100 percent dependent on foreign mines to supply U.S. needs, and China supplies 97 percent of the world’s supply. Yes, that is right. The U.S. military is dependent on an adversary nation for its weapons systems.

The bill has passed the House in previous Congresses but continuously dies in the Senate. That could change with President Trump’s proposed infrastructure plan, the key of which calls for a reduction in regulations for projects. Currently, the permitting process for projects takes years and crosses multiple agencies. According to the Department of Transportation, the median length of time to complete an environmental impact study is 3.5 years, and that is just some asphalt for a road.

The process gets much more cumbersome when discussing the mining industry. The average time for final permitting approval in the U.S. is 7-10 years, while Canada and Australia average just two years. Mining consulting giant, Behre Dolbear, listed “permitting delays” as the most significant risk to mining projects. Who is willing to invest hundreds of millions in a project before even a shovel of dirt can be dug up? This is not the way to stir economic growth.

President Trump and Congress must pass permitting reform before the infrastructure bill is passed. It does no good to pass an infrastructure bill without permitting reform. If that were to happen, the money would disappear into the federal bureaucracy instead of going to the needed projects. H.R. 520 must be included in the permitting reform. In fact, the upcoming budget is the perfect place to put the legislation with the rest of the permitting reform. President Trump and the Republicans should use their leverage to press permitting reform. By putting it in the budget, it is one less thing that can be bargained away in the infrastructure negotiating process.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Friday, February 16, 2018

A rather clever paper below shows that there is NO specifiable effect of CO2 on temperature

Just the abstract below.  Jamal Munshi uses temperature changes after 1850 and known CO2 levels to test whether one influences the other.  He shows that there is no correlation and that any effect of CO2 on temperature is therefore at least unknown.  We have all been able to see that there is no correlation just by looking at the graphs but Munshi does the numbers

Uncertainty in Empirical Climate Sensitivity Estimates 1850-2017

Jamal Munshi


Atmospheric CO2 concentrations and surface temperature reconstructions in the study period 1850-2017 are used to estimate observed equilibrium climate sensitivity. Comparison of climate sensitivities in the first and second halves of the study period and a study of climate sensitivities in a moving 60-year window show that the estimated values of climate sensitivity are unstable and unreliable and that therefore they may not contain useful information. These results are not consistent with the existence of a climate sensitivity parameter that determines surface temperature according to atmospheric CO2 concentration.


It’s weather, not climate change, Governor Brown

Weather, not human-caused CO2-fueled global warming, is responsible for California wildfires

Robert W. Endlich

2017 featured incredibly intense, damaging wildfires in California: first the Wine Country fires of October, and later the massive Thomas Fire in December. Each destroyed hundreds of homes, the latter in many of the affluent suburbs and enclaves northwest of Los Angeles and Hollywood.

The Thomas Fire is the largest in modern California history, with over 1000 structures destroyed. The fires and subsequent mudslides killed over 60 people and left many others severely burned or injured.

California Governor Jerry Brown almost predictably blamed human-caused, carbon dioxide-fueled global warming and climate change, specifically droughts, as the cause of these conflagrations. During a December 9 visit to Ventura County, he again insisted that the drought conditions were the “new normal.” While acknowledging that California has experienced “very long droughts” throughout its history, he claimed that the returning dry spells of recent decades were “very bad” and would be “returning more often” because of manmade climate change.

It’s a nice attempt to deflect blame from his state’s ultra-green policies and poor forest management practices. Moreover, Governor Brown is just wrong about the alleged role of manmade climate change, as an examination of meteorological and climate data demonstrates. NOAA’s rainfall records for California show rainfall slightly increasing in California over the 125-year period since rainfall records began.

Meteorological conditions, as they develop over the course of a year, and during the multi-year El-Niño to La Niña cycles known as ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation), result in conditions that favor wildfires in California. Fire is a part of nature, much to the consternation of those who blame manmade climate change, and much to the dismay of those whose lives are disrupted by wildfire events such as these.

Of course, they can be – and are – worsened and even made catastrophic by failures to manage forests properly, especially when hundreds of homes are built near forests, and when weather and climate cycles intersect with those failures and incidents that start a wildfire.

In the United States, the “Sun Belt” from California to Florida receives that name because a feature of global circulation causes descending air about 30 degrees north and south of the equator. At the surface, this “Hadley cell” is evident in high pressure monthly and annual means (or averages); it’s also called the subtropical high and subtropical ridge.

In the northern hemisphere, the position and strength of the subtropical ridge changes over the course of the year, getting stronger and moving further north in the summertime.

In California that poleward migration of the subtropical ridge diverts rain-producing storm systems poleward to the north, resulting in an almost complete loss of rainfall in the summer. The annual Los Angeles climatology illustrated in Figure 1 helps tell the story of the California wildfire season.

With this information, if we think critically, the usual situation is for vegetation to sprout in wet winter months, grow – and then dry out because of the lack of summer rainfall, causing vegetation to be driest in late summer and early fall.

This is exactly the situation described in a recent article that mentions October as the worst month for wildfires and quotes University of California fire expert Max Moritz, who says “By the time you get to this season, right when you’re starting to anticipate some rain, it’s actually the most fire prone part of the year.” Power line and other management failures increase the likelihood of disaster.

Yet another factor is the failure or refusal of government agencies to permit the removal of dead, diseased and desiccated trees and brush from these woodlands – especially in the broad vicinity of these communities. In fact, California forests have 129 million dead trees, according to the US Forest Service. Together, these factors all but ensure recurrent conflagrations and tragic losses of property and lives.

As autumn sets in, the first cold frontal passages and cold air masses build into Nevada and adjacent states, and a northeasterly pressure gradient develops over California. Because of atmospheric physics, a process called adiabatic compression causes hot, dry winds to develop, often quickly and dramatically.

The Wine country fires of 2017 began suddenly during the evening of October 8, with development of the first fierce Diablo Winds of the season. Contemporary news accounts link the onset of ten fires within ninety minutes to PG&E power poles falling, many into dry trees. In one account, a Sonoma County resident said “trees were on fire like torches.”

The Mercury News carried a story saying that Governor Brown had vetoed a unanimously-passed 2016 bill to fund power line safety measures. But the governor wants to spend still more money combating manmade climate change and compelling a major and rapid shift from fossil fuels to expensive, unreliable, weather-dependent wind and solar power for electricity generation

There was a significant cooling of Pacific Ocean temperatures from the peak of the 2015-16 El Niño to December 2017, such that La Niña conditions have developed in recent months. This distinct pattern shift  brought distinctly drier conditions from southern California and Arizona to Florida and South Carolina.

