Apple and Google Pour Billions Down a Green Drain

By Steve Goreham
Originally published in Communities Digital News

Money Down the Drain Article Caption

Business has been captured by Climatism, the belief that humans are causing dangerous global warming. Leading businesses announce plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, purchase renewable energy, use vehicle biofuels, and buy carbon credits. But there is no evidence that commercial policies to “fight” climate change have any measureable effect on global temperatures.

Apple and Google, the darling companies of the millennial generation, have spent billions trying to halt global warming. Apple has brought us the Mac personal computer, the I-Phone, the I-Pad, and other trend-setting electronic devices, becoming the world’s highest-valued company. Google has been called the most innovative technology company in the world, delivering the Google search engine that revolutionized use of the internet, Google Books, Google Maps, and now developing a self-driving car. But both of these leading companies have swallowed the misguided theory of human-caused climate change, hook, line, and sinker.

Apple’s 2015 Environmental Responsibility Report states, “We don’t want to debate climate change. We want to stop it.” Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson now heads up Apple’s environmental efforts. The firm boasts that it measures its carbon footprint “rigorously,” estimating it emitted 34 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in in 2014. But somehow Apple missed the fact that carbon dioxide is a gas emitted in huge volumes by nature. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations, nature puts 25 times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day as all of the world’s industries.

Apple is spending more than two billion dollars on renewable energy to power its data centers. In February, the company announced an investment of $848 million for electricity from the California Flats solar farm from electricity provider First Solar. Apple claims it now purchases 100 percent renewable energy for all of its US operations and 87 percent for worldwide operations. But the firm is paying a sizeable premium for solar electricity over the price of traditional energy.

Last year, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said, “Everyone understands that climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place.” Google has reportedly committed more than $1.8 billion to renewable energy projects. But these renewable projects typically provide little actual electricity output at very high prices.

An example is the Ivanpah Solar Facility located in the California Mojave Desert, south of Las Vegas. Google invested $168 million in the Ivanpah project developed by Brightsource Energy, which began operations in January 2014. Ivanpah is a concentrating solar facility that has made headlines for its tendency to ignite birds in flight near its towers.

Ivanpah Solar Facility Article

In addition to scorching more than 1,000 birds a year, Ivanpah is a poor electricity-generating station. During 2014, the Ivanpah facility delivered only about half of the electricity it was designed to deliver, which is only about one-tenth of the output of a typical gas-fired power plant. Ivanpah generates electricity at the whopping price of 16 to 17 cents per kilowatt-hour, four times the California wholesale price of 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. Ivanpah owners NRG and Google have asked for a federal grant of $539 million to pay off much of the $1.6 billion federal loan that was used to build the plant. US taxpayers and California electricity users are paying for the Ivanpah boondoggle.

In their rush to fight climate change, Apple, Google, and other engineering companies don’t seem to realize that the theory of global warming fails the first test of maintenance-of-the-line (MOL) product engineering. Many product engineers spend time in MOL engineering early in their career, handling field calls about the company’s product. When a customer calls to report a product failure, the first question an MOL engineer needs to answer is, “Is the product behaving normally, or is it performing abnormally?”

There is no evidence that Earth’s surface temperatures today are abnormally warm when compared to temperatures of history. Temperature proxy data from many sources shows that Earth’s temperatures have actually been declining for the past 8,000 years. Temperatures have been rising for the last century, but Earth experienced warmer times when the Romans conquered the Mediterranean 2,000 years ago and when the Vikings settled southwest Greenland 1,000 years ago.

Temperature History Article (1)

Ever notice how actual climate results are never part of the claimed benefits of green energy? Measures of success are always carbon emissions reduced, houses powered, kilowatts generated, and carbon credits purchased. No one ever talks about actual reductions in temperature or about droughts, floods, or hurricanes to be averted by using renewable energy. Adoption of green policies is as hollow as building a hospital and never curing a patient or raising an army and never taking a hill.

