Monday, March 31, 2008

EPA Demonstrates Common Sense

It is good to see the EPA demonstrating common sense, hard as that is to believe. Particularly after watching Al Gore push tortured analogies decrying the opponents of the global warming ideology. I am getting disturbed that some of this bone headed thinking will work itself into the global economic system.

The worst idea that I heard recently was that the developed world, after shipping our polluting industries offshore, should turn around and slap on a carbon tax on all imports. We really need to turn the current financial panic into a true depression.

I have rarely seen such a lack of economic leadership in the political world. Both Democratic candidates sound hopeless on the issue, although perhaps you can trust Hillary to actually do nothing as her husband had the good sense to do in a different time and place. Of course, if you live in Pennsylvania, you may think she means it about NAFTA, and if you live anywhere else, you sure as hell hope she doesn’t. Obama however, seems to be a follower of ideas that may betray him and he has not come out with a strong convincing economic position. Unfortunately, we can say the same thing about John McCain. He however, appears most likely to recognize and follow good advice. I am personally impressed by his support of the Iraqi surge and he is certainly the best option for wriggling out of there.

We have been blessed for the past forty years, to have had strong voices who have positively influenced economic policy and have benefited with a full twenty five years of solid economic expansion that reinvigorated both Europe and Japan and ignited the emergence of both China and India as viable economic powers.

Yet we always hear the voices of the economically ignorant who desperately want to promote state power in the naïve belief that this can work. How many Katrinas do we need? Human greed will trump good intentions every time.

That is the elephant at the party in China today. And it is starting to rumble. The only escape hatch for the Chinese political leadership with their loot is in fact to start a program of free elections, starting at the local level and quickly moving to the higher stages in two year steps. It could have been done slower, but I do not think that they have that much time left. Heaven no longer needs them.

The truth is that global warming was likely never tied to CO2 production as we have investigated this past year. But CO2 production without paying attention to CO2 offsets is just bad husbandry unless you think throwing night soil out the window is a sustainable practice. CO2 management is not about not burning fossil fuels – they will all one day be burned – it is about using good husbandry to maximize CO2 sequestration in the soils every way we can.

It struck me today that terra preta soil culture will permit the maximization of soil nutrient content. This means that no food crop should be ever nutrient deficient which is the holy grail of organic farmers. At this point, this is only my hypothesis, supported by a scattering of evidence. I suspect that it is both possible and sustainable.

Recall that in 10,000 years, that agricultural man has never had a way to create fertile soil easily if in fact at all in many circumstances. Corn culture terra preta does just that in just a few years. The resultant soil is a nutrient sponge.

EPA Signals Caution on Global Warming

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government made clear on Thursday it will not be rushed into deciding whether to regulate emissions linked to global warming, as the Supreme Court directed nearly a year ago.

Such action "could affect many (emission) sources beyond just cars and trucks" and needs to be examined broadly as to other impacts, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency wrote lawmakers.

Stephen Johnson said he has decided to begin the process by seeking public comment on the implications of regulating carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, on other agency rules that cover everything from power plants and factories to schools and small businesses.

That process could take months and led some of his critics to suggest he was shunting the sensitive issue to the next administration.

"This is the latest quack from a lame-duck EPA intent on running out the clock ... without doing a thing to combat global warming," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. He is chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

The Supreme Court said in April 2007 that carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is a pollutant subject to the Clean Air Act. The court directed the EPA to determine if CO2 emissions, linked to global warming, endanger public health and welfare.

If that is the case, the court said, the EPA must regulate the emissions.

The ruling, in a lawsuit by Massachusetts against the EPA, dealt only with pollution from cars and trucks.

Johnson said Thursday that if CO2 is found to endangered public health and welfare, the agency probably would have to curtail such emissions from other sources as well. That could affect a range of air pollution, from cement factories, refineries and power plants to cars, aircraft, schools and off-road vehicles.

"Rather than rushing to judgment on a single issue, this approach allows us to examine all the potential effects of a decision with the benefit of the public insight," Johnson wrote the leaders of the House and Senate environment committees.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, noted that Johnson has had nearly a year to respond to the court but "now, instead of action, we get more foot-dragging."

"Time is not on our side when it comes to avoiding dangerous climate change. This letter makes it clear that Mr. Johnson and the Bush administration are not on our side, either," Boxer, D-Calif., said in a statement.

Senior EPA employees have told congressional investigators in the House about a tentative finding from early December that CO2 posed a danger because of its climate impact. They said a draft regulation was distributed to the Transportation Department and the White House.

The EPA officials, in interviews with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said those findings were put on hold abruptly. Johnson has said that enacting tougher automobile mileage requirements in December meant that the issue had to be re-examined.

Johnson said a requirement for greater use of renewable fuels such as ethanol changed the landscape when it comes to CO2 regulation.

"It does not change EPA's obligation to provide a response to the Supreme Court decision," Johnson wrote Congress.

Environmentalists said Johnson's approach seemed to signal no meaningful action on climate change.

"EPA has offered a laundry list of reasons not to regulate," said Vickie Patton, a lawyer for Environmental Defense.

Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, an advocacy group, added, "This means any real action is going to come in the next administration."

But lawyer Chet Thompson, a former EPA deputy general counsel, said Johnson's approach was "very responsible given the numerous issues raised" and ramifications of regulating carbon dioxide.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Antarctic Chill

Got this posting in from Marc Morano detailing the extensive media coverage on the cooling of the southern hemisphere. It is an excellent anecdote to the recent blast over that piece of ice that broke free.

The fact is that while the north warmed up slightly over the past decades, the south went the other way. The net result was probably zero meaning the net input from CO2 is probably zero. The truth is that over the past year, the already tenuous empirical evidence for global warming has been steadily weakening.

The champions of global warming have been way too quiet on the apparent antarctic cooling trend which appears far more convincing than the northern warming trend.

The antarctic is bounded by a circumpolar wind and current system that naturally imposes a greater confidence in measurement because of natural symmetries.

