By Paul Homewood
A recent paper by Kodra & Ganguly predicts that we will see a wider range of temperature extremes in the future. In other words, although each year’s average hottest and coldest temperatures will likely rise, those averages will also tend to fall within a wider range of potential high and low temperate extremes than are currently being observed.
I have already shown that the opposite has been occurring in the United States in recent years, but what about the UK?
Using the Central England Temperature Series, I have compared each year’s summer temperature with the previous winter. The results are shown below.
As can be seen, what trend there is suggests that intra-annual variability is declining, just as it is in the US.
The biggest variation occurred in 1684, when the coldest winter on record was followed by a slightly warmer than average summer. The most recent extreme year was 1963, the year of the big freeze. This year, however, was not as extreme as 1947, when another bitter winter was followed by one of the hottest summers on record.
Of course, what has happened in the past and what might occur in the future are two different things. However, as the Kodra/Ganguly is only based on models and reanalysis, one would have thought they might have checked their findings against what the historical data says first, to give some independent corroboration.
But, there again, this is climate science we are talking about.
By Paul Homewood
The magical winter wildlife spectacle of hundreds of thousands of wading birds converging on British estuaries could be under threat as research shows big declines in some of the most familiar species.
Results from the Wetland Bird Survey reveals that ringed plovers, oystercatchers, redshank and dunlin are among the eight most abundant species overwintering on UK estuaries to suffer significant and consistent population drops over 10 years.
Conservationists believe several factors are responsible, including climate change forcing the birds to areas outside the UK….
Research by Wetland International has shown winter populations of some of the species have recently shifted away from the UK to Dutch and German coasts, possibly in response to milder winters.
UK winters have actually been getting COLDER in the last ten years.
Notice how, on the above graph, populations for three of the four were higher in 2001, (after a decade of mild winters) than they had been in 1975, (after a decade of cold winters).
Notably, Chas Holt of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), who coordinated the survey, said:
“These birds are breeding in the Arctic then wintering much further south in a flyway that runs right from north-west Europe down into Africa. So are they wintering over a large area?”
Quite probably, this would be their reaction to colder winters here.
Meanwhile, the actual survey referred to shows the population of many species has increased over both 25 and 10-year timescales.
The study states that “69% of waterbirds in Table 1 have declined since 2001”. But what they don’t say is that 25 out of the 46, i.e. 54% have increased since 1986.
There could, of course, be many factors involved, as Chas Holt says. But, if UK climate is involved at all, all the evidence points population numbers increasing during mild winters, and declining in colder ones.
For some reason, the Guardian seems reluctant to mention this.
By Paul Homewood
The fruitloops are out again!!
The plan to engineer a shorter, smaller human race to cope with climate change is almost as big and bold as the schemes of people working to convince themselves climate change won’t affect them.
The plan, at this point still sketchy, has three engineers. S Matthew Liao is a professor of bioethics at New York University. Anders Sandberg and Rebecca Roache are fellows who study ethics at the University of Oxford. The trio launched their "be-littler" idea in a paper called "Human engineering and climate change", in 2012 in the journal Ethics, Policy and the Environment.
"This solution involves the biomedical modification of humans to make them better at mitigating climate change," they announced. They say this human engineering would be voluntary – "possibly supported by incentives such as tax breaks or sponsored healthcare."
The phrase "human engineering" has been in use for more than a century. But until now, it has meant designing or re-designing things to accommodate the way people already are. Liao, Sandberg and Roache reverse that definition. One of their proposed projects is to modify people, genetically or with drugs, so they "feel nauseous" if they eat meat, thus leading to a shrinkage of the meat industry (and its oh-by-the-way copious production of greenhouse gases.) Or, to make people smarter, which might induce them to produce fewer new people. Or, again, to modify people’s minds, using drugs or other means, "to enhance our moral decisions by making us more altruistic and empathetic," in a way that would cause us to mitigate our climate-changing activities.
But their punchiest proposal is "making humans smaller". Their reasoning is simple: "Other things being equal, the larger one is, the more food and energy one requires". Bigger people also consume bigger amounts of energy indirectly, they say. Cars use more fuel to carry heavy passengers. Stout folk need more fabric to cover themselves. Weightier persons "wear out shoes, carpets, and furniture more quickly, and so on".
They explore whether it’s best to reduce humans’ average height, or weight, or both.
But, but, but… who in their right mind would choose to make their children smaller? Liao, Sandberg and Roache make a point of asking that question. Their answer? History is replete with examples of ideas which, while widely supported or even invaluable now, were ridiculed and dismissed… Pasteur’s theory of germs… the telephone… heavier than air flying machines… computers.
And what the hell is “Bioethics” when it is at home anyway?
By Paul Homewood
WUWT carried the story yesterday of the paper by Kodra & Ganguly, forecasting a wider range of temperature extremes in the future.
