Articles Tagged "Headline Story"
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Saturday, February 9th 2013, 2:18 PM EST
Talk about bees clustering round a honeypot… When are we going to wake up to the extraordinary goings-on at the heart of Britain’s energy policy?
Last week, it was announced that Charles Hendry — who was, until September, the minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in charge of wind farms — is to become chairman of Forewind, a consortium planning to build the world’s biggest and most lucrative wind farm in the North Sea. His predecessor, Lord Deben (formerly John Gummer), had to step down when he was made chairman of the Climate Change Committee, the hugely influential body set up under the Climate Change Act to advise DECC on Britain’s energy policy. Deben’s appointment was approved by the Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, chaired by his friend Tim Yeo, who makes more than £200,000 a year advising firms in the “low-carbon” energy sector.
It was also announced last week that a new company, Greencoat, is to be floated on the Stock Exchange and given £50 million of taxpayers’ money to buy stakes in six wind farm companies, and that one of its directors is William Rickett, formerly head of the Energy Group at DECC.
Mr Hendry has also been hired by a cross-party lobby group, CarbonConnect, to co-chair a review of energy policy with Baroness Worthington. She is the former Friends of the Earth campaigner who was hired by the Department for Environment to mastermind the drafting of the 2008 Climate Change Act. This put at the centre of our energy policy a plan to spend £100 billion on up to 30,000 wind turbines, so hopelessly inefficient that they have to be given absurdly lavish subsidies. For offshore windfarms like the one planned by Mr Hendry’s firm, the subsidies amount to 200 per cent of the value of the electricity they produce.
Thursday, February 7th 2013, 9:23 AM EST
The latest image of sea surface heights in the Pacific Ocean from NASA's Jason-2 satellite shows that the equatorial Pacific Ocean is now in its 10th month of being locked in what some call a neutral, or "La Nada" state. Image credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech/Ocean Surface Topography Team
Sea-surface height data from NASA's Jason-2 satellite show that the equatorial Pacific Ocean is still locked in what some call a neutral, or 'La Nada' state. This condition follows two years of strong, cool-water La Niña events.
A new image, based on the average of 10 days of data centered on Jan. 26, 2013, shows near-normal conditions (depicted in green) across the equatorial Pacific. The image is available at: sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/images/latestdata.
This latest image highlights the processes that occur on time scales of more than a year, but usually less than 10 years, such as El Niño and La Niña. These processes are known as the interannual ocean signal. To show that signal, scientists refined data for this image by removing trends over the past 20 years, seasonal variations and time-averaged signals of large-scale ocean circulation.
The height of the water relates, in part, to its temperature, and thus is an indicator of the amount of heat stored in the ocean below. As the ocean warms, its level rises; as it cools, its level falls. Yellow and red areas indicate where the waters are relatively warmer and have expanded above normal sea level, while green (which dominates in this image) indicates near-normal sea level, and blue and purple areas show where the waters are relatively colder and sea level is lower than normal. Above-normal height variations along the equatorial Pacific indicate El Niño conditions, while below-normal height variations indicate La Niña conditions. The temperature of the upper ocean can have a significant influence on weather patterns and climate. For a more detailed explanation of what this type of image means, visit: http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/science/elninopdo/latestdata/.
Thursday, February 7th 2013, 8:15 AM EST
(Reuters) - The Amazon rainforest is less vulnerable to die off because of global warming than widely believed because the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide also acts as an airborne fertilizer, a study showed on Wednesday.
The boost to growth from CO2, the main gas from burning fossil fuels blamed for causing climate change, was likely to exceed damaging effects of rising temperatures this century such as drought, it said.
"I am no longer so worried about a catastrophic die-back due to CO2-induced climate change," Professor Peter Cox of the University of Exeter in England told Reuters of the study he led in the journal Nature. "In that sense it's good news."
Click source to read FULL report
Saturday, February 2nd 2013, 2:30 PM EST
THE world’s great forests have long been recognised as the lungs of the earth, but the science establishment has been rocked by claims that trees may also be the heart of its climate. Not only do trees fix carbon and produce oxygen; a new and controversial paper says they collectively unleash forces powerful enough to drive global wind patterns and are a core feature in the circulation of the climate system.
If the theory proves correct, the peer-reviewed international paper co-authored by Australian scientist Douglas Sheil will overturn two centuries of conventional wisdom about what makes wind. And it will undermine key principles of every model on which climate predictions are based.
The paper, Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapour condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics, is not designed to challenge the orthodox view on climate science. But Sheil, a professor of forest ecology and conservation at Southern Cross University’s School of Environment, Science and Engineering, says he is not surprised that is how the paper has been received internationally.
Boiled down, he says, bad science is protecting shoddy climate models.
The paper, lead authored by Anastasia Makarieva, sparked a long-running and furious debate about whether it should be published at all. At the end of a bruising assessment process the editorial panel of the prestigious journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics chose to publish and be damned.
In an accompanying statement the journal editorial board said: “The paper is highly controversial, proposing a fundamentally new view that seems to be in contradiction to common textbook knowledge. The majority of reviewers and experts in the field seem to disagree, whereas some colleagues provide support, and the handling editor (and the executive committee) are not convinced that the new view presented in the controversial paper is wrong.
Monday, January 28th 2013, 12:16 PM EST
What it would take to persuade me that current climate policy makes sense
I have written about climate change and energy policy for more than 25 years. I have come to the conclusion that current energy and climate policy is probably more dangerous, both economically and ecologically, than climate change itself. This is not the same as arguing that climate has not changed or that mankind is not partly responsible. That the climate has changed because of man-made carbon dioxide I fully accept. What I do not accept is that the change is or will be damaging, or that current policy would prevent it.