This pattern shift is part of the evolution of temperature and precipitation change areas characteristic of the ENSO sequence of events. Contrary to Governor Brown’s politically inspired assertions, it clearly is not the result of human-caused, CO2-fueled global warming.

This brings us to the devastating Thomas Fire, which began on the evening of 4 December 2017, and was not completely contained by New Year’s Eve, 31 December. Behavior of this fire was controlled by a large-in-extent and long-in-duration Santa Ana Wind event, and like the previous Wine Country Fire, was dominated by high pressure over Nevada and persistent hot, dry, strong down-slope winds that commonly occur during such meteorological conditions.

In short, it is meteorological conditions which create the environment for the spread of such fires. This year’s changeover from wet El Niño to dry La Niña conditions played a significant part in the atmospheric set-up for the 2017 fires.

In Australia, it is widely accepted that fuel reduction actions are an accepted practice in fire management.

This is not the case in the USA, where considerable debate still rages over the issue, and where environmentalists, politicians, regulators and courts have united to block tree thinning, brush removal and harvesting of dead and dying trees. The resulting conditions are perfect for devastating wildfires, which denude hillsides and forest habitats, leaving barren soils that cannot absorb the heavy rains that frequently follow the fires – leading to equally devastating, equally deadly mudslides.

In fact, environmental regulations associated with ill-fated attempts to help the spotted owl have eliminated logging and clearing throughout California and most of the Mountain West – with catastrophic results. Special legislation has been drafted to begin to address this problem.

However, it is uncertain whether the legislation will be enacted and whether timber harvesting and/or fuel reduction strategies can be implemented in time to address the fuel excesses that exacerbate these dangerous conditions, setting the stage for yet another round of infernos and mudslides that wipe out wildlife habitats, destroy homes and communities, and leave hundreds of people dead, injured or burned horribly. When will the responsible parties be held accountable, and compelled to change their ways?

Via email.  Robert W. Endlich has a bachelor’s degree in geology and a master’s in meteorology and served as US Air Force Weather Officer for 21 Years. He has provided toxic corridor and laser propagation support to the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range, published in the technical literature and worked as software test engineer at New Mexico State University

More Evidence the Ethanol Mandate Hurts the Economy

Much of the trouble has to do with a regulatory requirement known as renewable identification numbers (RINs).   

Oil refinery Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) has a serious beef with the George W. Bush-era biofuel mandate that it says has forced the company into bankruptcy. Unfortunately, other companies face a similar plight absent major regulatory changes. It’s been more than a decade now since Congress stipulated that ethanol be blended with gasoline before hitting the market. It’s a boon for farmers, but it hurts both consumers and refineries like Philadelphia Energy Solution. Much of that has to do with a regulatory requirement known as renewable identification numbers (RINs).

According to The Washington Times, “RINs work to ensure that refiners — who hold the ‘point of obligation’ under law, meaning they are responsible for blending ethanol with gas — meet the yearly biofuels quotas set by the EPA. But many refiners, such as Philadelphia Energy Solutions, don’t have the infrastructure to blend the fuels. In such circumstances, companies use a system that somewhat resembles a cap-and-trade approach: buying unused RINs from larger refineries that have blending capacity and have extra credits to spare. The price of those RINs fluctuates wildly. Just a few years ago, RINs were sold for just a few cents, but they have skyrocketed to well over $1 recently.”

This process is unfair and elicits corruption from major industry players that have better resources and can sell credits for their own benefit. As one energy-sector official explained it: “It’s picking and choosing winners within the oil industry in a way that’s causing some to go bankrupt.” Moreover, when used to support large-scale operations, that money adds up quickly. In fact, PES says crude oil accounts for its biggest expense, but, amazingly, that’s followed in second place by RIN compliance costs. Yet Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen asserts, “If refiners truly want lower RIN prices, the answer is really quite simple: blend more ethanol.” He added, “The very purpose of the [mandate] is to drive expanded consumption of renewable fuels, and the RIN provides a powerful incentive to do just that.”

This is a baffling and self-defeating position to take. Anyone who owns an older vehicle or lawn care equipment knows the mechanical damage that ethanol causes. Despite this, congressional leaders like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) remain diehard fans of the mandate. According to Grassley, “I’m confident that the Renewable Fuel Standard isn’t harming refineries, that other factors are at work and that the RFS law is working as Congress intended. Once these facts are known, there ought to be an end to the misleading rhetoric blaming the RFS.” Grassley is so invested in this ruse that last October he threatened to sideline Trump’s nominees unless they left the mandate alone.

Unfortunately, Grassley’s support is shared by the Trump administration. Last May, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the mandate would stay intact. At least EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recognizes the RIN catastrophe. He recently said, “We need RIN reform. It’s something I’ve talked to Congress about. We have to take steps to address this, and I think there are many that understand that.”

But even he went on to explain, “This isn’t getting rid of the ethanol requirement; this is the accounting mechanism to ensure that a certain percentage of our fuel actually has ethanol. So it truly is an enforcement mechanism that is being used in ways that it really wasn’t intended. We need to get reform around that.” What all of them miss is that the RIN situation is just a symptom of a very bad law. The U.S. is awash in oil, but that production can’t be maximized unless the biofuel mandate is repealed in its entirety. At least the Philadelphia Energy Solutions ordeal provides another good reason to keep trying.


Update: libel cases and the ‘climate wars’

by Judith Curry

Big news in the world of ‘climate wars’ – the libel case of Andrew Weaver versus Tim Ball has been dismissed by the judge —  for a rather surprising reason.

Some context on all this is provided in a WUWT post by Tim Ball — Tim Ball’s Victory in the First Climate Lawsuit Judgement – The Backstory.   The text of the judgment is available online [here]. 

A post at DeSmog blog — Climate Denier Tim Ball: Trump Approved, But Not Credible Enough to Stand Accountable For Libel — makes an interesting point that is the main focus of my comments:

Justice Skolrood found that “… despite Dr. Ball’s history as an academic and a scientist, the Article is rife with errors and inaccuracies, which suggests a lack of attention to detail on Dr. Ball’s part, if not an indifference to the truth.” The judge further accepted that Ball was committed to damaging Weaver’s reputation. Justice Skolrood wrote: “These allegations are directed at Dr. Weaver’s professional competence and are clearly derogatory of him. Indeed, it is quite apparent that this was Dr. Ball’s intent.”

From Justice Skolrood’s Reasons for Judgment: “The Article is poorly written and does not advance credible arguments in favour of Dr. Ball’s theory about the corruption of climate science. Simply put, a reasonably thoughtful and informed person who reads the Article is unlikely to place any stock in Dr. Ball’s views, including his views of Dr. Weaver as a supporter of conventional climate science.”

