Friday, July 3, 2015

Is It Feasible to Replace Coal With Solar?

With recent developments on the climate change-fighting front, I had to ask myself if it was feasible to replace all of the coal-fired power plants in the U.S. and replace them with solar cells. Could this be done and stay realistic? To answer that question I began to crunch some numbers.

According to the Energy Information Agency, coal was used to generate 1.58 million thousand megawatt hours of electricity in 2013. These plants had a combined total nominal capacity of about 340 gigawatts. The cost of solar cells is dropping rapidly and is approaching $1 per watt installed capacity. That means it would cost $340 billion to install enough solar cell arrays to replace all of the coal-fired power plants in the U.S. (approximately 1500 power plants). 

Yes, that is a doable number.


But, what about area? Surely, that many solar arrays would take up a lot of land. 
 
Using a figure of .556 m2 per 180 watts ofcapacity, we would need about 1 billion square meters of arrays. That is about 400 square miles. Including space between arrays and room to operate, let's say it roughly 1000 square miles. Using a standard measure of area, that is less than the area of Rhode Island (1200 square miles). To put it another way, it would be a square 32 miles on each side.

Again, this is certainly feasible - especially considering the total area of the coal fired power plants would be available for conversion. 

What about operating expenses?

The average cost to operate a coal-fire power plant is around $7 per megawatt hour = $11 billion per year (using the 1.58 million thousand megawatt hours figure quoted above). Total operating expenses for solar = $0.

Once again, solar compares very favorably.

What about public safety?

Coal is the number one source of mercury in the air and water; the number one source of arsenic in the air and water; the number one source of sulfur dioxide which causes acid rain; the number one manmade source of radioactive particles in the air (coal is usually radioactive); the number one manmade source  particulate matter in the air (leading to a whole host of health problems); and, oh yeah, the number one source of carbon dioxide emissions causing manmade global warming.

Solar? No emissions.

Solar certainly comes out a head on that one.

In summary, even using rough numbers, we find the cost of replacing coal-fire power plants with solar power is reasonable; the land requirements are minimal; the operating expenses are much lower for solar; and the health benefits from getting rid of coal-fired plants are enormous. In short, it is very feasible to replace all coal-fired power plants with solar cells in even the short-term.

So, why aren't we?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

More Legal News About Climate Change

The court case in the Netherlands resulting in a court order for the Dutch government to reduce greenhouse emissions is stirring things up in the legal world. Other countries may now be faced with similar lawsuits. This has led me to speculate on the feasibility of such a lawsuit here in the U.S. The linked article discusses this very question. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound promising. The EPA is authorized to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and this, ironically, works against lawsuits. The article states that in 2011,
the Supreme Court rejected an effort by California and five other states to seek a cap on emissions from the utilities sector. The states argued that greenhouse gases are a ‘public nuisance’; however, the court countered that the EPA’s authority to regulate emissions prevented federal judges from using the public-nuisance argument. Attempts by others to claim liability against polluters and seek damages under civil law have also been unsuccessful.
There is no Constitutional right to environmental protection and the courts are not likely to order the government to act. Michael Oppenheimer, who studies geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey said a court would be likely to do so only if there were a large gap between public safety and existing regulations.

What this means is, in order to be successful with a lawsuit, you would have to be able to demonstrate the danger to public safety far exceeds what government actions are addressing. As a scientist, I believe that would be an easy thing to do. But, science doesn't always win out in the court room.

The conclusion I reach from this is that we will have to wait before we see legal action on behalf of the public safety in the U.S.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Loss for the Climate

I've been keeping an eye on the Supreme Court case of Michigan v. EPA. This case consisted of several states contesting EPA regulatory procedures concerning emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The Supreme Court granted a hearing on the case limited to the question of whether the EPA "unreasonably refused to consider costs to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities."

The EPA argued in its written filing that costs do not come into play in the first part of the regulatory process, stating the agency "concluded that costs are not relevant to the decision whether to regulate such emissions, but that costs should instead be taken into account when setting emission standards."

Michigan and 20 other states objected to the wording in the Clean Air Act that states, "The Administrator shall regulate electric utility steam generating units under this section, if the Administrator finds such regulation is appropriate and necessary after considering the results of the study required by this subparagraph." The states argued in their written filings that the word "appropriate" in the sentence is ambiguous and that it renders the EPA "free to find it appropriate to regulate without any regard for the regulations cost."

The Court's decision was released today (June 29) and, by a 5-4 vote, it sided with the states, stating the EPA unreasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act when it set standards.

What does this mean for the Clean Air Act? Really, the only thing it means is the EPA must take one more step and do that much more paperwork in the regulatory process. That means more expense to the taxpayers and that much more time the fossil fuel industry will be allowed to pollute the environment and the public. Of course, the climate is the ultimate loser, which means more damage and suffering by humans, especially the poor.

Will the EPA be back with the regulations? Based on what I read, I believe so. The states, using data from the fossil fuel industry, have stated EPA regulations would achieve $4-6 million worth of health benefits a year by reducing hazardous air pollutants, but would cost the industry $9.6 billion yearly to achieve. But, interestingly, the EPA states the benefits would exceed costs $27 billion to $80 billion (in 2007 dollars). Using the EPA's numbers, regulation would be exceedingly appropriate.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The People vs. The United States?

You have probably heard by now a court in the Netherlands found the Dutch government liable for not protecting its citizens from climate change and has ordered a 25% reduction in emissions over the next five years. This, of course, was a major victory for the people of the Netherlands in particular, and people every where in general.

So, the question is, should we follow a similar strategy here in the U.S.? Can, and should, the people of the United States sue the Government of the United States to force it to cut greenhouse gas emissions? We have to answer a couple of questions to determine that:

1. Is there a legal precedent that would allow such a lawsuit?;


2. Is there a legal basis for a lawsuit?;

3. Is climate change due to manmade greenhouse emissions?

Legal Precedent

The U.S. has enacted several laws with regards to the environment and the affect it has on the citizenry. Specifically, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency were all passed by Congress with one of the stated goals being the protection of the people. So, we can conclude that, on the face of it, the legal precedent has certainly been established that it is a responsibility of the government to protect the people in regards to the environment in which they live.

