Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hawaiian Electric gets Mainlandized

Hawaiian Electric Company has been Oahu’s power company for as long as I can remember and I can remember Hawaii in July of 1960.  Back then, Hawaii was going to stop using oil to generate electricity as soon as the population could justify a Nuclear Power Plant.

Nuclear long ago lost its luster and now the magic bullet has become clean energy.   Hawaiian Electric has been supporting all sorts of green alternates and has been saying whatever the local politicians wanted to hear.  Political realities have trumped economic realities and the Hawaii public has been paying for it all with higher rates.

Late last year Hawaiian Electric agreed to be purchased by NextEra Energy.  I’d suspect NextEra saw what I noticed….a company that ignores the real world in favor of the political.   NextEra says they like green energy, but they want all the subsidies eliminated.  Locals are  questioning whether the NextEra execs are being truly honest.  The local papers are full of it.

Solar power without adequate storage is not a viable solution for Hawaii’s energy problems for all the reasons I stated in my last post.   Hawaii has an after sunset peak that must be met with oil based generation. Dirty nasty oil.  Solar provides power when it isn’t needed and cannot provide it when needed…until better batteries are developed.

Hawaii has been following the German model.  Two complete energy systems, one renewable and one that uses fossil fuels operate side by side.  Germany has enough solar and wind to meet their peak when it is all working….but it never is all working at once.

Wind and solar power cannot be relied upon, day in and day out.  Utilities base load with other more reliable generation.  Whenever the wind blows in Germany, they get more power than is needed.  The utility is required by law to take it, which creates an energy imbalance. German Utilities sells the surplus to  neighboring utilities, something Hawaii will not be able to do.  The price of power at the German border moves around wildly.

In January of 2013, and again in 2014, the utilities bought power from the wind providers and could not find willing buyers.  They actually had to pay their neighbors to take the surplus power.  Utilities are slowly and steadily destroying their balance sheets as they are forced to buy high and sell low.

Too much solar power creates a similar problem for Hawaiian Electric.  The utility is forced to limit the number of rooftop solar installations…and the locals don’t understand why.  Too much power entering the system at unplanned places stresses the utility grid and provides no relief for peak demand.

Because the utility takes power when it isn’t needed and gives it back on peak, it is essentially buying high and selling low.

The utility is forced to maintain the old system and counts on it at peak, but there is less total generation using the grid.  Peak demand continues to rise, which forces additional investment from the utility. Costs go up but the revenue base fails to keep up as off peak demand actually goes down.  Throw in generous state tax credits for solar installations and you have a recipe for economic disaster if you are a power provider.

The new system doesn’t provide any peak assistance and yet it is heavily subsidized by everyone in Hawaii.  And since the utility and the State have not been particularly forthcoming about the negatives associated with green energy, the public doesn’t understand.   Unreasonable expectations are everywhere.

It looks like NextEra is going to try to finesse this problem by sounding positive on green energy but really being less positive than Hawaiian Electric has been.   Neither utility’s position is particularly truthful, but NextEra’s approach understands the economics of power generation.

I wonder though.  Island politics are tricky.  Perhaps Hawaiian Electric was right to stick their head in the sand and pretend the problems didn’t exist.  Hawaii’s politicians might simply shoot the messenger.  Time will tell.




New Climate Science Rule — No Anecdotal “Proof” allowed

Mr. Obama gave a speech at the UN yesterday.   I didn’t see the speech, but I did read the Washington Post article covering it.  We heard that climate was

  • changing faster than our ability to address it
  • The alarm bells are ringing, we cannot pretend we do not hear them
  • the once distant threat of climate change has now moved firmly into the present.

The article went on to say that Mr Obama:

ticked of a list of recent U.S. weather disasters – from Hurricane Sandy to the drought in the West – as evidence that the once-distant threat of climate change has “now moved firmly into the present.”

I felt like I was in a 2006 time warp, watching An Inconvenient Truth, and listening to Al Gore talk.  The approach and the key talking points were virtually indistinguishable.   So many mistakes.  Mistakes Al Gore made in 2006, and Mr. Obama repeated some 8 years later.

  • The change in climate is not accelerating.   The opposite is happening.  The world warmed rapidly in the 1990’s and peaked in 1998.  Since then the world has had virtually no change in world temperatures.   Carbon levels are higher, but climate has not changed.  The 2014 UN Climate Assessment blames the dampening of the Ocean’s and insists that the warmth will come some day.   Right now the world is not warming.
  • Hurricane Sandy was a relatively routine storm as far as Hurricanes go.   Atlantic hurricanes have become less frequent in recent years.  Florida has not had a hurricane hit its shores in 9 years, a record.  2013 set records for low activity and 2014 has continued the trend.   This does not mean they won’t accelerate in the future, but it does mean that, so far at least, Atlantic hurricanes have not increased in intensity or frequency because of climate change.
  • Multiple recent studies show that the drought in the West is consistent with the historical weather pattern of the region.   Last month I visited Mesa Verde National Park.   The Indians that lived in Southwest Colorado for close to 1000 years, moved away some 800 years ago after 24 years of drought.

