China

Study shows current warming not unprecedented

Global warming alarmists frequently claim the last decade or two is the warmest ever. However, the 1930s were just as warm and going even farther back shows that the naturally cyclical global temperature was even warmer than now.

Chinese researches have reconstructed sea surface temperatures (SST) from the Roman Warm Period (centered around 50 A.D.) and the Medieval Climate Anomaly (centered around 990 A.D.) by using the proxy of Strontium/Calcium ratios and Oxygen-18 values of Tradacna gigas (giant clam) shells collected from the northern South China Sea. The results are summarized by CO2Science.org here.

They found that the mean annual sea surface temperature of the 80-year periods centered on the Medieval Climate Anomaly were 0.8 C warmer than now and sea surface temperatures centered on the Roman Warm Period were 1.4°C higher than the mean SST during the AD 1994-2005 portion of the Current Warm Period. Likewise, they also report that the mean summer SSTs of the Medieval Climate Anomaly and Roman Warm Period were, respectively, 0.2 C and 1.0°C higher than that of the current warm period, while the mean winter SSTs of the Medieval Climate Anomaly and Roman Warm Period were, respectively, 1.3 C and 1.8°C higher than that of the current warm period.

 SST South China Sea

This means that IPCC claims that recent decades were the warmest in the past 1300 years are not true.

The results of the current study back up several other studies which found similar results. The paper is: Yan, H., Sun, L., Shao, D., Wang, Y. and Wei, G. 2014, Higher sea surface temperature in the northern South China Sea during the natural warm periods of late Holocene than recent decades. Chinese Science Bulletin 59: 4115-4122.

This and other studies provide more evidence that warming of the late 20th Century is nothing unusual and well within the range of natural variation. These studies also show that carbon dioxide has little influence on global temperature.

The next time someone claims that the X hottest years occurred recently, point them to this post. Point them also to this article: Geologic History: PETM when it really got hot which begins:

“The United Nation’s IPCC and other climate alarmists say all hell will break loose if the global temperature rises more than an additional 2 C (3.6 F). That number, by the way, is purely arbitrary with no basis in science. It also ignores Earth’s geologic history which shows that for most of the time global temperatures have been much warmer than now. Let’s look back at a time when global temperatures are estimated to have been as much as 34 F warmer than they are now. Hell didn’t break loose then.”

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

Failure of climate models shows that carbon dioxide does not drive global temperature

Climate change in perspective

Mystery of the missing heat

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How we use rare earth elements

There are 17 naturally occurring rare earth elements (REE): yttrium, scandium, lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium. Although not very familiar to most people, these elements are used by us all every day. By 2015, world demand for rare earth minerals is expected to reach 210,000 tons per year up from 136,100 tons in 2010.  Currently, China provides most of our supply.

The National Mining Association has produced an info-graphic showing the major uses of the rare earth elements:

Rare_Earths_Infographic_FINAL

Despite the name “rare earths” the more common REE are each similar in crustal abundance to commonplace metals such as chromium, nickel, copper, zinc, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, and lead, but REEs rarely occur in economic concentrations, and that’s the problem.

The U.S. used to be self-sufficient in REE mined from one deposit, Mountain Pass in the Mojave desert, California, just west of Las Vegas, Nevada. That mine, a carbonatite intrusion with extraordinary contents of light REE (8 to 12% rare earth oxides) was discovered in 1949 and began production in 1952. Mining ceased in 2002 due to low prices and some environmental regulatory trouble triggered by a tailings spill. However, the mine was reactivated in 2012. Some other U.S. rare earth resources are shown on the map below.

RareEarthin-US-map

See also:
Rare Earth Elements Deposits in New Mexico

Last Primary American lead smelter closing – implications for ammunition manufacturing

The Doe Run lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri, established in 1892, will close in December due to EPA regulations on air quality.

According to AmmoLand, “The Herculaneum smelter is currently the only smelter in the United States which can produce lead bullion from raw lead ore that is mined nearby in Missouri’s extensive lead deposits, giving the smelter its ‘primary’ designation.  The lead bullion produced in Herculaneum is then sold to lead product producers, including ammunition manufactures for use in conventional ammunition components such as projectiles, projectile cores, and primers.  Several ‘secondary’ smelters, where lead is recycled from products such as lead acid batteries or spent ammunition components, still operate in the United States.”

What this means, though, is that ammunition manufacturers will have to get primary lead bullion from overseas sources such as China.