Having admitted that his client was guilty of defamation, Scherr demanded that Weaver should have to prove that the defamatory comments actually caused damage. In the judge’s words, Scherr was seeking “a threshold of seriousness,” and arguing, in effect, that his client’s work didn’t meet that threshold.

The notion arose from a case in another Canadian province (Vellacott v. Saskatoon Star Phoenix Group Inc. et al, Saskatchewan, 2012). In that case, the court found that certain published comments were not defamatory because they were so ludicrous and outrageous as to be unbelievable and therefore incapable of lowering the reputation of the plaintiff in the minds of right-thinking persons. Against that standard, Justice Skolrood wrote, “the impugned words here are not as hyperbolic as the words in Vellacott, (but) they similarly lack a sufficient air of credibility to make them believable and therefore potentially defamatory.”

Weaver’s lawyer, Roger McConchie, is already preparing the appeal.

So did Tim Ball libel Andrew Weaver?  Yes.  Did Tim Ball’s libelous statements damage Andrew Weaver in any way?  No.  Was the judge’s argument of ‘lacking a sufficient air of credibility’ an appropriate rationale for his decision? Is making a libelous statement canceled out if your argument lacks credibility?

Well, application of this kind of reasoning takes you into some interesting directions in Mann’s libel lawsuits

Mann’s lawsuits

Weaver vs Ball is a sideshow to the main events of Michael Mann’s lawsuits against Tim Ball, Rand Simberg, National Review and Mark Steyn. 

The suits involving Simberg, Steyn and National Review seem hopelessly mired in delays in DC courts.  The Mann vs Ball case will also be tried in the Canadian court system, and presumably will move forward (somewhat) more quickly.

If the same reasoning in the Weaver versus Ball case prevails, then I would expect  a similar outcome in Mann versus Ball.

How would this reasoning play out in the Mann versus Steyn et al. lawsuits?  Steyn and Simberg (who are not scientists) made comments about Mann that were intended to be humorous and clever in the context of political satire, rather than seriously argued professional assessments of Mann’s research.

Under this ruling, it seems that carefully argued statements against an individual or an argument are required for damage? Even mores if the statements are made by an expert?

I have made this point before:  Mann’s libelous statements about me (because he is a scientist with many awards) are far more serious than say Rand Simberg’s statements about Mann.

Mark Jacobsen’s lawsuit against scientists and PNAS who published a rebuttal of his paper definitely meets the requirement of damage to his reputation, but it isn’t libel if the statements are correct or at least justified by evidence and arguments.

It seems that the following reasoning should apply to these lawsuits:

assess whether there was any reputational or financial damage incurred by the litigant

assess whether the statement in question is well argued and/or ‘true’

assess whether the defendant in the litigation has sufficient reputation or standing to influence public opinion on the topic of the litigation.

The instinct of the defendants in these cases has been to address #2.  It is arguably more important and effective defense to address #1 and #3.

Mann’s AAAS Award

It is becoming very hard for Mann to claim damages from such ‘insults’ and alleged libel, given the awards, big lecture fees and book fees.

The latest award bestowed upon Mann:   the AAAS has decided in 2018 to give him its prestigious award for Public Engagement with Science.

More HERE 

Exxon Sues the Suers in Fierce Climate-Change Case

As climate-change lawsuits against the oil industry mount, Exxon Mobil Corp. is taking a bare-knuckle approach rarely seen in legal disputes: It’s going after the lawyers who are suing it.

The company has targeted at least 30 people and organizations, including the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, hitting them with suits, threats of suits or demands for sworn depositions. The company claims the lawyers, public officials and environmental activists are “conspiring” against it in a coordinated legal and public relations campaign.

Exxon has even given that campaign a vaguely sinister-sounding name: “The La Jolla playbook.” According to the company, about two dozen people hatched a strategy against it at a meeting six years ago in an oceanfront cottage in La Jolla, Calif.

"It’s an aggressive move,” said Howard Erichson, an expert in complex litigation and a professor at Fordham University School of Law in New York. “Does Exxon really need these depositions or is Exxon seeking the depositions to harass mayors and city attorneys into dropping their lawsuits?”

At Stake

Experts say Exxon’s combative strategy -- an extraordinary gambit to turn the tables -- is a clear sign of what’s at stake for the fossil-fuel industry. So far, New York City and eight California cities and counties, including San Francisco and Oakland, have sued Exxon and other oil and gas companies. They allege that oil companies denied findings of climate-change scientists despite knowing that the use of fossil fuels posed “grave risk” to the planet.

Attorneys general Eric Schneiderman of New York and Maura Healey of Massachusetts, are investigating whether Exxon covered up information on climate change, defrauding shareholders and consumers.

Exxon, the world’s 10th biggest company, has denied the allegations and says its defense is intended to show that it’s being punished for not toeing the line on climate change, even though it agrees with the scientific consensus.

“The attorneys general have violated Exxon Mobil’s right to participate in the national conversation about how to address the risks presented by climate change,” said Dan Toal, a lawyer who represents Exxon. “That is the speech at issue here -- not some straw man argument about whether climate change is real.”

‘Scare Tactic’
Plaintiff lawyers and legal experts contend the oil giant’s tactics are meant to intimidate while shifting the spotlight away from claims of environmental damage. And they say there’s nothing improper with lawyers discussing legal strategies together.

"It’s crazy that people are subpoenaed for attending a meeting," said Sharon Eubanks, a lawyer who was at the La Jolla gathering. "It’s sort of like a big scare tactic: reframe the debate, use it as a diversionary tactic and scare the heck out of everybody."

Exxon has focused on the La Jolla meeting as ground zero for its conspiracy claim. Ironically, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a nonprofit run by descendants of John D. Rockefeller who are pressing Exxon to address climate change issues, has funded organizations that led the La Jolla conference (Exxon, which grew out of John D.’s Standard Oil, also subpoenaed the fund to testify.)

At the gathering, participants met to discuss litigation strategies that could be applied to climate change, according to a 35-page summary that was later made public. Eubanks, a former Justice Department lawyer, talked about how the U.S. government used the racketeering law against cigarette makers, for example.

More than four years after the meeting, Eubanks got a subpoena from Exxon to testify about it. The subpoena is pending.

Document Request

Exxon has also aimed its legal firepower at Matthew Pawa, whose firm represents Oakland, San Francisco and New York in their suits against Exxon. Last month, Exxon asked a state judge in Fort Worth, Texas, to order Pawa to turn over documents and testify under oath about the La Jolla conference and other conversations with lawyers and activists. He’s also been subpoenaed to testify in a federal action Exxon has brought against the state attorneys general.