The world is a big place.  Anecdotal evidence can be found to support any climate argument you want to make.  Ice in the Arctic is melting more rapidly than in the recent past, but at the same time Antarctic Ice is growing at record rates.  Both are short term localized events that prove absolutely nothing.

Sure it’s warmer than it was and man is probably partially responsible.  But the climate changes wildly all by itself.   It’s really difficult to distinguish between natural climate variation and man caused events and so far at least, UN computer models have been inconsistent in their predictions.

1709 was a really cold year in Europe.  Really cold.  And the world was warmer than it is today some 10,000 years ago.  Both were part of the world climate changing without the assistance of man.   Anecdotal evidence doesn’t really prove anything.   Let’s stop pretending it does.

Yes carbon is accelerating and it would be better, probably, if it weren’t.  And we should try to do more to impact our planet less.  But are we really sure that Mr. Obama was correct when he said:

There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other; and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.

Maybe, maybe not?   My favorites are destruction of the Oceans and over population.  If we could get  people in the poor countries of Asia and Africa to procreate less, I’d like our chances better.     Let’s meet in 86 years and see who’s right.

Climate Change Studies?

Much money has been spent in recent years studying climate change.   We are oft bombarded with gloom and doom courtesy of these studies.   Most studies I’ve read blame rapidly changing temperatures  caused by man.  Carbon dioxide is responsible for whatever disaster they happen to be promoting.

Suppose, just suppose, that the climate hasn’t been changing as rapidly as advertised.

Let’s look at some temperature data.   I’d like to state up front that I think all land based temperature data is wild ass guess data.  The Earth’s temperature is simply too difficult to calculate.   Most thermometers are located in the developed world.  Much of Africa is sparsely covered and coverage in Antarctica is spectacularly sparse,  only a single location for then entire continent. World temperature wild ass guessing is a virtual certainty.   That said, lets begin with some NASA data that relies on weather stations and ocean buoys:

Fig C

Yep, this chart shows a shift in world temperatures in the 1990’s.  But if  the chart had been started a year later in 1997 instead of 1996, then there would be no real change.   Yep, no net change in climate since 1997.   The last 17 years have been surprisingly stable.   More stable than at any time in the last 170 years as this East Anglia University data shows:

Natural variation; here, there, everywhere.   I particularly like the changes in the 1870’s and 1880’s.   Ocean temperature data stunk back then (it’s not that great today) so we know the data used to prepare this graph is jam packed full of guesses.

Climate change before 1950 is presumed to be natural climate variation by the same experts that are trying to scare us now. My personal favorite,  the stretch from 1907 to 1943.  It seems eerily similar to the data from 1976 to 1998.

Don’t like the NASA or East Anglia Data?   Let’s look at some Satellite Data.  Here’s the University of Alabama at Hunstsville (UAH) Satellite global data for the lower atmosphere:


Fairly stable weather until Mt. Pinatubo erupted, then rapid cooling followed by rapid warming.   And still no net change since the second half of1997.

One key premise of man caused global climate change states that the climate will change more at the poles than in the tropics.   It certainly has been true in the Arctic.   I’d argue that soot and pollution from Asia (mostly) are partly to blame.  Recent studies support this notion as does Satellite data from Antarctica.   If the Arctic is changing due to additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, then Antarctica should change too…. and in a similar way.

Take a look at the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) Satellite data for Antarcita.

Almost flat line.  Now look at the Arctic Data also courtesy of RSS.

No change in Antarctica, wild change in the Arctic.  Ice core data supports the notion that the Antarctic has not been warming for hundreds of years.   Hmmm.

Most studies I’ve seen, including most IPCC handiwork, start with observed changes in the world around them.  This change is then attributed to man produced greenhouse gases which is supported by computer models that assumed carbon was important.  Round and round we go.  Make an assumption and build a model based upon that assumption and then use that model as proof of the assumption….just a tad circular.

If carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change, the data at both poles should be similar.  The data has been diverging for the entire 36 year history of Satellite Data.

Maybe, just maybe, something else is going on.




