“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
—Daniel J. Boorstin

Update on Geothermal Heat and Arctic Ocean Sea Ice Melt

mid-arctic riftThis article was UPDATED on Dec 17, 2014 with new information on the Arctic's rift system and its likely affects on sea ice:
The floor of the Arctic Ocean is comprised of several significant geological features, most notably the giant Mid-Arctic Rift and associated Rift System. The system is 1100 miles long / 120 miles wide and topographically expressed as high mountains and Grand Canyon scale trenches.

In geological terms this is a major rift system, forming the boundary between two tectonic plates. Given its magnitude one would expect that it has been completely researched and is thoroughly understood. Quite the contrary scientists know very little about its geology due to its remote location, thick ice cover, and perceived geological inactivity. It is understandable that to date only limited amounts of data have been gathered concerning its heat flow and fluid expulsion.

However relatively new research has indicated that this giant rift system may not be so inactive after all. Given that overwhelming amounts of data now virtually prove selective melting of the Antarctic Ice Sheet is caused by geologically induced geothermal heat flow from the West Antarctic Rift System, it only seems reasonable to reevaluate the limited amount of data available on the Mid-Arctic Rift System.

New Era Of Cheap Energy ‘Will Destroy Green Energy Revolution’

cartoonThe collapsing oil price that is reshaping the global economy could derail the green energy revolution by making renewable power sources prohibitively bad value, experts have warned. A new “era of cheap oil” would be good news for consumers and motorists – but analysts say the consequences for politics, industry and the climate could be even more radical. The ripple effects could help the Conservatives to remain in power at next year’s general election by making voters feel richer as bills fall – while hurting Scotland’s oil-reliant economy and setting back its campaign for independence.  --Tim Bawden, The Independent, 12 December 2014

The biggest threat posed by falling oil and gas prices – in the UK and globally – is to the renewable energy industry dominated by wind-, solar- and hydro-power, experts say. “Renewable energy subsidies have been mostly sold to the public on the basis of the economic benefits,” said Peter Atherton, an energy analyst with Liberum Capital. “But the economic arguments hinged on the idea that fossil fuel prices would get more expensive, while expensive renewable subsidies would be able to come down over time. That’s looking doubtful now.” --Tim Bawden, The Independent, 12 December 2014

You're not going nuts: Squirrels are behind global warming

squirrelYou can now add squirrels to the list of things that are causing the globe to warm even though it hasn't warmed in over 18 years. From The Independent:

Rapid industrialisation, population growth and air travel expansion have all been blamed for contributing to global warming and climate change.

But now it appears we have something else to hold responsible.

Squirrels. Yup, squirrels.

American scientists believe the impact of wildlife upon the release of carbon from the permafrost that occupies around a quarter of the northern hemisphere has been underestimated.

Alarmist Tom Steyer is at it again in California

steyerTom Steyer, the billionaire activist who made a lot of his money in the coal business, is now asking California's legislature to divest all of its coal investments, affecting millions of pensioners across the state. From SFGate:

With Republicans threatening to shove climate change to the back seat as they take control of the U.S. Senate, state officials including Gov. Jerry Brown huddled with one of the nation’s leading Democratic donors Monday to talk up ways to keep it on California’s agenda — including legislation that could send a shiver through the coal industry.

The state Senate’s top leader said at an Oakland forum organized by billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer that he’s planning to introduce a measure next year to require the state’s public-employee pension funds to sell their coal-related investments.

Study: All-electric car may not be very green

cartoon-how-electric-cars-workPeople who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming.

Ethanol isn't so green, either.

"It's kind of hard to beat gasoline" for public and environmental health, said study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota. "A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean ... are not better than gasoline."

The key is the source of the electricity all-electric cars use. If it comes from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution made in generating the electricity, according to the study, published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study examines environmental costs for cars' entire life cycle, including where power comes from and the environmental effects of building batteries.

False alarms have put us under the weather

floodNOT once when boarding a jet have I thought of ducking into the cockpit to give the pilot tips on engine thrust or fuel loads. He’s the expert. Still, if I’d booked for Bali only to land in Karachi I would know this: whatever the pilot’s credentials, he’d goofed.

I thought such a principle was so obvious that all laymen would consult it in every contact with any professional. Your extension falls down? Sue the builder.

