Friday, January 1, 2016

Most Important Event of 2015

Subtitle: US Temperatures in Pristine Areas Show Massive Cooling

As the year 2016 has arrived and 2015 is gone, once again I take keyboard under fingers and review what, to me, were the important events of the year just past.  As I wrote at this time a year ago, (see link)  many other writers have already discussed what they view as the most important event or events of 2015.  This is a very common thing, reviewing the old year as the new year arrives.    The big event of 2014, in my opinion, was the weak peak of the solar cycle 24.  The implications for a much colder future are indeed grim.  

This article addresses briefly a half-dozen events (more or less) that made the news in 2015, in no particular order, then discusses the most important event of the year: Pristine areas in the US show a pronounced cooling - not a warming - over the past decade (see graph at right).  

Oil Price Collapse - this was on last year's review also; late in 2015 the price dropped to $35 per barrel, and OPEC could not agree on a production ceiling in 2015; unregulated production will create further glut of oil and price declines.   Energy-related industries will see reduced profits, and declines in employment, the further effects will see declines in real estate prices.  However, increased consumer spending and reduced operating costs for many industries that consume oil products will boost the economy.  

El Niño Begins - and skews the surface temperature record upward; the beginning of a strong El Niño event, perhaps the strongest such event on record, (Noting that "on record" is highly subjective, as it usually refers to modern scientists and their modern instruments that measure things like ocean surface temperatures in many places around the globe.  However, it is certainly true that local fishermen have longer records of the El Niño events, particularly along the fishing waters offshore western South America.)  Previous El Niño events produced a sudden increase, or step-change, in surface temperature records.  Scientists have a difficult (impossible?) time explaining how that is consistent with their insistence that carbon dioxide, CO2, is slowly but inexorably warming the planet.   The good news from an El Niño is the rain and snow that falls in the parched desert Southwest in North America.  Drought conditions will end.   The bad news is the severe flooding and storms, including tornadoes in other parts of the US.  World-wide, a big El Niño also creates droughts and crop failures, with the accompanying misery.  

Look for some, especially the false-alarmists, to claim that "the pause" is over now that El Niño is here and has increased the surface temperatures.    (Note, "false-alarmists" is my term of choice for describing those who fervently insist that global warming is man-made, is due to fossil-fuel burning, and will create catastrophes in the very near future.  The only "man-made" aspect of global warming is the man-adjusted data that the false-alarmists use to prove their point.)  

Coal Power Plants to Shut Down in US - coal-fired power plants in the US are now subject to the MATS rule from the US EPA, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.  The legal wrangling, while not finished, is sufficiently complete so that the timeframe has arrived at which the coal-fired plants must either comply, or shut down.   The EPA, though, has new proposed rules that are being challenged in court, this time to limit the CO2 produced from coal-burning power plants.   see link to my recent post on "Energy Supply in Post-Coal America."  The US is running out of domestic coal anyway, so it might as well begin the economic and development aspects of renewable energy with appropriate storage.  

Nuclear Plants Continue to Shut Down, and New Construction Woes - a favorite and frequent topic on SLB, nuclear power plants in the US continue the parade of shut-downs, while the feeble efforts at building new reactors continue to see set back upon set back, both in cost increases and schedules running longer and longer.   Despite all the clams of the nuclear advocates, some of whom clearly have no idea what they are talking about, nuclear power via the current best available technology, Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR), is too costly and takes too long to build to be economic in the US.  Overseas, where labor rates are far less, concerns over safety are far less, and there is great insecurity of alternate fuels such as coal and natural gas, nuclear plants are still being planned and built.  Woe to them, though, when the plants begin spewing forth the deadly radioactivity.  Woe to all of us who are in the downwind path of such deadly radiation.  

California Grid Is Fine at 31 Percent Wind, Solar - see link   Renewable energy supplies into a grid are not supposed to exceed 30 percent, however it is clear from the recent California experience that 30 percent is not a problem at all.  Grids that have substantial amounts of nuclear power, inflexible and stubbornly refusing to reduce output, will have the greatest problems.  California, though, now has only two nuclear reactors operating as two more reactors shut down a few years ago due to a completely botched steam generator replacement project (see link).   California's grid now must deal with nuclear baseload power at only 2,100 MWe, or just under 10 percent of the load at the lowest point each night.  During the peak loads in the summer of 50,000 MW, nuclear now is less than 5 percent of the load.  Economic, flexible gas-fired plants on the California grid make the integration of wind and solar, with their intermittent characteristics, much easier than on a grid that is supplied primarily by coal and nuclear.  

Off-shore Wind Turbines Under Construction - see link  construction began on the US' first off-shore wind turbine installation with 5 turbines, off the coast of Rhode Island.  Startup is expected in late 2016.  The project has 5 wind turbines of 6 MW each, for 30 MW maximum output.  It is a good first step, with many hundreds of similar, or even larger, turbines to follow.  Advantages of building off-shore include much stronger wind, more consistent wind, and no angry neighbors complaining about noise. 

On-shore Wind Turbines Height Increased - see link concrete towers instead of steel allows much higher wind turbines, making wind energy more economic and producing much more energy over a wider area.   Taller is better in the wind energy world, as the wind at greater heights is stronger, and more consistent. 

The most important event of 2015:

US Temperatures in Pristine Areas Show Great Cooling - see link  to the SLB article "US In A Cooling Trend - Winters Much Colder;"  2015 marked ten years of data collection from the USCRN, United States Climate Reference Network, of temperature measuring stations located in pristine areas of the US where man-made influences are zero, or very close to zero.  These stations require no adjustments for any of the usual reasons that allow the false-alarmists to manipulate the data and create a warming trend where none exists.  The results from the first 10 years of data show zero warming.  The US trend is minus 2.68 degrees C per century.    Only in the drought-stricken regions of the far West is there a slight warming trend.  However, all the winter seasons show a very rapid cooling.  The winter season cooling is at a rate of minus 10.9 degrees C per century.   

In the upcoming weeks, the data for all of 2015 will be available so the annual trend can be extended to 11 years.   By March, another winter can be added to the winter trend.   The El Niño will likely create a slightly warmer winter across the northern and eastern tier, but that will be but a small blip in the long-term.   It's very tough to show a warming without the influence of artificial structures, asphalt parking lots, air conditioner exhausts, and all the other issues that created a warming trend.   The false-alarmists no longer have a credible story on man-made global warming due to fossil fuel use.  

Indeed, the great concern for all of man-kind should be what to do about the entire Earth running out of coal, country by country, in 10 years, 20 years, and ultimately by 50 years from now.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2016 all rights reserved

No comments: