Month: August 2019

East German State Elections Pose Litmus Test For German Climate Policy

Voters in the eastern German states of Saxony and Brandenburg head to the polls on 1 September for crucial state elections. The results could have an outsized impact on German climate policy for three reasons.

“Energy transition only with us!”: Coal workers in Saxony protest for their jobs. Photo: LEAG

First, these states are home to many of the coal communities most affected by Germany’s coal phase-out and are therefore a testing ground for the government-driven change required to avert a climate crisis. Second, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which is increasingly defining itself by its climate change denial, is near the top of the polls in both Brandenburg and Saxony. Third, if the Social Democrats (SPD) suffer—as expected—another defeat, it could hasten the end of the coalition government in Berlin. As the hottest summer on record comes to an end, Berlin and Brussels will be looking at the East.

“You have to offer something concrete,” says Christine Herntier, the mayor of Spremberg in Brandenburg. “And the concrete thing for Spremberg, for my city, is that we are betting on hydrogen. In the next 20 years, it will be about building something new, but something still focused on energy. And then the region will do well too.”

Few people spend more time thinking about Germany’s coal exit than Herntier, who was also a member of Germany’s “coal exit commission”. Spremberg is a town in eastern Brandenburg, about 30 kilometers from the Polish border and just next to Schwarze Pumpe, a lignite power plant that emits the sixth highest amount of carbon dioxide of any power plant in Europe. Herntier says that 2,000 of her constituents, about 10% of the population, work in coal. She makes it clear, however, that she sees both the opportunities and the challenges presented by the energy transition in Germany. In this regard, she is emblematic of her entire region and indeed the country.

Polls suggest that climate protection was the most important issue for German voters in May’s European elections, in which the Green party achieved its best ever result nationwide, a close second to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). On the other hand, the climate-denying AfD also reached new heights, coming first in Herntier’s Brandenburg and neighbouring Saxony, eastern coal states where the Greens did relatively poorly. This polarisation comes in the context of Germany, once a climate protection trailblazer, admitting it will miss its climate targets for 2020. Under pressure from both the Greens and the AfD, the ruling CDU-SPD coalition is working on a comprehensive climate action law, debating carbon pricing, and preparing to implement the coal exit that so concerns the coal miners of Spremberg.

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August 16, 2019 at 07:30AM

Global Vegetation Decreasing, As The World Gets Greener (Or Something Like That!)

By Paul Homewood

 

h/t AC Osborn

 

 

The Mail gives uncritical coverage to the latest bit of  junk science:

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Plant growth has decreased by 59 per cent worldwide since 1999 due to a lack of water in the atmosphere, a new study suggests.

Experts studied four global climate datasets to try and uncover why vegetation growth has stalled in the past two decades.

They found that a drop in levels of water vapour had stopped plants from being able to photosynthesise.

Photosynthesis is used by plants, some bacteria and single-celled organisms to draw energy from sunlight, taking in carbon dioxide and water in the process.

Researchers from Sun Yat-sen University in Zhuhai, China, found that the decline is linked to a vapour pressure deficit (VPD) in the atmosphere.

VPD is the difference between the pressure that would be exerted by water vapour when the air is fully saturated and the pressure it actually exerts.

This has increased sharply over more than 53 per cent of vegetated areas since the late 1990s.

When this deficit increases, the pores on the surface of leaves that taken in carbon dioxide and release water vapour close up, resulting in lower rates of photosynthesis. 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7359941/Global-vegetation-not-grown-20-years-thanks-dry-air.html

 

These findings, however, are in stark contrast to a study in 2016, which found that the world had massively been greened by extra CO2 in the atmosphere, as the BBC reported:

 

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Carbon dioxide emissions from industrial society have driven a huge growth in trees and other plants.

A new study says that if the extra green leaves prompted by rising CO2 levels were laid in a carpet, it would cover twice the continental USA.

Climate sceptics argue the findings show that the extra CO2 is actually benefiting the planet.

But the researchers say the fertilisation effect diminishes over time.

They warn the positives of CO2 are likely to be outweighed by the negatives.

The lead author, Prof Ranga Myneni from Boston University, told BBC News the extra tree growth would not compensate for global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, ocean acidification, the loss of Arctic sea ice, and the prediction of more severe tropical storms.

The new study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change by a team of 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries.

