By Paul Homewood
If anybody is wondering why us lucky blighters in Britain have had plenty of wet and windy weather lately, the BBC spell it out concisely.
Quite simply, there is a mass of extremely cold air in the northern part of the Atlantic, coming up against mild air to the south. It is precisely this stark differential which brought much worse storms in the Little Ice Age, and which global warming/polar amplification were supposed to reduce.
As I pointed out a few weeks ago, this cold air is associated with some extremely cold sea surface temperatures, some 2 degrees colder than average.
The Arctic is, contrary to popular assertion, turning very cold, with DMI showing sea ice extent at its highest level for this time of year since at least 2005.
By Paul Homewood
The private jets will soon be flying in from all over the world for the Paris conference due to start tomorrow, bringing with them thousands of politicians, officials and green activists.
But what is it all likely to achieve?
Here are my personal thoughts.
1) No binding agreements will be made.
Developing nations have already made it absolutely clear that they will not agree to any legally binding agreements, although they expect the west to do so.
As they have banded themselves into one grouping, led by China and India, there is no way individual states will be picked off one by one with either bribes or force. It is also clear that China, in particular, will not agree to any external monitoring.
The EU has already indicated that its own binding targets will be reviewed unless a globally binding agreement is reached.
Obama, keen to seal his “legacy”, would love to commit the US, but knows he would never get such a treaty through Congress. Meanwhile, others in what is called the Umbrella Group, including countries like Russia and Japan, are ambivalent about the whole process and are certainly not willing to wreck their economies.
2) No renegotiation of INDC’s
There will be no renegotiation of individual INDC’s. This is not even on the agenda.
3) No action on finance
It was agreed at Copenhagen that a climate fund of $100bn would be set up by 2020, along with commitment to $100bn a year thereafter.
Virtually nothing has been put into the fund as yet, and it is unlikely that more than a few billion will be promised at Paris. Even the small amount of $3bn promised by Obama is unlikely pass Congress.
Developed countries, including the US, are adamant that the large amounts promised in 2009 cannot all come from the public purse, and that much will have to come from private funding.
Look for progress towards the target to be reviewed at meetings next year, the year after, and the year after that.
4) Lots more meetings
This one will run and run.
There will be very little of substance agreed in Paris. China, India and the rest of the developing world will be free to carry on increasing emissions, while Obama and other western leaders will delude themselves that their sacrifices have made a difference.
There will be some form of wording agreed that allows all parties to go away and claim that some progress has been made. And there will be more meetings next year and after to “build on this progress”.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace will moan that we have all missed a glorious opportunity.
And so, next year, we will start all over again.
By Paul Homewood
I’ve covered this issue in the past, but a new report from the US Natural Resources Defense Council provides yet more evidence of the damage being to done to natural forests there by European demand for biomass, fuelled by climate driven subsidies.
The report describes how demand for wood pellets has been booming:
Wood pellet exports from the United States doubled from 1.6 million tons in 2012 to 3.2 million tons in 2013. They increased again, by nearly 40 percent, from 2013 to 2014 and are expected to reach 5.7 million tons in 2015. Wood pellet manufacturing in the region is expected to continue skyrocketing, with production estimates as high as 70 million metric tons by 2020.
To manufacture wood pellets, mills in the Southeast cart in truckload after truckload of raw material harvested from the region’s forests to their facilities where they compress sawdust or grind up whole trees and other large forest residuals into uniform pellets. These pellets are then loaded onto ships and transported across the Atlantic Ocean to be burned in European power stations. Wood pellet manufacturers and their major customers claim that pellets from these mills are composed entirely of sawdust and other mill residues, tree trimmings, and diseased or “problem” trees not suitable as timber.
