Archive | Tidal

British Scientists Demand Study on Renewable Energy & Marine Life

EXETER, England, Sept. 21 (UPI) — British scientists are calling for urgent research to determine the impact of renewable energy developments on Earth’s marine life.

Scientists at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth say research is needed to explore potential environmental benefits and threats resulting from marine renewable energy, such as offshore wind farms and wave and tidal energy conversion devices.

The scientists say man-made ocean structures attract many marine organisms and sometimes become artificial reefs supporting a wide variety of fish. The scientists also note such devices could have negative impacts, resulting from habitat loss, noise and electromagnetic fields.

“Marine renewable energy is hugely exciting and it is vital we explore the potential for it to provide a clean and sustainable energy source,” said Brendan Godley of the University of Exeter, one of the study’s authors. “However, to date, research into the impact of marine renewable energy on sea life has been very limited.”

Professor Martin Attrill, director of the University of Plymouth’s Marine Institute added: “Our paper highlights the need to take a fresh look at the effect marine renewable energy generation has on the environment if we are to deliver a higher proportion of energy from renewable sources and start to combat climate change. We need to have the industry working directly with conservation bodies to plan the next phase of development.”

The study appears in The Journal of Applied Ecology.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Conservation, Energy, Fish, Other, Tidal, Wind0 Comments

Submersed Tidal Power Generators Approved for Nova Scotia

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Sept. 16 (UPI) — The Canadian province of Nova Scotia has approved testing of three submersed tidal power generators in the Bay of Fundy.

Provincial Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau made the announcement in Halifax, but said there were strict conditions attached to the tests, foremost being environmental impact studies, The (Halifax) Chronicle-Herald reported Wednesday.

The $10 million site will house three underwater turbines in the Minas Passage, home of the highest tides in the world, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Belliveau said a committee of government officials, academics and fishermen will be formed to determine what, if any impact the turbines would have on lobsters, fish and birds, the reports said.

Three consortiums will each install a turbine, with the first one ready for placement next month and the third sometime next spring, the CBC said.

Each of the systems cost $10 million to $15 million and will be tested for as long as four years unless environmental problems occur, the reports said.

There was no immediate report on the project’s potential power output.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Birds, Fish, Other, Tidal0 Comments

20 Foot Tidal Swings Make Maine Perfect for Tidal Power Generation

Tidal power projects in the Unites States are far less common than wind and solar energy production. One of the major reasons for this is the lack of tidal currents, comparatively speaking, with the rest of the world.

For the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission though, the next tidal power project may exist on the shores off of Maine. Tucked away in the northeast corner of our country, Maine has the largest tidal swing in the contingent United States.

While the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has reached similar agreements with the states of Oregon and Washington, the agreement with Maine represents the first on the East Coast of it’s kind.

The Associated Press, via CNBC has more:

Maine Gov. John Baldacci, who was on hand for the agreement’s signing in Washington, D.C., said the state is committed to developing renewable resources.

“Our state has been aggressive in its pursuit of clean energy to help end our country’s dependence on fossil fuels, and this agreement will help establish a coordinated and responsible partnership between Maine and FERC,” Baldacci said in a statement.

Tidal power appeals in several ways.

Unlike the wind, tides are predictable. As an added bonus, water’s greater density means fewer turbines are needed to produce the same amount of electricity as wind turbines. Finally, there’s no interference with boats or aesthetic issues associated with wind farms because the turbines are deep underwater.

[...]

“If you ask me as a regulator, what are the environmental impacts, I say I have no idea,” said Dana Murch of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “It’s of vital importance that we get some units in the water and see what the impacts are, because the energy potential is enormous.”

In Maine, there was a rush by the private sector to file preliminary permits with FERC for potentially lucrative underwater sites around the same time a 2006 study by nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute concluded that it made economic sense to look underwater for affordable electricity.

At one point, there were 17 different active permits in Maine; the number has since dropped to eight today, said Murch, the DEP’s dams and hydro director.

Ocean Renewable Power holds a permit for what may be Maine’s best site: the Western Passage in Passamaquoddy Bay, where twice a day the tide rises and falls 20 feet, generating swift currents.

The company hopes to install four turbines with a total of four megawatts of capacity in the Western Passage, as well as another turbine with one megawatt of power in Cobscook Bay. All told, the company believes there’s 100 megawatts of potential between the two sites.

Posted in Energy, Solar, Tidal, Wind0 Comments

Both Sides of California Proposition 7

It is difficult to put both sides of any initiative into a few words and capture all the nuances, but here are some observations for voters to consider as we go into the last days before the election. The points made here are based on very recent conversations with people intimately involved with the campaigns both for and against Prop 7. While everything revealed here was on the record, sources will not be disclosed. Here is the Legislative Analyst analysis of Proposition 7. If you wish to view for yourself the areas in the bill cited below, click here for full text of Proposition 7 (this is a .pdf and will not accommodate text searches, if you prefer to keyword search the text, please click here for the full text in a format that permits text search):

The question as to whether or not Proposition 7 excludes producers of electricity under 30 megawatts is hotly disputed. The NRDC has put out a talking points memo that states “Prop 7 could exclude smaller renewable energy providers from participating in California’s energy markets; it excludes renewable power facilities smaller than 30 megawatts from counting toward the measure’s new requirements.” And if you read the text of the measure it appears this is true. You can read for yourself section 14, which states “Section 25137 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read: 25137. “Solar and clean energy plant” means any electrical generating facility using wind, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, biomass, biogas, geothermal, fuel cells using renewable fuels, digester gas, municipal solid waste conversion, landfill gas, ocean wave, ocean thermal, or tidal current technologies, with a generating capacity of 30 megawatts or more…” But proponents of Prop. 7 claim this is a misinterpretation, noting that the amendments to the Public Resources Code only refer to the projects that are eligible for expedited siting permits. If you skip through each section’s preamble, you will see the amendments to the Public Utilities code only go through Section 11 of the initiative, then beginning with Section 12 the amendments to the Public Resources code begin. According to the proponents, they are not connected, and therefore no change is being made to the existing renewable portfolio standard in terms of what would be a qualifying project.

According to one source, the reasons the big solar companies are against Proposition 7: have more to do with the fact the initiative would require them to use union labor, ref. Section 24 “All solar and clean energy plants receiving certification pursuant to this section shall be considered a public works project subject to the provisions of Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 1720) of Part 7 of Division 2 of the Labor Code, and the Department of Industrial Relations shall have the same authority and responsibility to enforce those provisions as it has under the Labor Code.” Our position here is unequivocal – the government should normalize taxpayer-supported (or rate-payer supported) benefits so all workers get the same deal, upgraded social security and universal opt-in medicare (available to anyone at any age who wants to buy it and competing with private sector insurance); collective bargaining in America has become an anachronism that preserves special treatment for those folks lucky enough to work in heavily regulated and subsidized, relatively noncompetitive industries such as government and public works. Normalizing taxpayer and rate-payer funded benefits to benefit all workers might reduce some union worker benefits, particularly in the public sector, but would render most unionized workers in the totally competitive private sector better off, make America more competitive, make municipalities and large manufacturers solvent again, and would use our taxes to protect ALL American workers according to one set of rules.

Several reasons were thrown around as to why the environmental groups oppose Proposition 7: those in favor of Prop. 7 have suggested the 30 MW reason is not their true concern. The expedited siting provisions of this bill – which we believe are absolutely necessary if utility scale renewable energy is ever going to get built – will trample many cherished prerogatives of the environmental community. Another reason cited is the environmental community objects to the mandatory 10% cap on the premium the utility will be directed to pay renewable energy producers. But it should be noted this is a cap, not a floor, and if there is sufficient supply of renewable energy, the renewables producers will begin to compete under the cap to win contracts. As for the 10% cap not being sufficient to incentivize renewable energy construction, this is possible but completely dependent on the future price of fossil fuel, natural gas in particular. The notion that environmental groups oppose Prop. 7 because the penalties to the utilities for not achieving RPS targets have been slashed to $.01/kWh vs. the current $.05/kWh don’t really make sense, when you consider the initiative also removes the $25 million cap on these penalties. Under Prop. 7, renewable electricity production will need to increase to about 500 gigawatt-hours per day, more than five times what it is today. At $.01 per kilowatt-hour, you have $10,000 per gigawatt-hour, which implies if the 2030 standards were imposed today, the utilities would be paying about $40 million per day in fines. Not much of an objection there.

At the end of the day – why would the utilities oppose Proposition 7? They are investor owned, but publicly regulated. They earn a return for their investors according to a strictly managed set of pricing and cost recovery formulas. They will make money with or without renewables – why wouldn’t they be renewable agnostic? Proposition 7 appears to have flaws, but not necessarily the flaws that are being made most public. Actually moving this fast – installing well over 100 gigawatts of renewable energy generating stations (full output) is a logistical challenge that may simply be impossible. It is also important to consider what better technologies may emerge, rather than quickly build large scale projects based on current or near-term technological solutions.


FUEL MIX FOR U.S. ELECTRICITY GENERATION 2006


Can California go from about 10% to 50% renewables in under 20
years? If sunny California can do it, can the rest of the U.S. follow?
(Source: U.S. DOE)

The most significant potential problem with Proposition 7 may be how to facilitate the level of investment necessary to build this much capacity. We stand by our analysis of Prop. 7′s costs as reflected in our posts “Costing California Proposition 7″ and “California Proposition 7″ published earlier this year: It will cost a minimum of $330 billion to install this much renewable generating capacity – that is based on $2.5 billion per gigawatt, a 17.5% yield, and a need to increase renewables output to 500 gigawatt-hours per day (forget about electrification of the car at anything less than this). Adding to amortization of capital the costs for interest, return to investors, operating costs, and transmission infrastructure, it is likely adding this capacity will result in deliverable renewable electricity priced at about $.20 per kilowatt-hour to the consumer. Can renewables deliver electricity for less than this? It is certainly possible, but it would be helpful to see the numbers. Big solar – big wind – can you show us your assumptions? How do you arrive at projections of wholesale prices of $.04/kWh (wind) or $.07/kWh (solar), and what price does that translate into for the retail consumer?

And of course we would need a crystal ball to know the future cost of natural gas. Anyone who doesn’t think the price equilibrium of fossil fuel remains volatile hasn’t been following the news of the past few weeks.

Posted in Business & Economics, Electricity, Energy, Fuel Cells, Geothermal, Infrastructure, Natural Gas, People, Retail, Solar, Tidal, Wind3 Comments

Severn Barrage's Eight Gigawatts

If you want to imagine the Western Hemisphere’s equivalent to China’s Three Gorges Dam, look no further than the proposed Severn Barrage, which at peak output will deliver over 8 gigawatts of electricity, or about 50% of what the Three Gorges delivers. Even though the Three Gorges output decisively exceeds that of the Severn Barrage, if this massive civil engineering project is ever completed, it will dwarf every other power station in the world.

