Climate clippings 19

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.

Garnaut Update Paper 5: The science of climate change

Garnaut’s series of update papers has now reached Update Paper 5: The science of climate change. This is worth a longer look, but suffice it to say here that the sense of urgency has grown considerably.

  • Observable trends seem to be running ahead of predictions.
  • The 2C limit looks high and may in fact represent the boundary between dangerous climate change and extremely dangerous climate change.
  • 450 ppm looks high, but we are going to shoot through it.
  • Garnaut has picked up on the “emissions budget” approach I have been banging on about. On present trends we (the world) will use up our remaining budget of allowable emissions in a couple of decades.

Climate Emergency: Time to Slam on the Brakes

James Wright at Skeptical Science reckons what we do this decade is crucial. He follows Hansen’s notion of climate sensitivity, which gives us 6C temperature change for a doubling of CO2 concentrations with long term feedbacks.

Long-term climate sensitivity

He reckons we are on track for 1000 ppm by 2100 under BAU, so even if Hansen is wrong and it’s only 4.5C we are looking at an unmitigated disaster (sorry about the pun!).

390 ppm implies 25 metres of sea level rise eventually, that’s an 8-story building. 450 ppm implies no perennial ice anywhere and 75 metres.

Best get a wriggle on.

Polar ice loss quickens

Meanwhile ice loss from the ice sheets is quickening.

RealClimate sums up:

Extrapolating these melt rates forward to 2050, “the cumulative loss could raise sea level by 15 cm by 2050″ for a total of 32 cm (adding in 8 cm from glacial ice caps and 9 cm from thermal expansion) – a number very close to the best estimate of Vermeer & Rahmstorf (2009), derived by linking the observed rate of sea level rise to the observed warming.

Vermeer & Rahmstorf reckoned on 75-190 cm by 2100. The midpoint of that range is looking good.

Phytoplankton peaking early in the Arctic

The Arctic ice loss is moving the phytoplankton peak up to 50 days early, which could lead to crashes of the food web. Fish, shellfish, sea birds, and marine mammals are at risk.

The EU looks at a 25% target

The Guardian has the story:

Europe’s climate chief has beaten off intense lobbying from businesses to secure a key victory in the battle over greenhouse gas targets.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate change commissioner, published on Tuesday afternoon her long-awaited report into how the EU can toughen its climate targets in a cost-effective manner, with a proposal that the EU could raise its current targets on emissions cuts from 20% emissions cuts to 25% cuts by 2020.

What’s more, Hedegaard insists it will boost the EU economy.

The report hasn’t officially hit the deck yet and Hedegaard has some way to go in getting it adopted. The UK, Germany, France and Denmark are pushing for 30%.

China counts on coal

Meanwhile China’s coal reserves ‘will make it new Middle East’, says energy chief.

According to Fred Palmer, the chairman of the London-based World Coal Association and a key executive at Peabody Energy:

Vast reserves of coal in the far west of China mean it is set to become the “new Middle East”

But not to worry:

China is leading the US in efforts to develop technology to “clean” coal of its carbon emissions by burying them underground.

Tim Flannery quits climate change body

Tim Flannery has stepped down from the position of chairman of the Coasts and Climate Change Council. Seems he wants to concentrate on his new gig as chief commissioner of the independent Climate Commission.

He is being replaced by Professor Bruce Thom.

First electric contender for World Car of the Year

For the first time, an electric car – the Nissan LEAF – has made the grade as one of the top three contenders for the title of World Car of the Year.

Announced at a press conference Tuesday at the Geneva International Motor Show, the Audi A8, the BMW 5 Series and the Nissan LEAF were named the top three overall finalists for 2011 World Car of the Year.

To be eligible for the overall World Car award, the candidates must become available for sale on at least two continents during the period beginning January 1, 2010 and ending May 30, 2011.

Vehicles are selected and voted on by an international jury panel comprised of 66 automotive journalists from 24 countries who drive and evaluate new vehicles on a regular basis as part of their professional work.

Nissa LEAF electric car

Reading the article it is clear that electric cars have arrived.

Thanks to BilB for the heads-up.

Kite power for cargo ships

From Gizmag:

For the past ten years, Hamburg-based SkySails has been engineering and producing what are essentially giant kites, designed to help ships reduce their fuel use by catching the wind and pulling them across the surface of the ocean.

Cargill Ocean Transportation has announced that it plans to use the technology on one of its long-term charter ships, a vessel of between 25,000 and 30,000 deadweight tonnes (27,558 to 33,069 US tons). It will be the largest kite-assisted ship in the world.

Use of a SkySails sysytem is claimed to reduce a cargo vessel’s fuel consumption by an average of 10 to 35 percent annually, and by up to 50 percent temporarily.

Thanks to John D for this one.

135 thoughts on “Climate clippings 19”

  1. Brian,

    Can you clear up some confusion that I have over sea-level rises. You say 25m to 75m “eventually”, but then just 75cm to 190cm by 2100.

    So, does the long-term rise take place over millenia or does it accelerate substantially after 2100? Or am I somehow comparing apples and oranges?

  2. The answer to that, I&U, is that the 25m and 75m are maximum figures once all of the specific ice mass has melted. The other figures are estimated sea level rise rates (ice melt rates). The confusion is that no-one knows at what rate the ice store will deteriorate. There is a new expedition heading off to Greenland with customised radar systems to attempt to determine how much lubrication water there is under that ice body. Several years ago it was discovered that rather than sit around and melt slowly huge sections of ice can crack off and slide into the sea, lubricated by melt water and perhaps high salinity water seperating the ice from the rock bed beneath. Greenland’s glaciers are now reported to be moving at twice the speed previously known. So there is a lot of uncertainty as to the speed with which the larger ice masses will decay.

    It is important to note that there has not been any prediction that was less than any previous prediction. They are all advancements on the melt rate, considerable advancements.

  3. I & U asked:

    Can you clear up some confusion that I have over sea-level rises. You say 25m to 75m “eventually”, but then just 75cm to 190cm by 2100.

    It’s plausible, though not certain, that rises by 2100 could approach 1.2 m. Some suggest even 2m is not out of the question.

    75 meters would imply the complete loss of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets — something that is most unlikely inside 300 years and may take 1000 years, assuming current trends persist. It is likely that in volume terms that the decline of these icesheets will accelerate over the next 100 years if the current warming trend is not arrested. Regardless of how long it takes however, we need to understand that this is the likely legacy of our current pattern of activity and that if we do not change what we are doing, it will become harder and harder for those who come after us to prevent these SLRs occurring at acceptable cost.

  4. I&U @1, the understanding of the mechanics of ice sheet disintegration is improving but we have a way to go. Direct observations are difficult and occupy a minuscule proportion of the time taken by the whole process. From the paleoclimate record complete disintegration is likely to occur over millennia rather than centuries.

    Hansen points out that the Meltwater pulse 1A 14,500 years ago saw a 20m rise in about 400 years, that's a meter every 20 years. That happened when the large continental ice sheets which expended to London and St Louis in the US were melting and is unlikely to be repeated in the disintegration of the smaller ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica.

    Nevertheless we are forcing the system at rates not seen for tens of millions of years, so it's hard to say when the system may go critical or nonlinear.

    So far the melting has been quite linear and responds quite smoothly in a delayed fashion to temperature change. The work done by such as Vermeer and Rahmstorf assumes that this linearity will be maintained at an accelerating rate, and such studies usually finish with a caveat that the melting might go linear at some point, at which time we are in unknown territory.

