February 15, 2010
Wind Energy’s Ghosts
The sound floats on the winds of Ka Le, this southernmost tip of Hawaii’s Big Island, where Polynesian colonists first landed some 1,500 years ago.
Some say that Ka Le is haunted — and it is. But it’s haunted not by Hawaii’s legendary night marchers. The mysterious sounds are “Na leo o Kamaoa”– the disembodied voices of 37 skeletal wind turbines abandoned to rust on the hundred-acre site of the former Kamaoa Wind Farm.
The voices of Kamaoa cry out their warning as a new batch of colonists, having looted the taxpayers of Spain, Portugal, and Greece, seeks to expand upon their multi-billion-dollar foothold half a world away on the shores of the distant Potomac River. European wind developers are fleeing the EU’s expiring wind subsidies, shuttering factories, laying off workers, and leaving billions of Euros of sovereign debt and a continent-wide financial crisis in their wake. But their game is not over. Already they are tapping a new vein of lucre from the taxpayers and ratepayers of the United States. Click to read more…
Extreme caution best in assessing future weather
By Madhav Khandekar.
Published in The Starphoenix July 6, 2012
In the viewpoint article Extreme weather becoming norm (SP, June 28) Lidsay Olson, vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, provides a glimpse of weather extremes for various regions of Canada and warns Canadian to be prepared to live with such extremes over the next several decades. Olson refers to the study on future weather extremes done by Gordon McBean, former assistant deputy minister of Environment Canada. When did Canada witness a climate free of extreme weather, is what Olson fails to explain to Canadians.
Extreme weather is an integral part of the Earth’s climate.
Throughout the recorded history of the Earth’s climate, extreme weather events have always occurred somewhere, and are caused by large-scale atmosphere ocean flow patterns and their complex interaction with local/regional weather and climate features. An examination of the 20th century climate of North America reveals that the decades of 1920s and 1930s, known as the Dust Bowl years, witnessed perhaps the most extreme climate over the Great American Plains and elsewhere. There were recurring droughts and heat waves on the Canadian/American Prairies.
The prairies also witnessed some extreme cold winters during the 1910s and 1920s – for example in 1907 and 1920. We meteorologists still do not fully understand why the climate of North America was so anomalous during the 1920s and 1930s.
During the 1950s and 1960s most of Canada witnessed extreme cold winters, especially on the prairies where record breaking low temperatures (Edmonton at minus 45C and below in the 1960s) were registered. In Ontario and Quebec, cold and snowy winters was a norm during the 1960s and early 1970s.
Parts of the Canadian Atlantic witnessed long winters with lots of snow. Spring ice jam on the St. John’s River was a common occurrence during the 1960s and 1970s. The recent decades of the 1980s and 1990s have witnessed a warmer climate across most of North
America and worldwide.
Madhav Khandekar is a retired Environment Canada scientist with more than 50 years of experience in weather and climate science, and an expert reviewer of the IPCC 2007 Climate Change Assessment.
And another good link… (July 11th 2012)
A new study published in the journal Nature Sunday completely debunks all previous claims that temperatures in recent decades are in any way historic demonstrating instead that things were much hotter on this planet during Roman times:
Here, we present new evidence based on maximum latewood density data from northern Scandinavia, indicating that this cooling trend was stronger (−0.31 °C per 1,000 years, ±0.03 °C) than previously reported, and demonstrate that this signature is missing in published tree-ring proxy records. The long-term trend now revealed in maximum latewood density data is in line with coupled general circulation models indicating albedo-driven feedback mechanisms and substantial summer cooling over the past two millennia in northern boreal and Arctic latitudes. These findings, together with the missing orbital signature in published dendrochronological records, suggest that large-scale near-surface air-temperature reconstructionsrelying on tree-ring data may underestimate pre-instrumental temperatures including warmth during Medieval and Roman times.
Every single time that wind power installations are evaluated based on their actual performance, they turn out to make no economic sense. Consumer Reports comes to the same conclusion for their wind power trial (and this does not even include the issues of standby power that make even small wind power savings irrelevant to CO2 production).