In fact, changes in Earth’s climate are dominated by natural factors. Earth’s greenhouse effect is dominated by water vapor and natural emissions of carbon dioxide. History shows that hurricanes, floods, droughts, and heat waves are neither more numerous nor extreme than those of the past. There is no empirical evidence that human emissions have a measureable influence on Earth’s climate. All of the green measures by global business will have a negligible effect on global temperatures.

If Apple, Google, and other companies want to invest in renewable energy and fight climate change, they should place green initiatives in their public relations budget. Such programs don’t have any other effect.

Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania.


Papal Advisor Naomi Klein (pictured) admits in her much-publicized screed that ‘Global Warming’ is all about anti-capitalism – being nothing to do with science.

naomi klein

Klein admits progressive policies on the environment are really about what Marx and Lenin said the communist revolution desired 100 years ago — the overthrow of capitalism. This is not about science, or health, at all. “Our economic model is at war with the Earth,” writes Klein. “We cannot change the laws of nature. But we can change our economy. Climate change is our best chance to demand and build a better world.”

Could the message be any clearer? “This [man-made climate change] is not about science, or health, at all.”

Please note that Klein uses the ambiguous term ”climate change” when she really means “man-made climate change”; it’s a classic case of misleading the public at large that any change in the climate is the fault of human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Here’s further insight into Naomi Klein’s world via Martin Hertzberg’s review of Naomi Klein’s book “This Changes Everything. ” Dr Hertzberg, a respected scientist and author on climate change, writes:

It is tragic that what should have been a debate among objective scientists evaluating the data on weather and climate, has degenerated into a partisan political diatribe. Unfortunately, Klein’s most recent book only adds to the tragedy. In pursuit of her political agenda, facts are distorted and distinguished scientists are denigrated. Here are some examples.

Klein states: “Carbon Dioxide stays in the atmosphere one to two centuries with some of it remaining for a millennium or more”.

Some 50 published papers give at most 5 years for its lifetime in the atmosphere with the best estimate from C-14 decay observed after Russian above ground tests.

Klein states that the “Medieval Warm Period was thoroughly debunked long ago”.

Not true! Hundreds of studies have established the existence of the world wide Medieval Warm period with temperatures exceeding current ones at a time when human CO2 emission was nil. Her discussion of the weather effect of volcanic eruptions neglects to mention the real big ones: Tambora and Krakatoa.

Klein completely discounts the “climategate” scandal.

Not true! Climategate reveals a disgraceful lack of scientific integrity on the part of the climate change advocates. For all the relevant data go to my lecture at For factual data rather than her fear mongering cherry picking, go to and see for yourself. There is nothing unusual happening with temperatures, ice area coverage, sea level rise, or snow cover: just the normal variability in weather related parameters.

To her credit, Klein actually listened to talks by skeptics at a Heartland Conference, but instead of trying to learn from the distinguished scientist’s presentations, she denigrates them.

Thus, for example, she refers to “the denial movement being littered with characters like the old time physicist… S. Fred Singer”.

Instead of noting his achievements as Deputy Secretary of the EPA, his establishment of the Weather Bureau’s Satellite Service and his work in Space Research and Atmospheric Physics and in designing the first Earth Observation Satellite for meteorological observations, she refers to him as a “character” and limits his work to “rocket technology for the U. S. military”.

As an aside, I first met Fred over 50 years ago and indeed he just celebrated his 90th birthday. He left Austria just ahead of the Nazi takeover and really resents being labelled as a “denier” as though he were a holocaust denier. I lost many relatives in the holocaust and also find that denier label to be particularly obnoxious. She also completely fails to mention the series of articles in the Nation by Alexander Cockburn that preceded her work. Cockburn completely discredited the fear-mongering hysteria of the global warmers.

The global warming/climate change theory postulates that human emission of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion is causing an increase in atmospheric CO2 and a concomitant increase in global temperatures and climate disruptions via the greenhouse effect.

Klein accepts that paradigm without question.