    There has been a paper, forget the reference at the moment, suggesting that 2m is the maximum possible by 2100 mainly because of the saucer shape of the underlying rock in Greenland and the limited gateways for outlets to the sea. This study neglects a bit, I think, the exposure of West Antarctica to where the ice is in direct contact with the seawater and much of the rock being under sea level.

    A pulse of meltwater near the poles takes at least 50 years to spread right around the globe.

    As time goes by I get more comfortable, if that's the right word, with the notion that we are likely to get 1-1.2m by 2100, which will be drastic enough. What we do about mitigation may not make much difference. After that it's anyone's guess.

    The sea was 120m lower 22,000 years ago. It hasn't been ice free (+75m) for about 35 million years. That difference of 200m relates to a temperature span of 10-12C, so you can work out for yourself that 1C change is apt to be serious.

  5. OK, thanks for all of your answers. So the 25m rise could be many, many years in the future, when humans are all living with their brains in glass jars connected to the internet and don’t need to worry about prosaic considerations like sea level.

  6. “A pulse of meltwater near the poles takes at least 50 years to spread right around the globe”

    That is very interesting. So in the equatorail region thermal expansion would have the greatest immediate influence with the meltwater arriving at a later time.

    Is this due to the time it takes for gravity to equalize, or are you saying that it takes 50 years for the meltwater to fully circulate?

  7. Hmmm, I seem to remember seeing that Kite power solution somewhere before…? Oh yes. Sail.

    It’s kind of amusing the use of the word “Skysail” to try to distance themselves from “sail”, which I guess to some people means old technology = failure.

    When I think of long distance shipping I often wonder whether you could have very large, flattish, wide, slow-moving container ships of which the bulk of the top side is solar panel, so they self propel, albeit slowly?

  8. I&U @ 6

    It does, or should, have a lot of influence on decisions being made by those people who talk of setting up raioactive waste dumps and talking of 350 years and 5000 year safe storage requiremnts as being no problem because we are such a stable and safe economy….today.

  9. Helen @7,

    On the contrary, “skysail” is obviously trying to create an association with sail. Otherwise, why not just call it “kite”, which is what it is.

    Read the link. These kites are 5 to 25 times more powerful than an equivalent sail. Very clever stuff!

  10. The solutions are wind turbines close to the end user, solar panels on roof tops, ceramic generators for buildings, and locating coal and gas fired power stations close to the energy intensive industries.
    At an individual level, more home insulation, wear jumpers, build smaller homes and have a less energy intensive life style. Basically we need to move from big energy to small energy.

  11. A recent video of a Dr Richard Muller , Berkeley University , contained a statement I hadn’t heard before- the current modelling for temperature rises were based on certain assumptions about cloud cover.
    The video is a collection of data challenges to the work of Hansen mainly.Dr Muller talks like a skeptic.
    I gather that increased cloud cover can increase the earth’s albedo , depending on the height of the clouds , and that may be a negative feedback but increased water vapour in the atmosphere, again at certain heights, is a positive feedback.
    The point of his claim was that if cloud cover increases by 2% over the assumptions then the models are unreliable.He states this is clearly stated in the IPCC reports (but I can’t find them at the moment as I’ve exceeded my monthly download limit – damn you Telstra)
    I’ve checked on RealClimate and the most recent cloud cover discussions are from 2006 . Is this one area of uncertainty yet to be assessed and better understood?
    Thanks in advance for your responses.

  12. I think, MTS, that you only have to look to Venus to see what is real. Total cloud cover, hot as all stink. Clouds do reflect some light back into space, but as the CO2 level increases that effect becomes less significant. Then when cloud cover becomes complete you have another kind of hell altogether. Look up nuclear winter and meteor winter to see if we really want to go there. Where do these half baked lame thinkers (Muller) come from?

  13. I&U 6&12,

    before you go all Futurama, it might be worth pondering uploaded into what (glass jar, crystal matrix) and who maintains it. 😉

    I wouldn’t feel comfortable depending on Fry or telephone hygiene maintenance technicians.

  14. murph @ 14 the last 7 links I have bookmarked on clouds are here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

    Clouds were a major part of the uncertainty in short term climate sensitivity, which was put in IPCC AR4 at about 3C plus or minus 1.5C. Clouds have varying effects depending on the type of cloud. Also in low cloud the shading during the day can be offset by warmer nights.

    It's looking as though the net effect might turn out to be positive.

    Hansen reckons that short term climate sensitivity is 3C plus or minus 0.5C on the basis of the paleorecord.

  15. Good news that Bruce Thom is in charge of the Coasts and Climate Change Council.

    Give the job to an expert with wide experience in science, policy and planning.

  16. Can we really say that “electric cars have arrived” until they have the same sort of range as IC engine cars?
    Or until they don’t take the better part of a day to recharge?

  17. Brian @18,

    I can’t help feel that Gaia is letting us down here. It seems that we keep on getting positive feedback effects on the climate rather than negative feedback.

    That seems kind of odd. As I understand it, the climate has been fairly stable pre-AGW, which suggests that negative feedback effects dominated. We have what seems to me (probably in my ignorance) a modest perturbation and suddenly we are envisaging positive feedback and an uncontrollable excursion to a new Venusian equilibrium.

    Is it just that it is the positive feedback stories which hit the headlines, or is there some underlying reason why there are more positive feedback than negative feedback effects?

  18. I&U It’s pretty hard to say for certain what all the feedbacks are in such a complex system. Current research is mostly about trying to tease out one or two of these feedbacks at a time. Trying to put them all together at once is incredibly complicated.

    I guess part of the problem is that there may be many negative feedbacks which we have saturated, so that they can no longer have an effect. To take one example, the ocean sucks up lots of the carbon which we have emitted (probably most of it so far). However warm water can’t hold as much CO2 as cool water (which is why a warm can of coke will spray more than a cold one), and by raising the temperature of the oceans, we reduce their ability to soak up carbon. Additionally, by changing where cool water (which forms most of the carbon sink) outcrops in the oceans, thanks to changes in prevailing winds etc, we also change where the carbon sinks can occur and how effective they may be.

    So I wouldn’t say there are more or less negative feedback systems, just that we’re rapidly reducing their effectiveness.

    We have what seems to me (probably in my ignorance) a modest perturbation and suddenly we are envisaging positive feedback and an uncontrollable excursion to a new Venusian equilibrium.

    I don’t know if we’ll reach Venus’ state (it’s had several complete overturnings of its crust back into its mantle, with extensive associated volcanism to get to its current state), but when you saturate so many negative feedback mechanisms, then you have a major perturbation, almost by definition.

  19. Meanwhile China’s coal reserves ‘will make it new Middle East’, says energy chief.

    That article is frightening. They quote Fred Palmer, World Coal Association boss:

    In a wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, Palmer dismissed the idea that the world might ever experience “peak coal” – the point at which maximum global coal production rate is reached. “The Dakotas, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas all have large, large amounts of lignite [brown coal],” he said. “Or in western China and Mongolia you have lower-ranked coals … I think Xinjiang province in the west of China, where they say there’s a trillion tonnes of resources, will be the new Middle East. .

    A trillion tons of brown coal and he wants to dig it up and burn it.

    This is mind-bendingly dumb.

    Palmer goes on to say

    “Anyone who has the notion that we’re going to move away from fossil fuels just isn’t paying attention.”

