Archive for the ‘News’ Category


Predictable, as most other mass gatherings this year have been busy cancelling themselves recently for the same reason. It won’t be missed.

A key climate conference due in November is delayed over disruption caused by the coronavirus, reports BBC News.

The announcement was made in a joint statement from the UK and UN after a “virtual” meeting of officials.

Dozens of world leaders were due to attend the COP26 gathering that was set to run in Glasgow from November 9 this year.

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OCR software isn’t up to the job apparently. Let’s hope they don’t resort to data ‘adjustments’ after all the public’s efforts. Rain is a popular topic in the UK.

Scientists have been amazed at the public’s response to help digitise the UK’s old rainfall records, reports BBC News.

Handwritten numbers on documents dating back 200 years are being transferred to a spreadsheet format so that computers can analyse past weather patterns.

The volunteers blitzed their way through rain gauge data from the 1950s, 40s and 30s in just four days.

Project leader Prof Ed Hawkins had suggested the work might be a good way for people to use self-isolation time.

“It’s been incredible. I thought we might get this far after three or four weeks, not three or four days,” he told BBC News.

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One for the ‘planet on fire’ crowd to ponder, as the long solar minimum continues.
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Cold temperatures and a strong polar vortex allowed chemicals to gnaw away at the protective ozone layer in the north, says The GWPF.

A vast ozone hole — likely the biggest on record in the north — has opened in the skies above the Arctic. It rivals the better-known Antarctic ozone hole that forms in the southern hemisphere each year.

Record-low ozone levels currently stretch across much of the central Arctic, covering an area about three times the size of Greenland (see ‘Arctic opening’).

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Some say it could be a remnant of the Great Comet of 1843.
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Spaceweather.com

March 24, 2020: No one knows how big the icy core of Comet ATLAS (C/2019 Y4) might be–possibly no wider than a few kilometers. One thing’s for sure, though, the comet’s atmosphere is huge. New images from amateur astronomers around the world show that ATLAS’s gaseous envelope has ballooned in diameter to ~720,000 km–about half as wide as the sun.

cometatlas_inset

“Comet ATLAS’s coma (atmosphere) is approximately 15 arcminutes in diameter,” reports Michael Jäger of Weißenkirchen, Austria, who took the picture, above, on March 18th. “Its newly-formed tail is about the same size.”

Other astronomers are getting similar results. 15 arcminutes = a quarter of a degree. Given Comet ATLAS’s distance of 1.1 AU on March 18th, that angle corresponds to a physical size of 720,000 km.

On the scale of big things in the solar system, Comet ATLAS falls somewhere between the sun (1,392,000 km  diameter) and Jupiter…

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Try not to weep. It will no doubt take place eventually, and hundreds of fuel-thirsty jets will descend on Scotland – or somewhere else – to discuss one more time how not to burn fuel in order to ‘save the world’, or something.

International climate talks scheduled for Glasgow in November have been thrown into doubt as the global clampdown on travel intensifies because of the coronavirus pandemic, reports the Financial Times (via The GWPF).

Government officials said it was increasingly likely that the annual UN gathering would be postponed given the fast-changing situation.

“Nothing is definite yet but from my vantage point I would bet on it being cancelled pretty soon,” said one Whitehall official.

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The MOSAiC crowd ignored the fact they would be in the Arctic at solar minimum, and a deeper than usual one at that. Here’s the result.

Sunrise's Swansong

In my last post I mentioned that the Russian icebreaker  Kapitan Dranitsyn had to battle thick sea-ice to resupply the Polarstern at the MOSAiC site. Contact was successful, and cranes began to  unload and load supplies that were hauled by tractor between the two ships.

PS1 polarstern-1-e1583402517868

A fresh crew of scientists relieved the crew that has been working there.

PS2 polarstern-unloading-2-credit-michael-gutsche

With temperatures down around -30ºC, the open water in the wake of the Kapitan Dranitsyn froze over swiftly. Men could walk on the new ice within 24 hours.

PS3 polarstern-and-icebreaker.1f7f58

By the time the transfer of men and supplies was complete the ship was frozen so fast it could not extract itself. The news is now that the Russians are sending a second icebreaker, the Admiral Makarov, to help the first icebreaker free itself. (Note the twilight in the above picture. The are located close enough to the Pole to see a very swift…

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That didn’t take long. Are these challengers aware the Heathrow decision was about a legal technicality, with the judges specifically saying they weren’t trying to halt the project?