Environmental groups bitterly oppose the Severn Barrage, and if they are to strive for consistency, they certainly should oppose this monstrosity. The ten mile long dam will connect the English coast to the Welsh coast across the Severn Estuary, one of the largest, most precious, environmentally sensitive estuaries on Earth. Why on earth would any environmentalist support this project, or any tidal energy project, for that matter? The problem, of course, is we have to pick our poison – energy production, like food production – in a world destined to accomodate 8-9 billion people who aspire to live in peace and prosperity, is doomed to be dependent on commercial scale operations that are disruptive and potentially dangerous. Pick your poison. Nuclear? Hydroelectric? Fossil fuels?

The Severn Estuary and the
proposed barrage crossings.

The problem with tidal power certainly isn’t the scale – unlike wind turbines, which would have to be installed by the millions to make a dent in global power production, the Severn Barrage is a big deal. But to suggest the 8.6 gigawatt output is “equivalent to eight nuclear power plants” (presumably at 1.0 gigawatt each) is misleading.

Like other intermittant sources of energy such as wind and solar, and unlike nuclear power that operates continuously, tidal energy plants only operate at low tide, which is when the seawater sequestered behind the barrage during high tide can drain through the hydroelectric turbines. Like wind and solar, tidal energy has a “yield,” which in the case of the Severn Barrage is not quite 25%. In terms of actual average output, the Severn Barrage is only estimated to deliver 2.0 gigawatts of electricity, and at this point no serious discussion seems to be forthcoming as to how a fluctuation in grid input of 8.6 gigawatts is going to be offset. If there are designs that can smooth this massive energy flow, how much do they cost?

And what about the financial cost? At an average of 2.0 gigawatts of continuous power, the Severn Barrage will deliver about 17.5 terawatt-hours per year. Rounding up slightly from current estimates (because these projects never come in on budget), the entire project will cost about L 17.0 billion, or about $30 billion. Ouch! That equates to $15 billion per gigawatt-output, an amount that absolutely does not compare favorably to alternatives, including wind – installed, taking into account yields, probably half this amount or less – and certainly not natural gas, which can now be installed at about $1.0 billion per gigawatt output.

At $15+ billion per gigawatt (over $15.0 million per megawatt) installed, the Severn Barrage is a civil engineering boondoggle, being popularized based on global warming alarm and desire for energy security. While energy security is a compelling concern, it should be addressed in ways that reflect fiscal reality. A tidal energy system that costs $15 billion per gigawatt is not a financially competitive investment, even when compared to other alternative energy options. Try marine current turbines, which operate underwater on the ocean floor, or offshore wind – almost anything will cost less than the Severn Barrage, and almost anything would be less of a blight.

The location of the Severn Estuary
in the southeast of the U.K.

While we don’t dismiss global warming concerns, only remain committed to publishing credible material from the skeptic community (read our Climate section), one must consider this: It is virtually impossible to eliminate CO2 emissions to the levels the alarmist scenarios declare we must to avoid catastrophe.

It isn’t going to happen, no matter how many precious estuaries environmentalist policies destroy, or rainforests that environmentalist policies burn to grow subsidized “carbon neutral” biofuel. Global warming alarm is being used quite effectively as a trump card in almost every policy debate imaginable, but by the alarmists own logic, it is an utterly futile exercise.

Environmentalists should hope whatever climate changes we’re experiencing are from natural cycles, and return their focus to things that they can influence – the world’s estuaries and rivers, forests and floodplains, wilderness and wildlife; protecting precious natural beauty and eliminating genuine pollution.

Related Links:
Severn Barrage (Wikipedia)
Severn barrage will be costly ecological disaster (Guardian.co.uk)

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Engineering, Hydroelectric, Natural Gas, Other, Policies & Solutions, Solar, Tidal, Wind6 Comments

Climate Conference for Global Warming Skeptics Challenges Claims of Consensus & Alleges Supressions of Skeptical Alarmist Predictions

Trail in Woods
“It is my belief that the strident claims of catastrophes
caused by man-made global warming are stated with a
degree of confidence not warranted by the data.”
Dr. William M. Briggs

Editor’s Note: We have been publishing more material than ever on the subject of climate change, for a very simple reason: The debate is not over as to the cause, the eventual severity, nor the remedies for climate change. The debate never was over, and for the mainstream press to have ever acceded to the notion that debate was over, or to condone marginalizing anyone who continued to debate, is one of the most eggregious examples of media bias in history.

One should think that given what is at stake – the reorganization of our entire political and economic systems – debate would be welcomed. One would think those who are calling for debate and discussion would be heralded as voices of moderation and reason, instead of branded as ideological fanatics and corporate shills. The fact that debate is supposedly “over” regarding something for which the remedy is so fundamentally and abruptly transformative should concern anyone who claims to care about human rights, individual freedoms, free enterprise, and an open society. The idea that anyone who questions global warming alarmism is freely demonized should concern any student of history. The solution – government control over virtually anything that emits a gas – including CO2, which plants and trees require to for their very survival – and huge new taxes (perhaps disguised in the form of Wall Street friendly “cap and trade” mechanisms, but the consumer still pays the freight), should concern anyone who cares about representative government and values the concept of private property.

Perhaps it is common sense that is endangered here. If the earth is indeed warming because of anthropogenic CO2, what can be done? Shall we sequester 20-30 gigatons of CO2 every year, when for the amount of money that would cost, we could clean up every river, stop overfishing the oceans, eliminate every criteria air pollutant, and fight malaria to a standstill? Even accepting conclusions of climate models – problematic concoctions that constitute the “scientific” imperative behind AGW alarmism and consequent policy – isn’t it true that we would have to sequester literally 80% of the CO2 currently attributed to human activity? Isn’t that impossible? Why not reforest the planet? Why not restore the mangrove forests that used to stop tidal surges throughout the coastal tropics, and why not stop blowing up coral reefs to flush the cash crop of fish, so they could regenerate and again stop seasonal storms from inundating tropical islands? There is a legitimate environmental agenda completely apart from global warming alarm – and there are many skeptics who nonetheless care deeply about the environment.

Common sense would suggest we question the agenda of the global warming alarmists who rely on fear and questionable science, not that of the skeptics. If there is a “denial industry,” who would benefit? A handful of underfunded think tanks? If there is a hidden agenda, it is more likely coming from the “alarm industry.” Government agencies get more tax revenue, the United Nations gets a revenue stream, insurance companies collect higher premiums, attorneys file more lawsuits, Wall Street gets a new source of commissions and fees, corporations get more subsidies, various environmentalist nonprofits, activists, academics, politicians and professional consultants acquire a game-changing new source of funding and influence, and small businesses get destroyed because they can’t afford to comply with the new regulations, and families everywhere pay punitive prices for energy, water and land. Is this the future we want? Maybe if all of this AGW alarmism were true!

The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change described in this feature, held earlier this month in New York City, featured some of the most credible (and credentialed) people to ever convene at a climate related event. Their presentations on climate science were diverse, as befits a scientific conference, and most of the participants were “skeptics,” something that also befits a scientific conference. But despite the report’s description of this event as being well covered by the media, in reality it was not. For the most part, the media ignored this event. Because the comparison that is valid is not whether or not a few of the mainstream media outlets reported on this event. The valid comparison is whether or not this event got the level of attention that the most recent IPCC press release garnered, and by that measure coverage was nonexistant. And in too many cases, coverage was slanted to present a smarmy, derisive characterization of the event as a final gasp of the “flat earthers.”

Many conscientious people, relatively free of biases, simply feel climate science is beyond them; they need to recognize this inhibition hasn’t stopped the people reporting the news or those in the political & entertainment community whose pronouncements they have relied upon. And for those who believe in AGW alarmism because it fits preexisting biases, or furthers a political or economic agenda, know this: Science – stripping away the corruption and opportunism that has infected much of the scientific community when it comes to the question of alleged global warming – has no ideology, no ulterior purpose; it is utterly dispassionate. Science relies on skepticism, and ultimately rests on truth. – Ed “Redwood” Ring

The Debate Resumes – Climate conference for global warming skeptics challenges claims of consensus, alleges suppression of findings skeptical of alarmist predictions.
by Marc Morano, March 2008
Creek
“Most extremist views about climate change have little
or no scientific basis. The rational basis for extremist
views on global warming may be desire for political action.”
Dr. Gerd-Rainer Weber

Scientists skeptical of man-made climate fears meeting at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York City described the “absolute horror stories” about how some scientific journals have engaged in “outrageous and unethical behavior” in attempting to suppress them from publishing their work in peer-reviewed journals.

The March 2-4 groundbreaking conference, which featured about 100 speakers with over 500 people attending, presented the report of a team of international scientists who formed a group to counter the UN IPCC. [Note: The author of this report attended and participated in the conference.]

The event, which garnered significant international and U.S. media attention, featured many current and former UN IPCC scientists from around the world. (See “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate” and see climate declaration signed by the scientists at the conference here).

The conference occurred just months after the release of a blockbuster U.S. Senate Minority Report featuring over 400 prominent scientists who recently disputed man-made global warming claims. The more than 400 scientists featured in the report thoroughly debunk the assertions that “all scientists agree” about man-made global warming. But as New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin noted on March 6, science is ultimately not a numbers game. “As we all know, climate science is not a numbers game (there are heaps of signed statements by folks with advanced degrees on all sides of this issue),” Revkin wrote. Furthermore, a Canadian survey of scientists released on March 6, 2008 offered even more evidence that the alleged “consensus” is non-existent. A canvass of more than 51,000 scientists with the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA) found 68% of them disagree with the statement that “the debate on the scientific causes of recent climate change is settled.’” According to the survey, only 26% of scientists attributed global warming to “human activity like burning fossil fuels.” APEGGA”s executive director Neil Windsor said, “We’re not surprised at all. There is no clear consensus of scientists that we know of.”

During the conference, scientists revealed the lack of tolerance science journals and institutions have exhibited for skeptical climate views. “We [fellow skeptical scientists] talked mostly of work and upcoming papers and went through the standard ritual of griping about journal editors and the ridiculous hoops we sometimes have to jump through to get papers published. But some of the guys had absolute horror stories of what happened to them when they tried getting papers published that explored non-”consensus” views. Really outrageous and unethical behavior on the parts of some editors. I was shocked,” wrote conference participant Dr. William M. Briggs, a climate statistician who serves on the American Meteorological Society’s Probability and Statistics Committee and is an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review, on his blog on March 4.

Prominent Hungarian Physicist Dr. Miklýs Zágoni, a former global warming activist who recently reversed his views about man-made climate fears and is now a skeptic, presented scientific findings at the conference refuting rising CO2 fears. Zágoni’s scientific mentor Hungarian scientist, Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi, an atmospheric physicist, resigned from his post working with NASA because he was disgusted with the agency’s lack of scientific freedom. Miskolczi, who also presented his peer-reviewed findings at the conference, said he wanted to release his new research that showed “runaway greenhouse theories contradict energy balance equations,” but he claims NASA refused to allow him. “Unfortunately, my working relationship with my NASA supervisors eroded to a level that I am not able to tolerate. My idea of the freedom of science cannot coexist with the recent NASA practice of handling new climate change related scientific results,” Miskolczi said according to a March 6 Daily Tech article.