The northern hemisphere already catches more heat than the south and geography micro manages the heat flow far beyond anything that we know as shown by the sudden melt last summer and the sudden freeze this winter.

The major question now is what level of variation will be experienced this summer.

Posted By Marc Morano – 4:25 PM ET – Marc_Morano@EPW.Senate.Gov

Media Hype on ‘Melting’ Antarctic Ignores Record Ice Growth

The media is once again hyping an allegedly dire consequence of man-made global warming. This time the media is promoting the ice loss of one tiny fraction of the giant ice-covered continent and completely ignoring the current record ice growth on Antarctica. Contrary to media hype, the vast majority of Antarctica has cooled over the past 50 years and ice coverage has grown to record levels since satellite monitoring began in the 1979, according to peer-reviewed studies and scientists who study the area. (LINK)

Former Weather Channel Meteorologist Joe D’Aleo rejected the hype surrounding the recent Wilkins Ice Shelf collapse in Western Antarctica. “The shattered part of the Wilkins ice sheet was 160 square miles in area, which is just 0.01% of the total current Antarctic ice cover, like an icicle falling from a snow and ice covered roof,” D’Aleo wrote on March 25. (LINK) “We are very likely going to exceed last year’s record [for Southern Hemisphere ice extent]. Yet the world is left with the false impression Antarctica’s ice sheet is also starting to disappear,” D’Aleo added.

Climate scientist Dr. Ben Herman, past director of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics and former Head of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona, stated, “It is interesting that all of the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) stories concerning Antarctica are always about what's happening around the [western] peninsula, which seems to be the only place on Antarctica that has shown warming. How about the net ‘no change’ or ‘cooling’ over the rest of the continent, which is probably about 95% of the land mass, not to mention the record sea ice coverage recently.”

Former Colorado State Climatologist Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr., presently senior scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, chastised the media’s Antarctic reporting as “typical of the bias that many journalists have.” Pielke wrote on March 25, “The media has ignored in their reporting the increase in Antarctic sea ice cover in recent years, with, at present, a coverage that is well one million square kilometers above average.” Pielke added, “Unfortunately, it appears that most journalists just parrot the perspective of the first news release on these climate issues, without doing any further investigation. If this is inadvertent, they need to be educated in climate science. If deliberate bias, they are clearly advocates and the reporters should be clearly and publically identified as having such a bias. In either case, the public is being misinformed!” (LINK)

But the news media sadly tossed out objectivity and balance when it came to this new Antarctic story. Media headlines blared: Bye-bye, Antarctica? (Salon Magazine 3-26-08); Massive ice shelf collapsing off Antarctica (C/Net News 3- 26-08); Slab of Antarctic ice shelf collapses amid warming (Reuters 3-26-08); Ice shelf 'hangs by a thread' (Sydney Morning Herald 2-26-08).

True to form, Associated Press reporter Seth Borenstein could not allow himself to include any scientists or peer-reviewed studies countering alarm over the allegedly “melting” Antarctic. Borenstein instead hyped alarm by writing on March 27, “Scientists said they are not concerned about a rise in sea level from the latest event, but say it's a sign of worsening global warming.” [Note: Borenstein has a long history of incomplete reporting on global warming. See here and here. Also see related links section below for examples of the media's shoddy environmental reporting. In addition, ABC World News Sunday anchor Dan Harris this week produced a low brow smear segment on atmospheric physicist Dr. Fred Singer, a prominent dissenter of man-made climate fears. ABC News violated basic journalistic standards by citing "anonymous" scientists to attack Dr. Singer. See: here, here, here and here. ]

Yet, if only the media would spend a moment to get beyond the hype and alarmism, they would discover that scientists are already thoroughly debunking the media characterization of the “melting” Antarctic. [Note: 2007 and now 2008 are overwhelmingly turning into the “tipping points” for climate alarmism as new peer-reviewed studies continue to debunk rising CO2 fears, a U.S. Senate minority report reveals over 400 scientists dissented from man-made climate fears, and more and more scientists continue in 2008 to declare themselves skeptical of a man-made climate “crisis.” The Earth’s failure to continue warming has also confounded promoters of man-made climate fear. Here is a sampling of inconvenient developments for climate alarmists in 2008 alone: 1) Oceans Cooling! Scientists puzzled by “mystery of global warming's missing heat”- LINK 2) New Data from NASA’s Aqua satellite is showing “greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide.”- LINK 3) Former NASA Climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer found not one peer-reviewed paper has 'ruled out a natural cause for most of our recent warmth' – LINK 4) UN IPCC in 'Panic Mode' as Earth Fails to Warm, Scientist says – LINK 5) UN IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri “to look into the apparent temperature plateau so far this century.”- LINK 6) New scientific analysis shows Sun “could account for as much as 69% of the increase in Earth's average temperature” – LINK & LINK. 7) An International team of scientists released a March 2008 report to counter UN IPCC, declaring: “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate” – LINK 8) MIT Climate Scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen’s new analysis finds the Earth has had “No statistically significant warming since 1995.”- LINK ]

Below are a few samples of what scientists have said in the past few days since the Antarctic “melting” stories have hit the media:

1) Climate Scientist Dr. Ben Herman, past director of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics and former Head of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona, is a member of both the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth’s Executive Committee and the Committee on Global Change. Herman commented on March 25:

“That ice [the media is hyping] is just a tiny fraction of the Antarctic ice and probably the increase each winter more than compensates. The ice loss does not show up, at least not yet on the Illinois site,, which still shows increasing sea ice heading into [Southern Hemisphere’s] winter. It is interesting that all of the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) stories concerning Antarctica are always about what's happening around the (Western) peninsula, which seems to be the only place on Antarctica that has shown warming. How about the net ‘no change’ or ‘cooling’ over the rest of the continent, which is probably about 95% of the land mass, not to mention the record sea ice coverage recently,” Herman wrote on March 25.

