Monthly Archives: August 2013

Increased Carbon Dioxide may harm marine life

Yesterday, August 26th,  I read a global warming gloom and doom article that I actually liked.  Researchers in Germany have just released a study showing that increased carbon dioxide in the air causes the oceans to absorb the gas faster, which changes the acidity of the oceans.  That acidity is changing faster than the marine animals can adapt.  If it continues to accelerate many species of marine animals could become extinct.

Most climate gloom and doom articles use carbon dioxide levels as a proxy for temperature and then discuss gloom and doom as it relates to temperature.
Temperature and carbon dioxide are not as directly related as most climate hawks want us to believe.   This article deals with carbon dioxide directly.  Direct is good.

Temperature and carbon dioxide have a spotty correlation record, sometimes going in the opposite direction for thousands of years, even as they tend to move in the same direction generally over time.  Carbon dioxide is at a million year high, temperature is currently a bit cooler than it was 10,000 years ago and it has been relatively stable for the last 11.000 years.

I liked this article because it made no effort to try to imply that carbon dioxide proved temperature predictions. Increased temperature could accelerate the problem they say, but the study  is primarily concerned with carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

I have no difficulty believing that man has increased the carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere.  I would not be surprised if there were significant negative impacts because of that relatively rapid change.  And this research may have found a real and direct impact.

That said, I still am skeptical…not of this research specifically, but of the process.   I am not qualified to judge whether the change in the  environment is sufficient to cause the impacts described…but I have a problem.  The process encourages exaggeration.

Virtually all funding in this area is government sponsored.   Scientists are consultants working for the government.   The first job of every consultant I have ever met is continued employment.  If a scientist completes a study and that study fails to find a significant problem, there is no follow up study.  No follow up study means no future employment.

The process encourages scientists to find problems whether or not they actually exist.

I am not qualified to tell whether the rate of change in the oceans is significant….but I wonder.   75,000 years ago a huge super volcano erupted in Indonesia that would have introduced rapid change into all the oceans of the world.  I wonder, which is more significant…the super volcano eruption or the changes in the atmosphere we are seeing today?

Perhaps they are both significant, I don’t know…but I wish the process was more about science and less about achieving employable results.

Advertisements

Sea Level — A S.W.A.G. Game

Sea level has been rising steadily since the end of the little ice age some 250 years ago.  It has been averaging about .2 mm per year or about 7 inches per century.  The rate of change has been surprisingly stable as this chart of San Francisco demonstrates:

Sea level in San Francisco has been trending downward since 1998.  This second chart of the same information makes it a bit easier to see the recent decline:

So if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been steadily rising, and the world is a degree warmer than it was 200 years ago, why has sea level has not been rising since it peaked in 1998?

Sea level is a trailing rather than a leading indicator of climate.  And the delay can be as much as a thousand years!  The world warms and then the ice melts.  As fresh water stored over land decreases, sea level rises.  If it stays warm long enough, the deep oceans begin to warm.  As they warm, they expand and sea level rises even more.

The current rising sea level process began about 20,000 years ago as we came out of the last ice age cold cycle.  Here is a chart of that rise in sea level:

Temperature in the Holocene peaked about 10,000 years ago as this chart demonstrates:

The world is a bit cooler than it was 10,000 years ago.  Sea level has been slowly rising the entire period.  Imagine the world of 130,000 years ago when it was much warmer than it is today.

And finally we’ll look at a chart prepared of a Greenland Ice Core:

Greenland is in a cool cycle right now.  It’s a bit warmer than it was a few hundred years ago, but the current period is cold for Greenland in the last 10,000 years.  Greenland is some 2 degrees C cooler than it was just 3000 years ago.  It is worth noting that according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center Greenland has been covered in ice for 18 million years.

When I look at the last two charts I must give Mother Nature her due.  Sea level has been rising since we came out of the last ice age some 20,000 years ago.   And that’s a good thing!   We don’t want the climate we had even 15,000 years ago.  Sure we had lots more land above sea level, but much of it was frozen.   Think Greenland …then imagine the Northeastern USA and you’ll get the idea.

The IPCC appears to be ready to predict (in their 2014 Climate Report) a rise in sea level of from 10 inches to 3 feet and they attribute it to man caused events (according to a NY Times article).   I suspect wild ass guessing.

Changes in sea level we see in the next 86 years are more likely than not a function of the climate we have been having for thousands of years.  The IPCC thinks most variation seen before 1950 is natural climate variation. That’s a lot of change.  How do they know the current changes are not natural climate variation.  How can they know?

One tenet of the IPCC climate change group is that it is cheaper to try to mitigate climate change than it is to adjust to it.  I’m not so sure, I fear they underestimate nature.

  • When I look at the San Francisco chart I see a relatively steady increase since the beginning of the chart in 1850.
  • When I look at the Greenland chart, I see lots on natural climate variation.   Greenland has been lots warmer in the recent past than is today…and that was a natural event.  Will carbon dioxide make it warmer than it otherwise would be. Probably.  But it could get lots colder soon too if history is a guide.  How much of any short term  change is natural and how much is man caused?  I don’t know.
  • When I look at the last 150,000 years I’m glad we live in the warm time we live in.

When I step back and look at the big picture…a steady increase in sea level seems possible as long as we don’t start another ice age cool cycle.  It could be accelerated by an increase in melting from Greenland and Antarctica.  Greenland had an average melt year in 2013 and Antarctic Ice has been actually increasing in recent years.   Sea level has been declining since 1998.

