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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #32B

Posted on 10 August 2013 by John Hartz

  • Ancient kings fight climate change
  • Cameroonians See REDD
  • Carbon cycle gets more extreme as climate changes
  • Earth scientists pin climate change squarely on 'humanity'
  • Forecasters could not predict ‘erratic’ flooding in Pakistan and Afghanistan
  • How much should you worry about an Arctic methane bomb?
  • Infectious disease could become more common
  • Large trees play key role in tropical forest biomass storage
  • Ozone hole causing global warming?
  • Rebranding climate change as a public health issue
  • U.S. wind power fastest-growing energy source in 2012
  • Why the World Bank shies away from energy efficiency projects

Ancient kings fight climate change

Thousands of such centuries-old reservoirs are spread through Sri Lanka’s dry but agro-rich areas mainly in the Northern, North Central, North Western, Eastern and Southern provinces.

Now researchers say they can be an effective tool against fluctuating rain patterns caused by climate change.

Ancient Kings Fight Climate Change by Amantha Perera, International Press Service (IPS), Aug 8, 2013

Cameroonians See REDD

Uncertainty over property rights and access to forest land is potentially a major stumbling block for implementing the United Nations collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) in Cameroon.

In Adjab, an indigenous village in the southern region of Cameroon, Chief Marcelin Biang told IPS he feels the present regulations are pushing locals to damage the forest in order to establish their claim to it.

Following a land dispute between Adjab residents and a timber company, a piece of their land was given back to them – but on condition that the villagers “show proof” they are using the land to sustain their livelihoods.

Cameroonians See REDD by Monde Kingsley Nfor, International Press Service (IPS), Aug 8, 2013

Carbon cycle gets more extreme as climate changes

Forests in Earth's northern latitudes have been thickened by migrating plant species and younger growth, driving a stronger gyration in the amount of carbon that cycles between land and the atmosphere each year, a new study suggests.

The net rise in seasonal exchange of carbon between land and air cannot be explained solely by increased burning of fossil fuels, more wildfire or changes in the way the ocean cycles carbon, according to the study published online Thursday in Science. Researchers suspect major ecological changes are behind the trend in an area of the globe that is expected to bear the brunt of climate change.

Above the 45th parallel that marks most of the U.S.-Canada border, the seasonal flux of carbon absorbed and released has increased about 50% over a half century, the researchers found. Lower latttudes did not exhibit as steep a change.

Carbon cycle gets more extreme as climate changes by Geoffrey Mohan, Science Now, Los Angeles Times, Aug 8. 2013

Earth scientists pin climate change squarely on 'humanity'

The weather is one of those topics that is fairly easy for people to agree on. Climate, however, is something else.

Most of the scientists who study the Earth say our climate is changing and humans are part of what's making that happen. But to a lot of nonscientists it's still murky. This week, two of the nation's most venerable scientific institutions tried to explain it better.

Earth Scientists Pin Climate Change Squarely On 'Humanity' by Christopher Joyce, NPR, Aug 6, 2013

Forecasters could not predict ‘erratic’ flooding in Pakistan and Afghanistan 

Heavy monsoon flooding in Pakistan and Afghanistan caused damage to cities and villages last week, washing away homes and causing more than 130 fatalities. The unexpected surge in rains halted activity in Karachi, Pakistan, home to 18 million people.

The flooding and clean-up efforts coincided with the conclusion of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr earlier this week, putting a damper on the holiday.

This most recent flood event is part of a pattern of increasingly extreme and unpredictable rainfall in South Asia, which may be attributed to global climate change.

Forecasters could not predict ‘erratic’ flooding in Pakistan and Afghanistan by Emily Saari, TckTckTck, Aug 9, 2013 

How much should you worry about an Arctic methane bomb?

Recent warnings that this greenhouse gas could cost us $60 trillion have received widespread publicity. But many scientists are skeptical.

How Much Should You Worry About an Arctic Methane Bomb? by Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, Aug 8, 2013

Infectious disease could become more common

Climate change will make it easier for many infectious diseases to spread. Human beings will be able to adapt — or at least the richer ones will. But biodiversity will suffer as parasites and bacteria find a more welcoming environment.

Infectious Disease Could Become More Common in a Warmer World — Especially for Plants and Animals by Bryan Walsh, Time magazine, Aug 8, 2013

Large trees play key role in tropical forest biomass storage

large-scale study has found that a handful of big trees store up to half the above-ground biomass in tropical forests, raising implications for forest management and climate change mitigation.

Trees remove carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, storing it in leaves, woody tissue, roots and organic matter in soil, and playing a critical role in regulating the Earth’s climate and mitigating climate change.