Point one is determined in the affirmative.

Legal Basis

Another way to phrase this question is to ask, has anyone been harmed by greenhouse gas emissions? If there has been no harm, there is no basis. If you have been following the debate on climate change, you are probably aware this is one of the issues deniers fight about the hardest. Now, we see, that is for good reason. If people are suffering harm due to greenhouse gas emissions, the fossil fuel industry can be sued for damages. If you know anything about the tobacco fight, this is probably sounding eerily familiar to you.

The reality is, we can prove that people have suffered, and are suffering, as a result of climate change. I have detailed an enormous amount of examples of this in my blog and the record is crammed full of examples and data showing the people of the U.S. are suffering from climate change and this damage is extreme.

Point two is determined in the affirmative.

Cause

This one is so overwhelmingly established it really isn't worth discussing beyond the point of again seeing why the fossil fuel industry debates this issue. Again, the tobacco wars are repeating themselves.

Point three is established in the affirmative.

So, the conclusion I reach is that there are legal grounds to pursue such a lawsuit in the U.S. and we have reached the time when we should do just that. We need to stop fighting this fight in the media and in blogs and start fighting it in the courts.

The biggest question of all is, who's going to do it?





Saturday, June 27, 2015

What's Warming the World?

Here is an excellent set of graphics from Bloomberg showing the effects of various factors on the climate. It shows many of the factors that people have proposed on this blog as the cause of global warming, including orbital mechanics, solar variability, aerosols (including SO2), deforestation, and volcanic activity. It shows each factor by itself and combined with others. The only thing that matches the increase in global temperature is the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is very nicely done. It won't convince any deniers, of course, but maybe some doubters will see the validity of science over denialism.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mixed News on Energy Front

A new study predicts investments in renewable energy sources will climb to $8 trillion by 2040. This, they say, will be about twice the amount that will be invested in coal, gas, and nuclear power over the same time period. This is certain to put a dent into the fossil fuel industry.

But, even if it becomes less dominant, these projections show fossil fuels are not going away. In addition to that $8 trillion going into renewables, approximately $4.1 trillion will be invested in coal, gas, and nuclear. This will result in continued increases in atmospheric CO2 levels until 2029. CO2 levels are projected to be 13% higher in 2040 than they were in 2014.

Still, a closer look at the number encourages me some. Of that $4.1 trillion, only about $1.6 trillion will go into coal-fired power plants. Gas plants will see approximately $1.2 trillion. The rest will go into nuclear power plants. This means only about $2.8 trillion will go towards CO2 producing power plants.

Some top international doctors and health experts are calling for the world to get off coal completely within five years, stating,
"The prescription for patient Earth is that we've got a limited amount of time to fix things," said commission co-chairman Dr. Anthony Costello, a pediatrician and director of the Global Health Institute at the University College of London. "We've got a real challenge particularly with carbon pollution."
The issue of carbon pollution was called a "medical emergency." Projects show about 57,000 Americans dying every year from complications caused by polluted air and approximately 12,000 will die every year because of high temperatures. A study by the World Health Organization stated climate change will "be likely to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year" around the world by 2030.

The cost of coal is extreme. The coal industry likes to say it is the cheapest form of energy, but that is true only if you pass the costs associated with burning coal to other people. If the coal industry had to pay for the damage done by CO2, mercury, arsenic, and sulfur dioxide, they would not be able to generate electricity at any rate the market could afford. It is only by making other people pay for the damages that the coal industry can afford to operate. So, why not make them pay for it?

Coal is not going away. Stopping all coal burning in five years would be a wonderful thing for the planet, but it isn't going to happen. But, if we start now, maybe we can turn that $1.6 trillion going into coal-fired power plants into a much smaller number. Zero would be a smaller number. The Netherlands showed there is a way through the courts to force a reduction in greenhouse emissions. The court there ordered the country to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels by 2020. In it's decision, the court said,
"The state must do more to reverse the imminent danger caused by climate change, given also its duty to protect and improve the environment,”
If it worked in the Netherlands, maybe it's time we tried it here.



Monday, June 22, 2015

The Death of Thousands Highlights John Coleman's Lie

One of the submissions to the Global Warming Skeptic Challenge was John Coleman's Youtube video, "How It Started." This is one of the most grossly false productions I've seen made by any of the deniers, and I have seen some real whoppers. Simply put, almost everything John Coleman says in this film is an outright lie. Of course, Coleman is associated with the Heartland Institute, so that pretty much explains it all.

Unfortunately, current events are highlighting just how much Mr. Coleman is a liar. Let me quote part of my response to his film:
I think I have shown just how this video is an absolute falsehood, from beginning to end. but there is one more statement he made that I want to address. He stated we have not had a deadly heat wave since the 1950s. This is so offensive that I have to address it.

A heat wave in New York City in 1972 killed almost 900 people.

A heat wave in 1980 killed nearly 10,000 people in the United States from a heat wave.

A 1988 U.S. heat wave killed between 5,000 and 10,000 people, although some estimates go as high as 17,000.

A 1995 heat wave in Chicago, IL led to "many deaths."

A 1999 heatwave resulted in over 500 deaths across the U.S.

But, this is just in the U.S., what about other countries?

In the heat wave of 2003 in Europe, between 46,000 and 70,000 people perished.

For Mr. Coleman to stand there and say that there have been no deadly heat waves since the 1950s is so offensive that it discredits everything he has to say (But, of course, he has no credibility remaining by this point anyway, so what's the harm in one more lie?). And, let's make sure we understand something, he started this video bragging about his credentials as a meteorologist! Are you going to believe that a meteorologist with over 30 years experience has no knowledge of these horrible heat waves and did not check his facts before making the video? I do not believe that for an instant. I believe he made his statement with deliberate intent to deceive.

John Coleman does not have a degree in science and only worked as a TV weatherman. This does not stop him from claiming to be a meteorologist and even signing the so-called Oregon Petition, which is supposed to be limited to scientists. Still, with his experience as a weatherman, there can be no doubt that he is fully aware of at least some of the listed heat waves - and those were just a sample. Now, reality strikes again.

A heat wave that is in progress in Karachi, Pakistan has already killed as many as 140 people. This record-breaking heatwave has brought temperatures as high as 112 degrees F (44.8 C). This heat wave follows right after a heat wave in India last month killed over 2300 people. Temperatures in India reached 120 degrees F and it was hot enough to melt the roads.

(UPDATE(6/23): The death toll in the Pakistan heat wave is now up to nearly 750 people, bringing the total death toll in the two heat waves to approximately 3,250 victims.)

(UPDATE (6/25): The toll from the Pakistani heat wave is over 1000 people dead and many thousands being treated at area hospitals. Between the two heat waves, approximately 3,500 people have died and tens of thousands have suffered injury.)

So, Mr. Coleman, would you like to address how approximately 2,500 people have died from heat waves in mere weeks, but you claim there have been no deadly heat waves since the 1950s? I bet you won't, for one simple reason. Consider this quote from a civil assistant surgeon:

"All they need to do is follow basic precautions like avoiding working in the sun. Not many listen. What can we do? It's a problem of poverty."
There's the key. It's the POOR people that are dying. I guess we can amend Mr. Coleman's statement to say, "No rich people have died in heat waves since the 1950s." Strangely enough, the man who submitted Mr. Coleman's video to the challenge, Patrick Stratoti, just this evening made comments about how it is the poor people who will suffer if we do anything about global warming. I wonder if he's willing to go to Pakistan and India and tell that to the families of the people who died?

But, that's not the end of it. The EPA is now estimating heat waves will kill over 12,000 people per year by 2100. And, that is just in the United States. 12,000 PER YEAR!  By the way, the rich people will simply turn up the air conditioner, so guess who will be doing the dying?

As Pope Francis said in his encyclical, it is the poor people of the world who are suffering from climate change the most.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fox News Hypocrisy on Pope Francis Displayed

When the Vatican released Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change it was headline news on nearly every single news outlet in the world.

Except Fox News.

Fox News buried the news in the very back of its online news website. You had to make a concerted effort to find any mention of it. But, not today. Today, it's their leading headline. In fact, they are they only ones I can find that are putting it on their front page this evening. Why is that? Because of a statement by one of the Cardinals.

“I would hope that no politician gets policy from his faith committee, his faith community,” Wuerl continued. “The pope is talking about what we should be doing, not ‘Here is a political agenda that you must accept.’  … “This is one of the great blessings of America. We are all allowed to speak our minds.”
To summarize this, when the pope has something to say about climate change, Republicans (and Fox News) line up to say he should butt out. But, when a cardinal says 'We are all allowed to speak our minds,' they think this is great.

So, please explain to me, Fox News. Why is it wrong for Pope Francis to speak about climate change, but it's okay for the Republicans to talk about it?

I'm just a little confused, that's all.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Anti-Science Ailes Demoted at Fox News

When I was in the Navy, I once overheard someone giving some words of wisdom to a brand-new ensign: "Be careful of who you offend because you never know who you might end up working for." Roger Ailes probably should have considered that when he referred to Rupert Murdoch's son, James, as a 'f***ing dope.' The news is he now has to work for him.

Roger Ailes is the anti-science twit who has been running Fox News for the last 15 years. Among other choice pieces pushed by Ailes are climate change denial, insistence second-hand smoke is harmless, and creationism. There is a who list of other 'fair and balanced' violations originating at his desk, but let's stick to the anti-science issues.

Ailes' boss, Rupert Murdoch recently announced he is stepping down as CEO of 21st Century Fox (owners of Fox News). In a curious development, Ailes directed the following statement be read on-air:
Rupert Murdoch would continue to serve as executive chairman, according to Stuart Varney, host of Fox Business Network’s “Varney & Co.” Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes will continue to run the news network, reporting directly to Rupert Murdoch, according to Fox News Channel.
In a direct slap-down, a spokesman at 21st Century Fox responded with this,
“Roger will report to Lachlan and James but will continue his unique and long-standing relationship with Rupert.” 
Not only is it being reported as a demotion for Ailes, it is being reported he was not warned in advance. That goes straight to the ego.

James Murdoch is a long-time conservationist and has a legendarily bad relationship with Ailes. Now, Ailes has to work for him. It will be interesting to see what changes at Fox News.

Hottest May Ever

The National Climatic Data Center released its State of the Climate report for May this morning:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for May 2015 was the highest for May in the 136-year period of record, at 0.87°C (1.57°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F), surpassing the previous record set just one year ago by 0.08°C (0.14°F). This ties with February 1998 as the fourth highest monthly departure from average for any month on record. The two highest monthly departures from average occurred earlier this year in February and March, both at 0.89°C (1.60°F) above the 20th century average for their respective months.
The first five months of 2015 were the warmest such period ever recorded. Both the land and the ocean temperatures set records.

What was that about there has been no warming? It looks like Monckton will have to redo is plot - once again

Our monthly grim count looks like this:


May was the hottest May on record;

April was tied for the fourth hottest April on record;

March was the hottest March on record;

February was the second hottest February on record;

January was the second hottest January on record.

So far, 2015 has two hottest months, two second hottest months, and one fourth hottest month ever recorded.


For the last 12 months, the tally is:

May 2015 was the hottest May ever recorded;

April 2015 was tied for the fourth hottest April ever recorded;

March 2015 was the hottest March ever recorded;

February 2015 was the second hottest February ever recorded;

January 2015 was the second hottest January ever recorded;

December 2014 was the hottest December ever recorded;

November 2014 was the 7th hottest November ever recorded;

October 2014 was the hottest October ever recorded;

September 2014 was the hottest September ever recorded;

August 2014 was the hottest August ever recorded;

July 2014 was the fourth hottest July ever recorded;

June 2014 was the hottest June ever recorded.




