Climate clippings 10

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

The Bolivians were the only ones in step at Cancún

The Bolivians at Cancún were possibly the only ones who followed the science faithfully and took full account of the implications.

Analysts at Climate Action Tracker have revealed that these paltry offers [at Cancun] are nowhere near enough to keep temperature increases even within the contested goal of 2 degrees. Instead they would lead to increases in temperature of between 3 and 4 degrees, a level considered by scientists as highly dangerous for the vast majority of the planet. [Bolivian negotiator] Solon said, “I can not in all in consciousness sign such as a document as millions of people will die as a result.”

Solon again:

“Proposals by powerful countries like the US were sacrosanct, while ours were disposable. Compromise was always at the expense of the victims, rather than the culprits of climate change.”

2010 Climate B.S. of the Year Award

A small, smart and increasingly annoyed group of climate scientists has found the perfect way to mark the end of a bad year – with the 2010 Climate B.S. of the Year awards.

Go here for the copy, and the identity of the nominators. The winner is a particularly smelly bunch of stuff:

First Place goes to the following set of B.S.: “There has been no warming since 1998” [or 2000, or…], “the earth is cooling,” “global warming is natural,” and “humans are too insignificant to affect the climate.”

Temperature records show broad agreement in trend terms

Skeptical Science has done a comparison of the temperature records:

Temperature composite

That’s roughly an 11-year average which you can see in greater detail here.

Bolta picks the one that suits him best, flattened by the particular x and y-axis values, introduces some visual distractions and then misses the point.

Posted also at Climate Progress. Tamino has a couple of relevant posts.

Go here for Climate Graphics by Skeptical Science.

Sorry, the floods and the freeze do not signal the end of global warming

A CSIRO scientist is warning authorities not to interpret floods in eastern Australia and snowstorms over Europe and North America as signalling the end of global warming.

It seems we’ll have to put up with cold snaps for at least another 40 years.

US satellite climate data collection will be degraded from 2015 for up to 11 years

Yes, decisions made by the Bush administration will affect data collection in the future.

In Storms of My Grandchildren Hansen relates how his budget was cut and the NASA mission changed to de-emphasise study of the home planet. Very much, it seemed, as a response to his activism.

Extreme patterns speak of climate change in China

The past 12 months saw the most instances of extreme weather in a decade, China’s meteorological authority said on recently.

This summer, the average highest temperature across China was the highest since 1961, with an average 9.7 days with the highest temperature at or above 35 C, 3.5 days more than in previous years.

Extreme rainstorms followed the hot weather. Ninety-seven weather stations around China reported record-breaking daily rainfall, and 133 stations broke their annual records. Only seven record-breaking daily rainfall figures were reported from 2000 to 2009.

Moreover, more than half of the tropical hurricanes formed typhoons and hit coastal regions in East and South China, marking the highest landfall ratio in history.

Global warming was largely to blame, they say.

Strange people…

The growing consensus on imminent global cooling

…is what some denialist blogs are predicting.

As expected, some of the climate scientists actually say the opposite of what denialist blogs suggest.

December Arctic Ice extent is the lowest ever

Climate Progress has a post with a temperature map for the region showing parts of Canada astoundingly warm.

Balmy warmth in Antarctica

Meanwhile in Antarctica it has been too warm to land planes.

Finally then to a stunner:

Floods can help Australia rise toward adaptation to climate change

According to the Christian Science Monitor:

The Queensland floods and other recent record-breaking weather events can help push Australia further toward becoming a world leader in adapting to the predicted effects of global warming.

The floods may be due to natural cycles rather than climate change, but we’ve accepted the reality of climate change adaptation and that our lifestyles will change.

In agriculture, the government has laid out various plans to help farmers adjust to the official prediction that climate change will cut food production by more than 15 percent – and perhaps turn Australia into a net food importer.

The largest spending on adaptation is a 10-year, $12.9 billion program called “Water for the Future.” It includes setting up a robust market for water resources so that “as water becomes more scarce there are incentives to deliver it to the areas of highest priority.”

The government also plans to issue a “climate futures report” every five years, starting this year. Last year, it sponsored the world’s first official conference on climate-change adaptation and has set up a research facility dedicated solely to the topic. (One study hopes to create a “model for resilience” by looking at four communities that bounced back from natural disasters.)

So we are the very model of what a modern nation will need to be in these matters.

Things look different from an office in the Christian Science Monitorr on the other side of the world!