American River
“Global warming has been tremendously over-hyped;
most of the climate change we’ve seen is natural.
I think we are brainwashing our children terribly.”
Dr. William Gray

Meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo, the first Director of Meteorology at The Weather Channel and former chairman of the American Meteorological Society’s (AMS) Committee on Weather Analysis and Forecasting, noted that many of his scientific colleagues did not attend the conference because they “feared their attendance might affect their employment.” D’Aleo described the fear of retribution many skeptics face as a “sad state of affairs.” But D’Aleo noted that he believes there is “very likely a silent majority of scientists in climatology, meteorology, and allied sciences who do not endorse what is said to be the ‘consensus’ position.”

Other scientists have echoed these claims. Atmospheric scientist Dr. Nathan Paldor, Professor of Dynamical Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of almost 70 peer-reviewed studies, asserted in December 2007 that skeptics have a much harder time publishing in peer-reviewed literature. “Many of my colleagues with whom I spoke share these views and report on their inability to publish their skepticism in the scientific or public media,” Paldor, who was not in attendance at the New York conference, wrote in December. In February 2008, Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki publicly called for politicians skeptical of a man-made climate “crisis” to be thrown “into jail because what they’re doing is a criminal act.”  – See also July 2007 comprehensive report detailing how skeptical scientists have faced threats and intimidation.

Many prominent scientists participating and attending were very impressed by the New York City climate conference. Hurricane researcher and Meteorologist Stanley B. Goldenberg of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in Miami praised the Heartland Instituted sponsored conference. “The fact is that this conference is evidence that there are numerous respected, established and in many cases world-renowned scientists who have done careful research in various areas of “climate change” that sharply differ with the [UN] IPCC results,” Goldenberg told the New York Times. Meteorologist D’Aleo had nothing but praise for the conference. “It was the best climate conference I have attended in my 30 years in the professional societies. The two-day meeting featured over 100 excellent presentations made by scientists from Australia, Canada, England, France, Hungary, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and of course the United States,” D’Aleo wrote on his website IceCap.US on March 4. The oft repeated notion of “hundreds” or even “thousands” of scientists affiliated with the UN agreeing to a single “consensus” does not hold up to scrutiny. Out of all the scientists affiliated with the UN, only 52 scientists participated in UN IPCC Summary for Policymakers, which had to adhere to the wishes of the UN political leaders and delegates in a process described as more closely resembling a political party’s convention platform battle, not a scientific process. Inhofe Debunks So-Called ‘Consensus’ On Global Warming, and The Inhofe EPW Blog

Many current and former UN scientists disagree with the IPCC Summary for Policymakers and many of them attended the skeptical climate conference in New York. In addition, the so-called “consensus” statements by scientific groups like the National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, and the American Geophysical Union are only voted on by two dozen or so governing board members with no direct vote cast by rank-and-file scientists.

D’Aleo addressed the complaints of some mainstream media reporters who noted that the climate conference did not produce a focused scientific message, but instead posited multiple explanations of climate changes. “There was a variety of opinions as there should be in science and all were tolerated. There was no group think or stagnant thinking as we find at other so called Climate Conferences,” D’Aleo wrote. Why would the media ever expect a uniform scientific message at a large climate conference? It appears that reporters need to be reminded that the UN IPCC (after all it is the InterGOVERNMENTAL Panel on Climate Change) is the unusual event, not the international climate conference in New York City this past week. It is true that the skeptical conference presented an array of scientific views, but reporters should not be surprised by this diversity. Instead, the question for reporters should be, Why do UN IPCC climate events have such conformity and a lack of dissent? Many reporters are so used to attending virtually scripted UN IPCC Summary for Policymakers meetings which reach the predetermined “consensus” that mankind is driving a climate crisis. (To read more about how the IPCC Summary for Policymakers has been tainted by politics please see this article.)

Media Coverage of Conference

The climate conference garnered the attention of many media outlets including:

  • New York Times
  • BBC
  • Washington Post
  • ABC News
  • Associated Press
  • Reuters; China Post
  • CNSNews.com
  • CNN
  • New York Sun
  • Fox News
  • Times of India
  • Czech’s Ceske Noviny
  • Investor’s Business Daily
  • Canada”s Financial Post
  • United Press International
  • WorldNetDaily.com
  • Wall Street Journal

Some of the mainstream media coverage reached bottom quickly See CNN’s Miles O”Brien accuses scientists at conference of being “Flat Earthers”.

Some of the mainstream media coverage, including several articles in New York Times, presented fair coverage:

  • Global-Warming Skeptics Convene in N.Y.
  • Lessons from the Skeptics’ Conference
  • Skeptics on Human Climate Impact Seize on Cold Spell

Despite many mainstream media outlets efforts to mock the gathering, it was a semi-victory for the conference that reporters likes Miles O’Brien of CNN and Bill Blakemore of ABC News even showed up. For info on O’Brien’s past climate reporting, see here. For info on Blakemore’s past climate reporting see here. The Business and Media Institute (BMI) also released their comprehensive study during the conference which reveals how the news media reports on global warming. The report, titled “Global Warming Censored” found that network TV news stifles debate, relies on “politicians, rock stars and men-on-the street for science” reporting. BMI also critiqued the news media coverage of the International Conference on Climate Change. WorldNetDaily.com has a critique of the media coverage titled “Mainstream media’s mockery”. American Thinker weighed in with a very comprehensive report from the conference. [Note: For a comprehensive sampling of the media coverage of the conference, see part two of this report here.

Creek
"There is no evidence that CO2 has ever driven or will
ever drive world temperatures and climate change.
Consequently, worrying about CO2 is irrelevant."
Astrophysicist Piers Corbyn

Funding Myths Exposed

One of the most incisive articles about the conference came from John Tierney of the New York Times. Tierney exposed the erroneous notion that "industry" funding fuels climate skepticism. "Do the critics really think there's more money and glory to be won by doubting global warming than by going along with the majority? I ask this question not because I doubt the integrity or competence of the researchers and environmental groups who are getting billions of dollars from government agencies, corporations, foundations and private donors concerned about climate change," Tierney wrote on March 6. An August 2007 report detailed how proponents of man-made global warming fears enjoy a monumental funding advantage over skeptical scientists. Tierney quoted Joseph Bast, Heartland's president, stating: "Donations from energy companies have never amounted to more than 5 percent of our budget in any year, and there is no corporate sponsor underwriting any of this conference." Tierney also presented the case that so-called global warming "solutions" are money makers for many. "A cap-and-trade systems for curbing carbon emissions (the kind criticized at this week's conference) is popular in Washington in no small part because of corporate lobbyists who see a chance to make money from the carbon credits," he wrote. "And there's lots of money to be doled out to researchers studying climate change and new energy technologies," he added.

Dissenters of Climate Fears Growing in Number

The New York City conference of dissenting scientists comes after many declared 2007 the "tipping point" for climate alarmism and referred to it as the year man-made global warming fears "bit the dust" as an abundance of peer-reviewed studies countered rising CO2 fears. Many of the scientists featured in the December 2007 U.S. Senate Minority Report of over 400 scientists attended the conference. The skeptical scientists at the conference presented diverse views on climate change, but generally they rallied around several key points. 1) The Earth is currently well within natural climate variability. 2) Almost all climate fear is generated by unproven computer model predictions. 3) An abundance of peer-reviewed studies continue to debunk rising CO2 fears and, 4) "Consensus" has been manufactured for political, not scientific purposes.

In such nations as:

  • Germany
  • Brazil
  • Netherlands
  • Russia
  • Argentina
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • France

Groups of scientists have recently spoken out to oppose and debunk man-made climate fears. In addition, many scientists who are also progressive environmentalists believe climate fear promotion has "co-opted" and "hijacked" the green movement.

Former Vice President Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth and the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports have prompted many skeptical scientists to speak out and join the growing resistance. "Al Gore brought me back to the battle and prompted me to do renewed research in the field of climatology. And because of all the misinformation that Gore and his army have been spreading about climate change I have decided that 'real' climatologists should try to help the public understand the nature of the problem," Climatologist Robert Durrenberger, past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, declared in May 2007. Since the release of the December 20 Senate minority report detailing the hundreds of skeptics, a steady stream of scientists from around the world have continued to declare themselves dissenters of the alleged "climate crisis." Just days before the international climate conference began, the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology, Dr. Joanna Simpson, declared she was "skeptical" of catastrophic man-made warming. "Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly," Simpson, formerly of NASA who has authored more than 190 studies, wrote in a public letter on February 27. Simpson was described by former Colorado State Climatologist Roger Pielke, Sr. as "among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years". "The main basis of the claim that man's release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models. We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system. We only need to watch the weather forecasts," Simpson explained. "But as a scientist I remain skeptical," she added.

Creek Bank
"If we are facing a crisis at all, I think it is that we
are preparing for warming when it is looking like we
are cooling. We are preparing for the wrong thing."
Dr. Timothy Ball

Number of Skeptical Scientists Continue to Grow

Also last week, Geologist William F. McClenney, a California Licensed Professional Geologist and former Certified Environmental Auditor in Victoria, Australia, announced that he had reversed his views about man-made global warming. McClenney now says he has done "the math and realized that you just can't get to global warming with CO2." See February 28, 2008 full statement here. McClenney joins other scientists who recently converted from believer to skeptic of man-made climate fears, see full article here. Geologist Dr. Don Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University who has authored eight books and 150 journal publications, announced earlier this week that he was putting his "reputation on the line" by predicting global cooling. "The average of the four main temperature measuring methods is slightly cooler since 2002 (except for a brief el Niýo interruption) and record breaking cooling this winter. The argument that this is too short a time period to be meaningful would be valid were it not for the fact that this cooling exactly fits the pattern of timing of warm/cool cycles over the past 400 years," Easterbrook wrote on March 1, 2008.  Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Art V. Douglas, the recently retired Chair of the Atmospheric Sciences Department at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and author of numerous papers for peer-reviewed publications, also publicly announced his dissent from man-made climate fears in February 2008. "Whatever the weather," Douglas said, "it's not being caused by global warming." Atmospheric Physicist James A. Peden, formerly of the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh and a founding member of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, also announced his skepticism on February 18, 2008. "Sorry folks, but we're not exactly buying into the Global Hysteria just yet. We know a great deal about atmospheric physics, and from the onset, many of the claims were just plain fishy," Peden wrote. In January 2008, environmental scientist professor Delgado Domingos of Portugal, the founder and director of the Numerical Weather Forecast group, announced publicly that he considered CO2 related climate fears to be "dangerous nonsense." Domingos, who retired in 2006, has more than 150 published articles in the research fields of Thermodynamics, Numerical Methods in Fluid Mechanics and Meteorological Forecast. "There are measurable climate changes but there is also an enormous manipulation in reducing everything to CO2 and equivalents. The main gas producing the green house effect is water vapor. The present alarm on climate change is an instrument of social control, a pretext for major businesses and political battle. It became an ideology, which is concerning," Domingos said. Physics professor Dr. Frederick Wolf of Keene State College in New Hampshire, declared himself a dissenter of man-made climate fears in January 2008. Wolf has taught meteorology and climatology courses for the past 25 years and will be undertaking a sabbatical project on global warming. "Several things have contributed to my skepticism about global warming being due to human causes. We all know that the atmosphere is a very complicated system," Wolf said. "I am impressed by the number of scientific colleagues who are naturally skeptical about the conclusion of human induced warming," he added.

