Thursday, May 31, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: Climate Change May Increase, Not Decrease Arable Land








Global Warming Will Increase U.S. Crop Yields, New Study

In this newsletter:

1) Climate Change May Increase, Not Decrease Arable Land: Study
Press Trust of India, 25 May 2018

2) Global Warming Will Increase U.S. Crop Yields, New Study
Michigan State University, 16 May 2018



3) New Study: Urbanization Bias Makes China’s Early Warm Period Colder And Recent Warm Period Warmer
Willie Wei-Hock Soon et al., Earth-Science Reviews, Available, May 2018

4) Prof Van Kooten: Prospects for Biomass, Wind and Solar Energy, With and Without Storage: Alberta Case Study
GWPF TV, 29 May 2018

5) British Energy Firms On The Brink Of Collapse, Reveals Report
The Sunday Telegraph, 27 May 2018

6) Dominic Lawson: Another Renewables Plan That’s Gone Up In Smoke
The Sunday Times, 27 May 2018

7) Cities Vs. Big Oil: Judge Orders Plaintiffs To Find Benefits Of Fossil Fuels
OilPrice.com, 28 May 2018

8) Colin Stevens: Developing Nations Can’t Afford To Go Cold Turkey On #Coal
Colin Stevens, EU Reporter, 25 May 2018
 
 Full details:
 

1) Climate Change May Increase, Not Decrease Arable Land: Study
Press Trust of India, 25 May 2018


Climate change could expand the agricultural feasibility of the global boreal region by 44 per cent by the end of the century, according to a study.

However, the scientists warn that the same climate trends that would increase land suitable for crop growth in that area could significantly change the global climatic water balance – negatively impacting agriculture in the rest of the world.

Scientists from the University of Leeds in the UK assessed the impact of climate change on land that could support agriculture in the boreal region, which includes large sections of Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia and the US.

They found that the upper edge of land suitable for crop growth could shift as far north as 1,200km from the current position with the most dramatic changes occurring in the inner-continental regions of North America and Eurasia.

Currently only 32 per cent of the boreal region falls into ‘growing degree days’ – the climate parameter linked to crop growth – and rainfall requirements for small cereal crops, such as oats and barley.

Using global climate models the team was able to predict the future extent of growing degree days and changes in rainfall.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, estimates that by 2099 roughly 76 per cent of the boreal region could reach the right conditions for agriculture.

However, the study also warns that while total rainfall will generally increase on an annual basis, a warmer climate will also lead to more evaporation with potentially dramatic impact on the climatic water balance, both geographically and across seasons.

Full story
 

2) Global Warming Will Increase U.S. Crop Yields, New Study
Michigan State University, 16 May 2018


Contrary to previous analyses, new research published by Michigan State University shows that projected changes in temperature and humidity will not lead to greater water use in corn. This means that while changes in temperatures and humidity trend as they have in the past 50 years, crop yields can not only survive – but thrive.

Climate change and global warming put some forms of life at risk, but researchers found one instance that might not feel the heat – corn.

Contrary to previous analyses, research published by Michigan State University shows that projected changes in temperature and humidity will not lead to greater water use in corn. This means that while changes in temperatures and humidity trend as they have in the past 50 years, crop yields can not only survive – but thrive.

Full post 
 

3) New Study: Urbanization Bias Makes China’s Early Warm Period Colder And Recent Warm Period Warmer
Willie Wei-Hock Soon et al., Earth-Science Reviews, Available, May 2018

Comparing the current and early 20th century warm periods in China

Abstract: Most estimates of Chinese regional Surface Air Temperatures since the late-19th century have identified two relatively warm periods – 1920s–40s and 1990s–present. However, there is considerable debate over how the two periods compare to each other. Some argue the current warm period is much warmer than the earlier warm period. Others argue the earlier warm period was comparable to the present. In this collaborative paper, including authors from both camps, the reasons for this ongoing debate are discussed. Several different estimates of Chinese temperature trends, both new and previously published, are considered. A study of the effects of urbanization bias on Chinese temperature trends was carried out using the new updated version of the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) – version 4 (currently in beta production). It is shown that there are relatively few rural stations with long records, but urbanization bias artificially makes the early warm period seem colder and the recent warm period seem warmer. However, current homogenization approaches (which attempt to reduce non-climatic biases) also tend to have similar effects, making it unclear whether reducing or increasing the relative warmth of each period is most appropriate. A sample of 17 Chinese temperature proxy series (12 regional and 5 national) is compared and contrasted specifically for the period since the 19th century. Most proxy series imply a warm early-20th century period and a warm recent period, but the relative warmth of these two periods differs between proxies. Also, with some proxies, one or other of the warm periods is absent.