A legal challenge against the construction of HS2 is to be launched by broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham over claims the project is incompatible with the government’s net-zero carbon emissions target, days after the High Court ruled against Heathrow expansion, Construction News reports.

The move comes as Heathrow Airport warned that the government’s decision not to appeal its legal defeat last week – over a failure to comply with planning policy, as it did not take into account terms included in the Paris Agreement on climate change – could mean the scrapping of housing and roads plans.

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Climate paranoia has hit the UK courts big-time. It now seems illegal not to obsess over trace gases in the atmosphere, due to the Paris climate agreement.

Heathrow Airport’s controversial plans to build a third runway have been thrown into doubt after a court ruling, reports BBC News.

The government’s Heathrow’s expansion decision was unlawful because it did not take climate commitments into account, the Court of Appeal said.

Heathrow said it would challenge the decision, but the government has not lodged an appeal.

The judges said that in future, a third runway could go ahead, as long as it fits with the UK’s climate policy.

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You really couldn’t make this stuff up, except possibly in jest.

The Amazon boss and world’s richest man gives 8% of his fortune to fight the planet’s “biggest threat”, reports BBC News.

The world’s richest man said the money would finance work by scientists, activists and other groups.

He said: “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change.”

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H/T The GWPF

The UK government seems to have a bad case of climate derangement syndrome at the moment, in the run-up to the COP26 conference in Glasgow this year. How much economic damage could its futile attempts to reduce the supply of essential carbon dioxide (CO2) to the Earth’s ecosystems do?
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Homeowners could be forced to replace their gas boilers to ensure the UK meets its target to be carbon neutral by 2050, ministers are warning.

The Government will publish a White Paper later this year which will set out the “bigger decisions” that the UK has to make to meet the target, says the Sunday Telegraph.

Lord Duncan of Springbank, the Climate Change minister, said that the White Paper will consider whether the Government should ban gas central heating altogether from all homes.

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Abu Dhabi National Oil Company or ADNOC is the state-owned oil company of the United Arab Emirates


Any showboating climate protesters fancy a visit? ‘Keep it in the ground’ could be a hard sell in that part of the world.

The United Arab Emirates, a leading OPEC producer, announced Monday the discovery of huge gas reserves, saying the find would help the Gulf state achieve self-sufficiency, reports Phys.org.

The United Arab Emirates, a leading OPEC producer, announced Monday the discovery of huge gas reserves, saying the find would help the Gulf state achieve self-sufficiency.

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Lack of public enthusiasm for much-touted electric cars wasn’t overcome by these relatively low-cost offerings. Where they think a sales boom is going to come from is a mystery.

An all-electric car-sharing scheme in London is being scrapped next month in a setback to the capital’s ambitions to get more polluting vehicles off the road, says the Evening Standard.

French-owned Bluecity, which ran a fleet of distinctive red battery-powered cars, said its £5-per-half hour service was no longer financially viable after it secured deals with only three London councils. It will officially shut down on February 10.

A second car-sharing club, German-owned DriveNow, is pulling out of London at the end of next month. It operated 130 electric BMW i3 cars out of a total fleet of more than 700 vehicles.

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Whether any change in UK climate policy is linked to this manouevre remains to be seen.

In a surprise move, the woman appointed to run the crucial UN climate summit in Glasgow in November has been sacked, reports BBC News.

Claire Perry O’Neill, a former climate minister, had been assigned the post of “president” of the event, known as COP 26.

The British government has confirmed that the job will now be handled by the business department, BEIS.

In a tweet, Mrs O’Neill said she was “very sad” to lose the role, and went on to criticise the government.

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M42 ‘smart’ motorway [image credit: Snowmanradio @ Wikipedia]


UK smart motorways have been getting negative press lately for safety – or lack of it – reasons. Running out of EV battery power could be a risk too far on such roads, branded by some as ‘death traps’.
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Smart motorways could be rendered obsolete within a decade as they are not suitable for electric cars, it was claimed yesterday.

AA boss Edmund King warned the routes would be even more dangerous because it would not be possible to tow the stranded vehicles to safety, says All World Report.

He said driverless cars could also run into problems on smart motorways, where the hard shoulder is used as a regular traffic lane to ease congestion.

