Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pick Points

One of the underlying concerns over the next few years will be the over the permitting and construction of new coal-fired power stations. With over 100 at some stage in the process, the ongoing changing rules in regard to permits, and the change in attitude in Washington to their construction, is likely to make this a long-played out drama.

Concerns over the Looming Power Crisis
Over the past few months, officials from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association have met with representatives from the 900 cooperative electric utilities that supply power to 40 million people in 47 states. A common theme has emerged: Our political leaders must develop a national energy policy that funds development of new technologies to keep electricity affordable while meeting climate change goals. Otherwise, a growing number of Americans won't be able to pay for power, and many will be at risk of rolling blackouts and brownouts.

One of the primary issues over the permitting of power stations arises with their generation of carbon dioxide, considered to be a greenhouse gas. On Saturdays I thought it would be interesting to see what some of the sites that discuss some of the aspects of this have been saying over the past week.

One begins with Watts up with that . One of the issues with the monitoring of potential global warming relates to the increased population and thus increased urbanization of the world, as monitoring continues. Anthony Watt runs a blog that, among other things, looks at the condition of the weather stations that feed data into the United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN). This is the basic set of records from which the historical data on temperature change has been compiled. (And where you can see how your neighborhood has or has not warmed over the past decades – go look, you might be surprised).

In the past week the site has noted that more American die in cold months than warm , on average about 800 more. It has also discussed the growth of sea ice, includes a politically incorrect version of the twelve days of global warming, and a comment on how much of the country is covered with snow (with consequent increased albedo – surface reflectivity). The last post covers two of the sites where the temperature sensors for the weather stations are too close to buildings (as in right next to) and thus are going to be influenced by the building itself.

The site most often quoted as being authoritative on the climate is RealClimate which is, as it says, climate science from climate scientists. It has, in the past discussed the problem of the Urban Heat Island effect, which is somewhat akin to the building effect. Their conclusion is that it is not a significant factor. Within the past week the site has been relatively quiet, with only one post and that provides a Book List of new publications this past year that they consider interesting or noteworthy.

The most often cited antagonist to those at RealClimate are the writers who post at Climate Audit , a site founded by Steve McIntyre, one of whose claims to fame has been a strong questioning of the Mann “hockey stick” paper and the underlying data and statistical procedures used in generating that plot. During the past week the site has been examining the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI in Dutch) model data, and provides a procedure and code for downloading temperature data from that site. There is also a small story about Al Gore who brought Toronto the heaviest snow fall since 1883, by visiting the city three times this year.

One of the stronger sites that challenges those that challenge the global warming hypothesis can be found at Gristmill . This site has mutiple authors and many posts, so I will confine the review to the last 20 posts, of which some of the more interesting are their identifying a coal front group , in the “battle of the ads” over the “cleanliness of coal;” (the debate on clean coal ads extends through into later posts); a post that notes that since 1995 the U.S. has installed 200 MW of solar PV; 10,000 MW of wind: and 200,000 MW of natural gas (about half of which was combined cycle), but no new coal or nuclear generated power; a later post notes that out of 1,522 coal-fired generating units nearly 10% were built in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s, predating which is the power plant in the shade of the Capitol , which was completed in 1910.

There is a post that notes Dave Rutledge’s opinion that coal reserves are less plentiful that assumed (a point I have argued with him before and no doubt will again). There is also a post that takes one to a site predicting a warm future for Southern California . Again this is likely something that I will myself post on before too long. There is a horror story of Amtrak passenger experiences, and another story on coal exports to China. The most recent dealt with the worst climate change writing of 2008.

And finally, in my little review (which may change as the months go by) I note that over at climate skeptic there has been only one post in the time period (since the site was being migrated). This post dealt with the debate over whether some of the global warming has been caused by sunspots.

Well the subject is obviously controversial, and thus worthy of review, and so I will try and repeat this little survey at regular intervals.

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