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The Great Global Warming/Cooling Thread Part 2

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Climate science still trumps skeptics

By Michael D. Lemonick

August 3, 2012, 3:35 p.m.

My Op-Ed article on climate science and climate hype provoked plenty of online responses -- as pretty much anything touching on this very touchy subject inevitably will. Also quite predictably, several of the comments repeated critiques of mainstream climate science that have been raised and thoroughly debunked literally hundreds of times. Here’s a sampling, along with my responses:

"theblooms" writes: "Anthropogenic Global Warming is FAR FROM PROVEN. If the evidence is so damn clear-cut, then why did the East Anglia University Climate Research Unit cook the books and falsify the data?"

Response: The East Anglia researchers didn’t cook the books. Any suggestions otherwise are based on taking fragments of emails completely out of context. Several investigations have cleared these researchers of any scientific misconduct whatsoever. The were reprimanded only for failing to respond with enough thoroughness to a barrage of freedom-of-information requests from climate skeptics.

"forparity" writes: "What we do know, is that after some 70+ years of supposed AGW: Hurricanes/cyclones have not gotten more frequent nor more powerful. Tornadoes have not gotten more frequent nor more powerful. The rate of sea level rise has not accelerated (just confirmed that w/ NOAA a month back)....

Response: Climate scientists have made no definitive claim that hurricanes, cyclones or tornadoes would have gotten more frequent or more powerful, although they have speculated that warmer ocean water could have that effect on hurricanes and cyclones (the current thinking, as indicated in the Op-Ed and also not claimed as definitive, is that Atlantic hurricanes are likely to become less frequent but more powerful). As to the rate of sea level rise, you must be referring to a different NOAA than the one I'm familiar with. Here's what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says: "Since 1993, global sea level has risen at an accelerating rate of around 3.5 mm/year."

"for parity" also writes: "To date, I don't believe that there have been any peer reviewed scientific studies that actually confirm any global climate change -- or regional -- caused by CO2."

Response: To date, no peer-reviewed scientific study has definitively confirmed that any single case of lung cancer was caused by smoking. The causal evidence that puts warnings on cigarette packages is based mainly on statistics and on a scientifically plausible chain of biological events. As to climate change, there are thousands of peer-reviewed papers linking CO2 and global warming; you can find them synthesized in every IPCC report. Forparity’s assertion doesn’t pass the laugh test.

"jhklat" points out many times in many ways that without a falsifiable set of hypotheses -- in essence, scientific predictions (though "jhklat" doesn't seem to recognize that these qualify as falsifiable hypotheses) -- that can be tested in the real world, the theory of human-caused global warming isn’t science, it’s religion.

Response: That's absolutely correct. When I first started writing about the topic in 1987, there was no clear evidence that the planet was warming or that the climate was changing. For that reason, many serious scientists took the whole thing with a grain of salt. Shortly thereafter, the warming signal appeared from the background noise of the data, and the vast majority of those (completely legitimate) skeptics were gradually won over.

By now, the list of predictions that have been vindicated is quite extensive.

"justwrite3" has thoughtfully pointed to this useful list.

As to one more issue, alluded to by "TO Perspective" -- that Climate Central and I make money by pushing the notion that there is human-caused climate change (and therefore cannot be believed) -- there is this reality check: The site exists to report whatever the science turns up. I would presumably make more money, because there would be more interest in my writing and the site, if I could report that the science reversed itself and showed global warming to be false.


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Climate Q&A: California rolls out carbon price

by Erwin Jackson, deputy chief executive of The Climate Institute

Australia is certainly not going it alone on a carbon price — the latest cab off the rank will be California, which begins its cap-and-trade scheme in January 2013. Erwin Jackson from The Climate Institute talks to George Peridas from theUSNatural Resources Defense Councilon how the scheme will work, and how similar it is to Australia’s carbon laws …

EJ:Let me start by asking you what that scheme entails. What percentage of the Californian economy does the carbon price cover and what sectors?

GP: California is moving ahead on implementing a comprehensive climate program to comply with Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The program sets out to meet AB32’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to 1990 levels by 2020, and ultimately to achieve an 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050.

One of the mechanisms to achieve this is the cap-and-trade program. When fully implemented, the cap-and-trade program will cover approximately 85% of California’s GHG emissions; it will cover industrial, utility and transportation fuels. Agriculture is not required to hold allowances.

The regulations for the program are in place and underlying infrastructure for implementing it is being put in place over the course of 2012. The first auction of emission allowances is scheduled to take place in November 2012, and compliance obligations begin in January 2013.

California is also expected to link its program to other trading partners through the Western Climate Initiative, including the Canadian province of Quebec, which has formally adopted a cap-and-trade program as well, and British Columbia.

The Californian scheme could link in with the Australian scheme (where permits float in 2015), but no linkage has been decided.

EJ: Is there political opposition to the carbon price in California?

GP: California’s global warming law received bipartisan support and was signed by a Republican governor (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Californians voted overwhelmingly to reject a bid to suspend the law (under the so-called Prop. 23). There have been some legal challenges to the ETS, and some are still pending, but implementation is intact and moving forward as planned.

EJ:What kind of emissions reductions is California expecting by pricing carbon? Is it significant?

GP: Action in California on climate change is a significant part of the overall US picture as well as internationally, given that the state has 37 million people, represents the world’s ninth largest economy (US$1.73 trillion in 2011), and is by far the largest state economy in the US.

Significantly, California has also led the way on environmental policy in the US. Several policies that were first adopted in California, such as clean car standards, efficiency standards for appliances, and carbon emission standards for new power plants are now national policies too, or on their way to becoming so.

EJ:In Australia there is criticism of the A$23/tonne carbon price as being too high. California currently trades carbon at between US$18-US$20, a similar price to Australia.What is driving this high price in California?

GP: Cap-and-trade and other climate policies have proven to be a driver for economic growth. In the Northeast US, implementation of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program limiting GHG emissions from the electricity sector, has already generated over US$1 billion in energy savings for customers and contributed $2.6 billion to regional economic growth. Macroeconomic studies have shown that AB32 implementation will likewise save consumers money by improving energy efficiency and providing more fuel choices.

In fact, California annually attracts more clean energy investment capital than the whole rest of North America combined, helping jobs in the clean energy sector in California grow 10 times faster than the state-wide average.

In terms of cap-and-trade, there is a price ceiling set at US$40/tonne CO2, increasing at 5% a year (plus inflation), and a floor price of $10/t, also increasing 5% a year (plus inflation), to reduce volatility and keep prices in check. Other cost containment mechanisms include unlimited banking of allowances, three year compliance periods, and limited use of offsets under protocols approved for use in the program (four have been approved so far — use of Clean Development Mechanism credits is not currently allowed).

EJ:what else is California doing on climate change?

California’s approach is comprehensive and includes policies targeted at all the major emitting sectors in the economy, including clean car standards, a low-carbon fuel standard, 33% of electricity procured by 2020 must be renewable, expanding and strengthening energy efficiency programs and standards, and policies and incentives for meeting transportation-related GHG emissions targets for regions throughout California.

There are also policies for local governments and cities to find ways for residents to rely less on cars, make cities more liveable and walkable, and expand public transit.


california doesn't count cos it's not a country (i don't think?)