Lamenting Use of Term "Consensus"

The number of scientists who are now publicly dissenting from Gore's and the UN's view of climate change has become so overwhelming that promoters of man-made climate fears now lament the use, or the "overuse of the term "consensus" in the public discussion of global warming. "I do think the scientific community, the progressive community, environmentalists and media are making a serious mistake by using the word "consensus"" to describe climate change impacts, wrote Joseph Romm of Climate Progress in a February 27, 2008 commentary in Salon.com. [Note: Despite the growing scientific dissent and the increasing number of peer-reviewed studies which debunk rising CO2 fears, Romm now advocates that the term "consensus" be dropped in favor of a stronger term to promote man-made climate fears. In addition, at least one scientist publicly pondered reconsidering his view of man-made climate fears after Senate report of 400 scientists was released in December. "It (the Senate 400 scientists report) got me thinking: I'm an environmental scientist, but I've never had time to review the "evidence" for the anthropogenic causes of global warming," wrote environmental scientist Professor Rami Zurayk of the American University in Beirut on December 27, 2007. "When I said, in my opening speech for the launch of UNEP's (United Nations Environment Program) Global Environment Outlook-4 in Beirut: 'There is now irrevocable evidence that climate change is taking place...' I was reading from a statement prepared by UNEP. Faith-based science it may be, but who has time to review all the evidence? I'll continue to act on the basis of anthropogenic climate change, but I really need to put some more time into this," Zurayk wrote.

Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate

The Heartland Institute's International climate conference built on the momentum of growing number of skeptics as the conference showcased a new report by a team of international scientists who formed a group to counter the UN IPCC called the "Nongovernmental International Panel of Climate Change" (NIPCC). The skeptical scientist report was titled "Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate" Key findings of the NIPCC's report: 1) Most of climate change is caused by natural forces, 2) The human contribution is not significant, 3) Solar-activity changes are the main cause of climate change. Climate Scientist Dr. S. Fred Singer, former director the US Weather Satellite Service and past vice chairman of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere, told the conference that the IPCC "chose to ignore these facts, because they conflicted with the conclusion that global warming is anthropogenic (man-made).

Not a global crisis

The International Climate Conference in New York also featured hundreds of climate experts from around the world, who issued a March 4 "Manhattan Declaration" on man-made global warming, stating in part: "1) There is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change, 2) Attempts by governments to inflict taxes and costly regulations on industry and individual citizens with the aim of reducing emissions of CO2 will pointlessly curtail the prosperity of the West and progress of developing nations without affecting climate, and 3) Human-caused climate change is not a global crisis." The declaration resolved that "scientific questions should be evaluated solely by the scientific method."

"Warming Island" Not So New

Former Virginia State Climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels addressed the conference and debunked fears of unprecedented melting in Greenland. Michaels noted the media hype recently about the "discovery" of a "new" island in Greenland caused by melting glaciers dubbed "Warming Island." (See April 2007 article titled: "An island made by global warming." But Michaels ridiculed the claim that the island was "new" by citing a 1957 book called "Arctic Riviera" by Swiss explorer Ernst Hofer which featured an illustration clearly depicting the same island in the early 1950s. Michaels noted that Greenland temperatures were as warm or warmer in the 1930s and 1940s than today"s temperatures. [See July 30, 2007 Report - Latest Scientific Studies Refute Fears of Greenland Melt]

Woods and Creek
“There are numerous respected, established and in
many cases world-renowned scientists who have done
careful research in various areas of ‘climate change’
that sharply differ with the IPCC results.”
Stanley B. Goldenberg

Sampling of Key Quotes from Scientists Participating in the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change:

Former UN Scientist Dr. Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute in Paris (who resigned from UN IPCC in protest): “As far as the science being ‘settled,’ I think that is an obscenity. The fact is the science is being distorted by people who are not scientists.”

UN IPCC scientist Vincent Gray of New Zealand: “This conference demonstrates that the [scientific] debate is not over. The climate is not being influenced by carbon dioxide.”

Canadian Climatologist Dr. Timothy Ball: “If we are facing [a crisis] at all, I think it is that we are preparing for warming when it is looking like we are cooling. We are preparing for the wrong thing.”

Climate researcher Dr. Craig Loehle, formerly of the Department of Energy Laboratories and currently with the National Council for Air and Stream Improvements, has published more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers: “The 2000-year [temperature] trend is not flat, so a warming period is not unprecedented. [&] 1500-year [temperature] cycle as proposed by [Atmospheric physicist Fred] Singer and [Dennis] Avery is consistent with Loehle climate reconstruction. [&] 1500-year cycle implies that recent warming is part of natural trend.”

Hurricane expert and Meteorologist Dr. William Gray: “There are lots of skeptics out there, all over the U.S. and the rest of the world. [Global warming] has been over-hyped tremendously; most of the climate change we have seen is largely natural. I think we are brainwashing our children terribly.”

UK Astrophysicist Piers Corbyn: “There is no evidence that CO2 has ever driven or will ever drive world temperatures and climate change. The consequence of that is that worrying about CO2 is irrelevant. Our prediction is world temperatures will continue to decline until 2014 and probably continue to decline after that.”

Weather Channel founder and meteorologist John Coleman: “Serious scientists and serious students of global warming have concluded after a lot of effort that there is little basis for the thought that we are going to have catastrophic global warming.”

Dr. Benny Peiser of the Faculty of Science of Liverpool John Moores University in UK: “[Global warming cap-and-trade bills have] caused so much trouble in Europe. It’s not working, it’s never going to work. It won’t have any effect on the climate, but only that there will be more unemployed in Europe. If that helps the climate, perhaps that is a solution.”

Atmospheric physicist Ferenc Miskolczi, formerly with NASA”s Langley Research Center: “The runaway greenhouse effect is physically impossible. [&] The observed global warming has nothing to do directly with the greenhouse effect; it must be related to changes in the total absorbed solar radiation or dissipated heat from other natural or anthropogenic sources of thermal energy.”

Meteorologist Art Horn: “There are thousands of scientists around the world who believe that this issue is not settled. The climate is not being influenced by carbon dioxide.”

German Meteorologist Dr. Gerd-Rainer Weber: “Most of the extremist views about climate change have little or no scientific basis. The rational basis for extremist views about global warming may be a desire to push for political action on global warming.”

Physics Professor Emeritus Dr. Howard Hayden of the University of Connecticut: “The fluctuations in Earth’s temperature are caused by astronomical phenomena. The combined effects of all “greenhouse gases,” albedo changes, and other Earthly changes account for no more than about 3 degrees C of the changes during transitions between ice ages and interglacials.”

Climate statistician Dr. William M. Briggs, who serves on the American Meteorological Society’s Probability and Statistics Committee and is an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review “It is my belief that the strident and frequent claims of catastrophes caused by man-made global warming are stated with a degree of confidence not warranted by the data. [&] Too many people are too confident about too many things. That was the simple message of the Heartland conference, and one that I hope sinks in.”

Weblink to part two of Marc Morano’s report on the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change

About the Author: Marc Morano is communications director for the Republicans on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Morano commenced work with the committee under Senator James Inhofe, who was majority chairman of the committee until January 2007 and is now minority ranking member. In December 2006 Morano launched a blog on the committee’s website that largely promotes the views of climate change skeptics. This article is reprinted here with permission from the author.

Additional EcoWorld features on Global Warming:

  • A Case Against Climate Alarmism, Dr. Richard Lindzen
  • 35 Inconvenient Truths, Lord Christopher Monckton
  • Interview with Roger Pielke, Sr., EcoWorld Exclusive
  • Glacial Acceleration, Paul Brown
  • Global Warming Priorities, Dr. Edward Wheeler
  • Rebuttal to Inconvenient Truth, Marlo Lewis
  • Inconvenient Skeptics, D. James Guzy
  • Global Warming Facts, Dr. Richard Lindzen
  • Is There a Basis for Global Warming Alarm?, Dr. Richard Lindzen
  • Global Warming Alarm?, Dr. Edward Wheeler
  • Global Warming Posts, EcoWorld Editor’s Blog
EcoWorld - Nature and Technology in Harmony

Posted in Art, Causes, Effects Of Air Pollution, Energy, Fish, Global Warming & Climate Change, History, Literature, Other, Radiation, Solar, Tidal3 Comments

Mega Solar Concentrators

We occasionally get press releases from a group known as Trans-Mediterannean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC) or TREC UK, visionary proponants of massive development of solar concentrators combined with large scale new HVDC (high voltage direct current) transmission corridors.

Parabolic solar thermal collectors (2 axis).
(Photo: TREK UK)

According to pro-TREC sources, an area of 254 kilometers x 254 kilometers of hot desert, if covered with concentrating solar power plants, would provide electricity equivalent to the current annual electricity consumption of the whole world.

Needless to say we decided to crunch the numbers on that one.

If you assume these 64,516 square kilometers (64 billion square meters) were to have an output of 100 watts per meter, at 7.0 hours per day at 100 watts-hours per hour per square meter, this array would throw off 45 billion kilowatt-hours per day, or 395 trillion kilowatt-hours per year.

This imputes a constant 24-7 supply of 1,882 gigawatts, or 1.8 terawatts of electric power. The US draws about 450 gigawatts (or .45 terawatts) of electric power, or by these reckonings 24% of total global electrical output. That sounds plausible.

It’s important to note that at 6.4 billion people on the planet, this 64,000 square kilometer area would only represent an area of 10 square meters per person (that’s about 100 square feet, Jackson) – not much space to replace every electrical generating system on earth – nor much to double it.

Apparently in the latest report, the U.K. Parliament (this time around) is not going to support the construction of hundreds of gigawatts of solar fields in North Africa and the Middle East, delivering electric power on a continental scale via a new trans-Mediterranean grid using advanced-technology underground HVDC transmission lines.

For information on mega-solar concentrator potential, read our posts “Nevada Solar One,” “Solel’s Solar Thermal,” “< href="/home-buildings/thermal-circulation-systems.html"a title="Solar Circulation Systems">Thermal Circulation Systems,” “< href="/fuels/solar-thermal-storage.html"a title="Solar Thermal Storage">Solar Thermal Storage,” “Thermal Voltaic Power,” and “Serious Megawatts.”

To get an idea of the potential of HVDC transmission, read “Life in the Electric Age,” and “Saharan Solar Power.”

