Published in Pacifica Tribune August 12, 2020
The Oceans Won’t Suffocate!
There is a saying in the journalistic community: ‘Bad news is good news! Good news is no news!” Bad news sells papers. It’s internet click-bait. So, we’re bombarded with a disproportionate amount of fearful news. Unfortunately, scientific journals also succumb to the same profit incentives. Indeed, pictures of thousands of suffocated fish floating belly-up is very disturbing. However, media outlets amplified our fears with headlines like “A Horrifying New Study Found that the Ocean is on its Way to Suffocating by 2030”. Only slightly less sensational, the Smithsonian promoted one of their researchers articles as “Why Our Oceans Are Starting to Suffocate”, while the NY Times suggests “World’s Oceans Are Losing Oxygen Rapidly”.
Changing oxygen concentrations is determined by the balance between oxygen addition versus consumption. Oxygen is only added at the surface, via diffusion from the atmosphere or via photosynthesis. The chemical wizardry of photosynthesis uses sunlight to break apart water molecules and generate new oxygen while creating organic matter. Although this organic matter forms the base of the ocean food web, its digestion and decay consumes oxygen. Paradoxically, wherever the surface ocean food web is most bountiful, the waters below lose the most oxygen.
To analyze natural- versus human-caused losses of oxygen, we must consider how the supply of nutrients for photosynthesis differs between the open ocean and coastal oceans. In the open ocean digestion and decay of sinking organic matter consumes oxygen and releases nutrients to be recycled. Those nutrients must then be upwelled from dark subsurface waters back into sunlit waters.
In contrast, the supply of nutrients to coastal waters is greatly affected by river discharge. In the early 20th century, chemists learned to convert atmospheric nitrogen into biologically useful nitrogen fertilizer. Starting around 1950, agriculture doubled, then tripled their use of synthesized fertilizer. While greatly benefitting human food supplies, increased fertilizer use coincided with decreasing coastal oxygen.
Coastal populations and sewage also increased. Sewage and fertilizer run-off combined to stimulate coastal algal blooms that produced excessive organic matter which sank to shallow (< 100 meters) ocean floors, where its decay consumed bottom water oxygen. Along the Texas-Louisiana coast, the term “dead zone” was first used by shrimp fishermen to describe the resulting seasonal disappearance of shrimp and other invertebrates from the ocean floor.
In contrast, the open ocean contains natural, permanent “oxygen minimum zones” (OMZ) at depths between about 200 and 800 meters. OMZs are maintained by the constant supply of sinking organic matter but OMZ size fluctuates. While some researchers blame global warming for any OMZ expansion, the evidence points to natural climate change that affects upwelling and ocean circulation.
For example, in the eastern Pacific natural El Nino events reduce photosynthesis which decreases the supply of organic matter. Less decay causes OMZ’s oxygen to increase. Conversely during a La Nina, enhanced upwelling stimulates photosynthesis and organic matter production. Increased decay then expands the area of depleted oxygen. Similarly, during the Little Ice Age, upwelling and photosynthesis off the coast of Peru was reduced and oxygen increased. Since the mid 1800s, upwelling has increased and Peru boasts one of the world’s largest fisheries. However, the increase in decaying organic matter has steadily consumed oxygen, and Peru’s expanding OMZ is also the world’s largest.
Open ocean OMZs are ancient, allowing a highly diverse ecosystem to evolve and adapt to the low oxygen environment. A great diversity of jellyfish, squid, krill, sea snails, and other invertebrates inhabit the OMZs. Sperm whales (i.e. Moby Dick) evolved to hunt abundant squid at those depths. Researchers estimate that 95% of the global ocean fish mass inhabits OMZ depths. Most of these abundant organisms migrate nightly to feed in surface waters, then during the day migrate back to depths where they digest their food, further reducing the oxygen.
Finally, the claim that global warming is causing OMZ’s to expand and oceans to suffocate is largely based on simplistic physics that less oxygen will dissolve from the atmosphere into warmer waters. Although that is true, the scientific consensus still finds most of the oceans’ surface is supersaturated with oxygen. That’s because warmer waters also stimulate photosynthesis and produce more oxygen. Some researchers found photosynthesis could contribute 2.4 times more new oxygen than is absorbed from the atmosphere. Accordingly, scientists estimate 50% – 80% of the earth’s oxygen is produced by ocean plankton. Based on natural ocean dynamics and its historical changes, we can breathe easy. Global warming is not suffocating our oceans!
Jim Steele is director emeritus of the Sierra Nevada Field Campus, SFSU and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism.
via Watts Up With That?
August 12, 2020 at 12:31PM
Kamala Harris is running to be the next US President. In case anyone hasn’t heard, rumors are that Joe Biden health is iffy and he is the temporary filler to get over the line, and if so, the VP then becomes The P. It’s not just a fringe idea. In a Rasmussen poll, 59% of voters say “it’s likely.”
So, the pocket guide to Kamala Harris for skeptics is that according to Progressive Punch, she’s further left than Bernie Sanders which is quite the feat. Appropriately she has a $10 Trillion dollar plan to get better weather, and “aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045″ — which would be five years quicker than the famous Green New Deal.