But if you read her book carefully you realize that she doesn’t really care much about its validity. To quote: “lowering emissions is just one example of how the climate emergency could – by virtue of its urgency and that the fact that it impacts virtually everyone on earth – breathe new life into a political goal… (such as) raising taxes on the rich, blocking harmful trade deals, to reinvesting in the public sphere….”

“Even more importantly, the climate moment offers an overarching narrative in which everything from the fight for good jobs to justice for immigrants, reparations for the injustice of slavery… all becomes a grand project of building a non-toxic shock-proof economy before it is too late”. So there it is: the science is not that important. What really matters is the social justice we can get from it.

She learned well from her “Shock Doctrine” book. Just as the world’s international bankers took advantage of the debt crises in smaller countries to dismantle their social justice and welfare economies, so does she propose to use the climate change “crisis” to achieve social justice. I agree with most of her social justice goals, but as a scientist, I cannot abide by getting there with a fear-mongering fraud.

So here are the simplest arguments to counter the climate change paradigm. Draconian measures to control CO2 emissions are based on three fictions:

First, that it is a “greenhouse gas”. Neither the EPA nor anyone else has ever provided a scientifically valid definition of such an entity. The atmosphere is not the confining top of a greenhouse, nor can it “retain heat”. Instead it cools the earth by natural convection and radiation to free space.

Secondly, at only 0.04 percent of gases in the atmosphere, CO2 is supposed to control the earth’s temperature and climate. That is an absurdity and there is not one iota of reliable evidence that it does.

Thirdly, the paradigm postulates that human emission determines atmospheric CO2. The data is overwhelming that natural sources and sinks such as ocean emission and absorption, photosynthesis, vegetative decay, volcanic eruptions, forest fires, carbonate rock weathering and many other processes overwhelm human emission. Human emissions are trivial in comparison and they dissolve rapidly into the cold oceans.

The “climate justice” movement, by conflating the justified desire to advance social justice with the phoney theory of man-made climate change, will only serve to discredit social justice as the truth about climate change finally emerges.

Extreme environmental solutions can have unintended consequence (blowback).

The work of Rachel Carson, Klein’s heroine, resulted in the world-wide ban on the use of DDT. The result was about 100,000 more annual fatalities of children in Africa as a result of malaria. That malaria epidemic subsided several years later as soon as DDT use was resumed.

Challenge yourself to realize what harmful unintended consequences would result from the measures to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. The reality is that such a measure will have no effect on weather or climate.


Dr Martin Hertzberg is a long time climate writer, a former U.S. Navy meteorologist with a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Stanford University and holder of a Fulbright Professorship. Hertzberg is an internationally recognized expert on combustion, flames, explosions, and fire research with over 100 publications in those areas.

Hertzberg established and supervised the explosion testing laboratory at the U. S. Bureau of Mines facility in Pittsburgh (now NIOSH). Test equipment developed in that laboratory has been widely replicated and incorporated into ASTM standards. Published test results from that laboratory are used for the hazard evaluation of industrial dusts and gases. While with the Federal Government Dr Hertzberg served as a consultant for several Government Agencies (MSHA, DOE, NAS) and professional groups (such as EPRI).

EPA’s gross negligence at Gold King

Fear-mongering, pollution standards and negligence rules don’t apply when EPA is at fault

EPA’s gross negligence at Gold King

Paul Driessen

On August 5, an Environmental Restoration company crew, supervised by US Environmental Protection Agency officials, used an excavator to dig away tons of rock and debris that were blocking the entrance portal of Colorado’s Gold King Mine, which had been largely abandoned since 1923. Water had been seeping into the mine and out of its portal for decades, and the officials knew (or could and should have known) the water was acidic (pH 4.0-4.5), backed up far into the mine, and laced with heavy metals.

But they kept digging – until the greatly weakened dam burst open, unleashing a 3-million-gallon (or more) toxic flood that soon contaminated the Animas and San Juan Rivers, all the way to Lake Powell in Utah. To compound the disaster, EPA then waited an entire day before notifying downstream mayors, health officials, families, farmers, ranchers, fishermen and kayakers that the water they were drinking, using for crops and livestock, or paddling in was contaminated by lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic.