51 thoughts on “Climate clippings 10”

  1. the official prediction that climate change will cut food production by more than 15 percent – and perhaps turn Australia into a net food importer.

    Well done National Party.

  2. Quick query: denialist letter to the editor in the Canberra Times this morning claiming there was no evidence that the oceans are becoming more acidic. anyone got a good quick reference that I can use for a letter to the Editor – Wikipedia on this sseems to be helpful – any other references?

  3. I was just watching Julia Gillard and Anthony Albanese launching the new look ahead ports strategy at Kwinana in Perth. So I thought that I should take a look to see if the government had in fact looked ahead to anything like the 20 to 50 years that they are talking about.

    What is the future of shipping?

    Hmmm. So I had a look at the Engineers Association submission on the subject, no mention of nuclear shipping. When the government’s report comes out in the next days it will be interesting to see if they have been looking as far ahead as the CEO of Cosco has.

    This look ahead is affected by two major future threats, Peak Oil, and Climate Change.

    Cosco are ahead of our government it would seem on the consequences of peak oil to their business, now I wonder if our government has made any 20 and 50 year risk management strategies to prevent the effects of Climate Change. Is there anything other than talk? Really???

  4. Bunker oil at present is over $500 per ton with oil at $90 per barrel and no one predicting it to come down, which means nuclear powered container ships would save in running costs over a 40 year period $1.6 billion no to mention immense amounts of CO2 less released into the atmosphere. The economics of this alone make the outcome a certainty.

  5. @Doug, try

    Sabine, C. L., et al: The Oceanic Sink for Anthropogenic CO2, Science, 305, 367–371, 2004.

    Feely, R. al: Impact of Anthropogenic CO2 on the CaCO3 System in the Oceans, Science, 305, 362–366, 2004.

    for direct observations and the effects on calcite and aragonite (the stuff shells are made of). It’s a bit old but it’ll do I imagine. I’d prob leave the Wiki link out if I were you though – doesn’t quite carry the same weight as a journal paper with some actual science.

    Unfortunately this sort of chemistry (add carbon to water to make acid) is really just high-school science so it’s pretty hard to find a relevant paper written on it in recent history.

  6. @Doug – to summarise those two papers:

    This means that the ocean is the major repository of anthropogenic CO2 and stores nearly 48% of hitherto emitted CO2 into the atmosphere.

    On the time scales of several thousands of years, it is estimated that ~90% of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions will end up in the ocean

    and here’s what you want:

    If the surface ocean P(CO2) concentrations continue to increase in proportion with the atmospheric CO2 increase, a doubling of atmospheric CO2 from preindustrial levels will result in a 30% decrease in carbonate ion concentration and a 60% increase in hydrogen ion concentration.

    and finally

    If indeed the net feedbacks are primarily positive, the required socioeconomic strategies to stabilize CO in the future will be much more stringent than in the absence of such feedbacks.

    I’m not sure how to get you copies of the papers in PDF form though – you could head down to the ANU (I’m assuming you’re in Canberra) and ask at one of the libraries if they could help – I don’t know whether they have public access to the electronic versions but they’ll def have a hard copy in the Science library somewhere.

  7. If we go down the nuclear vessel route we will be stuck with displacement vessels and 35 knots.
    If we go with Ground effect vessels we will be stuck with a 50% reduction in fuel and say 600 knots.
    I think I know which would be the best deal.
    Why are people always trying to drag us back to the ’50s?

  8. Probably, Huggy, because such vehicles cannot carry container ship tonnage, and converting nuclear power to air movement is not something that is simple or has been done, on the other.

  9. Global cooling?

    Reading one of the references, this is a photo of some snow somewhere, a caption that the world is cooling (obviously because there is snow in the photo), followed by an endless procession of name dropping. Then the core theory that the world has a 30 year cycle of heating and cooling. Well I’m 60 and the world has done nothing but heat up in my life time, so from my observations his theory is shot to pieces. The author would have been on more solid ground if he had been talking about a 1 year heating and cooling cycle, 6 months of each.

  10. Thinking through some of the aspects of nuclear powered container shipping, it occurs to me that countries such as New Zealand will have a problem with this as they have a no nuclear powered ship policy (may have changed). So where countries insist on being serviced by conventional fossil fuel powered shipping, container prices will be significantly higher , and the shipping company can fuel for the round trip in the destination country, making the making the CO2 emissions the problem of the destination country.

    I imagine that there are going to be some heated discussions over shipping in the next 10 years.