2) Meteorologist Joseph D'Aleo served as the first Director of Meteorology at The Weather Channel, was the Chief Meteorologist at Weather Services International Corporation and served as chairman of the American Meteorological Society's (AMS) Committee on Weather Analysis and Forecasting. D’Aleo commented on his website on March 25:

“The shattered part of the Wilkins ice sheet was 160 square miles in area, which is just 0.01% of the total current Antarctic ice cover (just 0.003% of the extent last September), like an icicle falling from a snow and ice covered roof. And this winter is coming on quickly. The latest satellite images and reports suggest the ice has already refrozen around the broken pieces. In fact the ice is returning so fast, it is running an amazing 60% ahead (4.0 vs 2.5 million square km extent) of last year when it set a new record. The total ice extent is already approaching the second highest level for extent since the measurements began by satellite in 1979 and just a few days into the Southern Hemisphere fall season and 6 months ahead of the peak. We are very likely going to exceed last year’s record [for Southern Hemisphere ice extent]. Yet the world is left with the false impression Antarctica’s ice sheet is also starting to disappear,” D’Aleo wrote on march 25. (LINK)

# #

Other scientists and peer-reviewed studies have recently debunked the notion of a “melting” Antarctic as well.

3) Former Virginia State Climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger, a senior researcher with New Hope Environmental Services posted comments on Antarctica in February on their website Michaels and Knappenberger wrote a February 27, 2008, article titled “Antarctica Ain’t Cooperating”: “Another major article on temperature trends in the Antarctic has appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research by a team of scientists from Ohio State University, the University of Illinois, and the Goddard Space Flight Center; the research was funded by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs Glaciology Program. […] That is correct – despite all you have heard elsewhere on the subject, the South Pole has been cooling over the past half century. The previous research team also reported that any warming in Antarctica has slowed and the cooling has accelerated in the more recent three decades. According to Monaghan et al., yet another team previously examined Antarctic temperatures and “noted that prior to 1965 the continent-wide annual trends (through 2002) are slightly positive, but after 1965 they are mainly negative (despite warming over the Antarctic Peninsula).” The truth from Antarctica is hard for the greenhouse crusade to accept, and in the long run, the truth from Antarctica might melt away the flimsy, well-publicized claims about global climate change—especially the concerns of a rapid sea level rise.”

4) In addition, the media’s reporting on the alleged “melting” of Antarctica fails to take into account other factors. “Volcano, Not Global Warming Effects, May be Melting an Antarctic Glacier” read a headline in a January 21, 2008, article. The article read in part: Scientists have discovered a layer of volcanic ash and glass shards in Antarctica, evidence of an old eruption by a still active volcano that researchers believe may be contributing to the thinning of Antarctic glacial ice. Hugh F.J. Corr and David G. Vaughan, two scientists with the British Antarctic Survey, recently published their discovery of the volcanic layer in the journal Nature Geoscience. The discovery is unique, according to Dr. Vaughan. He said, “This is the first time we have seen a volcano beneath the ice sheet punch a hole through the ice sheet.” The volcano’s heat could possibly be melting and thinning the ice and raising the speed of the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. (Other links on Antarctic Volcanoes: Map of volcanoes in Antarctica; and NASA Image of Antarctic Peninsula and pacific ring of fire groups of volcanoes. )

5) Another inconvenient fact that the media likes to avoid is Antarctica ice extent GREW to record levels in 2007. A September 11, 2007, article on IceCap.US explained: “While the news focus has been on the lowest ice extent since satellite monitoring began in 1979 for the Arctic, the Southern Hemisphere (Antarctica) has quietly set a new record for most ice extent since 1979. This can be seen on this graphic from this University of Illinois site, The Cryosphere Today, which updated snow and ice extent for both hemispheres daily. The Southern Hemispheric areal coverage is the highest in the satellite record, just beating out 1995, 2001, 2005 and 2006. Since 1979, the trend has been up for the total Antarctic ice extent.” (LINK)

6) A January 12, 2008, peer-reviewed paper in AGU (American Geophysical Union) found “A doubling in snow accumulation in the western Antarctic Peninsula since 1850.” The abstract of the paper by Thomas, E. R., G. J. Marshall, and J. R. McConnell, states: We present results from a new medium depth (136 metres) ice core drilled in a high accumulation site (73.59°S, 70.36°W) on the south-western Antarctic Peninsula during 2007. The Gomez record reveals a doubling of accumulation since the 1850s, from a decadal average of 0.49 mweq y−1 in 1855–1864 to 1.10 mweq y−1 in 1997–2006, with acceleration in recent decades. Comparison with published accumulation records indicates that this rapid increase is the largest observed across the region. (LINK) & (LINK)

7) A February 2007 study reveals Antarctica is not following predicted global warming models. Excerpt: “A new report on climate over the world's southernmost continent shows that temperatures during the late 20th century did not climb as had been predicted by many global climate models." The research was led by David Bromwich, professor of atmospheric sciences in the Department of Geography, and researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University. [See: Antarctic temperatures disagree with climate model predictions - (LINK) ]

8) Dr. Duncan Wingham, Professor of Climate Physics at University College London and Director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modeling, has presented evidence that Antarctic ice is growing. According to a December 15, 2006, article in Canada's National Post, "Early last year at a European Union Space Conference in Brussels, for example, Dr. Wingham revealed that data from a European Space Agency satellite showed Antarctic thinning was no more common than thickening, and concluded that the spectacular collapse of the ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula was much more likely to have followed natural current fluctuations than global warming." "One cannot be certain, because packets of heat in the atmosphere do not come conveniently labeled 'the contribution of anthropogenic warming,' " Wingham said, noting that the evidence is not "favorable to the notion we are seeing the results of global warming." Wingham and his colleagues found that 72% of the ice sheet covering the entire land mass of Antarctica is growing at the rate of 5 millimeters per year. "That makes Antarctica a sink, not a source, of ocean water. According to their best estimates, Antarctica will ‘lower global sea levels by 0.08 mm' per year" the National Post article reported. (LINK)

