Skeptical Thoughts on Energy, Science and Global Warming

Solar Power Folly

A $3.1 million solar array at Naval Air Station Kingsville is expected to offset the base's consumption of conventional energy by 2.5 percent. This is part of the Navy's push to provide 50 percent of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2020. This sound like responsible government green goodness until you take the time to look at the numbers. As pointed out by Energy Gap co-author, Allen Simmons, in a letter to the editor of the Corpus Christi Caller Times, the Navy installation of solar power is a bad deal.

A Plea for Common Sense

New lessons are beginning to emerge from Fukushima. Each new concern leads to additional safety requirements. But some contradictions are beginning to raise questions: Amid tens of thousands of deaths from non-nuclear causes, not a single life-shortening radiation injury has occurred. Not one! And while some people in the housing area are wearing cumbersome rad-con suits, filtered gas-masks, gloves and booties, there are many people living carefree in other places like Norway, Brazil, Iran, India where folks have lived normal lives for countless generations with radiation levels as much as a hundred times greater than forbidden areas of the Fukushima homes.

Ice-shelf Collapse Not Caused By Global Warming

An iceberg the size of Berlin is forming in Antarctica and is expected to break off from the Pine Island Glacier soon. As sure as night follows day, climate change alarmists will pronounce this a result of anthropogenic global warming—and they will be dead wrong. NASA scientists have already predicted the event and proclaimed it a part of a natural, ten year cycle that they have been studying for decades. The sad state of climate science is underlined by the fact that the researchers felt compelled to state that global warming is not the cause of the ice-shelf collapse.

Europe's CO2 Airline Armageddon

Starting on January 1, 2012, airlines flying to and from airports in the European Union (EU) will be forced into an emissions trading system that attempts to regulate CO2. The announced intention of this draconian cap-and-trade system is to save the world from the imagined ravages of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), but given the dire financial straits much of Europe finds itself in there is little doubt that Eurocrats will view this new policy as a potential source of revenue. Unfortunately, the new regulation threatens the entire structure of international air travel by unilaterally violating agreements that have been negotiated over decades. In seeking to avoid the imaginary dangers of global warming, the EU threatens the global air transport system with a very real CO2 Armageddon.

Science, Ridicule and Redemption

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2011 has been awarded to Daniel Shechtman of the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, for the discovery of quasicrystals. Quasicrystals are non-repeating regular patterns of atoms that were once thought to be impossible. Most people would agree that this is the type of unexpected discovery that deserves a Nobel Prize, but this is not just the story of an amazing scientific revelation. After first discovering evidence for quasicrystals in 1982, using an electron microscope in a US government lab, Shechtman was expelled from the lab and subjected to years of ridicule by other scientists. You see, quasicrystals were thought impossible by crystallographers at the time and even though Shechtman had evidence backing his claim, he was ostracized by mainstream science.

Scry Me A River

Nostradamus, the famous prognosticator, was said to have received his visions of the future by scrying—staring into a pool of ink for hours on end. The climate science equivalent of a gazing pool is the computer climate model, huge collections of complicated computer code that supposedly crank out frightening visions of the future. Most of the discussion about climate change has centered on the global aspects of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW), but now a number of climate mystics are turning their modeling dark arts to doing regional predictions. Why? The better to frighten the public and elicit funding from government coffers. Unfortunately, as climate researchers struggling to sharpen their fuzzy picture of what the future holds one fact has been ignored—there is even more uncertainty in regional models than in the global ones.

The Inappropriate Anthropocene

In 2009, the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the body charged with formally designating geological time periods, decided the Anthropocene concept “has some merit.” To investigate further they formed the Anthropocene Working Group, which published their initial findings this past February in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. The group reported a wide range of human impacts that could leave a stratigraphically significant mark on the planet's geological record. There is no doubt that humans have changed the world we live in, but has the change been significant enough to declare a whole new epoch? The Anthropocene debate is continuing this week at the 2011 Geological Society of America conference.

The Sun's Hidden Power

No phenomenon in astronomy has been studied more closely than solar flares, gigantic eruptions on the Sun that can affect Earth's climate and even disrupt power grids. Scientists have been watching the Sun with ground based instruments and orbiting satellites for years, so it might be thought that we know a lot about such eruptions. Well think again. A new report from NASA has revealed that, like earthquakes, solar flares often have aftershocks. Moreover, the aftershocks can emit bursts of ultraviolet (UV) radiation more powerful than the original eruption. Combine this new finding with the recently uncovered linkage between fluctuating UV levels and El Niño, and the Sun-Climate connection looks stronger than ever.