  11. BilB @10

    The New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987 is still in force, and prohibits entry into NZ waters of nuclear-propelled and armed ships, among other things.

  12. Thanks Hal,

    I’m guessing that will start to cause a problem in 15 years or so. The compounded triple disasters of population overflow, global warming, and peak oil , are goig to some difficult adjustments.

  13. BilB @8
    Surface effect ships will be the way of the future. The y can be built as big as you like.
    Even small ones can carry ten times the freight of a jet plane; travel at > 300 knots and are vastly more fuel efficient than either planes or ordinary craft.
    The 30 knot nuclear powered ships cannot compete except for the most time tolerant cargo.

  14. The Russians tried with the ekranoplan but did not proceed, Huggy. There are a whole lot of practical reasons why container versions would not be practical. In order to carry a significant load the span of the vehicle would need to be immense and would be difficult to bring ashore for unloading.

  15. The Boeing proposal there has a load capacity of 1400 tonnes which is impressive from an air freight perspective, but when you are needing to carry loads of 10,000 tonnes, that is another scale altogether. Of course if the vehicle can travel at 10 times the speed then it will do more trips to achieve tho same load delivery over time. We will just have wait to see if Boeing ever proceed. I suspect that fuel consumption is the difference between military economical and commerce economical.

  16. I had a friend who was part of the NZ youth delegation to Cancun – here’s his view on the final draft statement and the implications for UN democracy, especially with the attempted veto by Bolivia. There’s a bunch of interesting reading on that site from other delegates too – well worth a look.

    Also, slightly OT but pretty cool: here’s a video on GE’s new braking system that they’ve put in their locomotives to (re)capture some of that energy lost when slowing a train as electricity.

    Recycling – it works bitches!

  17. The ekranoplan will have a future. I once worked with some Professors on a plan to use this technology for cargo and passengers between Oz and SE Asia. The economics are really good.
    The fuel? Ammonia.

  18. The effect of an ammonia spill on a sensitive marine environment?
    Everything that moves will eventually crash.

  19. Craigy,
    That’s true but ammonia is very soluble in water, no oil slick, small quantities from a crash would add its fertilising effect to the 50 million tonnes pa of urea that finds its way into the sea every year (To say nothing of the 5 billion litres of urine that hits the sea every day – about).
    My point here was to demonstrate how a [backward] technology such as conventional nuclear power drags us back into the 19th century way of thinking.
    If you think a crash with a surface effect vehicle powered with ammonia would be bad, think a massive nuclear powered ship crashing into a cruse liner. Now that would be interesting.

  20. Jess @ 18, thanks for the Cancun link.

    It’s like the Mexican chair moved from jury rules where the agreement of all 12 is required to a regime where only 11 is required without any authority to do so except that the majority were prepared to accept it.

    But has UN democracy been eroded in the process? I’ll finish with a question – if it had been, say, the US or China attempting to block the decision, what would the response have been?

    Good question. What if Bolivia had been joined by one other, such as Venezuela, Cuba or Columbia?

  21. HUGGY
    Too true.
    I think less reliance on the bulk transportation would be preferable.
    And the waste of fertiliser, has to be sorted out. Inland agriculture using the effluent would help. In catchments that flow inland, that is.

  22. The point that you are missing here Huggy is that the world is running out of oil fast. Ammonia is an expensive (energy wise) substance to produce ie no solution there. Competition for the remaining oil stocks is going to be heating up rapidly in the coming years. The world is going to need a reasonably ordered economy during the transition to alternative energies, and that is why it is a tradgey that governments such as our are finding every excuse to avoid starting the transition. They just don’t realise that this is a knife edge balance here, whether there is enough time to change before it becomes too difficult to do so in an orderly BAU manner.

    Failure to get major change under way in the next 5 to 10 years will ultimately lead to the necessity for a war style response where resources are compulsorialy procurred and the entire process of infrastructure change is undertaken by government. I really do not think that is what the business world wants.

    We face a situation where an ever increasing level of economic resources will be drawn off to repair ever greater damage to our communities and businesses as climate change intensifies. 3 billion dollars I think that I heard for current floods, certainly not in the budget plan, and that could well happen again before the summer season has passed. This means higher taxes AND higher insurance.

    Tony Abbott please explain how this outcome to your beligerant blocking to climate change action is in any way a good for the Australian people. National party voters have you got the message yet that taking no action on the environment challenge is to the immense detriment of the rural sector. Dump Barnaby Joyce and get someone with a working brain to represent your interests, quickly.

