Monthly Archives: May 2011

SOLAR CYCLE 24 and the SUNSPOT BUTTERFLY DIAGRAM


I posted Solar Cycle 24- A Game Changer? which discussed the weak cycle 24 and what it might mean in terms of a cooler global climate.  As the posting was getting quite long, I elected to leave out the Butterfly Diagram for later posting.  So, now is later.

Cycle 24 is the plot just beginning now, 2010 and 2011.  The leftmost “butterfly” is Cycle 11.  (click on the chart to enlarge)

This figure is sometimes known as the Maunder Butterfly Chart as Maunder seems to be the first person to recognize the unique pattern formed by plotting the position of the sunspots on the face of the sun versus time.  When a new solar cycle begins, the sunspots become numerous.  In the beginning they appear away from the equator at about 35 degrees south and 35 degrees north.   With time the spots begin to converge at the equator.  When the “minimum” occurs, the spots  are basically upon the equator.

The butterfly chart for Cycle 24 is perhaps  showing sunspot formations that are relatively fewer than in recent Cycles 22 and 23.  Cycle 24 seems to resemble cycles that occurred many years ago.  If you occasionally check the progress of the spots toward the equator, you might be able to make a good guess on the length of Cycle 24.   Will it be much less than the average of 11 years?  The experts probably have a better feel than we amateurs,  but I am pretty sure that they would not bet the farm on their feel.

There is an interesting paper “First Solar Butterfly Diagram from Schwabe’s Observations 1825 1867” by Rainer Arlt and Anastasia Abdolvand, This paper uses the spots recorded by Schwabe during the named period to assemble butterfly diagrams for Cycles 7, 8 , 9  and 10.  These are the butterfly diagrams that immediately precede those in my first chart.  Cycle 8 was a weak cycle according to the authors.

cbdakota

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Joanne Nova’s Guide to the Skeptic’s World.


Many in our country believe in the theory of man-made global warming.  They are busy with their own lives and problems and don’t have time to get informed to make their own judgment.   Others have just left school, high school or college, where the “educators”—many ill informed—have been preaching the theory to them.   Moreover, they often believe this because the media really only prints articles which are supportive of that theory

Yet the tide is turning against those who want us to believe that we must act quickly to prevent a global catastrophe.   How is it possible then, that in the face of the media barrage, and the educators, more people are becoming skeptical of what they are being told?

One reason, besides our citizen’s inherent common sense, is the internet’s unpaid (most of them anyway) cadre of skeptics that are providing factual discussions on the theory.  This information allows them to look at both sides of the issue.    One of the very best is Joanne Nova—A brilliant and prolific writer.

Nova has a posting “New Here? The “ten second” guide to the world of skeptics.”  I guess she put quotation marks around ten seconds, cause it will take you longer than that to read through the posting .  But I can’t think of anything that will get you up to speed regarding  most of the issues around the theory of man-made global warming faster or more comprehensively.

She tells you who is outspending Big Oil and by how much.

She illustrates why the banking community is so gung ho about the theory.

She points out how unscientific  the “scientific” underpinnings of the theory are.

She discusses climate history.

Etc.

Her posting is full of links that support her position.  If you don’t read them on the first time through the posting,  do it  at the time of your  second or third reading .

After that, you will be better able to navigate the murky waters of the man-made global warming theory and dig deeper into the science of this issue.  I bet you will come down on the side of the skeptics as your knowledge matures.

cbdakota

SOLAR CYCLE 24–A Game Changer?


The current solar cycle 24 might be a game changer in the global climate debate.   It is showing early signs of reaching the solar Maximum in two short years.  Solar Maximums on average occur some 5 to 6 years in to a typical 11-year cycle.

The Sun has a cycle of about 11 years from minimum to maximum and back to minimum magnetic activity.  This cycle can be observed by the numbers of sunspots formed on the surface of the Sun.  During a cycle, the sunspot numbers increase, flares are common and coronal mass ejections occur until the Sun’s polarity “flips”.   This usually is the point at which the so-called solar maximum is reached. The activity on the Sun begins to decrease.  The cycle eventually reaches a point where very few sunspots are observed.  This is the completion of a cycle.