9) Statistician Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and professor at the Copenhagen Business School, questioned former Vice President Al Gore's claims about Antarctica in a January 21, 2007, Wall Street Journal op-ed. "[Gore] considers Antarctica the canary in the mine, but again doesn't tell the full story. He presents pictures from the 2% of Antarctica that is dramatically warming and ignores the 98% that has largely cooled over the past 35 years. The U.N. panel estimates that Antarctica will actually increase its snow mass this century. Similarly, Mr. Gore points to shrinking sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere, but doesn’t mention that sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is increasing. Shouldn't we hear those facts?" Lomborg added. (LINK)

10) UN scientist Dr. Madhav L. Khandekar, a retired Environment Canada scientist and an expert IPCC reviewer, noted in 2007 that the Southern Hemisphere is COOLING. Dr. Khandekar wrote on August 6, 2007: "In the Southern Hemisphere, the land-area mean temperature has slowly but surely declined in the last few years. The city of Buenos Aires in Argentina received several centimeters of snowfall in early July, and the last time it snowed in Buenos Aires was in 1918! Most of Australia experienced one of its coldest months of June this year. Several other locations in the Southern Hemisphere have experienced lower temperatures in the last few years. Further, the sea surface temperatures over world oceans are slowly declining since mid-1998, according to a recent world-wide analysis of ocean surface temperatures.” (LINK)

11) Ivy League Geologist Dr. Robert Giegengack, the chair of Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania, explained that the Earth has been warming for about 20,000 years, and humans have only been collecting data for about 200 years. "For most of earth's history, the globe has been warmer than it has been for the last 200 years. It has only rarely been cooler," Giegengack said according to a February 2007 article. (LINK) Giegengack further explained that extremely long geologic timescales reveal that "only about 5% of that time has been characterized by conditions on Earth that were so cold that the poles could support masses of permanent ice."

Related Links:

Climate Skeptics Reveal ‘Horror Stories’ of Scientific Suppression; NYC Climate Conference Further Debunks ‘Consensus’ Claims

Senate Minority Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007

Senate Minority Report Debunks Polar Bear Extinction Fears

Breakdown Of Key Points Debunking Climate Fears

Earth's 'Fever' Breaks: Global COOLING Currently Under Way

Hypocrisy exposed: Comparison of Media's Coverage of a Warm Winter vs. Cold Winter

Analysis of how Hollywood Is Promoting Climate Fears to Kids

CBS News Seeks ‘Hip’ Environmental Reporter, No ‘Knowledge of Enviro Beat’ Necessary

CBS News reporter compares global warming skeptics to be the equivalent of “Holocaust deniers”

Newsweek's Climate Editorial Screed Violates Basic Standards of Journalism

Media Covering Up UN Global Warming Report’s Political Agenda

“Hot & Cold Media Spin: A Challenge To Journalists Who Cover Global Warming”

ABCNEWS Climate Reporter: 'Scientists tell us civilization as we know it is over'

“I don’t like the word ‘Balance’’- Says ABC News Global Warming Reporter

New York Times Op-Ed Heat Wave Hype Melts Under Scrutiny


CNN Anchor Cited Fictional Hollywood Global Warming Movie, to Defend His Science Reporting

Newsweek Admits Error on 70's Predictions of Coming Ice Age;

Analysis of Costly "Solutions" to Global Warming

Over 100 Prominent Scientists Warn UN Against 'Futile' Climate Control Efforts

Skeptical Scientists Urge World To ‘Have the Courage to Do Nothing' At UN Conference


Debunking The So-Called 'Consensus' On Global Warming

Scientists Counter AP Article Promoting Computer Model Climate Fears

New Peer-Reviewed Scientific Studies Chill Global Warming Fears

Newsweek's Climate Editorial Screed Violates Basic Standards of Journalism

Newsweek Editor Calls Mag's Global Warming 'Deniers' Article 'Highly Contrived'

Latest Scientific Studies Refute Fears of Greenland Melt

EPA to Probe E-mail Threatening to ‘Destroy' Career of Climate Skeptic

Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Man-made Global Warming - Now Skeptics

Senator Inhofe declares climate momentum shifting away from Gore (The Politico op ed)

Scientific Smackdown: Skeptics Voted The Clear Winners Against Global Warming Believers in Heated NYC Debate

Global Warming on Mars & Cosmic Ray Research Are Shattering Media Driven "Consensus'

Global Warming: The Momentum has Shifted to Climate Skeptics

Prominent French Scientist Reverses Belief in Global Warming - Now a Skeptic

Top Israeli Astrophysicist Recants His Belief in Manmade Global Warming - Now Says Sun Biggest Factor in Warming

Warming On Jupiter, Mars, Pluto, Neptune's Moon & Earth Linked to Increased Solar Activity, Scientists Say

Panel of Broadcast Meteorologists Reject Man-Made Global Warming Fears- Claim 95% of Weathermen Skeptical

MIT Climate Scientist Calls Fears of Global Warming 'Silly' - Equates Concerns to ‘Little Kids' Attempting to "Scare Each Other"

Weather Channel TV Host Goes 'Political'- Stars in Global Warming Film Accusing U.S. Government of ‘Criminal Neglect'

Weather Channel Climate Expert Calls for Decertifying Global Warming Skeptics

ABC-TV Meteorologist: I Don't Know A Single Weatherman Who Believes 'Man-Made Global Warming Hype'

The Weather Channel Climate Expert Refuses to Retract Call for Decertification for Global Warming Skeptics

New UN Children's Book Promotes Global Warming Fears to Kids (11-13-2006)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Algae Drumming

This corporate press release drumming algae is making the best claims yet, but is lacking any substantive references to their work. Their silence since this release speaks volumes. It does explain where similar references on the net originated from.

Perhaps I have seen too many such optimistic press releases cobbled together a little ahead of the huge real investment necessary to substantiate the claims.

In any event, the next few months will see new players and expanding research effort.

