Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup

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The Week That Was 2010-08-28 (August 28, 2010)
Brought to you by The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Don’t forget to attend the SEPP-SEEE Climate-Energy Forum at 10:30 am on Sept 25 in the Ernst Community Center at the Annandale Campus of the Northern Virginia Community. No reservations are required. This is no fee but donations are greatly appreciated. More details in the next TWTW.
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Quote of the Week
“When the Climatic Research Unit was founded, it was clear that the first need was to establish the facts of the past record of the natural climate in times before any side effects of human activities could well be important.” Climate science pioneer HH Lamb quoted in Tim Ball’s article below.

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Number of the Week: 1.1%

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THIS WEEK:
by Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

For those concerned about the environmental impact of oil exploration and development, perhaps the biggest news are studies of the impact of the BP spill on the Gulf of Mexico. On August 19, the New York Times reported that a new study by the venerable Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, being published in Science, indicates that the earlier NOAA studies of the disappearance of the oil plume were far too optimistic. According to the Woods Hole study, the oil plume was not breaking down quickly and effects will remain indefinitely. This confirmed suspicions by other groups.

On August 24, the New York Times reported a new study by the Energy Biosciences Institute, a partnership led by the University of California Berkeley and the University of Illinois, stated that the oil plume is being depleted quickly by a previously undiscovered microorganism that appears closely related to Oceanospirillales.

Readers may recall that TWTW previously reported that the Gulf of Mexico is home to a great number of microorganisms that thrive in cold water (about 5°C) at oil seeps and that these microbes depend upon chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis. The newly discovered microbe appears to be one such creature. Very importantly, it appears that the microbe is anaerobic – it does not consume oxygen. The oxygen levels are remaining high (59% inside the plume as compared with 67% outside the plume). Thus the feared dead zone from oxygen depletion is not occurring.

It should be noted that the Energy Biosciences Institute was created by a $500 Million, 10 year grant from BP for which Stephen Chu, now Secretary of Energy, was a grateful recipient. If the research holds, then this is another example that in science, it is the quality of the work, not the funding, that is important. (Please see Article # 5 and the referenced articles under BP Spill including the 1998 article from Scientific American.)
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In what appears to be alarming news to the environmental industry, acting US Solicitor General Neal Katyal, representing the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federal agency, filed a brief with the US Supreme Court asking it to throw out a decision by the 2nd Court of Appeals permitting law suits brought by the State of Connecticut and other northeast states against utilities using coal to generate electricity. The entire situation is logically bizarre.

The Attorney General for Connecticut, backed by environmental groups and other northeastern states, is claiming that public utilities using coal to generate electricity are public nuisances. According to the article in the New York Times (please see Article #4 below) the environmental industry thought it had a deal with the Obama administration to allow the law suits to proceed as a means of forcing Congress to accept some form of cap-and-trade. Now the environmental industry feels betrayed. Has a bit of logic and reason hit the administration?
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The hot summer weather over Russia, and elsewhere, has broken. But the chorus of alarmists, particularly politicians, blaming the unusual weather events on global warming continues. Of course, some of the politicians, including Rep. Markey and Hillary Clinton, claim these events demonstrate “climate change” which government regulations such as cap-and-tax will be able to control. (Please see referenced articles under Defending the Orthodoxy).

By contrast, meteorologists such as Joe D’Aleo and others write that the events, though not normal (average), are not unique or particularly exceptional – once again confirming the adage that to those ignorant of history, every event is unprecedented. (Please see referenced articles under Heat Wave.)
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The National Science Foundation announced “powerful new computer software” by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) called the Community Earth System Model (CESM) that others can use to make regional climate projections. If the models were well tested and validated to discern the difference between natural cause of climate change and human induced changes, then it would be a valuable addition to our understanding of climate change. However, based upon the announcements it appears that the software will do little more than intensify the errors of the past. Expanding the detail of models that have not been validated does not expand knowledge. (Please see referenced article under Defending the Orthodoxy.)
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Don’t forget, the American Chemical Society is soliciting the views of its members on its climate change policy statement. (Please see Article # 1) ******************************************
SEPP Corrections and Amplifications: The August 14 TWTW discussed the largest iceberg to break off a Greenland glacier since 1962. Alarmists immediately took this to be a sign of global warming that would cause sea levels to rise by up to 23 feet. Alert readers immediately picked up that TWTW committed a typo and misstated the metric equivalent to 23 feet is about 3 meters, rather then the correct 7 meters. Admitted – 23 feet is approximately equal to 7 meters!

