Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tough Times for Enviros

It's been a rough couple of weeks for those who wish to convince us that the earth is on the way to becoming an unendurable hothouse and that hydraulic fracking as a means of freeing natural gas from shale formations is fraught with all manner of environmental hazards.

The global-warming alarmists have had to suffer through a series of articles on research that shows that, even though we've been pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at rates guaranteed to give Al Gore apoplexy, global temperatures have for the last ten years been flatlining. This is inexplicable on all the models climatologists rely upon to scare the bejabbers out of the rest of us with terrifying predictions of "hockey stick" temperature increases and rising sea levels:
"The idea that CO2 is the tail that wags the dog is no longer scientifically tenable," said Marc Morano of, a website devoted to countering the prevailing acceptance of man-made global warming. In recent weeks, Der Spiegel, the Telegraph and The Economist have reported the unexpected stabilizing of global surface temperatures. Even former NASA scientist and outspoken climate change activist James Hansen has acknowledged the 10-year lull.

Morano said: "In the peer-reviewed literature we're finding that hundreds of factors influence global temperature, everything from ocean cycles to the tilt of the earth's axis to water vapor, methane, cloud feedback, volcanic dust, all of these factors are coming together. They're now realizing it wasn't the simple story we've been told of your SUV is creating a dangerously warm planet."

The stabilization [of surface temperatures] suggests that computer models which predict harsh consequences of global warming may need reassessing.

As The Economist put it on March 30, "It may be that the climate is responding to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before. This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy."

Indeed, no one disputes that levels of carbon dioxide are increasing globally, but CO2's impact has not been as great as many scientists had predicted.

"In the peer-reviewed literature, they've tried to explain away this lull," said Morano. "In the proceedings of the National Academy of Science a year or two ago they had a study blaming Chinese coal use for the lack of global warming. So, in an ironic twist, global warming proponents are now claiming that that coal use is saving us from dangerous global warming."
The article also includes responses by other researchers who think we're still overheating the planet, but their argument amounts to asseverations that thousands of crack scientists believe we're headed for doomsville and they can't all be wrong. Of course, if these scientists are all relying on the same incorrect assumptions about the ways in which the atmosphere behaves, assumptions which fail to account for the stagnant temperatures of the last decade, then it's not hard to imagine how they could all arrive at an incorrect conclusion.

To make things worse for the environmentalists, now comes a report on a study done at Durham University which shows that fracking, which has been blamed by environmental activists for, inter alia, contaminated water tables and earthquakes, is very unlikely to be a significant cause of either of these.
Earthquakes have been touted as one of the negative effects of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from shale rock. In fact, last year an Ohio tremor was purported to have been caused by fracking activities.

Although some studies claim to find evidence that the process of pumping water and chemicals into the rock leads to earthquakes, a recent study is questioning just how likely it is such quakes would even be felt. The results of a study released Wednesday from Durham University found fracking is “not significant” when it comes to causing earthquakes.

“We have examined not just fracking-related occurrences but all induced earthquakes – that is, those caused by human activity – since 1929. It is worth bearing in mind that other industrial-scale processes can trigger earthquakes including mining, filling reservoirs with water and the production of oil and gas. Even one of our cleanest forms of energy, geothermal, has some form in this respect,” professor Richard Davies with the Durham Energy Institute said in a statement.

“In almost all cases, the seismic events caused by hydraulic fracturing have been undetectable other than by geoscientists. It is also low compared to other manmade triggers. Earthquakes caused by mining can range from a magnitude of 1.6 to 5.6, reservoir-filling from 2.0 to 7.9 and waste disposal from 2.0 to 5.7.”

Fracking activities, Davies said, release an amount of energy that is “equivalent to or even less than someone jumping off a ladder onto the floor.”
It's one of the beauties of science that speculation is eventually compelled to yield to data. It's a good rule to follow that when people are running about with hysterical claims that the sky is falling its best to treat the alarums with a healthy dose of skepticism until the data is all in.