Pawa declined to comment.

The company is also seeking testimony from 15 municipal lawyers and officials in California. Exxon said it’s seeking evidence for “an anticipated suit” claiming civil conspiracy and violation of its First Amendment and other Constitutional rights.

Routine Meetings

Experts in litigation say that lawyers in big lawsuits, including those targeting tobacco, guns and pharmaceuticals, routinely meet to share information and coordinate strategy.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with plaintiffs’ lawyers and attorneys general strategizing together,” said Fordham professor Erichson, ”just as I don’t think there’s anything wrong with lawyers for oil companies strategizing together.”

But Linda Kelly, general counsel of the National Association of Manufacturers, said the climate litigation is really a play for money and votes.

“It’s a coming together of plaintiffs’ lawyers who have a profit motive and a liability theory, environmental activists who have a political agenda and politicians who are looking to make a name for themselves with this issue,” Kelly said.

Contingent Fees

San Francisco has promised 23.5 percent of any settlement to its lawyers. New York is working on a contingent-fee deal like San Francisco’s, according to a spokesman for the city’s Law Department.

In recent years, the most notable attack on a plaintiff lawyer came in 2011 when Chevron Corp., claiming it was target of an extortion scheme, successfully pursued a civil racketeering suit against Steven Donziger, the attorney behind a $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment against the company over pollution in the Amazon.

Some experts say Exxon’s strategy goes beyond mere litigation tactics.

"People often try to use litigation to change the cultural conversation," said Alexandra Lahav, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, pointing to litigation over guns and gay rights as examples. "Exxon is positioning itself as a victim rather than a perpetrator."




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Satellites show warming is accelerating sea level rise (?)

Dedicated Warmist Seth Borenstein sets out below a coherent story about warming causing sea-level rise.  He regurgitates all the usual Warmist talking points regardless of their truth.  He says, for instance, that the Antarctic is melting when it is not.

So we have to go back to the journal article behind Seth's splurge to see what the scientists are saying.  I append it below Seth's article.

And what we see there is very different from Seth's confident pronouncements.  We see a very guarded article indeed which rightly lists many of the difficulties in measuring sea level rise.  And they can surmount those difficulties only by a welter of estimates and adjustments.  Anywhere in that process there could be errors and biases.  And as a result, we see that the journal authors describe their findings as only a"preliminary estimate" of sea level rise.

And it gets worse.  When we look further into the journal article we see that the sea level rise is measured in terms of only 64 thousandths of one millimeter.  So we are in the comedy of the absurd.  Such a figure is just a statistical artifact with no observable physical equivalent.

So the sea level rise Seth talks about with great confidence ends up being an unbelievably small quantity measured with great imprecision!  Amazing what you find when you look at the numbers, isn't it?

Melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are speeding up the already fast pace of sea level rise, new satellite research shows.

At the current rate, the world’s oceans on average will be at least 2 feet higher by the end of the century compared to today, according to researchers who published in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

Sea level rise is caused by warming of the ocean and melting from glaciers and ice sheets. The research, based on 25 years of satellite data, shows that pace has quickened, mainly from the melting of massive ice sheets.

It confirms scientists’ computer simulations and is in line with predictions from the United Nations, which releases regular climate change reports.

"It’s a big deal" because the projected sea level rise is a conservative estimate and it is likely to be higher, said lead author Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado.

Outside scientists said even small changes in sea levels can lead to flooding and erosion. "Any flooding concerns that coastal communities have for 2100 may occur over the next few decades," Oregon State University coastal flooding expert Katy Serafin said.

More than three-quarters of the acceleration of sea level rise since 1993 is due to melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, the study shows. Of the 3 inches of sea level rise in the past quarter century, about 55 percent is from warmer water expanding, and the rest is from melting ice.

Like weather and climate, there are two factors in sea level rise: year-to-year small rises and falls that are caused by natural events, and larger long-term rising trends that are linked to man-made climate change.

Nerem’s team removed the natural effects of the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption that temporarily chilled Earth and the climate phenomena El Nino and La Nina, and found the accelerating trend.

Sea level rise, more than temperature, is a better gauge of climate change in action, said Anny Cazenave, director of Earth science at the International Space Science Institute in France, who edited the study. Cazenave is one of the pioneers of space-based sea level research.

Global sea levels were stable for about 3,000 years until the 20th century, when they rose and then accelerated due to global warming caused by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, said climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute in Germany, who wasn’t part of the study.

Two feet of sea level rise by the end of the century "would have big effects on places like Miami and New Orleans, but I don’t still view that as catastrophic" because those cities can survive — at great expense — that amount of rising seas under normal situations, Nerem said.

But when a storm like 2012’s Hurricane Sandy hits, sea level rise on top of storm surge can lead to record-setting damage, researchers said.

Some scientists at the American Geophysical Union meeting last year said Antarctica may be melting faster than predicted by Monday’s study.

Greenland has caused three times more sea level rise than Antarctica so far, but ice melt on the southern continent is responsible for more of the acceleration.

"Antarctica seems less stable than we thought a few years ago," Rutgers climate scientist Robert Kopp said.

The reduction of ice in Antarctica has increased the sense of urgency among travelers hoping to see the continent. Tourism in Antarctica has risen from fewer than 2,000 visitors in the 1980s to more than 45,000 visitors from around the world last year.

The number of people traveling to the frozen continent dipped during the economic recession of the late 2000s, but rose again in recent years, according to data kept by the Rhode-Island based International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators.


Climate-change–driven accelerated sea-level rise detected in the altimeter era

By R. S. Nerem et al.


Using a 25-y time series of precision satellite altimeter data from TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2, and Jason-3, we estimate the climate-change–driven acceleration of global mean sea level over the last 25 y to be 0.084 ± 0.025 mm/y2. Coupled with the average climate-change–driven rate of sea level rise over these same 25 y of 2.9 mm/y, simple extrapolation of the quadratic implies global mean sea level could rise 65 ± 12 cm by 2100 compared with 2005, roughly in agreement with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report (AR5) model projections.