But if you’re considering a wind turbine to supplement your home’s power, consider our experience with one product, the Honeywell WT6500 Wind Turbine, a cautionary tale….
A tool on Windtronics’ website had calculated we’d get 1,155 kWh per year at the 12-mph average it predicted for our area of Yonkers, New York. And the authorized installer, during his initial visit, didn’t say the roof of our headquarters might generate any less, but that rating is at a height of 164 feet, not the 33 feet WindTronics requires for rooftop installations.
In the 15 months since the turbine was installed, though, it has delivered less than 4 kWh—enough only to power a 12,000 btu window air conditioner for one afternoon. A company representative in charge of installations worldwide recently visited our offices and confirmed that our test model was correctly installed. What’s more, he told us that while the WT6500 should start generating power at about 3 mph, the initial juice goes just to power the system’s inverter, which must be running before it supplies any AC power elsewhere. The true wind speed needed to start producing AC while the inverter is on is 6 mph, not far from the 7.5 mph needed by a traditional gearbox wind turbine….
At the rate the WT6500 is delivering power at our test site, it would take several millennia for the product to pay for itself in savings—not the 56 years it would take even with the 1,155 kWh quote we received.
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This … this … this just can’t be!
Antarctica has broken the record for the greatest sea ice extent ever measured at either pole. If current trends continue, the Earth will be completely covered with ice much faster than the climate models predicted.
Bait and Switch in the Climate Debate
(excerpt from an excellent article, follow the link, read the whole thing)
What we skeptics “deny” is the catastrophe — that hypothesized positive feedbacks in the Earth’s climate system will multiply the initial warming from CO2 many times, raising it from a manageable one degree or less over the next century to three or five or ten degrees. Skeptics believe that temperatures will rise due to CO2, but will remain within the bounds of temperatures we have already seen over the last millenia, including those in the Medieval Warm Period during which European civilization thrived. And we believe that the cost of economic dislocations, particularly in developing countries, from limiting fossil fuel consumption will be far worse than from merely adapting to a one degree change. What fair-minded person could possibly imagine this black circle in any way is a rebuttal to this skeptic position?
Postscript. I thought I would offer one small example of how poor your understanding of global warming probably likely is if you rely on the media for all your information. When people think of the Earth’s temperatures rising one degree, they usually think of daily high temperatures that are one degree hotter. That is why everyone believes (without actual evidence) that rising world temperatures are leading to more record hot summer days.
But in fact we have not seen any particular increase in record high temperatures, at least not in the US where we have the longest and most detailed temperature history. One reason is that most of the warming we have seen has been in nightly low temperatures. In other words, we are seeing higher lows rather than higher highs, if that makes sense. As you can see below, in the US during summer we are not setting an unusual number of daily high records (Tmax, the black line) but are seeing more records for high nightly low (Tmin, the grey line). Via Roy Spencer:
…the grossly flawed EPA process that substantially underestimates the amount of fossil fuels required to power the electric car, as I showed in great depth in an earlier Forbes.com article. In short, the EPA methodology leaves out, among other things, the conversion efficiency in generating the electricity from fossil fuels in the first place [by assuming perfect conversion of the potential energy in the fuel to electricity, the EPA is actually breaking the 2nd law of thermodynamics].
In the Clinton administration, the Department of Energy (DOE) created a far superior well to wheels MPGe metric that honestly compares the typical fossil fuel use of an electric vs. gasoline car, using real-world power plant efficiencies and fuel mixes to figure out how much fuel is used to produce the electricity that goes into the electric car.
As I calculated in my earlier Forbes article, one needs to multiply the EPA MPGe by .365 to get a number that truly compares fossil fuel use of an electric car with a traditional gasoline engine car on an apples to apples basis. In the case of the Fisker Karma, we get a true MPGe of 19. This makes it worse than even the city rating of a Ford Explorer SUV.
Shock, Consternation: Chevy Volt Sales Plummet
The much ballyhooed “green” automobile — ostensibly one of Barack Obama’s success stories — is, as any 16-year old male could have predicted, an abysmal and catastrophic failure.