A Walk In The Clouds

Given that the Sun powers Earth's climate system and provides the energy for all life on our planet, it should come as no surprise that changes in solar activity can affect climate conditions. Because total solar irradiance varies only slightly, climate scientists have discounted our variable star as a driver of climate change. At the end of the 20th century, Heinrich Svensmark, of the Danish Space Research Institute, and Eigil Friis-Christensen proposed that solar activity may be a controlling factor for climate by changing low level cloud cover. Not surprisingly this idea was disparaged by mainstream climate science, since it would diminish the importance of greenhouse gases, CO2, the IPCC's favorite daemon, in particular. Now, after several years of experimentation at CERN, the preliminary results are in and it looks like Svensmark and Friis-Christensen were right after all.

Climate Science's Tangled Web

Recent days have seen a number of announcements about our changing climate. As it turns out Arctic ice is rebounding, sea levels are dropping and things just are not going according to the IPCC's plan for catastrophic global warming. Faced with reversal after reversal, it might seem logical for mainstream climate scientists to admit that they are wrong, that global warming is not taking place at a breakneck pace, but this has not happened. Instead, climate change apologists are weaving a tangled web of excuses—hot is cold, wet is dry, up is down. No matter what happens to the world we live in, the root cause according to the doomsayers is always the same: it's always global warming's fault.

Himalayan Glacier Disappearance Overstated

A pair of researchers has published a new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in which two out of three glaciers studied were disappearing. In a report that was edited by James Hansen, of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, it would appear that the glaciers of the Himalaya are melting rapidly, but that is not how the report ends. The authors state that poor selection of study sites have led to the widespread use of non-representative data. Moreover, the IPCC report and others overstate the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers.

Driftwood On Ice

Tracking the flow of ice in the Arctic is difficult. Reconstructing the extent and flow in times past is even more difficult. An interesting new report has turned to driftwood, embedded in the Arctic pack ice, as a way of deciphering Arctic climate conditions over the last 10,000 years. The researchers found a climate record that is in good agreement with previous histories, including such events as the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age and the Holocene Thermal Maximum. In fact, they found temperatures during the HTM to be 2° to 4°C higher than today. They also found a complementarity oscillation in sea-ice abundance between East and West that is not correctly simulated by current ice models.

Climate Malpractice

Climate alarmists have been pointing to the output of computer models for decades, insisting that the models could predict the future. The Earth is warming uncontrollably, they claim, and human CO2 emissions are the proximate cause. Others have argued that CO2 is not a powerful enough forcing factor to cause such a calamity. Still, the climate change catastrophists point to their models, claiming that the models do not lie. Now, according to data released by NASA, it seems that climate models not only can not predict the future, they do not even echo current conditions correctly. A new paper says climate scientists have misdiagnosed the surface temperature feedbacks and more heat is being radiated back into space than the models allow for. We have all been subjected to three decades of climate change malpractice.

The Kingdom Of Darkness

North America, after suffering through a lingering cold, wet spring, is now experiencing a bout of record setting summer heat. Once again, the sizzling summer temperatures are being blamed on global warming. The prophets of climate catastrophe claim to be exposing mankind's folly by shining the light of science on humanity's sins against nature. Perhaps it is time to recall the words of Thomas Hobbs who described the Kingdom of Darkness as “nothing else but a confederacy of deceivers that, to obtain dominion over men in this present world, endeavour, by dark and erroneous doctrines, to extinguish in them the light.” With sweltering weather as their cover, minions of the ecological Kingdom of Darkness are again on the march.

Mismanaging Maize

Maize, called corn in the US, is one of the world's great staple crops. It is consumed directly, fed to food animals, and processed into oil and sweeteners. The US is the largest consumer and producer of corn, growing more than twice as much as next largest producer China. A rise in corn prices causes a rise in food prices in general, and shortages have even caused riots in some countries. As important as corn is to the world's food supply it would seem the height of insanity to convert corn into automotive fuel. Yet last year, for the first time, more of the US corn crop went into the manufacture of ethanol fuel than for livestock feed, corn's traditional main use. About 40% of US corn now goes to ethanol, and though there is serious talk about dropping the $0.45 per gallon government subsidy, ethanol producers remain sanguine about their future. Why? Because the federal government will still mandate the mixing of ethanol with gasoline even if it no longer subsidizes its use directly.

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