Satellite altimeter data collected since 1993 have measured a rise in global mean sea level (GMSL) of ∼3 ± 0.4 mm/y (1, 2), resulting in more than 7 cm of total sea-level rise over the last 25 y. This rate of sea-level rise is expected to accelerate as the melting of the ice sheets and ocean heat content increases as greenhouse gas concentrations rise. Acceleration of sea-level rise over the 20th century has already been inferred from tide-gauge data (3⇓–5), although sampling and data issues preclude a precise quantification. The satellite altimeter record of sea-level change from TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2, and Jason-3 is now approaching 25 y in length, making it possible to begin probing the record for climate-change–driven acceleration of the rate of GMSL change (6). Unlike tide-gauge data, these retrievals sample the open ocean and allow for precise quantitative statements regarding global sea level. However, detecting acceleration is difficult because of (i) interannual variability in GMSL largely driven by changes in terrestrial water storage (TWS) (7⇓–9), (ii) decadal variability in TWS (10), thermosteric sea level, and ice sheet mass loss (11) that might masquerade as a long-term acceleration over a 25-y record, (iii) episodic variability driven by large volcanic eruptions (12), and (iv) errors in the altimeter data, in particular, potential drifts in the instruments over time (13). With careful attention to each of these issues, however, a preliminary satellite-based estimate of the climate-change–driven acceleration of sea-level rise can be obtained. This estimate is useful for understanding how the Earth is responding to warming, and thus better informs us of how it might change in the future.


Massachusetts hypocrisy

To build the new $27 billion gas export plant on the Arctic Ocean that now keeps the lights on in Massachusetts, Russian firms bored wells into fragile permafrost; blasted a new international airport into a pristine landscape of reindeer, polar bears, and walrus; dredged the spawning grounds of the endangered Siberian sturgeon in the Gulf of Ob to accommodate large ships; and commissioned a fleet of 1,000-foot icebreaking tankers likely to kill seals and disrupt whale habitat as they shuttle cargoes of super-cooled gas bound for Asia, Europe, and Everett.

On the plus side, though, they didn’t offend Pittsfield or Winthrop, Danvers or Groton, with even an inch of pipeline.

This winter’s unprecedented imports of Russian liquefied natural gas have already come under fire from Greater Boston’s Ukrainian-American community, because the majority shareholder of the firm that extracted the fuel has been sanctioned by the US government for its links to the war in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. Last week, in response to the outcry, a group of Massachusetts lawmakers, led by Senator Ed Markey, blasted the shipments and called on the federal government to stop them.

But apart from its geopolitical impact, Massachusetts’ reliance on imported gas from one of the world’s most threatened places is also a severe indictment of the state’s inward-looking environmental and climate policies. Public officials, including Attorney General Maura Healey and leading state senators, have leaned heavily on righteous-sounding stands against local fossil fuel projects, with scant consideration of the global impacts of their actions and a tacit expectation that some other country will build the infrastructure that we’re too good for.

As a result, to a greater extent than anywhere else in the United States, the Commonwealth now expects people in places like Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Yemen to shoulder the environmental burdens of providing natural gas that state policy makers have showily rejected here. The old environmentalist slogan — think globally and act locally — has been turned inside out in Massachusetts.

But more than just traditional NIMBYism is at work in the state’s resistance to natural gas infrastructure. There’s also the $1 million the parent company of the Everett terminal spent lobbying Beacon Hill from 2013 to 2017, amid a push to keep out the domestic competition that’s ended LNG imports in most of the rest of the United States.

And there’s a trendy, but scientifically unfounded, national fixation on pipelines that state policy makers have chosen to accommodate. Climate advocates, understandably frustrated by slow progress at the federal level, have put short-term tactical victories against fossil fuel infrastructure ahead of strategic progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and so has Beacon Hill. They’ve obsessed over stopping domestic pipelines, no matter where those pipes go, what they carry, what fuels they displace, and how the ripple effects of those decisions may raise overall global greenhouse gas emissions.

The environmental movement needs a reset, and so does Massachusetts policy. The real-world result of pipeline absolutism in Massachusetts this winter has been to steer energy customers to dirtier fuels like coal and oil, increasing greenhouse gas emissions. And the state is now in the indefensible position of blocking infrastructure here, while its public policies create demand for overseas fossil fuel infrastructure like the Yamal LNG plant — a project likely to inflict far greater near and long-term harm to the planet.


Trump budget guts climate science funding

If it's "settled science" why does it need any more research?

The Trump administration is targeting federal funding for studying and tracking climate change while boosting the continued burning of fossil fuels.

The White House’s 2019 spending plan seeks to reduce or eliminate climate science programs across an array of federal agencies, from gutting efforts to track greenhouse gas emissions and research to eliminating funding for NASA satellites that study the impacts of climate change.

Though President Donald Trump’s budget unveiled earlier this week is highly unlikely to be adopted by Congress, it is a direct indicator of just how little weight his administration is giving to warnings from climate scientists about longer droughts, stronger storms and rising seas.

Mr Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and appointed forceful advocates for increased oil, gas and coal production to lead key federal agencies overseeing environmental enforcement, energy production and public lands.

In the 160-page budget summary released by the White House, the term “climate change” is only mentioned once — in the name of a science program marked for elimination at the Environmental Protection Agency.

A week after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt suggested global warming might be beneficial to humanity, his agency issued a 47-page strategic plan for the next five years that does not include the word “climate.” Asked about the absence of climate change in the budget and the strategic plan, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the agency will focus on its core goals which “are designed to transform the way the agency does business and more efficiently and effectively delivers human health and environmental results.”

Environmentalists say the deep budget cuts, if implemented, would amount to suppressing facts about global warming while turning up the Earth’s thermostat by pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Mr Trump’s proposed budget for EPA eliminates $US16.5 million in funding and 48 full- time jobs at the Global Change Research program, which develops scientific information related to climate change and its impacts on human health, the environment and the economy. Also zeroed out is $US66 million for the Atmospheric Protection Program, a collection of climate-related partnerships seeking voluntarily air pollution reductions by private companies.

EPA’s Atmospheric Protection Program, tasked with completing an annual US inventory of greenhouse gas emissions to fulfil international climate treaty obligations would be slashed from $US103 million to less than $US14 million, a reduction of about 87 per cent. The White House would also eliminate the Science to Achieve Results program, which provides $US28 million in research grants and academic fellowships in environmental science and engineering.

At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, money for climate- related research would be cut by more than one third, to $US99 million. That includes eliminating research programs to better understand the Earth climate system and research into decreases in Arctic sea ice. Trump’s budget also seeks to cancel five Earth-observing satellites costing about $US133 million in 2019. That includes a satellite designed to monitor Earth’s carbon cycle, which is key to tracking climate change.

Meanwhile, the White House is promoting what Mr Trump has dubbed an “energy dominance” strategy, emphasising increased investments in oil, gas and coal. At the Department of Energy, research into new renewable energy technologies is shifting to boost research into fossil fuels.