  23. For similar reasons, Craigy, that Bolivia objected at Cancun, the Greens were saying that the targets were too low. If the Coalition had not been blocked by the dumping of Malcolm Turnbull at Abbott’s hand then Australia would have had serious projects underway by now, and fully funded. And with that increased positivity in the global economic pool of thought Cophenhagen may well have been more successful.

    The Greens were saying that the targets were too low.

  24. BilB

    I agree on that.
    But surely the GREENS have to take some responsibility for the fact that nothing is being done, rather than something.

  25. Craigy said:

    But surely the GREENS have to take some responsibility for the fact that nothing is being done, rather than something.

    Petitio principii fallacy: the Carbon Polluters Reward Scheme was an example of nothing being done. Not only that, but it would have tainted all who supported it in the same way that the first EU C&T did when it collapsed.

  26. No not at all, Craigy. The Greens have done everything that they could over a very long period to promote awareness on all environment issues. Over the last 15 years there has been only one consistent voice speaking out on the threat of Global Warming. It is what happens in the coming months now that is the only thing that matters now. This is our last chance to do something right. This would be a good time to set up a score card


  27. IF the GREEN policy is the only one on the table, I cannot see it getting up.
    IF they wont compromise, nothing will happen.
    Net gain = zero.

  28. Craigy said:

    IF the GREEN policy is the only one on the table, I cannot see it getting up. IF they won’t compromise, nothing will happen.Net gain = zero.

    Some compromises represent modest progress and some are subversive of progress. The trick is to distinguish one from the other.

  29. Craigy, Gillard needs to do something or she’s toast. She can’t do anything without the Greens. The Greens are inside the tent on this one. So are the independents.

    The chance of something happening is quite high and there will be compromise, I think. We’ll just have to hope the Greens don’t sell out and Labor doesn’t walk away.

  30. CRAIGY, the “it’s all the Greens’ fault we don’t have an ETS!11!” lie has been discussed here ad nauseum over the last couple of years. The usual culprits are one-eyed ALP voters who probably wouldn’t support a price on carbon in the first place.

    If you keep pushing that line, don’t be too surprised when someone gets really pissed off with you.

  31. Wrong calculation, Craigey.

    This is where you have to be parental enough to add things up.

    This is thread 10 of Climate Clippings in the 15th year since John Howard was elected and Global Warming became an important public issue.

    This is crunch time, you make the right decision or fry.

    Do you believe the science?

    This is the point where every politician has to make that choice individually and vote.

    This has nothing to do with what the Greens propose.

    The calculation is….does the evidence and the science add up to

    a: Do everything possible to avert devastating climate change

    b: Do nothing.

    Think about what the outcomes will be for all of the five possibilities.

    1 Take action and be part of a zero emission world with less climate change.

    2 Take some action but not enough and climate change accelerates devastating our civilisation and rendering us all refugees.

    3 Take action but climate change becomes a fizzer but we have converted to solar renewables just in time before oil climbs to $500 per barrel and petrol is $20 per litre. Every one gets around in electric vehicles and many work over the NBN cable.

    4 Take no action and climate change becomes a fizzer but we have not converted to renewables, we run out of oil far sooner and economies collapse around the world as oil becomes impossible to obtain.

    5 Take no action and climate change accelerates devastating economies, oil runs out immediately as facilities become hijacked by marauding war lords. Civilisation collapses as the industry that made our high tech world possible collapses.


    That is the calculation.

    What is your choice of outcome?

  32. David
    I never said ” its ALL the GREENS fault” did i?
    I have NO intent to ” piss people off”.
    I am trying to say the political and public support is NOT there, for the Green policy. Or at least i cant see it.

  33. Bilb

    Thank you for the time and effort in this. I think (3) is most probable for a lucky few.

  34. Anytime, Craigy.

    You choice of outcome is what we all hope for. The question is, how will you vote?

    Remember that this is a parental vote where you are voting on behalf of all others, who do or will depend upon you throughout your life, first and for your own personal interests second, rather than an adult vote which is where you vote for your own interests with full responsibility for you actions and the outcomes that follow.

    Do you vote for action?


    Do you vote for inaction, believing that there is nothing to worry about?

