Archive for August, 2017

German wind farm [image credit: Dirk Ingo Franke / Wikipedia]

If the flood of subsidies looks like turning to a trickle, the backers of renewables soon get cold feet – in Germany at least, as Pierre Gosselin explains (via GWPF).

While Germany likes to fancy itself as being among the “global leaders” in tackling climate change by expanding green energies, the country has in fact taken very little action recently to back up the appearances.

If anything, Germany is more in the green energy retreat mode. There are good reasons for this.

German flagship business daily “Handelsblatt” reported yesterday how Germany’s wind energy market is now “threatening to implode” and as a result “thousands of jobs are at risk”.


Cassini probe at Saturn
[credit: NASA]

NASA’s Cassini space probe is still sending back useful data before it ends its 20 year mission by diving into the unexplored Saturnian atmosphere.

The spectacular rings of Saturn may be relatively young, perhaps just 100 million years or so old, says BBC News.

This is the early interpretation of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft on its final orbits of the giant world. If confirmed, it means we are looking at Saturn at a very special time in the age of the Solar System.

Cassini is scheduled to make only two more close-in passes before driving itself to destruction in Saturn’s atmosphere on 15 September. The probe is being disposed of in this way because it will soon run out of fuel.


Energy costs on the rise

This is the official admission that ‘green energy’ costs due to ideologically-based policies are a significant portion of, and reason for, fast-rising UK domestic energy bills.

Poorer customers could be exempted from paying ‘green’ energy taxes included in bills and pay just for what they use under plans being drawn up by leading power firms, says the GWPF.

Energy regulator Ofgem is consulting consumer groups and power companies on proposals for a ‘safeguard’ tariff, which would protect 2.2 million customers.

This follows on from Prime Minister Theresa May’s pre-Election pledge to cut £100 from 17 million family energy bills.


Why tropical storm Harvey is showing Texas no mercy

Posted: August 28, 2017 by oldbrew in News, weather

Image credit: Houston Chronicle

“The problem with Harvey is that it is trapped,” an atmospheric scientist and tropical storm expert tells Gizmodo. One fear is that Harvey could drift back out to sea and then return again with renewed force.

Right now, Houston is in the midst of a catastrophic flood disaster as tropical storm Harvey, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on the central Texas coastline Friday night, continues to unleash torrents over the Houston/Galveston metropolitan area.

Harvey is expected to drop an additional 15 to 25 inches of rainfall over the next few days, which, combined with 1-2 feet of rain that fell over the weekend, has created a “worse than worst case scenario for Houston,” and could lead to some of the highest rainfall totals the nation has ever seen.

After making landfall, they tend to dissipate quickly, losing energy and organization as they blow across cooler, drier, inland air masses. What makes Harvey both incredibly dangerous and highly unusual is that it has barely budged over the last few days, channelling nonstop belts of rainfall from sea to land.

“There is virtually no precedent for such a slow-moving system maintaining at least tropical storm strength along the Texas coast for five days,” meteorologists Jeff Masters and Bob Henson wrote yesterday on their weather and climate science blog, Category 6.

So, why won’t Harvey leave Texas alone?

“The problem with Harvey is that it is trapped,” Phil Klotzbach, atmospheric scientist and tropical storm expert at Colorado State University, told Gizmodo in an email.

Continued here.


If there was any life left in this climate change scare story, this latest research should finally see it off.

Clathrate (hydrate) gun hypothesis stirred quite the controversy when it was posed in 2003, as ScienceDaily reports. It stated that methane hydrates — frozen water cages containing methane gas found below the ocean floor — can melt due to increasing ocean temperatures.

According to the hypothesis this melt can happen in a time span of a human life, dissociating vast amounts of hydrate and releasing methane into the atmosphere.

Consequently, this would lead to a runaway process, where the methane released would add to the global budget of greenhouse gases, and further accelerate the warming of the planet.


But still, global climate models will say: Does Not Compute!

No coffins needed on this occasion fortunately.


By Paul Homewood

h/t AC Osborn

The Mail reports on yet another Arctic expedition that has come perilously close to real grief:


Three British rowers attempting a record 1,200-mile voyage across the raging seas of the Arctic Ocean are stranded on a remote volcanic island after being battered by fierce storms.

The trio, part of a six-man crew, were forced to land on the tiny island of Jan Mayen, just 340 miles from their destination on Iceland.

The Polar Row team, including British double Olympic gold medallist Alex Gregory, had endured freezing temperatures and almost constant soaking in their fibreglass boat, which has neither an outboard motor nor sails.