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Well they have nearly twice our population and a history of innovative legislation. (Ever noticed those labels on things? "Warning: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer or birth defects and other reproductive harm") A lot of Americans in California or outside California are quite happy to see it as almost another country.

Still, supposedly a haven of liberal democrats, my first shock visiting there was all the homeless on the streets, and my second was being a guest in one of thousands of million-dollar hillside mansions owned by supposedly committed left-wingers...

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global cooling???

How about only 4 years left of summer sea ice.


Now I know all you die hard skeptics will be scrambling to find something, ANYTHING to deny this is happening, but seriously, why would you.

I say grow some balls and face up to reality, just like everybody else has had to do at some stage.


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i think once the ice caps go we can pretty much kiss it all goodbye. not that i think there's much hope now anyway. and if our last best hope is Geo-engineering, well, considering the way humans have have an unbridled knack for fucking things up completely then we're triply screwed.

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Oddly enough, the deniers are claiming that this is natural, that satellite records only go back X years and that the ice is already starting to build up again, forgetting that summer is now over. They are fringe lunatics with a very loud voice, supported by corrupt governments and businesses obsessed with profit at all costs and the paradigm of ever-increasing growth in a finite world. I was unfortunate enough to go for a gardening job where the boss is one of those top economist types, spent all morning with him while he whinged about greenies and how climate change didn't make sense because it wasn't economically sensible (or something along those lines, it was all gobblydook to me). Luckily I didn't get the job, for his sake as well as mine, but man it woke me up to the realisation that many top business men are actually not that smart, they can just move money around.

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Came across this great set of links regarding the effect of CO2 and climate change on plant photosynthesis and crop production


* Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Inhibits Nitrate Assimilation in Wheat and Arabidopsis. Bloom et al (2010).

* Sharply increased insect herbivory during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum. (Currano 2007)

* Insects Will Feast, Plants Will Suffer: Ancient Leaves Show Affect Of Global Warming.

* Grassland Responses to Global Environmental Changes Suppressed by Elevated CO2. (Shaw 2007)

* Photosynthetic inhibition after long-term exposure to elevated levels of carbon dioxide. (DeLucia 1985)

* Insects Take A Bigger Bite Out Of Plants In A Higher Carbon Dioxide World.


* Food for Thought: Lower-Than-Expected Crop Yield Stimulation with Rising CO2 Concentrations

* Widespread crown condition decline, food web disruption, and amplified tree mortality with increased climate change-type drought

* Temperature dependence of growth, development, and photosynthesis in maize under elevated CO2 (PDF)

* Global scale climate–crop yield relationships and the impacts of recent warming

* Europe-wide reduction in primary productivity caused by the heat and drought in 2003

* Nitrate assimilation in plant shoots depends on photorespiration

* Grassland Responses to Global Environmental Changes Suppressed by Elevated CO2

* Climate change, interannual weather differences and conflicting responses among crop characteristics: the case of forage quality (Seligman & Sinclair, 1995)

* Climate change, plant diseases and food security: an overview – Chakraborty & Newton (2011)

* Historical Warnings of Future Food Insecurity with Unprecedented Seasonal Heat – Battisti & Naylor (2009)

* “Shredded Heat” – Crop Failure and Climate Change

* Increased crop failure due to climate change: assessing adaptation options using models and socio-economic data for wheat in China - Challinor et al (2010)

* Russia's Heat Wave Wilts Crops

* Russia swelters in heatwave, many crops destroyed

Edited by whitewind
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Sea-level study shows signs of things to come October 1, 2012 Our greenhouse gas emissions up to now have triggered an irreversible warming of the Earth that will cause sea-levels to rise for thousands of years to come, new research has shown.

The results come from a study, published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, which sought to model sea-level changes over millennial timescales, taking into account all of the Earth's land ice and the warming of the oceans—something which has not been done before.

The research showed that we have already committed ourselves to a sea-level rise of 1.1 meters by the year 3000 as a result of our greenhouse gas emissions up to now. This irreversible damage could be worse, depending on the route we take to mitigating our emissions.

If we were to follow the high A2 emissions scenario adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a sea-level rise of 6.8 meters could be expected in the next thousand years. The two other IPCC scenarios analysed by the researchers, the B1 and A1B scenarios, yielded sea-level rises of 2.1 and 4.1 meters respectively.

"Ice sheets are very slow components in the climate system; they respond on time scales of thousands of years," said co-author of the study Professor Philippe Huybrechts.

"Together with the long life-time of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, this inertia is the real poison on the climate system: anything we do now that changes the forcing in the climate system will necessarily have long consequences for the ice sheets and sea level."

In all of the scenarios that the researchers analysed, the Greenland ice sheet was responsible for more than half of the sea level rises; thermal expansion of the oceans was the second highest contributor, and the contribution of glaciers and ice was only small.

The researchers believe this is the first study to include glaciers, ice caps, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and the thermal expansion of the oceans into a projection of sea-level rises. They did so by using a climate modelling system called LOVECLIM, which includes components from a number of different subsystems.

The polar ice sheets are not normally included into projections due to computational constraints, whilst researchers often find it difficult to account for the 200 000 individual glaciers that are found all over the world in very different climatic settings.

Professor Huybrechts continued: "Ultimately the current polar ice sheets store about 65 meters of equivalent sea level and if climatic warming will be severe and long-lasting all ice will eventually melt.

"Mankind should limit the concentration of greenhouse gases at the lowest possible level as soon as possible. The only realistic option is a drastic reduction of the emissions. The lower the ultimate warming will be, the less severe the ultimate consequences will be."

More information: Millennial total sea-level commitments projected with the Earth system model of intermediate LOVECLIM, H Goelzer, P Huybrechts, S C B Raper, M-F Loutre, H Goosse and T Fichefet 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 045401. iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/4/045401/article

Journal reference: Environmental Research Letters search and more info website Provided by Institute of Physics

Read more at: http://phys.org/news...-level.html#jCp


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Antarctic ice expands against odds.

ANTARCTIC sea ice has expanded to cover the largest area recorded since satellitemapping began more than three decades ago, in stark contrast to this year's record melt on the northern pole.

The expansion continues a trend of increasing Antarctic sea ice cover of about 1 per cent a decade and is at odds with predictions of climate change models that continue to forecast a long-term decline.

Rob Massom from the Australian Antarctic Division and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre in Hobart said this week: "The message is there is a lot of work to better understand what processes are occurring around Antarctica and the role of these processes in affecting sea ice." Dr Massom said the most authoritative climate change models forecast a loss of up to 30 per cent of Antarctic sea ice by the end of the century, and did not indicate the present expansion.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado, Antarctic sea ice reached a maximum extent of 19.44 million square kilometres on September 26.

The September 2012 monthly average was also a record high at 19.39 million square kilometres, slightly higher than the previous record in 2006.

The record sea ice accumulation in Antarctica was in stark contrast to this year's record melt in the Arctic, where sea ice fell to the lowest extent in the satellite record.

The Arctic melt, to a low of 3.41 million square kilometres on September 16, occurred without the unusual weather conditions that contributed to the extreme melt of 2007, the previous record low, but the extent of this year's ice loss was affected by a severe storm.

The retreat of Arctic ice is happening faster than climate models have predicted.

Climate scientists have said the behaviour of ice cover at the two poles is not connected.