The problems are not slight. We have to maximize and separate lipid oil, sugars and proteins. Better still we have to produce the oil which is the simplest cash crop component while leaving an edible byproduct that can be fed to livestock. I suspect that we can pull of this last trick.

Before all of that, we must sort out the species and husbandry of the algae, although from the demonstration plants, it appears that this may even be done for at least a good starter collection. It is the sort of empirical research program that will be ongoing and surprisingly tricky. At least it will be faster than cattle breeding.

My one reservation derives from the fact that I cannot believe that our knowledge is sufficiently advanced yet. This is not improved by frothy press releases that I could have written myself without any more reality than been friends with a biologist working with algae.

No one is going to hide successful technologies for long since everyone will want to license any viable aspect of the technology to the huge number of ready customers prepared to build out the algae oil business. It will take thousands of facilities and the money is going to be in the supply business. Exxon will still own the refining and distribution.

So, though I am very bullish on the advent of an emerging algae based oil industry, and very bearish on any use of food crops for either bio diesel or ethanol as proven by present high food costs, the fact remains that we cannot wish away the development lead times.

Remember the tar sands took thirty years of sustained development work before we were gifted with the THAI protocol. I suspect that we face fifteen years of protracted development work on Algae with encouragement along the way.

The good news with it of course, is that success will end the use of fossil fuels if we so choose. This alone supports a sustained investment. In the meantime, the headline grabbers will help spread the gospel.

Growth Rates of Emission-Fed Algae Show Viability of New Biomass Crop

Wednesday September 26, 6:15 pm ET

Results Are Catalyst for Replication at Coal Plant

PHOENIX--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Arizona Public Service Company (APS) and its partner GreenFuel Technologies will attempt to replicate their success of creating biofuels from algae grown using carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from a power plant. This time, however, instead of using CO2 from a natural gas power plant, they will use emissions from a coal-burning power plant.

The move comes after the companies, this summer, were able to successfully grow algae at APS' Redhawk natural gas power plant at levels 37 times higher than corn and 140 times higher than soybeans--the two primary crops used for biofuel.

"At this productivity level, GreenFuel's system is ahead of other biomass production methods," said Professor Otto Pulz, president of the European Society of Microalgal Biotechnology and head of the IGV Institute's Biotechnology Department in Germany.

The growth rate -- an average productivity of 98 grams/meter sq./day (ash free, dry weight basis) and reaching a high peak value of 174 grams/meter sq./day -- surpassed previous lab growth rates and exceeded all expectations going into the project. The results provide evidence of the financial viability of using the emissions of a power plant to grow algae for the exclusive purpose of creating biofuels.

The project is now moving to APS' Four Corners Generation station, a coal power plant located in Farmington, N.M.

"It is now time to see if we can replicate this success at Four Corners," said Ray Hobbs, manager of the APS Future Fuels Program. "This project addresses two important issues in the U.S. today -- reducing greenhouse gas emissions at power plants and producing more domestic sources of alternative fuels for automobiles and power plants."

GreenFuel's Emissions-to-Biofuels(TM) technology uses safe, naturally occurring algae to recycle CO2 from the stack gases of power plants and other commercial sources of continuous CO2 emissions. At the Redhawk Power Plant, specially designed pipes captured and transported the CO2 emissions from the stack to specialized containers holding algae. In the presence of sunlight, the algae consumed CO2.

Once enough algae is grown, it is harvested, and its starches are turned into ethanol, its lipids into biodiesel and its protein into high-grade food for livestock.

While feeding CO2 from a power plant to algae is not new, turning the algae grown at a power plant into biodiesel and ethanol was ground-breaking when first accomplished in the fall of 2006 by APS and GreenFuel. The project marked the first time ever that algae grown on-site by direct connection to a commercial power plant had been successfully converted to transportation-grade biofuels. Once this was accomplished, the companies set out to prove the process' financial viability by expanding the project. It was during this ramp-up that the companies achieved the high growth rates.

Moving to a coal plant is the next progression in this evolving technology. The Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has been providing technical assistance throughout the process.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Global Food Shortfall

I see the press is warming up to the reality of rising food prices around the globe. I myself glanced at the price of wheat for the first time in months this morning and was shocked to see price quotes in the teens for a bushel. forty bushels per acre now translates into a gross of $400 per acre for productive farmland. A couple of hundred acres under cultivation translates into a check for $80,000 at the farm gate. That is way over twice what anyone has experienced over the years.

The fact is that reserves are low and now also vulnerable. Of course the heavy snow this winter should presage a bumper crop and you may be sure every available acre will be able to come under cultivation with all that moisture in the fields. Globally, it still looks tight and we need stocks to be rebuilt. Several good years of high prices will hugely recapitalize the farm industry and sharply increase production, so I am really not concerned.

What I want to see is the rapid implementation of terra preta soil culture throughout the world as fast as possible and not just because it sequesters carbon. I have shown two methods of producing high volume bio char in either an earthen kiln in the subsistence economy or a shipping container system in the developed economy. This soil culture was field tested for hundreds of years in the Amazon and then lost when Eurasian disease arrived after Columbus. This is an incredibly important fact that seems lost on most commentators.

On soils that will not hold their fertility and thus today carry only a very small population with terra preta supported crops year after year with huge populations of many millions. The sub text of the terra preta carbon sequestration story is the real delivery of a crop soil building technology that is certainly applicable on every other soil that we use and many soils that we currently do not use.

Just going to the tropical hillsides in the Indonesian Archipelago and introducing this method successfully will employ many millions of people. Those verdant hills are currently cropped once every fifteen years using slash and burn. It appears to be trivial to adapt the earthen kiln to that society and agricultural culture.

The land is there almost for the taking and the population can deliver the key ingredient of labour. The earthen kiln protocol is a reconstruction of ancient amazon methods using corn or maize and effectively little more than bare hands and a basket or two. It is time to establish a proper tropical soils homestead act in all these countries to let the people build their new world.

