Peak Nothing: No sign of resource limitations

The ‘Hubbert’s Peak’ approach to oil reserves has fostered the notion that resource-limitation has already begun. Contrary to the assumptions of sustainability, this analysis of existing production of 16 resources finds no evidence of such limitation.

Dr James Rustad promptly sent me an excel spreadsheet with the calculations for gold, a mineral not shown in his paper. It is easy to work out the procedure from the spreadsheet. The cumulative productions are divided by the initial production, and the final cumulative production, to make the X and Y axes.

Here are more resources (h/t JRustad).

I particularly like the paper (it’s short), and the procedure (using a transformed model), and the purpose of examining basic assumptions. As he says:

Underpinning the recent focus on sustainability is the assumption that, for many raw materials, resource depletion is imminent.

Several resources often popularly perceived as exhibiting “peak” or logistic behavior, such as the rare earth elements, lithium, and helium show no evidence for a finite Qtot at any point in their production histories.

But of course…

The fact that production of a given resource is growing exponentially does not imply that the resource is inexhaustible.

A Calibrated Water Tank

The dynamics of a surge tank, used to suppress damaging over-pressure in fluid lines, is described by a simple ordinary differential equation (ODE) the same as eqn. 1 in the recent paper by Spencer and Brasswell, “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance”, so very generally applicable to many systems.

The dynamics has been coded into an Excel spreadsheet by ControlsWiki, with an example of default variables above. Note:

1. The variability of the height of fluid in the tank (red) is suppressed and lagged, but there is no parameter in the model for lag. Lag is an emergent property of the system.

2. Increasing the periodicity of the flow into the tank increases the mean height of the water in the tank (try it). So the average of the water height is not directly related to the average inflow, but also depends on the period, another surprising emergent property.

This simple example shows how simple dynamics can lead to surprising behavior, and why misdiagnosis occurs by failing to account for dynamics when applying a simple linear regression, say. The first step in a correct analysis of a system is a valid physical model.

You can change the parameters and experiment with other aspects of the model.

Prof. Brian O’Brian: frightened at the exaggerations

Professor J. Brian O’Brian, a respected Australian rocket scientist, interviewed by Richard Fidler on the ABC, on his contribution to Apollo 11 mission, the nature of moon dust, caving, and the corruption of science by climate change.

But the funding for climate change research was only going to what you’d call ‘true believers’, when that happens you inevitably you get a bias”. The sad situation a of professor of physics told me Brian I completely support what you’re saying, but I have 65 researchers in my laboratory and the only funding I can for them to get their PhDs is greenhouse funding from Canberra or wherever.

His submission in 2000 to the joint standing committees on the Kyoto Protocol is a damning indictment worth reading. First he recounts the history of failed prediction by the CSIRO:

In any event, the scientific scenarios of global warming for Australia are such that, in 1988, CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research predicted [it used the word “predicted”] that Australia would warm by between 2oC and 4oC by the year 2030. In 1990 my monograph Postponing Greenhouse described such figures as exaggerated. In 1992 CSIRO halved the estimate, thus “postponing” the year in which such a warming would occur. In 1996 CSIRO reduced the figure again, further “postponing” the benchmark warming of 3oC until about a century and a half after their original target year of 2030. International estimates have similarly been “postponed”.

On the propaganda role of the IPCC:

Uncertainty is not the chief concern, for in principle that could be removed by further research. But the IPCC reports show that this has not yet been done. The more serious worry is the ease with which the prose text of documents such as these can be divorced from fact and real-world numbers by the ubiquitous word processor, with the danger that particular conclusions about greenhouse impacts will retain their currency and force even when the assumptions on which they are based have been changed or rendered irrelevant.
This in turn raises the concern that the greenhouse problem is not merely an inverted pyramid of knowledge based on a handful of facts, but that the facts may now be buried in a pyramid of much-manipulated reports. Indeed, the documents circulated in June, 1990 may represent the last identifiable connection between the supposed greenhouse impacts and the facts.

