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15 May 2024 | News Roundup
  • Canary Media asks “Can corn ethanol really help decarbonize US air travel?” To which we reply “No, of course not.” To their credit, they do admit there’s doubt: “there’s far less consensus among experts when it comes to assessing the climate impacts of crop-based fuels – and whether they do, in fact, result in fewer carbon dioxide emissions than those made with fossil fuels. The answer largely depends on whom you ask, and on how you do the math.” That’s because using energy to grow corn and then expecting to turn it back into even more energy violates the second law of thermodynamics, and not everyone is willing to fudge the math and tell policymakers what they want to hear.
  • Being an alarmist means you can say anything and no one will call you out. For instance, from CBS News, “Summer heat hits Asia early, killing dozens as one expert calls it the ‘most extreme event’ in climate history… ‘Thousands of records are being brutalized all over Asia, which is by far the most extreme event in world climatic history,’ weather historian Maximiliano Herrera said in a social media post last week.” Nothing in Earth’s history was more extreme than a recent hot spell in Asia you didn’t even hear about? Contrast that claim with Cody Cassidy’s (How to Survive History) description of the Chicxulub asteroid collision : “it launched 25 trillion tons of the Yucatan Peninsula on ballistic trajectories. Some… at speeds that exceed our planet’s escape velocity... But the majority of the debris returned back to earth within the hour. These glass like chunks, called tektites – some as large as school buses, but most the size of marbles – pelted the earth at speeds ranging from 100 to 200 mph…. Their friction with the atmosphere collectively emitted enough thermal radiation to set fires across the world.... Most of the world’s trees burned...” The weather historian needs to learn some history.
  • Just the facts, ma’am, as Joe Friday used to say. And from the Weather Network, between blasts of alarmism, we Ontarians hear on May 2 “Now that the calendar says May, and we inch closer to the unofficial kick-off to summer on the May long weekend, many southern Ontarians are likely wondering if the warmer weather is finally here to stay. Especially after recent record rains, spring snow, and even frost advisories that spanned parts of the region this season. Can we officially say goodbye to the chilly, single-digit daytime highs?” Heck no. Because they never happened. They can’t have. It is the Hottest Year EverTM. Do not be deceived by mere conditions.
  • National Geographic offers a solemn look at “The Last Stronghold of Healthy Coral Reefs”. Uh would that be the oceans? Well, maybe. Actually it’s “Paid content for @Prada” that tells you to go to Raja Ampat “the one place where coral reefs are still thriving”. Bosh. The Great Barrier Reef has never had more or healthier coral. Coral is a warm-water organism (technically a “sessile animal” living symbiotically with algae) that evolved and thrived in a warmer world. Sure, we could destroy it through water pollution and habitat destruction. But fortunately the evidence currently is that we aren’t, neither is climate change.
  • Newsweek reports that “Paleontologists Discover ‘Exceptionally Large’ Fossil Snake” between 36 and 50 feet long, possibly tying the record-holding “Titanoboa”. Fortunately for its prey Vasuki indicus was probably a sluggish ambush predator and fortunately for us it lived around 47 million years ago as part of the Madtsoiidae family that died out in the current ice age. Mind you there are still snakes up to 32 feet long today so don’t doze off. However what struck us about the story, other than fear, was the quote from the study author that “The large size of Vasuki suggests that the tropics were comparatively warmer than at present. This is because previous studies have shown a correlation between increase in ambient temperature and body size of poikilotherms (e.g., snakes).” No duh. Of course it was warmer in the Eocene, even if alarmists try to tell you it’s now the “hottest ever” and that warmth is bad for life. Though it might be if you’re the kind of thing Vasuki indicus might have ambushed, such as a plump juicy simian some 2 metres long. Indeed the author also said “Changes in climatic conditions, possibly leading to decrease in global temperatures, and the resultant changes in the ecosystem played a major role in the extinction of these snakes.” Cold is bad for life, who’d have thought.

2 comments on “Tidbits”

  1. “there’s far less consensus among experts when it comes to assessing the climate impacts of ..." [fill in the blank]. This of course depends on your definition of 'expert'. So here's a handy guide to the meaning of expert:
    1. Ignore anyone who doesn't imply the world is coming to an end in a few years if we don't do as they say right now.
    2. Ignore any obviously unimportant qualifications such as a lifetime spent in meteorology or climate science and a hundred or more papers published in reputable scientific journals.
    3. The more hysterical they are in their predictions, then obviously the greater their expertise.

  2. "...using energy to grow corn and then expecting to turn it back into even more energy violates the second law of thermodynamics..."
    No, it does not. The corn plant harvests energy from the sun to build the precursors of ethanol molecules within its seed. It is therefore an empirical question whether the (anthropogenic) energy expended to grow corn and then convert it into ethanol is greater or lesser than the energy of the ethanol itself. The second law of thermodynamics doesn't apply to this situation, because the process does not take place entirely within a closed system; like evolution, it is supported by energy inputs from the sun.

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