Dr Massom said despite the fact Antarctic sea ice was not melting as had been predicted by climate models, there was still cause for concern.

He is midway through a two-month voyage to the Antarctic pack ice aboard the Australian research vessel Aurora Australis.

Speaking from the ship at about 64 degrees south in the sea ice zone this week, Dr Massom said the Antarctic sea ice was shifting as well as expanding, giving a possible clue as to what was taking place.

"Although the extent of sea ice overall is increasing in the Antarctic, there are strong regional contrasts," Dr Massom said.

"In certain regions the extent and duration of sea ice is much less on the Antarctic peninsula than it used to be. Some of the changes in Antarctica are strongly negative, as they are in the Arctic."

Dr Massom said some people would seize upon this year's Antarctic sea ice record to question climate change predictions, but he said it was a "very complex system . . . In general there are signs that things are changing".

"The break up of the Larson Ice Shelf in 2002 was a very timely reminder that there is rapid change occurring in certain regions of Antarctica," Dr Massom said.

One possible explanation for the increase in sea ice was changing patterns of large-scale atmospheric circulation.

This included an increasing intensity of the westerly wind field around Antarctica, which could be leading to a greater extent of sea ice overall.

"Again, this masks the fact that in certain areas there has been quite a significant decrease where in other areas there has been an increase," he said.

"One of the reasons we are down on this ship doing experiments is we are still struggling to understand what are the processes affecting Antarctic sea ice the role of sea ice in the global climate system, how it affects the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere.

"And we are still at a stage where the models are in slight disagreement with what we are observing. A lot of our work is aiming at picking that gap between what we are observing and what the models are telling us."


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Satellite data reveal the new record low Arctic sea ice extent, the average minimum extent over the past 30 years is outlined in yellow. The frozen cap of the Arctic Ocean reached its annual summertime minimum extent and broke a new record low on 16 September, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported.

The ice coverage was considerably lower than ever recorded, and hopefully this outstanding visual data will help people understand just how significant the Arctic Sea Ice loss is. Other factors have shown a small increase of ice coverage at the South Pole; this clearly shows that global warming is having significant impacts globally, with some areas being slightly cooler than normal and others being significantly warmer, with overall global weather patterns changing significantly.


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Marine cloud brightening: it’s a concept that has been floated in climate engineering discussions for some time. But what are the moral implications of this geoengineering technology, and how likely is it to be implemented?

What is cloud brightening?

Cloud brightening is the idea that we could increase a cloud’s albedo (reflectivity) to reflect a greater amount of radiation away from the earth, thus producing a cooling effect. This is one of several ideas for geoengineering (climate engineering); a means of reducing the symptoms of climate change.

Cloud brightening involves seeding clouds with a fine spray of saltwater, which encourages cloud micro-droplets to form. Unlike cloud seeding, where large droplets form and produce a rain shower, the droplets in cloud brightening are smaller and remain in the sky as “white cloud”. The micro-droplets scatter incoming radiation, and increase the longevity of the cloud.


Cloud brightening produces micro-droplets that reflect more sunlight. NASA image by Robert Simmon http://earthobservat...osols/page4.php

This method would be most effective on clouds over the ocean. Clouds over land already contain small particles of dust and pollution, so the introduction of saltwater aerosol would have little effect.

Cloud brightening falls into the category of geoengineering techniques known as solar radiation management (SRM), together with stratospheric aerosols, space mirrors, and painting roofs white. All of these techniques focus on reducing the amount of radiation reaching the earth’s surface. The other category of geoengineering techniques is carbon dioxide removal (CDR), which involves taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and trapping it in storage.

The cause vs the symptoms

Climate engineering techniques do not address the true cause of the problem of climate change – carbon dioxide emissions. They only have the potential to partially manage some of the symptoms at best. For example, solar radiation management methods do nothing to address the symptom of ocean acidification, and the maximum cooling effect that cloud brightening can achieve is limited.

This is one of the arguments against pursuing geoengineering. Surely we should focus our efforts on mitigation, rather than a partial fix?

The answer to this is “absolutely”. Climate engineering is risky and full of uncertainty, and will impact the entire world’s population.

But then what is the motivation for the research that is occurring in the USA and UK into geoengineering methods?

This answer is more nuanced, and is based on the timescales that are involved in mitigation and climate change. Even if we stopped increasing our emissions from today, CO₂ levels in the atmosphere would continue to rise for hundreds of years. Reaching a ‘tipping point’ in the climate may be unavoidable. How likely is it that we will be able to reduce our emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst effects of climate change?

We base our future predictions on climate modelling, which is validated against past observations. There is much scientific uncertainty, but current predictions indicate that we will see significant climate impacts in the future.

Research into the feasibility, risks and impacts of climate engineering has begun. This research may lead us to conclude that some (or even all) geoengineering techniques are simply not viable. The development times for the most-promising technologies are currently estimated to be between decades and centuries.

At some stage in the future, climate engineering, with all its shortcomings, may offer a better way forward than living with the effects of extreme climate change.

Get-out-of-jail-free card

Some argue that climate engineering is a “get-out-of-jail-free card” to carbon emitters. Others prefer to call it an “insurance policy” for the earth. Will consideration of climate engineering lessen political will for reducing CO₂ emissions? (This is known as the “moral hazard” argument.)


Does climate engineering offer an easy way out?

Climate engineering is clearly not a desirable course of action. It offers no freebies or rewards.

There are few proponents of geoengineering at present. Discussion of this technology often acts as to raise awareness of the urgency of the climate situation, thus increasing resolve to reduce emissions.

What is clear however, is that the first publicised outdoor test of a climate-engineering technology will place a marker in the political and scientific landscape.

Testing cloud brightening

In a recent paper, University of Washington atmospheric physicist Rob Wood describes a possible outdoor test of cloud brightening. This test is yet to receive funding support.

The first stage of Wood’s experiment involves testing the seawater-spraying technology, by examining the properties of the sprayed particles and their dispersion in the wind. The second stage of the test measures the effect of an aerosol plume on a cloud, and the third stage would look at the effect of 5-10 plumes arranged in a line.

Much like the SPICE balloon test, the experiment would test the feasibility of the spraying technology. Unlike SPICE, the experiment would also involve monitoring the effect of introduced particles on the atmosphere.

The same governance and intellectual property issues that led to the cancellation of the SPICE test also apply to cloud brightening. In view of this funding of a cloud brightening test would be a controversial and symbolic move.


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Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power appear to be the impetus behind a South Australian proposal to substantially drop electricity prices, just as other states are hiking theirs.

The Essential Service Commission of South Australian (ESCOSA), which regulates retail electricity prices, has released a draft price determination that proposes an 8.1% reduction in the electricity standing offer, (that is, the default retail price that must be offered to South Australians, at a minimum).

The proposal, which follows an ESCOSA investigation into the wholesale energy costs, translates to a reduction of $27.19/MWh, potentially lowering South Australian electricity bills by an average of $160 per household.

And while it is not specifically acknowledged in the determination, this may be the first time the “merit order effect” of renewable energy sources can conclusively be seen flowing through to consumers in Australia.

The Merit Order Effect

There is nothing special about the “merit order effect”. Quite simply, if you introduce more of a product into a market (that is, increase supply) then prices fall.

The introduction of new capacity upsets the prevailing merit order (the order in which electricity is dispatched, from lowest to highest cost) lowering market prices.

