The Oval Office

The Oval Office


The Presidential ceremonies are over, now the political action starts with implications for certain government agencies, as Phys.org reports.

US President Donald Trump signaled a sharp break on energy and the environment policy Friday, announcing plans to undo climate policies and promote domestic energy development as part of his “America First” agenda.

A statement on the White House website, posted shortly after Trump took the oath of office, said he was “committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan” advocated by his predecessor Barack Obama. Trump also will focus on removing hurdles to domestic energy development that he argues will make the US independent of foreign oil.
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Petrified log at Petrified Forest National Park, AZ [image credit: Jon Sullivan / Wikipedia]

Petrified log at Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
[image credit: Jon Sullivan / Wikipedia]


They seem to base their estimates of the past solar cycle length on a study of only 79 years’ worth of data which is almost certainly too short for high accuracy, but the results are interesting nevertheless.

A pair of German researchers has found evidence in ancient tree rings of a solar sunspot cycle millions of years ago similar to the one observed in more modern times, reports Phys.org.

In their paper published in the journal Geology, Ludwig Luthardt and Ronny Rößler describe how they gathered an assortment of petrified tree samples from a region in Germany and used them to count sunspot cycles.

Scientists know that the sun undergoes a sunspot cycle of approximately 11 years—some spots appear, grow cooler and then slowly move toward the equator and eventually disappear—the changes to the sun spots cause changes to the brightness level of the sun—as the level waxes and wanes, plants here on Earth respond, growing more or less in a given year—this can be seen in the width of tree rings.

In this new effort, the researchers gathered petrified tree samples from a region of Germany that was covered by lava during a volcanic eruption approximately 290 million years ago (during the Permian period), offering a historical record of sun activity.
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Artist's impression [credit: ScottishPower Renewables]

Artist’s impression [credit: ScottishPower Renewables]


Ouch – embarrassing for the builders and a hefty bill for somebody. No reports of any injuries.

A wind turbine has collapsed in the south-west of Scotland, BBC Scotland understands.

The incident happened at Kilgallioch wind farm, which straddles the border between Dumfries and Galloway and South Ayrshire, early last Friday.

An investigation has been launched by developer Scottish Power Renewables and turbine manufacturer Gamesa.
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Credit: Scottish Power

Credit: Scottish Power


When does the UK climate fiasco budget run out? Not any time soon it seems, unless the Treasury squeezes out mad and/or bad ideas like unilateral CCS projects.
H/T GWPF

The UK government spent £100m on a competition to promote carbon capture and storage (CCS) schemes but it all fell apart. This was even after £68m had been spent on a previous competition for CCS, which it cancelled in 2011.

NAO’s report finds that the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s plan to use a second competition to develop and deploy carbon capture and storage was ambitious, but ultimately, unsuccessful when the Treasury pulled the rug away because of uncertainty over costs.
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churcheng
Sometimes, that is. Any financial returns would also be acceptable no doubt.
H/T GWPF

The Church of England has concluded that fracking can be morally acceptable in a move that shale gas explorers hope could pave the way for drilling to take place on church land.

After years of internal debate on the issue, the church has published an extensive briefing paper giving cautious support for fracking subject to conditions, including strict regulation, environmental monitoring and compensation for those affected.

It concluded that fracking could be useful to tackle climate change as long as shale gas replaced dirtier energy sources. The position puts it at odds with groups such as Christian Aid, which opposes all fracking on climate grounds.
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fusiongrid
The latest contenders for the elusive fusion crown are reviewed here. Chasing the ‘holy grail’ of energy is an expensive and time-consuming business, as IB Times reports.

In a world struggling to kick its addiction to fossil fuels and feed its growing appetite for energy, there’s one technology in development that almost sounds too good to be true: nuclear fusion, writes Matthew Hall.

If it works, fusion power offers vast amounts of clean energy with a near limitless fuel source and virtually zero carbon emissions. That’s if it works. But there are teams of researchers around the world and billions of dollars being spent on making sure it does.

In February last year a new chapter of fusion energy research commenced with the formal opening of Wendelstein 7-X. This is an experimental €1 billion (A$1.4bn) fusion reactor built in Greifswald, Germany, to test a reactor design called a stellarator.
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Dumper truck symbol = coal production [click on image to enlarge]

Dumper truck symbol = coal production [click on image to enlarge]

Can politicians put sanity ahead of ideology for Australian electricity generation following recent blackout fiascos?