Three million gallons of turmeric-orange poisonous water and sludge is enough to fill a pool the size of a football field (360×160 feet) seven feet deep. Backed up hundreds of feet above the portal into mine adits, stopes, rooms and other passageways that begin at 11,458 feet above sea level, the flash-flooding water had enough power to rip out a road and propel its toxic muck hundreds of miles downstream. (You can review EPA’s incompetence and gross negligence in these project photos* and post-disaster images.)

Anyone who follows mining, oil spill and power plant accidents knows the EPA, Obama White House and Big Green environmentalist rhetoric: There is no safe threshold for chemicals. They are toxic and carcinogenic at parts per billion. The water will be unsafe for years or even decades. Wildlife will die. Corporate polluters are criminals and must pay huge fines. We will keep our boots on their necks.

This time the White House was silent, and Democrats and eco-activists rushed to defend EPA and shift the blame to mining and mining companies. EPA officials made statements they would never use if a private company had caused the blowout: EPA had simply “miscalculated” how much water had backed up. It was just trying to stick a pipe into the top of the mine to safely pump liquid out for treatment. We were “very careful.” Contaminants “are flowing too fast to be an immediate health threat.” The river is already “restoring itself” back to pre-spill levels, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy insisted.

The evidence strongly suggests that EPA never studied or calculated anything, had no operations plan vetted and approved by state officials or mining experts, was not trying to install a pipe – and was grossly careless and negligent. Toxic sludge was carried and deposited along hundreds of miles, contaminating water and riverbeds, where it will be stirred up for years during every heavy rainfall and snowmelt.

Mining engineers told me the prudent approach would have been to push or drill a 4-inch pipe through the rubble into the mine, to determine the water pressure, toxicity and extent of water backup in the mine – and then build a strong cofferdam below the portal – before proceeding. Simply removing the debris was stupid, dangerous and negligent, they said. It will take years now to correct the damage and assess costs.

A week after the great flood, EPA finally built a series of retention ponds to contain and filter out heavy metals and chemicals. But the August 5 surge and sludge are still contaminating Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico rivers, in arid regions where water is scarce and precious. The Navajo Tribal Unity Authority says meeting EPA standards for clean drinking water could double the tribe’s costs for building a new treatment plant and cost millions more in testing and operating expenses.
EPA says it will pay for testing, property damage, human injuries and hauling safe drinking water. But will it pay to truck in safe water for livestock and irrigation, and pay for crops and livestock lost because there is no water in the meantime, and cover millions in lost incomes for outfitters and hotel operators during what would have been their peak tourist seasons? Exxon paid such costs after the Valdez spill in Alaska; BP did likewise after its Macondo spill in the Gulf of Mexico; so have coal companies.

Shouldn’t EPA do likewise, instead of asserting “sovereign immunity” despite its gross negligence? Shouldn’t it cover these costs out of the millions of dollars it uses for employee bonuses and to pay environmental activists and public relations firms to promote its image and agenda – instead of sticking taxpayers with the tab via special appropriations? Will EPA reimburse state and local governments and private charities for assistance they have already rendered? Will it fire the irresponsible officials, or at least demote and discipline them? Will Environmental Restoration pay its fair share?

Under standards that EPA and environmentalists apply to the private sector, Gold King was a disaster. However, the accident could also be an impetus for reflection and responsible regulatory reform.

Anti-mining pressure groups and factions within EPA will use this accident to press for new layers of mining rules, bonds, payments and liabilities. They are unnecessary – and will only restrict the jobs, expertise and revenues needed to ensure that exploration, mining, reclamation and repair of abandoned (orphan) mines are done properly. Modern mining, processing and pollution prevention methods are vastly superior to those employed even 50 years ago, and do not cause the exaggerated impacts alleged by Earthwatch and others. Moreover, the metals and minerals are essential for the wondrous technologies and living standards, the health, housing, transportation and recreational pursuits, that we enjoy today.

