NZ Green Party
Peak Oil and Climate Change for Armchair Warriors

I have written a lot about the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change facing humanity. So has the IPCC, our own Kiwi climate scientists and a whole host of pundits out there.

Nothing however, is as compelling as live, up to the minute reporting and projections. StormPulse lets you watch as the third hurricane in as many weeks batters the Gulf of Mexico:

hurricaneike.JPG

But wait, there’s more!

Thanks to the data linked in this excellent post at The Oil Drum, you can plot all the threatened oil infrastructure in the Gulf while watching the oil price changes live at Oil-Price.net.

If you’re clever, you’ll end up with something like this, which shows the crucial oil infrastructure in the Gulf and its likely susceptibility to the hurricane(s):

 Now, I don’t want to be accused of claiming that one hurricane confirms that AGW is happening. It doesn’t. It is awfully uncanny, however, that the IPCC said we were likely to see an overall increase in hurricane activity and intensity due to global warming, and that is indeed what we are seeing.

I am more interested in the irony that we can sit here on our computers here in NZ and watch the impacts of climate change impacting on the supply and price of oil, which themselves impact on climate change, and so on and so forth. We can do this on the eve of passing the historic Emissions Trading Legislation, without ever getting out of our armchairs. How quaint.

 

32 thoughts on “Peak Oil and Climate Change for Armchair Warriors

  1. “It is awfully uncanny, however, that the IPCC said we were likely to see an overall increase in hurricane activity and intensity due to global warming, and that is indeed what we are seeing.”

    And if we didn’t see an increase in hurricanes, you’d cease to believe in AGW?

    Perhaps you’d like to name a weather condition for NZ next year that will have “uncanny” significance in relation to AGW?

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  2. I just want to know what weather event/pattern signifies AGW, the absence of which would signify it is not occurring.

    Because you can’t have it both ways, Frog.

    Or perhaps every weather event signals AGW is occurring including the fact it appears to be getting colder.

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  3. Facts? maybe I read bp’s coments too fast..

    I guess finding a rising ocean temperature would be uncanny, or is irrefutable the word im after..

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  4. Again with the straw man BP. Just where is the contradiction in my statements? I stated that no individual weather event could be construed as evidence of AGW. I also stated that the current increase in frequency and intensity of hurricanes is consistent with the patterns forecast by the IPCC. Just exactly how am I trying to have it two ways?

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  5. >>I stated that no individual weather event could be construed as evidence of AGW.

    Clearly not.

    >>Just exactly how am I trying to have it two ways?

    “Awfully uncanny”

    I think I’d get short shift if I claimed it was “awfully uncanny” that temperature is decreasing, in accordance with anti-AGW.

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  6. BP says … “Or perhaps every weather event signals AGW is occurring including the fact it appears to be getting colder.”

    You really can be a very pompous and boring bully, but I’m not sure if you really are as ill-informed as you appear to be (?)

    This time your “perhaps … ” is basically correct.

    Here is my simple (layperson’s) explanation:

    With overall warming there is more ENERGY in the “System”.

    That energy can create more frequent storms, more-violent storms, etc.

    When the radiant heat from the Sun is blocked by the resulting clouds, the weather in that shaded place will be COLDER!

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  7. BP – don’t feel bad about Eredwen’s put-down,

    “You really can be a very pompous and boring bully, but I’m not sure if you really are as ill-informed as you appear to be”.

    I think the opposite,

    “You are not a very pompous and boring bully, and I am sure you really are as ill-informed as you appear to be” :-)

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  8. eredwen

    I resent being called “boring” :)

    Look, I understand the left. I used to be on the left. I once voted Green. I understand the group-think and conformity. I understand all must conform to the party line.

    All I’m doing is asking valid questions. The fact I get hostile responses tells me plenty.

    The question is this:

    What weather event, next year, will support the AGW thesis, and what weather event will negate it?

    You don’t have a clue, do you?

    So why these vapid posts about hurricanes?

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  9. BluePeter – your challenge is a good one – name a weather event that supports AGW and another that negates it. Easy. This wet spring rain event supports both positions. In other words, claiming single events ‘prove’ one way or another is the misconception. I’m with you on that. Nevertheless, weather events are interesting, aren’t they. There do seem to be odd developments with the climate around the globe, don’t you think?