Other readers pointed out that none of the articles they read on the event mentioned that the larger break in 1962 came more than two decades into a global cooling period that, later, some alarmists claimed was the start of a new ice age. There you have it – global warming causes huge icebergs from Greenland and global cooling causes huge icebergs from Greenland.
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Number of the Week: 1.1%. The 2008 US Electric Power Industry Net Generation from Petroleum
http://www.eia.doe.gov/…
released Jan 21, 2010 by the Energy Information Agency of the Department of Energy.

With only 1.1% of US Electrical Power Generation coming from petroleum, there is little logical basis those who claim the nation needs to subsidize electricity from wind and solar to reduce its dependence on “foreign oil.” This revelation leads to:
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The Book of the Week: Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future by Robert Bryce.
An accomplished journalist, Bryce addresses the important issues of power in a style that should be readily understood by journalists, politicians, policy makers, and the reading public. According to Bryce, the grand schemes created by politicians, and others, to replace coal fired electrical generating plants with wind and solar demonstrate an educational weakness among the proponents – innumeracy, numerical illiteracy. Simply put, they do not grasp the scope of what they are demanding and the inability of solar and wind to meet the demand. Unless there are drastic breakthroughs in affordable, commercial scale storage of electricity, alternative energy mandates from governments promise only a bleak economic future for younger generations.

Brice identifies what he terms the “Four Imperatives” to evaluate energy sources: power density, energy density, cost, and scale. Power density is the amount of power that can be harnessed per unit; and energy density is amount of energy that can be contained in a given volume or mass. Bryce states the key concept is power density which can be described as energy flow, the ability to do work. Energy in itself is of little value unless it can be turned into power. Herein is the crucial weakness of solar and wind. These sources are not dispatchable, that is, one cannot state, with high confidence, that the necessary power will be available in, say, New York City at 5 pm on August 26, 2010 – yet, without it the city stops.

Using easily understood graphs and charts, Bryce establishes that replacing coal, and oil will be a long, difficult process. The proposed sources of wind and solar simply fail due to the enormous cost and the scale of the projects to generate the necessary power, which remains unreliable. Few appreciate the enormous quantities of land that wind turbines require and that every where they have been tried, they increase the cost of electricity rather than reduce it. Unfortunately, many journalists reporting on solar and wind confuse nameplate capacity (ideal potential) with power density – what is actually delivered.

Bryce demonstrates that the US is an energy giant with enormous resources of coal and natural gas. Private ventures in hydraulic fracturing of shale rock containing natural gas and horizontal drilling have made the US an energy giant in natural gas. [Today, in the eastern US where coal is more expensive than in the west, the cost of generating electricity from natural gas is roughly comparable to that of coal.] Yet, the advances in natural gas production are virtually ignored by alternative energy proponents in Washington, who seem to be stuck in the mania of the 1970’s when the Federal Government banned the use of natural gas for generation of electricity.

In the view of Bryce, absent of government edicts, the 21st Century will see a slow transition from coal to natural gas and finally to nuclear as the basic suppliers of power for the nation. To support his hypothesis, Bryce discusses the work of Nakicenovic, Grubler, Ausubel, Marchetti, and others who have identified a mega trend of several centuries of decarbonization of fuels shifting from fuels with high ratios of carbon to hydrogen (wood) to those with low ratios carbon to hydrogen (natural gas) as consumers demand denser and cleaner fuels.
[Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future by Robert Bryce, Managing Editor of Energy Tribune, 2010, Public Affairs, ISBN 978-1-58648-789-8, 394 pp including extensive endnotes and 17 pp index.]
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ARTICLES:
[For the numbered articles below please see http://www.haapala.com/sepp/the-week-that-was.cfm

1. American Chemical Society Climate Change Policy Survey of Membership
Updating the ACS Climate Change Policy Position
http://portal.acs.org/porta…