The Gold King blowout was predictable and preventable. The mine was leaking slightly polluted water, but the problem was not serious and was being addressed, and the former mining town of Silverton, CO had repeatedly asked EPA not to intervene or make Gold King a Superfund site. Mining engineers and other experts were available, and some had offered their insights and expertise. EPA ignored them.

EPA – and all government agencies – should end their We-know-best and We-know-what-we’re-doing attitudes … and seek outside advice from real experts in the trenches. They should also develop careful operating plans, assess worst-case scenarios, and take steps to ensure that the worst doesn’t happen. Sometimes they just need to do nothing, get out of the way, and let the private sector handle problems.

But they should support Clean Water Act and other revisions to make it easier, less costly and less fraught with potential liability for companies or coalitions of dedicated parties to fix pollution discharge problems at the relatively few abandoned mines that are leaking contaminated water at worrisome levels.

EPA’s new view that these pollutants are not as toxic as previously claimed – and that nature can and does clean things up – is refreshing, even if self-serving. (My use of “toxic” in this article mostly reflects currently prevailing agency, activist and public health industry attitudes and safety standards.)

Standards for maximum contaminant levels and maximum safe exposures are often absurdly low, and the concept of “linear no threshold” (that there is no safe exposure or blood or tissue level for lead, cadmium, arsenic and other metals) is outdated and wrong, Dr. Edward Calabrese and other experts argue.

Pollution, exposure and blood levels are often safe at significantly higher levels than regulations currently allow. Moreover, low levels of exposure to radiation and many chemicals can actually provide protection from cancer, disease and pollutants. While this concept of hormesis is generally ignored by current regulations, we know that a little alcohol improves heart functions, whereas a lot causes multiple problems; an 80 mg aspirin can prevent strokes, but a bottleful can kill; and many vaccinations inject disease strains that cause a person’s immune system to produce antibodies and prevent the disease.

The Obama EPA is already using WOTUS rules on water and a Clean Power Plan on electricity generation and climate change to control virtually everything we make, grow and do. Congressional committees, presidential candidates, businesses and citizens need to get involved, debate these issues, ask tough questions, and work to implement appropriate reforms. Our courts and Congress must not allow another collusive sue-and-settle lawsuit – or a new regime of government controls and mine closures that would drive yet another nail into the coffin of western state and local economies … and cleanup efforts.

Gold King presents a teachable moment. Let’s make sure we learn the correct lessons.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.

* It appears that EPA deleted its entire photo album, so that people can no longer view them. We are trying to find a citizen archive of the images and will link to it, if possible. Again we have “the most transparent administration in history” (quoting President Obama) at your service.

Consumers Will Pay Big for Obama’s Alternative Energy Push

By Dr. Larry Bell, University of Houston

President Obama’s war on coal brings new meaning to his lead from behind strategy. It involves replacing reliable fossil energy sources with pixie dust-powered alternatives.

Only one day following the Supreme Court’s ruling to block EPA’s planned power plant mercury emission regulations, he committed the U.S. to a goal of generating 20 percent of all electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

That means at least three times more subsidies than we currently blow on windmills and burn with sunbeams . . . and that’s a lot.

Wind and solar each already receive more than 50 times more subsidy support per megawatt hour than conventional coal, and more than 20 times more in terms of average electricity generated by coal and natural gas.

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration figures, annual “Federal interventions and subsidies” for wind (4.4 percent of American electricity) costs for taxpayers ranged from $5.5 billion and $5.9 billion between 2010 and 2013, and from $1.1 billion rocketing up to $4.5 billion for solar (0.4 percent of our electricity) during that period. For comparison, those allocated to fossil fuels (about 60 percent of total electricity) dropped from $4 billion to $3.4 billion.

Although lemming powers of observation aren’t highly regarded, wouldn’t you think witnessing fellow critters plunge en masse over cliff edges would offer cause for some among them to reconsider the perilous path ahead?

