Friday, May 19, 2017

Western Australia’s catastrophic forest collapse

A thoroughly lazy article below. It does seem to be true that West Australian forests are retreating but the galoots below have no idea why and don't try to find out. They just chant the tired old mantra of global warming. But global warming COULD NOT be the cause. As any number of studies show (e.g. here) increased CO2 in the atmosphere has a GREENING effect, not a browning effect. The writers below, George Matusick, Giles Hardy and Katinka Ruthrof, are all academics specializing in forest studies so they are quite simply a disgrace to their professions. It's just a bit of opportunistic Warmist propaganda below.

Even aside from its building block effects, elevated CO2 reduces transpiration time for plants and makes them less needful of water; Warming oceans give off more water vapor which comes down as rain.  So both CO2 rises and its allegedly associated temperature rises are good for plants.  They certainly don't dry anything out.  So what they say below flies in the face of all the facts.  They are just grant-hungry crooks

Recent, unprecedented, climate-driven forest collapses in Western Australia show us that ecosystem change can be sudden, dramatic and catastrophic. These collapses are a clear signal that we must develop new strategies to mitigate or prevent the future effects of climate change in Australian woodlands and forests. But society’s view of forests is ever-changing: are we willing to understand ecosystems and adapt to changing conditions?

The south west of Western Australia has experienced a long-term climate shift since the early 1970s, resulting in dryer and hotter than average conditions. This shifted baseline, or average, has also led to more frequent extreme events. In 2010, the region experienced the driest and second hottest year on record.

These climate changes have resulted in significant decreases in stream-flow and groundwater levels. For example, formerly permanent streams now stop flowing for considerable periods. Groundwater levels have fallen up to 11 meters in some forested areas, with larger decreases in populated areas. Clearly, soil water reserves have dried out substantially and will likely continue to do so; we are now starting to see the implications of this. Although most of the West Australian society, particularly those in urban environments, may be well-buffered from these changes, ecosystems are not.

The climatic changes occurring in the south west of Western Australia are contributing to deteriorating woodland and forest health. In the past 20 years, insect infestations and fungal diseases have plagued many iconic tree species, including tuart, wandoo, flooded gum, marri, and WA peppermint, increasing their mortality rates. Many of these disorders are likely triggered or incited by changing climate conditions.

In extreme climate conditions, woodland and forest health suffers most. For instance, during the record dry and hot period in 2010 and 2011, large patches of trees throughout the region suddenly collapsed, with little recovery in some areas. Along the coastal plain surrounding Perth, some areas of Banksia woodland suffered losses as high as 70-80%, while over 500 ha of tuart woodland collapsed and over 15,000 ha of exotic pine plantations (~70% north of Perth) were destroyed. In the northern jarrah forest, over 16,000 ha of forest suddenly collapsed, with mortality rates 10.5 times greater than normal.

In several ecosystems, species have died out and not been replaced, permanently shifting vegetation structure and ecosystem function. Some believe that species and ecosystems will transition slowly in response to climate change. But following the extreme conditions experienced in 2010-11, we now know the transition in many West Australian woodlands and forests will likely occur in sudden, catastrophic, step changes. Many species may not have time to adapt.

These often sudden and dramatic shifts in vegetation health, structure and function have profound consequences on associated flora and fauna, including many critically endangered species. The Mediterranean type-ecosystems of the south west were recently named among the top 10 ecosystems most vulnerable to climate-induced tipping points and degradation by a panel of 26 leading Australian ecologists. The region is one of 35 global biodiversity hotspots, harbouring approximately 1500 plant species, most of which aren’t found anywhere else.


Leftists get hysterical about exposure to even very low levels of ionizing radiation.  Are they right?

The example of Japan:

If you were expecting Hiroshima to be uninhabitable for thousands of years, you are (understandably, given the deplorable state of science education) making a whole bunch of errors in your understanding of radiation.

First of all, radiation isn’t magic death cooties. You are radioactive (traces of unstable potassium in your bones). My kitchen is radioactive (traces of unstable uranium in my granite countertop). If you have smoke detectors in your home (and you should) there’s a good chance they are radioactive (americium—quite, quite radioactive, but harmless unless you eat it or inhale it).

When it comes to radiation, the type, intensity, and duration of exposure mean everything.