2. Global warmists abandoned fact for fancy
By Roger Helmer, Member of the European Parliament, Washington Times, Aug 24, 2010
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/aug/24/around-the-w…

3. Jobs Knowingly Killed and Destroyed
Editorial, IBD, Aug 25, 2010
http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=544…

4. Obama Admin Urges Supreme Court to Vacate Greenhouse Gas ‘Nuisance’ ruling
By Gabriel Nelson of Greenwire, NYT, Aug 25, 2010 [H/t Marc Morano, Climate Depot]
http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/08/25/25greenwire-obama-ad…

5. New Study Sees Spill Receding
Microbes That Evolved Amid Natural Oil on Ocean Floor Are Now Gobbling Plume
By Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, Aug 25, 2010
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB2000142405274870412560457544…

6. Wind Power Won’t Cool Down the Planet
Often enough it leads to higher carbon emissions
By Robert Bryce, WSJ, Aug 23, 2010
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870379270457536…

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NEWS YOU CAN USE:
Climategate Continued
The Tree Ring Circus,
By John Dawson, Quadrant Online, July-August [H/t Kae wa Koyangi]
http://www.quadrant.org.au/magazine/issue/2010/7-8/the-tree-…

Cuts jeopardizing quality of Canada’s weather service: report
By Mike De Souza, Financial Post, Aug 23, 2010 [H/t Watts Up With That?]
http://www.financialpost.com/news/Cuts+jeopardizing+quality+…

Challenging the Orthodoxy
MIT Professor Can’t See Forest For Trees; Confuses Meteorology – Climate – Weather
By Tim Ball, Canada Free Press, Aug. 26, 2010 [H/t Paul Pekarek]
http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/26979…

Rising sea of irresponsibility
By Des Moore & Tom Quirk, Quadrant Online, Aug 23, 2010
http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2010/08/risin…

Silencing global warming critics
By Russell Cook, American Thinker, Aug 26, 2010
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/08/silencing_global…

Defending the Orthodoxy
New Computer Model Advances Climate Change Research
Press Release 10-146, National Science Foundation, Aug 18, 2010 [H/t ICECAP]
http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=117513…

[ICECAP Note: the model obviously has built in global warming – I thought the models were by nature supposed to be totally objective and let the chips fall as they may. They did not promise ability to predict important multi decadal ocean cycles, changes in the thermohaline circulations and no mention of improvements in use of solar factors. AR4 models virtually ignored solar changes and forcing. It sounds like the same old GHG, ozone chemistry, aerosol driven model with more land/sea interaction run at a higher resolution. Don’t expect any breakthrough findings or leap in skill. http://www.icecap.us/
Dangerous Climate Picture Emerging
By Rep. Ed Markey, D-MA, National Journal, Energy and Environment, Aug 25, 2010
http://energy.nationaljournal.com/2010/08/is-climate-change-…

Secretary Clinton’s Climate Con
Editorial, IBD, Aug 23, 2010
http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/544672/2010…

Al Gore’s global-warming crusade shrinks
Eco-autocrats are exposed as frauds
By Matt Patterson, Washington Times, Aug 24, 2010
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/aug/24/al-gores-glo…

Heat Wave
Selective Memory
By Joseph D’Aleo, ICECAP, Aug 23, 2010
http://icecap.us/images/uploads/Selective_Memory.pdf…

Frozen jet stream links Pakistan floods, Russian fires
By Michael Marshall, New Scientist, Aug 14, 2010 [H/t ICECAP]
http://icecap.us/index.php/go/joes-blog…

“Extreme Weather”? Not Yet! By Dennis Avery, Center for Global Food Issues, Aug 23, 2010 [H/t Marc Morano, Climate Depot]
http://www.cgfi.org/2010/08/%E2%80%9Cextreme-weather%E2%80%9…

Global warming and short memories
By Thomas Fuller, Examiner.com, Aug 25, 2010
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-policy-in-national/glo…

Climate ‘CSI’ Team Takes on Russian Heat
By Andrew Revkin, NYT, Aug 24, 2010 [H/t Marc Morano, Climate Depot]
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/24/climate-csi-tea…