Painful EU experiences offer teachable lessons. Consider Denmark for example. On Earth Day, 2010, President Obama praised the country as a great green power model. And yes, while the country theoretically produces about 20 percent of its electricity from wind and solar, CEPOS, a Danish think tank reported that this only supplied between 5 percent and 9.7 percent of average annual demand over the previous 5-year period.

Danish consumers pay the highest electricity rates in Europe, more than three times more than we do.

Existing German energy policies, where 7.8 percent of electricity comes from wind and 4.5 percent derives from solar, force households to fork out for the second highest power costs in Europe — often as much as 30 percent above the levels seen in other European countries.

Such circumstances are only likely to worsen with Angela Merkel’s plans to wean the country off fossil fuels and nuclear power. Subsidies for wind power which deliver only about one-fifth of the theoretical installed capacity are three times higher than those paid for conventional electricity.

President Obama also lauded Spain as a fine example of renewable energy progress. Yet a study released by researchers at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos a few months later presented a far less enviable picture.

Over the previous eight years the Spanish government had spent $791,597 in subsidies to create each green energy job, and exceeded $1.38 million per wind energy job.

Each of those green jobs cost 2.2 jobs in lost opportunities elsewhere in the workforce, and each MW of installed wind energy capacity destroyed 4.27 other jobs.

Italy’s wind and solar experience record is even worse. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Bruno Leoni Institute, the amount of capital required to generate one job in the renewable sector would create between 4.8 and 6.9 in the industrial sector or elsewhere just based upon subsidies alone.

Of the 50,000 to 120, 000 renewable jobs they propose to create by 2020, 60 percent will be temporary.

Experiences in the United Kingdom are reportedly similar to those in other EU countries. A study by Verso Economics determined that each renewable job “created” by subsidies displaced 3.7 others in their general economy. “Renewable Obligations” which increase market prices for electricity from renewable sources cost U.K. consumers an additional $1.75 billion during 2009/2010.

In 2011 British wind turbines produced a meager 21 percent of installed capacity (not demand capacity) during good conditions.

As in Germany this has necessitated importation of nuclear power from France. Also similar to Germany, the government is closing some of its older coal-fired plants — any one of which can produce nearly twice the electricity of Britain’s 3,000 wind turbines combined.

Yeah, and then there’s our own uber-green California, which mandates that renewables provide 33 percent of the state’s electricity by 2020 and proposes to increase to 50 percent by 2030.

Over just the past three years their electricity rates have already risen by 2.18 cents per kilowatt hour — about four times the national rate — as more and more wind and solar came on line.

Meanwhile, so long as natural gas drilling is restricted, climate crisis hoax-premised EPA regulations strangle fossil power generation, and nuclear energy expansion is delayed, we are racing hell-bent along the same road to perdition. Let’s consider the peril before joining the EU and California lemming pack in a final, fatal jump.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Despite the ‘urgency’ of Paris climate talks, a U.N. sponsored global poll rates climate change dead last

By Anthony Watts

From the United Nations “MY World” initiative, which has recorded the opinions for All Countries & Country Groups with votes of 7,679,273 at the time of this writing. They describe it as:

MY World is a United Nations global survey for citizens. Working with partners, we aim to capture people’s voices, priorities and views, so world leaders can be informed as they begin the process of defining the next set of global goals to end poverty.

The data collected so far is telling, at least about opinions surrounding global warming aka climate change. It is dead last in the list of concerns queried:


UN-poll-AGW-dead-lastThis next graph is even more interesting:


It too shows “action taken on climate change” as dead last among all age groups, gender, and education, but there are three curious columns on the right where it doesn’t come in last, but comes in low. These are the countries where people live that have medium to very high “HDI” which stands for Human Development Index.