But in one tiny yet catastrophically expensive field of human endeavour this law has been suspended. Yes, climate science.

This is the science where one plus one can equal three one day and six the next — yet never may we question the expert.

Taming the climate debate

climate protestThe climate controversy is one of the world’s most important discussions. At stake are billions of dollars, countless jobs, and, if U.N. representatives now meeting in Peru are right, the fate of the global environment itself. We need leaders in science, engineering, economics and public policy to contribute to the debate without fear of retribution.

Sadly, the opposite is happening. Because the issue is poisoned with personal attacks, censorship, illogic and even death threats, many of the world’s leading experts are too frightened to comment publicly. They don’t want to be falsely accused, as I was in the Dec. 10 Hutchinson Leader letter (“Gruenhagen not a clone for special interests?” by Gary Ballard), as having “led a public relations campaign with the purpose of discrediting any science that suggested tobacco increased cancer and heart problems.” And they certainly are afraid of being labeled as recipients of funding from “big money” and other nefarious groups, as the group I lead, the International Climate Science Coalition, was unjustifiably attacked in the same letter.

New Paper Tackles Ethical Disputes Of Climate Policy

cartoonA new paper by Dr Peter Lee and published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation explores many of the ethical disputes that characterise climate science and policy in the twenty-first century.

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message… Leaders must act.” These words by Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, welcomed the latest IPCC Report as certain and indisputable.

But actions require choices to be made – each with economic and often overlooked ethical dimensions – and the uncertainties involved are greater than Ban Ki-moon and many of the IPCC authors publicly acknowledge.

A new paper by Dr Peter Lee and published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation explores many of the ethical disputes that characterise climate science and policy in the twenty-first century.

Michael Mann, Author of Debunked Hockey Stick Graph, Presents Lecture on Scientific Ethics

mann wikipedia copyIn a moment of supreme irony, Michael Mann, the climatologist who constructed the now debunked hockey stick graph designed to make the case for global warming, has today delivered a lecture on “professional ethics for climate scientists”, Watts Up With That has reported.

Mann took to the stage alongside colleague Kent Peacock to “suggest that ethical training could be regularly incorporated into graduate curricula in fields such as climate science and geology,” at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting, currently taking place in San Francisco.

According to the lecture’s blurb on the AGU’s website, this is necessary as “several authors have warned that climate scientists sometimes exhibit a tendency to “err on the side of least drama” in reporting the risks associated with fossil fuel emissions.

Loophole In UN Climate Deal Lets Countries Avoid CO2 Targets

cartoonAnother city; pretty much the same outcome. The great climate change debate has rumbled along from Rio to Kyoto, through Copenhagen and on to Lima, without the breakthrough that campaigners have sought. There was an agreement of sorts in Peru, but nothing that lived up to the billing. --Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, 15 December 2014

Lima is just yet another re-enactment of the three-stage ritual that has become only too familiar over the past 20 years. First, we are treated to months of ludicrously unscientific hype, telling us that the threat of global warming is now worse than ever. Then, they all gather in some agreeable venue, for the “developing” nations – led by China and India – to say they will only play ball if the “developed” world, led by the EU, the US and Japan, pays them $100 billion a year to curb their “carbon emissions”. In days of acrimony and stupefying boredom it emerges that the rich countries aren’t really intending to deliver. Finally, at the eleventh hour – or more likely 4 o’clock in the morning – a “breakthrough” is announced. Everyone has finally agreed on a meaningless document that commits no one to anything. --Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph, 14 December 2014

Still more politicized pseudo-science?

honeybeesWidening efforts to blame neonicotinoid pesticides for honeybee “colony collapse disorder” and other “beepocalypse” problems have taken a fascinating turn.

Insisting that scientific evidence shows a clear link between neonics and honeybee population declines, EU anti-insecticide campaigners persuaded the European Union to impose a two-year ban on using the chemicals. Farm organizations and the Union’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Department unsuccessfully opposed the ban, arguing that evidence for a link is not persuasive, and actual field studies in Canada and elsewhere have found little risk to bees from the pesticides.

Then this year’s canola (rapeseed) crop suffered serious losses of 30-50 percent, due to rampaging flea beetles. Over 44,000 acres (18,000 hectares) were declared a total loss. Euro farmers blamed the ban.