Sea Level Questions Continue

Yesterday, I read a piece in our local newspaper discussing the problems rising sea level will cause.   Built into the article were two assumptions, both of which are probably  incorrect.

  • Assumption 1 – Sea level could rise by as much as a meter by the year 2100
  • Assumption 2 – Man can take actions to alter this in some significant way.

When I look at sea level data I see confusion.   Today was no exception.   My inquiry began with a look at Satellite data courtesy of  Colorado University.

Sea level, according to CU, is rising at a rate of about 3.2 millimeters a year (plus or minus 12.5%).  That’s about an 1/8 of an inch per year or about a foot per century.  Plus or minus an inch or two.  Not exactly a meter, but coastal regions will have difficulties.  Sea level has been rising since the Little Ice Age ended some 250 years ago.   If I had land in Key West, I’d be worried.

But sea level in Key West isn’t rising at 3.2mm/yr, it’s rising at 2.24 mm/yr.  And the trend has been steady for the 100 years of the data.

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 8724580 - Key West, Florida

Key West may be under water at some date in the future, but the rate of change appears to be much less than predicted by IPCC scientists.  I suppose Key West could be an oddity, but it’s unlikely.   I visited the NOAA web site and checked many places I thought might be interesting.   Places like Bermuda, Honolulu, San Francisco, Venice.   Yep, Venice, well Trieste, it’s just across the bay.

Trieste’s rate is less than 40% of the Satellite predicted rate.

1.24/3.4 = .397 or 39.7%

The margin for error is half the satellite data rate (.2 mm vs .4mm)

Every place I checked  had a trend rate that was less than the satellite data.   In most cases the predicted margin for error was less than the satellite data too.    A few select data points have a longer history too. I tabulated the results

City                                            rate of change       data history

San Francisco                             2.01 mm/yr       160 years                                              Honolulu                                       1.50 mm/yr       110 years                                                     New York                                     2.77 mm/yr       120 years                                                 Bermuda                                       2.04 mm/yr         70 years                                          Narvik, Norway                       -2.06 mm/yr          60 years                                          Cochin, India                              1.71 mm/yr          70 years                                                Hong Kong                                  2.92 mm/yr          60 years                                        Nagasaki, Japan                        2.20 mm/yr         45 years                                          Sydney, Australia                     0.65 mm/yr         130 years                                     Auckland, New Zealand         1.29 mm/yr         120 years

This data doesn’t tell the full story of the confusion.  Individual sites provide lots of conflicting data.   Honolulu has been trending down since about 2002:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 1612340 - Honolulu, Hawaii

The NOAA presentation of the Bermuda data a bit odd:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 2695540 - Bermuda,

Most of the increase shown in Bermuda happened before 1960.  Had the data set begun in 1955 instead of 1934 the trend line would have shown nearly no net change.  Sea level rose fairly rapidly from 193o until 1955 and has been relatively stable since then.  Go figure.

Virtually every city I checked showed a less ominous looking trend line than the satellite data.  This land based data has it’s limitations.   Many international cities have tiny data sets, particularly in South America and Africa.   Only one data point exists for all of Antarctica

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 999-003 - Argentine Islands, Antarctica

I would argue that the Antarctica data doesn’t really suggest a trend but NOAA calculates the trend at  1.43mm/yr.  When I look at the data I see no net changes since 1960.  Sounds kind of like Bermuda’s data to me?

Something is wrong.   Every land site I checked showed less overall change than the satellite data.   How can that be?   The satellite data is an average for the whole world.   Some specific locations should be higher and some places should be lower.

Northern locations like Alaska and Norway are showing reduced sea level due to reduced gravitational pull from the Arctic Ice Sheet (presumably).  Where are the equatorial places that are compensating for that reduction?   I can’t make sense of the data.   Satellite data and measurements at land interfaces don’t tell the same story.

Sea level is extraordinarily difficult to calculate.   Sea level changes in one part of the world can take years and years  to impact the ecosystem.  I understand that storms and changing ice sheets impact the data.  Change that can take decades to correct.

WHY is the satellite data very nearly ALWAYS significantly higher than the land data?

The Satellite data has been higher every year since the data began in 1993.   Every year! Most places I have checked disagree by about 1 mm per year.  After 20 years of data the sources disagree with each other by about 20 mm.  or about .78 inches.  The longer this condition exists, the less I trust the data sets.

It really is difficult to make accurate predictions about sea level if you don’t have the ability to accurately graph the underlying trend line.  Sea level, almost certainly,  has been rising since the end of the Little Ice Age some 250 years ago.  But by how much?   Almost no statistical data exists before the Civil War. I suspect SWAG.

