Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Solar Flare-out

Another green government favorite goes belly up.


Another day, another stimulus burnout. On Wednesday, solar panel maker and White House favorite Solyndra announced plans to suspend business and file for bankruptcy. Its demise is a reminder of the perils of politically directed investment.

This wasn't supposed to be the storyline. In March 2009, Solyndra was the first company to get an Energy Department loan guarantee, worth $535 million. Vice President Joe Biden spoke via closed circuit TV at the groundbreaking of the company's Fremont, California plant, and President Obama touted the thousands of jobs the stimulus money would create. Such investments were all the better, Mr. Obama said at a visit to the plant last spring, because "The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra." You know, "green jobs."

Lots of venture capital companies bought into the hype, investing in green technology to piggyback their own capital on federal favoritism. Solyndra's relationship with the White House came under special scrutiny because of Solyndra backer and Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser's history as an Obama fundraiser. In a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu in February, the House Energy and Commerce Committee raised concerns about the loan, noting that the company had suffered "financial setbacks," and asking for information about "whether Solyndra was the right candidate" for the loan guarantee.

The Department of Energy marched on anyway, and yesterday it said it has "always recognized that not every one of the innovative companies supported by our loans and loan guarantees would succeed." Well, sure, businesses fail, but most failures don't saddle taxpayers with as much as $535 million in potential losses.

Solyndra's story is more evidence that trendy, politically directed investments don't make for efficient allocation of capital. Beyond the immediate losses, they mean the money wasn't available for market-directed investment with a better chance to succeed. This is how you get a 1% recovery.

Monday, August 29, 2011

US State Dept: Only 2% difference in CO2 emissions from oil sands vs. Venezuelan crude

The key claim of environmentalists opposing the Keystone XL pipeline is that oil produced from the Canadian  oil sands produces much more greenhouse gases than conventional oil production. However, the environmental impact report released from the US State Dept. concludes there is a mere 2% difference in CO2 emissions from oil sands production vs. the Venezuelan crude currently refined on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Keystone Pipeline Poses 'No Significant Impacts' To Most Resources Along Path, US Says 8/26/11

The U.S. government on Friday concluded that a controversial oil pipeline extension that TransCanada Corp. wants to build from Alberta to Texas wouldn't pose a significant threat to U.S. resources along the pipeline corridor, in a determination supporters said builds momentum for final approval.

The findings, released by the U.S. State Department, will play a key role in the federal government's decision to either approve or deny construction of the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline. A decision is expected by year-end.

The Keystone XL pipeline extension, under U.S. review since 2008, would pass through six U.S. states and have the capacity to transport about 1 million barrels of oil a day.

The State Department's review "reaffirmed the environmental integrity of the project," TransCanada said in a statement. The review process "has been the most exhaustive and detailed review for a cross-border pipeline that has ever been undertaken by the Department of State."

Environmental groups have been vocal opponents, in large part because the pipeline will be used to transport oil from Canadian oil sands, which emit more greenhouse gases during production than other types of oil. The groups are also opposed to mining in Canadian wilderness and are concerned about spill risks along the pipeline route.

The Canadian oil sands contain 170 billion barrels in heavy crude oil, the world's third-largest deposit, and are in northeastern Alberta.

The State Department downplayed the significance of its newly released environmental review, saying it will also weigh the economic impact of the pipeline, as well as energy security questions and foreign policy concerns, before making a final determination.

"This is not the rubber stamp for this project," said Kerri-Ann Jones, an assistant secretary at the State Department.

Observers said the environmental review finding is significant. "If the State Department now has what it sees as a supportive environmental statement, I don't see how they can turn down this project," said BMO Capital Markets analyst Carl Kirst.

The State Department outlined some risks from the project, including the potential for spills along the pipeline route, which goes over a large Midwestern underground water source called the Ogallala Aquifer. But the department concluded a spill would only affect a small area.

"In no spill incident scenario would the entire ... aquifer system be adversely affected," the study said.

The department study also conceded the key environmental claim that oil sands produce more greenhouse gases than other oils, but said the carbon dioxide emissions from oil sands are only 2% higher than the Venezuelan crude currently refined on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had objected to the State Department's draft environmental impact statement on the grounds that it needed to do a more complete analysis of oil sands' greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA as well as members of the public will have a chance to comment on the report.

The release of the State Department's review coincides with multiday protests in front of the White House in which more than 300 people have been arrested.