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  10. Imagine then if there was indeed ‘anthropogenic climate change’. There would be no observable evidence of it?

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  11. BP

    I am willing to withdraw the word “boring”.

    As a replacement I suggest “predictable” as the kindest alternative.

    Other possibilities could be “ill-informed”, or perhaps “deliberately stirring” (with the implication that you actually DO understand the seriousness of the situation that we humans have got ourselves into, but still choose to “have the Greens on” … which could lead me to the option of calling your behaviour “purile” or “totally inappropriate”.)

    Whatever word you would choose, I find it interesting to watch the interactions of one assertive “denier” who really appears not to understand the seriousness of Global Warming … especially as ALL the pertinent information is within easy reach on the internet, and much of it accessible through the Green website.

    It is also interesting (though tediously repetitive) to have Green philosophy reviled as (shudder) “red” and “socialist”.
    Between various political groups there will always be similarities and differences. On the spectrum, to outside observers, in some ways Green can be mistaken for red, and in some instances Green can be mistaken for blue. (However, the Greens came to those supposedly similar positions was by a different route … with different emphases.)

    As far as the mechanisms of Climate Change I do “have a clue” (in fact, a reasonably good understanding). I urge you to do the same.

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  12. Spose we could just look at papers showing increases in the intensity of hurricanes in the last while…but perhaps that isn’t the point.

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  13. eredwen

    I understand you feel the need to put me in a box, but really you’re just evading the issue.

    “Deinier” and “Believer” are religious terms. They are aimed at shutting down debate. I am neither a denier nor a believer. I simply do not know if AGW is occurring, and if it is, how big a problem it is, and if we can do anything to prevent it.

    >>ALL the pertinent information is within easy reach on the internet

    Part of the problem with the AGW movement is many people, especially those on the evironmental left, became believers WAY before detailed information and data was available. No doubt these are the same people who jumped on the global cooling meme in the 70s. AGW is a nice weapon in the fight against capitalism, consumption and industrialism.

    Such a politically charged debate does give one pause for thought. The IPCC may have reputable scientists, all doing good work, but I know how academia works. Peer pressure is not just something that happens to teenagers.

    Count me as “suspicious”.

    I could go on and on, but it boils down to this. If we don’t accurately quantify the problem, we have no chance of arriving at a solution. If AGW is real, and terminal, then our strategy should me mitigation, not ETS.

    If the problem is as enormous as is made out, then choosing the wrong solution is just as bad as ignoring the problem. Possibly worse.

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  14. Hurricanes seem to come in “frequency cycles” coupled with “intensity cycles” which appear much more random. (these are driven by chaotic systems remember.)
    The meteorolgists have difficulties saying whether the key “change to measue” is frrequency, intenstiy, or some combination of both. This is why you get different reporting on this matter.
    We do know that we have had a quiet period (frequency) since Katrina with much fewer hurricanes than “average”. (average does not mean too much in chaotic systems). So we now have a group of very intense hurricanes at high frequency.
    I am sure the analysts are pondering the records wondering whether this grouping is unusual on a longer time scale. I suspect it is on a short scale – especially as they are not only grouped in time but in space.
    Consequently I suggest that all we are doing is “talking about the weather”. NOthing wrong with that but don’t draw any conclusions beyond “the weather has been really bad in the Gulf of Mexico”. The analysis will take some time to appear.

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  15. BP

    I do have various needs … but “to put you in a box” is certainly not one of them!

    As far as the rest of your post is concerned, your assumptions are either way off beam or seriously patronising. (the implications of either is worrying in the context of this thread, as you obviously don’t lack intelligence).

    “Nero fiddles while Rome burns” … and apparently BP “debates”, while the Planet burns!

    I’ll leave you to have “debates” with others. Though I would seriously recommend that you get up to speed with what is actually happening on/to our Planet.

    eredwen

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  16. eredwen

    You’re an ex-teacher, aren’t you? Your tone suggests so.

    >>but “to put you in a box? is certainly not one of them!

    You keep replying :) Admit it, you love it.