The magic of bio char is derived exclusively from the particular nature of carbon itself. Recall that all non pure carbon components will be consumed by the soil biota. Recall that free nutrients will migrate into the water table if they are not intercepted somehow. Pure carbon, or perhaps better named unbound carbon, forming crystals, will grab these nutrients and hold them until a root or other biological agent removes them. This carbon will also remain in the working layer of the soil. That is why it converts impossible tropical soils into totally usable cropland such as is still used in the Amazon.

I personally have no doubt that this soil revolution is more than sufficient to support many additional billions of mouths. Imagine your most productive soils suddenly becoming available in areas the size of France in a dozen locales. Before terra preta, my imagination hit the wall at around ten billion because of the inhospitable nature of tropical soils. Now the incredible fecundity of the tropics combined with a working tropical soil suggests that global populations of even thirty billion could be possible.

It would be ironic if some day in the not too distant future it became necessary to burn more fossil oil in order to produce enough global CO2 to support the burgeoning populations and their associated high carbon agriculture.

Of course we will not go there, but we will be hugely richer in agricultural resources with the flexibility to crop a region and then abandon it back to the wild as often as we feel is wise. Imagine abandoning most of the headwater regions of the Hudson River for three hundred years. A complete recovery would ensue and planned reentry could then be based on a maximizing model that preserved as well as used.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

African Bio Char

This is another excellent letter from Bakary Jetta to the terra preta group. Again I cannot emphasize the importance of creating terra preta or bio char using the most primitive methods as was done originally in the Amazon.

The use of a drum is informative. He can feed the volatiles back into to fire with a pipe. I assume the CO2 leaks out everywhere.

The limitation is the small supply of plant waste, but that suits the type of burner and the way the bio char is used. By putting the material into the holes dug for the seeds along with any nutrients, he can stretch the usage over his field.

As I have argued earlier, larger scale application of terra preta soils demands integration with corn culture where a couple of tons of bio char per acre is possible.

I expect the earthen kiln technique (see earlier postings) to be less productive than his drum at forty percent. On the other hand, the modern double chamber metal kiln should match this handily.

I would like to recruit volunteers with access to a convenient corn field to this project. I emphasize corn simply because of the huge supply of corn stover that must be disposed of anyway. Perhaps several acres need to be set aside, depending on the available backs of course. Building several kilns will be backbreaking effort. It may turn out that small is best but we need to check each option out.

Otherwise, folks will chatter forever rather than make it happen. And it is not something an old farm boy can hope to quite do on his own. Even Bakary with his drum will need strong hands to make his drum really productive.

Dear list members,

At great cost of telephone bills and ISP charges I tried to keep up with the postings, hoping to find something practical beyond what I am doing myself right now.

Unfortunately I see long repetitions of previous posts and stuff that does not edify matters in the least, but rather confused what appeared to be a straight forward thing.

My retort is in my back yard. It is a drum with a fairly tight lid and a piece of pipe letting volatile gasses take over the initial firing in the firebox underneath. The drum is enclosed in a rock and soil and lime plaster wall. For a quick start I surrounded the drum with small branches or crop waste before covering the top with a scrap iron sheet with a gap for smoke to escape in the beginning. The drum costs money, the rest is labor.

The biomass is crop waste and or tree trimmings. Some material is up to 50 mm thick and still chars all through. Like was stated on the list, the char appears to be about 40 %. After initial smoke, the volatiles take over and burn with a roaring sound. Sorry, no analysis of the off gasses, but I trust I am not a polluter beyond the normal CO2. With adequate investment the excess gas or heat can be utilized, not likely an easy option for most third world farmers.

Where does all the biomass come from? Plant it! People still get rid of lots of it to clear roadsides and farms here. OTOH, I am planting more biomass every year and my soil is improving in the process. My mini climate is improving too as many of the trees retain their leaves during the dry season . Jatropha curcass is a soil improver and wind break. Not useful for char, but it makes great fuel oil for lamps and soap making. The oil cake makes good methane gas for cooking. The digester effluent is mixed with the bio char before it put in the planting holes on the field. A soil improver,energy and soil micro-organism inoculant.

Is it economic? What is the meaning of that? Maybe, when I get a good harvest, which depends on many other factors, like rain, etc. After all, food prices are going up because of increasing scarcity. Maybe some people think they can eat their economic gain in the form of money. During the last world war money could not buy food that was not there! You think the government is going to regulate food production to assure economic gain and sustainability? Or the market place will be regulating the climate in a timely fashion so that harvests will be reliable. My conclusion is that the real value is the food and other resources provided by the life of the plant springing from the soil.

Why am I doing this? I think it is a usefull thing to do. There was a quotation that I recognized as true: 'The Spritual precedes the material'

The economic consideration will not bring a solution. It has in fact been the cause of the problem!

So, considering economic criteria, maybe no present value seen yet, but the net value will be having a future worth having at all. It is a choice and it better be a collective choice. If it does not do all as expected, do we lose anything?

Kind regards,

Bakary Jatta

Bwiam village, WR

The Gambia

Monday, March 24, 2008

Current Sea Ice

Plenty of commentary now out in reaction to the huge and precipitous loss this past season of the perennial sea ice. Also note that the direct removal of the perennial sea ice has been continuing, likely because so much was moved into position for removal this past summer.

As I have pointed out, this has all the earmarks of an unexpected shift in weather conditions as observed whose effects we are now discovering. The evidence so far supports a sharp loss of temperate zone heat similar to 1996 - 97 to be followed by a rebound to the pre-existing levels. All this is happening against an apparent background of slightly warming conditions.

The existing new sea ice is very vulnerable to rapid removal if we have an early spring and possibly even if we do not. It also explains why, once the Arctic is cleared of perennial ice as has happened in the past, why it remains fairly stable thereafter.

So although the world is full of alarmists, the question now is whether or not we will see any further erosion of the sea ice in the next three years. On the face of it, we will not be adding much additional ice this summer. This suggests that the northern hemisphere will possibly gain more heat against a future discharge into the Arctic.