The chart below shows the magnetic fields of several previous solar cycles and the current cycle 24.  The North polar field is nearing the zero on its way to swapping sides with the south polar field.  Note, also, that the magnitude of cycle 24’s field is not as large as the previous cycles.

Chart Source:   http//wso.stanford.edu

Cycle 24 has been a maverick.  Initially the solar cycle gurus said it would perform about the same as the previous two cycles—22 and 23.  However it did not seem to want to begin and when it did, it has under preformed expectations so significantly that the performance forecast has had to be lowered many times.   Cycle 24 has more in common with cycles of years ago that also exhibited reduced solar activity.  These cycles coincided with global cooling.

Galileo began counting sunspots in 1610.  Daily counting began  1749.   From 1645 to 1715, there were very few sunspots.  This period is known as the Maunder Minimum.   Few sunspots were visible during the period from 1790 until 1830. This period is known as the Dalton Minimum. Corresponding to the period of time that included the Maunder and the Dalton Minimums, the Earths climate was comparatively cool.  The climatic period, know as the “Little Ice Age” lasted from 1450 until 1820.  The chart below shows correlation between sunspots and the Minimums.

  (The chart shows non-systematically collected  sunspot numbers in red. Systematically collected observation spots are in blue.)
Chart courtesy of Robert A Rohde for Global Warming Art

Here is the current plot of sunspot count for cycle 24.   Also note how low the forecast of peak sunspot activity is compared to the previous cycle. Click Chart for clarity.

The “predicted values”  would indicate that the cycle 24 maximum will occur in 2013.   After a big jump in March,  the April count is heading down and so far the May sunspot count is rather low.

So, solar activity for cycle 24 is quite low compared to recent cycles.    But can we be sure that cycle 24 wont become very active?  No we can’t.  Can we be sure that if cycle 24 is short (less than 11 years) the climate will cool off?  No we can’t.    What we can say is that low solar activity appears to correlate with a cooler climate.

Why would a less active Sun result in lower global temperature?  The amount of radiation from the Sun to Earth does not vary much year to year.  No one knows for certain if the variation is enough to raise or lower global temperatures.  The Sun’s magnetic field weakens when the Sun is less active. Some theorize that this lets in cosmic rays and that these rays form low altitude clouds.  Low altitude clouds do lower the Earth’s temperature.  My philosophy is:  Even though the exact mechanism linking the Sun and global change has not been definitely established,  it is kind of like gravity–it is obvious.  If cycle 24 continues on its current track, we may see more confirmation that low activity correlates with cooler weather.  We will have to wait for several years to know.  Stay tuned.

cbdakota

A RE-VOLT-ING DEVELOPMENT


Even in the face of high gasoline prices, Volt sales dropped from 608 cars in March to 493 in April.    The year-to-date sales of the Volt are 1703.  General Motors announced that they would produce in 2011 and 2012 a total of 100,000 Volts.

In January of this year, President Obama named Jeffery Immelt, CEO General Electric, to replace Paul Volcker as the Chairman of the Council on Jobs and Competiveness.  Following the announcement, Immelt promised to buy 50,000 Volts over the next two years.   A little math says that if GE does buy half the production run of 100,000, then GM only has to find 48,297 customers for the other half in the next 20 months.  That is a 566% monthly sales increase over the current monthly sales average.

But what signals are we getting from Immelt?   According to Junk Science Immelt has signaled that jobs are going to be more important to him than a “comprehensive energy strategy”.

At an event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Tuesday, Immelt said,

“If I had one thing to do over again I would not have talked so much about green… Even though I believe in global warming and I believe in the science … it just took on a connotation that was too elitist; it was too precious and it let opponents think that if you had a green initiative, you didn’t care about jobs. I’m a businessman. That’s all I care about, is jobs… I’m kind of over the stage of arguing for a comprehensive energy policy. I’m back to keeping my head down and working. [Emphasis added]

If he means what he appears to be  saying, then one might infer that he will renege on his pledge or perhaps more realistically buy many less that 50,000 Volts.