Historically this has been observed when new coal power plants have been added to the market. But the Renewable Energy Target (RET) and other schemes such as the state based feed-in tariffs, are introducing more renewable electricity (supply) to the national electricity market.

Renewables typically have no fuel costs (free sun and wind), and thus have the lowest short run marginal cost of production. This ensures they are lower in the merit order and dispatched prior to anything else in the market. Like a new coal plant, this additional (and low marginal cost) supply also lowers wholesale prices.

This merit order effect has been well documented internationally, and is now widely recognised in South Australia, which has both the highest installed capacity of wind (1203 MW) in Australia, and the highest per capita installation of rooftop Photo Voltaic (PV) solar power.

The volume weighted wholesale prices in SA have reduced from $70-$80 /MWh between 2008-10, to around $45 in 2011, in parallel to the installation of wind and solar capacity (and the flat-lining of demand).

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has noted that the South Australian wholesale prices are lower than they have been since the start of the national electricity market, and that the wind “tends to depress the South Australian regional prices”.

A UNSW study demonstrated that periods of high wind output are in general associated with lower market prices, and also appear to contribute to extreme negative price events, while the impact of solar power in South Australia is “blindingly obvious”.

While ESCOSA did not explicitly identify renewables or the merit order effect as a cause of the wholesale price reduction in its draft determination, it did note that: “recent developments in the wholesale electricity market suggested that the forward cost of wholesale electricity may be materially lower than the current [wholesale] allowance.”

It is hard to discount the recent and substantial installation of both wind and PV in the South Australian market as a significant contributor to the suggested “recent developments”.

It should be noted that the wholesale spot price is only part of the picture: spot prices do not reflect the overall cost borne by retailers (for example, the cost related to managing risk). ESCOSA noted that the wholesale electricity cost allowance does not and should not reflect the average “spot price” alone.

The true cost of renewables?

Earlier this year The Australian ran a front page article decrying the cost of renewables, and in particular solar, which argued it would add $140 to the household annual power bills in South Australia. (this is a perhaps a misleading suggestion given it represents two and a half years of costs levied in a single year).

The actual cost of the feed-in tariffs and the cost of the RET is substantially less concerning when put in the correct context of the resulting wholesale price reduction.

According to the draft determination, the cost of compliance with the RET scheme (both small and large scale) is $8.56 per MWh. The annual cost of the Feed-in Tariff scheme in SA is approximately $10.93 per MWh (based on the annual cost, not two and half years of costs).

Combined, these costs are a fraction of the proposed reductions in the wholesale component of the bill. That is, the cost of supporting renewables may be completely offset, (even if only a proportion of the wholesale cost reductions are attributed to the renewables).

Referring to the direct costs of renewables, without including secondary effects such as the merit order effect only paints half the picture and presents a deceptive view of overall costs.


Edited by Mod.

Edited by watertrade
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This handout photo provided by NSIDC, University of Colorado, taken in Oct. 2003, shows the Antarctic sunlight illuminating the surface of the sea ice, intensifying the effect of the fracture lines. The ice goes on seemingly forever in a white pancake-flat landscape, stretching so far it just set a record. And yet in this confounding region of the world, that spreading ice may be a cock-eyed signal of man-made climate change, scientists say. (AP Photo/NSIDC, University of Colorado)

The ice goes on seemingly forever in a white pancake-flat landscape, stretching farther than ever before. And yet in this confounding region of the world, that spreading ice may be a cockeyed signal of man-made climate change, scientists say.

This is Antarctica, the polar opposite of the Arctic.

While the North Pole has been losing sea ice over the years, the water nearest the South Pole has been gaining it. Antarctic sea ice hit a record 7.51 million square miles (19.45 million square kilometers) in September. That happened just days after reports of the biggest loss of Arctic sea ice on record.

Climate change skeptics have seized on the Antarctic ice to argue that the globe isn't warming and that scientists are ignoring the southern continent because it's not convenient. But scientists say the skeptics are misinterpreting what's happening and why.

Shifts in wind patterns and the giant ozone hole over the Antarctic this time of year—both related to human activity—are probably behind the increase in ice, experts say. This subtle growth in winter sea ice since scientists began measuring it in 1979 was initially surprising, they say, but makes sense the more it is studied.

"A warming world can have complex and sometimes surprising consequences," researcher Ted Maksym said this week from an Australian research vessel surrounded by Antarctic sea ice. He is with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

Many experts agree. Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado adds: "It sounds counterintuitive, but the Antarctic is part of the warming as well."


This handout photo provided by NSIDC, University of Colorado, taken in Oct. 2003, shows the icebreaker Aurora Australis awaiting the return of the scientific teams and their equipment in the Antarctic. The ice goes on seemingly forever in a white pancake-flat landscape, stretching so far it just set a record. And yet in this confounding region of the world, that spreading ice may be a cock-eyed signal of man-made climate change, scientists say. (AP Photo/NSIDC, University of Colorado)

And on a third continent, David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey says that yes, what's happening in Antarctica bears the fingerprints of man-made climate change.

"Scientifically the change is nowhere near as substantial as what we see in the Arctic," says NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati, an ice expert. "But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be paying attention to it and shouldn't be talking about it."

Sea ice is always melting near one pole while growing around the other. But the overall trend year to year is dramatically less ice in the Arctic and slightly more in the Antarctic.

It's most noticeable in September, when northern ice is at its lowest and southern ice at its highest. For over 30 years, the Arctic in September has been losing an average of 5.7 square miles (14.76 million square kilometers) of sea ice for every square mile gained in Antarctica.

Loss of sea ice in the Arctic can affect people in the Northern Hemisphere, causing such things as a higher risk of extreme weather in the U.S. through changes to the jet stream, scientists say. Antarctica's weather peculiarities, on the other hand, don't have much effect on civilization.


This handout photo provided by the British Antarctic Survey, taken in March 2003, shows four scientists being retrieved from research on sea ice in the Antarctic using a buoy. The ice goes on seemingly forever in a white pancake-flat landscape, stretching so far it just set a record. And yet in this confounding region of the world, that spreading ice may be a cock-eyed signal of man-made climate change, scientists say. (AP Photo/David Vaughan, Bristish Antarctic Survey)

At well past midnight in Antarctica, where it's about 3 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 16 Celsius), Maksym describes in a rare ship-to-shore telephone call from the R.V. Aurora Australis what this extra ice means in terms of climate change. And what it's like to be out studying it for two months, with the nearest city 1,500 miles (2,415 million kilometers) away.

"It's only you and the penguins," he says. "It's really a strikingly beautiful and stark landscape. Sometimes it's even an eerie kind of landscape."

While the Arctic is open ocean encircled by land, the Antarctic—about 1.5 times the size of the U.S.—is land circled by ocean, leaving more room for sea ice to spread. That geography makes a dramatic difference in the two polar climates.

The Arctic ice responds more directly to warmth. In the Antarctic, the main driver is wind, Maksym and other scientists say. Changes in the strength and motion of winds are now pushing the ice farther north, extending its reach.

Those changes in wind are tied in a complicated way to climate change from greenhouse gases, Maksym and Scambos say. Climate change has created essentially a wall of wind that keeps cool weather bottled up in Antarctica, NASA's Abdalati says.