Nightmare: The Polar Row team (pictured) had endured freezing temperatures and almost constant soaking in their fibreglass boat, which has neither an outboard motor nor sails

Nightmare: The Polar Row team (pictured) had endured freezing temperatures and almost constant soaking in their fibreglass boat, which has neither an outboard motor nor sails

Having landed on the island, the three Britons and another rower refused to continue because…

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Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley, suspended from a crane during her recovery from Charleston Harbor, 8 August 2000 [image credit: Barbara Voulgaris, Naval Historical Center]

The Hunley was the first combat submarine to sink a warship, in 1864. It was very basic, being designed for a crew of eight, seven to turn the hand-cranked propeller and one to steer and direct the boat. Its discovery in 1995 was described by the Director of Naval History at the Naval Historical Center as “probably the most important find of the century.” ‘Tens of thousands’ attended an official funeral in Charleston, South Carolina in 2004, including all five branches of the U.S. armed forces.

A full 22 years after their bodies were discovered, scientists have come up with an explanation for the mysterious deaths of the crew of the Civil War submarine the H. L. Hunley 150 years ago, reports the IB Times.

The Confederate crew of eight were found seated in their stations on the hand crank that powered the ship. They showed no sign of struggle or trying to escape. They also displayed no sign of physical injury. The bilge pumps hadn’t been used and they hadn’t tried to escape through the air hatches.


Also eclipsing internet records

Only to be be expected, but the great American eclipse was a massive internet hit, as the daily sun [sic] reports.

The total solar eclipse of August 21 attracted more traffic to NASA websites than any other event on record, according to data revealed by the US space agency, reports Ians. 

“With more than 90 million page views on and, we topped our previous web traffic record about seven times over,” NASA officials wrote. 

It was one of the biggest internet events in recent history and by far the biggest online event NASA has ever measured. “We estimate more than 40 million views of our live broadcast on and multiple social platforms,” NASA said. 


Waiting for a recharge

When are people going to notice that making electric cars compulsory would/will limit them to travelling relatively short distances from home without a break, assuming they can afford one at all?

Green groups have urged the government to demonstrate its commitment to clean growth by accelerating the proposed ban on diesel and petrol engine cars and vans, reports Utility Week.

In a new report published today (25 August), the Green Alliance of environmental charities and groups has called on ministers to require all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2030.

In its air quality plan, published last month, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs set a target that petrol and diesel should be banned by 2040.


2017 eclipse path over US [credit: NASA — click on image to enlarge]

Time to go fishing for insights into eclipse phenomena, thanks to a loan of specialized US Navy comms equipment.

On Monday, just as CU Denver began the new academic year, an awe-inspiring solar eclipse captivated people across North America, reports

A thin line of total solar coverage spanned, at various intervals, the continental United States, completely blocking out the sun from Lincoln Beach, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., for a few remarkable minutes.

Mark Golkowski, PhD, acting chair and associate professor of Electrical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU Denver, and several students collected data during this rare celestial event by using state-of-the-art Naval submarine communication technology.


Some Pythagorean triples [credit: Cmglee / Wikipedia]

Could Babylonian base-60 maths be about to make a comeback? The tablet has been dated to between 1822 and 1762 BC and is based on Pythagorean triples, as reports. It uses ‘a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles’.

UNSW Sydney scientists have discovered the purpose of a famous 3700-year old Babylonian clay tablet, revealing it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, possibly used by ancient mathematical scribes to calculate how to construct palaces and temples and build canals.

The new research shows the Babylonians beat the Greeks to the invention of trigonometry – the study of triangles – by more than 1000 years, and reveals an ancient mathematical sophistication that had been hidden until now.

Known as Plimpton 322, the small tablet was discovered in the early 1900s in what is now southern Iraq by archaeologist, academic, diplomat and antiquities dealer Edgar Banks, the person on whom the fictional character Indiana Jones was based.


Russian response to the 2013 protest

They got off lightly compared to their Russian fiasco in 2013, as The Barents Observer points out. Probably cheap publicity given the level of fines.

Each of the six activists got from 25,000 to 30,000 Norwegian kroner (€2,700 to 3,200) in fine by the police in Tromsø.

It was last Thursday the activists protested the Norwegian oil company Statoil’s drilling in the Barents Sea. With kayaks, some of the protesters went inside the 500-metres safety zone around the rig «Songa Enabler» at the Korpfjell prospect.

Located 415 kilometres from mainland Norway, the drilling is the northernmost to be explored this season.


Sunspots [image credit: NASA]

One of the authors of the research says: “The results of our study show us that we have identified the governing parameters in our model”. Both climate and exoplanet research could benefit from the findings.