According to the Northeastern University press release, using climate models and reanalysis datasets, the authors found that
While global temperature is indeed increasing, so too is the variability in temperature extremes. For instance, while each year’s average hottest and coldest temperatures will likely rise, those averages will also tend to fall within a wider range of potential high and low temperate extremes than are currently being observed.
But is there any evidence that this has been happening? We can check what’s been happening in the US, by using the US Climate Extremes Index, produced by NOAA.
Of course, the US only accounts for 2% of the Earth’s surface, (except when there is a polar vortex, a mild winter or a drought in California), but it seems a sensible place to start. We also know that climate models often bear very little resemblance to reality!
By Paul Homewood
Breitbart carry the story of how Roger Pielke Jr was forced out of writing for the FiveThirtyEight blog, for not toeing the party line.
Environmental studies professor Roger Pielke, Jr. has quit Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog over a controversy that arose after he wrote a post denying that global warming is responsible for the increasing costs of recovery from natural disasters.
Pielke, a professor in the Environmental Studies Program and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), reported to Discover Magazine that over the last month he began to find that his work was being rejected by FiveThirtyEight. So, he told editor Mike Wilson that he quit.
The controversy grew after Pielke posted a March 19 story he entitled, "Disasters Cost More Than Ever–But Not Because of Climate Change."
As soon as he posted the piece, the laymen critics in Silver’s audience began to attack him for daring to deviate from the idea that global warming causes all of the earth’s ills.
In his interview at Discovery, Pielke lamented the editorial cowardice of Nate Silver, who sat back and allowed Pielke’s critics to go so far as to organize an effort to have him fired at the blog, not to mention ultimately showing reluctance to support him by posting new pieces.
"I do wish that 538 had shown a bit more editorial backbone, but hey, it is his operation. If a widely published academic cannot publish on a subject which he has dozens of peer-reviewed papers and 1000s of citations to his work, what can he write on?" Pielke said.
The professor also said that he has a suspicion that Silver "knows very well where the evidence lies on this topic" but refused to fully support him over the whole thing for whatever reason.
Pielke also criticized the whole atmosphere at the blog, saying, "For me, if the price of playing in the DC-NYC data journalism world is self-censorship for fear of being unpopular, then it is clearly not a good fit for any academic policy scholar."
Pielke was pilloried as a global warming denier–something he most decidedly is not–by such luminaries as Paul Krugman, Slate, and others after the original post went viral. Pielke said that he was shocked at how some of these people and outlets lied about him.
As he told Discovery, "It is remarkable to see people like Paul Krugman and John Holdren brazenly make completely false claims in public about my work and my views. That they make such false claims with apparently no consequences says something about the nature of debate surrounding climate."
Read the rest here.
By Paul Homewood
|Change from last month||+0.06||-0.03||+0.03
|12 month running average||0.22||0.24||0.53||0.65||0.66|
|12 month average – 1981-2010 Baseline||0.12||0.24||0.24||0.25||0.24|
A bit of a mixture this month, with some up and some down, but very little change in the 12 month averages, which remain slightly above the 2004-13 average.
As we’re at mid-year, it’s worth taking a look at how the Jan – June figures stack up against recent years.
We have heard a lot about “record months” recently, which have not been borne out by the satellite datasets. But even on the surface sets, the first six months of this year does not appear exceptional, as we can see when we plot the Jan to June numbers for GISS back to 1997.
The start to this year only ranks 5th behind 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2010. Although 1998 and 2010 were major El Nino years, significantly 2002 was ENSO neutral, while 2005 was only a weak El Nino year, similar to recent months.
Analysis of the satellite data shows that there is nothing remarkable about the start of this year at all.
On RSS, this year ranks as tie 8th, while UAH shows tie 5th. Both show this year well below the peaks of 1998 and 2010.
By Paul Homewood
The EU have recently published its Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report for this year, which contains the numbers for 2012, the latest available.
- Increases since 2011 for both the UK and Germany.
- Year on year decreases in Spain and Greece, no doubt largely due to the economic recession there.
- Overall decrease of about 1% for both EU-15 and EU-28.
- Italian emissions decreased from 2004 with significant drops in 2009 and 2012, which were mainly due to the economic crisis and reductions in industrial output during these years.
In 2009, the EU set legally binding targets to reduce GHG emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020. However, this was not quite the radical challenge it appears, as, by 2009, emissions were already 13% below for the EU-15, and 18% lower for the wider EU-28. As they point out in their latest report, these reductions had little to do with climate change targets, and everything to do with changing economic fundamentals:-
1) The reduction of GHG emissions in the United Kingdom were primarily the result of liberalising energy markets and the subsequent fuel switches from oil and coal to gas in electricity production.
2) The favourable trend in Germany were increasing efficiency in power and heating plants and the economic restructuring of the five new Länder after German reunification. (Translation – shutting down for inefficient East German power plants and heavy industry).
