Climate clippings 47

EV motor racing is about to begin

The article is behind the paywall, but New Scientist reports Federation Internationale d’Automobile (FIA), is calling for proposals for a “Formula E”, an electric vehicle championship it hopes will kick off in 2013. They claim the series will drive EV technology, but hey, let’s have some fun along the way.

Meanwhile at the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, California on 26 November, we will have the EV Cup. In this race all drivers will have the same vehicle, the iRacer (above), built by UK firm Westfield Sportscars. Each car will have 340 kilograms of lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries that, for safety, are distributed around the car in eight 50-volt units. That should keep them screaming around the track for 15 to 20 minutes.

And screaming is the operative word. EV cars at speed do make a noise, but the acoustics are being designed to sound like the Pod Racers in Star Wars.

Record Arctic ozone loss

Due to an an unusually long spell of cold weather in the stratosphere over the Arctic ozone loss has reached record proportions. The loss this year conforms for the first time to the definition of an “ozone hole”. As Paul Fraser, chief research scientist at the CSIRO explains, broadly speaking this means an 80% loss of ozone in the atmospheric column.

And yes, the New Scientist tells us, global warming could be partly to blame.

Canada counts the cost of doing nothing

The cost of climate change in Canada is due to rise to between $21 billion and $43 billion a year by the 2050s, but could be as high as $91 billion under a high growth/rapid climate change scenario. The message from the The National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy is that appropriate action may be expensive but not as expensive as doing nothing.

At 1% of GDP that seems to me on the low side.

The report itself Paying the price (large pdf) is available, courtesy of the post at Skeptical Science.

Cheap solar power in Kenya

Small-scale solar power is being trialled in Kenya via a leasing arrangement. For $1 per week you can have a light that shines for 5 hours. As a bonus you get your cellphone charged, something that can necessitate up to a 2-hour round-trip each week, plus another 2-hour wait to actually charge the phone.

Heat harvesting

Most electrical devices and industrial processes create heat as they operate, which is typically wasted. From John D and Gizmag, aluminium doped zinc oxide may be the answer, as it has high electrical conductivity, together with low thermal conductivity, an unusual combination. Then all you have to do us convert the heat into electricity.

Moving Planet

You may have missed it. I certainly did. Indymedia tells us that the MSM didn’t report it, but there were thousands of people around the world from Cairo to Canberra participating in events to move the planet beyond fossil fuels.

There were over 2000 events in more than 175 countries with more than 40 Moving Planet events taking place across Australia from the Blue Mountains, Hobart, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Darwin, Sydney and Melbourne joining the thousands of events taking place around the globe.

That was on 24 September, a day organised by to let leaders know that a movement is rising to move our planet forward to a clean energy future.

Butterflies and Texas

One of the people who did speak on that day was James Hansen. As Joe Romm at Climate Progress tells us Hansen has a new paper out, It’s a hard-knock butterfly’s life which is about the expansion of the tropics and the subsequent drying of the mid-latitudes bringing increasing drought to places like Texas. He’s foreshadowing a new scientific paper soon to be released on climate variability and climate change.

Panama meeting

Meanwhile the last UNFCCC meeting prior to the Conference of Parties in Durban is taking place in Panama City this week. I haven’t heard how they are actually getting on, but it looks like the same old…

The UN is calling for a greater level of ambition. China and the G77 are dead set against phasing out the Kyoto protocol, whereas countries like the US won’t join and Canada, Japan and Russia won’t sign a new treaty unless it includes the larger emerging economies.

The EU will consider an extension of Kyoto provided it is “part of a broader deal including the prospect of a global agreement involving all major economies.”

From this AFP report:

Australia and Norway have jointly proposed to set a 2015 deadline for a new treaty, with all countries — wealthy and developing — listing their actions and gradually making them more ambitious and binding.

According to Reuters:

“This is the only way ahead. There is no other way than failure,” said a senior climate negotiator from a developed country on the Australia-Norway proposal, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the talks.