Note that in these countries (medium to dark blue), people already have the things in place that come in lower than the climate change, so they tend to take them for granted. Countries that have a high HDI have reliable energy, Internet access, political freedoms, and social programs, so it is no wonder these sorts of things come in as lower concerns in medium to high HDI countries. These countries also tend to have a population that has people economically free enough to worry about things like climate change, whereas in some countries, you can’t get electricity or get on the Internet to read the latest doom and gloom being spewed by MSM outlets like the Guardian.

Natural geothermal heat under Antarctic ice: ‘Surprisingly HIGH’

So it IS global warming melting it – just not the way they mean

Lewis Page, the Register

Geothermal heating from within the Earth’s core – as opposed to the possibly warming air or sea – has been measured beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet for the first time ever.

And, we are told, it is “surprisingly high.”

The West Antarctic sheet is the part of the Antarctic ice cap thought to be easiest to melt. Worries over global warming and sea-level rise lead to it being investigated much more than other parts of the frozen austral continent. Some parts of it, for instance the Pine Island Glacier, have appeared at times to be melting faster and faster, though it is not clear that this is due to global warming.

At other times, ice loss to the sea has appeared to slow right down.

Meanwhile all around the rest of Antarctica, the extent of sea ice has been growing not shrinking, such that there is nowadays much more Antarctic sea ice than there used to be – a circumstance which climate scientists admit has them stumped.

It’s all a very confusing picture, then, and to make it worse nobody until now has had any idea how much heat might be reaching the possibly-troubled West Antarctic sheet not from the somewhat warmer seas and atmosphere, but from the rock beneath it.

That uncertainty has now been lessened somewhat, with instrumental readings from below the ice obtained and published at last in the journal Science Advances.

“It is important that we get this number right if we are going to make accurate predictions of how the West Antarctic ice sheet will behave in the future, how much it is melting, how quickly ice streams flow, and what the impact might be on sea level rise,” says Professor Slawek Tulaczyk. “I waited for many years to see a directly measured value of geothermal flux from beneath this ice sheet.”

Exactly what the new geothermal heating figures mean for the forecasts remains to be seen, but it is clear that the amount of geothermal heating is a good bit more than scientists had thought. Some of them are still hoping that it’s a fluke result.

“We don’t know how localized these warm geothermal conditions might be. This is a region where there is volcanic activity, so this measurement may be due to a local heat source in the crust,” says Professor Andrew Fisher.

If it’s not a fluke, however, it seems pretty plain that Fisher and his colleagues will have to revise their ideas as to how much of the West Antarctic melting is due to global warming and how much of it would be happening anyway due to warmth from the Earth’s crust. ®

The “surprisingly high” quote is from the press release accompanying the new research, issued by Fisher and Tulaczyk’s university, here.

There is much dispute over rates of melting in the Western Antarctic, with one recent study showing that today’s rates are far from exceptional against the context of the last 2,000 years. Another showed similar results for the Peninsula sub-region, where melt worries are even more common than for West Antarctica in general.

Meanwhile the area of sea ice around Antarctica has reached record levels in recent times.


There are other areas of Antarctica which have big geothermal heat sources, in some cases – as Prof Fisher notes – local volcanic ones, others seemingly more widespread.

Follow the Water–Arctic Ocean Flywheels

Red Nek Engineer:

very insigthful and detailed analysis of a complex issue too simplified by authors and the media

Originally posted on Science Matters:

The motto of oceanography should be: “It’s not that simple.”

Dallas Murphy wrote that in a book containing his reflections from numerous voyages with ocean scientists, entitled Follow the Water: Exploring the Sea to Discover Climate. The author goes on to say:

“One reason why the ocean has been left out of the climate-change discussion is that its internal mechanisms and its interactions with the atmosphere are stunningly complex. That the ocean has been left out has helped pitch the discussion toward unproductive, distracting extremes–either global warming is bunk or sea levels are about to rise twenty feet–and to frame the issue as a matter of opinion, like the place of prayer in public schools.”

He also quotes respected Oceanographer Carl Wunsch: “One of the reasons oceanography has a flavor all it’s own lies in the brute difficulty of observing the Ocean.”

A previous post on the Climate Water…

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