Protesters are urging President Barack Obama to block the pipeline. "The document still fails to address the key concerns for landowners and wildlife," Jim Lyon, National Wildlife Federation senior vice president, said, adding a legal challenge is possible.

Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the U.S., exporting some 2 million barrels a day to its southern neighbor. About half of Canada's oil production comes from the oil sands. Proponents of the pipeline extension say Canada is a more politically stable and environmentally responsible oil producer than other sources of U.S. oil imports.

Without the Keystone expansion or other pipelines built out of western Canada, Canada will run out of spare pipeline capacity near the end of the decade, according to a study by consulting firm EnSys Energy released last year.

However, EnSys concluded that even if Keystone isn't built, other pipelines will support the continued growth of the oil sands industry.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New paper finds corals and molluscs transplanted to CO2 vents calcify and grow faster than normal

A paper published in the September 2011 edition of Nature Climate Change finds that corals and molluscs transplanted to 'acidified' areas along CO2 vents in the Mediterranean were surprisingly "able to calcify and grow at even faster than normal rates when exposed to the high CO2 levels projected for the next 300 years." To add the requisite alarmist spin for publication in Nature, however, the scientists returned to the laboratory where they cranked up the 'acidification' along with heat to find they could then decrease calcification slightly.
[no link available to abstract or full paper]

Nature says apocalyptic theater piece is 'an accurate reflection of the state of our world'

The September 2011 edition of Nature Climate Change has a rave review of a theatrical production in which a dozen workers from the IPCC "struggle to carry on work as usual, while the world around them tips toward disaster." The stage then tips vertically and all the scientist's files and office furniture fly off to oblivion. Next, the scientists are choked by wildfires and rising flood waters. Nature raves that the apocalyptic production is 'an accurate reflection of the state of our world.'

Study: Cost of renewable energy will rise along with cost of oil

An article published in the September 2011 edition of Nature Climate Change determines the cost of renewable energy will not become more competitive as fossil fuel prices rise, because fossil fuels account for large portions of the cost to manufacture, transport, and mine materials for renewable sources. Over the entire life-cycle of energy production from these renewable sources, significant portions were originally derived from fossil fuels:

Wind: 34% of life-cycle energy production from fossil fuels used in manufacturing
Solar: 33%
Ethanol: 100%

The article admits that in most life cycle analyses of renewable energy sources, the inconvenient truth of significant use of fossil fuels is omitted from the analyses.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

More confirmation of Svensmark's theory?

A paper published this week finds that cloudiness over Russia has increased during the period of 2001-2010 compared to 1991-2000. Interesting in light of the corresponding global cooling since 2001, Svensmark's cosmic ray theory of cloud formation, the rise of cosmic rays since 2001 to record levels, and the concomitant decrease in solar activity.
Recent variations of cloudiness over Russia from surface daytime observations

A V Chernokulsky et al

Changes of total and low cloud fraction and the occurrence of different cloud types over Russia were assessed. The analysis was based on visual observations from more than 1600 meteorological stations. Differences between the 2001–10 and 1991–2000 year ranges were evaluated. In general, cloud fraction has tended to increase during recent years. A major increase of total cloud fraction and a decrease of the number of days without clouds are revealed in spring and autumn mostly due to an increase of the occurrence of convective and non-precipitating stratiform clouds. In contrast, the occurrence of nimbostratus clouds has tended to decrease. In general, the ratio between the occurrence of cumulonimbus and nimbostratus clouds has increased for the period 2001–10 relative to 1991–2000. Over particular regions, a decrease of total cloud fraction and an increase of the number of days without clouds are noted.

Biodiversity alarmism on the brink

The September 2011 edition of Nature Climate Change claims biodiversity is on the brink and that we "cannot wait for greater certainty in our estimates of extant biodiversity and predictions of its fate." The same article admits we are not even close to being able to measure biodiversity, with only 2 million species identified out of a total of "5.5 million to tens of millions" of species yet to be identified. Furthermore, the article admits "assessing the extent to which regional changes in biodiversity are caused by greenhouse-gas warming has proven particularly intractable, not least because of the need to disentangle the effects of climate change from those of other drivers such as pollution or overexploitation." Nonetheless, the article claims "one in every species could face extinction by 2100 from climate change alone" and that this "startling figure may well be conservative."