However, studies have concluded that logging residuals alone are unlikely to meet biomass fuel market demand and that healthy, whole trees (e.g., pulpwood) will be needed. Our research, along with the research of other organizations, shows that the harvest of whole trees is already taking place—and that these trees are coming not only from plantations. This report is the first to reveal the potential scale of the pressure on southeastern forests from operating and proposed pellet mill manufacturers in the region. Working with the Conservation Biology Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council has compiled data showing the troublesome geographic nexus between unprotected forests in the region and existing and proposed wood pellet manufacturing facilities, placing the threats to these forests in stark visual relief.
Existing and proposed pellet mills, such as those owned by U.S. pellet manufacturing giant Enviva and British utility company Drax Power, are sited not just within harvest range of plantations but within range of unprotected, natural bottomland hardwood forests. Nearly every proposed pellet plant—and several current plants—are sourcing from areas that include critical habitat for up to 25 species that are federally listed as imperiled or endangered. Seen here in totality for the first time, the pressure on forests in this region from the biomass industry is nearly ubiquitous.
What’s at stake biologically?
The forests being impacted by wood pellet mills in the Southeast are largely the biologically rich wetland forests, also known as bottomland hardwood forests. The Southeast covers around 16 percent of the land area of the lower 48 states yet contains over 65 percent of the nation’s remaining bottomland hardwood forests. They grow in stream and broad river floodplains in a mixed canopy of trees, such as towering bald cypress and swamp tupelo, red maple, green ash, American elm, and black gum, as well as numerous species of oak trees that can live for hundreds of years and are considered integral to river and coastal wetland systems.
Nearly all of the region’s bottomland hardwood forests have been impacted ever since European settlement began. Large areas were drained and converted to agriculture that continues to this day or were devoured by urban development. It has been estimated that only around 20 percent of pre-settlement bottomland hardwood forests still remain, and because of this decline, these biologically important forests have been the focus of active restoration over recent decades. For the surviving bottomland hardwood forests, successive waves of logging over many decades have razed one forest after another, with slow recovery in between. As a result, what some call “old growth” forests in the region may be only 80 years old.
The Southeast United States is one of the most biologically rich regions in North America, supported by a mild climate, diverse geology and soils, and an abundance of water. The World Wildlife Fund calls southeastern forests “some of the most biologically important habitats in North America,” and the region has been identified as globally outstanding with respect to species richness and endemism (species found nowhere else) for salamanders, trees, land snails, fishes, mussels, and crayfishes. The region contains the highest concentration of valuable wetlands in all of North America, with many terrestrial and aquatic animals depending on these forests, including numerous at-risk species.
One of the big problems identified in the report is that biomass companies are moving into these vulnerable areas in such large numbers that they will simply overwhelm sustainable sources of wood.
As demonstrated in the previous section, protection for these important forests in the Southeast (particularly older stands) is woefully inadequate in every state. Today millions of acres of remaining mature forests are within the sourcing radii of existing and proposed wood pellet mills. Many are on the Atlantic coast, a favorite location for pellet mills because of ease of export of pellets to European markets.
The idea that logging practices are sustainable, either from an environmental or CO2 point of view, is firmly squashed:
Confronted with questions about sourcing wood in sensitive ecosystems, the wood pellet industry argues that these trees will grow back. That’s true, but the ecological values of a regenerating forest are far fewer than those of older stands. The complex vertical structure of a mature bottomland system, vital for the highest levels of bird diversity, for example, may never be achieved thanks to even-age management with short rotation periods (a common management practice in the U.S. South that relies on clearcutting all trees over repeated, short time frames). Furthermore, restoring bottomland hardwood forests is challenging because of the time necessary for these forests to mature and because altered flood patterns can reduce the diversity of trees and plants when a forest regenerates.
It takes an entire human lifetime to regain the values of a forest that has been cleared under the best of conditions. Even if these forests eventually do recover, in the decades long interim, biodiversity, carbon capture, and all the other benefits of a mature forest will be forfeited and the ecological integrity of the site further compromised or in some instances completely lost.