World Habitat Day

Again, in case you missed it the first Monday of October is the UN-designated World Habitat Day, with the theme this year Cities and Climate Change.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave them a rev in New York. I love these “high-level meetings”. It seems that

841 cities and municipalities had joined the “Making Cities Resilient” initiative, launched by the UN Disaster Risk Reduction Office (UNISDR) over a year ago in an effort to reduce urban risks from climate-related disasters.

Climate change uncertainty

Finally, here’s the link to Judith Curry’s post on the special issue on uncertainty guidance for the IPCC, with a host of links.

I haven’t had time to read it yet.

Roger Jones has this post plus three more posts on science, scientific method and science communication.

48 thoughts on “Climate clippings 47”

  1. Ta for the Hansen link, Brian. If the forthcoming Hansen paper is the same as the stuff I’ve been working on with complex system responses to climate change and variability I’ll be happy for him and sad for me 🙁

    Better get the skates on. Thanks for the other links, to my posts, too. One is on Manne’s takedown of The Australian in Quarterly Essay. There was a spike of hits just after midnight when I posted it – who could that be now?

  2. Thanks, Roger, happy to help. Folks, Roger refers to a fifth article about Robert Manne’s analysis of The Australian’s record on climate science in Quarterly Essay.

    On another matter, it is pleasing to note that Australia and Norway are working positively and apparently to some effect in the UN process. If we had the other lot in there they’d be joining the recalcitrants.

  3. This Everest webcam sends a new picture of Everest every 5 mins. The pictures are nice but the point I am making is that may be a look at a future where people can live a quality life without living in scenic locations or lots of travel.
    I can imagine having a window/wall sized screen that functions as a window to places of interest via a fixed camera.

  4. Climate Spectator had this to say about what could be the death knell ofCopperlink:

    Hopes of building one of Australia’s largest renewable energy hubs in north Queensland appear to have been dashed after the Swiss-based global mining giant Xstrata signed a deal instead with AGL Energy to build a gas-fired power station in Mt Isa.
    Xstrata had been mulling three strategies to ensure future energy supply for its Mt Isa mining operations: the extension of the current sole supplier, the gas-fired Mica power station (an idea it dumped a while ago); go for another gas-fired station; or participate in the CopperString project that would link Mt Isa with the grid at Townsville via a 1000km transmission line, and unlock a series of renewable energy projects, including wind, solar, biomass and geothermal found in between.
    Xstrata decided on the “safe” option and went for more gas, and signed a deal on Thursday with AGL and pipeline group APA to build a 242MW gas-fired power station at a cost of $500 million, and a 17-year supply contract.

    I have been a skeptic about the merit of building a powerline from Mt Isa to Townsville but what do others think?

  5. New Scientist reports that:

    TANTALISING evidence suggests coral can be trained to withstand rising sea temperatures.

    Mauricio Rodriguez-Lanetty at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette found that Acropora millepora coral, which typically lives at 21 to 22 °C, experienced significant bleaching when held at 31 °C for eight days. But the coral could survive without bleaching if first held at 28 °C for 10 days.

    Some researchers think that coral might adapt to hotter water by switching its algae or symbiotic bacteria to heat tolerant types – but that would take more than 10 days. Rodriguez-Lanetty used genetic sequencing to show no such changes occurred (Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1780).

    However, it’s unclear whether the heat tolerance is permanent. “Corals still face a gloomy future unless we stop global warming,” says Rodriguez-Lanetty.

  6. Fran @ 6, yes, and this:

    People also said there were economic benefits to tackling climate change, with eight out of 10 people saying that dealing with the problem would provide an economic boost and create jobs. Two years ago the number was just under two-thirds.

    There was also wide support for moving taxation to penalise greenhouse gas emissions and encourage energy efficiency, with an average of 68% of people across the EU in favour of such a move.

    savvy @ 7 has linked to three professors being interviewed by Bolta on climate change. They do indeed seem to have the view that the science is settled.

    savvy, you haven’t being keeping up. Recently it was revealed that the phrase “the science is settled” was invented by sceptics/contrarians/denialists because it is easy to show that it isn’t.