This highly-speculative conclusion is based on subdividing each species based upon differences in mitochondrial DNA. In this same sense, one could say "one in the Homo sapiens species could face extinction by 2100," since just like the genome is unique to each human, the DNA of human mitochondria is also highly variable between individuals. For example, a study found biodiversity of mitochondrial DNA between 105 randomly selected Croatians was 95% just based on looking at only 2 regions within the mitochondrial DNA genome itself. The biodiversity of the mitochondrial DNA of other species is also highly diverse and thus, the claim "one in every species could face extinction by 2100" is another example of pseudo-science feeding the alarmist mantra.

Deadliest US hurricanes occurred when CO2 levels were "safe"

All but one of the ten deadliest US hurricanes occurred with "safe" CO2 levels below 350 ppm:

The Ten Deadliest US Hurricanes

The Worst Hurricanes In Terms of Loss of Life In the United States 

1. The Great Galveston Hurricane
Galveston, Texas
September 8, 1900
This unnamed hurricane caused the greatest loss of life of any Hurricane in recorded US history. First tracked in Cuba as a tropical storm on Sept. 3, it hit Galveston as a Category 4 Hurricane. An estimated 6,000 - 12,000 people died as storm tides of eight to 15 feet washed over the barrier island. The tragedy was documented in the recent book, Isaac’s Storm.

2. San Felipe-Okeechobee Hurricane
September 16 - 17, 1928
The fourth strongest Hurricane to hit the US mainland caused a lake surge on the inland Lake Okeechobee in Florida that rose as high as nine feet, flooding nearby towns. A total of 1,836 people died in Florida; another 312 died in Puerto RIco, and 18 in the Bahamas.

3. Hurricane Katrina
Louisiana, Mississippi
August 25 - 29, 2005
Making landfall as a Category 4, Hurricane Katrina caused immense flooding in New Orleans. More than 800 deaths currently are being blamed on Katrina.

4. The Long Island Express
North Carolina to New York
September 20 - 22, 1938
The Long Island Express roared past North Carolina on September 20, and hit Long Island on September 22 as a Category 3.  Storm surges of 12 - 16 feet killed at least 600.

5. The Great Labor Day Storm
September 2, 1935
One of just three Category 5 Hurricanes to make landfall in the US, the Great Labor Day Storm was responsible for 423 deaths in Florida. Most of those occurred when a train carrying World War I veterans was overturned. The Hurricane also was notable for providing the setting for the Humphrey Bogart - Lauren Bacall movie, Key Largo.

6. Hurricane Audrey
Texas and Louisiana
June 26, 1957
Audrey was a Category 4 that caused eight to 12 foot storm surges that moved inland as far as 25 miles through low-lying areas of Louisiana. The storm is blamed for 390 deaths.

7. The Great Miami Hurricane
September 18, 1926
The Great Miami Hurricane struck Miami directly with little warning. The town of Moore Haven on the south side of Lake Okeechobee was completely flooded by lake surge from the hurricane. Hundreds of people in Moore Haven alone were killed by this surge, which left behind floodwaters in the town for weeks afterward. The Red Cross lists the death toll at 373, although the total may be higher because much of the population at the time was either new, or transient, with no one to account for them.

8. The Grand Isle Hurricane
September 20, 1909
This Category 4 storm struck the mainland between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. It is blamed for at least 350 deaths.

9. The Atlantic-Gulf Hurricane
Florida, Texas
September 10 - 14, 1919
This hurricane struck the Keys as a Category 4, and Texas as a Category 3. US mainland losses are recorded as 287, but more than 500 more people apparently were lost at sea as the storm destroyed ten ships.

10. Unnamed Storm
New Orleans, Louisiana
September 30, 1915
In a frightening precursor to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, this unnamed Category 4 Storm flooded Lake Pontchartrain, causing it to overflow its banks and killing 275 people.

11. Unnamed Storm
Galveston, Texas
August 5, 1915
In spite of a seawall built following the devastating 1900 storm, this Category 4 hurricane once again devastated the city of Galveston, Texas. It killed 275.

Fewer Americans See Climate Change as a Threat or Caused by Humans

Fewer Americans See Climate Change a Threat, Caused by Humans

Though climate change hasn't received quite the same attention it had back in 2006 and 2007, it's not too surprising that the vast majority of Americans still know at least something about it. But what they know exactly is changing, and national politics certainly seems to be playing a part.

