# More “settled science” – Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered

Some nitrogen-fixing microorganisms contain an enzyme for the simultaneous production of ammonia and methane

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON HEALTH SCIENCES/UW MEDICINE

An unexpected source of methane in the environment has been inadvertently discovered.

Nitrogen-fixing bacteria are the chief means by which nitrogen gas in the air is changed into a form that plants and animals can use. Roughly 10 percent of these nitrogen-fixing microorganisms contain the genetic code for manufacturing a back-up enzyme, called iron iron-only nitrogenase, to do their job.

Recent research reveals that this enzyme allows these microorganisms to convert nitrogen gas to ammonia and carbon dioxide into methane at the same time. The ammonia is the main product; the methane is only a sideline.

This enzymatic pathway is a previously unknown route for the natural biological production of methane.

The findings are reported Jan. 15 in Nature Microbiology. The senior author is Caroline Harwood, the Gerald…

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# Science, optimism, and the resilience of polar bears in an ever-changing Arctic

Optimism in conservation science — which the Smithsonian says we desperately need (Earth Optimism Summit21-23 April 2017, apparently a huge success) — means it’s time to acknowledge and celebrate real conservation success stories. The Smithsonian folks probably won’t say it but I will — one of those successes is the recovery of polar bears.

It’s time to abandon the focus on prophesies of impending loss and accept that recovery of polar bears from the over-hunting of last century has continued despite a decade of low summer sea ice (Aars et al. 2017; Crockford 2017; Dyck et al. 2017; SWG 2016; York et al. 2016). Why not focus on the numerous images of fat, healthy bearsrather than the anomalous starving ones?

It’s time to let go of imagined future catastrophes based on pessimistic failures of adaptation (Amstrup et al. 2007, 2008; Atwood et al. 2016; Stirling…

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# US Cold Winters Mysteriously Disappear!

By Paul Homewood

Bob Ward has taken exception with Booker’s column last week on the severe cold weather this month in the US, with this letter in today’s Telegraph:

SIR – Christopher Booker, discussing climate change, is wrong to claim that this year “is the latest in a succession of recent record cold winters” in North America.

According to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the coldest winter on record for the contiguous United States was in 1978-79, followed by 1935-36, 1898-99, 1909-10 and 1904-5.

Seven of the 10 past winters have been warmer than average, including the warmest winter on record in 2015-16. The winters of 2007-08 and 2013-14, which Mr Booker highlights as particularly cold, were respectively only the 68th and 33rd coldest since records began in 1901. The mean temperature for the US in December 2017 was above average.

Bob Ward
Policy and Communications…

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# Matt Ridley: The mysterious cycles of ice ages

US winter storm 2018 [image credit: NASA]
A sort of review of leading ice age theories. A paper by Ralph Ellis that was featured at the Talkshop gets a mention. A point not mentioned: the carbon cycle dictates that cooling leads to the oceans absorbing more CO2, while warming leads to more outgassing of it to the atmosphere.

Record cold in America has brought temperatures as low as minus 44C in North Dakota, frozen sharks in Massachusetts and iguanas falling from trees in Florida, writes Matt Ridley.

Al Gore blames global warming, citing one scientist to the effect that this is “exactly what we should expect from the climate crisis”. Others beg to differ: Kevin Trenberth, of America’s National Centre for Atmospheric Research, insists that “winter storms are a manifestation of winter, not climate change”.

Forty-five years ago a run of cold winters caused a “global cooling” scare.

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# Mike Rowe schools a woman who labels him an “anti-education, science doubting, ultra-right wing conservative.”

This is great. Mike Rowe, of “Dirty Jobs” does a weekly podcast/Facebook posting called “How I Heard It”.  His “Off the Wall” segments are always enlightening, because, Rowe dishes out some of his characteristic common sense by answering a question or comment from a fan, or in some cases, someone who isn’t a fan at all. I get some of those same kinds of emails he does.

In his latest “Off the Wall” Facebook posting, Rowe replied to a comment made by a woman named “Rebecca Bright”. Bright says she is a fan of the show “How the Universe Works,” which Rowe does the voice over work for, but suggested Rowe to get fired from narrating the show because, according to her, he’s apparently one of those “science deniers” that we often hear about from the left. Although the show was about black holes and galaxies, Mike even managed to…

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# The Children’s Climate Lawsuit Harms The Children

When launching a boomerang, watch out when it comes back on you.