So, let's see what the score is for the last 12 months: one 7th hottest month, two 4th hottest months, two 2nd hottest months and seven hottest months ever.

Laudato Si - Pope Francis' Encyclical on Climate Change

The pope's encyclical has been released. You can read the entire document here. It is a long letter, so you might want to read a synopsis of it. Try the articles here at CNN, CNNMoney, New York Times, and The Washington Post. You know where you can't read about it? Fox News. That shouldn't be a surprise, considering how much they have rejected science for so many years.

Here is a story of why I am so excited about this letter. It is the story of a non-Catholic scientist that got to talk to Pope Francis about climate change with the hope that religion could change the fight. I agree. Religion, and religious leaders, are the most likely way to persuade the public the threat is real, the poor will suffer the most, and we need to act right now.

The message is out. Now, we wait.




Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Heartland is Desperate and People are Noticing

The Heartland Institute is possibly the biggest science rejecting organization involved with the climate change debate. They are the ones most heavily involved with disseminating false claims, lies and deception. To their credit, they have been very successful at this and the number of people who repeat their lies is extensive. But, there is a fight coming they are clearly worried about - Pope Francis' encyclical. This document will be released on Thursday and Heartland has already stated they will have a surprise waiting. Maybe they'll post a billboard of the Pope with the caption - "I believe in manmade climate change. Do you?"

Heartland's desperation is drawing attention. Really, guys? If climate change isn't real, what are so worried about?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Odds of Record Warming

I previously posted about a NOAA statement that said "nine of the ten warmest 12-month periods have occurred within the past two years." I then used some probability calculations to find out just how likely this was and came up with the odds being about 1 in 1.6 x 10^17. Very long odds.

But, a complaint was raised concerning my calculations. The calculations were done correctly, but the premise of the calculations was what was called into question. Namely, I used every month as being random when in fact, given one 12-month period, the next 12-month period (and previous one, as well) would have 11 months in common with it. So, it is not a truly random series. This, the objector said, would make a difference. Once it was pointed out, I agreed and went to another source to help me out - Dr. John Grego of the University of South Carolina.

Dr. Grego and his colleagues did a similar study addressing the fact that all 15 years since the year 2000 have been in the top-20 hottest months. They wanted to know what are the chances of that happening on a random basis and came up with the odds of it happening randomly are 1.5 quadrillion to 1.  This study was the actual inspiration for my posting mentioned above, so I thought this would be a good place to check. Dr. Grego was kind enough to take the time to figure the odds and this is his response:
Hello Dr. Keating--it's straightforward enough to write down the correlation structure for 12-month running means, but trying to account for that in an urn-model probability calculation looked formidable to me.  So I simulated the process instead, while still using an underlying assumption that monthly temperatures were independent normal random variables, which I would consider to be a naive, but instructive approach.  I appended R code at the end of this email. Basically, I generated 1632 (136X12) independent normal random variables, computed their 1621 (1632-11) running averages, sorted them from highest to lowest and then tallied how many of the highest 10 (those with rankings from 1612 to 1621) occurred in the last two years (indicated by an index ranging from 1598 to 1621).  I first ran this simulation 1000 times, then 100000, then 1000000.  I thought I might need to run much larger simulations if probabilities of some of the events below turned out to be very small, but that proved unnecessary.

The table lists each of the possible outcomes (0 of the 10 hottest months occurred in the last two years, 1 of the 10 hottest months occurred in the last two years,...,10 of the 10 hottest months occurred in the last two years) and the proportion of simulations for which each outcome occurred for each of the three simulation series I ran—results were surprisingly consistent as I upped the number of runs.  As you can see, the proportion of extreme events is not as small as one might think, apparently driven by the very high autocorrelation in the series of running averages.  Note how even a single value in the top 10 is quite small, but then the distribution is quite heavy-tailed and dies off very slowly--almost linearly!

(Listed proportion for test simulations of 1000, 100000, 1000000)
>  0 .92600, .90819, .90902
>  1 .03900, .03889, .03854
>  2 .01000, .02112, .02051
>  3 .01200, .01241, .01262
>  4 .00700, .00778, .00794
>  5 .00200, .00517, .00488
>  6 .00200, .00295, .00300
>  7 .00200, .00187, .00186
>  8 .00000, .00088, .00090
>  9 .00000, .00051, .00051
> 10 .00000, .00023, .00022
>
>
> --John Grego
>
> #Backward-looking 12-month running average--10000 simulations.
>
> a=filter(x,rep(1/n,n), sides=1)
> return(a)
> }
> tx=1632          #1632=136*12
> nhot=NULL
> for(nrep in 1:10000){
> x=rnorm(tx)
> ax=runavg(x)
> sort_ax=order(ax,na.last=NA)
> nhot[nrep]=sum(order(ax)[1612:1621]>=1598)
> }
> table(nhot)
Essentially, what Dr. Grego did was to run the data and determined just how many times this event actually occurred. The three columns demonstrate the outcome when running it 1000 times, 100,000 times and 1 million times. Comparing the columns, we can see the numbers for each occurrence is converging on some percentage. For the case of nine of the ten warmest months occurring on a random basis in a 24-month period the percentage is converging on .00051. 

That means, the odds of this happening on a random basis are about 51 out of 100,000 (about 1 in 2000).

Those odds are certainly not as bad as the 1 in 1.6 x 10^17 I previously calculated, but they are sufficient to demonstrate this record could not possibly be random.



Monday, June 15, 2015

New England Breaks Heat Records

With all of the heavy snow the Northeast saw this winter, there were all sorts of pundits mocking global warming and climate change. This really demonstrated their ignorance and its easy to see why by asking a pretty simple question: How did all of the water get high in the atmosphere?

Have you ever shoveled snow? If you haven't, I can tell you it is incredibly hard work. Snow is heavy. Now, imagine square mile after square mile covered in feet of snow and you have the job of shoveling it all. In fact, you have to shovel it to a height of a few miles. No one would disagree this would take a lot of energy. So, where did all of that energy come from? (Think about it. That was not a rhetorical question.)

