It is no surprise to anyone who has studied the history of our planet and the life it harbors that CO2 levels have been falling for billions of years. Despite all the hoopla over rising CO2 levels, eventually Earth will have lost so much carbon dioxide from its atmosphere that plants and trees will suffocate, signaling an end to life as we know it. Now, a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology, led by physicist King-Fai Li, have proposed a way to avert disaster—get rid of much of the atmosphere.
The lingering cool temperatures being experience by much of North America has weather forecasters wondering if we are entering a new Little Ice Age—a reference to the prolonged period of cold weather that afflicted the world for centuries and didn't end until just prior to the American Civil War. From historical records, scientists have found a strong correlation between low sunspot activity and a cooling climate. At the end of May, an international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA released a new prediction for the next solar cycle: Solar Cycle 24 will be one of the weakest in recent memory. Are we about to start a new Little Ice Age?
The ineffectiveness of biofuels—ethanol and biodiesil—has been much in the news lately, with reports from the EPA, California's CARB and the EU's joint Research Council claiming that biofuels pollute more than the fossil fuels they are supposed to replace. Still, this has not prevented the biofuels industry from receiving big government subsidies. Now a new report discloses another reason to shun biofuels, one that has nothing to do with CO2 and everything to do with H2O. When the water use of biofuel feedstock crops is analyzed, the water footprint (WF) ranges from 1,400 to an astounding 20,000 gallons of water for each gallon of biofuel produced.
One of the fundamental aspects of Earth's ecological and climate systems is the way carbon moves through the biosphere. From land to air to water, through living organisms and even the plant's crust, carbon—the stuff of life—is always on the move. Scientists thought they had a pretty good understanding of how the carbon cycle works, until now. Recent work with strange, jellyfish like creatures called thaliaceans is causing scientists to re-evaluate the workings of the carbon cycle.
Here is a sure fire, hit concept for a “news” show: life as we know it comes to an end, our civilization crumbles, leaving only ruins and the inane voice-over narration provided by some of the dimmest minds of our time. And to make it seem au courant, make up a main character—call her Lucy—to give voice to utterances even the most fanatical climate change alarmists would blanch at. To keep costs down, make her a waifish comic book cutout in a vaguely manga style. Lucy leads a charmed life, traveling back and forth across America, always arriving at a new destination just in time for the next horrific man-made ecological disaster.
The formation of low-level clouds—clouds that have a cooling effect on Earth's climate—has vexed climate scientists for years. Current climate models treat cloud cover simplistically and make the assumption that cloud cover decreases as temperatures rise. New data from a cloud sampling experiment indicates that biological material—bacteria, spores and plant material—may account for 1/3 of the airborne material involved in cloud formation. Furthermore, biological material can form clouds at much warmer temperatures than mineral dust. These new discoveries indicate that modelers have the effects of temperature on low cloud cover backwards, placing all model predictions in doubt.
Michael E. “Hockey Stick” Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and a co-founder of the climate change website RealClimate.org, was back in the news this week providing commentary for a Seed magazine on-line article, that asks the question “is there a better word for doom?” Mann defended the proper "framing" of environmental issues in order to convince the lay public about the importance of global warming.
Among the many catastrophes that are to befall our world due to global warming, the imminent demise of coral reefs is one of the worst. According to climate change proponents, as waters warm the ocean's reefs will bleach out and die, leaving the seas aquatic deserts, devoid of life. Now comes news that scientists have discovered live, healthy corals on reefs already as hot as the oceans are supposed to get 100 years from now, according to IPCC predictions. Looks like the corals didn't read the IPCC reports.
Even though the new US President gives occasional lip service to nuclear energy, recent actions by his administration force us to ask, “is the Obama administration trying to kill nuclear energy?” The first indication that Obama's support for nuclear power was less than whole hearted came during the stimulus debate, when a push to include tens of billions of dollars in insurance for new nuclear reactors failed. Then, the Obama administration came out this month against storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
News has come that the famed ocean conveyor belt, subject of countless TV documentaries and science lessons, is not as simple as scientists believed. The 50 year old model of global ocean circulation that predicts a deep Atlantic counter current below the Gulf Stream has been called into question by an armada of drifting subsurface sensors. As shocking as this news is to oceanographers it is even worse for climate modelers—it means that all the current climate prediction models are significantly wrong.
The collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) leading to world wide flooding from a huge rise in global sea-levels is one of the horror stories used by global warming activists to scare the public into action. Now it seems that the predictions were greatly exaggerated, both in terms of probability and effect.
The evidence is in, observations and models show that northern tropical Atlantic surface temperatures are sensitive to dust blowing in from North Africa. Regional changes in stratospheric volcanic and tropospheric mineral aerosols (i.e. dust) are responsible for 69% of the upward trend in temperatures over the last 30 years. Once again a new factor has been discovered that is not accounted for in general circulation models (GCM) used to predict global warming—and once again the importance of CO2 is diminished.
Two computer modelers from CMU have written a program to simulate the interaction of cosmic rays with Earth's atmosphere. Because the model failed to predict significant increases in cloud cover, global warming activists are claiming the theory linking cosmic rays to climate change has been discredited. Climate models have failed to accurately predict the current downward trend in temperatures and now we are asked to accept a model as proof of how the Universe works. In truth, the paper cited is nothing more than a study of a computer program, and has nothing to do with the physical reality of how Earth's climate functions.
Coming on the heals of the EPA and CARB decisions, to include all production emissions when evaluating biofuels, a new study from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology says that it may be better to burn crops than turn them into biofuels. The UN has reported that world food prices are rising due to competition with government subsidized biofuel programs. Combined with new concerns over nitrous oxide production from agricultural crops, this may signal the death of America's foolish foray into crop based ethanol.
After a brief, failed career as a politician, retired US General Wesley Clark has finally sunk to the lowest level of American political life: he has become a lobbyist for the ethanol business. He recently appeared on evening news programs decrying the change in public sentiment away from global warming and, in particular, ethanol biofuel. “Public consensus is wrong.” said Clark, blaming the shift in public opinion on propaganda from global warming deniers.