Jo Nova: Hottest ever day in Australia — especially if you ignore history

From Joanne Nova:

Tuesday was Australia’s hottest day on record sayth the Bureau of Meteorology.

And perhaps it was. But look at the temperatures reported in newspapers across the country during the month of January in 1896 when people were going mad with axes, dropping dead in coaches and railway stations and birds were falling lifeless from the trees? Emergency trains were ferrying people from the country to the mountains. Panic stricken people fled the outback on special trains and the death toll was  hundreds die.

Fifty years later scientists would publish papers talking about how Australian summers had cooled since then.

How does the BOM know for sure that it was not hotter on any one of these days?  Perhaps they don’t. Wouldn’t it be more honest of the BOM to mention that? It’s not like billions of dollars depends upon it…

Seems the only time the ABC or BOM suddenly discover our historic weather records is when we get unseasonal snow or freezing cold.

The heatwave started in the West on Jan 1st and travelled eastwards, as most heatwaves do. The hottest day was possibly Jan 23 or 24 in 1896 which is when most of the Eastern States maximum temperatures shown above were recorded. And there are hints that this was both widespread and long — some of these towns recorded three long weeks of ultra high temperatures close to and over 110F (43.3C) like Nannine in WA (near Meekatharra) and Cunnamulla in Qld. Both reported peaks as high as 120F (48.8C). In Bourke temperatures were above 102F (38.9C) for 24 days in a row.

The BOM will say things were not entirely standardized or approved back then. But why would they care? Many of the BOM’s current sites fail their own standards:  thermometers may sit for 30 years over bitumen, or right next to incinerators. They plough around sites, move them, build walls next to them and forget, even next to their own offices. The BOM accept one-second records from new electronic gizmo’s in small screens, and adjust old temperatures down by as much as two whole degrees. Sometimes modern BOM sites need mysterious calendar monthly corrections, or get corrected by thermometers across the Bass Strait, and sometimes they are incredibly detailed but repeat robotically year after year. Remember those temperature maps of our deserts in WWI? There are sites where there are no thermometers which record exactly the same temperatures as they did the year before (and the year after). Just “made up”? The hottest day ever recorded was probably calculated with maps like that.

Read the full story here

Another Environmental Fuss Over Nothing

They keep saying “Plastic is forever” and wanting to ban plastic bags and straws to save the planet. It turns out that plastic does degrade realtively rapidly in the environment, under the influence of sunlight and microbes.

This article talks about plastic in the ocean, and we still need o be responsible in disposing of rubbish. There is no denying that animals near coastlines can be badly damaged by plastic, but outside of that particluar niche, not so much.

From wattsupwiththat.com

Plastics: Science is Winning

Kip Hansen / 2 hours ago October 18, 2019

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen — 18 October 2019

Science is beginning to win in the long battle over misinformed anti-plastic advocacy.  It has been a long time coming.  The most recent paper on the subject of pelagic plastic (plastic floating in the oceans) is from a scientific team at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Mass., and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The study is “Sunlight Converts Polystyrene to Carbon Dioxide and Dissolved Organic Carbon” by Collin P. Ward, Cassia J. Armstrong, Anna N. Walsh, Julia H. Jackson and Christopher M. Reddy.   It is good basic science.

styrene_cups

We are all familiar with polystyrene — it is prevalent in modern packaging, both as a solid,  such as yoghurt cups, or in expanded form used for disposable foam drink cups.  Much of the plastic flotsam found on the worlds beaches and floating  in rivers is this ubiquitous plastic, particularly the expanded foam.

The new abstract of the new study starts with this:

“ABSTRACT:   Numerous international governmental agencies that steer policy assume that polystyrene persists in the environment for millennia.  Here, we show that polystyrene is completely photochemically oxidized to carbon dioxide and partially photochemically oxidized to dissolved organic carbon. Lifetimes of complete and partial photochemical oxidation are estimated to occur on centennial and decadal time scales, respectively. These lifetimes are orders of magnitude faster than biological respiration of polystyrene and thus challenge the prevailing assumption that polystyrene persists in the environment for millennia.”   [ bolding mine — kh ]

It is about time that someone scientifically challenged the activist position held and promulgated by many environmental, anti-plastics and anti-corporate groups that “Plastic is Forever”.