    Epic stupidity.

    *weeps in frustration*

  20. I&U,

    I don’t really think that a 39% increase in the CO2 in our atmosphere (from 280 – 390ppm) can really be regarded as a “modest perturbation” in the gaseous makeup of the ecosphere.

    I don’t think there is anything “sudden” about the approaching “tipping points” – many have been predicted with varying degrees of likelihood, and certainty increasing/decreasing as more data becomes available.

    As to the deeper point about why there are apparently more positive than negative feedbacks present – I’m not sure that’s the case, perhaps the negative feedbacks are still there, but our actions feed into the “positive” cycles significantly enough to “tip the balance”(thus overriding the negative cycles)?

    I think that “Gaia” rather than “letting us down”, is more used to coping with changes of the magnitude we are experiencing over extremely long periods, and now has to cope with the significant (extreme?) changes we have collectively wrought in the short term with badly damaged ecological “tools” at its disposal.

  21. @ Pterosaur – that’s a good point about the timescales. I forgot to say that change involves both a magnitude and a time, and both are important.

  22. @24 – it’s Ok as long as Australia does the right thing. The fact that China will keep increasing total emmissions on both a national and global scale should be ignored – it is completely irrelevant to what we do.

    Get with the program!

    And remember that measurable impacts on climate don’t matter, nor the cost – as long as we are doing the symbolically right thing then everything is fine.

  23. Razor said:

    it’s Ok as long as Australia does the right thing.

    You know Razor, over at Catallaxy, one of the “Liberty Quotes” they are running is that famous one attributed to Edmund Burke:

    All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

    As far as I can recall, Burke didn’t qualify that by saying it would be OK to do nothing if everyone else was too. On the contrary, that was his point, so apparently, if we are to believe them, even conservatives and self-styled libertarians think so too.

  24. Jess and Pterosaur,

    Thanks for your responses. That’s a good point about the oceans absorbing carbon, so perhaps atmospheric carbon is really the tip of the iceberg. On the other hand, the change in “cool water outcrops” you mention is just another positive feedback mechanism which could, a priori, just as easily have been a negative feedback mechanism, which is what I was talking about.

    A 39% increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases the greenhouse effect by, what, a few percent (I’m guessing). That is what I meant by a “modest perturbation”.

    Perhaps positive feedback mechanisms respond faster than negative feedback mechanisms so, as you say, the latter can get overwhelmed when there are fast changes. But, again, I would ask, why should this be the case?

  25. Razor @27,

    The magnitude of coal reserves is exactly the reason why we need to take action on carbon mitigation. If coal reserves were small and were going to run out before the atmosphere does, we could just sit back and wait for the market to find a replacement for fossil fuels.

    Which is, perhaps, a good reason not to worry too much about placing a carbon tax on oil, assuming that the the “peak oil” theory is broadly correct.

  26. Murf the Smurf, cloud cover needs more work, sorry Brian i didn’t check yr links yet, and this is one of the reasons that so many people were sad about Glory’s destruction last week. One of the instruments would have measured amounts and types of aerosols in the atmosphere. Some aerosols act as cloud condensation nuclei promoting the formation of clouds. it seems counter intuitive to me to name important instruments after Buffy villains, they never last.

  27. I really hope those nutbags working on indefinite extension of human life actually manage a breakthrough. Then evil bastards like Minchin might still be alive to wear the opprobrium for their actions.

    I wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire.

  28. @29 – the EU’s Spinmeister for Climate Change couldn’t tell us how much of a difference in climate outcomes the EU’s efforts were expected to make or how much it would cost despite spending at leats 250 Bn Euro. FFS she didn’t even have the gumption to make up something which wouldn’t have been measurable anyway because it is an assumption of what is a natural rate of warming (based on very poor understanding of the Earth’s heat sinks and carbon dioxide processing) and what is estimated to be the human induced component.

    The science is based on imperfect computer models full of assumptions. The economics is based on normative assumptions and we know how good economic modelling is. The barrow pushers of both the science and the economics do not understand the politics either nationally or internationally. And still we are meant to spend billions and cause economic self harm for no measurable or certain outcome. At least with the BER buildings ended up being made and we knew how much they cost even if it was poor value for money.

    And then we have clowns like Garnuatt saying before he produced his first report that he wasn’t a scientist and that the science would be accepted as is because he isn’t a scientist, but kno he is able to do a review of the science and come out saying the science doesn’t look good.

  29. And while I am on it – this crap about early adoption being the best option.

    As an example – the Apple products of the i-phone and i-pad. Wonderful gadgets. Didn’t buy the first ones mainlyfor budget constraint reasons, but waiting is hardly goign to hurt – they just keep getting better and better. Climate change based technology is going to do the same – so why invest in the early stuff when the later stuff is going to be cheaper and better??

    Hey, Tim Flannery – how’s that Geothermal company of yours going? Worked out how to manage the extreme corrosion problems yet?

  30. I&U @29,

    positive feedbacks are those that amplify a system, and negative feedbacks are those that dampen it.

    It looks like you might be thinking about positive and negative temperature feedbacks, most of which will be positive system feedbacks because they can amplify both warming and cooling.

    Greenhouse gases can act as a positive system feedback, and negative temperature feedback in a cooling climate because cooler oceans take up CO2. This happens during ice ages even though terrestrial vegetation is much lower than otherwise. There is now some evidence that natural CO2 emissions from the Southern Ocean accelerated and perhaps initiated warming at the end of the last ice-age. That would trigger ice-albedo feedbacks as the climate warmed, emitting more CO2, until the system reaches rough equilibrium.

    The sensitivity of ice-albedo and greenhouse gas feedback relationships depend on how much ice you have, as Jess said.

    The people who argue that clouds provide a damping feedback under higher CO2 would like the damping to be so strong that temperature cools. However, they would also need to explain how such feedbacks work in an ice-age climate (when there is less cloud because it’s cooler). If there is straight cloud amount feedback (less when it’s cold and arid and more when warm and wet), we would have seen it already, because the increase in CO2 now is as large as the decrease to the last ice age (190, 280, 387 ppm). If the argument that it is optical cloud changes (e.g., translucent to opaque), then Occam will have the strop out.

    No good response on that one

  31. @ 29 – Fran.

    I stole this:

    Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. — C.S. Lewis

  32. The science is based on imperfect computer models full of assumptions

    Er, no, Razor. It’s based on a shitload of observations (not to mention well-established laws of physics), as has been explained to you over and over and over and over and over.

    Try to keep up with the adults.

  33. I & U said:

    Which is, perhaps, a good reason not to worry too much about placing a carbon tax{charge; Apparently Tony Abbott used this term himself*} on oil, assuming that the the “peak oil” theory is broadly correct.

    On the other hand, if “peak oil” (I do hate this term) is broadly correct then this may be another reason to impose a fee on the combustion of fossil oil. The argument would be that reductiions in demand would make for a less chaotic transition, foreclose price spikes ansd so forth.

    Contrary to widespread belief, powering motor vehicles is not the only really useful thing that fossil oil facilitates. While we can with some restructuring, work around scarcity of petrol and diesel, working with highly expensive polymer products would be a lot harder. Large parts of motor vehicles, including the electric ones are polymers. Refrigeration depends on petrochemicals. Insulation around copper wires depends on various polymers.

    How much of a hurry should we be in to burn through the cheapest supplies?