Recent science and our own modeling show that wood pellets made in part of whole trees from bottomland hardwoods in the Atlantic plain of the U.S. Southeast— even in relatively small proportions— will emit carbon pollution comparable to or in excess of fossil fuels for approximately five decades. This five-decade time period is significant: climate policy imperatives require dramatic short-term reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and emissions from these pellets will persist in the atmosphere well past the time that significant reductions are needed.
Biomass operators, such as Drax, have continually insisted that they will only use wood from sustainable sources, such as offcuts and diseased trees. The report states that this will not be possible:
Studies have concluded that true wood waste alone will likely be unable to meet bioenergy demands in the southern region. Given that lower-carbon biomass sources are limited in supply, it is equally important that a cap be imposed on the use of biomass at levels that can be sustainably sourced (taking into consideration other competing uses—the existing traditional forest products industry—and the pressing need to increase protected areas for sensitive forest types). Getting this policy signal right is critical to steering the industry away from highcarbon, ecologically damaging sources of biomass and ensuring that bioenergy projects do not adversely impact forests, carbon sinks, soil, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and water resources.
The report is damning in its conclusions:
The smug, self satisfied do-gooders in the EU should be hanging their heads in shame at the damage that their policies are bringing about.
The full report is here:
By Paul Homewood
I reported on the looming bankruptcy of Abengoa, the massive Spanish renewable energy company.
A look at their international advisory board reveals some interesting names.
Nicholas Stern needs little introduction, well known for his highly rewarded promoting of the warmist agenda for several years now.
As well as his role at the Grantham Centre, he also has other remunerated climate related employment, according to the House of Lords Register below.
The idea that he can offer any sort of impartial, objective advice is clearly laughable.
By Paul Homewood
Hottest year update!
From the BBC:
Seventy-three patches of snow have survived on Scotland’s hills from last winter – the most for 21 years, according to a man who counts them.
Iain Cameron writes about, photographs and measures snow.
His records of the white stuff are published by the Royal Meteorological Society.
The total of 73 is the most since 1994. They have lingered through to this winter because of the cool spring and frequent snow showers until June.
Patches were recorded on mountains such as Creag Meagaidh, Ben Macdui and Ben Nevis.
Mr Cameron said snow had survived this in areas where the phenomenon was unusual.
He said: "This includes, also for the first time since 1994, mountains in the north west Highlands, where 12 patches survived.
"The reason so many patches survived is undoubtedly to do with the very cool spring, which saw frequent and heavy snow showers right through May and even into June.
"In fact, there are good grounds to believe that the maximum depth of snow recorded in the gullies of Ben Nevis was achieved in early June.
"Also because of the cool and overcast summer months. For example, the summit of Aonach Mor – 4,000ft – recorded only four days where the temperature exceeded 10C.
"July and August were also cool, and taken together this meant that melting rates were diminished."
Lasting snow – snow that has fallen recently and expected to linger – came about 10 days ago, Mr Cameron said.
It means many of the 73 patches could survive into next summer.
By Paul Homewood
Stranded assets, Mr Carney?
El Pais report:
Spanish renewable energy company Abengoa on Thursday applied for preliminary protection from creditors and called in lenders to start negotiating the terms of an agreement that would prevent a definitive suspension of payments.
In accordance with Spanish insolvency laws, the company has four months to reach an out-of-court agreement with its creditors.
Abengoa is on its way to becoming the biggest bankruptcy case in Spanish business history – even bigger than the fall of real estate giant Martinsa-Fadesa.
While the Seville-based firm desperately seeks a new deal with its creditors or a new investor to shoulder part of its €8.9 billion of gross financial debt, it is also asking bondholders to group together into a committee to renegotiate the debt.
“The committee is necessary in order to manage our commitments in an efficient manner,” said a company spokesperson.