    I recommend you read every last word of this paper by Hansen et al where all the major uncertainties are fully delineated and where in the end they nevertheless conclude that we must reduce CO2 concentrations to 350ppm as a matter of some urgency.

  7. Savvy: Science is never settled. A new results and new ideas may lead to new conclusions. I don’t think climate science is settled in the sense that we are sure exactly what will happen if CO2 reaches a particular level. But I do think that it is settled in the sense that the probability of serious climate change taking place unless CO2 levels are controlled is far to high to be ignored.
    Climate Progress reported that some deniers have started using the neutrino travelling faster than light reports to support climate denial:

    Writing in Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, Koch-fueled disinformer Robert Bryce has published two of the most laughable arguments against climate science ever seen in “Five Truths About Climate Change.” One of them has quickly become the focus of online laughs and a tweet-fest with the hashtag #WSJscience:
    The science is not settled, not by a long shot. Last month, scientists at CERN, the prestigious high-energy physics lab in Switzerland, reported that neutrinos might—repeat, might—travel faster than the speed of light. If serious scientists can question Einstein’s theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth’s atmosphere.

    The mind boggles – there is a complete misunderstanding of what science is about.

  8. Again, the the science is settled claim is (typically in concert with the scepticism is the heart of science trope) an attempt to win by resort to an equivocation fallacy.

    Saying that something is settled science does not entail claiming that new insights are impossible or that the field holds no further interest for research. It simply meant that knowledge of a particular area of inquiry is sufficiently well attested to use as a starting point for further inquiry (and in the case of climate change for example) policy responses. Once one grasps this point, one sees that scepticism is not mere formalistic naysaying and certainly not a nihilistic rejection of the impossibility of insight, or a blurring of the line between palpable nonsense and sound research. It’s merely a well-founded intellectual caution about what may be claimed about the interrelationships between various measurable phenomena and a search for fuller understanding.

    No society in human history (and no subset of it meeting the same benchmark) that has sought a rational basis for its responses to problems has ever demanded 100% certainty prior to action. We make judgements about what we would need to be confident about before acting, and take the risk of error and loss as an unliquidated or intangible overhead as the cost of prospective benefit.

    One may argue about where the lines may be drawn over “sufficient certainty” but one can’t reasonably argue that no such line can exist, as is implicit in the claims of those who keep asserting that the science is not settled or the debate is not over.

    To argue against action by persistently citing this claim is to argue for a different risk trade — in this case, one based on no science at all, and claims that have near zero credibility. It’s a pitch for arbitrary policy, for policy based on whimsy and angst. That is what a more robust definition of “denier” in this context means.

  9. oops: {No society in human history that has sought a rational basis (and no subset of it meeting the same benchmark) } …

    better …

  10. savvy @ 7, I’ve got better things to do with my time than watch an excerpt from The Blot Report. He’s a deeply dishonest man, as was brought out in his recent court case, and he’s been misrepresenting climate scientists for years.

  11. One thing that strikes me about that video is that in all their sner-sner superiority posturing about how corals should actually thrive in warmer temperatures they somehow seemed to totally ignore the other maritime aspect of increased atmospheric carbon emissions: that they make the oceans more acidic. A temperature rise on its own might well be good for coral growth, but the increased acidity surely is not, and I’m pretty sure that actual reports about our disappearing coral reefs make a point of mentioning the acidity problem. That journalists can’t be bothered to make sure that they include the acidity problem in their summaries and soundbites (which are supposedly for the purpose of informing/educating the public) is hardly the fault of the scientists who write the comprehensive reports.

  12. This pathetic recurring “is the science settled” argument from the likes of Savvy follows the same dipstick line of reasoning that would say “do humans eat food”? Yes. “did you have food today?” No. “so humans don’t eat food!”.

    That is the depth of it.