Calculating above-ground biomass — which comprises all living biomass, or organic material, above the soil, including stem, stump, branches, bark, seeds and foliage — helps scientists measure the role of forests as carbon sinks in mitigating climate change.

Large trees play key role in tropical forest biomass storage – study by Mark Foss, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Aug 6, 2013

Ozone hole causing global warming?

The hole in the Earth's ozone layer may be shifting wind patterns and cloud cover in a way that triggers slightly warmer global temperatures, a new study suggests. 

A lot of people mix up the ozone hole and global warming, believing the hole is a major cause of the world's increasing average temperature, researchers said. 

Scientists, on the other hand, have long attributed a small cooling effect to the ozone shortage in the hole. 

Now a new computer-modelling study suggests that the ozone hole might actually have a slight warming influence, but because of its effect on winds, not temperatures. 

Ozone hole causing global warming?, Business Standard, Aug 10, 2013

Rebranding climate change as a public health issue

Why medical professionals may be the best messengers for global warning right now.

Rebranding Climate Change as a Public Health Issue by Courtney Subramanian, Time, Aug 8, 2013 

U.S. wind power fastest-growing energy source in 2012

In a first, wind energy became the No. 1 source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity in 2012, according to a report released by the Energy Department on Tuesday. 

Wind energy accounted for 43% of new electric additions last year, adding more than 13 gigawatts of new wind power capacity to the U.S. grid, the report said. 

That's double the capacity installed the year before. 

But Energy Department officials warn that future growth is uncertain and they are urging an extension of production tax credits that have helped spur wind energy production and manufacturing.

U.S. wind power fastest-growing energy source in 2012, report says by Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times, Aug 6, 2013

Why the World Bank shies away from energy efficiency projects

Decentralised renewable energy projects are highly effective at reducing energy poverty. Energy conservation and efficiency improvements are the cheapest way to close the gap between energy demand and supply. Too bad such measures don’t fit the business model of the World Bank, the world’s most important energy financier.

Why the World Bank shies away from energy efficiency projects by Peter Bosshard, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Aug 8, 2013

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Comments 1 to 10:

  1. The state of California released a report that describes the measured effects of climate change in California.  The linked page has a link to the press release, the report summary and the entire report.  This is an update to a report originally written in 2009.  The report summary includes a list of the effects that had been updated or were new.  I found it interesting to see what the new effects were relative to what was known in  2009 (black carbon and ocean acidification were among the new sections).

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  2. Michael: Thanks for bringing the newly released California report, "Indicators of Climate Change in California," to everyone's attention.  I'll highlight it in this week's Weekly Digest. 

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  3. A Deadly Climb From Glaciation to Hothouse — Why the Permian-Triassic Extinction is Pertinent to Human Warming Link

    A Mechanism for Shallow Methane Hydrate Dissociation Link

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  4. The title of the post "U.S. wind power fastest-growing energy source in 2012, report says" is incorrect.  The article says:

    "In a first, wind energy became the No. 1 source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity in 2012, according to a report released by the Energy Department on Tuesday."

    The article is about the capacity, not the amount of energy generated.  Wind, like solar, produce little energy from their capacity.  You need roughly three times as much wind capacity to supply the same energy as a conventional power station over say a year.

    I seldom look at SKS anymore because each time I do I find it makes basic errors, or uncritically quotes unreliable artciles as in this case, or is involved in advocacy.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Please furnish evidence of such supposed basic errors.  Unsupported assertions bordering on sloganeering struck out.

  5. Peter Lang:

    On what basis should others accept your claim that "the amount of energy generated" is more important than capacity in determining what is or is not the "fastest-growing energy source" in the US? FAQs and summary documents I have seen by the IEA and other informational agencies (such as this one) tend to use capacity as a metric for ability to generate power.

    Further, expecting a site maintained and updated by humans to be 100% error-free - by the way, please provide examples - strikes me as inherently unreasonable. What matters is not what happens when errors are made, because they are inevitable. What matters is whether and how they are corrected.

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  6. In response to Peter Lang #4

    The U.S. DoE (Wind) report is available here.

    It says, page 6, executive summary :

    Wind Power Represented the Largest Source of U.S. Electric-Generating Capacity Additions in 2012. Wind Power constituted 43% of all nameplate capacity additions in 2012, overtaking natural gas-fired generation as the leading source of new capacity. This follows the 5 previous years in which wind power represented between 25% and 43% of new U.S. electric generation capacity in each year.

    which is what the LA times wrote in its unreliable article and what SkS copied.

    It seems that you made the basic error of not checking the source.

    Secondly, the use of the capacity for new additions makes sense so that new equipment from january to december weight the same. I suppose it would be possible to count differently but that's not what the DoE is doing.

