Thursday, May 31, 2018

Quoted without comment, from "The Fortunes of Africa"

Page 581:

With relentless propaganda, the Nationalists played on the electorate's racial anxieties at every opportunity. They paid particular attention to working-class Afrikaners facing competition from cheap black labour. By 1948 about half of the white Afrikaans-speaking population lived in urban areas. A large proportion were miners, railwaymen, transport, factory and steel workers for whom the Nationalist slogan of apartheid, promising protection of white jobs, had a potent appeal....

The National Party won the 1948 election by a narrow margin. In his victory speech, Malan declared: 'Today South Africa belongs to us once more. For the first time since Union, South Africa is ours, and may God grant that it will always remain our own.'

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Kicking the gas engine scooters while they're down

Interesting article on Electrek, with small gas-engine scooter sales in Europe plunging:

New figures report that sales of gas-powered scooters and motorcycles dropped by 6.1% in the first quarter of 2018, as compared to the same period in 2017. The largest decline in sales has been attributed to smaller scooters and mopeds below 50cc.

Sales of scooters and mopeds under 50cc have dropped by 40.2% over the same period. In France, which is the largest moped market in Europe, sales dropped even further by 41.5%.

Electric scooters and motorcycles sales are rising rapidly but only account for about a quarter of the equivalent gas engine sales, so they're only part of the picture. The rest of the picture:

Electric bikes aren't registered so they don't have the same level of recent data, but their range, speed, convenience, and cost are eating into the small scooter market. (Side note: I can speak to this personally, the Ford GoBike program I use now has electric bikes and they make my commute even easier.)

So good news if not exactly the biggest news in the world, but is there a policy implication? Yep - the market is proving that right now that there are great substitutes for small gas engine scooters, so ban the sales of new ones. If that's too dirigiste for some, then ban the gas engines that don't pay for an equivalent amount of lifetime operational carbon emissions, or just require a hefty fee of the ones that don't - it'll have the same effect.

One might argue the effect, regardless, is zero because the market is probably going to eliminate these scooters within several years. My response is that probably doesn't mean certainly, and cutting off a long tail of dwindling sales is a good thing. Even more important though is the cultural and political precedent showing that gas engine vehicles are on their way out, and we're going to give them an additional push in that direction.

While these things barely exist in the US, maybe the mostly-dreaming legislative bills here in California to eventually ban gas-engine cars could take a baby step for now by banning these scooters.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Flim Flam Fred Crawls Out of Retirement

Of the two Freds, S. Fred Singer is still with us and selling flim flam.  His latest appears in the May 16 Wall Street Journal.  It's right out of the Encyclopedia of Scams.

Figuring out what the boys from SEPP are selling requires not paying attention to the set-up but watching for where the pea comes out of the shell, so, let's skip down there.

I chose to assess the sea-level trend from 1915-45, when a genuine, independently confirmed warming of approximately 0.5 degree Celsius occurred.  I note particularly that sea-level rise is not affected by the warming; it continues at the same rate, 1.8 millimeters a year, according to a 1990 review by Andrew S. Trupin and John Wahr. I therefore conclude—contrary to the general wisdom—that the temperature of sea water has no direct effect on sea-level rise. That means neither does the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide.
Keep your eye on the cup.  S. Fred does not assess the sea level trend from 1915-45.  He paw waves.  Trupin & Wahr assessed the sea level from 1900 to 1973, twice the period

What the sea surface temperature has been doing since 1910 has been increasing with a blip around 1940.  Not smoothly, but increasing.  Without that blip not 0.5 C btw 1915 and 1945, dates chosen w. care.

OTOH, watch the pea, what is important for steric sea level rise is the heat content of the oceans, not the sea surface temperature.  S. Fred is a sharp oneFor this our best data only goes back to 1960 or so, and it really only is good after 1993 or later.  However, as Eli will show this is enough.

The mass increase component is driven by melt of ice on land which is a function of the temperature at the surface of the ice.  We know that the increases in surface temperature have been strongest in the Arctic, but we can also look directly at the decrease in land ice.  Satellites are useful.  That's been plunging.

So let's put all this together and look at the increase in global mean sea level.

The rise was slower between 1920 and 1990 back in the days when S. Fred was raising big bucks for his retirement fund, but has sped up since.   The Turpin and Wahr study shows an increase consistent with the figure to the left.

Now some, not Eli to be sure would tell you (Tamino will be coming around in a moment) more about analysis of the time series, but it is more interesting to Eli to note that, hey, we now have the tools to measure sea level rise from space, and also to measure mass gain in the oceans as well as land ice mass loss using the GRACE satellites  (well until recently) and the ARGO floats.  This provides a neat way of closing the budget on sea level rise, to separate the steric thermal expansion which S. Fred  pooh poohs from the mass gain components. 

You would think some bunny has done this. You would think right. Purkey, S. G., Johnson, G. C., Chambers, D. P. (2014). Relative contributions of ocean mass and deep steric changes to sea level rise between 1993 and 2013. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 119, 7509-7522 (2014) and Leuliette, E. W. (2015). The balancing of the sea-level budget. Current Climate Change Reports, 1(3), 185-191.  The later has a nice figure showing that the sum of the steric and ocean mass gain match (within reason) the observed increase in global mean sea level.

There are others.  Not perfect, but useful.  At this point, a healthy bunny would wrap his fish in the Wall Street Journal and go on his way, but one more quick point.  Fred goes on:
Melting of glaciers and ice sheets adds water to the ocean and causes sea levels to rise. (Recall though that the melting of floating sea ice adds no water to the oceans, and hence does not affect the sea level.) After the rapid melting away of northern ice sheets, the slow melting of Antarctic ice at the periphery of the continent may be the main cause of current sea-level rise. 
All this, because it is much warmer now than 12,000 years ago, at the end of the most recent glaciation. Yet there is little heat available in the Antarctic to support melting.
Eli would point the uninterested reader to a figure that Jos Hagalaars put together and the Bunny called "the wheelchair".

Eli is a generous beast, OK, S. Fred meant 16000 years ago, and we take his meaning, but the truth is that the Holocene climatic maximum was 12,000 years ago, and the Earth has been slowly cooling from that point (with bumps, especially local ones) until about a century ago when folk started pumping greenhouse gases, esp. CO2 into the atmosphere.

Singer is tying to leave the impression that melting started back in the year dot and been continuous and constant since.  The data and observation show that melting was slowing up until we started using fossil fuels. By ignoring the satellite and float data, he manages to "disappear" the steric component. 
It is generally thought that sea-level rise accelerates mainly by thermal expansion of sea water, the so-called steric component. But by studying a very short time interval, it is possible to sidestep most of the complications, like “isostatic adjustment” of the shoreline (as continents rise after the overlying ice has melted) and “subsidence” of the shoreline (as ground water and minerals are extracted).
Always look for the bent corner move when you play three card Fred.  But then it gets funny
The cause of the trend is a puzzle. Physics demands that water expand as its temperature increases. But to keep the rate of rise constant, as observed,expansion however evidently must be offset by something else. What could that be? I conclude that it must be ice accumulation, through evaporation of ocean water, and subsequent precipitation turning into ice. Evidence suggests that accumulation of ice on the Antarctic continent has been offsetting the steric effect for at least several centuries.
As some players may recall, increasing water vapor feedback, which is Singer's answer to the puzzle, is a base prediction of what most think will happen when CO2 increases in the atmosphere and the sea surface temperature rises.  Thank you Fred.