The Little Boy bomb contained 64 kg (141 lbs) of highly-enriched uranium. What that means is that the government sorted through many, many, many trainloads of naturally occurring uranium ore to separate out the isotope needed for bomb-making. In nature (on Earth) uranium is mostly U238, which has a half life of 4.5 billion years. This extremely long half life means the energy it releases as radiation is spread out over far longer than the age of the universe, and is therefore harmless to life (it would be nearly harmless anyway, because it emits alpha particles that can be stopped by as little as the dead outer layer of your skin). U238 is too stable for use in making bombs. For bombs, you need uranium with much more U235, an isotope with a half life of a mere 700 million years. This means (roughly) that U235 is about 600 times more radioactive than U238, making it so intensely radioactive that…

… you can hold it in your hands with no ill effects at all (the gloves are to keep the metal clean and prevent any dust from making its way into the technician’s lungs or mouth—which would be dangerous).

Uranium is a naturally occurring ore that is more dangerous as a chemical toxin than for its weak radiation. When enriched to 80%, U-235 is weapons grade stuff—far more radioactive—but still not harmful unless ingested.

So, okay. What makes the stuff so dangerous? Well, when you put too much U235 in close proximity and under the right circumstances, you can create a chain reaction in which neutron release astronomically speeds up the decay of the atoms, making it astronomically more radioactive, making all that atomic energy come out astronomically faster. This can give you a lethal dose in a few seconds, or boil water to run a turbine, or go boom—all depending on how tightly and how quickly the atoms all come together.

The Little Boy bomb was little more than a lab experiment stuck in a cowling and hung under an airplane. Only about 1.5% of the uranium fissioned. The remaining 64 kg (141 lbs) went up in the mushroom cloud and spread across the Pacific ocean. Oh no! What have we done to mother Earth???

Not a lot, actually. The ocean already contains uranium. This is Earth, after all, and it’s a rocky planet, and the ocean contains the runoff from the mountains and the soup from hydrothermal vents. Every 20 cubic kilometers of unadulterated seawater already contains the same amount of uranium spilled by the bomb. The ocean contains roughly 1.332 billion cubic kilometers of water, so it already contains 66,600,000 times the amount of uranium released by the bomb. Put another way, the bomb had zero impact on the amount of uranium in the environment. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

But what about the 1.5% that actually fissioned? That’s your nightmare poison, right? Well, yes. Much of it transmuted into a cocktail of highly radioactive scariness, however:

Not all isotopes are equal. After an atomic bomb goes off, the isotopes that hurt people are those with short half lives, not long ones. Isotopes like Niobium-95, Cerium-141, Barium-140 and in particular, Iodine-131 are extremely dangerous because they have half lives of only days. They release all their radiation quickly, so it can do a lot of damage—especially Iodine-131 which can be taken up by the body and transported to the thyroid gland, and Strontium-89 which can be taken up by bones. These fission products are truly monstrous—but they don’t last long. In weeks, they are no longer a reason not to enter the area unprotected. In a year, they are gone. That leaves longer-lived isotopes like Strontium-90 and Cesium-137, both with half-lives of about 30 years. These pose a long term cancer risk, but by now, they are basically gone too. The only effect they impose on today’s world is mucking up highly-precise scientific measurements.

So what’s this thousands of years business? Hysteria and misinformation, that’s what.

I do not, by this answer, mean to downplay the horrors inflicted by the bomb or to imply that radiation isn’t dangerous. It can be, but it can also be extremely helpful. Consider that Japan, first victim of nuclear warfare, entered World War II mostly over control of oil supplies in its South Pacific region of influence. After the war, nuclear power fueled a robust, peaceful economy. Now, Fukushima has the Japanese spooked. They are thinking of retreating from nuclear power. And if they do, it will be a mistake.

Even after Fukushima, the total number of members of the Japanese public killed by the peaceful application of nuclear energy remains 0. Meanwhile, 20,000 Americans die each year due to lung cancer caused by radioactive radon, most of which is dug up and spewed out the smoke stacks of coal-fired power plants. If Japan abandons nuclear instead of upgrading to the newer safer designs now available, they will have to get their power at least partly from coal or natural gas. If they do that, for the first time since the bomb, radiation will start killing large numbers of Japanese.*

The point is, we don’t need to blindly fear nuclear energy. We need to respect it, understand it, and hold those who wield it to a high standard of public scrutiny. Ignorance is what we need to fear.