    Please. Take it somewhere else.

  13. @Bilb
    “This pathetic recurring “is the science settled” argument…”

    I take it you watched the clip?
    Are you saying that the three scientists are pathetic?

    What do you dispute in their statements?

  14. savvy, I did watch the clip and the only useful information came from Professor Peter Ridd, marine physicist, who said the sea levels around the great Barrier Reef have been falling for 5,000 years. I think I’d take more notice of a marine biologist on the future of reefs.

    The other two are retired, not active scientists, although Prof Carter may be still doing a bit on his substantive area of research which was sea levels during the Miocene. On current climate science he has no better background than the next bloke.

    They all seem to subscribe to the notion that climate sensitivity is exceedingly low, I think around 0.5C, which is a thoroughly discredited position. Unless they can prove that beyond reasonable doubt, and the chances of that approach zero, basically you are better off ignoring them.

  15. Another climate thread hijacked by another dullard.
    Said dullard posts a couple of lines of the latest talking points probably sourced from the US and faithfully regurgitated by Dolt or some other highly regarded climate scientist in Australia.

    Then people of good faith and intentions write detailed responses addressing specific issues, which of course is never enough for the dullard who couldn’t care less about facts, evidence or anything other than his own second hand talking points.

    Rinse, cycle, repeat ad nauseum.

  16. adrian, you are right, and in fact I was tempted to send the comment to the trash bin as a potential thread derailer.

    However, I thought the Bolt panel had a certain fascination as it demonstrates how pathetic the denialist position is.

    The comedian David McRae linked to is right. Unless the denialists are 100% sure of their position, normal caution in the face of risks would demand that you take notice of mainstream climate science. In this sense, the denialists must argue that the science is indeed settled – in their favour.

    This notion is so absurd that it is remarkable anyone gives them the time of the day.

  17. @David
    “3 never published a climate paper fake experts..”

    They are not real experts?

    Professor Peter Ridd has published many papers including papers on the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

    Making stuff up aren’t you.

  18. “The science is definitely not settled.” Dick Warburton, Inaugural chairman of Manufacturing Australia, this morning on RN Breakfast. No wonder manufacturing in this nation is in such a state, given such gross ignorance on science displayed by its chair. Some ‘leaders’ rather play political games than show true leadership for the sake of their stated cause!

  19. Warburton was also spruiking his wares on AM, while claiming to be impartial on matters of climate. We then had journalist interviewing journalist and were told that there were other groups opposing the carbon ‘tax’ as well.

    Good to see the ABC providing him with multiple platforms to air his views.

  20. savvy @ 23, you are over-cooking Peter Ridd’s expertise. I googled including Google Scholar, and didn’t come up with much.

    It seems Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg regards him as a misleading pest. He is an Online Opinion author, where you can get some idea of his stance.

    Speaking of Professor Hoegh-Guldberg, the grab played by Bolt was cherry-picked and completely unfair. If you want a considered view from him, that's not the way to go.

    A few months ago we did have a rational discussion on some new research on coral adaptability, and whether in the light of that Hoegh-Guldberg's position was a bit on the alarmist side. But Bolt's treatment of the issue was shallow and tendentious, which is what you'd expect.

  21. On Warburton, from Climate Spectator:

    Warburton wrote in The Australian Financial Review in late 2009 that he was not convinced that humans were causing climate change – he argued the science was not settled – and on this basis Australia should certainly not introduce an emissions trading scheme, because the “rent-seeking” financial markets would vigorously resist any attempt to unravel the financial instruments. “Far better, then, to take the carbon tax route which is more transparent, more direct and, importantly, more flexible,” Warburton wrote. “Should the supporters be right, you can ramp up the tax, but should they be wrong, you can diminish or eliminate the tax.”

    At least he’s consistent about the denialism, methinks.

  22. savvy @ 23: Peter Ridd might be a professor with experience in coral reefs, but the burden of scientific proof lies in presenting good evidence to back up your arguments.