Of course, facts and science are not the strong points of global warming deniers. Now, the facts are biting them again and they have all run for cover. The temperatures in the Northeast (yes, the SAME Northeast) have set records for May. Take a look:

Source: NCDC
Just for the fun of it, let's do a count.

Maryland had the fourth hottest May ever recorded.

Delaware, New Jersey, and Maine all had the third hottest Mays ever recorded.

New York and Vermont had the second hottest Mays ever recorded.

Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire all set records with the hottest Mays ever recorded.

All total, 15 states in the East were much warmer than average.

That's a lot of heat.

So, where are all of those pundits now? Oh, yeah. I forgot.

Deniers melt in the heat.

Guest Submission: Reduction in UK GHG Emissions




2015 Shows a Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the UK

A step closer towards the Kyoto Protocol

By 2020, the United Kingdom needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions if it wants to respect the Kyoto Protocol Treaty. As a reminder, the greenhouse gas emissions effect concerns the fact that certain gases trap the heat in the atmosphere, which affects the global water and air temperature. Those main gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride.
Nowadays, recent statistics have proven that the UK is currently meeting its target, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). As an example, in 2013 the emissions of greenhouse gases have decreased by 23.6% compared to 1990. 


This was mainly caused by a 15% carbon dioxide emissions reduction in the energy sector. It could be explained as the energy sector changed its electricity generation sources from fossil fuels - coal and natural gas combustion- towards more renewable sources such as wind energy or renewable fuels combustion - i.e. wood.
In 2014, this general tendency was confirmed, accounting an additional decrease of 8.4% of greenhouse gas emissions, due to a 9.2% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Those results represent a big success for the government, when it was known that in 2013, 82% of the UK greenhouse gas emissions concerned carbon dioxide.


2014 has also been a good year for the residential sector that accounted a decrease of up to 16.6% of natural gas consumption- mainly oil and propane- for space heating and cooking. Thus, British households showed a preference in investing in clean and renewable resources such as wood-pellets boilers, biomass boilers, solar panels, heat pumps and so on. Those investments are nevertheless highly incentivized by the UK government through the Feed-in Tariff, the Green Deal and other green grants allowing UK citizens to receive some financial help in investing in green resources.
Except 2010 and 2012 when the weather was particularly cold in the UK, there has been since 2004 a downward trend in greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, we can forecast positive expectations for the upcoming years trend. The Kyoto Protocol would thus be honored if it stops as planned in 2020.
From July 2015 on, statistics will be available on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website comparing the first half of 2015 with the past 25 years (starting in 1990).

Find out more information about green energy sources on www.greenmatch.co.uk

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Republicans vs. Pope Francis

The Republicans and their fossil fuel allies have already shown they fear the encyclical Pope Francis is preparing to release on climate change and have gone so far as to send a contingent to Rome to try and talk him out of it. Now, they are demonstrating they are in near panic mode by picking a fight they never should have picked and are directly attacking the Pope.

Rick Santorum started this most recent bout by telling the Pope to butt out on the subject of climate change. Referring to the Church, he stated, “We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.”

Let's be perfectly clear, Rick Santorum is one of the Republicans that loves to spout, "I'm not a scientists, but..." before proceeding to prove he really isn't a scientist. So, he thinks he's qualified to talk about climate change and dispute the 97% of climate scientists who say manmade climate change is real, but the Pope, who has a degree in chemistry, isn't. Chris Wallace called him out on this very question, to which Santorum replied,
“But the point is that politicians, whether we like it or not, people in government have to make decision with regard to public policy that affects American workers.”
Santorum really talked himself into a corner with this one. If, as a politician, he has to make decisions with regard to public policy, why is it he continually fails to make sound decisions? And, apparently, he really thinks he is qualified to be President of the U.S., even though he routinely rejects any science he doesn't like. Take a look a these other Santorum gems:

  • He wants creationism taught in schools;
  • Calls climate scientists 'climate change's Pharisees';
  • Refers to other people that accept the reality of manmade climate change as 'flat earthers;'
  • Believes human life begins at inception;
  • Called climate science 'speculative science' and 'political science'

He even stated, “Any time you hear a scientist say science is settled, that’s political science, not real science.”

Really? Tell me, Senator, if I say it is settled the Earth revolves around the Sun, is that political science? Once again, you are demonstrating you really aren't a scientist. You are also demonstrating you don't understand enough about science to be talking about it in public. By the way, Senator, the Pentagon considers climate change to be a matter of national security. Wouldn't that be something of a concern for the President of the U.S.? This all means you are demonstrating you are not qualified to be President. So, don't go around claiming you are more qualified to speak on the subject than the Pope, or anyone else, for that matter.

And, maybe the public is taking note. Santorum recently made a campaign stop in Iowa that attracted only four people. That was right after another stop that attracted only 10 people. Maybe it's a good sign for the country.

Now, James Inhofe has waded into the fight and said, “Everyone is going to ride the pope now. Isn’t that wonderful. The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours.” This is the same James Inhofe who threw the snowball on the Senate floor this past winter. This is the same James Inhofe who has taken over $2 million from the fossil fuel industry over his career. This is the same James Inhofe who stated climate change was the "biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the American public". This is the same James Inhofe who stated climate change isn't real because it costs too much and that it isn't a problem because God won't let it be one. This is the same James Inhofe who has repeatedly stated he isn't a scientist, then proceeded to prove what a jackass he really is.

Now, this man is saying the Pope should butt out? And, he's saying he has a job to do? Well, yes, he really does have a job to do, he isn't doing it. Global warming and climate change are very serious concerns for the well-being of the people of America, including his constituents in Oklahoma. So, why isn't he taking care of them?

The Republicans are showing what hypocrites and science deniers they really are. And, they are demonstrating they are firmly in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. But, don't blame them for being afraid of the Pope's encyclical. It is going to hit home with a lot of people and will change things in this country.





Thursday, June 11, 2015

Guest Submission: Is Obama Knowledgeable About Climate Change?