    *For this reason, many now think that a carbon charge scheme directed at the least environmentally efficient producers would be simpler and fairer than an emissions trading scheme. (Abbott, T (2009) Battlelines, p172)

  34. Razor,

    Garnaut has a small army of gnomes who do know the science and who talk to scientists besides. I believe it’s the convention in some economic circles not to put your co-author’s names on headline reports (they’ll be in the acknowledgements).

    This warming thing seems to be getting you a little hot. Must be time for a rest and cool down.

  35. Razor quoted C S Lewis:

    Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive {…} but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. — C.S. Lewis

    Interesting view, given that he was a christian. Plainly, the irony was lost on him.

  36. @ 42 – thanks for your concern Roger but I’ve got the thermostat on the refrigerated airconhere in the office set at 23C.

    As for your your comments about the Gnomes – why then did he say he wouldn’t review or question the science at all for his first report??

  37. Nice rant Razor @35, but “The science is based on imperfect computer models full of assumptions.” is completely the wrong way round. the science re the thermal properties of co2 came well before computer models even existed. before computers meant things with chips in them.

    there are forecasts based on imperfect computer models, just like my super and the aerodynamics of my car are informed by imperfect computer models. when i see a perfect computer model i’ll know i am just a simulation

  38. Fran,

    *For this reason, many now think that a carbon charge scheme directed at the least environmentally efficient producers would be simpler and fairer than an emissions trading scheme. (Abbott, T (2009) Battlelines, p172)”

    Good research. Did Abbott actually put this to print?

  39. Right – let’s go from a stand point that the science is settled.

    The dismal science and the politics is a huge cesspit of stinking mud. The US Listed carbon exchange has crashed, the EU’s has been closed down due to fraud, almost every Australian scheme has been rorted and closed or scaled back, the ongoing UN jaunts in some of the world’s most desirable holiday destinations have achieved SFA, the EU’s own system didn’t measure baseline emmissions before start up (WTF???). And climate change hardly rates for most of the western world voting public. The US isn’t going to impliment a system for at least a decade, those US States that had them up an runinig are clsoing them down one by one, . . .

    Success after success after success – no?

    And we are supposed to dive headlong into the cesspit.

    The proposed system hear is goign to take money off CO@ emiters to give back to heavy CO2 emitters and the UN and Academics and the Public and anyone else that the ACTU/ALP/AMWU/CFMEU/Anywhu thinks deserving and no-one will be worse off but we won’t tell you how much it will cost because it won’t cost you anything but it will change your behaviour and have you considered not running your airconditioner so much but Parliament house will maintain a constnt temperature thank you very much it is none of your business we are important.

  40. I’m not sure what Razor is referring to re the science. In the initial report he says that he is not a scientist so the sensible thing to do is to provisionally accept the mainstream science. Now he’s been ask to review the progress in climate science and takes exactly the same attitude.

    He finds that

    Observations and research outcomes since 2008 have confirmed and strengthened the position that the mainstream science then held with a high level of certainty, that the Earth is warming and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary cause.

    He does note that “public confidence in the science seems to have weakened somewhat in Australia”, but that is a different matter.

  41. @ 45 – I am not arguing about the scientific properties of CO2 – you can prove that in a lab – the computer models of the global climate are based on assumptions about how the climate works – yet we still do not anywhere near fully understand how things like the ocean works as both a heat sink and CO2 absorber/emmitter.

  42. And I am not expecting perfect models – but at leas models that have proven predictive power.

    One of the biggest issues is the temperature record and as we all know that is open to question because much of the original data is either not being publicly released for spurious reasons or has “inadvertantly” been lost. I certainly have a very low level of confidence especially as this much vaunted temperature record is looked after by scientists who ask their mates to delete incriminating emails in the face of FOI requests and wont let others examine their data because “they just want to find errors in it”

  43. Roger Jones @38,

    Thanks for your response. Yes I do know the proper meaning of positive and negative feedback, so please read my comments with that in mind.

    Interesting that in describing the end of the ice age you note that the climate reached “rough equilibrium”. So either the positive feedback effects fizzled out or some negative feedback effects emerged to counter them. That was my point really. Where are the negative feedback effects this time around?

  44. Razor “Right – let’s go from a stand point that the science is settled.” You know you look like Reagan in this light, that same rugged appeal to false dichotomies, the amusing bon mot that damns a whole segment of human endeavour to the dustbin. I’m can’t wait to see your clippings.

  45. Fran @41,

    I really don’t think you are going to be able to eliminate oil price spikes with a carbon tax/fee/charge.

    Anyway, the purpose of a carbon price is to correct a market failure. Notwithstanding whether “peak oil” is correct or not, I don’t see any other obvious market failure in oil supply that would justify regulatory intervention.

  46. @55 – I’ll take that as compliment. If I can do for the freedom of the world’s people one millionth of what Reagan achieved I’d be pleasantly suprised.

  47. @56 – oldon sec I&U – regulation can fix anything. You know it’s right. The market is evil.

  48. Razor @50 an d51″@ 45 – I am not arguing about the scientific properties of CO2″ what about water then, does it expand when heated? “spurious reasons” absolutely, ‘commercial in confidence’ is so last week.

    ‘I certainly have a very low level of confidence especially as this much vaunted temperature record is looked after by scientists who ask their mates to delete incriminating emails in the face of FOI requests and wont let others examine their data because “they just want to find errors in it” ‘ Arrggg the curse of East Anglia, thank goodness i rely on Aspendale and Acton. oh and how did those reports on East Anglia go? complete exoneration, whoed a thunk it.

  49. Razor,no temperature data has been lost. That little urban myth has arisen from the repeating of falsehoods by the media [Jonathan Leake made it up] and many bloggers. IOW,systematic lying. The data that UEA CRU destroyed [for space reasons] were copies;the original data is still with the agencies that collected it. It would be wonderful if that particular misunderstanding ended here.

  50. I&U 53,

    I thought you did have the +ve -ve thing straight but the two (temp and system feedbacks) were getting lost in the discussion.

    End of ice-age, the broad processes are:
    Ocean loses lots of CO2: +ve temp feedback
    Ice melts: +ve albedo feedback
    Forests grow: -ve temp feedback due to CO2 absorption
    Ocean circulation switches on: recycling increasing CO2 helping to regulate system.

    Carbon cycle on ocean and land reaches input=output and balanced with albedo. Slow orbital changes have lesser effect than in ice age.

    There are a few more smaller influences that other people might pick up (and correct any slip ups I have made).

    Higher CO2 emissions: straight driver
    Cloud processes, water vapour etc: positive feedback for warming (reverses in a cooling phase)
    Ice and snow albedo reducing: warming feedback
    Higher veg growth: mild negative feedback in temperate regions, negative in tropics, net dampener at the moment
    Stratospheric ozone reduction: small +ve effect on warming
    Ocean is picking up about 45% of human emissions – this is a very good dampener, but processes are working to reduce this efficiency (temperature and reducing overturning)
    Human emissions of sulphate aerosols

    Possible positive feedback tipping points:
    Permafrost methane (the most likely)
    Ice-sheet or sea ice collapse induced albedo feedback
    Grounded ice sheet collapse
    Methane clathrates (reduced in importance in past couple of years)
    Deep ocean circulation collapse – now thought less likely than a slowdown
    Loss of Amazon and other large tropical forests
    Denialism spreads out of English speaking developed countries to rest of world, neutering policy
    Regional conflict affecting global governance leading to collapse of trade, treaty agreements etc.