The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has reinforced his belief in the importance of coal as a pragmatic part of the global energy mix, reports PEI. The Australian online reports Turnbull as saying he had the same opinion while leader of the opposition in 2009.

“We are the biggest coal exporter in the world. If anybody — if any country — has a vested interest in demonstrating that clean coal and cleaner coal with new technologies can make a big contribution to our energy mix — and, at the same time, reduce our emissions in net terms — it’s us.”

“Our approach, and my approach, to energy is absolutely pragmatic and practical. This is not a matter for ideology.” Mr Turnbull said both renewables and fossil fuels would have a role to play in energy production in the future.
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The Sun and the gas giant planets  [credit: Wikipedia]

The Sun and the gas giant planets [credit: Wikipedia]


Interesting recent research from Norway on solar-planetary theory introduced by one of the authors, Harald Yndestad.
H/T Tallbloke

The planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune affect irradiation variability from the sun

Published: 20.aug. 2016 New Astronomy

By Harald Yndestad a), og Jan-Erik Solheim b)

a) Norwegian University of Science and Technology Aalesund, Aalesund 6025, Norway
b) Department of Physics and Technology UiT The Arctic, University of Norway, Tromsø 9037, Norway

Highlights
Deterministic periods: Data series of total radiation (TSI) from the sun, has stationary periodic changes over 1000 years.
Cause: The periods are controlled by the four giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Explanation: There is a mutual gravitation between the sun and the planets that change circulation in Sun’s interior dynamo.
Harmonic periods: Planets periods and combination resonance between periods produces a range of stationary periods from about 11 to 500 years, and more
Impact: The sum of the period affects the sun’s surface and alter the radiation from the sun and climate on Earth.
Historic Climate Change: The identified periods explains known cold climate periods Oort (1010-1030), Wolf (1270-1349), Spurs (1390-1550), Maunder (1640-1720) and Dalton (1790-1820)
Modern climate: We have had a modern maximum period (1940-2015) with radiation.
Prognosis: We are entering a period with less radiation, a “colder” sunny, with a calculated at a minimum of Dalton-level of approximately (2040-2065).

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venus_atm
A wave from pole to pole in the cloud tops that doesn’t move – but then disappears? Another Venus conundrum emerges.

A massive, un-moving structure has been discovered in the upper atmosphere of Venus, reports the IB Times.

Scientists detected the feature with the Jaxa’s Akatsuki spacecraft and they believe it is some sort of gravity wave – although they do not understand how it ended up at the altitude of cloud tops.

The bow-shaped structure was first spotted in December 2015 and a team led by scientists from Rikkyo University in Japan were able to observe it over several days.

It measured 10,000km in length and was brighter and hotter than the surrounding atmosphere. When scientists attempted to observe it again a month later, it had disappeared. The team published their findings in the journal Nature Geoscience.
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World Cup ski race cancelled because of too much snow 

Posted: January 16, 2017 by oldbrew in weather

Credit: myswitzerland.com

Credit: myswitzerland.com


The BBC’s report mentions a ‘cold snap’ but it’s been around for a while now in many parts of Europe.

A famous downhill race in the Skiing World Cup has been cancelled – because there has been too much snow.

Saturday’s race at the Lauberhorn course in Wengen, Switzerland, was dropped after more than 40cm (16in) of snow fell overnight. Crews worked through the night but were unable to prepare the piste in time.

After a dry start to the ski season in December, resorts are now dealing with heavy flurries as a cold snap grips Europe.
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Credit: thegwpf.com

Credit: thegwpf.com


Alan Carlin argues that the stability of the Earth’s climate within its two fundamental modes, glacial and interglacial, is underestimated or ignored by climate modellers in their desire to talk up supposed human-caused factors.

The UN IPCC reports on climate are truly unusual scientifically.

Without any serious discussion or even an attempt to point out their unusual nature, they try to convince readers that the basic nature of Earth’s climate has been radically changed after millions of years, all because one very minor constituent of the atmosphere has been increasing, as it usually does during interglacial periods in response to higher temperatures.

During this long period the basic nature of Earth’s climate can be characterized as bistability. In other words, Earth has had dual climate equilibria. One occurs during ice ages and the other during interglacial periods. Both are very stable except that Earth flips from the ice age equilibrium to the interglacial roughly every 100,000 years and flips back again after another 10,000 to 12,000 years.