The Chevy Volt has inarguably been the poster child for President Obama’s push to electrify America’s auto fleet. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent to produce and subsidize the plug-in electric car. For years we have heard about the supposedly amazing technology for the Volt which would lead America to energy independence, be a “game-changer” for General Motors and provide a multitude of new green jobs. Proclamations were made that supply for the wonder-car could not keep up with the demand. Well, March’s sales figures are in and give further confirmation that the lofty claims were all lies.
March’s sales for the Chevy Volt plunged over 35% from last year to a paltry 1,478 units. To put that in perspective, that’s about one Volt sold every two months per dealership. The number is also down from an only slightly less paltry 1,626 sales in February. GM’s excuses for the poor performance seem to be drying up as quickly as the demand for the Volt. During GM’s sales conference call, management claimed that sales are “stable” and that they are “feeling good about the trend.” Such dishonesty brings into question GM’s credibility.
In the past, GM claimed that lack of supply was the reason for low Volt sales. In addition, GM indignantly blamed a Republican conspiracy to hurt Volt sales as a contributing factor to the dismal sales figures for the car. Regarding supply, a recent search on cars.com showed that 6,804 new Chevy Volts are available nationwide. That’s about a five months supply…
GM and the Obama Administration have done what they can to prop up sales of the Volt and give the false appearance of success. Lease terms were manipulated to manufacture demand, as GM even admitted. Crony Corporation General Electric (supplier of charging stations) agreed to purchase 15,000 of the vehicles. Localities, and even the military, used taxpayer dollars to purchase Volts. And worst of all, wealthy buyers of the Volt receive a federal tax credit of $7,500 each to purchase (or lease) the vehicles.
So, now we have one more indicator that the Chevy Volt hype has all been a farce. Yet there is still no admission nor is there any accountability for the hoax that cost taxpayers billions of dollars. The lie lives on as few will criticize the politically-sensitive green failure. The Congressional Budget Office reported that electric vehicle subsidies will cost taxpayers about $7.5 billion over a few years for little benefit…
As the nation faces imminent bankruptcy, will anyone in legacy media report on this idiotic and utterly predictable failure? That’s a rhetorical question: we don’t have a real media any longer; we have an established Beltway pundit class, more interested in getting invited to the right cocktail parties than actually doing their job.
Which also describes the RINO establishment.
The professional fearmongers are predicting that Arctic sea ice will soon be gone during the warmer months of the year. This is supposed to worry us into action that “fights” global warming.
But then there’s the fact, which we noted last week, that the Arctic’s sea ice gain from the record low of summer 2012 is a record of its own.
We reported that we’re in only the third winter in history in which more than 10 million square kilometers of new ice has formed in the Arctic.
We also mentioned that the Antarctic is nearing 450 days of uninterrupted above-normal ice.
That was last week. And this is this week: Antarctic sea ice is on an upward slope. Real Science, a science website, says it “has been increasing at a rate of half a million square kilometers per year.
“If this alarming trend continues, the planet will be completely covered with Antarctic ice in 1,000 years,” said Real Science, using University of Illinois data to map out the trend and reach its conclusion. “The Australian coral reefs will freeze to death in less than 300 years.”
We don’t think Real Science expects Earth to be fully covered with Antarctic ice in 1,000 years. But it is a fine, though maybe somewhat snarky, response to Al Gore wildly claiming in his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” that sea levels will rise 20 feet due to global warming.
Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer: In Defense of Carbon Dioxide
The demonized chemical compound is a boon to plant life and has little correlation with global temperature.
Of all of the world’s chemical compounds, none has a worse reputation than carbon dioxide. Thanks to the single-minded demonization of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control of energy production, the conventional wisdom about carbon dioxide is that it is a dangerous pollutant. That’s simply not the case. Contrary to what some would have us believe, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit the increasing population on the planet by increasing agricultural productivity.