  51. @61 – so, how do we know that the ‘original’ data is still being kept by the agencies that collected it?

    How would we know if we asked those agencies for the data that we would get exactly the same as the UEA CRU got all those years ago?

    IMHO seems a bit naive to destroy the original foundation data of your most important piece of academic work.

    Why not release your data without going through FOI hoops? Isn’t sciense meant to be open?

  52. Razor @ 51. The climate models _do_ have proven predictive power. The way we check them is to spin them up, start them with conditions at 1900, and run them from there. We then check the results against the climate records for the last century or so. If they don’t match then the model doesn’t get used. Is that enough proof for you?

  53. Razor @ 57. What, like the fact that the average incomes of the top 1% of Americans increased by 55% while the incomes of the bottom 90% decreased by .3% over the Reagan period?

    Oh wait, it’s just trickle down economics.

  54. And still we are meant to spend billions and cause economic self harm for no measurable or certain outcome.

    You remind me of the villain in Dirty Harry, Razor. It always feels like today’s your lucky day, doesn’t it? Come to think of it, your attitude to everyone and everything other than yourself is also reminiscent of the character…

    At any event, business as usual will make a catastrophic outcome certain, and it will be measurable. Given your predeliction to spend up big on the military, where spending billions, economic self harm and unmeasurable outcomes are just part of the scenery, I’m mildly astonished that you’d run this argument.

  55. Razor @ 63. Mate if you’re worried that the original institutions are fiddling the raw data then you might as well give up any pretence of being interested in the science. What do you want the agencies involved to do, have an auditor stand over them every time they open a data file?

  56. Razor,

    some decades ago, some bright spark decided to spring-clean the archives and many pre 1957 daily records from the Bureau of Met were thrown out. I don’t know any met or climate scientist who wouldn’t turn back the clock if they could.

    Meanwhile, we have denial of service FOI requests being made to the BoM that are tying up person years of research time (no exaggeration). They are denial of service because they have no scientific merit – they are clearly vexatious. These requests are delaying things like station metadata being posted, slowing down the public’s access to important information.

  57. Roger, not only is BOM having its time wasted but so are the majority of people here at this site.

    Its the ‘distraction’ thingy in operation.

  58. @64 – 1900 as a start date? For climate models? I thought that was only a blink of the eye in climate time.

    @67 – Jess, why don’t you pop off to the USSR Met Office and ask for the data.

    Get back to me when you’ve got an answer.

  59. @71, yes that is a blink of the eye, Raz, and that is what is so exciting, we have the chance to do in 500 years or less what usually takes eleventy one millennia.

    Oh and nice to see you quoting C.S. Lewis up thread, he was pretty oh fay with the Greenhouse effect, provided a nice explanation in one of his Venus trilogy books.

  60. Ok, the way i see it, we are trying to establish a method of reducing the amount of CO2 and other GGs that are released into the atmosphere.A method that wont make people starve(eg Biofuel)
    Is there an example of a system that works anywhere in the world that we could adapt to Australia?
    Or are we entering into an experiment?
    What is “worlds best practice)??

  61. I & U said:

    I really don’t think you are going to be able to eliminate oil price spikes with a carbon tax/fee/charge.

    I certainly think you could structure a fee plan both to moderate them and moderate their impacts.

    Right now, petrol is about $1.30 per litre. If everyone knew that one way or another by March 11, 2014 petrol was going to be $3 per litre I suspect there’d be some changes in people’s personal arrangements. Let’s say it went up incrementally every month but took account of external price forcings to stick to a schedule aimed at reaching that price point in 2014 and the government undertook to full reimburse every citizen of 18 or more earning less tham 120% of AFTWE from the proceeds (you’d give the most support to those at the bottom and scale it back as they reached the top of the band). When the price point of $3 per litre is reached you stop incrementing and simply absorb any external movements in price reimbursing from the pool. If prices rises that would exceed the pool occur you increase to that extent.

    Inevitably people decouple themselves as much as possible from driving and commercial transport unhitches itself as well. The local impact of price rises in oil falls because the price trajectory becomes a lot more predictable and there is less local demand.

    I’m not saying this is what should be done mind you — as you know I have a different set of ideas in mind — but clearly it is a plausible response.

  62. I’ve just read Garnaut’s paper linked above. The sea temperature graph he produces shows that the oceans around Australia have heated (surface temperature) by over a degree since early in the 20th century. He’s using it in an argument about likely damage to the GBR, but it’s hard not to believe this will intensify cyclonic systems in northern waters and storm systems elsewhere off the coast.

  63. Razor @ 71 100 years is more than enough if you’re talking about modelling the next 100, and you’re modelling at a monthly resolution. It’s a blink of an eye in geological time and that’s the problem.

  64. @73
    Not really, yes and there are a number of contenders. I’m not sure how you feel about experiments J, but if you want to label carbon abatement programs experiments then I’m sitting on a low wide wall and i feel like Humpty Dumpty.

    Fran @47, sorry i missed that, nappy changes and all that jazz. Certaintamalissimo. And let us not forget that the Model T had better fuel economy than the average Ford car of 2004 and it would still be operational after an EMP of considerable force. Useful indeed 😉

  65. Razor,

    You are incorrect @35. The climate models are accurate. You can read a two page precis here.

    You are incorrect @51. The East Anglia CRU did not destroy any climate data in order to conceal fraudulent results. It is not possible to them do so because they do not own the raw station data. That raw station data can be obtained from the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) and the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), so presumably you do can do yourself, as the Muir Russell Review did.

    Every relevant and reputable scientific organisation supports the AGW hypothesis. Here is a list.

    I think the three points above above answer the bulk of your objections to AGW

    From that last link:

    Since 2007, no scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion. A few North American organisations hold non-committal positions.

    Do you think these are all wrong or lying or what ? Presumably you trust reputable scientific organisations. Why not these on this subject ?

    Presumably you have a list of reputable, relevant dissenting scientific organisations. I would like to see it if you could post a link.

    Razor, I will posit that your objection to the AGW hypothesis is not science-based, but ideology-based. From your posts it can be seen that you have a consistent detestation of government regulation, indeed seemingly to the great majority of government activites and programs.

    This extends even to your rather batty criticsm of public schooling which you seem to think is incapable of producing good educational outcomes.

    Do you think that acceptance of AGW will lead to a One World Government ? Is it that you simply can’t accept that the Greens are correct about something, so you object to AGW merely as a partisan ? Is it because you have such a deep respect for Capitalism that you can’t emotionally accept the possibility that it might be the cause of anything bad ? Or is it just a generalised detestation of govt. regulation – that you just think that the market will do a better job than govt. in fixing AGW, so you reject AGW because people are calling for govt. regulation to fix it ?

    Something else, perhaps ?

    I say the above because the science of AGW is very close to undeniable. In an Enlightenment society people need a very strong reason to reject science: Power, Greed or Faith are about the only things that can cause such an anti-science Ostrich response.

    Monkton is scared of a Communist OWG.
    Pell fears the implications of AGW on Catholic positions on fertility.
    The Republican Party is protecting its major donors.

    So what about you?

  66. dylwah
    “”there are a number of contenders.””
    Ok, name your best one, I seriously want to know what people consider to be an example of what might be the answer.
    And maybe how it could be applied here.
    Name your best, that should be easy for you.