According to a Gallup poll released Friday, 96 percent of Americans in 2010 said they know a great deal or something about climate change. And while that's down 1 percentage point from 2007 to 2008, it's not a significant change, especially considering how media attention to the issue has dropped off quite significantly since around 2007, when coverage was at its peak. [Read: Do Americans care about climate change anymore?]
However, what Americans who know about climate change think about it has changed quite a bit—namely, they see it as less of a problem—and that change has happened much more rapidly than in the four other top greenhouse gas emitting countries, China, Russia, Japan, and India. In 2010, according to the poll, only 55 percent of Americans believed climate change was a threat to them and their families. That's down 9 percentage points from 64 percent in 2007 and 2008. Also, the percentage of people who believe climate change results all or in part from human causes is down a full 11 percentage points. While 61 percent of Americans in 2007 and 2008 believed that humans were at least partially responsible for climate change, only half believed so in 2010.
In Japan, where a higher percentage of people say they know about climate change, the same decline in threat perception and belief in human causes happened too, though less significantly. In Russia, people's perception of threat went up from 2007 and 2008, but there was no change in the belief in human causes. Then, by contrast, in India, more people in 2010 (an increase of 16 percentage points, from 58 percent to 74 percent) believe that climate change is caused by humans. That same increase happened in China, though it was not as significant. [Read more from the Energy Intelligence blog.]
What's interesting about these results is that climate change has been a predominantly international issue, with the United Nations and its International Panel on Climate Change taking the lead on many initiatives and scientific reports. But, it's clear that rather than listen to the multilateral body—which continues to publicize both the threat and human causes of climate change—people, especially in the United States, are much more tuned in to the politics and the news of their own country.
In America, at least, the strong push from many climate change skeptics, which are now represented by many Republicans in Congress, appear to be making a difference in public views, particularly on the issue of whether humans are the cause. The more conservatives make noise denying the problem of climate change, perhaps, the more people, especially their base, catch on to that view. The decrease in media coverage may also play a role in the public's perception of threat, as climate change has been put on the backburner in favor of energy security and green jobs. [Read about whether global warming will matter in the 2012 elections.]
As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast this weekend, expect a round of commentary from groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council calling attention to the effects of climate change. But, with the trend shifting away from believing in such warnings, it's unlikely that many Americans will even take notice.

See a slide show of 10 reasons Americans aren't talking about climate change.

The Americas, Not the Middle East, Will Be the World Capital of Energy


For half a century, the global energy supply's center of gravity has been the Middle East. This fact has had self-evidently enormous implications for the world we live in -- and it's about to change.
By the 2020s, the capital of energy will likely have shifted back to the Western Hemisphere, where it was prior to the ascendancy of Middle Eastern megasuppliers such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the 1960s. The reasons for this shift are partly technological and partly political. Geologists have long known that the Americas are home to plentiful hydrocarbons trapped in hard-to-reach offshore deposits, on-land shale rock, oil sands, and heavy oil formations. The U.S. endowment of unconventional oil is more than 2 trillion barrels, with another 2.4 trillion in Canada and 2 trillion-plus in South America -- compared with conventional Middle Eastern and North African oil resources of 1.2 trillion. The problem was always how to unlock them economically.
But since the early 2000s, the energy industry has largely solved that problem. With the help of horizontal drilling and other innovations, shale gas production in the United States has skyrocketed from virtually nothing to 15 to 20 percent of the U.S. natural gas supply in less than a decade. By 2040, it could account for more than half of it. This tremendous change in volume has turned the conversation in the U.S. natural gas industry on its head; where Americans once fretted about meeting the country's natural gas needs, they now worry about finding potential buyers for the country's surplus.
Meanwhile, onshore oil production in the United States, condemned to predictions of inexorable decline by analysts for two decades, is about to stage an unexpected comeback. Oil production from shale rock, a technically complex process of squeezing hydrocarbons from sedimentary deposits, is just beginning. But analysts are predicting production of as much as 1.5 million barrels a day in the next few years from resources beneath the Great Plains and Texas alone -- the equivalent of 8 percent of current U.S. oil consumption. The development raises the question of what else the U.S. energy industry might accomplish if prices remain high and technology continues to advance. Rising recovery rates from old wells, for example, could also stem previous declines. On top of all this, analysts expect an additional 1 to 2 million barrels a day from the Gulf of Mexico now that drilling is resuming. Peak oil? Not anytime soon.
Read remainder at Foreign Policy

Friday, August 26, 2011

Greens furious Obama might allow creation of 131,000 new jobs


The Politics of a Pipeline
State Department takes one step forward, but the greens are furious.

As Winston Churchill once quipped about America, so it often goes with the Obama Presidency: You can count on it to do the right thing—after it's tried everything else. Yesterday's State Department decision to move one step forward with the construction of an oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico would illustrate the point—except it's still trying everything else.

