Climate change

The ski season is running to November here. In response to Ombugge’s post about climate change I am certainly aware of how pollution can degrade the climate. The climate has changed in my lifetime but scientists have said that the earth had an unprecedented period of settled weather from 1945 until 1970 so perhaps the rose tinted glasses that us dinosaurs wear is justified.
I have seen a number of theories advanced as to why the earth was hotter or colder in recent times. 15,000 years ago most of the South Island of New Zealand was covered in a sheet of ice. In 1300 the Maori, having newly arrived from the Pacific Islands were able to live in the South of the South Island but were forced to move north with a cooling climate. There is no way that they would have survived in that location today.
I will buy the argument that a thermometer that has read the same for 80 years but what about a plate marking chart datum in a harbour. Installed 140 years ago it tells us that the sea level has risen one millimetre in that period. The pile may have settled in that time, who knows.
The science is not settled and inaccurate label of “climate change denier” does not fit well with me.


A 1983 Mobil ‘Status Report’ on the ‘Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect’ makes clear that Mobil was well aware at the time of scientific concerns that ‘increasing levels of carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels could alter the world’s climate by raising the earth’s temperature’ [4]. While the report noted ‘considerable scientific uncertainty’ regarding the likely severity of AGW impacts, a valid point in 1983, it also noted that ‘some scientists argue that plans to cope with the greenhouse effect need to be made soon, because of the extremely long lead time for any conceivable corrective actions’. More carbon dioxide could, in principle, yield negative feedbacks to ‘offse[t]’ or ‘moderate’ some of its positive warming effects, but if it did not, the report said, then ‘global climate theories’ offered the possibility that a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations—likely ‘within the next century’—could lead to average warming of 3–6 °F (1.7 °C –3.3 °C), and 12–18 °F (6.7 °C–10 °C) at the poles. ‘If these estimates are correct’, the report continued, ‘melting of the arctic ice packs could occur, and sea levels could rise 15 to 20 feet, inundating many of the world’s coastal cities’. Crucially, the report cautioned that if ‘urgent national concern’ about the greenhouse effect emerged, ‘restrictions on fossil fuel and land use might be established’.

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But renewables don’t reduce CO2.

Where do we go from here?

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We go read the article and bend our critical thinking to evaluate the veracity of the headline. Only a full bore buffoon would take such a statement at face value.


I was quite interested in the soil respiration temperature rising. The scientists may not realise that we country folk monitor the soil temperature closely during spring because of the bearing it has on seed germination and grass growth.
The wind farms we have are at present subject to a low well to the South West of NZ resulting in an Antarctic blast of wind and at the moment many farmers would appreciate some bloody warming in the middle of lambing season.
The article didn’t mention geothermal power which we have but I’m sure that that has some effects as well.
What I took from the article is we have to do more with nuclear.


Nuclear energy is clean until you have to take out the trash.

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Agreed. I suppose the holy grail is fusion. New Zealand at present develops 80% of its electricity from renewables and with the threatened closure of the Aluminium smelter in the South Island it could get closer to 100%. The major centres of population are in the North Island but advances in HVDC transmission of power allow this disadvantage to be overcome.
NZ is a long skinny country lying across major wind belts and wind and hydro generation complement each other. When the wind blows the water stays in the dam. Back when I was in the services being trained to do mischief to power stations I was in the control room of one of our largest hydro dams during a rugby test in the very early days of televised sport. It was fascinating to see how the load increased at half time when everyone put the kettle on and the gates to the turbines adjusted to the increased load almost instantaneously.


So, now that you have read the article, what is your critical thinking telling you?

Is that what you’re calling me or does that refer to you? Such an early surrender to personal insult is not a sign of critical thinking, is it?

But nobody is taking out the dead bodies that resulted from that nuclear disaster. Think of that too. We live with radiation all day every day and we can deal with nuclear waste too.

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There were a number who did not do so well at Chernobyl.

Agreed, but are there no safe nuclear power stations operating today? Are our views of safe nuclear power forever blighted by that one, predictable disaster? Mine aren’t. It should take its place in every nation’s options based on cost effectiveness not irrational fear.

Apparently, cost effectiveness is the reason no new ones are built, in the US at least.
Overall, their safety record is good. There are 455 nuclear plants worldwide. The US leads with 95, then France with 56 and China with 49. I reckon they’re pretty safe if you don’t build them on top of earthquake faults or in tsunami prone areas.

“Advanced nuclear reactors are estimated to cost $5,366 for every kilowatt of capacity. That means a large 1-gigawatt reactor would cost around $5.4 billion to build, excluding financing costs. By contrast, a new wind farm costs just $1,980 per kilowatt. A new gas plant costs just $912 per kilowatt, or one-fifth as much. (This isn’t a perfect comparison, since reactors run at capacity more often than wind farms or gas plants. But even if you adjust for capacity factors those construction costs make nuclear uncompetitive. High upfront costs can also scare off investors.)”

So what is your views blighted by then??

That’s fine if you are happy for your power to start and stop with the wind and if you are also happy that most of the time you receive less than the advertised ‘capacity’. Also the cost of transmission and frequency stability need to be included. Power from a 1GW nuclear plant only needs one connection to the grid. Connections to the required number of wind farms over far more widely dispersed areas need vastly more management, transmission lines and frequency control.

What should happen is that the wind farm is required to guarantee an agreed, continuous output regardless of weather. It would have to seek alternative sources which could guarantee output whenever called upon. That drives up the cost of wind and we’d have to do the sums again. It should include costs to connect the wind farm to the grid and control its frequency output.

My money is on traditional sources remaining the cheapest in the absence of government fiddling.

Correctly said as, “So what are your views blighted by then?”, or “So what is your view blighted by then?” You can improve your English if you stick around … and , yes, I know etc etc.

Nothing really. I’m influenced by facts, things that work properly and common sense but that hardly make my views ‘blighted’.

Oh I was of the impression that you have views on a lot of things. But yes I have noticed that it tend to be very much the same view, so maybe singulars is more correct (Aussie) English. I stand corrected.


Do you have a link to the actual study? A summary by a highly biased site isn’t reliable.

A few clicks and this came up.

Yes, the site’s owner has reached his own view on climate and you are free to disagree as you wish. The site publishes climate change perspectives from all points of view. The studies he publishes can stand or fall on their own and you are free to comment there … unlike many less popular sites of strident global climate catastrophe bent. None of those sites is more popular.

How can you possibly not know that Breitbart is highly biased?


The link was to Watts Up With That and that’s what I was referring to. And yes I know Breitbart is biased as are pretty much all political commentary sites. But so what? The message (study) is the thing that has to stand on its own, not the messenger.