3) The main factors for decreasing emissions in Poland — as with other new Member States — were the decline of energy-inefficient heavy industry and the overall restructuring of the economy in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The 2008 recession also had a clear effect, contributing significantly to emission reductions of 9% between 2007 and 2009.
The EU target for 2020 demands emission levels of no more than 3410 Mt for the EU-15, a reduction of 209 Mt, or 6%, from 2012 levels. Since 2009, reductions of 103 Mt have been achieved, so the targets are not unachievable.
However, given that Germany are massively increasing their coal fired generating capacity, and that the EU has remained mired in recession since 2009, one wonders if the targets are achievable if economic growth returns.
(Of course, a cynical person might question whether such growth will occur, if the EU continues its ruinous energy policies!)
Meanwhile, for all the pain and cost endured, UK emissions have dropped by a barely noticeable 9 Mt, about 1.5%, between 2009 and 2012. Over this period, China have been increasing theirs by this amount every week.
By Paul Homewood
Tallbloke ran a post a couple of weeks ago about this Reuters report on rising sea levels off the East Coast of America.
Reuters) – Coastal flooding along the densely populated Eastern Seaboard of the United States has surged in recent years, a Reuters analysis has found.
During the past four decades, the number of days a year that tidal waters reached or exceeded National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration flood thresholds more than tripled in many places, the analysis found. At flood threshold, water can begin to pool on streets. As it rises farther, it can close roads, damage property and overwhelm drainage systems.
Since 2001, water has reached flood levels an average of 20 days or more a year in Annapolis, Maryland; Wilmington, North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Sandy Hook, New Jersey; and Charleston, South Carolina. Before 1971, none of those locations averaged more than five days a year. Annapolis had the highest average number of days a year above flood thresholds since 2001, at 34.
The analysis was undertaken as part of a broader examination of rising sea levels Reuters plans to publish later this year.
As many Americans question the causes and even the reality of climate change, increased flooding is already posing a major challenge for local governments in much of the United States.
“Chronic flooding is a problem our coastal managers are dealing with every day,” said Mary Munson, executive director of the Coastal States Organization, a Washington nonprofit representing 35 states and territories. “Flooding causes the quality of life in these communities to decrease along with the property values, while the flood insurance rates go up.”
In Charleston, for example, a six-lane thoroughfare regularly becomes impassable when high tides block rainwater from emptying into the Atlantic Ocean, restricting access for half of the city to three hospitals, four schools and police headquarters. The city, which has more than 120,000 residents, has $200 million in flood-control projects underway.
Laura Cabiness, director of public service for Charleston, said street flooding has always been a problem in the low-lying city. But more recently, she said, “it’s deeper than usual and higher than usual, and the tide has remained higher longer.”
For its analysis, Reuters collected more than 25 million hourly tide-gauge readings from nearly 70 sites on the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts and compared them to NOAA flood thresholds.
Reuters then narrowed the analysis to include only the 25 gauges with data spanning at least 50 years. Nineteen gauges were on the Eastern Seaboard, three on the West Coast, and three on the Gulf Coast. Comparing the years prior to 1971 to the years since 2001, the average number of days a year that readings exceeded flood thresholds had increased at all gauges except two: those in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
The trend roughly tracks the global rise in sea levels. The oceans have risen an average of 8 inches in the past century, according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment. Levels have increased as much as twice that in areas of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts where the ground is sinking because of subsidence – a process whereby natural geological forces or the extraction of underground water, oil or gas cause the ground to sink.
The most dramatic increases in annual flood-level days occurred at 10 gauges from New York City to the Georgia-South Carolina border, a stretch of coast where subsidence accounts for as much as half the rise in sea level in some locations, according to U.S. Geological Survey studies.
Now, to be fair, they do mention the problem of subsidence and sinking land, but the impression is nevertheless clearly given that:
1) Climate change is the real problem
2) Things are getting worse.
As is often the case with these matters, though, things are never quite what we are led to believe. As they have used the example of Charleston, let’s take a look at what the tide gauges are actually telling us.
By Paul Homewood
Paul alerts me to this story in the Toronto Star.
DEOLI-BENIGRAM, INDIA—There is no good time to ask someone to relive a catastrophic flood.
But a rainy day is the worst.
It is early morning and Deoli-Benigram, a charming village sprawled over an eastern Himalayan peak, is drenched. It has been raining since the previous evening — a persistent drizzle that shows no sign of stopping.
“Rain frightens me,” says Jyoti Semwal. The 27-year-old mother of two is sitting in her two-storey home; a picture window looks down into the valley but the steady rain and dense fog obscure the view.
She doesn’t want to talk about the June day last year when it started raining, triggering floods that carried away thousands of people, including 57 men from her village.