This post provides further perspective and some legal background regarding the lawsuit campaign by Hansen et al fronted by idealistic children.  First an article at Investor’s Business Daily points out how the lawsuit is not in the best interest of present or future generations: The Children’s Climate Lawsuit Against The Children  Excerpts with my bolds below from Benjamin Zycher Jan. 12, 2018

Litigation may be as American as apple pie, but some lawsuits are so destructive that they stand out even among the hugely expensive wreckage wrought by our legal system. The most prominent current example is the “children’s” climate lawsuit (Juliana v U.S.): A group of kids, including “future generations, through their guardian Dr. James Hansen,” claim that the government’s actions and failures to act have caused climate change, thus violating the youngest generation’s constitutional rights…

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# Claim: Birds of Prey Deliberately Setting Wildfires

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

So much for fire control – JoNova reports that raptors have been photographed congregating on the edge of large Australian bushfires, picking up burning sticks, and deliberately setting new spot fires in advance of the main blaze to flush out small mammals and other prey. This discovery potentially has profound implications for fire management in places like California.

Burn, Baby, Burn: Australian Birds Steal Fire to Smoke Out Prey

By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | January 9, 2018 11:23am ET

Grassland fires that are deadly and devastating events for many kinds of wildlife are a boon to certain types of birds known as fire foragers. These opportunists prey on animals fleeing from a blaze, or scavenge the remains of creatures that succumbed to the flames and the smoke.

But in Australia, some fire-foraging birds are also fire starters.

Three species of raptors — predatory birds…

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# More renewables mean less stable grids, researchers find

Who knew? Apart from nearly everyone who ever gave it any thought, that is. But if confirmation and analysis from published research is needed, PEI reports it here. It seems to be worse than they thought.

Grid stability is likely to be increasingly challenged as power distribution moves from a centralized to a more decentralized model, new research has found.

According to a paper published this week in the journal Nature Energy by researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization and the UK’s Queen Mary University of London, integrating growing numbers of renewable power installations and microgrids onto the grid can result in larger-than-expected fluctuations in grid frequency.

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# When is the next Ice Age due ?

According to Emily Shuckburgh and Prof. Erik Wolf in a letter to the Times , the next Ice Age is not expected for another 50,000 years. Their claim seems to be based on a 2016 paper in Nature by Andrey Ganopolski, R. Winkelmann & H. J. Schellnhuber, Nature 529, 200–203 (14 January 2016).

“Even without man-made climate change we would expect the beginning of a new ice age no earlier than in 50.000 years from now”

The paper also claims that the Earth narrowly avoided the inception of a new ice age just before the Industrial Revolution, because CO2 levels were 40ppm above some hypothetical threshold of 240ppm. Of course humans were responsible for this (luckily this time) due to deforestation and land use change.

The leading hypothesis currently is that Ice Ages initiate when summer insolation reduces sufficiently so that it fails to melt back the previous winter snow. Ice then slowly accumulates leading to an increase in albedo as the northern ice sheets slowly grow. There are two causes for this effect, both of which interplay one with the other. Changes in the obliquity of the earth modulate summer insolation at both poles. Precession of the seasons, due to the precession of the earth’s axis, change the timing of the summer equinox. Combined together they then modulates the distance ‘R’ to the sun during summer months, simply because the earth has an elliptical orbit . The strength of this precession ‘forcing’ is amplified by $\frac{1}{R^2}$ at high eccentricity.

# Rise and Fall of CAGW

On January 8, 2018 Ross Pomeroy published  at RealClearScience an interesting article The Six Stages of a Failed Psychological Theory

The Pomeroy essay focuses on theories in the field of psychology and describes stages through which they rise, become accepted, challenged and discarded. It has long seemed to me that global warming/climate change theory properly belongs in the field of social studies and thus should demonstrate a similar cycle.

Formerly known as CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming), the notion of “climate change” is logically a subject of social science rather than physical science. “Climate Change” is a double abstraction: it refers to the derivative (change) in our expectations (patterns) of weather. Thus studies of “Climate Change” are properly a branch of Environmental Sociology.

As a social psychology theory, CAGW/climate change bundles together three interdependent assertions.

From the beginning the claimed science, impacts and policies were bundled, which makes CAGW theory…

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