That would be re-Volt-ing development.  For GM!!

cbdakota

 

MONBIOT ON DISCORD IN THE GREEN RANKS


George Monbiot writes for the UK Guardian newspaper and he is perhaps the most influential green blogger in Europe.  This week, beginning with a blog on 2 May and a follow-up several days latter, he discussed the problems within the green movement.  The title of his 2 May posting is  “Let’s face it: none of our environmental fixes break the planet-wrecking project”.  His subtitle for that posting is:”All of us in the green movement are lost before the planet’s real nightmare: not too little fossil fuel—but too much”.

Monbiot is a believer in catastrophic global warming resulting from fossil fuel use (the “planet-wrecking project”).  And his preferred solution is “sustainability” which means to allocate resources and wealth across the globe while at first reducing and eventually eliminating fossil fuel use.  Ultimately world societies would become less complicated and perhaps more agrarian.  De-developing the Western societies while developing those nations that are second and third world will be necessary to accomplish this.  A tenet of sustainability is that governments will have to exercise more control to assure the outcomes.  Saying it differently, you will surrender much of your freedom to the UN or some like group.

He was hoping that fossil fuels would become less available but he laments, that is not the case.

This posting is not to dispute Mr. Monbiot’s premise of catastrophic global warming due to fossil fuel uses, but rather to examine his view of the sects within the AGW crowd and their differences in beliefs. To begin, Mr. Monbiot is not my kind of guy.   When John Bolton, our UN Ambassador, traveled to England in 2008, Monbiot wanted to arrest him and try him for war crimes. Monbiot also began a campaign to have then Prime Minister Blair taken to court on similar charges related to the Iraq war.  His thoughts on things he thinks we should be doing, IMHO, demonstrate a low level of economic reality and a love of “Big Brother”.   Although our worldviews are quite different, he is quite intelligent so we need to keep track of what he is thinking.

He begins his first posting regarding discussions with his fellow warmers like this:”You think you’re discussing technologies, and you quickly discover that you’re discussing belief systems. The battle among environmentalists over how or whether our future energy is supplied is a cipher for something much bigger: who we are, whom we want to be, how we want society to evolve. Beside these concerns, technical matters – parts per million, costs per megawatt hour, cancers per sievert – carry little weight. We choose our technology – or absence of technology – according to a set of deep beliefs: beliefs that in some cases remain unexamined”.

He makes sense when he defends his recent acceptance of nuclear energy as a vital need going forward, with or without fossil fuels: “The case against abandoning nuclear power, for example, is a simple one: it will be replaced either by fossil fuels or by renewables that would otherwise have replaced fossil fuels. In either circumstance, greenhouse gases, other forms of destruction and human deaths and injuries all rise”.

“The case against reducing electricity supplies is just as clear. For example, the Zero Carbon Britain report published by the Centre for Alternative Technology urges a 55% cut in overall energy demand by 2030 – a goal I strongly support. It also envisages a near-doubling of electricity production. The reason is that the most viable means of decarbonising both transport and heating is to replace the fuels they use with low-carbon electricity. Cut the electricity supply and we’re stuck with oil and gas. If we close down nuclear plants, we must accept an even greater expansion of renewables than currently proposed. Given the tremendous public resistance to even a modest increase in windfarms and new power lines, that’s going to be tough”.

He believes that “accommodation” (read sustainability) is the goal but he says:”But even if we can accept an expansion of infrastructure, the technocentric, carbon-counting vision I’ve favoured runs into trouble. The problem is that it seeks to accommodate a system that cannot be accommodated: a system that demands perpetual economic growth. And adds: Accommodation makes sense only if the economy is reaching a steady state”.

He has been criticized in Simon Fairlie’s posting in the magazine The Land. To which he responds:”There’s a still bigger problem here: even if we make provision for some manufacturing but, like Fairlie, envisage a massive downsizing and a return to a land-based economy, how do we take people with us? Where is the public appetite for this transition?”