Trough solar thermal collectors (1 axis).
(Photo: TREK UK)

Here is the text of the press release from TREC-UK, a group supporting the proposal for a trans-mediterranean HVDC power grid connected to massive new solar concentrator fields:

“A plan to supply the whole of Europe with clean solar power from desert regions in North Africa and the Middle East has now been debated in the House of Commons.

On Thursday, Dr Howard Stoate, MP for Dartford, described how, every year, each square kilometre of hot desert receives solar energy equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil. Multiplying by the area of deserts worldwide, this is several hundred times the entire energy consumption of the world. The key technology for tapping in to this cornucopia is the simple proven technique of “concentrating solar power” (CSP): using mirrors to concentrate sunlight to create heat and then using the heat to raise steam to drive turbines and generate electricity, just like a conventional power station. Solar heat can be stored so that electricity generation can continue at night.

Using CSP, less than 1% of the world’s deserts could generate as much electricity as the world is currently using. And it is feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity for 3000 km or more using highly-efficient ‘HVDC’ transmission lines. It has been calculated that 90% of the world’s population lives within 2700 km of a hot desert and could be supplied with solar electricity from there.

Quite apart from the transmission of solar energy throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, the proposed ‘HVDC’ Supergrid would reduce wastage by allowing electricity to be transmitted from areas of surplus to areas of need, it would increase energy security because temporary shortfalls in any area could be covered from elsewhere, and it would help to match variable demands with variable supplies. It would also provide the means of transmitting electricity from large-scale but remote renewable sources such as off-shore wind farms, wave farms, tidal stream generators and the like.

Dr Stoate said “Concentrated solar power is a concept of literally dazzling simplicity. It is an idea so simple, and with such extraordinary promise as a means of power generation, that it seems astonishing that in Europe we are only just waking up to its potential, more than 20 years after its first use in California.”

Responding to Dr Stoate’s speech, energy minister Malcolm Wicks MP said “The world has huge solar resources, on which concentrated solar power technology can clearly draw. … The Government will continue to follow developments in concentrated solar power and long-distance electricity transmission.” He said that Dr Stoate had made several interesting and important points and that he would like to be better informed on the subject.”

Posted in Consumption, Electricity, Policy, Law, & Government, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar, Tidal, Wind5 Comments

35 Inconvenient Truths: The Errors in Al Gore's Movie

Polar Bear
Is climate change endangering the Polar Bear?

Editor’s Note: When you strip away the ideology, the truth still matters, so not just for balance but for integrity, we continue to post features like this. The denial industry is not going to go away until the truth is known, and truth can withstand skepticism. And what if the skeptics are right?

In October 2007, a British judge ruled the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” had nine inaccuracies. And shortly thereafter, in reference to this movie, another British person, Chris Monckton, wrote “35 Inconvenient Truths,” republished with permission by EcoWorld here. Not nine, but 35 inaccuracies. In reading this compilation you have to wonder whether we aren’t getting carried away. How many sweeping political and economic mandates will come of this? How many civil suits? How many regulations, subsidies, taxes, and trades?

Reading this feature – which certainly has several valid points – presents the question of what else? Is every weather event imbued with inflections of doom and guilt, the numerical or factual basis unquestioned, the inflections informed by emotion instead of due diligence? Is climate-change alarm influencing reporting on business and politics? Should someone simply believe in anthropogenic global warming, “AGW,” because they want to believe in AGW because all the collective action we may take on behalf of AGW is good? Maybe yes, and maybe not.

Because even if AGW is real, would unleashing the power of free enterprise to adapt to changing climate realities be a better use of resources than trying to eliminate combustion through massive new transfers of wealth from the private sector to the public sector? In our view, $100 dollars per barrel of oil is a sufficient incentive for alternative energy to have a chance. Further, eliminating subsidies for fossil fuel should come before new taxes and subsidies to develop alternative energy. Reforming the public sector should come before any new taxes.

One of Monckton’s points, #30, deserves highlighting – like many of us, he rejects the position that CO2 is pollution. Without CO2 plants could not have photosynthesis, which is necessary for plants to grow and generates oxygen for humans to breath. Plants cannot breath without CO2. For such a fundamental misconception to enter into law via the U.S. Supreme Court ought to alert anyone to the fact something is wrong here. Let the gardens of private land and the gardens of public discourse adapt and benefit from this truth; CO2 is life, and airborne toxic molecules and particulates are something else altogether. In that spirit, on with the story. – Ed “Redwood” Ring

35 Inconvenient Truths – The Errors in Al Gore’s Movie
by Christopher Monckton, December 15, 2007
Al Gore Delivering Climate Change Presentation
Al Gore delivering his famous presentation.
But are his arguments really beyond debate?

In October 2007 the High Court in London identified nine “errors” in the movie An Inconvenient Truth. The judge had stated that, if the UK Government had not agreed to send to every secondary school in England a corrected guidance note, he would have made a finding that the Government’s distribution of the film to all English secondary schools had been an unlawful contravention of an Act of Parliament prohibiting the political indoctrination of children.

A Gore spokesperson and “environment advisor,” Ms. Kalee Kreider, has issued a questionable response to this news. She begins by saying that the film presented “thousands and thousands of facts.” It did not: just 2,000 “facts” in 93 minutes would have been one fact every three seconds. The film contained only a few dozen points, most of which will be seen to have been substantially inaccurate. The judge concentrated only on nine points which even the UK Government, to which Gore is a climate-change advisor, had to admit did not represent mainstream scientific opinion.

Ms. Kreider then states, incorrectly, that the judge himself had never used the term “errors.” In fact, the judge used the term “errors,” in inverted commas, throughout his judgment.

Next, Ms. Kreider makes some unjustifiable ad hominem attacks on Mr. Stewart Dimmock, the lorry driver, school governor and father of two school-age children who was the plaintiff in the case. This memorandum, however, will eschew any ad hominem response, and will concentrate exclusively on the 35 scientific inaccuracies and exaggerations in Gore’s movie.

Ms. Kreider then says, “The process of creating a 90-minute documentary from the original peer-reviewed science for an audience of moviegoers in the U.S. and around the world is complex.” However, the single web-page entitled “The Science” on the movie’s official website contains only two references to articles in the peer-reviewed scientific journals. There is also a reference to a document of the IPCC, but its documents are not independently peer-reviewed in the usual understanding of the term.

Ms. Kreider then says, “The judge stated clearly that he was not attempting to perform an analysis of the scientific questions in his ruling.” He did not need to. Each of the nine “errors” which he identified had been admitted by the UK Government to be inconsistent with the mainstream of scientific opinion.

Ms. Kreider says the IPCC’s results are sometimes “conservative,” and continues: “Vice President Gore tried to convey in good faith those threats that he views as the most serious.” Readers of the long list of errors described in this memorandum will decide for themselves whether Mr. Gore was acting in good faith. However, in this connection it is significant that each of the 35 errors listed below misstates the conclusions of the scientific literature or states that there is a threat where there is none or exaggerates the threat where there may be one. All of the errors point in one direction – towards undue alarmism. Not one of the errors falls in the direction of underestimating the degree of concern in the scientific community. The likelihood that all 35 of the errors listed below could have fallen in one direction purely by inadvertence is less than 1 in 34 billion.

We now itemize 35 of the scientific errors and exaggerations in Al Gore’s movie. The first nine were listed by the judge in the High Court in London in October 2007 as being “errors.” The remaining 26 errors are just as inaccurate or exaggerated as the nine spelt out by the judge, who made it plain during the proceedings that the Court had not had time to consider more than these few errors. The judge found these errors serious enough to require the UK Government to pay substantial costs to the plaintiff.

#1 – Sea Level Rising Six Meters:

Gore says that a sea-level rise of up to 6 m (20 ft) will be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland. Though Gore does not say that the sea-level rise will occur in the near future, the judge found that, in the context, it was clear that this is what he had meant, since he showed expensive graphical representations of the effect of his imagined 6 m (20 ft) sea-level rise on existing populations, and he quantified the numbers who would be displaced by the sea-level rise.

The IPCC says sea-level increases up to 7 m (23 ft) above today’s levels have happened naturally in the past climate, and would only be likely to happen again after several millennia. In the next 100 years, according to calculations based on figures in the IPCC’s 2007 report, these two ice sheets between them will add a little over 6 cm (2.5 inches) to sea level, not 6 m (this figure of 6 cm is 15% of the IPCC’s total central estimate of a 43 cm or 1 ft 5 in sea-level rise over the next century). Gore has accordingly exaggerated the official sea-level estimate by nearly 10,000 percent.

Ms. Kreider says the IPCC estimates a sea-level rise of “59 cm” by 2100. She fails to point out that this amounts to less than 2 ft, not the 20 ft imagined by Gore. She also fails to point out that this is the IPCC’s upper estimate, on its most extreme scenario. And she fails to state that the IPCC, faced with a stream of peer-reviewed articles stating that sea-level rise is not a threat, has reduced this upper estimate from 3 ft in 2001 to less than 2 ft (i.e. half the mean centennial sea-level rise that has occurred since the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago) in 2007.

Ms. Kreider says the IPCC’s 2007 sea-level calculations excluded contributions from Greenland and West Antarctica because they could not be quantified. However, Table SPM1 of the 2007 report quantifies the contributions of these two ice-sheets to sea-level rise as representing about 15% of the total change.

Graph of Sea Level and Carbon Used
-

The report also mentions the possibility that there may be an unquantified further contribution in future from these two ice sheets arising from “dynamical ice flow.” However, the Greenland ice sheet rests in a depression in the bedrock created by its own weight, wherefore “dynamical ice flow” is impossible, and the IPCC says that temperature would have to be sustained at more than 5.5 degrees C above its present level for several millennia before half the Greenland ice sheet could melt, causing sea level to rise by some 3 m (10 ft).

Finally, the IPCC’s 2007 report estimates that the likelihood that humankind is having any influence on sea level at all is little better than 50:50.

The judge was accordingly correct in finding that Gore’s presentation of the imagined imminent threat of a 6 m (20 ft) sea-level rise, with his account of the supposed impact on the present-day populations of Manhattan, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, etc., etc, was not a correct statement of the mainstream science on this question.

#2 – Pacific islands “drowning”

Gore says low-lying inhabited Pacific coral atolls are already being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming, leading to the evacuation of several island populations to New Zealand. However, the atolls are not being inundated, except where dynamiting of reefs or over-extraction of fresh water by local populations has caused damage.

Furthermore, corals can grow at ten times the predicted rate of increase in sea level. It is not by some accident or coincidence that so many atolls reach just a few feet above the ocean surface.

Ms. Kreider says, “The IPCC estimates that 150 million environmental refugees could exist by the year 2050, due mainly to the effects of coastal flooding, shoreline erosion and agricultural disruption.” However, the IPCC cannot be basing its estimate on sea-level rise, since even its maximum projected rise of just 30 cm (1 ft) by 2050 would not cause significant coastal flooding or shoreline erosion. There are several coastlines (the east coast of England, for instance) where the land is sinking as a consequence of post-ice-age isostatic recovery, or where (as in Bangladesh) tectonic subduction is similarly causing the land to sink. But such natural causes owe nothing to sea-level rise.