History suggests that we may be close to the next flip into an ice age, the colder of the two bistability climates. This has enormous implications for humans and all life on Earh. But the upper “limit” on interglacial temperatures does not appear to have been breached in all that time.
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Jupiter-Saturn-Earth orbits  chart

Jupiter-Saturn-Earth orbits chart

Browsing through some of the PRP papers I came across this at the end of the introduction to R.J. Salvador’s paper – A mathematical model of the sunspot cycle for the past 1000 yr:

Another well-known oscillation found in solar records is
the de Vries cycle of 208 yr (see McCracken et al., 2013).
The frequency of 1253 yr, together with the Jose frequency of
178.8 yr, produces a beat of 208 yr and is used in the model.

Looking back at this Talkshop post from 2014 I wondered if these numbers could be linked to it.

From the chart [top line: ‘2503 E’] I’d suggest the ‘frequency of 1253 years’ could be the half-period of the 2503 year cycle i.e. 1251.5 years, a difference of only 0.0012%.

With the ‘Jose frequency of 178.8 years’ being the mean period of 9 Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions (by definition), we see from the chart that 1251.5 years would be 63 J-S, since it’s half the full period of 2503 years or 126 J-S [= 63 * 2].

Therefore the two periods would be in a simple ratio of 1:7.
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Electric vehicles still in the foothills 

Posted: January 14, 2017 by oldbrew in government, ideology, Travel
Tags:

Credit: plugincars.com

Credit: plugincars.com


As the author suggests, the wishful thinking of policy makers in the world’s better-off countries shows little sign of turning into success ‘on the ground’ when it comes to electric vehicles. Public concerns about cost, range, battery life, recharging and so on are not going away.

An article in Power Engineering International magazine in 2013 by Penny Hitchin identified progress in the development of electric vehicles, as well as the barriers to progress, writes PEI’s Diarmaid Williams.

Four years later, despite a relative surge in uptake of these vehicles, much of the same barriers remain. It’s anticipated that the evolution of the electric vehicle will transform the nature of electric power, but this evolution is unfolding at a slower rate than perhaps anticipated, or desired given the political expediency to decarbonise.

When Hitchin penned her piece, Charging ahead: EVs and the grid, there were 130,000 electric vehicles in the US. In December 2016 that figure was 542,000, according to Recode website, so there is an incremental rise, even if it’s not as rapid as hoped. The same problems are besetting countries around the world in moving away from fossil fuels and capitalising on the extraordinary progress of renewable power.

It’s a similar situation for cars.
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Is this the US weather this winter? [Credit: Farmer's Almanac]

Is this the US weather this winter? [Credit: Farmer’s Almanac]


The unending California drought theory seems to have bitten the dust, or the snow, as The GWPF reports.

The recent onslaught of rain and snow finally brought much-needed relief to northern California, ending a punishing five-year drought, federal officials said Thursday.

“Bye bye drought … Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” tweeted the National Weather Service’s office in Reno, Nev., which monitors parts of the region.
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bbcnews
Believe it or not the BBC is going into the Ministry of Truth business. Perhaps it’s well-intentioned now but there’s always a risk of mission creep. The inference that the BBC’s own news is never misleading is interesting.
H/T Lord Beaverbrook

The BBC is to create a dedicated team which will identify and expose “fake news” stories being shared on Facebook and other social media, reports INews. The BBC said it was not seeking to “police the internet”.

But its Reality Check team will identify and correct the most egregious examples of fabricated stories and outright “lies” circulated by fake news sites.

James Harding, BBC Director of News and Current Affairs, told staff: “The BBC can’t edit the internet, but we won’t stand aside either. We will fact check the most popular outliers on Facebook, Instagram and other social media.”
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Tim writes,

Enjoy. When I first came across this paper there was a lot of chuckling, can’t be serious, surely?

Well, I can understand someone wanting to quantify the effect, show the laws, make it a warning for any fools who need saving from themselves, ain’t engineers. I’m afraid this paper goes too far off the deep end, hints at meant seriously. Your opinion might differ.