She doesn’t want to discuss that day, or how it changed her life.
But she does — mostly because she also has some questions. They are about climate change.
Unsurprisingly, the Star proceed to link the floods to climate change:
It is impossible, of course, to connect a specific event to global warming. However, extreme rainfall has become much more frequent, especially in South Asia: The 2005 deluge in Mumbai. The 2007 and 2009 cyclones in Bangladesh. The 2010 Pakistan floods.
While the West quibbles over a global deal to fight climate change — it will be signed in Paris in 2015 and take effect in 2020 — these two Himalayan villages are already facing the reality in their picturesque backyard.
As India’s Centre for Science & Environment points out in their long and detailed report, “Floods, Flood Plains and Environmental Myths”, the reality is somewhat different. Unfortunately these sort of events are only too common in the Himalayas.
The Himalayan mountains constitute an ecological system naturally primed for disaster. The deep gorges through which the Himalayan rivers flow convey the impression that the Himalayan valleys would never face floods. Yet these very channels often fail to contain the fury of disastrous floods. Among the most affected valleys are the laknanda and Bhagirathi valleys of the Garhwal Himalaya and the Teesta valley of the eastern Himalaya.
The Himalaya, the youngest mountain range in the world, is one of the most erosion-prone ranges. The brutal rainstorms which lash these mountains, together with some of the world’s worst earthquakes give the Himalaya an ecological setting extremely susceptible to natural disasters and floods. For instance:
- The deep gorges of Himalayan rivers seem sufficient to transport excess rainwater. Surprisingly, this is not true. Floods have been taking place in the Himalayan mountains since time immemorial.
- Landslides often block Himalayan rivers. When these landslide dams burst, they cause a flood pulse which triggers off more landslides.
- In 1893, a landslide blocked the Birahiganga in the Uttar Pradesh Himalaya to form a 350 m-high dam creating the vast Gohana Tal. When a part of the dam toppled 10 months later, the level of the Alaknanda rose by 50 m and washed away the town of Srinagar.
- During a normal year, some 0.5 mm to five mm of soil depth gets washed away in the Darjeeling Himalaya. During a year of catastrophic floods, such as in 1968, some 20 mm deep soil can get eroded. Hardly any mountain range in the world experiences such high erosion rates.
- Cyclonic storms in Darjeeling and Sikkim can bring 310 mm to 1,800 mm of rainfall in a day. Cloudbursts exceeding 1,000 mm a day can trigger massive landslides in practically any geological circumstance.
- The Teesta flowing through the Sikkim and Darjeeling mountains is possibly the wildest river in the Himalaya. After the destructive floods of 1987, the Teesta, which used to flow into the Ganga changed course and started flowing into the Brahmaputra.
Last year’s floods occurred in the Garwhal Himalaya, about which the CSE study reports:
Local reports gave rainfall amounts of 313mm over the three days at the Uttarakhand State capital of Dehradun. While localised amounts may have been higher, they certainly won’t have been “unprecedented”. Tragically, the death toll was many times higher because it coincided with the annual pilgrimage to holy sites. Many thousands of pilgrims were trapped by the flood waters.
By Paul Homewood
With thanks to Peter Austin and Paul, who compiled the lists.
Following the story about the Welsh Govt’s £48K wind turbine in Aberystwyth, which has only produced £5 worth of electricity in the last five years, readers have sent me some more examples of wasted money.
Dover Express report:
THE much-trumpeted £90,000 wind turbine installed outside the council offices has generated just a tenth of the energy it should have done, the Express can reveal.
The 17-metre machine, erected outside the Dover District Council headquarters in Whitfield, was supposed to generate 45,000 kW hours per year, producing 7 per cent of the electricity used in the offices.
But the Express can reveal that just 22,080 kWhrs has been generated in total since November 2007 – less than 4,500 kWhrs per year.
Critics have called the project a "white elephant", but the authority has defended the scheme and said it has "raised the profile" of renewable energy by educating people across the district.
At 15 pence/KWh, the value of electricity produced is just £675 pa. Assuming (very generously!) no maintenance or interest charges, the payback is 133 years!
Interestingly, the paper reports:
Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request about costs and savings six months after the grant-funded turbine was installed, DDC said at the time: "It should save 45,000 kWhrs per year, producing 7 per cent of the electricity used in the offices."
But, this week, it appeared to backtrack from the numbers, saying the 45,000 kWhrs figure was the upper limit it could generate and was only achievable with constantly favourable wind speeds and direction.
A spokesman said: "The 45,000 kWhrs quoted is the optimum generation – in order to achieve this, the wind speed would always need to be at the maximum speed that the turbine could operate safely in, and the wind direction would always have to be favourable
Confusion between capacity and output is commonplace. Did the council get its sums wrong in the first place? Or did they knowingly waste £90K of ratepayers money, just to “raise the profile of renewable energy?