There have been no mass evacuations of populations of islanders as suggested by Gore, though some residents of Tuvalu have asked to be moved to New Zealand, even though the tide-gauges maintained until recently by the National Tidal Facility of Australia show a mean annual sea-level rise over the past half-century equivalent to the thickness of a human hair. The problem with the Carteret Islands, mentioned by Ms. Kreider, arose not because of rising sea levels but because of imprudent dynamiting of the reefs by local fishermen.

Black and White Tree

In the Maldives, a detailed recent study showed that sea levels were unchanged today compared with 1250 years ago, though they have been higher in much of the intervening period, and have very seldom been lower.

A well-established tree very close to the Maldivian shoreline and only inches above sea level was recently uprooted by Australian environmentalists anxious to destroy this visible proof that sea level cannot have risen very far.

#3 – Thermohaline circulation “stopping”

Gore says “global warming” may shut down the thermohaline circulation in the oceans, which he calls the “ocean conveyor,” plunging Europe into an ice age. It will not. A paper published in 2006 says: “Analyses of ocean observations and model simulations suggest that changes in the thermohaline circulation during the last century are likely the result of natural multidecadal climate variability. Indications of a sustained thermohaline circulation weakening are not seen during the last few decades. Instead, a strengthening since the 1980s is observed.”

Ms. Kreider, for Mr. Gore, says that “multiple scientists” have claimed that we cannot exclude the possibility of the disruption or shutdown of the Conveyor. Disruption, perhaps: shutdown, no. It is now near-universally accepted that the thermohaline circulation cannot be and will not be shut down by “global warming,” and the film should have been corrected to reflect the consensus.

#4 – CO2 “driving temperature”

Gore says that in each of the last four interglacial warm periods it was changes in carbon dioxide concentration that caused changes in temperature. It was the other way about. Changes in temperature preceded changes in CO2 concentration by between 800 and 2800 years, as scientific papers including the paper on which Gore’s film had relied had made clear.

Ms. Kreider says it is true that “greenhouse gas levels and temperature changes in the ice signals have a complicated relationship but they do fit.” This does not address Gore’s error at all. The judge found that Gore had very clearly implied that it was changes in carbon dioxide concentration that had led to changes in temperature in the palaeoclimate, when the scientific literature is unanimous (save only for a single paper by James Hansen, whom Gore trusts) to the effect that the relationship was in fact the other way about, with a carbon dioxide feedback contributing only a comparatively insignificant further increase to temperature after the temperature change had itself initiated a change in carbon dioxide concentration.

The significance of this error was explained during the court proceedings, and was accepted by the judge. Gore says that the 100 ppmv difference between carbon dioxide concentrations during ice-age temperature minima and interglacial temperature maxima represents “the difference between a nice day and a mile of ice above your head.” This would imply a CO2 effect on temperature about 10 times greater than that regarded as plausible by the consensus of mainstream scientific opinion (see Error 10).

Ms. Kreider refers readers to a “more complete description” available at a website maintained by, among others, two of the three authors of the now-discredited “hockey stick” graph that falsely attempted to abolish the Mediaeval Warm Period. The National Academy of Sciences in the US had found that graph to have “a validation skill not significantly different from zero” – i.e., the graph was useless.

#5 – Snows of Kilimanjaro “melting”

Gore says “global warming” has been melting the snows of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. It is not.

The melting of the Furtwangler Glacier at the summit of the mountain began 125 years ago. More of the glacier had melted before Hemingway wrote The Snows of Kilimanjaro in 1936 than afterward.

Temperature at the summit never rises above freezing and is at an average of 7 Celsius. The cause of the melting is long-term climate shifts exacerbated by imprudent regional deforestation, and has nothing to do with “global warming.”

Ms. Kreider says, “Every tropical glacier for which we have documented evidence shows that glaciers are retreating.” However, a recent survey of the glaciers in the tropical Andes shows that they were largely ice-free in the past 10,000 years, except on the very highest peaks. The mere fact of warming or melting, therefore, tells us nothing of the cause.

Ms. Kreider says, “Global warming exacerbates the stresses that ecosystems (and humans) are already experiencing.” However, since the temperature at the summit of Kilimanjaro remains below freezing and has not risen in 30 years, “global warming” is not “exacerbating the stresses” at the summit of Kilimanjaro.

#6 – Lake Chad “drying up”

Gore says “global warming” dried up Lake Chad in Africa. It did not. Over-extraction of water and changing agricultural patterns dried the lake, which was also dry in 8500BC, 5500BC, 1000BC and 100BC. Ms. Kreider says, “There are multiple stresses upon Lake Chad.” However, the scientific consensus is that at present those “stresses” do not include “global warming.”

#7 – Hurricane Katrina “man made”

Gore says Hurricane Katrina, that devastated New Orleans in 2005, was caused by “global warming.” It was not. It was caused by the failure of Gore’s party, in the administration of New Orleans, to heed 30 years of warnings by the Corps of Engineers that the levees dams that kept New Orleans dry could not stand a direct hit by a hurricane. Katrina was only Category 3 when it struck the levees. They failed, as the Engineers had said they would. Gore’s party, not “global warming,” was to blame for the consequent death and destruction.

Graph of the Number of Hurricanes that Make Landfall from 1900 to 2000
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Ms. Kreider says, “Mr. Gore has never addressed the issue of climate change and hurricane frequency.” What Gore actually says, however, addresses the frequency not only of hurricanes but also of typhoons and tornadoes

“We have seen in the last couple of years, a lot of big hurricanes. Hurricanes Jean, Francis and Ivan were among them. In the same year we had that string of big hurricanes; we also set an all time record for tornadoes in the United States. Japan again didn’t get as much attention in our news media, but they set an all time record for typhoons. The previous record was seven. Here are all ten of the ones they had in 2004.”

Graph of Hurricane Wind Speed and Number of Hurricanes that Make Landfall
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For the record, however, the number of Atlantic hurricanes shows no trend over the past half century; the number of typhoons has fallen throughout the past 30 years; the number of tornadoes has risen only because of better detection systems for smaller tornadoes; but the number of larger tornadoes in the US has fallen.

#8 – Polar bear “dying”

Gore says a scientific study shows that polar bears are being killed swimming long distances to find ice that has melted away because of “global warming.” They are not. The study, by Monnett & Gleason (2005), mentioned just four dead bears. They had died in an exceptional storm, with high winds and waves in the Beaufort Sea. The amount of sea ice in the Beaufort Sea has grown over the past 30 years. A report for the World Wide Fund for Nature shows that polar bears, which are warm-blooded, have grown in numbers where temperature has increased, and have become fewer where temperature has fallen. Polar bears evolved from brown bears 200,000 years ago, and survived the last interglacial period, when global temperature was 5 degrees Celsius warmer than the present and there was probably no Arctic ice-cap at all. The real threat to polar bears is not “global warming” but hunting. In 1940, there were just 5,000 polar bears worldwide. Now that hunting is controlled, there are 25,000.

Ms. Kreider says sea-ice “was the lowest ever measured for minimum extent in 2007.” She does not say that the measurements, which are done by satellite, go back only 29 years. She does not say that the North-West Passage, a good proxy for Arctic sea-ice extent, was open to shipping in 1945, or that Amundsen passed through in a sailing vessel in 1903.

#9 – Coral reefs “bleaching”

Gore says coral reefs are “bleaching” because of “global warming.” They are not. There was some bleaching in 1998, but this was caused by the exceptional El Nino Southern Oscillation that year. Two similarly severe El Ninos over the past 250 years also caused extensive bleaching. “Global warming” was nothing to do with it.

Ms. Kreider says, “The IPCC and other scientific bodies have long identified increases in ocean temperatures with the bleaching of coral reefs.” So they have: but the bleaching in 1998 occurred as a result not of “global warming” but of a rare, though not unique, severe El Nino Southern Oscillation.

#10 – 100 ppmv of CO2 “melting mile-thick ice”

Gore implies that the difference of just 100 parts per million by volume in CO2 concentration between an interglacial temperature maximum and an ice-age temperature minimum causes “the difference between a nice day and having a mile of ice above your head.” It does not. Gore’s implication has the effect of overstating the mainstream consensus estimate of the effect of CO2 on temperature at least tenfold.

Temperature changes by up to 12 degrees C between glacial minima and interglacial maxima, but CO2 concentration changes by no more than 100 ppmv. Gore is accordingly implying that 100 ppmv can cause a temperature increase of up to 12 degrees C. However, the consensus as expressed by the IPCC is that 100 ppmv of increased CO2 concentration, from 180 to 280 ppmv, would increase radiant energy flux in the atmosphere by 2.33 watts per square meter, or less than 1.2 degrees Celsius including the effect of temperature feedbacks.

#11 – Hurricane Caterina “manmade”

Gore says that Hurricane Caterina, the only hurricane ever to strike the coast of Brazil, was caused by “global warming.” It was not. In 2004, Brazil’s summer sea surface temperatures were cooler than normal, not warmer. But air temperatures were the coldest in 25 years. The air was so much colder than the water that it caused a heat flux from the water to the air similar to that which fuels hurricanes in warm seas.

#12 – Japanese typhoons “a new record”

Gore says that 2004 set a new record for the number of typhoons striking Japan. It did not. The trend in the number of typhoons, and of tropical cyclones, has fallen throughout the past 50 years. The trend in rainfall from cyclones has also fallen, and there has been no trend in monsoon rainfall.

#13 – Hurricanes “getting stronger”

Galveston Hurricane of 1900

Gore says scientists had been giving warnings that hurricanes will get stronger because of “global warming.” They will not. Over the past 60 years there has been no change in the strength of hurricanes, even though hydrocarbon use went up six-fold in the same period. Research by Dr. Kerry Emanuel, cited by Ms. Kreider, has been discredited by more recent findings that wind-shear effects tend to nullify the amplification of hurricane strength which he had suggested, and, of course, by the observed failure of hurricanes to gain strength during the past 60 years of “global warming.”

#14 – Big storm insurances losses “increasing”

Hurricane Chart
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Gore says insurance losses arising from large storms and other extreme-weather events are increasing, by implication because of “global warming.” They are not. Insured losses, as a percentage of the population of coastal areas in the path of hurricanes, were lower even in 2005 than they had been in 1925. In 2006, a very quiet hurricane season, Lloyds of London posted their biggest-ever profit: £3.6 billion.

#15 – Mumbai “flooding”

Monthly Total Rainfall Over Santa Cruz
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Gore says flooding in Mumbai is increasing, by implication because of “global warming.” It is not. Rainfall trends at the two major weather stations in Mumbai show no increase in heavy rainfall over the past 48 years.

#16 – Severe tornadoes “more frequent”

Graph of the Number of Severe Tornadoes in the United States
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Gore says that 2004 set an all-time record for tornadoes in the US. More tornadoes are being reported because detection systems are better than they were. But the number of severe tornadoes has been falling for more than 50 years.