Plastic is not forever.  Glass, both natural and man-made,  is forever, but not plastic.

Read the rest of the article here

Solar Roads Epic Fail

Remember the hype a few years ago about “solar roads”? These were roads with embedded solar panels that would generate enough power to save the planet. It seems that, as any engineer can tell you, the real world is a much tougher place than a lab. Things get dirty and wear out so that you $6 million dollars investment in 1 km of road in a cloudy part of France might not be terribly effective.

From Jo Nova

Solar road is $6m epic disaster — 4% capacity, broken and so noisy speed-limits were cut

Solar Road, Normandy, France, photo.

Solar Road, Normandy, France   |  Credit: KumKum

Would you like to drive slower, add to noise pollution and waste money? Then solar roads are for you:

The world’s first solar road has turned out to be a colossal failure…

Ruqayyah Moynihan and Lidia Montes, Business Insider

  • Two years after the world’s first solar road — the Normandy road in France — was set up, it’s turned out to be a colossal failure, according to a report by Le Monde.
  • The road has deteriorated to a terrible state, it isn’t producing anywhere near the amount of energy it had previously pledged to, and the traffic it has brought with it is causing noise problems.

The original aim was to produce 790 kWh each day, a quantity that could illuminate a population of between 3,000 and 5,000 inhabitants. But the rate produced stands at only about 50% of the original predicted estimates.

Even rotting leaves and thunderstorms appear to pose a risk in terms of damage to the surface of the road. What’s more, the road is very noisy, which is why the traffic limit had to be lowered to 70 kmh.

Despite costing up to roughly $6.1 million, the solar road became operational in 2016.

The 1km road is in Tourouvre-au-Perch, Normandy, France made by Colas.

Leaves fall on the road, then cars grind the leaves on the beautiful polymer surface. The road isn’t angled towards the sun, gets brutally hot, and both reduce efficiency. If the top polymer layer was thicker and tougher, less solar energy would get through. Planting trees beside the road would cool it, but the shade…

Who likes trees anyhow? Not the Greens.

 Getting 50% worse than expected every year:

Anna Versai, Technowize, Aug 19th, 2019

The stretch of the road in Tourouvre-au-Perch, Normandy, France was meant to produce about 150,000 kWh a year, which is enough to provide light to up to 5,000 people, every day. Instead, it made less than 80,000 in 2018, and fewer than 40,000 by July 2019.

Meant to power lights for a city of 5000 people:

Translating the Le Monde article, for €5 million in public funds they now generate € 1,450 worth of electricity per year and falling.

Financed by public funds of € 5 million and supported by Colas (Bouygues Group), the subsidiary Wattway aimed to provide the equivalent of the annual consumption of public lighting in a city. of 5,000 inhabitants.

The general director of services of the departmental council of the Orne made his accounts: “The revenue from the sale of electricity produced by the road should bring us 10 500 euros per year, details Gilles Morvan. In 2017, we received 4,550 euros. In 2018, 3,100 euros, and for the first quarter of 2019, we are at 1,450 euros. “

Not much sun there to start with? From Science Alert:

There proved to be several problems with this goal. The first was that Normandy is not historically known as a sunny area. At the time, the region’s capital city of Caen only got 44 days of strong sunshine a year, and not much has changed since. Storms have wrecked havoc with the systems, blowing circuits. But even if the weather was in order, it appears the panels weren’t built to capture them efficiently.

There’s 40 smaller roads like this?

For its part, Colas has admitted the project is a bust. “Our system is not mature for inter-urban traffic,” Etienne Gaudin, Colas’ chief executive of Wattway, told Le Monde. The company also operates 40 similar solar roads, smaller than the one in Normandy.

A solar bike path in the Netherlands works better:

In the Netherlands, a solar bike path has been declared a success. Dubbed the SolaRoad, the bike path is exactly what its name suggests. The electricity generated by SolaRoad is used for various purposes such as traffic management systems, public lighting, households, and electric mobility.

At the beginning of the trial, an energy yield of between 50 and 70 kWh/m2/year was expected. SolaRoad exceeded expectations by yielding 73  kWh/m2/year (first version, built in 2014) and 93 kWh/m2/year (second, improved version, built in 2016).