BP Oil Spill and Aftermath
23,000 workers affected by Gulf drilling ban
By AP, Washington Times, Aug 21, 2010
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/aug/21/govt-23k-wor…

The folly of punishing oil companies
Editorial, Washington Examiner, Aug 26, 2010
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/The-folly-of-punis…

New Microbe Discovered Eating Gulf Oil Spill
By Randolph Schmid, AP, Aug 24, 2010
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/08/24/new-microbe-discov…

Undersea Oil Plume Vanishes in Gulf, Degraded by Previously Unknown Bug
By Paul Voosen of Greenwire, NYT, Aug 24, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/08/24/24greenwire-undersea…

Oil Plume Is Not Breaking Down Fast, Study Says
By Justin Gillis and John Rudolf, NYT, Aug 19, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/science/earth/20plume.html…

Oil Spills
In the Gulf of Mexico, a region famous for its many oil and gas fields, most of the petroleum flowing into the ocean leaks naturally from fissures in the seabed
By Ian MacDonald, Scientific American, Nov 1998 [H/t Dick Hoese]
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/gca?sendit.x=52&sendit.y=11&se…

Energy Issues
Energy Institute Steps Up Call for Sensible Energy Policies
Energy Institute Newsletter, Aug 19, 2010 [H/t ICECAP]
http://energyxxi.org/articles/August_2010_Newsletter.aspx#po…

New Jersey Act Calls for Offshore Wind State Mandates
Power News, Aug 25, 2010 [H/t Toshio Fujita]
http://www.powermag.com/POWERnews/New-Jersey-Act-Calls-for-O…

[SEPP Comment: A victory for the promoters of the one the most expensive styles of sub-prime electricity.]

Nuclear Plant’s Use of River Water Prompts $1.1 Billion Debate With State
By Matthew Wald, NYT, Aug 23, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/science/earth/23cooling.ht…

[SEPP Comment: Another way to make reliable electricity more expensive. How much of the River’s eco-system would be restored?]

EPA and other Regulators On the March
Texas fights global-warming power grab
Lone Star stated won’t participate in Obama’s lawless policy
By Peggy Venable, Washington Times, Aug 25, 2010
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/aug/25/texas-fights…

Climate Change Lawsuits Heat Up, Lead By An End Run In Connecticut
By James Copland, IBD, Aug 24, 2010
http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/544812/2010…

[SEPP Comment: See Article # 4]

An EPA report from another era: Preventing damage from sea level rise would not be so expensive.
By Tomas Fuller, Examiner.com, Aug 26, 2010
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-policy-in-national/an-…

Review of Recent Scientific Articles by NIPCC
For a full list of articles see http://www.NIPCCreport.org
Solar Forcing of Meteorological Phenomena on Earth
Reference: Le Mouel, J.-L., Blanter, E., Shnirman, M., and Courtillot, V. 2010a. Solar forcing of the semi-annual variation of length-of-day. Geophysical Research Letters 37: 2010GL043185. Archived Aug 19, 2010
http://www.nipccreport.org/articles/2010/aug/19aug2010a7.htm…

Glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula and Sub-Antarctic Islands
Reference: Hall, B.L. 2009. Holocene glacial history of Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands. Quaternary Science Reviews 28: 2213-2230. Archived Aug 19, 2010
http://www.nipccreport.org/articles/2010/aug/19aug2010a6.htm…

Elevated CO2 Protects Trees from the Ravages of Heat Stress
Reference: Darbah, J.N.T., Sharkey, T.D., Calfapietra, C. and Karnosky, D.F. 2010. Differential response of aspen and birch trees to heat stress under elevated carbon dioxide. Environmental Pollution 158: 1008-1014. Archived Aug 18, 2010
http://www.nipccreport.org/articles/2010/aug/18aug2010a3.htm…

Miscellaneous Topics of Possible Interest
New Orleans Levees nearly Ready, but Mistrusted
By John Schwartz, NYT, Aug 23, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/24/us/24levee.html?_r=1&th&em…

[SEPP Comment: After hurricane Betsey in 1965, the Corps of Engineers planned a system to stop the flooding of New Orleans from hurricanes similar to that used by the Dutch to stop flooding from the North Sea. Environmental groups quashed the plan with a Federal judge ruling that such a system would be harmful to local inhabitants.]