Hiatus observed in Northern Asia

Does the recent warming hiatus exist over Northern Asia for winter wind chill temperature?

Ying Ma et al.


Wind chill temperature (WCT) describes the joint effect of wind velocity and air temperature on exposed body skin and could support policymakers in designing plans to reduce the risks of notably cold and windy weather. This study examined winter WCT over Northern Asia during 1973–2013 by analysing in situ station data. The winter WCT warming rate over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) slowed during 1999–2013 (−0.04 °C decade−1) compared with that of during 1973–1998 (0.67 °C decade−1). The winter WCT warming hiatus has also been observed in the remainder of Northern Asia with trends of 1.11 °C decade−1 during 1973–1998 but −1.02 °C decade−1 during 1999–2013, except for the Far East (FE) of Russia, where the winter WCT has continued to heat up during both the earlier period of 1973–1998 (0.54 °C decade−1) and the recent period of 1999–2013 (0.75 °C decade−1). The results indicate that the influence of temperature on winter WCT is greater than that of wind speed over Northern Asia. Atmospheric circulation changes associated with air temperature and wind speed were analysed to identify the causes for the warming hiatus of winter WCT over Northern Asia. The distributions of sea-level pressure and 500-hPa height anomalies during 1999–2013 transported cold air from the high latitudes to middle latitudes, resulting in low air temperature over Northern Asia except for the FE of Russia. Over the TP, the increase in wind speed offset the increase in air temperature during 1999–2013. For the FE, the southerly wind from the Western Pacific drove the temperature up during the 1999–2013 period through warm advection.

International Journal of Climatology

Reddit users brutally destroy Bill Nye’s new Netflix science show: ‘This is absolute dog s**t’

Reddit users destroyed Bill Nye’s new Netflix program Tuesday in a thread of a show review that became so popular that it found its way to Reddit’s front page and earned Reddit’s version of a “like” more than 60,000 times.

In recent years, Nye, who is known for his 1990s kids’ science show, has become one of the most outspoken critics of people who disagree that manmade climate change is a fact and “settled science.” He regularly appears on cable news shows to debate the topic of climate change and attempts to discredit and shut down anyone who don’t toe his progressive line.

And according to Reddit users, Nye uses the same tone and style in his newest show, “Bill Nye Saves the World,” which debuted on Netflix in April.

“In this show he simply brings up an issue, tells you which side you should be on, and then makes fun of people on the other side. To make things worst [sic] he does this in the most boring way possible,” Reddit user “Sloth859,” who described himself as a “huge fan” of Nye’s since the age of 10, wrote in a review of the new show.

“He doesn’t properly explain anything, and he misrepresents every opposing view,” the user explained.

Sloth859 went on to share in lengthy paragraphs three instances where Nye appeared mean-spirited and ignored other scientific theories and ideas in order to push a progressive agenda.

The user noted that in one episode on fad dieting, Nye misrepresented paleo dieting as “only eating meat.” In another episode, Nye “shuts down” nuclear energy as an alternate energy source to fossil fuel, arguing that “nobody wants it.”

In a third episode, “Sloth859” slammed Nye for dismissing vinegar as an alternative medicine source simply because it “doesn’t change the pH level of an acidic solution.” The user continued:

He dismiss [sic] the fact that vinegar has been used to treat upset stomach for a long time. How does vinegar treat an upset stomach? Does it actually work, or is it a placebo affect? Does it work in some cases, and not in others? If it does anything, does it just treat a symptom, or does it fix the root cause? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions because he just dismissed it as wrong and only showed me that it doesn’t change the pH level of an acidic solution. Also, there are many foods that are believed to help prevent diseases like fish (for heart health), high fiber breads (for colon cancer), and citrus fruits (for scurvy). A healthy diet and exercise will help prevent cardiovascular disease, and will help reduce your blood pressure among other benefits. So obviously there is some reasoning behind some alternative medicine and practices and to dismiss it all as a whole is stupid.
“I just don’t see the point of this show,” the user concluded the review. “It’s not going to convince anyone that they’re wrong, and it’s definitely not going to entertain anyone.”

