In search of “only” 1414 MW (if non-dispatchable power sources are dispatchable)

Last Thursday, a Flemish newspaper brought the story that “the lights will go out in 2020”. We heard that many times before in the past. This time the statement was made by Andries Gryffroy, who was called the “energy expert” of N-VA (Flemish political party on the center right). He rightfully questioned the “energy plan” of current Flemish Minister of Energy, which is solely based on extra solar and wind energy. Even with those extra windmills and solar panels, we will not be able to produce enough energy to meet our demand in a few years and could face power shortages by 2020. More, several old conventional plants will need to be decommissioned in the next years and the new solar panels and wind mills need backup. He gave the example that in winter only 3% of nameplate power of solar energy is produced, while we use most energy in winter.

Okay, I dig that. Solar and wind provide less energy in the winter when we need most energy. Just adding more intermittent energy sources without backup and additionally decommissioning older conventional power plants, makes a good recipe for energy shortages. Especially in winter at peak demand. Especially with our aging power plants. Our politicians are talking about energy security for years now, but in the end go for extra windmills and solar panels. Probably to meet the EU goals.

Although I agree with what was being said, there were some things that seemed rather odd. For example, it was calculated that in winter we will have a shortage of 1,414 MWh and explained that this is the equivalent of 1.5 Belgian nuclear power plants. Which doesn’t make much sense. 1,414 MWh is the electricity that 1.5 nuclear power plants will produce in one hour. My guess was he was confused between “megawatt” (power) and “megawatt hours” (energy). Or was it the journalist that brought in the confusion?

Also the calculated number was puzzling. At first glance, it seems rather unrealistic. Apparently, we would be able to decommission older gas power plants PLUS arrange backup for a doubling of our capacity of intermittent energy sources, yet only need 1.5 conventional power plant to compensate for all that!?

Luckily, the paper version of the news paper mentioned how the calculation was actually done:

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The introduction that shapes perceptions

Continuing from previous post in which I looked at a “rebuttal” in a Guardian article on an alleged claim made by Roy Spencer in his Guide to Understanding Global Temperature Data. This puzzling rebuttal of the first argument was not the only thing that caught my attention. Another thing was the claim that the Spencer white paper was a classic example of a Gish Gallop.

He claimed that Spencer producing “such a large volume of nonsense arguments that refuting all of them is too time-consuming”. Which is indeed (a variants of) the definition of a Gish Gallop. That seemed a bit funny because my first impression when I read the Guardian article was that the introduction was a quick succession of a bunch nonsense factoids, not related to the argument.

Let’s first see how Spencer was introduced:

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Small amounts of very active substances can have large effects, but this doesn’t prove that carbon dioxide is such a substance

Two things came together today. First was A Guide to Understanding Global Temperature Data by Roy Spencer, which I read a week or so ago. Second, I was pointed to an article in the Guardian in which a white paper written by the same Roy Spencer was being rebutted.

Initially, it was not clear which paper was referred to and, although there were also 13 questions involved, the rebutted items didn’t seem to be similar to the guide that I read earlier. So I was a bit confused. Did Spencer wrote another white paper in which he also used that 13-questions format, but with other arguments?

Becoming curious, I went back to the beginning of the article to look for the source, and surprisingly, when I clicked the link of the white paper, the Guide to Understanding Global Temperature Data popped up. Strange. The white paper that the Guardian was rebutting, seems to be the exact same paper that I read a week ago…

The author of the article, Dana Nuccitelli, claimed that the arguments in the guide were an example of a Gish Gallop and therefor too time-consuming to rebut. Therefor he pointed to the Climate Myth database that was compiled by Skeptical Science and in stead of rebutting the arguments in the white paper, he just linked to entries in that database.

So far, so good. Let’s start with how the first argument was rebutted:

1) ‘Carbon dioxide is a trace gas’ is rebutted as Myth #127.

That was odd. I didn’t recognize this being one of the arguments that Spencer used in his guide, yet here the answer on question 1 seems to be reduced to “Carbon dioxide is a trace gas” and was rebutted as such. Meaning as if was being said that CO2 couldn’t have important effects because it is a trace gas in the atmosphere.

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Googling “climate change” and “faster than expected” does not prove anything

If you want to get heard, just exaggerate (emphasis by the author):

“Humanity is NOW, TODAY in an abrupt climate change EMERGENCY. This is what science tells us. When the public, policy makers and politicians around the planet recognize this reality, the mood will flip from indifference and ignorance to utter TERROR. Just watch.