And the wind works in combination with the ozone hole, the huge gap in Earth's protective ozone layer that usually appears over the South Pole. It's bigger than North America.

It's caused by man-made pollutants chlorine and bromine, which are different from the fossil fuel emissions that cause global warming. The hole makes Antarctica even cooler this time of year because the ozone layer usually absorbs solar radiation, working like a blanket to keep the Earth warm.

And that cooling effect makes the winds near the ground stronger and steadier, pushing the ice outward, Scambos says.


This handout photo provided by NSIDC, University of Colorado, taken in Oct. 2003, shows Emperor penguins and researchers working on Antarctic sea ice. The ice goes on seemingly forever in a white pancake-flat landscape, stretching so far it just set a record. And yet in this confounding region of the world, that spreading ice may be a cock-eyed signal of man-made climate change, scientists say. (AP Photo/NSIDC, University of Colorado)

University of Colorado researcher Katherine Leonard, who is on board the ship with Maksym, says in an email that the Antarctic sea ice is also getting snowier because climate change has allowed the air to carry more moisture.

Winter sea ice has grown by about 1 percent a decade in Antarctica. If that sounds small, it's because it's an average. Because the continent is so large, it's a little like lumping together the temperatures of the Maine and California coasts, Vaughan says.

Mark Serreze, director of the snow and ice data center, says computer models have long predicted that Antarctica would not respond as quickly to global warming as other places. Since 1960, the Arctic has warmed the most of the world's regions, and Antarctica has warmed the least, according to NASA data.

Scientists on the cruise with Maksym are spending eight to 12 hours a day on the ice bundled up against the fierce wind with boots that look like Bugs Bunny's feet. It's dangerous work. Cracks in sea ice can form at any time. Just the other day a sudden fissure stranded a team of scientists until an inflatable bridge rescued them.

"It's a treacherous landscape," Vaughan says.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released... and here is the chart to prove it

The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.

The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.

This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.


The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported.

This stands in sharp contrast to the release of the previous figures six months ago, which went only to the end of 2010 – a very warm year.

Ending the data then means it is possible to show a slight warming trend since 1997, but 2011 and the first eight months of 2012 were much cooler, and thus this trend is erased.

Much more here. http://www.dailymail...-quietly-releas

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meanwhile ted(removed, bad language) baillieu and his merry band of (removed, bad language) are doing all they can to stifle wind development in victoria. chalk up another win for fucking neoliberalism, not to mention the mentality of the "it's time for a change" election strategy. fucking people man.....

Nice language..May I suggest, given you are such a 'trusted member' you clean it up a bit. Why should others be subjected to your foul mouth? I find that kind of language very offensive.

edit: I do agree with one thing you say there though. The federal, 'it's time for a change' strategy in 2007. Look how well thats worked out for us.

Edited by Dolos

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Anymore of this foul language will result in immediate warn points. I wont make a new Thread for this as its the second one already so i want to urge everyone involved to keep this civil.

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Misleading Daily Mail Article Pre-Bunked by Nuccitelli et al. (2012)

Posted on 17 October 2012 by dana1981

The British newspaper/tabloid The Dail Mail and its writer David Rose are notorious for publishing misleading (at best) climate-related articles, as we have discussed previously here, for example. They have recently struck again, claiming that according to a "quietly released" Met Office report, global warming stopped 16 years ago (a myth which Skeptical Science debunks here and here). This assertion is entirely fabricated, as the Met Office explained by publishing David Rose's inquiry and the Met Office's responses.

"Firstly, the Met Office has not issued a report on this issue. We can only assume the article is referring to the completion of work to update the HadCRUT4 global temperature dataset compiled by ourselves and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.

We announced that this work was going on in March and it was finished this week. You can see the HadCRUT4 website here."

Rose's factually challenged article was predictably reproduced uncritically by the usual climate denial blogs and referenced by Fox News, perhaps in an attempt to distract from this year's record-breaking Arctic sea ice minimum. However, virtually every point made in the article was factually incorrect, as Rose would have known if he were a Skeptical Science reader, because we recently pre-bunked his piece.

Rose Tries to Lead the Witness Down the Up Escalator

Rose attempted to elicit a statement from the Met Office by asking a question which would be described in court as "leading the witness":

"First, please confirm that they do indeed reveal no warming trend since 1997."

The Skeptical Science temperature trend calculator can be used to test this question. The trend in the HadCRUT4 global surface temperature dataset since 1997 is 0.084 ± 0.152°C per decade (although we have not yet updated the HadCRUT4 data, the GISS and NCDC datasts show a similar warming trend since 1997). While the trend is not statistically significant, the central value is positive, meaning the average surface temperature has most likely warmed over this period.

The Met Office also explained that Rose is essentially trying to go down the up escalator (Figure 1) by focusing on short-term noise while ignoring the long-term trend.

"Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8ºC. However, within this record there have been several periods lasting a decade or more during which temperatures have risen very slowly or cooled. The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods are not unusual."


Figure 1: BEST land-only surface temperature data (green) with linear trends applied to the timeframes 1973 to 1980, 1980 to 1988, 1988 to 1995, 1995 to 2001, 1998 to 2005, 2002 to 2010 (blue), and 1973 to 2010 (red).

Rose and Curry Ignore 90+% of Global Warming

Perhaps most importantly, focusing on surface air temperatures misses more than 90% of the overall warming of the planet (Figure 2).


Figure 2: Components of global warming for the period 1993 to 2003 calculated from IPCC AR4

Rose quotes Georgia Tech climate scientist Judith Curry (whose claims we have previously examined here and here) as asserting, "The new data confirms the existence of a pause in global warming"

However, this claim is simply incorrect. Nuccitelli et al. (2012) considered the warming of the oceans (both shallow and deep), land, atmosphere, and ice, and showed that global warming has not slowed in recent years (Figure 3).


Figure 3: Land, atmosphere, and ice heating (red), 0-700 meter OHC increase (light blue), 700-2,000 meter OHC increase (dark blue). From Nuccitelli et al. (2012).

Were Rose and Curry Skeptical Science readers, they would have known several days prior to the publication of this article that this claim about global warming "pausing" in 1997 was pre-bunked by Nuccitelli et al., as Figure 3 clearly shows.

Curry Exaggerates Natural Variability

Rose also quotes Curry as saying, "Natural variability has been shown over the past two decades to have a magnitude that dominates the greenhouse warming effect"

This statement is also incorrect. There is always a point at which, as long as one only considers sufficiently short timeframes, a long-term signal will be smaller than the noise in the system, which appears to be Curry's argument here. However, for global surface temperatures, that timeframe is less than the two decades Curry specified in this quote.

Even ignoring 90+% of global warming and only considering global surface temperatures, they have warmed 0.4°C over the past two decades, according to HadCRUT4. Swanson et al. (2009) examined the role of natural variability on global surface temperatures and found that it rarely exceeds 0.2–0.3°C, and averages out to approximately zero over longer timeframes (Figure 4).


Figure 4: Estimation of the observed signature of internal variability in the observed 20th century global mean temperature in climate model simulations

Thus Curry is incorrect; even over a timeframe as short as the past two decades, the human-caused global surface warming signal has been larger than the natural variability of the global climate system. And when we consider the warming of the planet as a whole (including the oceans), the warming signal is very clearly larger than the noise over this timeframe, as Figure 3 shows.