It is called Greening of the Earth and its Drivers, and it is based on data from the Modis and AVHRR instruments which have been carried on American satellites over the past 33 years.The sensors show significant greening of something between 25% and 50% of the Earth’s vegetated land, which in turn is slowing the pace of climate change as the plants are drawing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Just 4% of vegetated land has suffered from plant loss.

https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2016/04/29/rise-in-co2-has-greened-planet-earth/

 

We have, of course, often been warned that a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour, which is then blamed for heavier rainfalls.

Now they are trying to argue that the air is drier!

 

There is one key chart in this new paper, which underlines just how bad it is. It concerns oceanic evaporation, which is the most important factor, as the paper explains:

A change of oceanic evaporation is the most important mechanism for the observed decrease in actual water vapor pressure over the land (18). Oceanic evaporation is the most important source of atmosphere water vapor, and approximately 85% of atmospheric water vapor is evaporated from oceans, with the remaining 15% coming from evaporation and transpiration over land (19). Most of the moisture over land is transported from the oceans, which accounts for 35% of precipitation and 55% of evapotranspiration over land (19).

 

And what does the graph show?

 

F2.large

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https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/8/eaax1396

 

A drop in evaporation in the 1960s and 70s, when the world was cooling, followed by a rise when the PDO and AMO kicked into warm phases, thus leading to a warming period.

And since 1998, another drop. This incidentally indicates that oceanic warming has stopped since 1998, which would confirm the global temperature pause still evident from satellite measurements. Physics, after all, tells us that warmer oceans lead to increased evaporation.

Either way, it is clear that we have a cyclical pattern, and that reduced evaporation since 1998 has nothing at all to do with global warming. Indeed, quite the opposite – when the world was warming between 1979 and 1998, evaporation increased.

But if they admitted that, they would quickly kiss goodbye to their next grant cheque!

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August 16, 2019 at 05:33AM

Ice sheets impact core elements of the Earth’s carbon cycle

University of Bristol

IMAGE: Leverett Glacier - SW Greenland Ice Sheet - vast volumes of meltwater and associated carbon and nutrient are exported from ice sheets every year during melt. Credit: Dr Stefan HoferIMAGE: Leverett Glacier - SW Greenland Ice Sheet - vast volumes of meltwater and associated carbon and nutrient are exported from ice sheets every year during melt. Credit: Dr Stefan Hofer

IMAGE: Leverett Glacier – SW Greenland Ice Sheet – vast volumes of meltwater and associated carbon and nutrient are exported from ice sheets every year during melt. Credit: Dr Stefan Hofer

The Earth’s carbon cycle is crucial in controlling the greenhouse gas content of our atmosphere, and ultimately our climate.

Ice sheets which cover about 10 percent of our Earth’s land surface at present, were thought 20 years ago to be frozen wastelands, devoid of life and with supressed chemical weathering – irrelevant parts of the carbon cycle.

Now a world-leading international team, led by Professor Jemma Wadham from the University of Bristol’ School of Geographical Sciences and Cabot Institute for the Environment, have pulled together a wealth of evidence published over the last 20 years to demonstrate that ice sheets can no longer be regarded as frozen and passive parts of Earth’s carbon cycle.

Their findings are published today in the journal Nature Communications.

Professor Wadham said; “A unique set of conditions present beneath ice sheets make them important reactors in the Earth’s carbon cycle.

“Here, grinding of rock by moving ice is high, liquid water is abundant and microbes thrive in melt zones despite inhospitable conditions – the ice sheets erode their bedrock, cold-adapted microbes process the ground rock and boost nutrient release and glacial meltwaters export this nutrient to the oceans, also stimulating the upwelling of further nutrient from depth at glacier marine margins.

“All this nutrient supports fisheries and stimulates drawdown of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.”

Co-author Professor Rob Spencer from Florida State University added: “Ice sheets are also very effective at storing vast amounts of carbon as they grow over marine sediments, soils and vegetation.

“The Antarctic Ice Sheet alone potentially stores up to 20,000 billion tonnes of organic carbon – ten times more than that estimated for Northern Hemisphere permafrost.

“Some of this carbon is released in meltwaters and fuels marine food webs. The carbon that is left behind in deep parts of ice sheets is converted to methane gas by microbial and/or geothermal activity, which has the potential to be stored as solid methane hydrate under low temperatures and high pressure conditions.

“We have no idea how stable potential methane hydrate will be in a warming climate if ice sheets thin. There is evidence from past phases of ice sheet wastage in Europe that sub-ice sheet methane hydrate has existed and can be released rapidly if ice thins.”