  35. Craigy: My sums say that we could probably halve emissions at a cost of less than $1.00/day. The bulk of this cut would come from the replacement of coal fired power with a mix of CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) and other clean power sources. The rest might come from regulations aimed at reducing average emissions from new cars, improving the efficiency of a variety of items and general campaigns to encourage personal and business efforts to reduce emissions.
    Halving emissions doesn’t have to have much impact on quality of life. There is no need for people to give up cars or sit freezing in the dark in order to halve emissions. My guess is that we can go much further than 50% without affecting quality of life if we look for ways of reducing emissions that don’t require incredible sacrifice.

    I actively support the Greens because I think they are the party that is pushing us in the right direction. However, they are too prescriptive in their solutions and support things like carbon price that make it hard to explain to people what effect climate action will have on their individual lives. It makes it just far to easy for the Tony Abbotts of the world to run great big scare campaigns.

  36. Huggy, what about a nuclear-powered blimp 😉

    But seriously, shipping is about due for some serious innovation.

    As I understand it, the trick to improve efficiency for the past few decades has been to build them bigger. Hence channel deepenings and the upgrade to the Panama Canal.

    There’s still a bit of room for this for some types of shipping, but not others (for instance, as I understand it from Wikipedia there’s a fair few oil exporters who don’t have ports that can take VLCCs). So if you can’t make your ships bigger, the other alternative is to make them faster.

    Which has all kinds of other fringe benefits in terms of taking slack out of supply chains.

  37. Brian @ 23, from all reports Boliva was the last man standing at Cancun – they originally had support from Venezuela and Cuba but that evaporated by the last day. I’m not sure what back-room deal meant that support evaporated, and it would be interesting to know. Maybe other countries thought that Mexico would ignore the small countries and thought it better for themselves to keep their mouths shut.

    As usual, the triumph of the body politic over reason. Funny how we seem to hate mob rule until it suits us.

  38. Robert, that’s right. it is more efficient to have very fast transport with a lower energy per tonne/km than slow stuff with high energy per tonne/km.
    Surface effect ships win hands down in this.

  39. I think that you might find Huggy that the numbers do not stack up for ekranoplanes. A jumbo engine is approximately 87,000 horse power. The larger containerships are 220,000 hp.

    So a Pelican with 4 large turbo props is going to have way more horse power than the container ship, the engines for which are near the 50% efficient mark, and the fuel consumption will be similar. I see that everything to do with the Pelican died out in 2002 when oil was about $25 a barrel. That might explain why there has not been any excitement since, coupled with the US’s financial woes and several pointless wars.

  40. “Watts Up With That” has some interesting stuff on Ocean Acidification. Dated 10th January

  41. There is an interesting paper in International Journal of Geosciences. “Recent Energy Balance of Earth” by Knox and Douglas. This discusses the recent issues of radiative imbalances, and what Argo Float data potentially indicates.

  42. John Michelmore, I’d be surprised (no, that’s not the word, gobsmacked? hmm, doesn’t quite do it either … so amazed I’d jump through my own arsehole? … yes!) if “WTF’s Up With That” had anything coherent (let alone interesting) to say about ocean acidification, or anything else either. Frankly, I can’t be fucked googling it (since you’ve neglected to provide a link no-one would bother to follow), because life’s too short to waste any of it on Watt.

    Why do you bother with these people?

  43. Thats OK DI(NR) @ 47,
    I was dissappointed with the post on WUWT (Watts up with That) when he referred to ocean acidification; we all the know that the oceans are still basic (pH 8.1 ish)!!
    I always smile when you respond !!
    Irrespective the David Middleton article is still a worthwhile read, whether you have a closed mind or not.

  44. BilB @ 48,
    In summary the paper summarises studies that are based only on the single data set of the Argo floats 2003 to 2008, that the imbalance in the heat accumulation in the major heat sink of the world (the ocean) and the radiative input to the earth from the sun may be no where near the current estimate of + 0.63 W/sq metre.
    Assumming the increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is acting as it should and trapping heat, it is important that we know where the trapped heat is, otherwise controlling carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may not control the climate as many would wish to believe.
    If in the five years the energy stored in the oceans has declined (and assumming that the paper has the latent heat for ice loss, the geothermal inputs, land mass heat storage and the lack of energy storage in the deep ocean correct), where is the radiative imbalance energy?

  45. I don’t follow your logic at all, John Michelmore.

    Latent heat from ice loss is an input not an output as I think you suggest, geothermal is an output, land mass heat storage is pretty small, and ocean heat storage is huge and rising according to the argos research results. But hoever you might interpret that information it is absolutely safe that there will be no change to the CO2 buildup for the next 5 years. So you will have your answer.

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