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BELOW THE BOTTOM LINE:
Food Firms Jarred by Sugar Beet Restriction
By Scott Kilman, WSJ, Aug 16, 2010
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870429670457543…

[SEPP Comment: Genetically modified fears.]

G20 protests: Rioters loot RBS as demonstrators turn violent
G20 summit protesters looted a City office of Royal Bank of Scotland this afternoon, as a largely peaceful demonstration spilled over into bloody violence in the centre of London. Telegraph, UK, Aug 23, 2010
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/g20-summit/…

[SEPP Comment: The mostly government owned Royal Bank of Scotland has been targeted as a promoter of global warming.]

China traffic jam stretches ‘nine days, 100km’
BBC News, Aug 23, 2010 [H/t Malcolm Ross]
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11062708…

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14 thoughts on “Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup

  1. The entire situation is logically bazaar.

    I’m not sure I’m buying what SEPP is selling.

    Bizarre would be the correct term if I’m not mistaken.

  2. According to the Woods Hole study, the oil plume was not breaking down quickly and effects will remain indefinitely. This confirmed suspicions by other groups.

    Hmm. I wonder who those other groups could possibly be….

  3. Well miffed our Greenpeace buddies. The disaster that didn’t pan out.

    These folks are just resentful when they should be pleased that the scenario is not quite as dire as they had expected.

    But when you have a cause based upon an ideology….

    ‘In today’s news, we have a new cloud to hand over this story. We have a super bug. It seems to have come from nowhere but has made the oil completely disappear (again). Reminds me of Dorothy saying “There’s no place like home” repeatedly before she wakes up from her dream back in Kansas. Unfortunately until the attempts to cloud things up stop, we get real answers about fossil fuel disasters, and elected officials change our energy policy, we’ll continue to be stuck in this fossil fuel nightmare.’

    Arctic Sunrise steaming around the Gulf for three months.

    Question: Is the Arctic Sunrise a sailing ship? Surely not a drop of bunker oil has ever fouled her engines!

  4. By contrast, meteorologists such as Joe D’Aleo and others write that the events, though not normal (average), are not unique or particularly exceptional

    Someone said, approximately (please improve if you know the actual saying), “It is in the nature of the ordinary for the extraordinary to occur.”

  5. G20 protests: Rioters loot RBS as demonstrators turn violent
    G20 summit protesters looted a City office of Royal Bank of Scotland this afternoon, as a largely peaceful demonstration spilled over into bloody violence in the centre of London. Telegraph, UK, Aug 23, 2010

    Only one problem it was dated 01 Apr 2009

  6. “The Attorney General for Connecticut, backed by environmental groups and other northeastern states, is claiming that public utilities using coal to generate electricity are public nuisances.”

    Perhaps the utilities should shut off the power for a week or two to show them how much of a nuisance that would be.

  7. “When the Climatic Research Unit was founded, it was clear that the first need was to establish the facts of the past record of the natural climate in times before any side effects of human activities could well be important.”

    …The CRU was always a political office set up to give a convenient “scientific” alibi to politicians attacking the so-called “fossil fuel” industry and their unions. Later on, after the collapse of communism, it was adopted by the failed communists to become a weapon with which they can attack the whole capitalist system and destroy it “from within”.

  8. Tom in Florida says:
    August 28, 2010 at 11:45 am

    “The Attorney General for Connecticut, backed by environmental groups and other northeastern states, is claiming that public utilities using coal to generate electricity are public nuisances.”

    Perhaps the utilities should shut off the power for a week or two to show them how much of a nuisance that would be.
    _______________________________________________
    Just shut off all coal, oil, gas or nuclear power to the states trying to sue. After all THEY have just indicated they do not want the power so PLEASE, PLEASE remove them from the power net – permanently.

    It is about time the Marxist idiots in the northeast had a dose of reality to wake them up.
    And, yes they are Marxists, one proudly told me that Massachusetts had the foremost Marxists scholars in the world.

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