Full paper
 

4) Prof Van Kooten: Prospects for Biomass, Wind and Solar Energy, With and Without Storage: Alberta Case Study
GWPF TV, 29 May 2018



by Presentation by Dr. G. Cornelis van Kooten on the Prospects for Biomass, Wind and Solar Energy, With and Without Storage: Alberta Case Study at the GWPF on May 24, 2018.
 

5) British Energy Firms On The Brink Of Collapse, Reveals Report
The Sunday Telegraph, 27 May 2018


Half of Britain’s energy suppliers face an existential risk after the “Beast from the East” tore through the balance sheets of the industry’s small players.

Thousands of energy customers could be left in limbo due to a high risk that around 10 of the most fragile suppliers are on the brink of going under.

Many hundreds of thousands more bill payers face the risk of sudden energy tariff hikes because almost 40 suppliers may be forced to squeeze their customers to survive.

The startling strain endured by the industry in the wake of the volatile winter energy market is laid bare in leaked proprietary data compiled by one of the City’s top analytics firms, Dun and Bradstreet.

The report, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, ranks 37 of Britain’s 81 energy suppliers as being at risk. Eight are identified as being on the brink of failing based on forensic analysis of company financial accounts and trade payments.

The dire health warning underlines the struggle of energy suppliers, which have endured a winter of price spikes not seen in six years, and face the threat of the Government’s looming energy price cap later in the year. […]

Full post
 

6) Dominic Lawson: Another Renewables Plan That’s Gone Up In Smoke
The Sunday Times, 27 May 2018


Subsidies for burning biomass — better known as wood — never made sense



Please could you reassure your readers,” said the charming young man from the environment department, “that we have not banned wood-burning stoves? No one will have them taken away.” His anxiety was understandable. There is a mutinous stirring in the countryside, following the strictures issued by his boss, Michael Gove. In his Clean Air Strategy, launched last week, the environment secretary indicated that various types of stove would have to be taken off the market because the amount of soot they produce sends too many of us choking into an unnecessarily early grave.

It’s all very confusing. For years we have been actively encouraged by government to switch our domestic fuel supply to wood, on the grounds that it is much less damaging “to the planet” than burning fossil fuels. My family home, unconnected to the gas grid, is fuelled by oil brought in by small tankers. But we have woodland; and I have often been tempted by the leaflets that get posted to us, advertising the subsidies we could enjoy if we switched to a wood-burning stove.

These are not just from companies flogging the things (“Not only do you get the benefit of installing a stunning wood pellet boiler, but you also earn money from it — up to £11,900 over the next seven years starting from the moment it is fitted”). The hard sells come from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, too. “Welcome to the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) payment calculator,” it cheerily told us a couple of years ago, with the additional happy news that there would be an increase of almost 70% in the domestic RHI biomass subsidy.

Biomass is, in this context, just a fancy word for wood, though it can apply to other organic materials. And it has been sold as the government’s big idea in the battle to “combat climate change”. When five years ago a bill was pushed through parliament to increase the potential subsidies for biomass burning, Viscount Ridley — better known as the science writer Matt Ridley — presciently but unavailingly warned his colleagues: “This is a really bad idea. It will cost a fortune, worsen air pollution, exacerbate dependency on foreign energy and increase greenhouse gas emissions compared with burning gas.”

The flagship of the government policy was the Drax power station in Yorkshire, which in return for switching from coal to wood is now receiving more than half a billion pounds a year in subsidy from the taxpayer. The wood pellets burnt at Drax largely come from the southeastern United States, in a vast, highly mechanised operation.

Given this, not to mention the lorries carrying the wood to American ports, the ships that take the stuff across the Atlantic and the diesel-powered transport that completes the journey across the UK to Drax (at the rate of 14 trains a day), one can only goggle at the government’s previous assertion that it assumed “no net emissions [of CO2] during production”.

Even if that, impossibly, were the case, there’s still the little matter of the particulates (aka soot) generated by the colossal wood-burning programme. As Ridley pointed out at the time, everyone knew that ploughing more subsidies into biomass heating of domestic homes was almost certain to break the law on air quality.

Full post
 

7) Cities Vs. Big Oil: Judge Orders Plaintiffs To Find Benefits Of Fossil Fuels
OilPrice.com, 28 May 2018

Irina Slav

Judge William Alsup who is hearing a case brought by San Francisco and Oakland against five Big Oil companies, has given the plaintiffs and Chevron a homework assignment that suggests the end of the case may be near. The two municipalities and Chevron must evaluate the positive effects oil dependency has had on the U.S. economy.