Developers recommend if a motorist falls asleep in an autonomous vehicle then it should pull over in a safe place – but this may prove impossible with no hard shoulder.

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Small modular reactor [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]


The plan sounds fairly low-key, suggesting they don’t expect great demand any time soon, even though electric cars are being heavily promoted in many countries. The report claims they’ll be competing with ‘low-cost renewables such as offshore wind’, but where are these supposedly low-cost installations, and why do they always need to be subsidised?
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Mini nuclear reactors could be generating power in the UK by the end of the decade, reports BBC News.

Manufacturer Rolls-Royce has told the BBC’s Today programme that it plans to install and operate factory-built power stations by 2029.

Mini nuclear stations can be mass manufactured and delivered in chunks on the back of a lorry, which makes costs more predictable.

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Norway’s Goliat oil platform [image credit: T3n60 @ Wikipedia]


Another attempt to use the courts to impose the will of climate alarmists bites the dust, at least until the next and final appeal, if it happens. When are they going to take Russia to court over Arctic drilling? Too risky perhaps.

A Norwegian court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by two environmental groups which had sued Norway for granting new oil licenses in the Arctic, reports Phys.org.

A Norwegian court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by two environmental groups which had sued Norway for granting new oil licenses in the Arctic.

Greenpeace and Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth) had called for the cancellation of exploration licenses granted in May 2016 to 13 oil companies in the fragile Arctic region, saying the concessions violated the Norwegian constitution which since 2014 guarantees the right to a healthy environment.

They argued that new oil activities in the region would be contrary to the 2016 Paris climate accord, which seeks to limit average global warming to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and which Norway has signed.

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Earth’s oldest asteroid crater found in Australia

Posted: January 22, 2020 by oldbrew in Ice ages, News, research
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Credit: earth.com


Theories abound, but the inevitable carbon dioxide one pops up at the end.

Scientists have identified the world’s oldest asteroid crater in Australia, adding it may explain how the planet was lifted from an ice age, reports BBC News.

The asteroid hit Yarrabubba in Western Australia about 2.2 billion years ago – making the crater about half the age of Earth, researchers say.

Their conclusion was reached by testing minerals found in rocks at the site.

The scientists say the find is exciting because it could account for a warming event during that era.

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‘Truths’ is an acronym* but it helps with the publicity. The satellite ‘will be sensitive to light in the visible and near-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum’.
[*Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio- Studies]

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The UK is going to lead a space mission to get an absolute measurement of the light reflected off Earth’s surface, reports BBC Science.

The information will be used to calibrate the observations of other satellites, allowing their data to be compared more easily.

Called Truths, the new spacecraft was approved for development by European Space Agency member states in November.

Proponents of the mission expect its data to help reduce the uncertainty in projections of future climate change.

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Low tide in Venice


This so-called man-made climate change thing must be a versatile beast, if it exists outside of myths. Wednesday’s rare super blue blood moon gets some of the blame here, but recent low rainfall also played a part.

Although the water levels in the city’s famous canals rise and fall with the tide, exceptionally low tides have left canals bare, reports Sky News.

Two months ago the high tide in Venice peaked at 187cm (6.14ft), leaving around 70% of the lagoon city centre under salt water.

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The Fainting of Betelgeuse — Update

Posted: January 12, 2020 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Measurement, News

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This enormous star seems to be fading fast.

Spaceweather.com

Jan. 10, 2020: One day, perhaps in our lifetimes, perhaps a million years from now, the red giant Betelgeuse will dim a little–and then explode. The resulting supernova will rival the full Moon and cast shadows after dark, completely transforming the night skies of Earth. No wonder astronomers are closely tracking the current “fainting of Betelgeuse.”

“Fainting” is an actual astronomical term. It means dimming, the opposite of brightening. And right now, Betelgeuse is definitely fainting.

Brian-Ottum-Betelgeuse_Fainting_4x4_dated_1577930828  Betelgeuse photographed by Brian Ottum of Animas, New Mexico, almost 4 years apart using the same telescope and observing methods. 

Edward Guinan of Villanova University and colleagues caused a minor sensation last month when they reported “[Betelgeuse] has been declining in brightness since October 2019, now reaching a modern all-time low of V = +1.12 mag on 07 December 2019 UT. Currently this is the faintest the star has been during our…

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