The proposed TransCanada pipeline, known as Keystone XL, should someday be able to deliver 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. That's a bit more than what the Sultanate of Oman, on the Arabian peninsula, produces. TransCanada also estimates that the project would bring $20 billion in investment and 13,000 new (union) jobs to the U.S., along with some 118,000 "spin-off" jobs. But TransCanada needs State Department approval because the pipeline crosses the 49th parallel.

Getting that approval has turned out to be harder than building the 1,711-mile underground pipeline would be. TransCanada first filed its application in September 2008. After dozens of public meetings, hundreds of thousands of comments, and extensive consultations with the EPA, DOT, USDA, DOI, DOE as well as several other federal and state agencies, State produced a draft environmental impact statement that said the pipeline posed little risk to the environment.

That was in April 2010. But the EPA cried foul, and State went back to work. Sixteen months later, State has now produced its latest impact statement. Volume One alone runs to more than 500 pages, taking in such considerations as "direct impacts to beetles"—and there are eight volumes in all. But the bottom line is that the pipeline poses "no significant impacts" to the environment.

Alas, the saga is far from over. As State noted in a press release yesterday, the impact statement will now be followed by a 90-day review "to determine if the proposed project is in the national interest. This broader evaluation of the application extends beyond environmental impact, taking into account economic, energy security, foreign policy and other relevant issues. During this time the Department will consult with, at least, the eight agencies identified in the Executive Order to obtain their views. The Department will also solicit public comments, both online and in public meetings in the six states the proposed project would traverse and in Washington D.C."

We quote at length because you can't make this stuff up.

Meanwhile, our friends in the green movement are gearing up for a brawl with an Administration they feel has betrayed them. Days of protest outside the White House have led to the arrest of such environmental experts as actress Margot Kidder of Lois Lane fame, who says the pipeline "is bound to leak." The Sierra Club is warning President Obama that it won't "mobilize the environmental base" if he approves projects like Keystone XL. Thus the President finds himself in his usual sour spot of having to choose between new jobs or placating his implacable leftist base.

Your guess is as good as Ms. Kidder's about where Mr. Obama comes down—and it's a pity that the decision will have at least as much to do with his re-election calculations as it does with U.S. energy security and job creation. But as a case study in how political indecision and bureaucratic delay contribute to the sickly economy we have today, the Keystone XL drama has few equals.

Related: [Nutcase] Hansen Says Obama Will Be 'Greenwashing' About Climate Change if He Approves Keystone XL Pipeline

New Material Posted on the NIPCC Web site

Tropical Cyclones and Super Typhoons: Their Influence on China (23 August 2011)

Tropical cyclones and super typhoons impacting China are becoming both less frequent and less ferocious ... Read More

Surviving Global Warming Without Migrating Very Far (23 August 2011)

Even slugish limpets can do it ... Read More

The Fate of Boreal Peatlands in a Warming World (23 August 2011)

"Contrary to previous predictions, both ecosystem photosynthesis and respiration showed similar increases in response to warmer and drier conditions," such that "the ecosystem remained a strong net sink for CO2 with an average net ecosystem production of 189 ± 47 gC/m2/year" ... Read More

CO2 and Global Vegetation: From the Last Glacial Maximum to the Pre-Industrial Holocene (23 August 2011)

It is "necessary to invoke ecophysiological CO2 effects in order to account for the reduction in the tropical forest area at [the] LGM as shown by pollen data," which effects are the aerial fertilization and water-use-efficiency-promoting effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment working in reverse, as the air's CO2 content declines when moving backwards in time from the PIH to the LGM ... Read More

N2 and CO2 Fixation in a Unicellular Marine Cyanobacterium (23 August 2011)

Anthropogenic CO2 enrichment may well "substantially increase global oceanic N2 and CO2 fixation," which two-pronged phenomenon would be a tremendous boon to the marine biosphere ... Read More

Testing the Entire Suite of IPCC AR4 Model (24 August 2011)

Furtado et al. conclude that "for implications on future climate change, the coupled climate models show no consensus on projected future changes in frequency of either the first or second leading pattern of North Pacific SST anomalies," and they say that "the lack of a consensus in changes in either mode also affects confidence in projected changes in the overlying atmospheric circulation" ... Read More

Not All Australian Marine Fauna Obeying Climate-Alarmist Dogma (24 August 2011)

In fact, some are even acting counter to it ... Read More

A 2200-Year Storm History from North Carolina's Barrier Islands (24 August 2011)