The cessation of observed global warming for the past decade or so has shown how exaggerated NASA’s and most other computer predictions of human-caused warming have been—and how little correlation warming has with concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. As many scientists have pointed out, variations in global temperature correlate much better with solar activity and with complicated cycles of the oceans and atmosphere. There isn’t the slightest evidence that more carbon dioxide has caused more extreme weather.
The current levels of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere, approaching 400 parts per million, are low by the standards of geological and plant evolutionary history. Levels were 3,000 ppm, or more, until the Paleogene period (beginning about 65 million years ago). For most plants, and for the animals and humans that use them, more carbon dioxide, far from being a “pollutant” in need of reduction, would be a benefit. This is already widely recognized by operators of commercial greenhouses, who artificially increase the carbon dioxide levels to 1,000 ppm or more to improve the growth and quality of their plants.
Using energy from sunlight—together with the catalytic action of an ancient enzyme called rubisco, the most abundant protein on earth—plants convert carbon dioxide from the air into carbohydrates and other useful molecules. Rubisco catalyzes the attachment of a carbon-dioxide molecule to another five-carbon molecule to make two three-carbon molecules, which are subsequently converted into carbohydrates. (Since the useful product from the carbon dioxide capture consists of three-carbon molecules, plants that use this simple process are called C3 plants.) C3 plants, such as wheat, rice, soybeans, cotton and many forage crops, evolved when there was much more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than today. So these agricultural staples are actually undernourished in carbon dioxide relative to their original design.
At the current low levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, rubisco in C3 plants can be fooled into substituting oxygen molecules for carbon-dioxide molecules. But this substitution reduces the efficiency of photosynthesis, especially at high temperatures. To get around the problem, a small number of plants have evolved a way to enrich the carbon-dioxide concentration around the rubisco enzyme, and to suppress the oxygen concentration. Called C4 plants because they utilize a molecule with four carbons, plants that use this evolutionary trick include sugar cane, corn and other tropical plants.
Although C4 plants evolved to cope with low levels of carbon dioxide, the workaround comes at a price, since it takes additional chemical energy. With high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, C4 plants are not as productive as C3 plants, which do not have the overhead costs of the carbon-dioxide enrichment system.
That’s hardly all that goes into making the case for the benefits of carbon dioxide. Right now, at our current low levels of carbon dioxide, plants are paying a heavy price in water usage. Whether plants are C3 or C4, the way they get carbon dioxide from the air is the same: The plant leaves have little holes, or stomata, through which carbon dioxide molecules can diffuse into the moist interior for use in the plant’s photosynthetic cycles.
The density of water molecules within the leaf is typically 60 times greater than the density of carbon dioxide in the air, and the diffusion rate of the water molecule is greater than that of the carbon-dioxide molecule.
So depending on the relative humidity and temperature, 100 or more water molecules diffuse out of the leaf for every molecule of carbon dioxide that diffuses in. And not every carbon-dioxide molecule that diffuses into a leaf gets incorporated into a carbohydrate. As a result, plants require many hundreds of grams of water to produce one gram of plant biomass, largely carbohydrate.
Driven by the need to conserve water, plants produce fewer stomata openings in their leaves when there is more carbon dioxide in the air. This decreases the amount of water that the plant is forced to transpire and allows the plant to withstand dry conditions better.
Crop yields in recent dry years were less affected by drought than crops of the dust-bowl droughts of the 1930s, when there was less carbon dioxide. Nowadays, in an age of rising population and scarcities of food and water in some regions, it’s a wonder that humanitarians aren’t clamoring for more atmospheric carbon dioxide. Instead, some are denouncing it.
We know that carbon dioxide has been a much larger fraction of the earth’s atmosphere than it is today, and the geological record shows that life flourished on land and in the oceans during those times. The incredible list of supposed horrors that increasing carbon dioxide will bring the world is pure belief disguised as science.
Mr. Schmitt, an adjunct professor of engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was an Apollo 17 astronaut and a former U.S. senator from New Mexico. Mr. Happer is a professor of physics at Princeton University and a former director of the office of energy research at the U.S. Department of Energy.
A version of this article appeared May 9, 2013, on page A19 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: In Defense of Carbon Dioxide.