For the benefit of supporters of climate change policy who feel frustrated by the reluctance of people like me to accept their assurances, here is what they would need to do to change my mind.
1. I need persuading that the urban heat island effect has been fully purged from the surface temperature record. Satellites are showing less warming than the surface thermometers, and there is evidence that local warming of growing cities, and poor siting of thermometers, is still contaminating the global record. I also need to be convinced that the adjustments made by those who compile the global temperature records are justified. Since 2008 alone, NASA has added about 0.1C of warming to the trend by unexplained “adjustments” to old records. It is not reassuring that one of the main surface temperature records is produced by an extremist prepared to get himself arrested (James Hansen).
Monday, January 28th 2013, 9:08 AM EST
Reports of the extinction of millions of species on Earth have been greatly exaggerated, a team of scientists has said.
In the past scientists have warned that up to five per cent of species are at risk of dying-out as a result of climate change, deforestation and development.
But a new analysis by the University of New Zealand found that this figure was five times greater than reality because the number of animals living in the wild in the first place had been over estimated. This meant that conservationists assumed that rates of decline were much faster, as they were starting from a higher point.
In fact the rate of extinction is much slower, with just one per cent of animals in danger of dying out globally.
Writer Mark Twain famously responded to the news that his obituary had appeared in the New York Journal by saying: "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."
Click source to read FULL report from Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent, The Telegraph
Wednesday, January 23rd 2013, 8:04 AM EST
A 2012 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reconstructs solar activity from isotopes in ice cores and tree rings, and finds solar activity at the end of the 20th century was at the highest levels of the past 9,000 years.
The paper confirms other peer-reviewed publications indicating that the Sun was particularly active during the 20th century in comparison to the past several millenia In addition, the authors find good agreement between solar activity and the Asian climate as determined from stalagmites in the Dongge cave, China.
Blowup and flipped 1st graph (above) from Fig. 4 below shows the year 2000 at the right side of the graph, 9000 years ago at the left side. Added red line shows solar activity in blue at the end of the record was at the highest levels of the past 9000 years. Note graph has been reversed vertically since the graph below in Fig. 4 is on a reverse scale.
Monday, January 21st 2013, 5:55 PM EST
When George W Bush declared war on an abstract noun – "Terror" – he was widely and inevitably mocked by the left for his foolishness. Not to be outdone, Barack Obama has used his second inaugural address to declare war on an even more nebulous threat to the security of the world: reality, itself.
Here's how he put it in his inaugural address: (H/T Theo Spleenventer; Bishop Hill)
We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.
Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.
The first sentence is a blatant untruth. Concerted global action so far to deal with the threat of climate change has resulted in: higher energy prices; more deaths from fuel poverty; more intrusive regulation; the destruction of rainforests and the squandering of agricultural land on biofuels; higher food prices; famine and food riots – as a result partly of the drive for biofuels; the entrenchment of corporatism and rent-seeking to the detriment of free markets; the ravaging of the countryside with ugly solar farms and even uglier wind turbines; the deaths of millions of birds and bats; the great recession. How any of this has in any way benefited either our children (who are going to find it far harder to find a job) or future generations is a complete mystery.
Monday, January 21st 2013, 3:13 PM EST
Astrophysicist and weather expert, Piers Corbyn who runs WeatherAction.com, has been uncannily accurate so far this winter. Londoner Corbyn produces long-range weather forecasts so good that they never cease beating and baffling Britain’s gigantic £200 million-a-year official weather forecaster, the Met Office.
What is truly remarkable is that the details for Corbyn’s daring January 2013 forecast were made 45 days ahead, a task beyond the competency of “traditional” methods. In the early part of this winter this mild-mannered and avuncular upstart had already made fools of the Met Office (MO) for their “Beast from the East” scare. The MO flunked badly while Corbyn’s bold prediction for a mild early winter proved totally accurate.
On January 10, 2013 The Daily Express front page quoted Piers Corbyn when some standard forecasters started to see WeatherAction’s very icy blasts and blizzards coming (see graphic). However although WeatherAction’s very cold weather soon came Met models still dithered about heavy snow / blizzards until they were almost upon us and, lo and behold, on January 15, 2013 there was a dramatic switch towards copycatting WeatherAction – again. Perhaps some bright spark at the MO has decided to sign up to Corbyn’s paid services, at a tiny fraction of the cost of the heavily taxpayer-subsidized misfits.
Monday, January 21st 2013, 6:41 AM EST
Something is up with our winter weather. Could it be the Sun is having a slow patch?
"The Sun is god!” cried JMW Turner as he died, and plenty of other people have thought there was much in his analysis. The Aztecs agreed, and so did the pharaohs of Egypt. We are an arrogant lot these days, and we tend to underestimate the importance of our governor and creator.
We forget that we were once just a clod of cooled-down solar dust; we forget that without the Sun there would have been no photosynthesis, no hydrocarbons — and that it was the great celestial orb that effectively called life into being on Earth. In so far as we are able to heat our homes or turn on our computers or drive to work it is thanks to the unlocking of energy from the Sun.
As a species, we human beings have become so blind with conceit and self-love that we genuinely believe that the fate of the planet is in our hands — when the reality is that everything, or almost everything, depends on the behaviour and caprice of the gigantic thermonuclear fireball around which we revolve.
I say all this because I am sitting here staring through the window at the flowerpot and the bashed-up barbecue, and I am starting to think this series of winters is not a coincidence. The snow on the flowerpot, since I have been staring, has got about an inch thicker. The barbecue is all but invisible. By my calculations, this is now the fifth year in a row that we have had an unusual amount of snow; and by unusual I mean snow of a kind that I don’t remember from my childhood: snow that comes one day, and then sticks around for a couple of days, followed by more.