Hello Chuck, and to whom it may concern, at the Duluth News Tribune,
RE: A free AND responsible press;

Here is a link to FactCheck.org's science site. It affirms that Obama has been correct or nearly correct about recent claims he has made about 2014 being the warmest year, as well as the fact that 14 of the 15 years since the turn of the century have been among the hottest years on record:


I sent you this link so that you can at least understand what is accurate, even if you are not willing to edit, or reject entirely, letters about climate change that do NOT contain (accurate) information about global warming. In fact, some of the letters and articles in the Tribune from deniers, contain almost NO accurate information at all, and it can be proven that they don't!

Surely your role as a trusted news outlet, involves reporting real information and actual facts pertaining to the stories and issues that the Tribune covers? So, how about really editing the letters of denial that are sent to Readers' Views for their accuracy--as you claim is your right to do under the Readers' Views, opinion page guidelines?

I found an article affirming Obama's climate claims in about two minutes by simply going to the FactCheck.org website, and consulting its science section. So, why can't the Tribune do the same? You have often needed to verify or correct some information in my letters, so that means you have actually bothered to check the sites I referenced by using the Internet. I can virtually guarantee you that some day the American Press, and the press worldwide, will wonder why it didn't recognize the importance of AGW (man-made global warming), and actually bother to check some of the supposed facts in countless letters of denial that are published in newspapers like the Tribune. So, many news outlets like the Tribune will eventually NEED to begin vetting deniers sooner or later. By not doing so, members of the press are inadvertently allowing downright false pieces of misinformation, as well as blatant lies, to be given a free but false pass! Would you publish a letter, or article, which claimed GW Bush is really a transsexual, or that President Obama is an avowed necrophiliac? With the possible exception of President Obama—of course you wouldn't!—at least not until you were damn sure that you were really reporting factual and verifiable information!

Global warming may not entirely eradicate the human race, but it will very likely expose our children and their children, to a hostile and perhaps even deadly, environment. So, If we don't become extinct, as up to a million other species may (by the end of this century), we will need to view our global climate as part of a delicately balanced web. For that reason the extinction of many other species would very likely, adversely affect the human race and damage our worldwide environment as well!

I am not trying to attack your integrity or coerce you into heeding the songs of canaries in coal mines—environmental ignorance is (although not always deliberate), typical of the press around the world—not just in Duluth Minnesota. However, I am asking you to seriously consider the things I and many others have mentioned in letters which have been sent to the Tribune.

I consider the role of the press to be just as critical as the role of climate scientists in spreading factual information about AGW. So, it's my hope that increasing numbers of informed people will frequently send letters containing truthful information about man's role in global warming to their local news outlets. Even if such letters are sent to the editors WITHOUT the express purpose of being published in various opinion page sections, such letters can also serve the purpose of keeping the journalists, who work at those outlets knowledgeable about the many types of misinformation and downright lies that are distorting actual facts about climate change. So after those in the press are provided with truthful information, the ball will then be in their court, and they will have the responsibility to act with honesty and accuracy concerning the facts about global warming—ignorance really should not provide anyone with a free license to lie! So the press will eventually have NO excuse to enable deniers! And, the press really does need to play a paramount role in educating the public--that's why it needs to be educated itself!

What is the rationale behind the claim that outlets like the Tribune reserve the right to edit for accuracy, if so much inaccurate and misleading information is continually printed in your pages anyway? You needn't ALWAYS vet the letters of denier for facts, but just as you examine my links—and rightly so—can't you also occasionally attempt to verify the claims of deniers by spending just a few extra minutes on the Internet, or simply going to links like the one I provided at FactCheck.org? What is your excuse as a professional news outlet when, like so many others, you deliberately look the other way, and thus legitimize the lies and misinformation provided by deniers without first verifying the truth behind what they say for yourself?

Sincerely,
Peter W. Johnson

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Climate Change Deniers Validate 'No Hiatus' Paper

The term 'hiatus' is something I really dislike because it has been seized by climate change deniers who reject science as 'proof' global warming is not real without bothering to discuss what was meant by a hiatus. Global warming clearly continued with 9 of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20 hottest years ever recorded occurring since the year 2000. It is impossible for this to have occurred randomly. It has had to occur for a reason. Also, the data being discussed was the surface temperature and did not include the 93% of the warming, which takes place in the oceans. So, no, global warming didn't stop. However, it is true the data showed a slowing of the surface temperature rise. This has been the subject of a lot of research. The Pacific Ocean has been believed to be the place where most of this warming was going but it was difficult to identify exactly where. Recent research has indicated it has been moving from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean. As the Pacific Ocean warmed, currents and easterly winds pushed the warm water to the west and into the Indian Ocean. Seventy percent of the heat absorbed by the oceans over the last decade appears to be stored in the Indian Ocean.

Now, as has been widely reported, scientists at NOAA have examined the historical data and have determined the so-called hiatus never occurred.Their paper, appearing in the journal Science, states "There is no discernible ... decrease in the rate of warming between the second half of the 20th century and the first 15 years of the 21st century."

The problem has been biases in the data.You don't just collect data from some instrument and run with it. You have to calibrate an instrument to determine exactly what it is measuring. Then the data must be examined to ensure the instrument continues to work the same over time. Additionally, you have to take into account where you have data and where you don't. In the case of climate science, you want to take into account the fact we have lots of data from the land surfaces, but not the oceans. These are just a few of the issues with data. The NOAA scientists have discovered when you take all of this into account the 'hiatus' disappears. Surface warming has continued at the rate of about two-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit per decade (about .1 degree C per decade) since the 1950s.  Take a look:
Source: NOAA
It is encouraging the source for the perceived slowdown has been determined - it apparently never happened. However, we need to keep in mind this is the first report and it has to be validated by other scientists. Strangely enough, the paid fossil fuel shills are the first to provide validation of these results. Who, but the most-biased new organization of all, Fox News, would be in a rush to report that the results are being questioned by "climate scientists." Just take a look at who they quote as questioning these results - Roy Spencer, Judith Curry, John Christy - all former scientists that have rejected science in favor of taking money from the fossil fuel industry. Some of these people have been caught falsifying data on multiple occasions and producing fraudulent results that had to be retracted.

