More ethics issues in the global warming non-debate

Several years ago global warming scientists made an astounding claim.  2005 was the hottest year on “record”.  Nevermind all the previous history, the headline was what it was.  Some people doubted that claim. Myself included. Others then felt obliged to chime in whether they had a legitimate claim to make or not.  One of those was a scientist for NASA:

“I believe that 2005 is the warmest year, because the main source of difference is the Arctic, and I believe it is likely that our estimate there is in the right ballpark even though it is based on some extrapolations,” Hansen said.  “However, I admit that it could be wrong, in which case 2005 might be slightly cooler than 1998.”

This meant something to publishers because Jim Hansen was the Director for NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.  GISS has a very specific mission:

Research at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) emphasizes a broad study of global change, which is an interdisciplinary initiative addressing natural and man-made changes in our environment that occur on various time scales — from one-time forcings such as volcanic explosions, to seasonal and annual effects such as El Niño, and on up to the millennia of ice ages — and that affect the habitability of our planet.

His mission is deal with climate change.  So, one would assume he’s not exactly in a position to rebut climate change data.  That didn’t slow Livescience down at the time.  They were quick to quote Hansen’s less than ringing endorsement of man-made climate change.

The reason I mention all this now is because James Hansen is in the news again:

The lawsuit claims Hansen privately profited from his public job in violation of federal ethics rules, and NASA allowed him to do it because of his influence in the media and celebrity status among environmental groups, which rewarded him handsomely the last four years.

Gifts, speaking fees, prizes and consulting compensation include:

  • A shared $1 million prize from the Dan David Foundation for his “profound contribution to humanity.” Hansen’s cut ranged from $333,000 to $500,000, Horner said, adding that the precise amount is not known because Hansen’s publicly available financial disclosure form only shows the prize was “an amount in excess of $5,000.”
  • The 2010 Blue Planet prize worth $550,000 from the Asahi Glass Foundation, which recognizes efforts to solve environmental issues.
  • The Sophie Prize for his “political activism,” worth $100,000. The Sophie Prize is meant to “inspire people working towards a sustainable future.”
  • Speaking fees totaling $48,164 from a range of mostly environmental organizations.
  • A $15,000 participation fee, waived by the W.J. Clinton Foundation for its 2009 Waterkeeper Conference.
  • $720,000 in legal advice and media consulting services provided by The George Soros Open Society Institute. Hansen said he did not take “direct” support from Soros but accepted “pro bono legal advice.”

Cueva del Fantasma

I live in southeastern Kentucky. We’ve got caves all over the place here.  Some of them are pretty big too:

See that backlit thing in the bottom right hand part of the picture?  That’s a person.  That’s how big Mammoth Cave can get.  Although some caves are bigger, the Mammoth Cave system is pretty impressive, basically running underneath a good part of Kentucky.  We’ve got caves right here in my hometown as well:

That one’s pretty cool.  A river runs through it.  I have spelunked quite a few of the caves around here, some are pretty large by my standards.  Some drop off bluffs directly into the lake.  Some have unusual formations in them.  Some are just plain beautiful.  However, I have to admit, I never dreamed of a cave like the one just discovered in Venezuela:

Beautiful view huh?  Now, to get an idea of the size of Cueva Del Fantasma, see those two lighter colored objects sitting at the bottom of the cave?  Those are HELICOPTERS!

Bright Galactic Flash

A huge explosion halfway across the galaxy packed so much power it briefly altered Earth’s upper atmosphere in December, astronomers said Friday.

The blast originated about 50,000 light-years away and was detected Dec. 27. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).

“Had this happened within 10 light-years of us, it would have severely damaged our atmosphere and possibly have triggered a mass extinction,” said Bryan Gaensler of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

Dang, as usual. I totally missed it.  Definitely click on the link and read the whole story. It’s an interesting read in its entirety.  What’s cool to think about IMO, is that something so far away could have an impact on Earth.  The universe just gets smaller every day.

Sustainable Oil?

This article was brought to my attention by DirtyDingus on The Motley Fool. Before I go any further, please read it. Nothing else makes any sense if you don’t because it’s a fairly radical idea that I hadn’t heard before. The basic synopsis is: Crude oil forms as a natural inorganic process which occurs between the mantle and the crust, somewhere between 5 and 20 miles deep. What this means, in simple terms, is oil is not the by-product of decaying dinosaurs, but a process that is ongoing. Their evidence is stated as such:

– By the late ’80s, the platform’s production had slipped to less than 4,000 barrels per day, and was considered pumped out. Done. Suddenly, in 1990, production soared back to 15,000 barrels a day, and the reserves which had been estimated at 60 million barrels in the ’70s, were recalculated at 400 million barrels. Interestingly, the measured geological age of the new oil was quantifiably different than the oil pumped in the ’70s.

– Similar results were seen at other Gulf of Mexico oil wells.
– Similar results were found in the Cook Inlet oil fields in Alaska.
– Similar results were found in oil fields in Uzbekistan.
– Similarly in the Middle East, where oil exploration and extraction have been underway for at least the last 20 years, known reserves have doubled.

The Cantarell Oil reserve in the Gulf of Mexico has been one of the largest oil producers in the world for years. However, by 1997, its production started declining, the article linked talks of it’s ultimate demise:

Even the largest fields we find offshore in the deepwater today only produce about 250,000 bbl/day. It will take about 4 of them to replace this decline in Cantarell.

And even the heavy oil field they mention won’t replace the loss of Cantarell by the end of the decade. And one must remember that all oil fields which are producing today, are in the process of declining.

The implications of this upcoming decline are tremendous to the world. This field produces half of what Ghawar does and it won’t be doing that much longer. The effect on the energy supply will be felt and there is no way for that not to happen. On Aug. 3, 2004, the OPEC president stated that OPEC has no more spare capacity. They are pumping all out and can’t satisfy the demand for oil. If fields like Cantarell begin declining, the problem of supplying the world with oil will only get worse.

As recently as two weeks ago, we were still reading of Cantarell’s demise. They were having to dig in deeper waters, and dig deeper in those waters. Almost sounding desperate.

We had a discussion of Hubbert’s Peak here, a lot of their assumptions are based on the rapidly declining Mexican oil production. Hubbert’s Peak has become the standard for gloom-and-doom prophecies based on current understandings of oil.

Now, a strange thing is happening at Cantarell, and there’s not a lot of detail yet, but, they are suddenly, according to Pemex, finding huge amounts of oil:

Pemex’ Cantarell offshore discovery confirmed

Mexico sets new Cantarell oil find at 1.4 bn boe

I swear I am starting to believe the “Sustainable Oil” theory. There are some odd things happening with oil production that were not supposed to happen. The Gulf is supposed to be nearly spent, as drilling there has been ongoing for a long time. But, production estimates now are going up after 50 years of drilling. It won’t solve all the world’s problems, but it sure will calm things down a little bit. And, it will push Hubbert’s Peak way back. Back far enough, IMO, to pursue energy alternatives for the future.