The study also takes a walk back in time to the last transition from glacial (cold) to interglacial (warm) conditions of the present day, analysing ocean cores around Antarctica for clues which might link ice sheet nutrient (iron) export via Antarctic icebergs to the changing productivity of the Southern Ocean – an important global sink for carbon.

Co-author, Dr Jon Hawkings from Florida State University/GFZ-Potsdam, said: “One important way that the Southern Ocean takes carbon out of the atmosphere is by growth of phytoplankton in its surface waters.

“However, these tiny ocean dwelling plants are limited by availability of iron. We have long thought that atmospheric dust was important as a supplier of iron to these waters, but we now know that icebergs host iron-rich sediments which also fertilise the ocean waters as the bergs melt.”

Professor Karen Kohfeld, a palaeo-oceanographer and co-author from Simon Fraser University, added: “What you see in ocean cores from the sub-Antarctic is that as the climate warmed at the end of the last glacial period, iceberg sediment (and therefore, iron) supply to the sub-Antarctic Southern Ocean falls, as does marine productivity while CO2 rises.

“While there are many possible causes for the CO2 rise, the data tantalizingly suggests that falling iron supply to the Southern Ocean via icebergs could have been a contributing factor.”

What is important about this study is that is brings together the work of hundreds of scientists from all over the world published over three decades to show, via a landmark paper, that we can no longer ignore ice sheets in models of the carbon cycle and under scenarios of climate change.

Professor Wadham added: “Ice sheets are highly sensitive parts of our planet – we change temperatures in the air and ocean waters around them and thinning and retreat are inevitable.

“The evidence we present here suggests that ice sheets may have important feedbacks to the carbon cycle which require further study as the uncertainty is still huge.

“Gaining access to some of the most inaccessible and challenging parts of ice sheet beds, for example via deep drilling, alongside building numerical models which can represent biogeochemical processes in ice sheets will be key to future progress in this field.”

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This research is a collaborative venture between the University of Bristol (UK), University of Leeds (UK), Florida State University and University of California, Riverside (USA), German Research Centre for Geosciences at Potsdam (GFZ) and Geomar, Kiel (Germany), Memorial University and Simon Fraser University (Canada).

From EurekAlert!

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August 16, 2019 at 04:51AM

Meghan’s Private Jet Birthday Trip To Ibiza

By Paul Homewood

 

 

Another day, another private jet trip for Hypocritical Harry and Meghan!

 

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex enjoyed a secret trip to Ibiza on a private jet to celebrate Meghan’s birthday – despite their persistent posturing about being green.

Meghan, who turned 38 on August 4, is thought to have flown to the island with Harry, 34, on what would have been three-month-old Archie’s first holiday.

The royal couple and Archie stayed in a secluded villa away from prying eyes, and travelled with security personnel for the ‘six-day trip’.

The royals landed in Ibiza on Tuesday last week with several taxpayer-funded Met Police bodyguards who appear to have have handed over to five Spanish close protection officers who took them to their private villa.

The couple’s decision to use a private jet for their Ibiza trip means the journey emitted six times more carbon dioxide per person than a scheduled flight from London to the Spanish island. The flights there and back would have given out 12.5 tons of carbon dioxide.

There are around 14 scheduled flights from London and the South-East of England to Ibiza each day.

Their choice of transport flies in the face of their frequent public pronouncements on green issues.

Last month British Vogue magazine – guest-edited by the duchess – published an interview by Harry with leading conservationist Dr Jane Goodall. In it the prince suggested that he and Meghan may only have two children because of their environmental concerns.

In contrast to the duke and duchess, climate change activist Greta Thunberg yesterday boarded a boat from England to New York because she refuses to travel by plane. The 16-year-old was one of the 15 ‘forces for change’ Meghan chose to put on the cover of Vogue.

By taking a private jet, the privacy-obsessed royal couple – whose son was born in May – were able to fly in and out of Ibiza incognito. The cost of taking a private plane ranges from £12,000 to £20,000 one way – so up to £40,000 return.

Critics have blasted their private jet trip as hypocritical.

Former UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn said: ‘This is really, really, really bad PR. It is the kind of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ behaviour that the British public detests.’

Friends of the Earth spokesman Aaron Kiely said: ‘The Duke of Sussex speaks wonderful and stirring words on the environment and then he flies off on holiday to a European destination in a private jet.

‘He could have taken a train and then a boat. This would have been the perfect opportunity to set an environmental example.’ 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7356235/Meghan-Markle-flew-Ibiza-private-jet-Prince-Harry-son-Archie.html

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August 16, 2019 at 04:45AM