So, how does this qualify as validating the results? Very simple. It will take real scientists months to years to examine this paper and attempt to duplicate the results. All of these former scientists rushed out and criticized the results after a mere week. But, there is no possible way for them to have determined if the results are valid or not. The only explanation for their rushed criticisms is that the denier lobby is concerned with this paper. And, if they are concerned, that indicates the results are very persuasive.This is a true indicator the results are valid.

You have to wonder, why are the deniers in such a rush to try and discredit the paper? Probably because they know it proves their denier claims are not valid.  So, they have no choice but to rush to the attack, even though it is not possible for them to have examined the results.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

CO2 Has Maxed Out For 2015





CO2 levels in the northern hemisphere climb during the winter and begin to taper off during the spring as plant life becomes active. Then, it will begin to drop during the summer before rising again in the fall as the plant life goes dormant.

Following this pattern, CO2 levels, as measured at Mauna Loa, have reached their maximum for this year and are beginning to fall. Take a look at this plot for the last two years (plots with other times frames can be found here).

https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/wp-content/plugins/sio-bluemoon/graphs/mlo_two_years.png
Source: Scripps Institute


There are several things to note, beginning with the monthly average for May (the last open circle on the right). Reading from the graph, the May average was about 403.8 ppm. It was only May of 2013 that we passed the 400 ppm level at all, and that was just daily readings (small dots). Check out the daily readings now and you can see the maximum daily readings were just under 405 ppm.

Interpolating the data, we can project that June and July will have monthly averages above 400 ppm. I think August will get close but stay below that level. April of last year was the first month to average over 400 ppm and there were three months total last year with an average surpassing that benchmark. This year will have at least seven.

Seven? You might be thinking, "Wait a minute. I only count six."

Don't forget to count December. The level will start rising again in the September/October time frame. The rate of increase is about 2 ppm per year. November 2014 was right at 397 ppm, so it will probably stay below 400. December, though, was at about 398.5 and will surpass 400 ppm this year.

Seven months with averages over 400 ppm this year.

Projecting into 2016 we can see, in addition to the months that exceeded that level this year, January; August; and November will exceed that limit. September and October will be just a little below 400 ppm next year but they will surely cross the line in 2017.

What that means is 2016 is probably the last year we living today will ever see CO2 levels below 400 ppm ever again.




Monday, June 1, 2015

Exxon CEO Toes Party Line

The CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, might as well have used the 'I'm not a scientist, but...' line at the shareholders meeting last week. When challenged about climate change, he stated,
“What if everything we do, it turns out our models are lousy, and we don’t get the effects we predict?” Tillerson said. “Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity, and those solutions will present themselves as those challenges become clear.”
This is really unfortunate, especially considering the hope attached with some developments with Exxon. It turns out, it was just a ruse. Exxon is still a denier organization and there are indications it still provides funds to denier organizations, using entities such as Donor Trust to funnel funds with orders to undermine climate science. 

That wasn't enough, though. He also mocked renewable energy and said the company intentionally does not invest in renewables, stating, “We choose not to lose money on purpose.”

But, it gets even worse. His comments also included this jewel:
“Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity. Those solutions will present themselves as the realities become clear,” he said. “I know that is a very unsatisfying answer for a lot of people, but it’s an answer that a scientist and an engineer would give you.”
Tell us, Mr. Tillerson, just how do you expect the rest of the world to 'adjust?' Things such as massive change in ocean life, not to mention the ocean acidification. Or, how about the mass extinction that is in progress? Or, how about all of the world's poor that will suffer reduced living standards because of climate change? If you're dead, you can't adjust. Of course, I guess that would actually qualify as 'adjusting' under Mr. Tillerson's definition. I mean, why should he care? He makes tens of millions of dollars a year. He can afford to pay for his personal costs due to climate change. Let everyone else worry about themselves.
One last thing, Mr. Tillerson, the only scientists that would give that answer are ones that have been bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. But, since ExxonMobil made over $32 billion last year, I guess you can afford a few. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

California Initiative Has Polluters Pay For Low-Income Solar

California's cap-and-trade system on polluters has raised over $1.6 billion. Now, the Grid Alternatives initiative will use $14.6 million of that to put solar power systems on homes of qualifying low-income families.There will be no cost to the family and it is estimated it will save each family up to $1000 a year in electricity costs. That's a lot of money for some of these families.

This is a great idea. The ones creating the pollution will be the ones paying for it and the people suffering the most from the pollution will be the ones benefiting the most from this program. And, at the same time, it is working to reduce fossil fuel emissions. They hope to install the system on 1600 homes by the end of next year. Oh, and job training is being used to help install them, which means a lot of people are getting valuable training for good jobs.

I don't know how the deniers are going to complain about this, but I am sure they will. After all, it hurts their billionaire fossil fuel buddies, so there has to be something wrong with it. Right?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

1100 Dead Prove Tom Harris is Wrong

UPDATE: THE DEATH TOLL IN THIS HEAT WAVE NOW EXCEEDS 2300 (JUNE 1). ADDITIONALLY, LIVESTOCK ARE BEING DECIMATED, CAUSING FOOD PRICES TO SOAR AND THE POOR ARE THE ONES SUFFERING THE MOST.

UPDATE: AS OF JUNE 2, THE DEATH TOLL HAS NOW EXCEEDED 2500 AND THE INDIAN EARTH SCIENCES MINISTER HAS STATED THE HEAT WAVE AND THE DELAYED MONSOONS ARE THE RESULT OF CLIMATE CHANGE:

India's earth sciences minister has blamed climate change for a heatwave that has killed 2,500 people and for deficient monsoon rains, after the government said on Tuesday the country was headed for its first drought in six years.


"Let us not fool ourselves that there is no connection between the unusual number of deaths from the ongoing heat wave and the certainty of another failed monsoon," Harsh Vardhan said. "It's not just an unusually hot summer, it is climate change," he said.