Sea level has been steadily rising for probably 250 years.   How much has been man’s impact? I don’t know and I’ll go a step further…nobody knows!

I am not convinced that we have the tools necessary to accurately predict the future course of events as it relates to sea level.    Sea level appears to be an indicator that follows rather than leads climate change.   How much of today’s changes in sea level were impacted by global temperatures of 20 or 50 or 100 years ago?  I don’t know.  I see guessing here, there and everywhere.

IPCC scientists might have the trends right….but even that is…I fear …. a guess.







Remembering Katrina and climate change politics

Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck the city,  was just convicted of corruption.  Twenty counts.  All related to Katrina reconstruction contracts.  I must admit, I wasn’t surprised.

Katrina is a classic example of people not preparing for a likely event simply because it is infrequent.  Politics is all about immediate problems.  Politicians do not do well preparing for events that only come along every 100 years or so.   A relatively large hurricane struck a city adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.  A city with sections below sea level.   It has happened before and it will happen again.  Someday.

Katrina and Al Gore are inexorably linked in my mind, because of Mr. Gore’s film.   An Inconvenient Truth linked human tragedy with climate change.  Lots and lots of newsreel footage of Katrina suffering, with Mr. Gore narrating.   George Bush and global warming shared the blame, according to Mr. Gore.

Mr. Gore’s approach begins with little bit of science.  He then provides lots of anecdotal information.  He then uses that information to support his gloom and doom climate change thesis.  The science may or may not have anything to do with the subject at hand, but it seems like the two are linked together.   The process works well.

The Katrina section of the film opened with a graph.  The graph displayed the changes in worldwide ocean temperatures.  The graph showed a rise in recent years.   That graph was the only specific data provided.

Tropical systems need warm water to form.  Mr Gore asserted that because  the oceans are warmer,  there would be more storm systems.  Videos of suffering in New Orleans; pictures of suffering in Asia. Many  tropical systems were featured.  The storms themselves were all the proof Mr. Gore needed.

Multiple problems immediately come to mind.

  • Global average ocean temperature is a bad proxy.  Most warming since the end of the Little Ice some 250 years ago  has occurred in temperate and Arctic locations.  The Tropics have been remarkably stable.
  • The IPCC 2007 Synopses Report, released a year after An Inconvenient Truth,  called tropical cyclone data  inconclusive.  Mr. Gore’s favorite UN agency contradicted him in their most recent report.
  • Mr. Gore’s ocean temperature chart went back to the 1940’s.   Ocean data before the 1980’s must have been a wild guess because before that date very little data existed.

But Mr. Gore’s central problem is this; statistical data does not support his premise.   Tropical systems have not been becoming more frequent.   In the years since his film was released, worldwide activity has decreased by a small amount.   Globally, tropical systems have been surprisingly stable for at least 40 years.

How do I know this?

Scientists use ACE (The Global Tropical Cyclone Accumulated Cyclone Energy) to track worldwide total tropical cyclone activity.  This data takes into consideration both the strength and the number of cyclones all over the world.  It’s a mathematical way of calculating the yearly impact tropical systems have on our environment.  24 month running sums are plotted.

Here it is:

Forty years of data, no trend.  Unfortunately the real world and the world of global climate politics are completely different places.   In 2005, when Katrina was devastating New Orleans, man caused global climate change was supposedly causing bigger and nastier storms including Katrina.

Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines late last year.  Global climate change was an oft stated source of the devastation.  Haiyan was a big storm, but not unprecedented and not unexpected.  6 to 9 typhoons strike the Philippines in a typical  season.

A typhoon struck the Philippines in September of 1881. It is estimated that 20,000 people in the Philippines died and thousands more died in Viet Nam. It was the most devastating tropical storm in recorded history. More tropical cyclones strike the Philippines than any other populated place on earth.

Mr. Obama, in his State of the Union address, blamed drought in California on man caused climate activity.   A recent study disagrees:

Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years — compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years

Katrina was a category 3 storm when it hit New Orleans, Haiyan was a big storm, but others have been bigger and the drought in the West has happened before.   The Mayan culture disappeared some 600 years ago, presumably due to over population and a change in the climate.

Maybe, just maybe, Nature is simply being Nature.   Some climate change might simply be a Natural Event.

Sea Level Confusion

Mean sea level confuses me.   Intuitively I want sea level to be the same all over the world.  But it isn’t.   One reason the Panama Canal has locks, sea level on the Pacific side averages 8 inches higher than on the Atlantic side….and the tides are higher on the Pacific side too.   Without the locks, water would constantly be flowing from the Pacific side to the Atlantic side.