Monbiot adds that:   “A third group tries to avoid such conflicts by predicting that the problem will be solved by collapse: doom is our salvation. Economic collapse, these people argue, is imminent and expiatory. I believe this is wrong on both counts”.

He then gets to his central point about too much fossil fuel: “The problem we face is not that we have too little fossil fuel, but too much. As oil declines, economies will switch to tar sands, shale gas and coal; as accessible coal declines, they’ll switch to ultra-deep reserves (using underground gasification to exploit them) and methane clathrates.

Monbiot sums up his view of the current state of the environmental movement:”All of us in the environment movement, in other words – whether we propose accommodation, radical downsizing or collapse – are lost. None of us yet has a convincing account of how humanity can get out of this mess. None of our chosen solutions break the atomising, planet-wrecking project”.

In his second posting is “The green problem: how do we fight without losing what we are fighting for?”.  It is subtitled: “Environmentalism is stuck-factional and uncertain even of the goals we seek.  But we must face facts and engage in reality.”

In this posting he expands upon the point he made in the first posting and he adds some interesting things.  He  enumerats the disagreements that he believes permeate the green community: “We have no idea what to do next. We have no idea what to do next.  Partly as a result, we have started tearing each other apart. This is an understandable but unnecessary reaction. Those seeking to protect the landscape are not our enemies; nor are those advocating that renewables should replace fossil fuel; nor are those promoting nuclear power as the answer; nor are those opposing nuclear power. We are all struggling with the same problem, all bumping up against atmospheric chemistry and physical constraints”.

“The enmity arises when people go into denial. Denial is everywhere. Those opposing windfarms find it convenient to deny that climate change is happening, or that turbines produce much electricity. Those promoting windfarms downplay the landscape impacts. Nuclear enthusiasts ignore the impacts of uranium mining. Opponents of nuclear power dismiss the solid science on the impacts of radiation and embrace wildly-inflated junk numbers instead. Primitivists decry all manufacturing industry, but fail to explain how their medicines and spectacles, scythes and billhooks will be produced. Localists rely on technologies – such as microwind and high-latitude solar power – that cannot deliver. Technocratic greens refuse to see that if economic growth is not addressed, a series of escalating catastrophes is inevitable. Romantic greens insist that the problem can be solved without even engaging in these dilemmas, yet fail to explain how else it can be done”.

“We’re all responding to the same impulses, but we’re all being tripped up by denial. Denial, and a failure to see the whole picture, are our enemies. Or perhaps, as doctors say about alcohol, our false friends”.

He cites Paul Kingsnorth’s posting titled “The quants and the poets”.   Quants are numbers/facts people and poets are people that examine societies values and underlying mythology.  Kingsnorth’s posting is very well written and he too contrasts the various divergent opinions alive in the green world today.  He believes that Monbiot is loosing his credentials as a Poet.

Monbiot responds to this quants/poets issue here: “Perhaps we are less tolerant of myth than we used to be. Perhaps we should be. Is creating new, opposing myths the best way of confronting the founding myths of neoliberal capitalism? I don’t think so. Is it not better to fight them with withering analysis, quantification and exposure? But can we do this without becoming insensible to beauty, and to the impulse – a love for the world and its people, its places and its living creatures – which turned us green in the first place? I don’t know”.

Well this has been a long post and I thank all of you that read it all the way to the end.

cbdakota

BETWEEN THE ROCK AND THE HARD PLACE—U.S. ENERGY POLICY Part 1


Between the Obama administration’s plan to drive prices up in order to put fossil fuels out of business and the turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the U.S. is in real danger of another economic collapse, just as we seem to be coming out of the very deep recession.  In both cases the problem is ideology.  Obama’s ideology  apparently  is to cause the  US to become a second rate, socialist nation. (Perhaps I am redundant when I use “socialist” and “second rate” as descriptors.)  The ideology behind the turmoil in MENA is less clear.  In some cases it seems to be a move for a democratic society and in other it appears to be a power grab by the “Muslim brotherhood” for example.    Thumbs up for the former and thumbs down for the latter.

Part 1 of this entry will be a  look at the Obama Administration. Part 2 will be a look at the turmoil in MENA and the interconnections with the US Energy Policy.