Rose Attacks Climate Models to Downplay the Climate Risk

Ultimately Rose elicits a quote from Curry to argue that climate models are exaggerating global warming:

"Professor Judith Curry...told The Mail on Sunday that it was clear that the computer models used to predict future warming were ‘deeply flawed’"

Rose and Curry are trying to argue that because global surface temperatures have not warmed as fast as the multi-model average in the IPCC report (0.2°C per decade), this somehow suggests the models are flawed. However, the Met Office explained to Rose (prior to the publication of his article) why this notion is incorrect.

"The models exhibit large variations in the rate of warming from year to year and over a decade, owing to climate variations such as ENSO, the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation. So in that sense, such a period is not unexpected. It is not uncommon in the simulations for these periods to last up to 15 years, but longer periods are unlikely."

Over the past decade, aerosol emissions (which cause cooling by blocking sunlight)
have risen
solar activity has been low
, there has been
a preponderance of La Niña events
(which also cause short-term surface cooling), and
heat has accumulated in the deep oceans
. Thus it is entirely unsurprising that these short-term effects all aligning in the cooling direction in recent years have offset much of the surface warming caused by human greenhouse gas emissions.

This result is in fact consistent with individual climate model runs.
Meehl et al. (2011)
showed that during "Hiatus Decades," there is less warming of the surface air and shallow oceans, and more warming of the deeper oceans (Figure 5), precisely as we have observed over the past decade.


Figure 5: Left: composite global linear trends for hiatus decades (red bars) and all other decades (green bars) for top of the atmosphere (TOA) net radiation (positive values denote net energy entering the system). Right: global ocean heat-content (HC) decadal trends (10
Joules per decade) for the upper ocean (surface to 300 meters) and two deeper ocean layers (300 to 750 meters and 750 meters to the ocean floor), with error bars defined as +/- one standard error x1.86 to be consistent with a 5% significance level from a one-sided Student t-test. From Meehl et al. (2011)

Rose Fails Economics 101

All of these misleading claims lead to Rose's ultimate argument in attacking carbon pricing and investments in green energy.

"And with the country committed by Act of Parliament to reducing CO2 by 80 per cent by 2050, a project that will cost hundreds of billions, the news that the world has got no warmer for the past 16 years comes as something of a shock...the evidence is beginning to suggest that it may be happening much slower than the catastrophists have claimed – a conclusion with enormous policy implications."

On the contrary, the
Earth has warmed as much as expected
, and economic research has consistently shown that
putting a price on carbon emissions will result in a net benefit to the economy
(Figure 6). Pricing carbon emissions to account for the otherwise external costs of the damage they cause via climate change is 'Economics 101.'


Figure 6: Approximate costs of climate action (green) and inaction (red) in 2100 and 2200. Sources:
German Institute for Economic Research
Watkiss et al. 2005


To sum up, Rose and Curry were simply incorrect in virtually every assertion made in this
Daily Mail
  • Global surface temperatures have most likely increased since 1997.

  • Focusing on short-term temperature changes confuses short-term noise and long-term signal.

  • Most global warming goes into heating the oceans, and as Nuccitelli et al. (2012) showed,
    global warming has not slowed

  • Natural variability is much smaller than the long-term global warming signal, and smaller even than the global warming signal over the past two decades.

  • The slowed rate of global
    warming over the past decade is consistent with individual model runs, which show that these 'hiatus decades' are entirely expected.

  • Over the long-term, the Earth has warmed as much as expected.

  • Carbon pricing will result in a net benefit the economy as compared to doing nothing and trying to adapt to the consequences.

Also see debunkings of the Rose
Daily Mail
piece by
Climate Progress
Carbon Brief
, and
Media Matters

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i know this article is very similar to the one qualia just posted, but it does have a few different charts & points to make so i'll post it anyway.

Oct 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm


Perhaps you thought that the whole “planet isn’t warming” meme was killed by this summer’s bombshell Koch-funded study. After all, it found ”global warming is real,” “on the high end” and “essentially all” due to carbon pollution.

Sadly, denial springs eternal. Long-debunked denier David Rose has an article in the Daily Mail, “Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released … and here is the chart to prove it.”

The piece is so misleading, even the UK Met Office felt a need to instantly debunk it with a blog post that included this chart.


UK Met Office graph showing years ranked in order of global temperature.

Since Rose managed to find one misleading chart to push his myth, I thought I would dig up ten serious ones that show the reverse, including the top chart from Skeptical Science, the great Australian blog, which is derived from the data in the Koch-funded study.

Note: “Skeptics” is an Aussie word for denier or disinformer. The British have their own words — Rose or Mail:

So one has to assume going in that any climate piece in the Mail with Rose’s name on it is somewhere between misinformation and disinformation. The latest piece tends toward the latter. Heck, even Judith Curry complains she was misquoted, as Media Matters notes.

The Met Office, part of the UK Defence Ministry, explained, it’s absurd to look at a cherry-picked “trend from August 1997 (in the middle of an exceptionally strong El Nino) to August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina)”:

As we’ve stressed before, choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system. If you use a longer period from HadCRUT4 the trend looks very different. For example, 1979 to 2011 shows 0.16°C/decade (or 0.15°C/decade in the NCDC dataset, 0.16°C/decade in GISS). Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.

Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8ºC. However, within this record there have been several periods lasting a decade or more during which temperatures have risen very slowly or cooled. The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods are not unusual.

The warming trend is clear in a chart from an earlier Met Office post “Noughties confirmed as the warmest decade on record“:


Here’s an analogy to the notion it hasn’t warmed from the El-Nino-fueled summer of 1997 through the La-Nina-cooled summer of 2012. Imagine your kid got 11 B’s and 1 A+ in 9th grade science class. Then, in 20th grade science, she gets 9 A’s and 2 A+’s — but her last grade was “just” an A. Would you say she is doing better in science class or worse in science class?

If you prefer your charts from U.S. agencies using the good ‘ole Fahrenheit scale, here’s NOAA’s version of the previous chart, which notes “Every year of 2000s [was] warmer than 1990s average”:


The recent La Nina, far from providing evidence that the planet isn’t warming, demonstrates the exact reverse, since it was the hottest La Nina on record — as seen in this chart from NOAA:


See also this discussion of the World Meteorological Organization from December 2011: 2011 Is Warmest La Niña Year on Record and Science “Proves Unequivocally” It’s “Due to Human Activities.”

If you want to refute the disinformers with perhaps the biggest dataset, analyzed independently, and backed by Koch money, well, you have to go to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) Study — and really, what else is it good for? Their key paper from 2011 found it’s warming fast:

… our analysis suggests a degree of global land-surface warming during the anthropogenic era that is consistent with prior work (e.g. NOAA) but on the
high end
of the existing range of reconstructions.

They compare their findings with all the other datasets, and it looks like this:


The decadal land-surface average temperature using a 10-year moving average of surface temperatures over land. Anomalies are relative to the Jan 1950 – December 1979 mean. The grey band indicates 95% statistical and spatial uncertainty interval.
A Koch-funded reanalysis of 1.6 billion temperature reports finds that “essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.” Via

Still warming, though that’s just a chart of land-surface temperatures.