The budget “demonstrates the administration’s commitment to American energy dominance, making hard choices, and reasserting the proper role of the federal government,” the White House’s budget blueprint says. “In so doing, the budget emphasises energy technologies best positioned to enable American energy independence and domestic job-growth.” The budget for the Department of Interior seeks to ramp up drilling and mining on federally owned land while repealing an Obama-era rule requiring oil and gas operations to reduce leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps about 25 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.


Pope Francis, the Amazon, and Property Rights

Pope Francis decried the poverty and environmental ruination of the Amazon during his trip to Peru last month. He has also announced the convening of Catholic bishops next year to discuss problems facing the region’s resources and peoples. However, he has yet to draw attention to the institution that would both conserve the environment and promote economic self-improvement: property rights. The omission is glaring, given the support that the church has historically expressed toward property rights, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Robert M. Whaples, editor of Pope Francis and the Caring Society, and Research Fellow Adam Summers.

To understand why private landownership is so helpful in promoting economic empowerment and prosperity, Whaples and Summers explain, Pope Francis would do well to consult the writings of Pope Leo XIII, who in 1891 wrote: “Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which belongs to them.” Property rights offer a similar benefit for resource conservation. Inadequate enforcement of property rights is, in fact, the reason that wildlife poachers and illegal gold miners have succeeded in threatening endangered species, destroying sensitive habitat, and corrupting public officials.

To see the difference that property rights can make, one need only compare the lush forests of the Dominican Republic, where property rights are enforced, with the relative environmental squalor of neighboring Haiti, where property-rights protections are weaker. “Incorporating these lessons would help Pope Francis and the church to even better advance the aims of protecting the environment and drastically reducing poverty and corruption,” Whaples and Summers conclude.


Let's Make America a Mineral Superpower
Why is the United States reliant on China and Russia for strategic minerals when we have more of these valuable resources than both these nations combined?

This has nothing to do with geological impediments. It is all politics.

This is an underreported scandal that jeopardizes American security. As recently as 1990, the U.S. was No. 1 in the world in mining output. But according to the latest data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. is 100 percent import dependent for at least 20 critical and strategic minerals (not including each of the “rare earths”), and between 50 and 99 percent reliant for another group of 30 key minerals. Why aren’t alarm bells ringing?

This import dependency has grown worse over the last decade. We now are dependent on imports for vital strategic metals that are necessary components for military weapon systems, cellphones, solar panels and scores of new-age high-technology products. We don’t even have a reliable reserve stockpile of these resources.

Fortunately, the Trump administration is working to reverse decades of policies that have inhibited our ability to mine our own abundant resources, mostly in the western states — Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and the Dakotas. In December the Trump administration issued a long-overdue policy directive designed to open up federal lands and streamline the permitting process so America can mine again.

No nation on the planet is more richly endowed with a treasure chest of these metals than the U.S. The U.S. Mining Association estimates there are more than $6 trillion in resources. We could easily add $50 billion of GDP every year through a smart mining policy.

Environmentalists are threatening to file lawsuits and throwing up other obstacles to this pro-economic development mineral policy — just as they oppose more open drilling for oil and gas. The stupidity of this anti-mining stance is that the green energy sources that they crave — solar and wind power — are dependent on rare metals to be viable.

Rare earth minerals are the seeds for building new technologies, and a strong case could be made that these strategic metals are the oil of the 21st century.

The suite of 15 primary minerals — which the U.S. has in abundance domestically — has been referred to as “the vitamins of chemistry.” They exhibit unique attributes, such as magnetism, stability at extreme temperatures, and resistance to corrosion: properties that are key to today’s manufacturing. These rare earth elements are essential for military and civilian use for the production of high-performance permanent magnets, GPS guidance systems, satellite imaging and night vision equipment, flat screens, sunglasses and a myriad of other technology products.

Thanks to hostility to mining, huge portions of public lands in the west have not been explored or mapped in nearly enough detail to satisfy the hunt for minerals. It takes seven to 10 years to get mining permits here, versus two or three years in Australia and Canada. The nation must also map and explore again as was done in the Old West, when mining for gold, copper, coal and other resources was common.

Mineral imports from China and Russia are providing enormous geopolitical leverage to these countries at precisely the wrong time in global events. China, Russia and others have used their mineral wealth to hold importing countries hostage. Do we want Vladimir Putin to hold the commanding heights on strategic minerals?

We need a change in strategy and philosophy when it comes to mining. For federal land development, the 20th-century philosophy of “lock up and preserve” needs to be replaced with an ethic of “use and explore.” We have hundreds of years of these resources with existing technology.

China’s leaders have been known to boast that the Middle East has the oil and China has the rare earth minerals. But that’s false. We do. With a pro-mining policy, we can make America a mineral-exporting superpower, not an importer reliant on our adversaries. This strategy has worked like a charm when it comes to energy; it should be employed to yield the same America First results for strategic minerals.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

For global water crisis, climate may be the last straw

The usual rubbish about drought below.  It lists a whole lot of population factors that threaten the water supplies in many countries.  The recent big increase in the population of India, for instance, is putting big pressure on water supplies there.  So far, all very well and good.

But then comes an attempt to link the water shortage to global warming.  A link is just asserted, however, with no facts or reasoning to support it other than quotes from the ethically challenged Peter Gleick and his ilk.

The fact is of course that warming would produce more rain, which would ALLEVIATE the problem, not magnify it

A lot of Africa is certainly in drought at the moment but that is one consequence of El Nino. It shifts rain around from one place to another.  If a good La Nina gets going, that should bring back the rain.

The interesting thing is that in many countries in Africa and elsewhere, it is well known that water shortage is a recurrent fact of life.  So do you do anything about that?  You can't build any new dams because the Greenies will make such a fuss that the poliicians will cave in.  Greenies would rather have people die of thirst than build a dam.

But there is one country that HAS moved out of being water-deprived and into water riches.  That is Israel.  They have super-efficient desalination plants on the coast that get all the water Israel needs from the sea.  So the problem is solvable but it takes brains and effort.  Australia has very variable rainfall so it also has big desalination plants in most of its major cities -- but it hasn't had to turn them on yet, thanks mainly to El Nino.

Before man-made climate change kicked in – and well before “Day Zero” in Cape Town, where taps may run dry in early May – the global water crisis was upon us.

Freshwater resources were already badly stressed before heat-trapping carbon emissions from fossil fuels began to warm Earth’s surface and affect rainfall.

In some countries, major rivers – diverted, dammed or over-exploited – no longer reach the sea. Aquifers millennia in the making are being sucked dry. Pollution in many forms is tainting water above ground and below.