“In 2008 the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead that were 10 times tighter than the previous standard.  Given the new lead air quality standard, Doe Run made the decision to close the Herculaneum smelter.”  This seems to be an end-run in the gun control controversy.

The Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) opines that “The all-out attack on Americans’ gun rights is now being taken to the next level.”  “[M]assive stockpiling effort by the Department of Homeland Security has forced ammunition prices to nearly triple, while also dwindling supplies of many popular calibers.”

The new EPA regulations would require an estimated $100 million to convert [to non-smelter manufacturing], so Doe Run decided to close the smelter.  This will also destroy American jobs.

SPPI also notes “And after we can no longer manufacture ammunition domestically we have the UN Arms Trade Treaty to stop the importation of ammunition.”

Better stock up on bullets now.

EPA air quality regulations are affecting not just lead smelters.  There are now only three copper smelters in the US, two in Arizona, one in Utah. The lack of smelting capacity is the reason the proposed Rosemont mine may have to send its copper concentrates overseas. Will we soon have to send all copper ore overseas?  EPA is also endangering our electricity production with its war on coal-fired generating plants such as the Navajo plant in Arizona which provides the electricity to run the Central Arizona Project canal that provides water to Tucson.

I wonder if this will have implications for military readiness.

See also:

Obama’s Climate Action Plan is Clueless and Dangerous

Black Ops II and our mineral supply

Mineral-imports-2011A new action video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II is now on the market. While I don’t play such games myself, the premise is interesting: A new cold war has begun between the U.S. and China because China has banned exports of rare earth minerals. We get nearly all of our rare earth minerals from China. This premise and its implications are discussed in a Washington Times editorial by Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, and by Michael Silver is president of American Elements, a manufacturer of engineered and advanced materials. (See chart of all our imported minerals at the bottom of this post.)

Within the editorial Quinn and Silver lament the loss of investment in U.S. mineral development which they say is due to “to an outdated, muddled permitting process, which can require a staggering seven to 10 years for approval of just one mine. This is precious time that costs our nation valuable jobs and discourages companies from investing here.” I discuss this state of affairs in my post: Mining and the bureaucracy.

In my post China Controls Rare Earth Elements Supply I note that the rare earth elements are used every day in things such as liquid-crystal displays on computer monitors and televisions, fiber optic cables, magnets, glass polishing, DVD and USB drives in the computer, catalytic converters, and petroleum cracking catalysts, batteries (the Prius uses 10 pounds of lanthanum), fluorescent lights, missiles, jet engines, and satellites. In other words, these elements are critical to our high-technology world.

In my post Rare Earths Resources in the US I note that only one mine, Mountain Pass, California, is currently producing rare earth minerals in the U.S. although there are other potential sources in the U.S. That post also links to a U.S. Geological Survey report “The Principal Rare Earth Elements Deposits of the United States—A Summary of Domestic Deposits and a Global Perspective.”

To get some perspective on the state of our mineral commodities, see the U.S. Geological Survey Report: “Mineral Commodity Summaries, 2012.” The chart below showing our mineral imports is a slightly modified version of the chart that appears on page 6 of the USGS report.

Maybe the premise of the video game is not so far fetched.

So now burning coal causes cooling?

Climate modelers are having a problem. The global temperature is not cooperating with the way the modelers say it should if their theories are correct. We learned of their consternation from the “Climategate” emails: Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said, “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment, and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

Now the modelers claim that China has saved the day by burning coal. A paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (written, by the way, by two geographers and two economists) claim that increased coal burning in China has put enough sulfur dioxide (SO2) in the air to block the alleged warming effect of carbon dioxide.

The logical, but perhaps absurd, conclusion of this claim is that we should abandon wind turbines and solar arrays, to burn much more coal.

If we stipulate that air quality near Chinese coal-burning power plants is foul, the question remains: is this a local effect or is it world-wide, enough to affect global temperature? Well, apparently the effect is not world-wide. The EPA measures air quality and the graph below shows that in the U.S., sulfur dioxide content of the air has been steadily decreasing. (Source )

SO2 air quality

 This “China syndrome” seems to be another attempt to explain away the failings of climate modeling and the divergence between model predictions and real-world observations. Perhaps the IPCC had it right when they said in their Third Assessment Report: “In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the prediction of a specific future climate state is not possible.”