Paid shill Tom Harris recently wrote a repulsive letter to the Jordan Independent lamenting how money is going to "climate finance" (???) instead of to those in need. (See a response to Harris' letter here.) This is very strange because Mr. Harris is on record (see DeSmogBlog) as saying there is no damage due to manmade emissions:
More importantly, the hypothesis that carbon dioxide emissions from human activity is damaging the climate has been thoroughly debunked by reports such as those of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.
He also stated,
... real-world observations show that the climate change of the past century falls well within natural variability.
 In fact, Mr. Harris says, instead of global warming,
 “Prepare for global cooling.”
But, while Mr. Harris is telling all of these falsehoods, the climate continues to change and the very same "people in need" Mr. Harris spoke of are dieing from the effects caused by his employers.

There is a massive heat wave going on in India. To date (May 27, 2015), over 1100 people have died in this heat wave and the death toll continues to rise. Tell us again, Mr. Harris, how there is no damage from human emissions. Tell us again how we need to prepare for global cooling. Tell us again how the climate change is all within natural variability.

Better yet, tell it to your victims.

And, while your at it, get your friend at the heartland institute, John Coleman, to once again explain how there haven't been any deadly heat waves since the 1950s. That is the claim he made in the video "How it started."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Arctic Ice Recovery Lie

I read an article providing eye-witness accounts of the thinning Arctic sea ice and it inspired me to write another in a series of posts I've written recently.

I have made a series of posts in recent weeks addressing denier lies. One on Tom Harris, claims the world is actually cooling, one discussing how Andrew Watts and Christopher Monckton doctored their data to get no warming, and another on the 'no warming pause.' Since the denier claims are all deliberate attempts to deceive using known falsehoods, they are lies. In the spirit of discussing these lies, I thought I'd address another one - the lie that claims Arctic sea ice is recovering (see the article here for one example). This was such a common claim in submissions to the Global Warming Skeptic Challenge I made a response to address all of them. You can read it here.

What the deniers do is to cherry pick the data. They want to take a specific, selected data set and use it to try and show the ice is recovering. We've seen this tactic before. In fact, it is one of the most common tactics deniers use. And, it is a false one every time and they know it, hence it is a lie.

The fact is, Arctic sea ice is declining. Take a look at the data and decide for yourself. Unlike the deniers, I'm not afraid to show you ALL the data. Here is the plot of March ice since before 1980:

Source: NSIDC
The downward trend is very clear. This is a very disturbing plot because it comes at the end of winter when the ice is at its maximum extent. Global warming is not going to get rid of long, cold, winter nights - especially at the poles. Temperatures will still get into the large negative degrees (average temperatures of -40 C and colder). The Arctic Ocean is going to freeze over.

But, we are seeing less and less ice extent at the end of winter every year. Why? Because, the amount of ice at the end of summer is getting less every year and that is allowing the Arctic Ocean to store an increasing amount of heat. Instead of being reflected by ice, sunlight is now being absorbed by the dark water. This means it will be increasingly difficult to freeze the water in the winter and it will be thinner when it does freeze, meaning it will melt more easily the following summer.

Here is a plot of the ice extent in September when it is at its minimum:

Source: NSIDC
Clearly, the minimum ice extent is getting smaller every year. And, this year is not looking good. In fact, 2015 had the smallest and earliest maximum extent ever recorded. Now, the ice extent is the lowest ever recorded for this date. Here is a plot of the springtime Arctic sea ice extent for 2004-2015:

Source: NSIDC
The ice extent for this year is the unfinished medium-blue line towards the bottom right-side of the plots. You can clearly see it is less than anything ever recorded (nothing prior to 2004 comes anywhere close - see for yourself at the source link).

Clearly, there is no recovery. But, don't take my word for it. In the National Geographic article I referenced above (read it here), the author addresses the question, 'has the last human trekked to the North Pole?' The thinning ice is making it tougher, and more dangerous, every year. Two Arctic scientists recently died on the thin ice. Air support is getting to be too difficult to obtain. Human treks are being canceled as a result.

Citing the thinning ice, polar explorer Eric Larsen stated,
Thinning ice has a multitude of consequences. "Historically, you would have ice that was five, six feet thick and that's relatively stable," says Larsen. "Now, the ice is thinner [and] breaks up more often and much more irregularly. As a result, you have a more rough surface area, which is more difficult to cross."
Another polar explorer, Richard Weber, stated,
"If you don't have multiyear ice to camp on, you're camping on thin ice and to me that's dangerous. It's thin, and it moves in the middle of the night. Nothing's going to stop it from cracking under your tent."
The article comments on the open water,
Also, there's more open water now. Weber didn't start bringing dry suits on his expeditions until 2000.
Addressing the issue of drifting ice, the article states,

Furthermore, the melting of multiyear ice has affected the Arctic drift—the general direction that the ice floats in the Arctic Ocean. Ice tends to move southward toward Canada. But because the ice is thinner and more broken up now, it's more affected by the wind, which means a floating field of ice on which an explorer is traveling can drift miles in any direction, throwing him off course, adding significant distance to an already difficult journey that is constrained by time.

There has always been drift, but now it is now more irregular and dramatic. Says Ron Kwok, a senior research scientist from NASA, "Ice is moving faster compared to 20, 30 years ago. Because it's thinner, it's moving faster and it's more responsive to the wind."

During a 2007 expedition, Weber walked for 10 to 12 hours a day, but because the ice he was on was drifting south, he stayed in virtually the same spot. That's "way worse" than it was in previous years, he says.

It also states the weather window is getting shorter every year. Explorers have between the end of winter and the onset of the heaviest part of the melt season. That period of time is getting smaller every year.

So, the people who have been up there, trekked across it and have witnessed it for decades tell of how the ice is thinning. Real world data and real world eye witnesses. Deniers simply ignore this reality because that is what deniers do. They don't want to be bothered by real science, even though they know better.

And, that is what makes them liars.