#17 – The sun “heats the Arctic ocean”

Gore says that ice-melt allows the Sun to heat the Arctic Ocean, and a diagram shows the Sun’s rays heating it directly. It does not. The ocean emits radiant energy at the moment of absorption, and would freeze if there were no atmosphere. It is the atmosphere, not the Sun that warms the ocean. Also, Gore’s diagram confuses the tropopause with the ionosphere, and he makes a number of other errors indicating that he does not understand the elementary physics of radiative transfer.

#18 – Arctic “warming fastest”

Ice Breakers
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Gore says the Arctic has been warming faster than the rest of the planet. It is not. While it is in general true that during periods of warming (whether natural or anthropogenic) the Arctic will warm faster than other regions, Gore does not mention that the Arctic has been cooling over the past 60 years, and is now one degree Celsius cooler than it was in the 1940s. There was a record amount of snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere in 2001. Several vessels were icebound in the Arctic in the spring of 2007, but few newspapers reported this. The newspapers reported that the North-West Passage was free of ice in 2007, and said that this was for the first time since records began: but the records, taken by satellites, had only begun 29 years previously. The North-West Passage had also been open for shipping in 1945, and, in 1903, the great Norwegian explorer Amundsen had passed through it in a sailing ship.

#19 – Greenland ice sheet “unstable”

Greenland Change in Ice Sheet Elevation
Colors indicate ice-sheet elevation
change rate in cm/year, based on satellite
altimeter data, 1992-2003. The spatially
averaged increase is 5.4 +- 0.2 cm/year

Gore says “global warming” is making the Greenland ice sheet unstable. It is not. Greenland ice grows 2in a year. The Greenland ice sheet survived each of the previous three interglacial periods, each of which was 5 degrees Celsius warmer than the present. It survived atmospheric CO2 concentrations of up to 1000 ppmv (compared with today’s 400 ppmv). It last melted 850,000 years ago, when humankind did not exist and could not have caused the melting. There is a close correlation between variations in Solar activity and temperature anomalies in Greenland, but there is no correlation between variations in CO2 concentration and temperature changes in Greenland. The IPCC (2001) says that to melt even half the Greenland ice sheet would require temperature to rise by 5.5 degrees C and remain that high for several thousand years.

#20 – Himalayan glacial melt waters “failing”

Gore says 40% of the world’s population get their water supply from Himalayan glacial melt waters that are failing because of “global warming.” They don’t and they are not. The water comes almost entirely from snow-melt, not from ice-melt. Over the past 40 years there has been no decline in the amount of snow-melt in Eurasia.

#21 – Peruvian glaciers “disappearing”

Gore says that a Peruvian glacier is less extensive now than it was in the 1940s, implying that “global warming” is the cause. It is not. Except for the very highest peaks, the normal state of the Peruvian cordilleras has been ice-free throughout most of the past 10,000 years.

#22 – Mountain glaciers worldwide “disappearing”

Graph of Glacier Length and Metric Tons of Carbon Used
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Gore says that “the ice has a story to tell, and it is worldwide.” He shows several before-and-after pictures of glaciers disappearing. However, the glacial melt began in the 1820s, long before humankind could have had any effect, and has continued at a uniform rate since, showing no acceleration since humankind began increasing the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere. Total ice volumes in three of the last four Ice Ages were lower than they are today, and “global warming” had nothing to do with that.

#23 – Sahara desert “drying”

Sand Dune

Gore says terrible tragedies are occurring in the southern Sahara because of drought which he blames on “global warming.” There is no drought caused by “global warming.” In 2007 there were record rains across the whole of the southern Sahara. In the past 25 years the Sahara has shrunk by some 300,000 square kilometers because of additional rainfall. Some scientists think “global warming” may actually mitigate pre-existing droughts because there will be more water vapor in the atmosphere. Before 1200 AD there were frequent, prolonged and severe droughts in the Great Plains. Since 1200 AD, there has been more rainfall. Likewise, the US has had more rainfall since the 1950s than it had in the earlier part of the 20th Century, when the great droughts which were then common were described by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath. South African rainfall was also more stable in the second half of the 20th Century, when human effect on climate is said to have become significant, than in the first half.

#24 – West Antarctic ice sheet “unstable”

Antarctic Ice Sheet
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Gore says disturbing changes have been measured under the West Antarctic ice sheet, implicitly because of “global warming.” Yet most of the recession in this ice sheet over the past 10,000 years has occurred in the absence of any sea-level or temperature forcing. In most of Antarctica, the ice is in fact growing thicker. Mean Antarctic temperature has actually fallen throughout the past half-century. In some Antarctic glens, environmental damage has been caused by temperature decreases of up to 2 degrees Celsius. Antarctic sea-ice spread to a 30-year record extent in late 2007.

#25 – Antarctic Peninsula ice shelves “breaking up”

Gore says half a dozen ice shelves each “larger than Rhode Island” have broken up and vanished from the Antarctic Peninsula recently, implicitly because of “global warming.” Global warming is unlikely to have been the cause. Gore does not explain that the ice shelves have melted before, as studies of seabed sediments have shown. The Antarctic Peninsula accounts for about 2% of the continent, in most of which the ice is growing thicker. All the recently-melted shelves, added together, amount to an area less than one-fifty-fifth the size of Texas.

#26 – Larsen B Ice Shelf “broke up because of ‘global warming’”

Gore focuses on the Larsen B ice shelf, saying that it completely disappeared in 35 days. Yet there has been extensive ice-shelf break-up throughout the past 10,000 years, and the maximum ice-shelf extent may have been in the Little Ice Age in the late 15th century.

#27 – Mosquitoes “climbing to higher altitudes”

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Gore says that, because of “global warming”, mosquitoes are climbing to higher altitudes. They are not. Most recent outbreaks have been at lower levels than those of a century and more ago. He says that Nairobi was founded 1000 m above sea level so as to be above the mosquito line. It was not. In the period before anthropogenic warming could have had any significant effect, there were ten malaria outbreaks in Nairobi, one of which reached as far up as Eldoret, almost 3000 m above sea level. Malaria is not a tropical disease. Mosquitoes do not need tropical temperatures: they need no more than 15 degrees Celsius to breed. The largest malaria outbreak of modern times was in Siberia in the 1920s and 1930s, when 13 million were infected, 600,000 died and 30,000 died as far north as Arkhangelsk, on the Arctic Circle. There is no reason to suppose that malaria will spread even if the climate continues to become warmer.

#28 – Many tropical diseases “spread through ‘global warming’”

Gore says that, as well as malaria, “global warming” is spreading dengue fever, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, arena virus, avian flu, Ebola virus, E. Coli 0157:H7, Hanta virus, legionella, leptospirosis, multi-drug-resistant TB, Nipah virus, SARS and Vibrio Cholerae 0139. It is doing no such thing. Only the first four diseases are insect-borne, but none is tropical. Of the other diseases named by Gore either in his film or in the accompanying book, not one is sensitive to increasing temperature. They are spread not by warmer weather but by rats, chickens, primates, pigs, poor hygiene, ill-maintained air conditioning, or cold weather.

#29 – West Nile virus in the US “spread through ‘global warming’”

Gore says that West Nile virus spread throughout the US in just two years, implicitly because of “global warming.” It did not. The climate in the US ranges from some of the world’s hottest deserts to some of its iciest tundra. West Nile virus flourishes in any climate. Warming of the climate, however caused, does not affect its incidence or prevalence.

#30 – Carbon dioxide is “pollution”

Gore describes carbon dioxide as “global warming pollution.” It is not. It is food for plants and trees. Tests have shown that even at concentrations 30 times those of the present day even the most delicate plants flourish. Well-managed forests, such as those of the United States, are growing at record rates because the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is feeding the trees. Carbon dioxide, in geological timescale, is at a very low concentration at present. Half a billion years ago it was at 7000 parts per million by volume, about 18 times today’s concentration.

#31 – The European heat wave of 2003 “killed 35,000″

Gore says, “A couple of years ago in Europe they had that heat wave that killed 35,000.” Though some scientists agree with Gore, the scientific consensus is that extreme warm anomalies more unusual than the 2003 heat wave occur regularly; extreme cold anomalies also occur regularly; El Niýo and volcanism appear to be of much greater importance than any general warming trend; and there is little evidence that regional heat or cold waves are significantly increasing or decreasing with time. In general, warm is better than cold, which is why the largest number of life-forms are in the tropics and the least number are at the poles. A cold snap in the winter following the European heat wave killed 20,000 in the UK alone. Though the IPCC says 150,000 people a year are being killed worldwide by “global warming,” it reaches this figure only by deliberately excluding the number of people who are not being killed because there is less cold weather. In the US alone, it has been estimated that 174,000 fewer people are being killed each year because there are fewer episodes of extreme cold.

#32 – Pied flycatchers “cannot feed their young”

Gore says “The peak arrival date for migratory birds 25 years ago was April 25. Their chicks hatched on June 3, just at the time when the caterpillars were coming out: Nature’s plan. But 20 years of warming later the caterpillars peaked two weeks earlier. The chicks tried to catch up with it, but they couldn’t. So they are in trouble.” Yet adaptation is easy for the flycatchers: they merely fly a few tens of kilometers further north and they will find caterpillars hatching at the appropriate time. Besides, though Gore does not say so, what is bad news for the pied flycatchers is good news for the caterpillars, and for the butterflies they will become.

#33 – Gore’s bogus pictures and film footage

In the book accompanying Gore’s film, the story of the pied flycatchers and the caterpillars is accompanied by a picture of a bird feeding her hungry chicks. However, closer inspection shows that the bird is not a pied flycatcher but a black tern; and that she is not carrying a caterpillar in her beak, but a small fish. Gore similarly misuses spectacular footage of a glacier apparently calving off enormous slabs of ice into the sea footage that is often shown on television to accompany stories about “global warming.” However, the glacier in question is one that is known to be advancing and to be doing so more rapidly and more often than previously. It is in southern Argentina, where its snout crosses and eventually dams, Lake Argentino. Water builds up behind the ice dam and eventually bursts it, causing the spectacular collapse of ice into the lake that is so misleadingly used as the iconic image of the effect of “global warming” on glaciers. The breaking of the ice dam used to occur every eight years or so: now, however, it occurs every five years, not because of “global warming” because of the regional cooling of the southern Atlantic.

#34 – The Thames Barrier “closing more frequently”

Gore says that rising sea levels are compelling the operators of the Thames Barrier to close it more frequently than when it was first built. They are not. The barrier is indeed closed more frequently than when it was built, but the reason has nothing to do with “global warming” or rising sea levels. The reason is a change of policy by which the barrier is closed during exceptionally low tides, so as to retain water in the tidal Thames rather than keeping it out. Yet even the present leader of the official Opposition in the UK Parliament recently used a major speech as the opportunity to mention today’s more frequent closing of the Thames Barrier as though it were a matter of grave concern.

35 – “No fact…in dispute by anybody.”