    So far nothing that I’ve seen him say has stood up to scrutiny from other peers in his field – Ove Hoegh-Guldberg being a good example of someone who has refuted all of Ridd’s misleading arguments about reef bleaching and ‘corals like it hot’, not with opinion but with evidence from his own research and that of others. There’s a good rebuttal of a lot of Ridd’s talking points at ClimateShifts here by Jon Brodie, who heads up the Catchment to Reef Research Group at JCU.

    And I have to say that the performance of all three professors in the Bolt Report was pretty p*ss poor. This quote from Ridd is a case in point:

    When you look at the models in detail, you look at the size of the uncertainties, then in my view they have no predictive value whatsoever.

    It might fly past Bolt but if Peter Ridd thinks that we base our assessment of the effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere entirely on climate models then he knows even less about climate science and fluid mechanics then the average physics undergrad in our lab. I don’t think he’s genuinely that dumb, but I suspect that he’s trying to make a rhetorical point which makes for good media copy.

    Unfortunately for Ridd, if he wants to be taken seriously as a scientist, then he has to engage with the science as it actually stands, not the strawman that he seems to be proposing in your linked video.

  23. Ootz @24 “No wonder manufacturing in this nation is in such a state, given such gross ignorance on science displayed by its chair.” I think you be spot on

    I’ve just listened to Ray Anderson interview an entrepreneur we could ill afford to lose (we did 2 months ago). What a comparison – a can do entrepreneur who changes to fit the emerging evidence, confronting reality – the other a reality and science denier petrified of change.

  24. Brian, according to the the interview, he is now supporting Abbott’s Direct Action. Not only has he no idea on science, but it appears he can’t add up either, or is Direct Action appeasing the right kind of rent-seekers?
    I mean what is this guy on? I suppose about $ 5m a year for sprouting Broccoli on Radio National Breakfast and polishing door knobs at Westfield Retail Trust.

  25. I don’t want to bag Dick Warburton as such too much (profile here). Back in the 90s when he was CEO of Du Pont Australia I recall he was on a task force set up by the Keating government to update the management skills of Australian business leaders. I recall him on a panel saying that the lack of management skills in business was a way bigger problem than the unions.

    He subsequently got a gig on the Reserve Bank Board.

    On climate change, however, he’s a dud.

    Jess, now I recall Ridd as the one quoted by farmers (always good at picking cherries!) as saying that farm reef run-off was not a problem.

  26. @6 – “there has been a sharp increase in Europeans believing that anthropogenic climate change is a serious issue with most rating it as more serious than the global financial crisis.”

    And in actual Australian news, there has been a sharp fall in Australians believing that climate change is a serious issue. Climate change was ranked in a survey plumb bottom out of 10 issues for seriousness, 9 points down on July 2010.

    The Australian progressive left, in their own version of the cultural cringe, will however in this as in other areas prefer to regard the European view as important, not the Australian one, I guess. Mind you, in fairness to the Europeans in this instance, the quoted survey comes from the Director-General of Climate Action in the European Commission, who might be felt to have had the teeniest amount of vested interest – like, protecting his job – in the result. Leading questions, anyone?

  27. Given the amount of disinformation, spin and outright lying going on in Australia by those opposed to any action, that is hardly surprising.
    What is surprising is that people like ‘Lord’ Monckton are taken seriously in Australia and given national platforms to air their views, whereas in the UK and Europe they are treated as jokes and largely ignored.

    Another reason is that in Europe and the UK, action on climate change is a bi-partisan issue, a fact that goes a long way towards removing the unnecessary conflict from the issue.

    And not that News Ltd have the ‘teeniest amount of vested interest’. Oh no, they continue to be the objective conveyers of factual information.

  28. No scope for denialism there, Jess. It is not a matter of someone saying that ice is lost. It is in fact…really lost…..gone. And we know that it will not be back in a few years after some climate fluctuation, as glaciers take hundreds and thousands of years to build their volume. Of course this could be a local anomaly. Yes that is what it must be,…..but then I have seen the same scenery in New Zealand new Mount Cook. We need the confirmation of a real scientist. An email will be sent to Lord Monkton’s office for a definitive opinion.