What will the future bring?   I don’t know but I do know this:   Many of the changes in sea level that are a result of today’s weather will show up hundreds of years from now….even if the IPCC is right.

And when I look at the IPCC….I see guessing…..wild ass guessing.

Sea Level to Rise 3 Feet, Maybe

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is about a year away from publishing their next Climate Synthesis Report. IPCC report drafts are about halfway through their 2 year review process.  Tasty tidbits have become cannon fodder for the press.  Gloom and doom is everywhere.  I have read articles in my local paper, the Huffington Post and the New York Times.

The IPCC is now more certain than ever that man made carbon dioxide is seriously impacting the climate.  Temperatures will rise and so will the sea level.   They are now, according to the leaked data, expecting sea level to be 3 feet higher than it is today in 21oo.     The recent cooler weather is being blamed on short term factors.

Hmmm…short term factors.   That’s a new concept for the IPCC.  It should be interesting reading.  The world has not been doing as the IPCC predicted and they appear to feel the need to explain themselves.  I suspect guessing.

Of course I like to guess too.  My favorite guess is visible air pollution.  And by that I don’t mean carbon dioxide, I mean smog.  Smog blocks the Suns radiation and cools the climate and it also makes the ice in the Arctic less white, making it melt faster.   And since smog is more prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern, it would help explain why the Antarctic has not been melting.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center states  the following:

Arctic sea ice extent maintained a steady, near-average pace of retreat through the first half of August, making it highly unlikely that a new record low minimum will be reached this year. Nevertheless, there are extensive areas of low concentration ice, even in regions close to the North Pole, atmospheric pressure and temperature patterns this summer have differed markedly from those experienced in 2012; cooler than average conditions have prevailed over much of the Arctic Ocean. By contrast, Antarctic sea ice is near a record maximum extent for mid-August.

ANTARCTIC SEA ICE IS NEAR A RECORD MAXIMUM.   A lot of that ice is going to have to melt.  Melting in the Antarctic and Greenland are necessary for sea level to rise.

A rising sea level is a problem and a 3 foot rise is a big problem.   Recent IPCC studies blame air pollution more and carbon dioxide less than does the 2007 IPCC Synopses Report.  The leaked information is preliminary because it must be reviewed.  That review includes a political scrubbing.   And since the IPCC is a very political place I suspect air pollution will once again be ignored.

Air pollution, and soot in particular, is more of a problem in the developing world and less of a problem in the USA, so we know where the UN will come down on that issue.  Don’t we?

Obama Administration Energy Policy Missteps

Sometimes you can’t win for losing.   Or maybe it’s a case of no good deed goes unpunished.   Na….I think the guys advising Mr. Obama all have the same view of the energy world.   And it’s a dream world that looks past renewable energy shortcomings and exaggerates the shortcomings of fossil fuels.   Their rose colored glasses have made it difficult for them to see clearly.

The Obama administration has made a total mess of their energy policy….but they have been trying.

The administration is full of global climate change true believers. They have used the EPA to wage war on coal.   This has driven the cost of coal down….which has made it the fuel of choice in the developing world.   China has vaulted to the top of the world pollution statistics in large part because they use cheap coal energy.

To combat the problem (if cheap energy can be considered a problem), the administration, as a part of a 2009 stimulus package, threw money at a variety of alternate energy initiatives.    In September of 2011, the whole thing began to unravel when Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, taking over 500 million in federal loan guarantees with it.

April 20th, 2010 — A few months after the administration began supporting deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, BP made a total mess of things when the Deepwater Horizon blew up.

Mr. Obama then overreacted to the disaster, and played a bit of politics. The subsequent mess set back deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for years.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge probably has lots of oil under it.   And it’s pristine wilderness (as is most of Alaska).  Environmental groups have made drilling there politically impossible.  After years of study, the Administration has decided to allow drilling offshore near there in the Beaufort Sea.

There likely is lots of oil in the Beaufort Sea.   Shell has spent almost 5 billion dollars trying to figure out a good way to produce there.  2012 was not a good year for Shell.  Late summer ice in the Bering Sea, and a support ship arriving late virtually assured the fall drilling season would be a bust, but Shell tried.

When the abbreviated drilling season was over, things went from bad to worse when a tow line between a tug and the drill rig broke.  The rig drifted dangerously and was damaged when it became grounded.

The 2013 drill season was cancelled and the drill rig was sent to Asia for repairs.

ANWR is a safer and less expensive place to drill when compared to drilling in the Beaufort Sea.  Modern directional drilling virtually assures a very small footprint for the drilling operations at ANWR.  Oil field infrastructure is nearby at Deadhorse.  The Alaska Pipeline is running less than half full, and all the necessary transportation infrastructure alreadly exists at Valdez.

ANWR is the smart choice when choosing Alaska Arctic exploration.  The Administration tried to be a participant in the region while staying as far away from ANWR as possible.  So far, things haven’t worked well.

And then there was Keystone.   A few posts ago I detailed why the current policy relating to Keystone is flawed.   And then a runaway train accentuated my point.

If I were in the Obama administration, I’d be more than a bit demoralized.   Every attempt seems wrought with difficulties… and missteps seem to be standard operating procedure.

Oh, one more thought….Mr. Obama has been on the wrong side of the Natural Gas debate since he got elected.  Jobs, clean air, cheap energy, and good for the environment; natural gas is all of the above.   The administration is so preoccupied with “clean” energy that they missed the big clean fuel right in front of their noses.  Natural Gas.