The Sun shines from the heavens, seemingly calm and unvarying. In fact, it doesn’t always shine with uniform brightness, but shows dimmings and brightenings, reports

Two phenomena alone are responsible for these fluctuations: the magnetic fields on the visible surface and gigantic plasma currents, bubbling up from the star’s interior.

A team headed by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen reports this result in today’s issue of Nature Astronomy. For the first time, the scientists have managed to reconstruct fluctuations in brightness on all time scales observed to date – from minutes up to decades.


Brew or battery charge?

Another potential snag for electric car owners in a hurry, as Auto Express reports.

Electric vehicle owners may not be able to rapidly charge their car at home at the same time as boiling a kettle, National Grid has warned.

The grid operator said that using a fast charger, which can be installed at home to reduce charging times, is likely to trip a house’s main fuse if used simultaneously with other ‘high demand’ items such as kettles, ovens and immersion heaters.


Credit: NASA

Among other findings, solar EUV [extreme ultraviolet radiation] turns out to be a greater planetary force than expected in this new research. Also the bow shock is greater the nearer Mars gets to the Sun during its orbit.

As the energetic particles of the solar wind speed across interplanetary space, their motion is modified by objects in their path. A study, based on data from ESA’s Mars Express orbiter, has thrown new light on a surprising interaction between the planet Mars and supersonic particles in the solar wind, reports

Scientists have long been aware that a feature known as a bow shock
forms upstream of a planet – rather like the bow of a ship, where the water is slowed and then diverted around the obstacle.

The bow shock marks a fairly sharp boundary where the solar wind slows suddenly as it begins to plough into a planet’s magnetosphere or outer atmosphere.

In the case of Mars, which does not generate a global magnetic field and has a thin atmosphere, the main obstacle to the solar wind is the ionosphere – a region of electrically charged particles in its upper atmosphere.


The author notes that ‘while mainstream climate science is replete with published proxy temperature studies showing that temperatures have cycled up and down over the last 2,000 years – spiking during the Medieval Warm Period and then again recently to about 1980 as shown in Figure 12 – the official IPCC reconstructions (which underpin the Paris Accord) deny such cycles.’

We could add ‘and then says the science is settled’.
– – –
After deconstructing 2,000-year old proxy-temperature series back to their most basic components, and then rebuilding them using the latest big data techniques, John Abbot and I show what global temperatures might have done in the absence of an industrial revolution, writes Jennifer Marohasy

The results from this novel technique, just published in GeoResJ [1], accord with climate sensitivity estimates from experimental spectroscopy but are at odds with output from General Circulation Models.    

According to mainstream climate science, most of the recent global warming is our fault – caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide.


Nobody in power wants to face the facts and backtrack, even though the unpleasant reality is staring them in the face.


By Paul Homewood

h/t Conrad Jones


Earlier this year, DEFRA published a report by the Air Quality Expert Group into the impacts of biomass on air quality. The results make for startling reading.

Among the findings are:

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Image credit: The Local

It’s not the only place in the region to suffer but as The Local says ‘Staufen has really become a byword for failed geothermal drilling.’

A German town’s decision to invest in geothermal energy backfired badly after underground drilling went wrong and hundred of buildings began to fall apart.

Staufen, a town of 8,100 inhabitants on the edge of the Black Forest, envisioned a blissful new green energy future when work on the project began in 2007.

But when the drills hit groundwater, the pretty Baden Württenburg hamlet instead found itself in a battle for survival. More than 270 buildings have suffered fractures since the drills penetrated a layer of earth and struck groundwater in a yard right behind the town hall. 

“We’ve been in crisis mode for ten years,” Mayor Michael Benitz told news agency DPA. “It’s a slow-motion catastrophe.” A red banner that hangs from the damaged town hall proclaims: “Staufen must not fall apart”. 

But in some cases it almost already has.


Target practice

Target sighted..load…take aim…fire!

Al Gore has provided a target-rich environment of deceptions in his new movie, says Roy Spencer.

After viewing Gore’s most recent movie, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, and after reading the book version of the movie, I was more than a little astounded. The new movie and book are chock-full of bad science, bad policy, and factual errors.

So, I was inspired to do something about it.

I’d like to announce my new e-book, entitled An Inconvenient Deception: How Al Gore Distorts Climate Science and Energy Policy, now available on


Sydney, Australia

Sounds promising, but can these batteries make the leap from hearing aids to machinery in general? Developments – if any – awaited.

Zinc-air batteries are an enticing prospect thanks to their high energy density and the fact they’re made with some of the most common materials on Earth, says New Atlas.

Unfortunately, those advantages are countered by how difficult it is to recharge these cells. Now, a team at the University of Sydney has created new catalysts out of abundant elements that could see rechargeable zinc-air batteries vying with lithium-ion batteries in mobile devices.