Relative to climatic conditions of both the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, there has more recently been "a general decrease in storminess at mid-latitudes in the North Atlantic," reflecting "more stable climate conditions, fewer storm impacts (both hurricane and nor'easter), and a decrease in the average wind intensity and wave energy field in the mid-latitudes of the North Atlantic" ... Read More

Damaging Tropical Cyclones of China (24 August 2011)

There is "no significant trend in tropical cyclone casualties over the past 24 years" ... Read More

Old-Growth Forests of Tropical Africa (24 August 2011)

Are they feeling their age? ... or are they catching their second wind? ... Read More

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Svensmark's theory of cosmoclimatology confirmed

from Nigel Calder's blog [former editor in chief of New Scientist]:

CERN experiment confirms cosmic ray action

Climate Change – News and Comments
The global warmists’ dam breaks

A graph they'd prefer you not to notice. Tucked away near the end of online supplementary material, and omitted from the printed CLOUD paper in Nature, it clearly shows how cosmic rays promote the formation of clusters of molecules (“particles”) that in the real atmosphere can grow and seed clouds. In an early-morning experimental run at CERN, starting at 03.45, ultraviolet light began making sulphuric acid molecules in the chamber, while a strong electric field cleansed the air of ions. It also tended to remove molecular clusters made in the neutral environment (n) but some of these accumulated at a low rate. As soon as the electric field was switched off at 04.33, natural cosmic rays (gcr) raining down through the roof of the experimental hall in Geneva helped to build clusters at a higher rate. How do we know they were contributing? Because when, at 04.58, CLOUD simulated stronger cosmic rays with a beam of charged pion particles (ch) from the accelerator, the rate of cluster production became faster still. The various colours are for clusters of different diameters (in nanometres) as recorded by various instruments. The largest (black) took longer to grow than the smallest (blue). This is Fig. S2c from supplementary online material for J. Kirkby et al., Nature, 476, 429-433, © Nature 2011
Long-anticipated results of the CLOUD experiment at CERN in Geneva appear in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Nature (25 August). The Director General of CERN stirred controversy last month, by saying that the CLOUD team’s report should be politically correct about climate change (see my 17 July post below). The implication was that they should on no account endorse the Danish heresy – Henrik Svensmark’s hypothesis that most of the global warming of the 20th Century can be explained by the reduction in cosmic rays due to livelier solar activity, resulting in less low cloud cover and warmer surface temperatures.
Willy-nilly the results speak for themselves, and it’s no wonder the Director General was fretful.

Jasper Kirkby
Jasper Kirkby of CERN and his 62 co-authors, from 17 institutes in Europe and the USA, announce big effects of pions from an accelerator, which simulate the cosmic rays and ionize the air in the experimental chamber. The pions strongly promote the formation of clusters of sulphuric acid and water molecules – aerosols of the kind that may grow into cloud condensation nuclei on which cloud droplets form. What’s more, there’s a very important clarification of the chemistry involved.

A breach of etiquette
My interest in CLOUD goes back nearly 14 years, to a lecture I gave at CERN about Svensmark’s discovery of the link between cosmic rays and cloudiness. It piqued Kirkby’s curiosity, and both Svensmark and I were among those who helped him to prepare his proposal for CLOUD.

By an unpleasant irony, the only Svensmark contribution acknowledged in the Nature report is the 1997 paper (Svensmark and Friis-Christensen) on which I based my CERN lecture. There’s no mention of the successful experiments in ion chemistry and molecular cluster formation by the Danish team in Copenhagen, Boulby and latterly in Aarhus where they beat CLOUD to the first results obtained using a particle beam (instead of gamma rays and natural cosmic rays) to ionize the air in the experimental chamber – see

What will historians of science make of this breach of scientific etiquette? That Kirkby was cross because Svensmark, losing patience with the long delay in getting approval and funding for CLOUD, took matters into his own hands? Or because Svensmark’s candour about cosmic rays casting doubt on catastrophic man-made global warming frightened the national funding agencies? Or was Kirkby simply doing his best (despite the results) to obey his Director General by slighting all things Danish?

Personal rivalries aside, the important question is what the new CLOUD paper means for the Svensmark hypothesis. Pick your way through the cautious prose and you’ll find this:

Ion-induced nucleation [cosmic ray action] will manifest itself as a steady production of new particles [molecular clusters] that is difficult to isolate in atmospheric observations because of other sources of variability but is nevertheless taking place and could be quite large when averaged globally over the troposphere [the lower atmosphere].”