Cape Town, though, was not especially beset by any of these problems. Indeed, in 2014 the half-dozen reservoirs that served the South African city’s four million people brimmed with rainwater.

But that was before a record-breaking, three-year, once-every-three-centuries drought reduced them to a quarter capacity or less.

Today, Capetonians are restricted to 50 litres a day – less than runs down the drain when the average American takes a shower.

Climate scientists foretold trouble, but it arrived ahead of schedule, said Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape province. “Climate change was to have hit us in 2025,” she told a local news outlet.

“The South Africa Weather Services have told me that their models don’t work any more.”

Worldwide, the water crises hydra has been quietly growing for decades.

Since 2015, the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risk Report has consistently ranked “water crises” as among the global threats with the greatest potential impact – above natural disasters, mass migration and cyberattacks.

Borrowed time

“Across the densely-populated Indo-Gangetic Plain” – home to more than 600-million people in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – “groundwater is being pumped out at an unsustainable and terrifying rate,” said Graham Cogley, a professor emeritus at Trent University in Ontario Canada.

More than half the water in the same basin is undrinkable and unusable for irrigation due to elevated salt and arsenic levels, according to a recent study.

Groundwater provides drinking water to at least half of humanity, and accounts for more than 40% of water used for irrigation.

But underground aquifers do not fill up swiftly, as a reservoir does after a heavy rain. Their spongy rock can take centuries to fully recharge, which makes them a non-renewable resource on a human timescale.

As a result, many of the world’s regions have passed the threshold that Peter Gleick, president-emeritus of the Pacific Institute and author of “The World’s Water,” has called “peak water”.

“Today people live in places where we are effectively using all the available renewable water, or, even worse, living on borrowed time by overpumping non-renewable ground water,” he told AFP.

Exhausted groundwater supplies also cause land to subside, and allow – in coastal regions – saltwater to seep into the water table.

Dozens of mega-cities, rich and poor, are sinking: Jakarta, Mexico City, Tokyo and dozens of cities in China, including Tianjin, Beijing and Shanghai have all dropped by a couple of metres over the last century.

“Half a billion people in the world face severe scarcity all year round,” said Arjen Hoekstra, a water management expert at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

More than one in three live in India, with another 73-million in Pakistan, 27-million in Egypt, 20-million in Mexico, 20-million in Saudi Arabia and 18-million in war-torn Yemen, he calculated in a recent study.

Enter climate change

“Global warming comes on top of all this,” said Hoekstra.

For each degree of global warming, about seven percent of the world’s population – half-a-billion people – will have 20% less freshwater, the UN’s climate science panel has concluded.

By 2030, the world will face a 40% water deficit if climate change continues unchecked.

Glaciers in the Himalayas and Andes upon which half-a-billion people depend are rapidly retreating.

At the same time, global water demand is projected to increase 55% by mid-century, mainly driven by the growth of cities in developing countries.

For Gleick, global warming is already a threat multiplier.

So far, Earth’s surface temperature has risen by one degree Celsius, and the odds of meeting the UN goal of capping the rise at “well under” 2 C lengthen each year. Global warming alters wind and humidity, in turn affecting rainfall patterns.

“Climate changes caused by humans are driving changes in our water resources and demands,” Gleick told AFP. “As climate change worsens, impacts on water resources will also worsen.”

The prospect of empty water pipes haunts other urban areas in climate hot spots.

California has just emerged from a five-year drought, the worst on record. In 2014-15, Sao Paulo’s 12-million souls came close to its own “Day Zero”. Beijing, New Delhi, Mexico City and Las Vegas are among other cities that have been facing “huge water supply risks for more than a decade”, noted Hoekstra.

When climate change really kicks in, large swathes of Africa – the Sahel, along with its southern and western regions – will be especially vulnerable.

Currently, only five% of the continent’s agriculture is irrigated, leaving its population highly vulnerable to shifting weather patterns.

Two-thirds of Africans could be living under water stress within a decade, according to the World Water Council.

For Cape Town, drought conditions may be a taste of things to come. 

“Our new normal, at least when it comes to rainfall, is that the chance of dry years increases as we go forward toward the end of the century, and the chance of wet years decreases,” said Piotr Wolski, a hydro-climatologist at the University of Cape Town who had compiled data going back more than a century.


A cautious retreat

The article below was headed "Expect more 'complete surprises' from climate change: NASA's Schmidt". And that is surprisingly honest.  The article starts out with a re-run of the old pine beetle scare -- which I have dealt with previously -- and from then on consists of a whole litany of things that Warmists don't know or don't understand.  Most refreshing!  They seem to be gradually getting around to admitting that they don't know whether the globe will warm up or not

A very amusing bit occurs at the end of the article below.  Schmidt is quoted to say that the ozone layer is also being surprising.  But the journalist "forgets" to say exactly what the surprise is.  It is that the "Ozone layer NOT recovering" the way the Greenies said it would.  Much fun!

The eruption of pine bark beetles that has devastated millions of hectares of forests in North America is an example of the surprises yet to come as the planet warms, says Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The tiny beetles, which have infested forests from Colorado to Alaska, develop a type of anti-freeze as winter arrives. With fewer cold snaps before the insects are "cold hardened", more of them are making it through to spring.

“We just don’t understand ecosystems to the extent we understand the physical climate systems," Dr Schmidt told Fairfax Media during a visit to Sydney. “We will see over the next few decades more and more thresholds being crossed.”

However, that's not to say the physical climate is fully understood either.

Carbon dioxide levels are now the highest in about three and a million years when the Earth had a "very, very different climate", Dr Schmidt said, adding it was inevitable more "unknown unknowns" would emerge.

The southern hemisphere, especially Antarctica, is of particular interest to NASA and other global organisations trying to understand how the build-up of additional heat will affect planetary processes, he said.

“There’s a tonne of extra energy that’s going into the south - in fact there’s more energy going into the sourthern ocean than the north," Dr Schmidt said. "But that isn’t necessarily being seen at the surface."

Scientists' understanding of Antarctica continues to be limited by the short observational record, with much of the data compiled only since the late 1950s.

Satellites and argo floats are also not very helpful in gauging changes under the sea ice and ice shelves.

The region is already throwing up surprises. Dr Schmidt cited the Mertz Glacier Tongue, which used to protrude about 80 kilometres into the Southern Ocean until it was cut in two by an iceberg in 2010. “It seemed very, very stable...but the whole thing got taken out by an iceberg and now it’s totally disappeared," he said.

Research is focused on places such as the Totten ice sheet "where people think there is the greatest amount of potential change in the East Antarctic ice shelf", Dr Schmidt said.