    Third, note that natural-gas power plant, although they could generate power 90% of the time or more, do not, in practice, as they have to adapt to demand and other factors. From the eia website :

    Between 2005 (purple line) and 2010 (red line) average capacity factors for natural gas plant operations between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. rose from 26% to 32%. For peak hours—from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.—capacity factors averaged about 50% (the red line) on a national basis in 2010 compared to about 40% in 2005.

    Your sentence "Wind, like solar, produce little energy from their capacity. You need roughly three times as much wind capacity to supply the same energy as a conventional power station over say a year." is too simplistic to account for the reality of power generation.

    Fourth, this post was just a news roundup, where some articles are quoted without comment. Even if the article quoted was incorrect - and he wasn't - judging the quality of this website on just that seems completely unfair.

    Fifth, could you please provide examples of other basic errors on this website ? I will be there to ask for corrections.

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  7. Composer 99 and Aristarchus

    You need to do some reading to understand the difference between power and energy.  Capacity is measured in units of power.  But the title of the artice refers to energy.  They are totally different.  The Renewabl energy industry and advocates try to confuse them to mislead.  Clearly they succeed with many people.   Both of you need to get some understanding about the basics and what you are reading before quotiong from artciles that are clearly outsidce your area of expertise..


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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Since you have not furnished any examples nor have you supplied reputable evidence of errors replete with emended suggested text itself based in the literature, your continuance in this line of inquiry is sloganeering (snipped).

  8. In response to Peter Lang #7

    But the title of the artice refers to energy.

    No, it refers to energy source.

    Trolling, personal attacks and conspiracy theories aside, could you provide some numbers, with reference, on the subject of capacity additions versus energy generated by those additions ?

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  9. Peter Lang:

    1) You incorrectly claim the post above is improperly titled.  The title of the post above is "2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #32B".  The post correctly reports the headline of a news article without comment.  Are you suggesting that SkS news round up should edit the headlines of news articles on which it reports to fit our understanding of the topic?

    2)  It is well known that authors of newspaper articles are not responsible for the headlines.  They are merely responsible for the contents of the article (and not always all of that).  As such any issue you have should be directed at the contents rather than the headlines, and the contents are accurate.  They correctly report that wind is "wind energy became the No. 1 source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity".

    So, if your complaint is that newspaper editors often distort news stories in the headlines - well granted, but what does that have to do with SkS (unless, of course, your demand is that SkS misquote headlines when they report them)? 

    All in all, your determination to ascribe an error to SkS for not misquoting a headline is rather self revelatory.  Clearly if that is your approach, you will not like SkS.  But that has nothing to do with the quality of SkS articles.

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  10. Peter Lang:

    I've begun to notice a trend:

    People interested in clear, effective communication tend to "show their working", or provide sources which have the same effect. You'll notice Aristarchus quotes passages from the report that the LA Times article discusses, and Tom Curtis quotes the article itself; they both lay out the flow of their argument, clearly and concisely.

    By contrast, you appear to have acted in a manner consistent with attempting to obfuscate and confuse:

    First, when asked to show your working and/or provide examples, you simply don't. You have not provided any reason to accept your claim about the LA Times article (which is hardly necessary since Aristarchus and Tom Curtis' comments would render such reason irrelevant on account of being factually false), you have not provided any reason to take your word over, say, the IEA's, and you do not provide any reference clearly showing the misbehaviour you attribute to the renewable energy industry.

    Second, as a substitute for clearly making your case, you rely on bluster. You have no basis to make any assumptions about the physics knowledge of other participants in this forum.  You also rely on the lazy "do your own reading" tactic, which I personally find very tiresome - after all, there's no prima facie reason to believe that someone going off and doing more reading will come back and agree with you. (*)

    Finally, you make a pedantic, and apparently false, distinction between energy and power. Some rather basic definitions show that power and energy are in fact very nearly interchangeable, as power is simply a measure of energy transfer over time:

    In physics, power is defined as the amount of energy consumed per unit time.

    The dimension of power is energy divided by time. The SI unit of power is the watt (W), which is equal to one joule per second.

    Power is the rate of doing work or the rate of using energy [...]

    Ultimately, to speak of power is to speak of energy. Little surprise, then, that these terms are (colloquially) interchangeable when used outside of STEM circles. And, I might add, so much for your claim that they are "totally different".

    (*) Like the appeal to authority/expertise, this sort of claim is not always a failure of logic or argument - sometimes someone really just needs to read up more on a subject. However, such exhortations should be made in response to obvious nonsense, such as when someone argues that, say, vaccines cause autism, or, topically for Skeptical Science, when someone argues that, say, the greenhouse effect violates the laws of thermodynamics.

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