Meanwhile, shares in the renewable energy and engineering giant continued to plunge, registering losses of up to 25 percent on Thursday – its last day of trading after the Ibex 35’s technical committee decided to take Abengoa out of the blue-chip index.
“Many bondholders are now selling,” confirmed Stuart Stanley, of Invesco Asset Management. “If nobody is willing to intensify their positions, then who’s going to help Abengoa? Right now, the company needs a white knight.”
On Wednesday, the company informed the United States stockmarket watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), that Javier Garoz, head of the US unit, was leaving the group.
Abengoa, which is made up of around 650 businesses, did not explain the reasons for Garoz’s departure.
Meanwhile, Spanish Industry Minister José Manuel Soria said on Thursday that he hoped Abengoa would be able to save itself, but noted that it is a private company.
“The government is closely following all steps being taken, but the case affects a company from the private sector, since the government is not in the position of the National Industry Institute, in which the state could inject capital into this and that company,” said Soria in an interview with state broadcaster TVE.
Soria called Abengoa “a business of reference in Spain” in the field of renewable energy. The company has a workforce of 27,000 employees and three quarters of its business is conducted outside Spain.
Employment Minister Fátima Báñez on Thursday guaranteed that the government would help seek a solution “with a future” for Abengoa and called on all parties involved to “negotiate and dialogue to the point of exhaustion.”
Báñez said that the government “wants to help with that dialogue” and called Abengoa a “very important company, not just because of the number of workers but also because it is one of the most innovative businesses in our territory.”
The Washington Times also picks up the story:
If you were wondering what the Spanish word for “Solyndra” is, this week provided the answer: “Abengoa.”
Abengoa is a Spanish company that was another of President Obama’s personally picked green energy projects, and it’s now on the verge of bankruptcy too, potentially saddling taxpayers with a multibillion-dollar tab and fueling the notion that the administration repeatedly gambles on losers in the energy sector.
The renewable energy firm, which is constructing several large-scale solar power projects in the U.S. and has received at least $2.7 billion in federal loan guarantees since 2010, said Wednesday it will begin insolvency proceedings, a technical first step toward a possible bankruptcy.
The news comes at an especially awkward time for Mr. Obama. On Sunday he’ll travel to Paris for a historic climate change summit and is expected to call on world leaders to reject fossil fuels and spend heavily on renewable energy, including solar power.
Abengoa’s looming demise is eerily reminiscent of the fall of solar power firm Solyndra in 2011, a colossal failure of government investment that left taxpayers on the hook for more than $530 million.
A potential Abengoa bankruptcy could be much worse for taxpayers, although it’s unclear how much of the guaranteed loans the company has paid back. Neither the White House nor the Energy Department responded to requests for comment Wednesday seeking information on how much the company still owes on the loans, for which the federal government might be left on the hook.
Critics say Abengoa is yet another reminder that the administration’s meddling in the energy sector — and its insistence that, with enough government financial backing, ambitious renewable projects can compete in the free market — leads to disaster for taxpayers.
“When you have a company that is based on subsidies, it is no surprise they run into financial trouble because their business model isn’t based on economics; it’s based on politics,” said Daniel Simmons, vice president for policy at the conservative Institute for Energy Research, a leading critic of the administration’s spending on renewable fuels and of the president’s energy policy more broadly.
“The government money fueled Abengoa’s growth. They fueled their desire to take on more debt. It’s now obvious they have a very serious debt problem,” Mr. Simmons added. “What is troubling is that if there are large projects that private-sector people think they’ll be able to make money on, there’s no need to take those projects to a government. That’s where these projects go wrong: thinking governments will necessarily make good investment decisions.”
Wednesday’s news sent Abengoa’s stock price falling by about 60 percent. International banks’ total exposure to a full Abengoa bankruptcy stands at about $21.4 billion, according to Reuters news agency, meaning the company’s downfall would end up being the largest bankruptcy in Spanish history.
The announcement came after private Spanish backers said they were bailing on plans to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the company.