In fact, the land has received only a tiny fraction of the manmade warming in recent yearsm as the scientific literature — captured in this great Skeptical Science infographic — makes clear:


Components of global warming for the period 1993 to 2003 calculated from

Now, if you actually read the scientific literature, you find the oceans have been rapidly warming in recent decades (see “Hottest Decade on Record Would Have Been Even Hotter But for Deep Oceans“):


“Total Earth Heat Content [anomaly] from 1950 (Murphy et al. 2009). Ocean data taken from

And no, the ocean didn’t stop warming in the middle the last decade, as a chart from yet another scientific study makes clear (see “Search for ‘Missing Heat’ Ends Myth Global Warming Has Ended“):


Revised estimate of global ocean heat content (10-1500 mtrs deep) for 2005-2010 derived from Argo measurements. The 6-yr trend accounts for 0.55±0.10Wm−2. Error bars and trend uncertainties exclude errors induced by remaining systematic errors in the global observing system. See Von Schuckmann & Le Traon (2011). Via

Still warming.

You may have noticed in the infographic that Arctic sea ice has seen 0.8% of global warming — nearly two-fifths of the warming the continents have received. I wonder what has been happening in the Arctic:


Arctic Sea Ice is melting much, much faster than even the best climate models had projected. The reason is most likely unmodeled amplifying feedbacks. Image via

Oh, right, it’s in a death spiral — and that’s just the two-dimensional sea ice extent. Let’s remember that “Experts Warn Of ‘Near Ice-Free Arctic In Summer’ In A Decade If Volume Trends Continue.”

Finally we have the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which each have been getting a mere 0.2% of the warming. Let’s check in on those:

  • Nature: “Dynamic thinning of Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheet ocean margins is more sensitive, pervasive, enduring and important than previously realized”
  • JPL: Polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up, on pace for 1 foot sea level rise by 2050
  • Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Nearing Critical ‘Tipping Point’
  • Large Antarctic glacier thinning 4 times faster than it was 10 years ago: “Nothing in the natural world is lost at an accelerating exponential rate like this glacier.”

Still warming.

That’s ten charts, enough for now, but there are many other physical indicators of continued warming (see “How Can It Be Warming When It’s (Almost) Always Cooling?“)


Edited by nabraxas
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In this May 12, 2011 file photo, a police officer inspects damage caused by an earthquake the previous day in Lorca, Spain, Thursday, May 12, 2011. Farmers drilling ever deeper wells over decades to water their crops likely contributed to a deadly earthquake in southern Spain last year, a new study suggests. The findings may add to concerns about the effects of new energy extraction and waste disposal technologies. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz, File)

Farmers drilling ever deeper wells over decades to water their crops likely contributed to a deadly earthquake in southern Spain last year, a new study suggests. The findings may add to concerns about the effects of new energy extraction and waste disposal technologies.

Nine people died and nearly 300 were injured when an unusually shallow magnitude-5.1 quake hit the town of Lorca on May 11, 2011. It was the country's worst quake in more than 50 years, causing millions of euros in damage to a region with an already fragile economy.

Using satellite images, scientists from Canada, Italy and Spain found the quake ruptured a fault running near a basin that had been weakened by 50 years of groundwater extraction in the area.

During this period, the water table dropped by 250 meters (274 yards) as farmers bored ever deeper wells to help produce the fruit, vegetables and meat that are exported from Lorca to the rest of Europe. In other words, the industry that propped up the local economy in southern Spain may have undermined the very ground on which Lorca is built.

The researchers noted that even without the strain caused by water extraction, a quake would likely have occurred at some point.

But the extra stress of pumping vast amounts of water from a nearby aquifer may have been enough to trigger a quake at that particular time and place, said lead researcher Pablo J. Gonzalez of the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

Miguel de las Doblas Lavigne, a geologist with Spain's National Natural Science Museum who has worked on the same theory but was not involved in the study, said the Lorca quake was in the cards.

"This has been going on for years in the Mediterranean areas, all very famous for their agriculture and plastic greenhouses. They are just sucking all the water out of the aquifers, drying them out," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "From Lorca to (the regional capital of) Murcia you can find a very depleted water level."

De las Doblas said it was "no coincidence that all the aftershocks were located on the exact position of maximum depletion."

"The reason is clearly related to the farming, it's like a sponge you drain the water from; the weight of the rocks makes the terrain subside and any small variation near a very active fault like the Alhama de Murcia may be the straw that breaks the camel*s back, which is what happened," he said.

He said excess water extraction was common in Spain.

"Everybody digs their own well, they don't care about anything," he said. "I think in Lorca you may find that some 80 percent of wells are illegal."

Lorca town hall environment chief Melchor Morales said the problem dates back to the 1960s when the region opted to step up its agriculture production and when underground water was considered private property. A 1986 law has reduced the amount of well pumping, he said.

Not everyone agreed with the conclusion of the study, which was published online Sunday in Nature Geoscience.

"There have been earthquakes of similar intensity and similar damage caused in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries when there was no excess water extraction," said Jose Martinez Diez, a professor in geodynamics at Madrid's Complutense University who has also published a paper on the quake.

Still, it isn't the first time that earthquakes have been blamed on human activity, and scientists say the incident points to the need to investigate more closely how such quakes are triggered and how to prevent them.

The biggest man-made quakes are associated with the construction of large dams, which trap massive amounts of water that put heavy pressure on surrounding rock.

The 1967 Koynanagar earthquake in India, which killed more than 150 people, is one such case, said Marco Bohnhoff, a geologist at the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam who wasn't involved in the Lorca study.

Bohnhoff said smaller man-made quakes can also occur when liquid is pumped into the ground.

A pioneering geothermal power project in the Swiss city of Basel was abandoned in 2009 after it caused a series of earthquakes. Nobody was injured, but the tremors caused by injecting cold water into hot rocks to produce steam resulted in millions of Swiss francs (dollars) damage to buildings.

Earlier this year, a report by the National Research Council in the United States found the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas was not a huge source of man-made earthquakes. However, the related practice of shooting large amounts of wastewater from "fracking" or other drilling activities into deep underground storage wells has been linked with some small earthquakes.

In an editorial accompanying the Lorca study, geologist Jean-Philippe Avouac of the California Institute of Technology said it was unclear whether human activity merely induces quakes that would have happened anyway at a later date. He noted that the strength of the quake appeared to have been greater than the stress caused by removing the groundwater.

"The earthquake therefore cannot have been caused entirely by water extraction," wrote Avouac. "Instead, it must have built up over several centuries."

Still, pumping out the water may have affected how the stress was released, and similar processes such as fracking or injecting carbon dioxide into the ground—an idea that has been suggested to reduce the greenhouse effect—could theoretically do the same, he said.

Once the process is fully understood, "we might dream of one day being able to tame natural faults with geo-engineering," Avouac said.

More information: Paper: DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1610

Journal reference: Nature Geoscience

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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The Tampa Bay Times Forum is seen in August 2012 as the city prepared for the Republican National Convention as Tropical Storm Isaac caused disruptions. Many climate scientists would agree climate change is behind droughts and floods, but when it comes to tropical storms, experts don't have an answer.

Was Hurricane Sandy caused by climate change? This was the contention Tuesday of Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York state, which bore the brunt of the superstorm.