One observation can be made. The warming effect appears real, whatever the reason, but so too the eleven year cycle tied to sunspot activity. If that holds up, then we will have a rebuild of sea ice for the next several years until another period of heat build up ending in the winter of 2018.

In the meantime, the Arctic will have the most eyeballs on it in history this summer to watch what is happening. They may end up disappointed. We are getting data variation outside of previously predicted ranges. That alone suggests that we all keep our powder dry until a few seasons have passed.

WASHINGTON: Critical Arctic sea ice this winter made a tenuous partial recovery from last summer's record melt, federal scientists said Tuesday.

But that's an illusion, like a Hollywood movie set, scientist Walter Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center said. The ice is very thin and vulnerable to heavy melting again this summer.

Overall, Arctic sea ice has shrunk precipitously in the past decade and scientists blame global warming caused by humans.

Last summer, Arctic ice shrank to an area that was 27 percent smaller than the previous record. This winter, it recovered to a maximum of 5.8 million square miles, up 4 percent and the most since 2003, NASA ice scientist Josefino Comiso said. It is still a bit below the long-term average level for this time of year.

"What's going on underneath the surface is really the key thing," Meier said in an interview following a news conference. What's happening is not enough freezing.

Summer Arctic sea ice is important because it's intricately connected to weather conditions elsewhere on the globe. It affects wind patterns, temperatures farther south and even the Gulf Stream, acting as a sort of refrigerator for the globe, according to scientists.

"What happens there, matters here," said Waleed Abdalati, chief ice scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Climate for the period of human record has depended on the ice being there."

Viewing the Arctic from space via NASA satellites might make you think the Arctic ice cover is on its way back.

But more than 70 percent of that sea ice is new, thin and salty, having formed only since September, Comiso said. The more important ice is perennial sea ice that lasts through the summer, and that ice has hit record low levels.

Compared to the 1980s, the Arctic has lost more than half of its perennial sea ice and three-quarters of its "tough as nails" sea ice that is six years or older, Meier said. The amount of lost old sea ice is twice the area of the state of Texas, he said.

On top of that, a change in Arctic atmospheric pressure this winter is pushing a large amount of the valuable older ice out of the Arctic to melt, Meier said.

That means next summer when temperatures warm, expect lots of melting, the scientists said.

"We're in for a world of hurt this summer," ice center senior scientist Mark Serreze told The Associated Press. Depending on the weather, there could be as much melting this year as last, maybe more, Serreze and Meier said.

At the South Pole, in Antarctica, sea ice seems stable, even slightly above normal, the scientists reported. However, ice levels in Antarctica always are quite different from the Arctic and aren't as connected to the world's weather.


Canada's largest research project in International Polar Year has been forced to switch gears because Arctic sea ice is disappearing faster than anyone imagined. …

The Canadian Coast Guard ship Amundsen, crammed with labs and exotic scientific instruments, arrived in the Western Arctic in October to allow researchers to carry out the first-ever investigation of the changes in ice, water and atmosphere spanning four seasons."It throws a real wrench into what we wanted to do. We're struggling to adapt," said Tim Papakyriakoi, chief scientist for the current stage of the expedition.

Scientists had intended to travel to the semi-permanent base by snowmobile from the Amundsen, which was supposed to be moored nearby, safely sheltered in the fixed ice behind an ice bridge.

The bridge normally forms every winter across 120 kilometres of the Amundsen Gulf, as drifting ice becomes trapped in a chokepoint between Nelson Head, at the southern tip of Banks Island, and Cape Perry, the nearest point on the Northwest Territories mainland.

But the bridge hasn't formed this year because ice floes are passing freely through the chokepoint into the Beaufort Sea, which is relatively unclogged because of the shrinkage in the ice pack. Scientists estimate that an unprecedented 1.3 million square kilometres of ice disappeared in the summer of 2007 from the permanent Arctic ice pack, the zone that remains ice-covered at the height of summer. - Toronto Star

Friday, March 21, 2008

LNG Engines

I clipped this material from a financial newsletter. The company that he is touting is surely Westport Innovations Inc. The bottom line is that these folks are able to modify an engine design now in service into a LNG fueled system. Reading the material quickly shows both the compelling benefits of the system and the fact that the promoters have been able to cause specifications only they can meet to be written into law in California.

The conversion will therefore be very swift. We will be saying goodbye to the diesel engine in transportation over the next decade, just as we once saw off the old gasoline one cylinder engine known as the one banger. I saw the last of those on a riverboat in Borneo that was straight out of the African Queen. On that occasion, we three white guys, six foot tall of course, were walking clichés. I fondly recalled been cast as Teddy Kennedy, while my associates were cast as Douglas MacArthur and Spiro Agnew. It was rather funny to witness first hand the power of television.

I chopped extraneous parts of the article out, but it is from Energy and Capital if you wish to read the whole article or even subscribe.

This likely heralds a rethinking of the LNG industry. A lot will need to be imported and it may become desirous to devote effort to sustaining its supply by not wasting it, when alternate systems are available.

The truth is that natural gas is our most efficient and cleanest single fuel. It has spoiled us and no one wants to go back to whatever we used before. When it becomes part of the transportation industry, we will be spoiled some more. It is so good that we need to husband our resource jealousy so that it may be available for centuries.

Dear reader,

Jeff Siegel and I recently traveled 2,564 miles to investigate an opportunity that Jeff calls "Clean-Air Cash-Outs."

"Clean-Air Cash-Outs" are moneymaking opportunities that arise when state governments pass laws forcing energy companies to implement clean air technologies like wind or solar. When a law is about to be passed or is recently enacted, Jeff heads to that state, and talks to business leaders and private investors to find out who stands to make a lot of money.

In our most recent visit, Jeff discovered that the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles are implementing a $1.6 billion "Clean-Air Cash Out." One small company - whose stock trades for less than $3 and is backed by a billionaire — stands to make a fortune for early investors.

It's all part of a little-known but lucrative trend I'm calling "California's Clean-Air Cash-Outs."

