In his recent State of the Union (SOTU) address, US President Barack Obama claimed that “America is number one in wind power.” This will come as a shock to China and several other countries that have led the way in green energy like wind and solar. That aside, expanding wind energy may not be the blessing its boosters tout. In Europe, many of the newly installed wind turbines are replacing existing older models, and in China as much as 15% of the installed turbines are not connected to the power grid. And with fierce winter storms in the news on both sides of the Atlantic, news comes from the UK of an epic fail for wind power. Are the fortunes of windpower shifting?
The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters & Climate Change is the latest book by Roger Pielke, Jr., noted political scientist and professor in the Environmental Studies Program and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). In it he addresses the controversial subject of whether natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more fearsome due to manmade climate change. This short volume is an excellent summary of his work in this area and a reference that anyone serious about climate change should have on their shelf. After receiving an advance copy of the work, here is my review.
Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, famous for creating, among other things, the U-2 & SR-71 spy planes and the F-117 stealth fighter, shocked the world of physics research by announcing that they are going to build a compact fusion reactor. The proposed compact fusion reactor (CFR) is conceptually safer, cleaner and more powerful than much larger, current nuclear systems that rely on fission. Governments and industry have poured billions of dollars into fusion research for half a century with little success. Can Lockheed's vaunted engineers succeed where armies of PhDs have failed? If so, the arguments over energy, the environment and de-industrialization are over—or are they?
A new analysis answers the question “should other nations follow Germany's lead on promoting solar Power?” That question was asked on Quora and answered by Ryan Carlyle, BSChE, and a Subsea Hydraulics Engineer. His detailed and well reasoned answer is the most forceful possible NO. According to Carlyle Germany's program has the “absurd distinction” of hitting the trifecta of bad energy policy: bad for consumers, bad for industry, and bad for the environment. So while misguided greens point to Germany as a solar success, a rising tide of opposition and resentment is growing among the German public.
It is no secret that there is much misinformation bandied about regarding climate change and the related subject of green energy. Half-truths and lies are spread by advocates on both sides of the debate, most often via the Internet. Recently, climate alarmists trumpeted a report claiming that 23% of the world's energy was now being supplied by renewable sources, clearly an attempt to bolster the claims of the wind and solar industry. At the same time, a report appeared that powering a car via electricity is 10 times less efficient than via fossil fuel. These are only two of the bogus, misleading reports to surface recently, promoted by both warmists and skeptics. Sadly, the public is caught in the middle without the scientific or technical background to judge the truth of such pronouncements.
One of the greatest failures of climate science has been the dismal performance of general circulation models (GCM) to accurately predict Earth's future climate. For more than three decades huge predictive models, run on the biggest supercomputers available, have labored mighty and turned out garbage. Their most obvious failure was missing the now almost eighteen year “hiatus,” the pause in temperature rise that has confounded climate alarmists and serious scientists alike. So poor has been the models' performance that some climate scientists are calling for them to be torn down and built anew, this time using different principles. They want to adopt stochastic methods—so called Monte Carlo simulations based on probabilities and randomness—in place of today’s physics based models.
It is Earth Day today, a chance for all tree huggers, green activists and other self absorbed eco-types to feel good about themselves by disparaging their neighbors. There was a time when environmental issues were rightfully at the top of people's concerns—the skies above our cities were brown and noxious, our rivers and streams poisoned with pollution, lead was accumulating in the environment and our children. The problem is, though most major problems have been addressed, the bureaucracy that was created to fix the environment cannot help but look for new problems that demand solutions, even if the problems are slight and the solutions draconian. Chief among these new problems is “carbon pollution” by which the eco-enforcers mean CO2 emissions. The tragedy of Earth Day is that governments spend billions of dollars on meaningless efforts to curb carbon dioxide while billions live in poverty and squaller around the world.
Supporters of the CO2 driven theory of anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) are in full panic mode. The continued hiatus in global temperature increase has led to a flurry of statements denying “the pause,” as climate scientists have named it. This new denialism even extends to international organizations like the WHO, that just recently claimed that global warming had not ceased, even though numerous organizations—including Britain’s Meteorological Office, NASA, and the IPCC—have admitted that it has. Among climate change true believers there is a scramble on to “find the missing heat” that would explain the pause. Strangely, among these practitioners of group think there is no consensus about the cause of the pause. At the same time, the IPCC is about to release its latest screed regarding climate change and the leaks have been flowing fast and furious, saying there is dissent in the land of consensus. This may well be the turning of the tide on the greatest scientific hoax in history.