A study out last year in Science Advances estimated Totten itself had the potential to lift global sea levels by 3.5 metres if it melted entirely.

The east Antarctic ice shelves, though thought to be mostly stable, "are big enough that should anything start to happen there, these will be noticeable increases to the rate of sea level rise," Dr Schmidt said. "So that makes them interesting.”

Sea ice cover around Antarctica is close to record low levels - set just a year earlier - as the region approaches its summer minimum extent.

Antarctica is also home to another scientific surprise: the ozone hole that was detected over the contenent in the mid-1980s.

While the class of chemicals - mostly chlorofluoro carbons - were relatively well known, their potential to destroy the crucial ozone layer that helps keep out cancer-causing ultraviolet light was not.

"It was a massive shock to the system - it hadn't been predicted by anyone," Dr Schmidt told a public talk last week.


The Epic Failure Of Glacier-Melt.  Sea Level Rise Alarmism Continues To Bespoil Climate Science

Injecting frightening scenarios into climate science reporting  has seemingly become a requisite for publication.

In a new Nature Geoscience editorial, a common scare tactic is utilized by the (unidentified) author so as to grab readers’ attention.

Nature Geoscience, 2018

"The East Antarctic ice sheet is currently the largest ice mass on Earth. If it melted in its entirety, global sea levels would rise by more than 50 metres"

Wow.  50 meters.  That would be catastrophic.

But then we read about real-world observations for East Antarctica.  And they don’t even come close to aligning with the catastrophic scenario casually tossed into the editorial.

First of all, East Antarctica is not losing mass and adding to sea levels.  The ice sheet is gaining mass and thus removing water from sea levels. The surface mass gains have been occurring not only since 1800 (Thomas et al., 2017), but for the recent decade (2003-2013) too (Martín-Español et al., 2017).  Even the author of the Nature Geoscience editorial acknowledges this.

Nature Geoscience, 2018

"The East Antarctic ice sheet may be gaining mass in the current, warming climate. The palaeoclimate record shows, however, that it has retreated during previous episodes of prolonged warmth"

Not only has East Antarctica been gaining mass, the author goes on to say that it would take 100s of thousands to millions of years for Antarctica to even exhibit partial retreat.  So much for the “if it melted in its entirety” warning we read earlier.

In terms of immediate sea-level rise, it is reassuring that it seems to require prolonged periods lasting hundreds of thousands to millions of years to induce even partial retreat.

So if the editorial department at Nature Geoscience realizes that it would take 100s of thousands to millions of years to even witness a partial retreat of the ice sheet, is there any scientific justification for the inclusion of the sea-levels-would-rise-50-meters-if-East-Antarctica-melted commentary?  Since when do imaginary scenarios pass as science?

A ‘Staggering’ 9 Trillion Tons Of Greenland’s Ice Has Been Lost Since 1900!

It’s frightening to learn that the Greenland Ice Sheet has lost a “staggering” 9 trillion tons of ice since 1900, which is what the Washington Post warned us about in 2015.

It’s not frightening to learn that 9 trillion tons of ice losses actually amounts to less than 1 inch of sea level rise contribution from Greenland meltwater in 115 years.

Since a total sea level rise contribution of 1 inch in 115 years from the Greenland ice sheet isn’t scary, the author of the Washington Post article (Chris Mooney) finds it necessary to offer his readers a macabre thought experiment: What if that additional 1 inch of water sitting atop the world ocean were to be collected somehow and then dumped onto all the United States interstate highways?   Now that would be scary.  It would mean that 1 inch of sea level rise turned into 98 feet of sea levels rise (63 times over) in very same imaginary world where additional sea water is dumped onto U.S. interstate highways.

This is how the modern version of climate science works.


Crooked polar bear scientists

Richard Tol has recently written a commentary on a paper by some polar bear scientists which is designed to discredit honest observer and Arctic expert, Susan Crockford. Crockford says the bears are flourishing.  Tol says that the paper has been stuck in the editorial office for a month now but he has put it up on the net anyway.  The Abstract is below.  What he writes is a total demolition of this dishonest attack on Crockford. If global warming was science, the reputation of the authors would be totally destroyed.  You can read the full paper at the link below.


Anand Rajan KDa and Richard S. J. Tol


Harvey et al. (2017) is an attempt on a colleague's reputation. They collected data by an unclear process, validated by data of unknown provenance. They artificially inflate the dimensionality of their data before reducing that dimensionality with a questionably applied PCA. They pretend their results are two dimensional where there is only one dimension. They suggest that there are many nuanced positions where there are only a few stark ones (in their data), using a jitter to conceal poor data quality, and obscure the underlying perspectival homogeneity due to self-selection. They show that there is disagreement on the vulnerability of polar bears to climate change, but offer no new evidence who is right or wrong, apart from a fallacious argument from authority, with a “majority view” taken from an unrepresentative sample.


Britain Needs To Embrace The Shale Revolution

Matt Ridley

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are the biggest energy breakthrough of the century.

Gas will start flowing from Cuadrilla’s two shale exploration wells in Lancashire this year. Preliminary analysis of the site is “very encouraging”, bearing out the British Geological Survey’s analysis that the Bowland Shale beneath northern England holds one of the richest gas resources known: a huge store of energy at a cost well below that of renewables and nuclear.

A glance across the Atlantic shows what could be in store for Britain, and what we have missed out on so far because of obstacles put in place by mendacious pressure groups and timid bureaucrats. Thanks to shale, America last week surpassed the oil production record it set in 1970, having doubled its output in seven years, while also turning gas import terminals into export terminals.

The effect of the shale revolution has been seismic. Cheap energy has brought industry back to America yet carbon dioxide emissions have been slashed far faster than in Europe as lower-carbon gas displaces high-carbon coal. Environmental problems have, contrary to the propaganda, been minimal.

All thoughts of imminent peak oil and peak gas have vanished. Opec’s cartel has been broken, after it failed to kill the shale industry by driving the oil price lower: American shale producers cut costs faster than anybody thought possible. A limit has been put on the economic and political power of both Russia and Saudi Arabia, no bad thing for the people of both countries and their neighbours. Shale drillers turn gas and oil production on and off in response to price fluctuations more flexibly than old-fashioned wells.

Seven years ago it was possible to argue that shale would prove a flash in the pan. No longer: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are the biggest energy news of the century. For those who still think the falling price of wind and solar is more dramatic, consider this. Between them, those two energy sources provided just 0.8 per cent of the world’s energy in 2016, even after trillions of dollars in subsidy, and will reach only 3.6 per cent by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. Gas will then be providing 25 per cent of the world’s energy, up from 22 per cent today.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here