Obama Administration Policies

President Obama made his position on energy perfectly clear, even before he was elected. He said he would cause the electricity rates to skyrocket.  He told people that if they put their money in coal plants he would see that they would go bankrupt.  see here

He is for offshore drilling in Brazil. In his recent visit to Brazil, he applauded their efforts and pledged billions of dollars in aid for their work.  But he does not like offshore drilling for the US.

He populated his Administration with people of the same mind.

Obama’s Science Advisor is John Holdren.  If you have followed Holdren’s career, you know that this man has made more bad predictions of things to come that anyone except possibly his cohort, Paul Ehrlich.  According to CNS News.com Holdren said:

In a video interview this week, White House Office of Science and Technology Director John P. Holdren told CNSNews.com that he would use the “free market economy” to implement the “massive campaign” he advocated along with Paul Ehrlich to “de-develop the United States.” (My emphasis added)

He and Ehrlich described de-development in their book, Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions ” as:  “Resources must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdeveloped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries,”

Ken Salazar is the Secretary of the Interior.   He manages to minimize leases for new drilling and he prevents development of good potential fossil fuel resources sites by setting aside land.   He and Obama do not want the prize areas like ANWR developed although these and other could make us far less dependant on sources outside to the US.

Steven Chu the Secretary of Energy has said that we should figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to $8.    This Administration seems to be on track to do just that.

The EPA  Administrator Lisa Jackson has a big role in these policies.

Lets look at their latest outrageous abuse of power.    See full posting here

Shell has spent five years and nearly $4 billion dollars on plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The leases alone cost $2.2 billion. Shell Oil Company has announced it must scrap efforts to drill for oil this summer in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska. The decision comes following a ruling by the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board to withhold critical air permits. At stake is an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil. That’s how much the U. S. Geological Survey believes is in the U.S. portion of the Arctic Ocean. 

The closest village to where Shell proposed to drill is Kaktovik, Alaska. It is one of the most remote places in the United States. According to the latest census, the population is 245 and nearly all of the residents are Alaska natives. The village, which is 1 square mile, sits right along the shores of the Beaufort Sea, 70 miles away from the proposed off-shore drill site.

The EPA’s appeals board ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project. 

“What the modeling showed was in communities like Kaktovik, Shell’s drilling would increase air pollution levels close to air quality standards,” said Eric Grafe, Earthjustice’s lead attorney on the case.

Who is on  the EPA appeals board that is appointed by the EPA Administrator, Shelia Jackson?

The Environmental Appeals Board has four members: Edward Reich, Charles Sheehan, Kathie Stein and Anna Wolgast. All are registered Democrats and Kathie Stein was an activist attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund

And here is another one:

A three-inch lizard that thrives in desert conditions could shut down oil and gas operations in portions of Southeast New Mexico and in West Texas, including the state’s top two oil producing counties.   Called the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, it is being considered for inclusion on the federal Endangered Species listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  To read more click here.

And we don’t want to forget the cover his ever faithful friends, the mainstream media, are giving the Administration: click here

While Obama is taking some heat for the price of gasoline, he never forgets what his goals are.  Remember how he seemed to back off ObamaCare only until he found a way to get it approved through the back door of the Senate.  He is not pushing for Cap and Trade legislation.  He does not need to do that because the Supreme Court in a monumental example of bad judgment gave the EPA keys to our bank account when they said the EPA could write regulations for capping CO2 emissions.

His solutions are primarily wind farms and solar cell farms to make up for the fossil fuel powered utilities that he would see shutdown.  These renewable energy sources are not ready at the present time to accomplish this.  They may never be able to substitute for fossil fuel.  See these postings for more information on renewables:

dept-of-energy’s-analysis-says-wind-and-solar-not-competitive/

/real-wind-power-data—disappointing-performance/

https://cbdakota.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/are-windfarms-driving-the-uk-to-third-world-status/

https://cbdakota.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/treasury-few-renewable-energy-projects-deserve-funding/

In Part 2 we will look at what are the forces shaping the new energy world order.

cbdakota