"Anyone who thinks there isn't a change in weather patterns is denying reality," he said. Many climate scientists would agree with Cuomo when it comes to identifying the cause of the record-breaking droughts and floods of recent years. But when it comes to tropical storms, the experts also say they cannot give a black-or-white answer for one of the most complex issues in meteorology.

Tropical storms are fuelled by warm seas, so intuition says that as ocean temperatures rise, hurricanes—known as typhoons in Asia—should become more frequent and more brutal. But a clear rise in Earth's surface temperature since the 1970s has so far failed to engender a similar increase in tropical cyclone numbers, which have remained stable at about 90 per year.

In the Atlantic alone, however, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says major storms have become more frequent and intense since 1995. The agency also warns that science right now cannot tease out how much of the change should be attributed to natural climate variability, and how much to man-made warming. As for the future, experts give conflicting or sketchy predictions of what could happen this century, when surface temperatures are predicted to warm two or three degrees Celsius (3.5 to five degrees Fahrenheit).

"There is some evidence to suggest that with climate change we might see stronger wind speeds but that the overall number of tropical cyclones (will show) no change or maybe even go down a little bit," said Tom Mitchell, head of climate change at Britain's Overseas Development Institute.

Serge Planton, head of climate research at French weather forecasting service Meteo France, explained why the picture is so fuzzy. "It's a very complex phenomenon," he said. "A cyclone depends not only on the sea surface temperature, but also on the structure of the winds at every layer of the atmosphere. This means it does not respond in a simple, linear fashion to climate change."

When it comes to storm surge, there seems to be more scientific consensus that climate change's impact is clear. Sandy's swells were entirely consistent with scenarios sketched by the UN's Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a report on extreme weather events, published in March, contended Mitchell. "What the IPCC said there is with sea level rising a little bit already and with the potential for stronger storms, we are likelier to see surges increasing."

Mitchell was a coordinating lead author in the report. "At some level, we can point to the climate change signal in that," he said. "The examples that we are seeing in New York today of very considerable storm surges are directly in line with the predictions of the IPCC." The IPCC report had said it was also likely that tropical cyclones will increase rainfall this century, and placed a heavy emphasis on preparedness to reduce the risk to lives and property.


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Paul Ehrlich...much to answer for!

Losing their religion as evidence cools off

ONCE upon a time when Christendom was at its peak, missionaries would be dispatched to the four corners of the globe in search of converts. They believed their mission would expand the influence of Rome and save heathens from eternal damnation.

It was a compelling message. Convert and enjoy everlasting life in the hereafter. The advantage the missionaries had was that the religion they taught had no hypotheses that could be tested. Death - "the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns" - meant that the afterlife could be neither proved nor disproved. Faith was the only thing needed.

Climate science is a bit like that - push the rewards and the catastrophes far enough into the future, and have faith that the prophecies will come true. However, unlike heaven, which we may reach at any time, climate prophecies need to be distant enough to make them hard to challenge yet sufficiently close to generate urgent action.

So when in 1969 Paul Ehrlich claimed because of global cooling it was an even-money bet whether England would survive until the year 2000, he could not immediately be proven wrong. After all, this was a cooling period.

Unfortunately for him, England is still inhabited and his predictions are still remembered. Ehrlich is now a warmist. Like a good stock analyst, when the company doesn't perform as you thought, better to change the recommendation from a sell to a buy, than admit you were wrong.

When Mother Nature decided in 1980 to change gears from cooler to warmer, a new global warming religion was born, replete with its own church (the UN), a papacy, (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and a global warming priesthood masquerading as climate scientists. Selfish humans in rich, polluting countries were blamed for the warming and had to pay for past trespasses by providing material compensation to poor nations as penance. Cutting greenhouse gas emissions became the new holy grail. With a warm wind at their backs, these fundamentalists collected hundreds of billions of dollars from naive governments that adopted their faith on behalf of billions of people. No crusader was ever so effective.

The message was stark. If the non-believers didn't convert immediately, our children and grandchildren would face a hell on earth. The priesthood excommunicated and humiliated sceptics and deniers. Alternative views were not tolerated and, where possible, were suppressed. Did someone mention the dark ages?

Because the new arrangements would distort capital allocations, disciples wrote economic texts showing how inefficient, productivity-sapping and costly green industries would actually boost economic activity and employment.

Unfortunately, the cost of saving the planet would fall disproportionately on the poor. This wealthtransfer to the rich was unavoidable and, if the poor or the infirm died of cold or heat because they could not afford airconditioning, they would simply be martyrs to the cause. In any case, who could they appeal to? All political parties had signed up to the new religion.

But, self-deluded by the warming period and their confirmatory bias, the priesthood was overtaken by hubris and made increasingly extravagant claims. We were advised that Armageddon was now even closer at hand.

Regrettably for the global warming religion, its predictions have started to appear shaky, and the converts, many of whom have lost their jobs and much of their wealth, are losing faith. Worse, heretic scientists have been giving the lie to many of the prophecies described in the IPCC bible. They could not be silenced.

Of course, the IPCC texts can be interpreted in different ways and sceptics have obviously chosen the wrong interpretation.

When atmospheric temperatures on which we had relied failed to comply with the prophecies, the waverers were instructed to look at ocean temperatures and rising sea levels.

So far, so good. However, the British arm of the climate establishment silently released an encyclical that revealed no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures from the beginning of 1997 until August this year.

This communique was unearthed by the heretic newspaper, the Daily Mail, which pointed out that this period was of about the same duration as when temperatures rose between 1980 to 1996.

Of course, the religious high priests were quick to play down the significance of this pause. Phil Jones of the Climategate denomination claimed it was to be expected and, he insisted, 15 or 16 years is not a significant period.

Yet in 2009 he said that a "no upward trend has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried". But that was then and this is now and he is not about to lose his religion simply because the evidence doesn't support the text.

And, of course, there are always extenuating circumstances. El Nino and La Nina are there when you need them, to be forgotten when temperatures are warming or remembered if they are cooling. And, we've had a record Arctic melt. But better not mention the storm that NASA concedes broke the ice up and drove it south, or the record Antarctic ice gain.

Rather we must listen to Australia's Climate Change Commission novitiates who, against the evidence, have delivered a parable linking Superstorm Sandy to global warming.

At least the media disciples are keeping the faith by emphasising what supports the gospel and, where possible, omitting that which doesn't. New, corroborative revelations enjoy widespread publicity. If the same findings are later retracted for lack of scientific rigour, they are simply allowed to disappear without comment.

Yet despite all, believers in man-made global warming are declining. It will require an extraordinary crusade presaging even direr climate consequences for defying the warmist faith, before defectors even contemplate rejoining the religion. If that fails it may be time to burn sceptics at the stake. But then that would increase CO2 emissions. A dilemma, to be sure.

Maurice L. Newman is a former chairman of the ABC.


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Dolos if you don't know the difference between religion and science then there is no hope for you, you can believe anything you want to. To call scientific evidence religious belief is an astonishing and very basic error in your misunderstanding of what science is about, and quite honestly I feel quite sorry for anyone who makes this basic error because it is the difference between non-thinking belief and genuine attempts at understanding and interpreting the world around them. I am sure there are better ways of explaining this, but the very basic error you have made seems almost impossible to address, especially given the aggression you show towards science, but explains perfectly why you are unable to accept any of the scientific explanations of climate change.

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