    >>BP “debates?, while the Planet burns!

    Nothing I do makes a difference.

    For the record, I’m carbon negative. I think we should tread lightly on our environment – it’s common sense.

    I just don’t feel the need to subscribe to outlandish apocolypse scenarios.

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  17. BP

    “For the record, I’m carbon negative”

    Good on you, that gives me a whole lot more to burn this weekend safe in the knowledge that you, Eredwen and Toad are doing my bit for me.

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  18. >>that gives me a whole lot more to burn this weekend

    Be my guest :)

    >>what about the less outlandish ones?

    I think they’re all just talking about the weather, really.

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  19. Quote:
    I have written a lot about the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change facing humanity.

    Please explain how this is a twin challenge.
    If Peak Oil is real and we soon run out of oil doesn’t this solve the climate change challenge?

    I am reminded of Peter Cooks Autobiography “I was an only twin.”

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  20. Owen – no, unfortunately peak oil does not ‘solve’ global warming. It certainly helps though. The risk is that we will do unspeakable things to the environment in order to compensate for our ever declining oil output. We’ll burn heaps more coal and try desperately to turn oil shale and tars and sands into liquid fuels, despite the ever decreasing energy return on energy invested. While peak oil makes me optimistic that we won’t make the planet unsuitable for human life, I still fear that we’re cutting it fine. Unless, of course, we act now to limit our impact on the environment.

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  21. frog Says:
    September 11th, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    > Owen – no, unfortunately peak oil does not ’solve’ global warming. It certainly helps though.

    It could actually make it worse.

    As you run out of easily-extracted oil, you have to go for oil that is harder to extract, and hrader to extract usually doesn’t just mean you have to think harder to work out how to get it out. It also means you have to consume more energy to get it out, which means the same amount of oil for end use contributes more to emissions, because of the increasing amount of oil you have to burn just to get the oil out. The most extreme example of this that is happening so far is the oil sand mining in northern Alberta, Canada, but we’ll probably move on to more energy-intensive versions in the future.

    And then, when you really can’t get enough oil, the solution closest to business-as-usual is to make artificial petrol out of coal. This gives off a lot of greenhouse gases, and a lot of toxins. There are ways of preventing the emission of toxins (important to prevent acid rain), but this makes the process less efficient, with the result that it emits even more greenhouse gas for the amount of petrol produced.

    So, unfortunately, the problem of peak oil is more likely to exacerbate climate change than to lessen it.

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  22. Though I have quite different views on climate change than BP, on the issue of hurricanes I have to say that BP is probably right (although I’m not sure if BP appreciates the reason he is right, nor am I sure he fully understands the difference between weather and climate)

    There is still a lot of debate amongst meteorologists as to what will happen to tropical cyclone frequency and intensity as sea temperatures rise. Its not as simple as “adding more energy makes bigger, more frequent TCs”. In fact, there is a lot of uncertainty as to the effect of a warming climate on many weather phenomena. However, uncertainty as to how the weather will be affected by a warming climate does not translate into uncertainty that the climate is changing (which is what many of the climate change skeptics fail to appreciate).

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  23. Owen
    “If Peak Oil is real and we soon run out of oil doesn’t this solve the climate change challenge?”
    I think you’ll find there is a ‘drag’ effect involved in stopping global warming. A sudden cessation of fossil fuel use might cause some unexpected consequences (like global dimming) and a gradual reduction would have only a drawn-out effect.

    “I am reminded of Peter Cooks Autobiography “I was an only twin.?
    One very funny man, Peter Cook.

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  24. samiuela, there’s a few papers there

    But to sum up:

    Overall, there is a statistically significant upward trend (the horizontal red line). But more significantly, Elsner found weaker hurricanes showed little to no trend while stronger hurricanes showed a greater upward trend. In other words, stronger hurricanes are getting stronger.

    While Elsner found no trend in the overall number of hurricanes, the increasing intensity means there are an increasing number of storms with a maximum wind speed exceeding 210 kilometres per hour (category 4 and 5 storms). The inevitable conclusion is that as sea temperatures continue to rise, the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes hitting land will inexorably increase. That coupled with rising sea levels is a bleak prospect.

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