In short, "Clean-Air Cash-Outs" become available to you as America's largest industries are forced to install certain technologies to meet our growing clean-air laws.

But unlike adopting any "green" technology, giant corporations are using Clean-Air Cash-Outs to save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in operating costs.

  • Wal-Mart, for example, is looking into the latest Cash-Out because they could save over $236 million every year!

  • The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles already committed to this latest Cash-Out and will soon be saving more than $335 million a year.

It's this rare win-win situation that has companies flocking to the Cash-Outs. And it's rapidly making a small group of Americans filthy rich.

And it's easy to see why...

Best part is...because of how these Cash-Outs are designed, you don't need a lot of money to start with. You don't even need to live in or near the state of California either. All you need to know is how to get started.

And as you'll see, they're hardly few and far between. In fact...

California's Clean-Air Cash-Outs Are Paying Investors All of the Time...All Across the Country

Imagine for a moment that, while scores of corporations and energy companies are searching to meet these restrictions and improve their image, you are one of the few investors in the nation who know exactly where they're starting to turn.

You could collect an absolute killing in market gains!

That's because shares of these Cash-Outs are so small, just one major corportaion or energy company placing an order could launch their price 20%, 30%...even 300% in a very short time as orders for their specific technology are fulfilled.

And since we uncovered the hidden pattern of California's Clean-Air Cash-Outs, that's exactly what we've been showing investors like you to make. For example...

This past December, we uncovered a tiny outfit that's perfecting electricity generated through ocean waves. Just days after their prototype went in the water, shareholders collected a Cash-Out of 126%.

It was generated from a law that requires the two largest shipping ports in the United States, the Port of Long Beach (POLB) and the Port of Los Angeles (POLA), to drastically reduce pollution.

Within the next three years, these two ports must:

  • Achieve a 47% decrease in diesel particulate matter (PM) emissions from port-related activity (shipping AND trucking).
  • Cut smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 45%.
  • Achieve a 52% reduction of sulfur oxides (Sox).

These cuts seem outrageous for even an Amish village. Yet somehow, this drastic reduction is required to take place at the fifth-busiest seaport in the entire world!


This is an area where more than 16,800 Class-8 tractor trailers are the only machines strong enough to transport the heavy containers to their destination. And they transport a lot of them.

In fact, when combined, these two ports move over $260 billion worth of traded goods a year - with an expected $1.3 trillion worth by 2025.

That's a 400% increase in business in the near-future...and this approved new law expects to cut emissions at today's level by almost 50%!

At first, it didn't make any sense... Especially when you consider that almost all of the vehicles in and working for the ports run on filthy diesel engines.

In fact, these goals were so extreme that without a detailed course of action already mapped out, it wouldn't last a second on the voting floor.

Of course, when this opportunity first crossed our table a year ago in Baltimore, we knew, with cuts this bold, ethanol and bio-diesel wouldn't come close. These guys had to have something revolutionary up their sleeve for these new requirements to have passed.

We also knew that whatever they found, considering the enormous size of the project, was guaranteed to create what could be the largest Clean-Air Cash-Out yet...

And with even more goods expected to travel through the ports over the coming years, the situation seemed helpless.

That is until this latest Clean-Air Cash-Out stepped forward with a revolutionary invention.

They knew the situation. And unlike other companies working with alternatives to oil, this company attacked the issue from the source - the engine.

After years of research, testing and trial and error, they designed what could be the most advanced, efficient engine on the planet - powered by Liquid Natural Gas (LNG).

It's so revolutionary that it was recently awarded with the 2007 Industry Innovation Award for alternative fuel trucks!


While their engine and fuel source is no "renewable" energy, the much cheaper fuel and cleaner emissions proved to be the best stop-gap available that could handle the heavy workload, wear and mileage required by the ports and the drivers.

Plus, there's already several LNG fueling stations in the area... over 40 strategically in place throughout the state... with many more planned!

Even better is that this engine could be swapped with existing diesel truck engines, already in service.

The company's demonstration of their new engine worked perfectly.

But as promising as they were, this company's engine was designed to replace current diesel engines. And that meant that they would also have to win the hearts of more than 16,800 truck drivers and union officials before any mass order would ever take place.

This Revolutionary Engine Could Save Truck Drivers and Companies Over $353.8 Million Per Year!

It could have been a deal-breaker.

Even though this engine's emission scores exceeded the strict requirements, the toughest critics and true gate-keepers to letting this law successfully pass are the truck drivers and unions.

If they were ignored in the process and forced to retro-fit their current trucks or order all new ones without their blessing, all goods would cease moving. The streets in the port areas would be filled with picket signs.

Fortunately for the government and the tiny company that created this engine (and our latest Clean-Air Cash-Out), the proposal faced little resistance...especially once they realized how much money the companies would save.

You see, as I write this, diesel fuel in the port areas of California is already $3.49 a gallon and steadily on the rise.

With the skyrocketing costs of fuel set to go even higher in the near future, the truckers were already desperately looking for ways to save on their costs.

For them, even a drop of $0.05 a gallon would save each truck, traveling 80,000 miles per year, over $4,000.

But this engine proved even better. Once retro-fitted to a current semi, the new engine could save over $21,000 a year in fuel costs!

And with more than 16,800 of them servicing the port area, companies and drivers (depending on how the fuel arrangement is met) are looking at a total savings of more than $353.8 million per year!


With that kind of money staying in their pockets and government funding in place for switching over, this plan passed with flying colors. That's why...

A $1.6 Billion Truck Superfund was Awarded to Retro-fit All Port Trucks Made After 2007 with this New Engine and Purchase Brand New Ones for Earlier Models

The news was announced on January 24th of this year.

I'll admit that while I fully expected a multitude of funding for these vehicles, I had no idea that there would be a superfund to pay for an entire fleet!

$1.6 billion - even at a cost of $144k per new truck - almost covers the entire cost for re-outfitting the ports' 16,800 trucks.

Luckily, their design is the only one good enough to win the superfund's approval.