UPDATE: New NASA paper says volcanoes primarily responsible for increased SO2:

Recently, the trend, based on ground-based lidar measurements, has been tentatively attributed to an increase of SO(2) entering the stratosphere associated with coal burning in Southeast Asia. However, we demonstrate with these satellite measurements that the observed trend is mainly driven by a series of moderate but increasingly intense volcanic eruptions primarily at tropical latitudes.

See also:

A Basic Error in Climate Models

Climate Model Projections vs Real World Observations

How Mother Nature Fools Climate Scientists

Your Carbon Footprint doesn’t Matter

A Modest Proposal: Triple Your Carbon Footprint

Excessive amounts of lead found in reusable grocery bags

From the Center for Consumer Freedom is this report:

Today, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) released new lab results showing that a number of major retailers’ reusable shopping bags contained excessive levels of lead. Of the 44 organizations whose bags were tested, 16 are selling or distributing reusable bags containing lead in amounts greater than 100 ppm (parts per million), which is where many states set the limit for heavy metals in packaging.

 National chains such as CVS, Safeway, Bloom, and Walgreens were among those with high levels of lead found in their re-usable bags. CVS and Safeway led the pack with 697 and 672 ppm respectively; both were nearly seven times the 100 ppm limit. To date, CVS is the only store that tested above 100 ppm to have recalled their bags.

 “Across the country legislators are proposing bills to ban or tax paper and plastic bags, but the unintended consequence of such legislation is that people are using reusable bags, which independent testing shows can often contain excessive levels of lead” said CCF Senior Research Analyst J. Justin Wilson. “As an advocate for consumer choice I believe consumers should have the option of using lead-free plastic and paper bags when they’re bringing home their groceries.”

 Other retailers testing positive for excessive levels of lead included Staples, Giant Eagle, Piggly Wiggly, Giant, Gerbes, KTA Superstore, Brookshire Brothers, Stater Bros., and, ironically, the District of Columbia Department of Environment.

 CCF focused on testing bags that were constructed from “nonwoven polypropylene,” which is the most commonly used material in reusable grocery bags. The material is typically made in China and can be produced in a variety of ways that either include or exclude toxic heavy metals.

 Read the full report here.

China Controls Rare Earth Elements Supply

Recently economist Paul Krugman complained that “China accounts for 97 percent of the world’s supply of minerals that play an essential role in many high-tech products, including military equipment.” He was writing about Rare Earth Elements (REE). There are 17 naturally occurring rare earth elements: yttrium, scandium, lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium. Not very familiar to most people, but they are used by us all every day. Some uses include liquid-crystal displays on computer monitors and televisions, fiber optic cables, magnets, glass polishing, DVD and USB drives in the computer, catalytic converters, and petroleum cracking catalysts, batteries (the Prius uses 10 pounds of lanthanum), fluorescent lights, missiles, jet engines, and satellites. In other words, these elements are critical to our high-technology world.

Despite the name “rare earths” the more common REE are each similar in crustal abundance to commonplace metals such as chromium, nickel, copper, zinc, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, or lead , but they rarely occur in economic concentrations, and that’s the problem.

The U.S. used to be self-sufficient in REE mined from one deposit, Mountain Pass in the Mojave desert, California, just west of Las Vegas, Nevada. That mine, a carbonatite intrusion with extraordinary contents of light REE (8 to 12% rare earth oxides) was discovered in 1949 and began production in 1952. Mining ceased in 2002 due to low prices and some environmental regulatory trouble triggered by a tailings spill. Some REE are still produced by processing stockpiles. Mountain Pass may resume mining next year.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, several other rare earth prospects in the U.S. are being explored: Bear Lodge in Wyoming; Diamond Creek in Idaho; Elk Creek in Nebraska; and Lemhi Pass in Idaho-Montana. Others sources that may come on line soon are Hoidas Lake in Saskatchewan, Canada; Nechalacho (Thor Lake) in Northwest Territories, Canada; Kangankunde in Malawi; and the Nolans Project in Northern Territory, Australia. At the Mount Weld rare-earth deposit in Australia, the initial phase of mining of the open pit was completed in June 2008.

For the time being, however, China controls the supply of vital minerals resources.

For more information see: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2002/fs087-02/fs087-02.pdf

UPDATE: See a story in the Atlantic: Chinese Rare Earth Embargo Spreads  and

China to limit exports of ‘rare earth’ minerals vital to energy tech