  29. BilB, it maybe just a little too early to place the coming wet season into the “heaven help us” category. Certainly current data and models are suggesting there is a scope for a moderate to strong La Nina.

    From memory the present public offering re Wet Season from BoM is that they expect an early onset and two mayor events (cyclone, floods). However, at this stage they don’t expect anything like last year. Suggest WeatherZone for an in depth discussion.

    I did warn last year on LP in December on the coming of a ‘Moster Wet’ by posting a relevant Courier Mail article. And monster it was, I don’t want to go through anything like Yasi again.

    On an interesting side note, from my own experience and various anecdotal sources, Yasi seems to have left a lot of anxiety in Cairns and Tablelands even though it caused very little damage here. There is a danger in calling monsters, in that areas not affected will either get complacent or suffer from psychological trauma from the rush of adrenalin brought on by the frantic preparations.

    Brian, I am not particularly interested in bagging Warburton. What I am on about, as I mentioned in the Minchin thread, is to establish a public record of the various mercenary ideologues and to prove to future generations that not everyone swallowed the crap dished up by these. Even Crikey now called Dick’s effords :

    ” … possibly Coalition-coordinated, public relations effort from dubious front groups like “Manufacturing Australia” and the Australian Coal Association to influence opinion (two years ago Manufacturing Australia chief Dick Warburton was a backer of a carbon tax but now appears to have changed his tune).

  30. I’m actually a bit over all the wet weather. We moved to Gippsland in part to move to a wetter climate, but we got 1400 mm last year, and that’s more than enough.

  31. Wilful,

    IOD looks like being positive, La Nina not so strong, so it might get wetter further north but not too wet perhaps. If it follows the previous few years the wet will mainly miss Victoria because of the +IOD. It’s a negative IOD that combines with La Nina to give the SE a monster wet.

  32. Just a few bones to chew on.
    Australia has a lot of potential here. Whats the hold up?’s-not-all-about-tides

    What’s Australia s position in this area? We are a mineral nation, are we not?

    And a little dig on politics. Is the bloke on the left related to Fran? 🙂

  33. jumpy: Unfortunately most of Australia’s largest tidal ranges (shown in the red colours on this map from BOM) are pretty far away from where the energy needs to be, with the possible exception of Bass Strait, some parts around Adelaide, and up near Mackay.

    Geoscience Australia has this assessment:

    Barrage-type tide energy systems generally require macro-tide ranges (greater than 4m), which are restricted to the broad northern shelf of Australia; from Port Hedland northwards to Darwin and the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.

  34. quokka and jess,

    I understand that tidal is not suitable everywhere and neither is geothermal, but thats no reason to completely rule them both out.
    And yes i live in Mackay and worked at the GBR.There are vast areas of nothing in between , and i do mean nothing.

    Compared to offshore wind, I find it impossible to believe that offshore tidal is more expensive to build (vertualy the same materials,components and delivery),or less efficient ( 4 tides a day,2 in 2 out, and viscosity of water to air) no down time. No visual pollution affecting tourism
    ( important here) .

    I wish i could show you some concept drawing i have.
    Some based on this sort of thing and others;

  35. they could build the tidal, or even wave motion collector into the base of the offshore wind turbine perhaps? 2 or 3 sources in one unit. could be an engineering nightmare though.

  36. jusme

    That the spirit, test it , see if its a goa.

    Every site has it’s pros and cons.
    Seems to me that too many of these “experts” are making decisions while strolling along the bank of the filthy Yarra.(and yes i’ve seen it)

  37. This week’s edition of Climate clippings will be delayed at least until tomorrow. I’ve got a new post up on ocean heat and the Earth’s energy balance. There is another in the pipeline on the outcomes of the Panama climate meeting, which I couldn’t sensibly abbreviate to fit Climate clippings.

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