  67. Fair dinkum Razor, do you really think we are all fools over here? Look, if you have a problem taking the heart medication your specialist has specifically prescribed for you, then that is your problem. Really I mean it, personal choice and all that. However, if you wont listen to the advice given to us by a chorus of Academy of Sciences which have their underwriting in the same Sandstone establishments as your specialist and adhere too to same evidence based practices, then the result of that becomes OUR problem! As in, you ‘denying’ evidenced based science and ‘believing’ ideologically driven conspiracy theories, to OUR detriment. Read Annabel Crabs comment on Abbott saying, that if any one is asking, the coalition is not denying AGW and its likely effects on us. So, now you are going to do a Minchin on us? You know the fringe territory of Messrs Watts, Bolts, Monktons, Spencers Pilzer or what ever his name is. Common who is the blinkered fool here?

    In regards to going early, you are only half right. In your technology example, there are always sweet spots where state of new technology and its cost as well as state of old technology line up for change. If you take early information technology you wouldn’t want to be stuck with a floor full typewriters in the 1990s. I would not be surprised if you, in that leading role within your (steel?) enterprise, have looked at your organisational structure and contemplated how to manage the near certain change ahead of us. Further, you too must have hedged a few bets as a leading commander in uniform when provided with ‘conflicting’ intelligence. So are you are going to do an Abbott on us, a chain drager. Well, if you still want to hang on to your typewriter, then keep out of the discussion of what way forward might be the best, because you are waaaay behind.

    Gives us a well made argument to the effectiveness of Abbotts, what was it, Direct Action on social, economic and ecological bottom lines and I start listening. Over to you chum.

  68. Look at all this government waste on police and teachers!

    These do-gooder politicians have got their boots on our throats, raising taxes to look after their mates in the crime prevention and education industries.

    Let’s save the expense and just ‘wait and see’ what happens without them.

    These tax-and-spend socialists are placing our country at a severe disadvantage relative to Sierra Leone, which doesn’t have a security or education sector holding back its economy.

  69. I just noticed this gem

    Razor @71

    1900 as a start date? For climate models? I thought that was only a blink of the eye in climate time.

    Statistics 101, Razor. Clearly you never took it. I’m sure you’d have passed. It’s not difficult.

  70. Jess: The way we check them is to spin them up, start them with conditions at 1900, and run them from there. We then check the results against the climate records for the last century or so. If they don’t match then the model doesn’t get used. Is that enough proof for you?

    I’m sure there are many new models which predict the past nicely, but did any of the 1990s models predict the plateau in temperatures since 2000?

  71. It’s a bit funny and sad Razor, previously I’d always had you down as someone who accepted the science (maybe with more qualifications than most of us), your main problem was with the economics and politics of the matter. I didn’t realise you’d gone all irrational on us all.

  72. PeterTB

    The models predicted that the rising trend would continue. It has. Your point is?

  73. I am pretty conident that Minchin’s rejection of AGW is because he is accepting donations from the Tobacco Industry for the Liberal Party.

    Last time he was on Q&A he defended the Tobacco industry, which few will stoop to these days, and Duiggin has done a nice job of showing the links between the Tobacco industry and Climate Change denialism.

    Here’s a link to a link.

    The basic strategy is to fight any international agreement that could become a Treaty and hence result in regulation of business: protocols like Kyoto and Montreal are therefore subjected to denialist bombardment.

  74. Hal9000: The models predicted that the rising trend would continue. It has. Your point is?

    Well, Jess says that if the climate records don’t match model results, then the model is thrown out. I’m just wondering, in a model based on 110 years of data, whether an anomaly of more than a decade might cause the veracity of the model to be questioned.

    Incidentally, when you refer to a “rising trend”, can you advise over what period you are calculating it? 10 yrs? 100 yrs? 1000 yrs?


  75. PeterTB

    There is no anomaly. 2000-2010 was hotter than 1990-2000, and by a degree well within the predicted band. According to most of the four main aggregate indicators, 2010 was the hottest year on record. And this in a La Nina year when cooler global readings would be expected. As I said, your point is?

  76. Fran @ 74 – I’m sure people’s arrangements would including voting in a government that reverts the petrol price rise 🙂

    Just a random thought, but ifnthe predictions do turn out as dire as they sound, one compensating factor will be that there will be a signififaant population decrease and emissions will reduce as a result of that.

  77. J. Well if your governing criteria is not starving, then we could say goodbye to 90% of our aluminum and concrete and we would probably be sorted. But me, I got a soft spot for modernist architecture and tho I drink most of my beer out of glass, there is something about ice cold tinnies at the beach on 35c arvos that tells me all is right with the world. So I guess that I got higher standards than that. Has your serious curiosity led you to calculate the number of deaths by starvation a carbon price of $30, $50 or even more will result in? I got 0.

  78. Razor at 39 is going down the old “the worst of evils were done with the best of intentions” route.

    When the fuck was that ever true? Who coined that useless cliched phrase? The worst of evils were committed with exactly the worst of intentions in mind. It’s a real personal bugbear of mine that people continue to pretend that cliche has any worth. FFS, the “best of intentions” leads to things like indoor plumbing, vaccinations and seatbelt laws. These are not the worst of evils. The worst of evils are genocide, and they are always brought about by people openly admitting to the worst of intentions.

    But I suppose in arguments against climate science, hackneyed cliches is all Razor’s got…

  79. Fran @74,

    All you are doing is transferring the risk of oil price volatility from the consumer to the tax payer. Since these are pretty much the same thing, you are just creating pointless churn.

  80. Great news for the future of aluminium industry. New carbothermic process will drastically reduce costs and environmental footprint.
    “Capital costs will be reduced by 77% to 80% and the operational cost will be lowered by about 40%. Power consumption will be about 40% lower. Fluoride emissions will be completely eliminated and the quantity of generated gases will be significantly lower. Thus, the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the Thermical™ process is 40-60% lower than in the electrochemical process.”

  81. I do find it inconsistent for someone like Razor, a proud military man who no doubt believes that it is prudent to plan for the worst that the enemy might bring to bear, to advocate doing nothing to even plan for adjusting to a potentially devastating environmental threat.

  82. Chris said:

    Fran @ 74 – I’m sure people’s arrangements would including voting in a government that reverts the petrol price rise

    That’s probable in practice these days, since these days, GBNT is a key Liberal Party slogan. Still, it should be noted that Import Parity Pricing remains in force and Fraser, who introduced it was not defeated on the strength of it. Hawke built on it and so did Keating — as a revenue measure — and Howard took his share too. No compensation of the kind I proposed was offered. Both parties though it a good idea.

    Of course, I wasn’t arguing the politics of it, which, given the craven and vacuous character of the ALP, would be diabolical. I was merely saying that technically, it could be done.

    I & U said:

    All you are doing is transferring the risk of oil price volatility from the consumer to the taxpayer. Since these are pretty much the same thing, you are just creating pointless churn.

    This will shock you, but I disagree. Consumers and taxpayers overlap strongly but they are not the same class, even now and with a measure such as this the overlap would decline. Firstly, and most obviously, the transfer of people from unscheduled private motor vehicle transport to public transport would radically cut the volume of petrol each consumer would purchase. A petrol or diesel-driven bus carrying 60 people does not consume anything like the quantity of fuel that 60 people driving their cars does because it doesn’t move anything like the weight of 60 cars (or even 45 cars allowing that some cars may have carried more than the driver). A bus may run on CNG so it may not use a petroleum product at all. And at the moment, passenger trains run effectively on some combination of coal and hydro. If people move closer to work, or commute less or car pool or get PEVs, then the overlap between consumer and taxpayer also shrinks. Even taking vehicles off the road means that those that are on it use less fuel. And of course, non-taxpayers (e.g. visitors to Australia) also buy fuel directly or by proxy.