Other Reddit users concurred with the sentiment of “Sloth859.”

“This show is everything wrong with the public perception of science. Science isn’t about dismissing critical views, and accepting everything you’re told at face value. It’s about critically analyzing the way the world works and challenging your own beliefs. This show is trash and deserves every piece of criticism it receives,” Reddit user “Daeysheperd” wrote in the top comment.

“It seems that most people, right or left, are in agreeance [sic] that this is absolute dog s**t,” user “zorkzamboni” quipped.

Reddit user “CMPluto” said: “This is my favorite Reddit thread of all time. Never have I seen, on Reddit, so many posters from seemingly many different walks of life, share such agreeement [sic]. Thanks Bill. You’ve become the idiot we don’t deserve, but we may need.”

According to movie and television review website Rotten Tomatoes, Nye’s new show has so far earned a 75 percent approval from professional movie and TV critics, but only a 29 percent approval from people who actually watched it. Rotten Tomatoes’ professional reviews, however, has so far been limited to only eight — six positive and two negative.

Meanwhile, the show has even poorer reviews on Mediacritic, which gave the show a 63 percent approval from professional critics. Audience members, on the other hand, give the show an average rating of 1.7 on a scale of 1-to-10. Among audience reviews, 146 were negative, 27 were positive, and three were mixed.


Deep-Sixing the Paris Agreement
You wouldn’t think Al Gore and Donald Trump would have much to talk about, given their political divisions. Yet that’s exactly why the former vice president recently got in touch with President Trump: to urge him not to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

“Paris Agreement” is shorthand for a United Nations pact that the Obama administration joined last year. The agreement requires the countries that join it to submit plans for how they’ll cut greenhouse gas emissions. Not surprisingly, Mr. Gore heavily favors what he calls “a bold and historic agreement.”

You might think Mr. Gore’s plea couldn’t possibly succeed, but Mr. Trump’s decision on this issue isn’t exactly a slam-dunk. It isn’t just Mr. Gore and other environmentalists who think the United States should stay in the agreement. Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner, for example, thinks the U.S. should stay. So does Ivanka Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as multinational corporations such as Starbucks and Exxon Mobil.

Some Republican lawmakers also say the United States should remain a party to the deal (albeit with a weakened pledge to cut emissions). The emissions targets aren’t legally binding, after all, so why not keep a seat at the table? No point inflicting diplomatic damage unnecessarily, they argue.

With all due respect, they’re mistaken. Mr. Trump should withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Doing so would underscore a simple truth that needs to be said loud and clear: The agreement is a sham deal, and no amount of pretense or diplomatic wrangling will change that.

To understand why, set aside any preconceived positions, pro or con, on the issue of climate change and look at the deal itself. It’s an extremely costly and ineffective way to address the issue — as even some of its supporters seem to realize.

The stated goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The more than 170 countries that have signed on are supposed to do this by reducing their carbon dioxide emissions and relying more on renewable sources of energy.

The stated goals for the United States, as submitted by the Obama administration, aimed to cut greenhouse gases by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. That’s pretty ambitious. And it won’t be cheap.

As economist Nicolas Loris and UN expert Brett Schaefer recently noted, “The U.S. regulations alone would increase energy costs for U.S. families and businesses, causing an overall average shortfall of nearly 400,000 jobs and total income loss of more than $20,000 for a family of four by the year 2035.”

The cost to the global economy, of course, will be much worse: trillions of dollars over the next 80 years. And here’s the real kicker: Even if every country meets their stated goals (which is very unlikely), it will bring only the most minuscule reduction in warming — so little, quite frankly, that it will hardly be noticeable.

Don’t just take my word for it. Consider what former Secretary of State John Kerry has said: “The fact is that even if every American citizen biked to work, carpooled to school, used only solar panels to power their homes, if we each planted a dozen trees, if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, guess what — that still wouldn’t be enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world.”

To call this a flawed deal is the understatement of the year. It’s all pain, no gain. No wonder President Obama didn’t submit the deal to the Senate for approval (as he should have). He must have known lawmakers would reject it.

We still can. If President Trump wants to deliver the kind of economic growth he promised on the campaign trail, it’s time to jettison this bad deal.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   main.html or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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