There were hiccups despite its impressive results. Due to poor weather conditions, a top layer of the solar bike path came off, and a major path had to be shut down.

The French solar road has a capacity factor of 4%

And this was a year ago. Probably that capacity factor is now 2%.

Dylan Ryan, The Conversion, Sept 2018

One of the first solar roads to be installed is in Tourouvre-au-Perche, France. This has a maximum power output of 420 kW, covers 2,800 m² and cost €5m to install. This implies a cost of €11,905 (£10,624) per installed kW.

While the road is supposed to generate 800 kilowatt hours per day (kWh/day), some recently released data indicates a yield closer to 409 kWh/day, or 150,000 kWh/yr. For an idea of how much this is, the average UK home uses around 10 kWh/day. The road’s capacity factor – which measures the efficiency of the technology by dividing its average power output by its potential maximum power output – is just 4%.

In contrast, the Cestas solar plant near Bordeaux, which features rows of solar panels carefully angled towards the sun, has a maximum power output of 300,000 kW and a capacity factor of 14%. And at a cost of €360m (£321m), or €1,200 (£1,070) per installed kW, one-tenth the cost of our solar roadway, it generates three times more power.

Dylan Ryan is a lecturer in Mechanical & Energy Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University.

In Idaho a solar road had an 83% failure rate:

Andrew Follet, Daily Caller, October 2016

Despite massive internet hype, the prototype of the solar “road” can’t be driven on, hasn’t generate any electricity and 75 percent of the panels were broken before they were even installed. Of the panels installed to make a “solar footpath,” 18 of the 30 were dead on arrival due to a manufacturing failure. A short rain shower caused another four panels to fail, and only five panels appear to be presently functional. The prototype appears to be plagued by drainage issues, poor manufacturing controls and fundamental design flaws.

Can’t power a whole microwave oven, April 2017

The Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways project generated an average of 0.62 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per day since it began publicly posting power data in late March. To put that in perspective, the average microwave or blow drier consumes about 1 kWh per day.

Modern Wheat More Robust Than Older Varieties

From wattsupwiththat.com:

Wheat myth debunked

The pervasive myth that intensive breeding has made modern wheat cultivars weaker and more dependent on pesticides and fertilisers is debunked by a major new study

University of Queensland

This is Kai Voss-Fels at the wheat trial site. Credit: Kai Voss-Fels

This is Kai Voss-Fels at the wheat trial site. Credit: Kai Voss-Fels

The myth that modern wheat varieties are more heavily reliant on pesticides and fertilisers is debunked by new research published in Nature Plants today.

Lead author on the paper, Dr Kai Voss-Fels, a research fellow at The University of Queensland, said modern wheat cropping varieties actually out-perform older varieties in both optimum and harsh growing conditions.

“There is a view that intensive selection and breeding which has produced the high-yielding wheat cultivars used in modern cropping systems has also made modern wheat less resilient and more dependent on chemicals to thrive,” said Dr Voss-Fels.

“However, the data unequivocally shows that modern wheat varieties out-perform older varieties, even under conditions of reduced amounts of fertilisers, fungicides and water,” he said.

“We also found that genetic diversity within the often-criticised modern wheat gene pool is rich enough to generate a further 23 per cent increase in yields.”

Dr Voss-Fels said the findings might surprise some farmers and environmentalists.

“Quite a few people will be taken aback by just how tough modern wheat varieties proved to be, even in harsh growing conditions, such as drought, and using less chemical inputs.”

Dr Voss-Fels said the findings could have potentially important implications for raising the productivity of organic cropping systems. “It’s been widely assumed that the older wheat cultivars are more robust and resilient but it’s actually the modern cultivars that perform best in optimum and sub-optimum conditions.”

Wheat is the world’s most important food crop.

However, with global wheat yields reduced due to droughts in recent years and more climate risk anticipated in the future, the hardiness of modern wheat varieties is an issue of global significance.

The study is believed to provide the most detailed description of the consequences of intensive breeding and genetic selection for high grain yield and associated traits in European wheat over the past 50 years.

It was led by Professor Rod Snowdon of the Justus-Liebig-University Gießen (JLU), who is also an honorary Professor at UQ, in collaboration with seven other German universities.