    I schedule such as I hypothesised would not in practice transfer very much risk to the taxpayer. Let’s say we produced an indicative schedule of excises on the wholesale price which would work on a 1% per month increment. The state agrees that the full proceeds will be hypothecated and returned in an equitable fashion to those up to 120% of AFTWE — the formula isn’t relevant here.

    Let’s assume our starting point is typical petrol prices in Sydney now — about $1.30 per litre. Prices will rise by 1% per month until, in March of 2018 they are just under $3.00 per litre.

    If in any month, external prices force the price of fuel above the schedule, for that month, then that month’s (and any subsequent month’s) increment is deferred until external pressures subside and the schedule is restored. If the differential exceeds 1% excise is cut to the extent necessary to moderate it. If prices fall, the excise is increased by as much as needed to meet the schedule.

    Now we saw that in 2008 petrol prices exceeded (briefly) about $1.60 per litre before falling back, so we can anticipate that in the early period of the program, we might be marginally exposed. Yet after March of 2013, the price should be about $1.65 so the exposure would be quite minimal from then on and in any event, reduced to the extent of the increment.

    Usefully, business would have certainty about retail fuel prices. People buying houses out in the far flung suburbs could factor in rises in costs before taking out a mortgage which would dampen the market out there and save them on land costs. If there were a major spike as a result of some crisis in, say, June of 2015 and fuel prices went to $2.40 per litre the system would ensure that here we were only paying $2.15 and of course by then, we ought not to be nearly as thirsty for imported oil as we are now. We would have a buffer.

  83. I’ve got a better plan, Fran. Mandate E30, plant out Ord River Stage 2 (now under construction) with sugar cane, install an up to date cane mill and distillary there this time, and the fuel disparity will go away long enough for EV’s to obtain market acceptance. The motorist is better off, the farmer is better off, Australia’s trade balance sheet is improved, our carbon emissions are significantly reduced, and everyone will drive to work with a smile knowing that they are doing something direct and tangible to fight Global Warming while actually paying less for their fuel. Win,win,win,win.

    How’s that. No knitpicky rules or endless arguments. Just plain old common sense, and affirmative action.

  84. Fran,

    It really does not matter what scheme you dream up. If the wholesale price is volatile and you want to prevent that volatility from transferring to the retail price, you must absorb that volatility into the excise, since:

    retail price = wholesale price + excise + retail margin

    Excise = retail price – wholesale price – retail margin

    What is worse is that if every country (or many countries) adopted your crazy scheme, the wholesale price would become more volatile as the demand response to supply shortages would be dampened.

  85. I & U said:

    What is worse is that if every country (or many countries) adopted your crazy scheme, the wholesale price would become more volatile as the demand response to supply shortages would be dampened.

    Perhaps so but not in a way that would matter from a policy POV. The longterm outlook would be for a better match between dwindling supplies of cheaply recoverable oil and actual demand.

  86. Thanks for that oildrum link BilB. Very often we loose our sense of direction arguing about AGW. So refreshing to see a thoughtful and pragmatic approach to issues contained within AGW and a fundamental aspect in our life – food.

    May I suggest for everyone to print and laminate the concluding 5 points, including complementing graph, and stick it on the fridge.

  87. I&U,

    You’re missing one fundamental rulle of marketing there. Retail margins are always percentages unless they are to be deducted when they become a fixed amount. So that is

    retail price = (wholesale price + excise) x retail margin%

    Excise = retail price – wholesale price – negotiated “retail margin”

    Hey what about the E30 plan, run your calculator over that.

    In fact I have another scheme while I’m on a roll here….

    In order to fight obesity I propose the mandating of G30.

    That is with every meal after 11.00 am, all meals must contain at least 30% green vegetables. This is an affirmative action plan. This would give parents the support they need at the dinner table, help break the fat and couch cycle, ensure that workers had the energy to get through a whole day’s work, give a huge leg up for farmers and serve a real fright to KFC and fish and chip shops. Win,win,win,win.

    Well it is worth a debate at least, isn’t it? And the debate would be decided with HA99 + S1. (that’s 99% hot air and 1% spital, maybe 3% spital if TA was involved)

  88. Fran @102,

    “a better match between dwindling supplies of cheaply recoverable oil and actual demand”

    Hey, here’s a really crazy idea for matching supply and demand: a market price.

  89. BilB @104,

    Another thing you could do would be do grow sugar for people to eat.

    But I can see that might conflict with the objectives in your “G30” scheme.

    But seriously, I have no problem with biofuel so long as it is economic and doesn’t take the food from people’s mouths.

  90. I&U
    “”””But seriously, I have no problem with biofuel so long as it is economic and doesn’t take the food from people’s mouths.”””

    Me too.

  91. That is the good thing about utilising the Ord River 2 area, I&U, it hasn’t been used for growing food at all as it is entirely new, so this can not be taking food from mouths. Not that using much of Ord River 1 would be, either, as much of that area has been used for growing cotton and plants for essential oil extracts (fragrances). Just because it is farm land does not mean that it has been used for food. Actually they have tried all kinds of food at the Ord, and most have failed for one reason or another. Cane is one thing that thrives well.

    Cane ethanol in Australia is economic, in fact it returns to farmers twice as much as cane for sugar production does. But the good thing is with cane production is that if there is a shortage of sugar, for Darryl Lea, then the cane milling ratio at harvest time can be adjusted from less ethanol to more sugar (different milling settings for each, same cane).

  92. “Cane ethanol in Australia is economic, in fact it returns to farmers twice as much as cane for sugar production does.”

    I suspect that this is because ethanol attracts substantial government subsidies (correct me if I am wrong). That is not what I would call “economic”.

    Incidentally, I live in a sugar town and have never heard any farmers suggesting that they would like to produce ethanol. Possibly, they are uninformed, by I doubt it.

  93. razor and PeterTB on temperature trends, I recall Garnaut saying around the time of his original report (2008) that he had the two best experts he could get access to look at temperature. They found an unbroken upward trend to the present.

    I heard him say the other day that he’d repeated the exercise with the same result.

    I don’t know what methodology they used, but I’ve seen 11-year running averages used quite frequently and some longer intervals, such as 15-year running averages. His latest has a graph that looks at decadal data for Australia, which comes up with a result similar to this one from BOM.

    Did you look before you went sounding off?

    The IPCC commonly uses 10-year averages when quoting temperatures. That is, when they quote 2000 as the starting point for an interval they don’t mean the annual temperature in 2000, rather the 10-year average based on 2000 as the midpoint.

  94. I&U, you are infact quite wrong. The only advantage that the cane for ethanol farmers have is the 2% mandate in 3 states. Cane farmers get a 70% (I think) share of the selling price of the end product from the cane processors. So as sugar and ethanol prices vary independently so also do the farmers return for their crop. Cane is milled differently for ethanol distillation to the milling for sugar extraction. That is the way it is in the Burdekin area at least. Of course if there is no ethanol distillery in your area then the farmers will not have the option. The only other subsidy that cane farmers have had available was the grant offered by JWH to convert from cane to any other crop.