By now I have seen quite a lot Beckwith videos, so I recognized this type of hyperbole as his usual behavior. I don’t doubt that he is a nice guy, that he means well, that he has the best intentions and that he believes what he says. But when you read his posts or sees his videos, hyperbole is not far away.

This statement came from the second argument of the response to the Washington Post article (see previous post), but that is not what the post will be about. It is what follows that blew me away:

You disagree? Google “climate change” and “faster than expected”, “unprecedented”, etc. and you get gazillions of science articles. Google “climate change” and “slower than expected”, etc. and you get squat.”

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“Unprecedented”, “Unprecendented?” or just reasoning after the facts?

Besides argument 4, that was the subject of last post, there were 10 others. I am not going through the whole list, this is probably (one of) the last in this series. Argument 1 is also equally puzzling. Although I have no problem with the arguments as such, these are worthless in “tearing down” the Washington Post article.

I first wanted to write this as an update to a previous post, but it became much longer than I anticipated and I elevated it to this post.

Here it is (emphasis by the author):

1. The use of the word “Unprecedented.” versus “Unprecedented?”. In my original website post on Wednesday June 29th at 1:46 am EST, and in my YouTube video I used the title “Unprecedented, Jet Stream Crosses the Equator”. I quickly realized that one should really “Never say never” and “Never say always”. Thus, I corrected this erroneous title on my website post later that same day, on Wednesday June 29th at 1:36 pm; and also shortly after that on my YouTube video to “Jet Stream Crosses the Equator, Unprecedented?”. When the Washington Post article came out the next day at 12:43 pm on Thursday June 30th, almost a full day after my title correction, it unfortunately remarked on my original title, and not on my corrected title. I intended to be asking a question, namely, was the movement of the jet stream perpendicular to the equator a new behavior? I was not intending on claiming that it was new, but was asking the question since it seemed to me to be very unusual. Equatorial monsoon winds crossing the equator at relatively low wind speeds are known to occur, but they usually involve wind directions only a few degrees from the equator axis, and not at a 90 degree angle (perpendicular). The behavior that I described in the video seemed very different to me, than that of monsoonal winds.

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Pot to kettle: you completely ignored the distinction between perpendicular and monsoonal flow…

One of the two shallow equatorial flows that were presented as new behavior, even more shallow than the image in the Washington Post article

One of the two shallow equatorial flows that were presented as new behavior, even more shallow than the image in the Washington Post article

A couple days ago, Beckwith published a letter that he wrote to Jason Samenow, in which he want to defend his reputation and credibility by having his arguments published in the Washington Post.

There were eleven arguments in total, from which I recognized some that I discussed in previous posts. Like the argument that there was a question mark behind “unprecedented”.

I was however perplexed when I read argument 4 (my emphasis)

4. The image chosen for the article shows some weak cross-equatorial flow, and does not even show the image that I used in the video showing flow normal to the equator, connecting the two hemisphere jet streams. This image in the article is thus very misleading, and poorly chosen for the article. Figure 1 shows an image of the jet streams crossing the equator from my original viral video. On the left we see flow crossing perpendicular to the equator, while on the right we see flow crossing the equator at a shallow angle, more indicative of monsoonal flow. This distinction was completely ignored in the Washington Post article.

Figure 1: Image of jet streams crossing equator in my original viral video. Data is from June 28, 2016 at 20:00 Local time. The Washington Post article did not post this, but posted an image of a basic monsoonal flow.

I was perplexed by this because as far as I could see in the “unprecedented jet stream crosses equator”-video, he himself make no distinction whatsoever between flows that crossed the equator perpendicular or flows that crossed at a shallow angle. I also didn’t hear him tell anything about “monsoonal flows” either. He lumped all the equatorial crossing together as new behavior, indicating that “climate system mayhem is ongoing”.

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Cross-equatorial jet streams: what is “normal” behavior?

After the two videos about the “tearing apart” of the Washington Post article, Beckwith seemed to have found more unusual jet stream behavior and made another video: More Mangled Jet Stream Behaviour.

He first lectured that in theory there are four distinct jet streams, two in each hemisphere, but then he claimed that in practice this is not the case (anymore). That is all nice and well, but a first question would be: do those jet streams behave as theory in the first place? These are all working in a complex, coupled and chaotic system that is our climate system, so I would espect that they wouldn’t necessarily follow the ideal path.

A second question would be whether these jet streams behaved as in the theory in the past? If yes, since when did this behavior changed?

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