It’s so transparently favourable to what the Danes have said all along that I’m surprised the warmists’ house magazine Nature is able to publish it, even omitting the telltale graph shown at the start of this post. Added to the already favourable Danish experimental findings, the more detailed CERN result is excellent. Thanks a million, Jasper.
Read remainder at Nigel Calder's blog

WSJ: "we're sure someone will soon blame global warming" for East Coast quake

Quaking on the East Coast 8/24/11

Now they know how Californians feel. The kind of routine 5.8 earthquake that Golden Staters take in stride startled millions on the East Coast yesterday at about 2 p.m., shaking the ground from Florida to Maine and even reaching President Obama on a Martha's Vineyard putting green. No word on whether the temblor caused his ball to fall from the lip into the cup and help him win the hole, a la "Caddyshack." Quote of the day goes to journalist Tim Carney, who tweeted, "Krugman says it wasn't big enough."

It's easy to joke when no major damage is done, short of some frazzled nerves. Buildings (including the Pentagon and New York's City Hall) were evacuated for a time, flights were delayed or cancelled, and a Virginia nuclear plant lost its onsite power before the diesel generators kicked in. But government officials reported few cases of serious damage to buildings, roads or other public works.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was the largest in Virginia since May 1897, and it's a reminder that quakes can happen across the U.S. The quake's epicenter, 40 miles south of Richmond, was in what is called the Central Virginia Seismic Zone, which we doubt most Virginians knew existed. We certainly didn't. We also didn't know, but were glad to learn, that East Coast quakes are often felt at a further distance, but tend to do less damage, than West Coast quakes because the geology of the region is more stable and thus a more efficient transmitter of seismic energy.

Meanwhile, a 5.3 magnitude quake also struck Colorado Monday night, about 180 miles south of Denver. It was the biggest quake in that state in 40 years. If you're wondering about a pattern here, and looking for a culprit, we're sure someone will soon blame global warming.

As for the news coverage, we couldn't help but notice a tone of moral superiority creeping into the West Coast stories, as though the earthquake wimps on the East need to toughen up. "What?! An earthquake? East coast reacts with shock," headlined the Los Angeles Times.

New Yorkers probably deserve it, and we know they do in Washington, D.C. But if the folks in Malibu don't object, we'd just as soon wait another 114 years for the next one.

Related: Head of IPCC blames earthquakes on global warming

Monday, August 22, 2011

More evidence alarmist claims of a 'permanent El Nino' are false

Ancient Clams Yield New Information About Greenhouse Effect On Climate

ScienceDaily (Aug. 20, 2011) — Ancient fossilized clams that lived off the coast of Antarctica some 50 million years ago have a story to tell about El Niño, according to Syracuse University researcher Linda Ivany. Their story calls into question contemporary theories that predict global warming could result in a permanent El Niño state of affairs.

"The clams lived during the early Eocene, a period of time when the planet was as warm as it's been over the last 65 million years," says Ivany, a researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences in SU's College of Arts and Sciences. "We used growth rings in their shells to analyze changes in year-to-year growth rate, and linked that to changes in climate that are characteristic of El Niño today."
The research, "El Niño in the Eocene Greenhouse Recorded by Fossil Bivalves and Wood from Antarctica," is published online in Geophysical Research Letters and is forthcoming in print. Ivany's research team included Thomas Brey of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany as well as researchers from Purdue University, the University of Hawai'i, and the University of Mainz, Germany. The study was funded in part by the National Science Foundation.
The El Niño phenomenon, which occurs every two to seven years, is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the eastern Equatorial Pacific. El Niño can cause torrential rainfall in Peru, devastating drought in Australia, and generally wreak havoc on global weather. El Niño is the warm phase of a large oscillation in which the surface temperature of the tropical Pacific varies, causing changes in the winds and rainfall patterns. The complete phenomenon is known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The prevailing theory predicts that rising global temperatures could cause the ENSO to collapse, resulting in permanent El Niño conditions, which could have a major impact on socioeconomic and ecological systems worldwide.
One way to predict the future is to examine past geologic records. The species of clams Ivany's team studied lived to be more than 100 years old during a time when the Antarctic was as warm as modern-day Virginia. Their shells provide a long, continuous record of climate during their lifespan. "Clams, like trees, respond to changes in climate by growing faster or slower," Ivany says. "Therefore, the width of the annual growth rings correlates with environmental variables like temperature or precipitation. We measured the distances between consecutive bands and found two-to-seven-year periodicity in them, which is typically described for El Niño."
The researchers compared the results they obtained from the clams to a similar analysis they did of tree rings from fossilized driftwood they found buried in the same sediments as the clams. "We found the same pattern," Ivany says. "While it might sound counterintuitive, it turns out that the inter-annual climate variations seen in the tropical Pacific today are strongly teleconnected to the Antarctic. This seems to have also been the case 50 million years ago. The good news is that despite the very warm temperatures during the Eocene, the evidence from the clams and tree rings shows that the ENSO system was still active, oscillating between normal and El Niño years. That suggests that the same will be true in our future as the planet warms up again."