Published PNAS

Harvesting renewable energy from Earth’s mid-infrared emissions
Steven J. Byrnes, Romain Blanchard, and Federico Capasso, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
Contributed by Federico Capasso, February 3, 2014 (sent for review November 1, 2013)

It is possible to harvest energy from Earth’s thermal infrared emis-
sion into outer space. We calculate the thermodynamic limit for
the amount of power available, and as a case study, we plot how
this limit varies daily and seasonally in a location in Oklahoma.We
discuss two possible ways to make such an emissive energy har-
vester (EEH): A thermal EEH (analogous to solar thermal power
generation) and an optoelectronic EEH (analogous to photovoltaic
power generation). For the latter, we propose using an infrared-
frequency rectifying antenna, and we discuss its operating princi-
ples, efficiency limits, system design considerations, and possible
technological implementations.
http://www.pnas.org/content/111/11/3927.full.pdf

Actual merit? Works at night.

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Credit: evwind.es

Credit: evwind.es


Bloggers and others have been stating the obvious for years: relying on unreliable electricity generation from renewables like wind and solar energy can’t possibly work. For the hard of thinking, the clue is in the word ‘unreliable’. The penny has to drop with political leaders, or at least their voters, sooner or later – surely?
H/T GWPF

The End of the Energiewende? – by German economist Heiner Flassbeck

Stable high-pressure winter weather has resulted in a confrontation. An Energiewende that relies mainly on wind and solar energy will not work in the long run. One cannot forgo nuclear power, eliminate fossil fuels, and tell people that electricity supplies will remain secure all the same.

We have attempted unsuccessfully to find Energiewende advocates willing to explain that inconsistency. Their silence is not easy to fathom. But maybe the events themselves have made the outcome inevitable.

With nuclear power no longer available, a capacity of at least 50 gigawatts is required by other means, despite an enormously expanded network of wind turbines and solar systems.

This winter could go down in history as the event that proved the German energy transition to be unsubstantiated and incapable of becoming a success story.
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dellers
Well, gave them a black eye at least. Climate whingers have managed to score an own goal by referring JD to the press complaints people and losing the case. Having taken some stick he naturally seizes the opportunity to rub it in.

Meet Dr Phil Williamson: climate ‘scientist’; Breitbart-hater; sorely in need of a family size tube of Anusol to soothe the pain after his second failed attempt to close down free speech by trying to use press regulation laws to silence your humble correspondent.

Williamson – who is attached to the University of East Anglia, home of the Climategate emails – got very upset about some articles I’d written for Breitbart and the Spectator pouring scorn on his junk-scientific field, Ocean Acidification.

In my view Ocean Acidification is little more than a money-making scam for grant-troughing scientists who couldn’t find anything more productive to do with their semi-worthless environmental science degrees. The evidence that Ocean Acidification represents any kind of threat is threadbare – and getting flimsier by the day.
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Take that [credit: universetoday.com]

Take that [credit: universetoday.com]


It seems that there’s always another Moon theory, or variation of an existing one, in the pipeline and here’s one of the newest contenders. Each seems to have its own issues though.

The most widely accepted theory about how the Moon formed has been challenged, with scientists saying a series of large impacts – rather than one giant collision – created our natural satellite, reports the IB Times.

By running numerical simulations, researchers say the Earth being hit by several large planetary bodies would help explain why our planet and the Moon are largely composed of the same material – a problem that has plagued scientists for decades.

The giant impact Moon formation theory was first proposed in the mid-1970s. It says a Mars-sized protoplanet called Theia smashed into Earth around 4.5 billion years ago. The ejected material created a disk of debris, molten rock and gas that eventually condensed to form the Moon.

However, there is a big problem with this theory. If it was correct, the Moon’s composition should be a mix of both Earth and Theia. For this to happen, Theia would have had to be almost identical to Earth in terms of its composition, which is highly unlikely.
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Tim writes,

This drought is largely about the area where I live except this is a water feeder area for large connurbations, Reading, London, Swindon. How severe this will be is open, and is a forewarning. Late rains might arrive, I hope so although regular minor droughts are part of weather, what makes climate, always has, always will.

I’m unable to go and take a photograph of the wier status quo (using crutches and a wheelchair), been eyeballed from the road, so you’ll have to take my word for the situation. (council have obstructed the footway, inaccessible to wheelchairs, no warning signs, typical England)

Image

Image: Google dated 08/2016. River Kennet, navigable river at Newbury. Sluices highlighted.

The usual autumn and winter rains have failed this year. I’d noticed but now the Met Office figures are in and processed, river flow is low so I see trouble brewing for next summer.

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