Company officials say they’re continuing to work with creditors in the hopes of staving off a full-on bankruptcy filing.
“The company will begin the negotiating process with its creditors with the aim to reach an accord to guarantee the financial viability under Article 5 of the Bankruptcy Act, which the company intends to request as soon as possible,” Abengoa said in a statement.
The company has received loans from governments around the world. In the U.S. the administration awarded the company about $2.7 billion for two majors projects — the Solana Generating Station in Arizona and the Mojave Solar Project in California.
Mr. Obama personally touted the company in 2010 in an attempt to justify to taxpayers why he was committing nearly $1.5 billion to the Solana project.
“In the short-term, construction will create approximately 1,600 jobs in Arizona. What’s more, over 70 percent of the components and products used in construction will be manufactured in the USA, boosting jobs and communities in states up and down the supply chain,” the president said on July 3, 2010. “Once completed, this plant will be the first large-scale solar plant in the U.S. to actually store the energy it generates for later use — even at night. And it will generate enough clean, renewable energy to power 70,000 homes.”
But the Solana project has run into a multitude of hurdles. The Arizona Republic reported earlier this year that the plant has fallen far short of its targets, generating about 603,567 megawatt hours of electricity in 2014 as opposed to the projected 900,000 megawatt hours. The project came online in 2013.
Throughout the construction process, subcontractors also alleged that Abengoa routinely changed plans on the fly and sometimes failed to make payments, creating a frustrating and confusing situation on the ground in Arizona. More than a half-dozen subcontractors have been involved in payment disputes with the company, according to the Arizona Republic.
Abengoa and its public relations representatives have maintained that, with a project the size of Solana, such disputes are inevitable, and the company has worked hard to resolve them as soon as possible.
Moving forward, critics such as Mr. Simmons believe the administration may, for public relations purposes, back away from further renewable energy investment in the short-term.
Eventually, however, he argues Mr. Obama and his deputies will continue to put taxpayer money on the line in the name of fighting climate change.
“There might be a pause, but the administration believes it is smarter than private investors,” Mr. Simmons said. “They will continue to make these sorts of investments, subsidies, because they think they know best.”
Remember those words – When you have a company that is based on subsidies, it is no surprise they run into financial trouble because their business model isn’t based on economics; it’s based on politics.
We keep being assured that solar technology can compete against fossil fuels. But if it could, Abengoa would not be on the verge of bankruptcy.
By Paul Homewood
This is the sort of article that the Met Office were getting squeamish about earlier.
The Star reports (but please avert your eyes from the rugby!):
Clodagh is expected to linger for TWO WEEKS, with Atlantic systems bringing gales and snow until December 9 or even later.
Charities are warning that temperatures over Christmas and New Year could plummet to -14C, which could see as many as 50,000 Brits killed by cold weather.
Scottish mountains could be coated in half a metre of snow at the weekend, while gusts will buffet Black Friday shoppers tomorrow as the frenzy to grab bargains gets into full glow.
Colder air will start flooding south on Saturday, the Met Office says.
Winds will reach 50mph in the west on Friday, 60mph from tomorrow, 65mph in the south on Saturday and up to 100mph in Scotland on Sunday.
Snow of between 30 and 50cm will fall in the Scottish Highlands, while a Met Office forecaster said snow was "likely on northern hills".
MeteoGroup forecaster Laura Caldwell said: "With indications of stormy weather, keep an eye out for Clodagh, the next named storm."
The Met Office said: "Storm Clodagh will become the third storm named by the Met Office when a storm is next forecast to have an impact on the UK.
"From Friday, it will be very windy, with gales possible, especially on Sunday.
"Monday looks like hill snow in the North and a windy day, with a risk of gales.
"From Tuesday to December 9, a succession of Atlantic weather systems are likely to spread across the UK.
"Northern areas are likely to bear the brunt, with the strongest winds, heaviest rain as well as sleet or hill snow.