And sea level is not changing at the same rate all around the world.  Some places have a rising sea level, others falling.   Supposedly worldwide sea level is rising steadily as demonstrated by this chart courtesy of the Australian government:

Plot of global sea level from 1993 to 2012

NOAA keeps data for all the 50 states of the USA and that data generally shows a much slower rise….and in some cases no rise since 1990.  Something doesn’t make sense…and that confuses me.  Let’s begin looking at NOAA data for San Francisco.   The data for San Francisco is some of the oldest available.  It goes back over 150 years.  Here is the sea level data chart for San Francisco:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 9414290 - San Francisco, California

San Francisco peaked in 1998 (a strong El Nino year).  NOAA also provides charts that show the change year to year.   They call these charts interannual charts.  Here is the interannual chart for San Francisco.residual1980.png

Since 1998 sea level is San Francisco has been going down.   How about Miami Beach Florida:


Miami appears to have peaked in the 1940’s?   But the data shows no real net change in the 50 years the data has been kept.  NOAA must have changed where they keep data for this area as the data stops in the 1980’s.  But the data is interesting as it shows variations that should have predated man caused climate change.  The data does not match the San Francisco data.   It has less overall movement and it peaks at a different time. Now lets see how the Pacific Ocean has been doing by taking a peak at Honolulu, Hawaii:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 1612340 - Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu has been rising, but slowly.  It looks a lot like San Francisco.  Let’s zoom in on the data since 1990 by looking at interannual variation chart .


The change since 1990 has been minimal.  The area above the zero line on the chart roughly equals the area below the line.

Are you confused yet?  Now let’s look at data for Seward, Alaska:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 9455090 - Seward, Alaska

An earthquake in 1964 is probably the reason for the shift in data.  The Seward waterfront was devastated by a tidal wave following the Good Friday Earthquake on March 28th 1964.  The trend of the data is …down.  Sea level has been going down in Seward since at least 1964.    How can that be?  If the worldwide sea level has been rising steadily since 1990, how can it be going down in Seward?  The NOAA data appears to contradict the Australia data?

Now let’s look at Juneau, Alaska.  Are you ready…this one’s really weird:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 9452210 - Juneau, Alaska

Juneau makes no sense to me at all.   The world has been warming, glaciers have been melting.  Sea level should be going up world wide.   I have no reason not to believe the data provided by NOAA.  After all they are pretty good at this stuff.

Climate activists have been talking global disaster for years and years.  One really big disaster has been a rapidly rising sea level.   Al Gore featured it in his 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth.   The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been making claims in advance of the 2014 release of their AR5 climate assessment.   Sea level rise has made the news as this link to an article in the Yale forum on Climate Change and the Media demonstrates.  Here is a chart prepared by the IPCC from that article:

I suspect guessing.  Wild Ass Guessing!  AND I am confused.

Local weather extrapolation — A common Climate mistake

We all have a tendency to extrapolate local conditions.   The weather we see at home today has nothing whatsoever to do with climate science.  If it is warmer today than in years gone by it does not mean the world is warmer.   But we think it does.  The Weather Channel lives it’s own special world of extrapolation.    And so do Al Gore and his buddies at the UN .

I make this mistake too often.

Case in point Summer 2013 …Anchorage, Alaska.  We have had a wonderful warm summer with many many days over 70 degrees.   We set a record for the most consecutive days where the daily high temperature was above 70 degrees.  15 days in a row.  And we were close to setting a record for the most days above 70 for an entire season.   Our warm wonderful summer….it’s been  the talk of the town.

And then we almost set a record for the most consecutive days of rain in September.  More rain in Anchorage is supposedly something to expect as the world warms.

Global warming seemed to be all around.

I expected record melting in the Arctic.  2012 had been a record year for Arctic ice  melt, followed by a relatively normal winter.  As the melt season began, the Arctic had extraordinary amounts of first year sea ice.  First year ice is saltier than older ice, which makes it melt at lower temperatures than older sea ice.  A very warm South Central Alaska, quick melting ice; the Arctic was sure to have a record melt year.

I was expecting the regional climate I was experiencing to have wider implications…and I was wrong….as this chart from the National Snow and Ice Data Center demonstrates:

The Arctic had a cool summer and a change in the prevailing winds.   The result was a slow melting year.   And Greenland had a slow melting year too.

But is the world warmer than in the recent past?  Uh….no.   Hot off the presses… the September 2013 world satellite surface temperature data courtesy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH).

2013 has been and continues to be boringly similar to every year since 2002.

I thought 2013 would be one for the record books in the Arctic.  Mother nature constantly reminds us not to draw simple conclusions when evaluating climate.