    If you are in NSW you may be living in the area where JWH’s cane farming family hail from.

  95. Brian

    Did you look before you went sounding off?

    Of course not, Brian. They get all the ‘information’ they need from WUWT. All of it.

  96. BilB @113

    “if there is no ethanol distillery in your area”

    Well, we have plenty of those, but we like to keep quiet about them. In any case, they are not geared to producing biofuel.

    I am open to being convinced about the economics of ethanol. But if it is so profitable, why the necessity for the 2% mandate?

    Not Howard country, I checked (breathes sigh of relief).

  97. I&U
    “”””” I live in a sugar town and have never heard any farmers suggesting that they would like to produce ethanol.”””””
    Cane farmers dont produce ethanol, they produce sugar cane, others do that.
    Thats kinda like saying” coal mines produce all the CO2″.they dont, others do that.

  98. jumpnmcar @116,

    Well, that makes sense. But BilB says that the milling is different when the end-product is ethanol. So I would think that the farmers – who own the local mill – would be aware of that aspect at least.

  99. I&U
    I grew up on a cane farm.
    And my dad knows “squat” about ethanol production .
    He knows how to produce sugar cane.
    I also know underground coal miners who know “squat” about coal fired power stations.

  100. I & U said:

    Hey, here’s a really crazy idea for matching supply and demand: a market price.

    If invoking the term “a market price” invoked a total solution it wouldn’t be so crazy.

    Regrettably, we aren’t out in the agora haggling over bread. If the claim that there will be a sharp end to cheap oil is right then it follows that the market is underinformed and the result will be an example of market failure — much as the build up of atmospheric GHGs has been a market failure or the GFC was a market failure.

    All markets have at the fringes of supply and demand factors that cause colatility in ways that are hard to predict. This is certainly true of oil. The other day, a rumour that Gaddafi had been killed caused a $20 spike before it was debunked. We saw in 1973 a 5% perturbation in supply cause a quadrupling of prices and worldwide pirce shock inflation.

    Prudence demands a spreading of risk and a lowering of exposure to harm. While I wouldn’t advocate the program I outlined, as I think there are better ways of moderating use of refined crude oil, your challenge was that it could not be done. I have shown that it would be technically feasible. Your retort seems to acknowledge that.

  101. Until the mandate was applied there were considerable negative influences attempting to prevent the inclusion of ethanol in petrol so there was considerable risk investing in cane farming. In order to have sufficient cane available to service the market for 10% would have led to a huge oversupply of cane if the fuel was not required. The mandate although only for 2% gave stability for both the cane for ethanol and the cane for sugar farmers.

    And Australian farmers are very efficient. Here we get a per hectare yield of processed ethanol of between 9,000 litres and 12,500 litres. Brazil from old infromation gets 7,000 litres yield per hactare for comparison. The US does not us cane for ethanol at all, yet, and the picture in Mexico is confusing.

    Jcar, if you had read what I wrote carefully you should have been able to extract that the farmers and the millers are different entities. In the Birdekin area the cane fro ethanol farmers do not have ownership share of the mill (I’m guessing) and they were assessing the building of their own customised Dedini built installation.

    Southern ethanol producers all built their viability on grain for ethanol (using grain that is unsuitable for human consumption) but the drought put paid to their plans when the grain harvests proved to be far too volatile to ensure stability of economic performance. I spoke to an executive of one such company who admitted that they had made a huge mistake in the placement of their facilities. All of those have shut down now.

    Is that enough spoon fed detail or do you need more.

  102. There is no subsidy for ethanol, however there is no excise charged on the fuel, just as with LPG.

  103. BilB
    “”””Jcar, if you had read what I wrote carefully you should have been able to extract that the farmers and the millers are different entities””””
    We agree.I was responding to I&U’s””””incidentally, I live in a sugar town and have never heard any farmers suggesting that they would like to produce ethanol.”””” Farmers don’t produce ethanol, i said.
    BTW ,Mackay cane farmers are in a co-op that owns the mills. (I think) Plain creek mill at Sarina,produces ethanol, the farmers are shareholders. But they only produce the raw sugar cane.
    Anyway, a Climate Clip i saw. (apologies if it already been mentioned)

  104. jumpnmcar:

    I’m not sure why someone isn’t already raising sugar cane in the Ord River district if it is as viable as any other place.

  105. Fran
    HA ha “raising” sugar cane.
    Should i assume you are a teacher, parent and “towny”?(no offence)
    I’m not familiar with the Ord. Flood plains are ok, most of the time,

  106. Jumpnmcar @118,

    Yes, I understood your point the first time. It’s BilB, not me, saying farmers produce ethanol. I just made the point that, if ethanol is so profitable for farmers (as BilB asserts), I’m surprised no-one locally to me has latched on to it.

  107. Fran @119,

    Yeah, yeah! Market failure…GFC..blah, blah, blah. You reckon you see market failure in oil supply, but you provide no evidence. Yes, of course it could be that we are all just about to run out of oil and the market just hasn’t realised it. If you believe that, go buy some oil futures. You will make a fortune.

    I haven’t conceded your point on managing oil price volatility. Quite the opposite. It’s just not possible to simultaneously protect both consumers and taxpayers from oil price volatility. Many countries have found that out the hard way.

  108. I & U said:

    Yes, of course it could be that we are all just about to run out of oil and the market just hasn’t realised it.

    It was your counterfactual I & U, not mine. At some point — we don’t know when — it’s likely that oil will start rapidly increasing in price and before that occurs it is likely that small crises will temporarily cause price spikes in oil.

    The question remains: when this occurs — would we rather be heavily dependent on oil, or only lightly dependent on it? Would we prefer the price impact to be large or modest? Should we start adapting now, or should we close our eyes and take our chances?

  109. AHh,I&U ,sorry,i see the problem, BilB said

    “””The only advantage that the cane for ethanol farmers have is the 2% mandate in 3 states””
    My minds eye put a comma between ethanol and farmers.The way it appeared @113.
    Fran is right , punctuation is important.
    That right BilB?

  110. Well, I&U, armed with that information why don’t you get on the phone first thing tomorrow and ring up a local cane farmer and get his take on it. Then you will know with some authority what the situation is. First hand research, there is nothing like it, give it a go.

  111. Tomorrow, I can’t promise.

    But next time I get a chance, I definitely will ask the question.

  112. Razor on another thread:

    I enjoy long hot summers in Perth.

    Razor @44:

    I’ve got the thermostat on the refrigerated aircon here in the office set at 23C.

    Shorter Razor: I enjoy long hot summers as long as I can hide inside in the air conditioning.

  113. I agree lets bring on the carbon tax:-
    The things we will achieve are as follows;-
    1) We will convince many of the rest of the high CO2 producers that they should also do the right thing. Past experience has shown when we lead the way other counties follow our good example.
    2) Our Australian climate will improve and we will no longer have to worry about sea level rise, the ocean becoming less basic and all the other nasties. Whoops forgot that temperatures will also decline.
    3) We will stop digging up coal, using it for power generation and/or selling it over seas.
    4) Our economy will imnprove, because we will benefit from clean energy developments, like our wind turbine and solar panel manufacturers. After all thats where the tax will go to developing clean green technologies.
    5) Oh!! and the most important pigs will fly.

  114. John Michelmore,

    As long as your main wish list gets underway, immediately, I can tolerate some flying pigs.

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