The genetic analysis was undertaken at QAAFI under the leadership of Professor Ben Hayes.

The first part of the study involved testing 200 wheat varieties that have been essential to agriculture in Western Europe in the past 50 years.

Performance was compared between those varieties in side-by-side field trials under high, medium and low chemical input conditions. The second part of the study was undertaken at QAAFI, to match the performance differences with the different varieties’ genetic make-up.

“This genetic information allows us to take the discovery to the next level,” Dr Voss-Fels says.

“We can use artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to predict the optimal crosses needed to bring together the most favourable segments as fast as possible.”

###

The paper ‘Breeding improves wheat productivity under contrasting agrochemical input levels’ was published in Nature Plants 17 June 2019 (DOI: 10.1038/s41477-019-0445-5).

 

The Great Extinction Myth Exploded

A few weeks ago when the UN report about biodiversity was released, the media unquestioningly reported that millions of species were going extinct and humans are the problem.

My initial, cynical reaction was, “Gee they have discovered that nobody is listening to the climate change scare any more so they’ve found a new scare.”

It also runs counter to what we are seeing around the world. Every year more and more land is converted to national parks, and for some years now the amount of land being reforested exceeds the area being cleared. Agriculture is becoming more efficient, food is more plentiful, people are moving to cities. Even with a still increasing global population we will have plenty of potential food for decades to come.

In fact, the only bleak spots are those caused by the demands of environmentalists. For example the EU has mandated a certain amount of so-called bio-diesel to be used in vehicles, leading to massive clearing of forests in Indonesia and Malaysia to plant palm trees. The other folly is the requirement to use ethanol in petrol in many developed countries. The main source of this is from corn in North America, leading to an increase in the price of corn, a staple food for millions of poor people, of between 5% and 10%

Anyway the extinction report claims that millions of species are going extinct in our time. Here is the only graph in the Summary for Policy Makers

Scary graph, until you look at the labels on the axes. “Cumulative % of species driven extinct.” It is not clear exactly what that means, but it does seem to be adding all the previous values as you go. That curve can never go down. It’s a bit like the old “hockey stick” of Al Gore fame.

Here is the actual number of extinctions per decade recorded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

So, it’s not quite zero, but we are heading in the right direction- the opposite direction to the one the UN would have us believe.

Oh look that decline is happening right through the period of time when so-called human caused global warming is happening.

These graphs are from a much more detailed article by Gregory Wrightson which I encourage you to read.

The so-called “Mass Extinction” is, sadly, another example of science being politicised and twisted to cause alarm.

Volcano produced in 6 months

Some people ridicule creationists for believing in a “Young Earth”, but when geology happens in front of your eyes, then there is a deep flaw in the “deep time” theory.

From wattsupwiththat.com

Birth of an underwater volcano: “This thing was built from zero in 6 months!”… Which is a lot less than 12 years

David Middleton / 1 hour ago May 22, 2019

Guest geological observation by David Middleton

From the American Association for the Advancement of SCIENCE! of America…

Ship spies largest underwater eruption ever
By Roland PeaseMay. 21, 2019 , 1:20 PM


Last week, Marc Chaussidon, director of the Institute of Geophysics in Paris (IPGP), looked at seafloor maps from a recently concluded mission and saw a new mountain. Rising from the Indian Ocean floor between Africa and Madagascar was a giant edifice 800 meters high and 5 kilometers across. In previous maps, there had been nothing. “This thing was built from zero in 6 months!” Chaussidon says.

His team, along with scientists from the French national research agency CNRS and other institutes, had witnessed the birth of a mysterious submarine volcano, the largest such underwater event ever witnessed. “We have never seen anything like this,” says IPGP’s Nathalie Feuillet, leader of an expedition to the site by the research vessel Marion Dufresne, which released its initial results last week.

The quarter-million people living on the French island of Mayotte in the Comoros archipelago knew for months that something was happening. From the middle of last year they felt small earthquakes almost daily, says Laure Fallou, a sociologist with the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre in Bruyères-le-Châtel, France. People “needed information,” she says. “They were getting very stressed, and were losing sleep.”

[…]

Science! As in “She blinded me with…”