Gore says that his prediction that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide will rise to more than 600 parts per million by volume as soon as 2050 is “not controversial in any way or in dispute by anybody.” However, not one of the half-dozen official projections of growth in CO2 concentration made by the IPCC shows as much as 600 parts per million by 2050.

Christopher Monckton

About the Author: Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (born 14 February 1952) is a retired British international business consultant, policy advisor, writer, and inventor. He served as an advisor to Margaret Thatcher and has attracted controversy for his public opposition to the mainstream scientific consensus on global warming and climate change. This story was originally released in October 2007 on the website of the Science & Public Policy Institute, among other places, and is republished here with permission.

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Posted in Birds, Causes, Drought, Effects Of Air Pollution, Energy, Fish, Global Warming & Climate Change, Literature, Other, Regional, Shipping, Solar, Tidal, Wind6 Comments

Cautionary Cleantech Metrics

The clean technology revolution is upon us, but investors and entrepreneurs should exercise caution when placing their bets. Here are some contrarian considerations that could well be vindicated in the coming years, and if they are, subsidies will dry up, the legislative and regulatory environment will shift dramatically, and entire industries that were built on today’s conventional wisdom will no longer exist.

Most of the investments made in energy today, for example, rest on the assumption that energy is scarce – but in reality energy is not scarce, what is scarce is energy that conventional wisdom defines as “clean energy.” This definition, in turn, has recently become far, far more restrictive, insofar as any energy production that causes CO2 emissions is no longer considered clean. But there are a growing number of climatologists, such as Dr. Richard Pielke, Sr. at the University of Colorado, who believe changes in land use – tropical deforestation in particular – have a role in climate change that current models greatly underestimate. What if the greater cause of droughts, extreme weather, and global warming were found to be the result of land use change? Would we still be burning rainforests in the tropics, and depleting aquifers on the high plains of North America to grow biofuel crops?

In the influential book “Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage,” author Kenneth Deffeyes argues we are running out of oil and that a catastrophic collapse in oil supplies is inevitable. This point of view totally ignores the feasibility of extracting usable oil from the so called “heavy oil” reserves, as well as recovering oil from coal. At $70 per barrel, these technologies are viable today – and every time the price of oil rises, these technologies become more feasible. Oil from the Athabasca tar sands, for example, is recoverable at a price of $45 per barrel. Similar costs apply to the massive reserves in Venezuela’s Orinoco basin.

According to WorldEnergy.org, the world reserves of light crude oil, as of 2006, were roughly equal to the amount of oil that has been extracted so far, that is, about 800 billion barrels of light crude has been used so far, and about 1,000 billion barrels of conventional oil reserves remain – and this is the low number, some estimates go as high as 1,600 billion barrels remaining of conventional oil reserves. But recoverable reserves of heavy oil add another 2,400 billion barrels to that total. This means that at current rates of consumption, we have at least another 100 years of oil. Add technologies for coal-to-liquid conversions, and we have another 200 years of oil. Add the ultra-efficient innovations that high energy prices inevitably spawn, and the world economy can easily rely on fossil fuels for several generations to come.

Based on these facts, it becomes clear that the “shortage” of energy in the world is a political invention, more than anything else based on environmental concerns. But here is the environmental choice between fossil fuel and biofuel: We can dig up the entire Athabasca tar sands region, as well as the entire Orinoco basin, and if we do this, we will disrupt a combined area equivalent to 75,000 square miles. So for a 70 year supply of oil for the entire world economy at today’s rates of consumption, we would disrupt 75,000 square miles. But if we turn to biofuel instead, at an average yield per square mile of 5,000 barrels per year, to get the same amount of oil we would have to use up 5.8 million square miles of land, which is twice as big as all remaining tropical rainforests, or put another way, about 60% of all farmland on earth. Not only is this impossible, but this is far more disruptive to the environment.

There are other sources of biofuel besides crops, to be sure, but they are not yet commercially viable, and they have their own sets of problems. Cellulosic extraction of ethanol, for example, promises to use crop residue instead of crops as a feedstock for ethanol. The problem with this, however, is that crop residue is supposed to be plowed back into the fields to ensure a healthy organic content in the soil for crops in years to come. If these considerations are taken into account, the amount of feedstock for biofuels shrinks dramatically. Taking these restrictions into account, cellulosic feedstocks for biofuel may yield significant supplemental sources of fuel, but they will not replace crude oil. There is a 3rd generation technology for biofuel, also not yet commercialized, that promises to grow biofuel in tanks, where a feedstock such as algae is fed water, light and CO2, and out comes biofuel. Pioneering companies in this area are LS9 and Amyris, both based in the San Francisco Bay Area. These 3rd generation biofuel technologies, while potentially hazardous and not nearly commercially viable today, nonetheless bear watching.

When examining energy alternatives, it is important to realize that most of them are themselves potentially very disruptive to the environment in their own right, particularly if you scale these up to actually compete with conventional energy. Currently 80% of the energy consumed in the world comes from fossil fuel, 10% comes from biomass (i.e., the cooking fires from gathering wood throughout the undeveloped tropics), about 6.5% comes from nuclear power and 3% comes from hydroelectric power. Only one-half of one percent comes from alternative energy, and 80% of that comes from geothermal power. So power from wind, tides and currents, and solar sources, right now, only produce two-tenths of one percent of the world’s energy. What if half the energy production in the developed world, say 200 quadrillion BTUs per year, were to come from these alternative sources, as certain prominent activists would have us pledge to do within the next generation

This would equate to about 6,600 gigawatt-years of electric power, which could take the form of 3,000 very large nuclear power stations, each station consisting of three 750 megawatt reactors. Depending on your opinion of nuclear power, this may or may not sound horrendous. But imagine if this were accomplished with windmills? The biggest windmills we’ve got can generate five megawatts at full output. Over time they will yield about half that, since even in excellent locations the wind doesn’t blow constantly. So for each of your 9,000 nuclear reactors that put out 750 megawatts each, you instead will require 300 of the biggest windmills ever built – a total of 2.7 million. How much concrete will each of these 2.7 million windmills require? How much skyline will their 300 foot rotors consume?

The point is most alternative energy requires massive allocations of land and capital. How long will the global environmental lobby, more powerful than ever, turn a blind eye to the destruction of our rainforests for biofuel, and the disruption of every windy hill or tidal estuary on earth for another windmill or marine current turbine? This is a lobby that has choked off every ambitious land development or new oil refinery for the last 30 years – but they will tolerate us covering the earth with windmills and the seabed with underwater turbines? Wait until there is one good volcanic eruption – something that will cool the earth for decades – or one credible refutation of the theory that industrial CO2 is more significant than land use changes in causing global warming. When either of these things occur, and they probably will, regulations and subsidies for biofuel, along with wind and tidal generators, will melt away, wiping out vast sectors of these industries.

On the other hand, solar power – photovoltaics in particular – may be relatively undervalued by investors. In 2006, total world production of photovoltaics was only about 3.0 gigawatts, and the thin-film technologies only represented about 5% of that total. With the shortages of polysilicon easing, and thin film and concentrator technologies beginning to mature, estimates of world photovoltaic production are probably grossly understated. Earlier this year in Oregon, Applied Materials Corp. broke ground on a single plant that they expect will output 500 megawatts per year. That is 15% of production in the entire world last year! Manufacturing on this scale is being built everywhere, and the global output of photovoltaics may very well increase by 200-300 percent per year for many years to come. And photovoltaics, unlike biofuel or wind and tidal sources of energy, is not vulnerable to changes in political sentiment or scientific consensus.

The clean technology revolution is in many ways similar to the internet boom – a great deal of financial opportunity, with a lot of new entrants who are placing huge bets. The clean technology revolution also promises to be even more transformative than the internet boom, which is saying a lot. But unlike the internet boom which simply underwent a financial correction, along with that risk, many clean technologies are far more dependent on public policy priorities. Investors and entrepreneurs should remember that seismic shifts in sentiment could happen any day, and hedge accordingly.

Editor’s Note: An edited version of this post was posted on AlwaysOn on September 10th, 2007. This post was originally published in the Summer 2007 edition of AlwaysOn magazine.

Posted in Causes, Coal, Consumption, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Geothermal, Hydroelectric, Other, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar, Tidal, Wind1 Comment

Sverdrups & Brine

A “Sverdrup,” named after the famed Norwegian geologist who defined this unit of measure, is the largest quantity commonly used to express volumes of water flow. Naturally, the highest volumes of water flowing on this planet are ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream, which warms Europe and flows at a rate of of 30 to 150 Sverdrups, depending on latitude.

So how much water is in a Sverdrup, after all? Apparently, one Sverdrup is equivalent to “one million cubic meters of water per second.” In practical terms this is equivalent to delivering one cubic kilometer of water (weighing exactly one gigaton) in just under seventeen minutes. That is one heck of a lot of water. That is a very big pipeline.

And what do Sverdrups have to do with brine? It has to do with whether or not to approve construction of desalination plants, which if built using modern technology all over the world, would eliminate world water scarcity. Apparently environmentalist conventional wisdom says it’s ok to install marine current turbines and offshore windmills and tidal hydro installations, but one cannot lay a pipeline capable of transporting tens of cubic kilometers per year of brine into an ocean current, because it will make the ocean saltier. But this objection completely overlooks the volume of offshore marine currents, expressed in Sverdrups.

Brine comes from desalination plants. “Brine” is a painfully misleading word, since normally a desalination plant returns seven parts of slightly saltier water, referred to as brine, to the ocean for each unit of fresh water that is extracted from the seawater. At less than 20% saltier than the ocean, it doesn’t take much current to easily disburse this volume of brine.

A cubic kilometer (km3) of fresh water can easily sustain 3.0 million people in residential urban and suburban settings, since one cubic kilometer is sufficient to provide 241 gallons per day per person to a million people – 913 liters per day per person! This would work in places such as greater Los Angeles, since with seven km3 of brine for every km3 of recovered fresh water, desalinating water for sixty million residents would only require 140 km3 per year of water to get dumped into the California channel. Wow! 140 cubic kilometers of brine discharge per year! 34 cubic miles! That’s a lot of seawater, 16% saltier, going into any ocean, isn’t it?

No. Just one Sverdrup of current volume is equal to 31,558 cubic kilometers per year. This means in a one Sverdrup current the brine discharge pipes from desalination plants servicing 60 million people would disburse brine that, per year, would increase the salinity of the current by a mere seven one-hundredths of one percent. And in the California current which is at least several Sverdrups even fairly close to shore, the impact of brine from 60 million people’s water desalination would probably be at most a tenth of that, or seven one-thousandths of one percent, especially when one considers the subsurface to surface upwellings, different currents, which also move Sverdrup volumes of water per year off the coast of California.

As for power requirements, a cubic kilometer of fresh water can be extracted from the sea for less energy than it takes to pump this water over the Tehachapi Mountains. So if you like wave and current and tidal energy, break out the underwater bulldozers and while you’re at it, desalinate water for Southern California, and turn off the pumps.

Posted in Energy, Science, Space, & Technology, Tidal1 Comment

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