“We needed oil and fossil fuels to get from 1859 to the present. Yes, that’s causing global warming. But against that negative, we need to weigh-in the larger benefits that have flowed from the use of fossil fuels. It’s been a huge, huge benefit,” Judge Alsup from the U.S. District Court in San Francisco said.

Suing Big Oil for climate change is turning into the latest big thing. A UN survey from last year found there are nearly 900 suits focusing on climate change across 25 countries. The latest in the United States was former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger threatening to sue Big Oil for “first-degree murder”.

The San Francisco and Oakland suits were filed last September, and Reuters at the time quoted San Francisco officials as saying that the five oil companies “knowingly and recklessly created an ongoing public nuisance that is causing harm now and in the future risks catastrophic harm to human life and property.”

In March, after Judge Alsup questioned the five defendants, he destroyed one of the main pillars in the case brought to him by San Francisco and Oakland: he ruled Big Oil had not conspired to hide facts about climate change from the public.

Full post
 

8) Colin Stevens: Developing Nations Can’t Afford To Go Cold Turkey On #Coal
Colin Stevens, EU Reporter, 25 May 2018


Developing countries remain in the dark, increasingly frustrated by what India’s chief economic adviser termed the west’s “carbon imperialism”.  Investment in coal-powered plants in African countries could mean the difference for millions of people between being able to turn on the lights at night or living in darkness.

The UK recently made headlines by announcing that it had gone for three days without using coal, a new record. During the coal-free 76 hours, the majority of the UK’s electricity supply came from gas, followed by wind, nuclear, biomass and solar. While many commentators touted this, the longest period Britain has gone without coal since the Industrial Revolution, as an important step towards reducing global emissions, the story isn’t so simple.

While the UK has greatly increased its renewable capacity in recent years, the only way it was able to power the country without coal for a few days was by relying heavily on natural gas, which is very, very far from being a green fuel. While burning natural gas does emit less carbon dioxide than coal, it also emits methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas. Studies show leakage rates of methane are about 3 percent—while that might not sound like much, that amount of methane warms the planet more than CO2 does. Yet somehow, public opinion still favours natural gas as a cleaner replacement for fossil fuels.

While congratulating the UK for managing three days without coal, the press also overlooked the fact that Britain can afford to ramp down its use of coal now because it’s reaped the benefits of the fossil fuel for more than 150 years. Coal was the backbone of the modern British economy through most of the 19th and 20th centuries, powering the country’s industrial revolution. This irrefutable fact explains why developing nations are increasingly voicing their frustration that wealthy countries want to deny them the same chance to use their natural resources to bankroll economic growth.

Many African countries, including Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, are known to have vast reserves of coal. South Africa’s state-owned utility Eskom estimates that the country’s 53 billion tonnes in coal reserves are enough to fuel the country for the next 200 years.

The prospect of using these substantial resources is particularly alluring given that large swaths of these countries remain unelectrified. More than 600 million Africans still don’t have access to electricity, causing them to burn dangerous and polluting biomass and undermining their economic growth.

While Africa is making great strides in adding renewable energy capacity, the continent is so energy poor that closing this gap solely with renewables is unrealistic in the medium term. At current rates of growth, Africa won’t achieve full electrification until 2080. Investment in coal-powered plants in these countries could mean the difference for millions of people between being able to turn on the lights at night or living in darkness. These coal-rich countries are looking to capitalise upon their resources – much like the same Western countries who are now pushing a renewables-only model did for more than a hundred years.

This pressure on developing nations to deploy renewable energy solutions they cannot afford is both political and financial. The UK and international organisations such as the European Investment Bank and the World Bank stopped funding coal plants in developing countries. At the time, the World Bank stated it would provide financing in exceptional cases where no viable alternatives existed. Since then, however, only one coal project, in Kosovo, has been considered for a loan.

The consequences of this overly restrictive policy? Developing countries remain in the dark, increasingly frustrated by what India’s chief economic adviser termed the west’s “carbon imperialism”. They have started taking matters into their own hands, as illustrated by the African Development Bank (ADB) recently breaking from other international financial institutions and agreeing to continue funding new coal projects. The President of the ADB emphasized that “Africa must develop its energy sector with what it has” and underscored the fact that “it is almost impossible to start a business, teach or provide healthcare without power and light”.

Full post


The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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