Unless you have been living in one of the few truly remote areas of the planet, you have been exposed to them. Climate change memes that pass from person to person and are repeated without thought or critical examination. They range from the subtle—bad weather is being increased by global warming—to the banal—over 97% of scientists agree about climate change. We are bombarded with these unsubstantiated ideas over and over again, from talking heads on TV, newspaper headlines, our friends and even the president of the United States. They are blatant untruths that have become legitimized by repetition, until school children and adults alike patriot them to each other. The recent tropical cyclone, Haiyan, has triggered another round of meme infection: it was the worst storm in history, tropical storms are getting bigger every year, there are more storms every year, and, of course, they are all caused by global warming. Trouble is, these “facts” are all false.
This must be the season to bash electric automobiles. Even the staid IEEE Spectrum featured an article questioning the ecological soundness of electric vehicles on its cover. But aren't electrics and hybrids supposed to be the way to a green future? Think again. Environmentalists' love affair with electric vehicles (EVs) seems to be over. “If you are thinking of buying an electric car for the sake of the environment, you may want to think longer.,” says Bill Sweet of IEEE's EnergyWise. “You’re not doing the planet as much of a favor as you might think.” Does this make all those Prius drivers officially posers? Or were they all just duped by a passing green fad, which, like all green fads, was based on faulty reasoning and the triumph of emotion over reality?
Since it was recently Earth Day, a yearly day of celebration and protest by conservationists and assorted greens, it is instructive to take a look at a number of recent studies taken from the scientific literature. The dire predictions made by climate change alarmists are many, far to numerous to all be addressed here, so this article will examine three areas of concern: increased drought, destruction of the world's rainforests, and the die-off of ocean coral reefs. Each of these reported calamities has been linked to increasing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and that supposed bane of nature, anthropogenic global warming (AGW). These threats have been repeated ad nauseum by talking heads and climate change activists, but the truth is that these predicted outcomes are not as threatening as they would have you believe.
For some reason a lot of people have become fixated on Antarctic ice—is it waxing or waning, accumulating or melting. Climate alarmists have striven mightily to show that ice at the poles in on the decline, melting in the face of rising global temperatures. Antarctica, with the largest store of glacial ice on the planet, is the primary focus of attention. If Antarctica’s ice sheets were to melt it would be a calamity for mankind. Unfortunately, Earth's climate system contains many cyclic trends, operating on decadal and longer periods of time. In the past, what some claim are clear trends have turned out to be only short term in nature. A new report, just published online, concludes that it is unclear if changes in atmospheric circulation over West Antarctica during the past few decades are part of a longer-term trend. In fact, ice cores reveal a significant increase in the oxygen isotopes from precipitation over the past 50 years, but the anomaly cannot be distinguished from natural climate variability.
Gas prices, oil sands, fracking and the Canadian pipeline have all thrust energy back into the headlines. Politicians posture, eco-alarmists protest and those global warming fanatics continue to predict the end of the world as we know it. If you are tired of the hype and disinformation, if you really want to understand energy—where it comes from, how it works and how much of it the world has—then you need a copy of The Energy Gap. In this follow-on to The Resilient Earth, Hoffman and Simmons address the world's energy questions with the same wit and erudition displayed in their previous work. Even better, in honor of April 15th, tax day in the US, you can now download a copy of The Energy Gap for free from Amazon.
Writing in a paper to appear in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, NASA scientist and noted climate alarmist James Hansen has come down on the side of nuclear power. He and coauthor Pushker A. Kharecha claim that getting power from nuclear energy actually saves lives. “Global nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths,” they report. Of course it also prevented 64 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, when compared to the burning of fossil fuels, perhaps explaining why Hansen has suddenly become a nuclear power booster. With global warming on hiatus for the past decade and a half, the climate change cabal may be growing desperate for allies and have turned to that most unloved of energy sources—nuclear. Is this a sign that warmists and tree-huggers have a developing schism over nuclear power?
Resilient Earth Press announces a five day special offer on Allen Simmons' thriller, Atlantic Woman. Starting on February 15th, 2013, you can download the kindle version of Atlantic Woman for free. Follow the adventures of Kate Lockhart as an archeological mystery leads to murder and mayhem in her own home town. Set among the wind swept cliffs and secluded coves of southeastern Massachusetts, this Allen Simmons suspense mystery serves up plenty of thrills and chills as science, politics and upper-class intrigues collide.