How extreme is Kamala Harris? Pretty extreme says Kyle Smith, National Review
There are various measures for these things, but according to Progressive Punch (“Leading with the Left”), Kamala Harris is the fourth farthest-left of any senator with a score of 96.76 percent out of 100 on “crucial votes,” despite moderating very slightly in the period when she was running for president. Elizabeth Warren is fifth, Kirsten Gillibrand is sixth, and Bernie Sanders is tenth. Here is […]Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
August 12, 2020 at 12:09PM
The month of August continues to surprise mainly for those who like very cold, as it registered frosts in negative temperatures every day of this month.
In South Brazil High Mountains (Serra Catarinense) registers historical cold (record cold) with three consecutive days at the -8º mark.
In Bom Jardim da Serra the Keizer stations network scored -8.8°C.
In fact Serra Catarinense has been registering negative temperatures since June 29th consecutively.
“Intense cold in the coldest cities of the Serra Catarinense like São Joaquim, Bom Jardim, Urupema.”
Thanks to Martin Siebert for this link
via Ice Age Now
August 12, 2020 at 11:40AM
Which brings us back to the old conundrum: do cosmic rays affect the Earth’s weather / climate, and if so, how and how much?
August 11, 2020: Cosmic rays are bad–and they’re probably going to get worse.
That’s the conclusion of a new study entitled “Galactic Cosmic Radiation in Interplanetary Space Through a Modern Secular Minimum” just published in the journal Space Weather.
“During the next solar cycle, we could see cosmic ray dose rates increase by as much as 75%,” says lead author Fatemeh Rahmanifard of the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center. “This will limit the amount of time astronauts can work safely in interplanetary space.”
Cosmic rays are the bane of astronauts. They come from deep space, energetic particles hurled in all directions by supernova explosions and other violent events. No amount of spacecraft shielding can stop the most energetic particles, leaving astronauts exposed whenever they leave the Earth-Moon system.
Back in the 1990s, astronauts could travel through space for as much as 1000 days before they…
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via Tallbloke’s Talkshop
August 12, 2020 at 11:15AM
In response to my post “Germans Awaken – Half-A-Million March Against Covid-19 Lockdown, Masks, Distancing
“Here’s the German demonstration,” says Penelope. “Quite uplifting actually.
“Can’t imagine why youtube hasn’t killed it yet,” says Penelope
via Ice Age Now
August 12, 2020 at 10:22AM
vor 3 Std.
By Paul Homewood
Back in 2017, there was great excitement among environmentalists and the media, when it was announced that two offshore windfarms had bid remarkably low prices into the government’s Contracts for Difference auction, offering to supply electricity to the grid for around half the price that had been seen in earlier auctions.
How had this remarkable change in the economics of offshore wind power been achieved? Nobody really knew for sure, although eco-minded correspondents in the mainstream media were insistent that the change was real.
In a paper published shortly afterwards, Gordon Hughes et al. pointed out that there was little evidence that costs of offshore windfarms were falling at all. Indeed, they were generally rising, as developers moved into deeper waters in search of more reliable wind speeds. Even discounting factors like this, like-for-like costs seemed to be only falling slightly. There was absolutely no sign of revolutionary change. Defenders of the green orthodoxy argued that the Hughes analysis was backwards looking, and couldn’t take into account technological advances (although they never said clearly what these were).
In contrast, Hughes’ theory, outlined in a later paper, is that the low CfD bids are in essence a gamble on future electricity prices. He thinks that the developers are hoping that electricity prices will be so high by the time the windfarms come on stream in 2022 that they will be able to walk away from their CfDs and take the market price instead. There would be only small contactual penalties for doing so. Hughes et al. have continued to argue that the cost of offshore wind power remains very high to this day.
Recently, some more hard evidence appeared showing that Hughes is correct. One of the low-bidding windfarms published its latest financial accounts, and these allow us to get a feel for whether the cost reductions are real. Moray East is a 100-turbine, 950MW behemoth that is currently under development off the Scottish coast. The developers have said that it will cost £2.6 billion to build, although this figure comes with caveats. It almost certainly doesn’t include the offshore transmission assets that the company has to build and the sell back to the grid. Moreover, announced costs for windfarms are invariably understated. Hughes thinks that the ultimate cost will be somewhere around £3.8 billion. If the windfarm is to make a profit at around £60/MWh, its costs need to be less than half that level (on an optimistic assumption about how much electricity it will generate) and more realistically a third of it.
Full story here.
It is worth reflecting on historical electricity price trends and projections.
When Moray was being planned, wholesale power prices were typically between £40 and £50/MWh.
The BEIS do not publish projections of power prices (as far as I am aware). But their projections for gas prices give us a clue:
With real prices rising from 44p per therm in 2017 to 67p by 2030, this would inevitably push up power prices in real terms. (Remember as well that CfD prices are index linked each year).
BEIS estimates of levelised costs, published in 2016, suggest that fuel costs account for about half of the total cost of CCGT generation. Therefore a 50% rise in gas prices could potentially add around £15/MWh.
But that is not the end of it, as carbon taxes need to be added. According to BEIS, this could double by 2030, adding £29/MWh to a CCGT plant commissioned in 2025, based on lifetime costs:
As a result of carbon taxes, CCGT generation costs would rise to £82/MWh, at 2016 prices.
Add on inflation in the next five years, and wholesale power prices could be over £90/MWh. At this price, Moray can easily cancel its CfD, and cover its costs in the market place. Meanwhile, consumers will end up paying the price.
As for those promises of “cheap wind power”………………….
via NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
August 12, 2020 at 09:15AM