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Syracuse University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:
  1. Linda C. Ivany, Thomas Brey, Matthew Huber, Devin P. Buick, Bernd R Schöne. El Niño in the Eocene greenhouse recorded by fossil bivalves and wood from AntarcticaGeophysical Research Letters, 2011; DOI:

Now you tell us: LA Times: 'the windfall in green jobs...has always been a con job'

Goldberg: America's 'green' quagmire

The 'greening' of the country, including the creation of green jobs, has proved unworkable and expensive.

Photovoltaics installer Daniel Morabito of Hermosa Beach installs thin film technology solar panels for SolarCity in west Los Angeles. But can green jobs save the economy? (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Photovoltaics installer Daniel Morabito of Hermosa Beach installs thin film technology solar panels for SolarCity in west Los Angeles. But can green jobs save the economy? (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

What was it? At first, it looked like it could be a replacement for the Swords of Qādisīyah — that giant crossed blades sculpture in central Baghdad.

And then, the aha: It was a propeller blade for a wind turbine, a really big one.

I've seen plenty of wind farms, but I'd never seen the blades being transported for construction. Last week I saw a lot of them.

Why? Because they were on the road, and so was I. My 8-year-old daughter and I were on a summer adventure. We drove more than 2,000 miles from Washington, D.C. to, eventually, Steamboat Springs, Colo. (Don't worry, I did most of the highway driving.)

Something about seeing all those turbine propellers made me think of wartime mobilization, like FDR's ramp-up during the Lend-Lease period or Josef Stalin's decision to send Soviet heavy industry east of the Urals.

The comparison isn't completely daft, either. The notion that we should move to a war footing on energy has been a reigning cliche of U.S. politics ever since Jimmy Carter's Oval Office energy crisis address in 1977. "This difficult effort will be the 'moral equivalent of war' — except that we will be uniting our efforts to build and not to destroy."

Ever since, we've been hearing that green must become the new red, white and blue.

It's difficult to catalog all of the problems with this nonsense. For starters, the mission keeps changing. Is the green energy revolution about energy independence? Or is it about fighting global warming? Or is it about jobs?

For most of the last few years the White House and its supporters have been saying it's about all three. But that's never been true. If we want energy independence (and I'm not sure why we would) or if we want to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil (a marginally better proposition, given that Canada and often Mexico supply the U.S. with more oil than Saudi Arabia), we would massively expand our domestic drilling for oil and gas and our use of coal or carbon-free nuclear. That would also create lots of jobs that can't be exported (you can't drill for American oil in China, but we can, and do, buy lots of Chinese-made solar panels).

As for the windfall in green jobs, that has always been a con job.

For instance, Barack Obama came into office insisting that Spain was beating the U.S. in the rush for green jobs. Never mind that in Spain — where unemployment is now at 21% — the green jobs boom has been a bust. One major 2009 study by researchers at King Juan Carlos University found that the country destroyed 2.2 jobs in other industries for every green job it created, and the Spanish government has spent more than half a million euros for each green job created since 2000. Wind industry jobs cost a cool $1 million euros apiece.

The record in America has been no better, Obama's campaign stump speeches notwithstanding. The New York Times, which has been touting the green agenda in its news pages for years, admitted last week that "federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show." Even Obama's former green jobs czar concedes the point, as do other leading Democrats, including Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles.

Perhaps the most pathetic part of the war to green America is how unwarlike it really is. The New York Times also reported that California's "weatherization program was initially delayed for seven months while the federal Department of Labor determined prevailing wage standards for the industry," a direct sop to labor unions. And afterward, the inflated costs made the program too expensive for homeowners.

Green jobs, like shovel-ready jobs, proved a myth in no small part because Obama is eager to talk as if this green stuff was the moral equivalent of war, but he's not willing or able to do things a real war requires.

What we're left with is not the moral equivalent of war but the moral equivalent of a quagmire. A very expensive quagmire.