Monthly Archives: September 2012

‘The Arctic ice cap is melting…’ – ‘The Truth’?

With regard to John Gibbon’s article The Arctic ice cap is melting…’ ‘Irish Times Opinion 27th September 2012 I feel it necessary to take him to task on ‘the truth’ in his submission. He quotes Churchill in respect of ‘the truth’ and then proceeds to be very economical with this most precious and rare commodity. He states ‘the truth’ that on 16th September Arctic sea ice hit its lowest level ever recorded but spares us ‘the truth’ that we are seeing a record sea ice expansion in the Antarctic. Could the record sea ice melt be due to other factors? If John is so wedded to ‘the truth’ then why did he not mention that NASA posted a video on 18th September in which they stated that an Arctic Cyclone on 5th August played a ‘key role’ in record ice melt.

John also states “The last time the Arctic is believed to have been ice-free is during the Eemian period about 125,000 years ago yet the Holocene Climate Optimum 6,000 years ago was 4 degrees C warmer than today. Is it reasonable to hypothesise that the Arctic would have been ice-free under those conditions? Many scientist think so. So John’s statement about the Eemian being the last time the Arctic is believed to have been ice-free is simply his version of ‘the truth’.

John is clearly exhibiting what the Nobel Laureate Ferdinand von Hayek called “Pretence of Knowledge”. John thinks he understands climate, like the economists of 1929 and 2007 thought they understood the world economy, but the contradictions, innumerable variables and sheer size of these complex systems makes humanity’s attempts to understand them, let alone control them, utter hubris.

John is not the first to cry wolf. This quote from ‘The New Scientist’ magazine 1st December 1960 – ‘…warming is evident. …If this goes on the Arctic Ocean will be open year round before the close of the twentieth century’.

And John is wont to quote the scientists who speak his ‘truth’. In relation to the alarmist vision of a 97% surface ice melt in Greenland on 12th July he quotes Son Nghiem of NASA “This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to data error?” If only Nghiem had spoken to his NASA colleague Dr Lora Koenig (a Goddard glaciologist and member of the team analysing the satellite data) his fears would have been allayed, quote, “Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time.” Now John talks in his opening paragraph about spin and obfuscation. His selective quotation is a clear example of spin and obfuscation as these two quotes are from the same NASA article.

When someone begins the defence of their particular position with an appeal to ‘the truth’ beware. John is mistaken in his belief that science, whether climate or otherwise, is about the search for ‘truth’, as every scientist knows, science is the never ending search for error.


Forest Fires – Not proof of Global Warming

The sensationalist press love to make wild predictions and equally wild claims. This year’s forest fire in the US were grist to their mill. Colorado’s June forest fires were billed as ‘largest fires on record’ – ‘will burn until the winter snows’. These doom merchants are all the same, but unfortunately they are rarely taken to task. As mentioned in a previous post, I have a long memory for such events. But having said that who needs a long memory. Summer rains had put the fires out by mid-July. As for them being the largest fires on record, a forest fire in September 1898 burned the entire northwest quadrant of Colorado. The fires this June were only 1% of the area.



Burt Rutan – Global Warming Sceptic

Burt Rutan – the man who brought you the first non-stop (no refuelling) round the world flight, the man who brought you the first commercial flight into space (winner of the $10 million X-Prize in 2004) and hopefully, the man who will launch the space tourism industry next year – doesn’t believe in human caused global warming.

As I have said in a previous blog, there is no such thing as a climate expert. This is why we should sit up and take note when a man like Rutan expresses sceptical views. He is nothing to do with the climate scene, but he is a data analyst. Point him at slew of data and he knows better than most how to crunch the numbers and tease out a defendable conclusion of its meaning.

I take heart when people of his intellect turn their attention to this most important of world issues, going to the source of the data and drawing his own conclusions.


The True Cost per mile of an electric car.

From MarketWatch:

GM has suspended production of the [Volt] all-electric car for a month so they can retool the plant to make more Chevy Impalas. Read more about the Volt’s production issues.

… So far this year, GM has sold about 11,000 Volts — far less than hoped and planned for by the auto maker. The market has spoken: Most Americans simply are not ready for an electric car from Detroit…

The website ExtremeTech calculates that the car costs about 6.3 cents per mile when running on electricity at 13 cents per kilowatt hour. But that rate ignores depreciating the cost of a replacement battery ($8,000) over the life of the battery warranty.

When you add in the cost of the battery depreciation, you get a calculation of about 14.3 cents per mile for the Volt. As the tech site notes: “A compact car getting 35 mpg would cost 10 cents per mile using $3.50-a-gallon gasoline.”  So in other words, the Volt, in addition to the high cost to purchase, costs 43% more to operate than a conventional car.


Wind Farms do not reduce CO2 emissions.

In recent months the Dutch parliament has been presented with data showing that the CO2 created in the manufacture, construction and maintenance of wind turbines will not be balanced out by the CO2 savings from the ‘Green’ electricity generated during the life time of a machine.

It has been received wisdom that a wind turbine would be 15 years into its 20 to 25 year life span before it started to have an impact on CO2 reduction. This calculation was based on ‘computer models’. We now have empirical data from a number of energy grids across the world to show that the actual savings are derisory or simply non-existent.  The error in the computer models derives from the fact that savings of carbon fuel used by back-up power generation are not being realised. An extreme example is the Australian state of Victoria which uses lignite (brown coal) for its base load power stations. The power stations do not use any less fuel when they reduce energy production at times of high wind turbine generated electricity. This is because it is more energy efficient to run a lignite station at full power rather than to cycle it up and down. This is true to a lesser degree for other forms of carbon energy including gas.

As I understand it, the sole purpose of wind generated electricity is to reduce the level of industry generated CO2 going into the atmosphere. 20 years of wind farms has shown us that wind turbines cannot generate cheap electricity. Advances in technology have increased known carbon energy reserves many times over and the fear of peak oil/gas is now behind us. If the only reason we have left – low CO2 emissions, has been taken away, then let us consign the wind turbine to the dustbin of history where it belongs.


Another angle