"Temperatures will feel colder due to the strength of the wind."
The Met Office’s forecast to the end of January said El Nino means a greater risk of New Year freezes due to the bitter easterlies that helped cause December 2010’s -21.3C Big Freeze and January 2013’s -13.6C chill.
Energy Bill Revolution director Ed Matthew said: "This winter’s toll could be far worse, thousands higher than 43,900 deaths in last years mild winter, due to freezing weather forecast this winter."
The Met Office 5-day outlook is rather more muted:
Expect a wet and windy weekend, but, as the Met Office told us in their blog, nothing unusual for this time of year.
Time to take the dog for a walk, I think!
By Paul Homewood
The whole business of giving gales cute little names has now become an utter farce, just as much else about the Met Office nowadays. It looks as if the they have been stung by criticism of their abject overhyping of Abigail and Barney.
From their blog yesterday:
This weekend the UK will see some unsettled, windy weather but at this stage the Met Office has not issued any National Severe Weather Warnings for wind. We have not named the next storm despite some articles in the press suggesting this is the case.
There are a series of low pressure systems affecting the UK this weekend and currently there is not a clear signal for exactly how they will affect the UK. We’ll continue to keep an eye on the developing weather systems and you can keep up to date with the latest on our forecast pages.
The next few days are looking unsettled:
Friday: windy with a band of heavy rain moving southeastwards, clearing to sunshine and showers. Turning cold following the rain with wintry showers over hills in the north, but with snow reaching increasingly to lower levels in the north overnight.
Saturday: chilly to start with some frost and a risk of icy patches, then an unsettled, windy day with showers or longer spells of rain, the showers wintry over the higher ground of Scotland. Gales will develop, particularly near southern and western coasts where they may reach severe gales, which is not unusual for this time of year.
Sunday: it will remain windy and further showers are expected, then a spell of rain looks likely to push across northern parts during the day. Gales are likely with a risk of severe gales in the north and west. Temperatures around average in the south, a little below in the north and feeling cold in the wind.
Next week looks to bring further unsettled weather, as low pressure continues to control the UK’s weather. It will continue to be quite mild for the time of year with any colder spells quite short-lived between bands of rain.
This will she/won’t she business is ludicrous, and it was always going to be guaranteed that the media would jump on the bandwagon, with their sensationalist headlines.
One might ask where Clodagh happens to be hiding at the moment, if she’s not coming out this weekend.
It is time that the Met Office got back to proper weather forecasting and forgot about exaggerating every bit of bad weather that comes along.
Meanwhile, there was only one Clodagh!
By Paul Homewood
h/t AC Osborn
More overhyped nonsense from Jeff Masters.
We have already had the damp squib of Hurricane Patricia, now it’s Sandra’s turn.
Claims that it reached Category 4 strength have not been supported by any physical evidence, and are simply the result of models.
Indeed, as NOAA show below, the claimed wind speeds of 145 mph (125 Kt) were only ever derived from the Best Track Warning Intensity. The actual Dvorak readings only support speeds of just over 100 Kt, or about 120 mph, making Sandra a run of the mill Category 3.
In any event, estimates of windspeeds are notoriously inaccurate, as Chris Landsea has pointed out:
By Paul Homewood
There are only ten GHCN stations currently operating in South Africa, and only one of these, Calvinia, is classified by GISS as rural. It has a population of 9000, and is situated inland in the Northern Cape province.
|Airport Y/N?||Pop K|
This is the actual temperature trend at Calvinia, based on GHCN V2 raw data in 2011.
There has been no warming since the start of the record. Yet the current version of GISS, which is based on adjusted GHCN data, has miraculously morphed into a sharply rising trend.
Temperatures prior to 1989 have been marked down by around 0.7C, and those 1940’s ones by even more.
So, what about the other nine sites? We have three with long, and pretty much continuous, records back to the 19thC.