Choice words on scientists behaving badly:

….the scientific community has more cause for blame than credit in much of the chicanery to date. The word “science” comes from the Latin “scientia” – knowledge. One of these days, scientists must once again rejoice in imparting knowledge, not fear. They may then, of course, lose their research funds provided by pragmatic politicians.

And on the government:

Consequently, the Australian community is not only not informed reliably about greenhouse, it is actively misinformed by governments, both the present government and the previous governments.

Prof. O’Brian spent 3 weeks or so with the fundamental papers and “got frightened at the exaggerations that were going around” embarking on a series of critical reviews of the science. According to todays leading academics and researchers at The Conversation he should be numbered among the ‘deniers of overwhelming scientific evidence’.

Thankfully a few of the old school scientists are still alive.

BoMs Climate Hockey Stick

The results of the Australian Temperature Record analyzed by kenskingdom posted as a series from July 2010 show an antipodean hockey stick.

When the results of the official homogeneity adjustments are compared with the raw data, there is a discrepancy of over 40%.

Ken has had ongoing correspondence with BOM, and an apology on behalf of the Minister Tony Burke MP that he has posted, but no explanation.

Australian Government Debt

The growth of debt continues. Here is the most recent Government Securities on Issue.

An earlier Government Debt Chart over a period covering the previous, conservative government is here.

While the Coalition payed off debt, Labor has created more debt, quadrupling since they took power, ensuring their reputation as the worst financial managers in recent history.

Global Warming Predictions for Australia

Once there were alarmists who constructed theoretical, unvalidated global warming predictions for Australia. Then there were the skeptics who asked, “Where is the evidence?”, and “How good are these models?”

The alarmists were backed by the UN, the entire machinery of Government, the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, state departments, professors at universities, scientific bodies, quangos, green-groups, and rent-seekers.

The skeptics were regular arse-out-of-their-pants business people, retirees, bloggers, a few journos like Andrew Bolt, and a national newspaper, The Australian.

Doubt on Damage to the Reef

NEW Australian research rejects forecasts that the Great Barrier Reef will be destroyed within a generation by climate change, and finds that corals are capable of adapting better than previously believed.

Only When the Tide Goes Out…

In February last year we published a front-page story quoting then climate change minister Penny Wong’s warning that rising oceans could see some of our most famous beaches destroyed or eroded back “hundreds of metres” over the coming century.

Now we are beginning to see a more rational debate, with dispassionate discussion of the facts. 


ABC Bans the Lord?

The ABC apparently pulled its scheduled transmission of the debate and replaced it with the Tour de France. See the banned debate here. I thought Denniss was adequate if downbeat, but this censorship is unconscionable. Could this be payback for Monckton calling for the defunding of the ABC in Ballarat, or Australian media censorship as usual?

My lasting impression from the debate is how flagrantly Dr Denniss spruiked the Labor Party policy and put-down the Opposition. It must be great to have so many well-appointed friends. Lord Monckton OTOH bagged the policies of both parties, so he looked more like a fair umpire.

Monckton vs Denniss Press Club Debate

Currently watching the debate. Monckton is more entertaining. Questions about his status as a Lord. Denniss is solid too. Generous applause for both. Good to see.

Gillard: “Coal mining has a great future in this country.” She is so unconvincing. The liar label has stuck.

Monckton played the three characteristics of persuasion: Pathos (emotion), logos (reasoning), and ethos (character)–for persuasion, these three; but the greatest of these (according to Aristotle at least) is ethos.

I would say Denniss ranked lower on all of these, mainly because he used them less, not because they were of lower quality. I doubt Monckton would be regarded as Jean’s fair umpire though:

This raises the hope that some of our bitter public disputes over science might be resolved, if only we could find the right messenger; a scientist whose conspicuous dignity, integrity and authority would make him (or her) trusted by all sides in the dispute.

UPDATE: See JoNova for insights by people present.

Overall Monckton won the debate, made his point, referred to the literature, while Denniss spent some time belittling the skeptics on being economic Sceptics as well, admonshing us for not criticizing the Liberal direct action policy.

Carbon Tax Ad

The first carbon tax ad downplays the risks of global warming so much, its plaintive (transcript here).

Climate change is predicted to lead to further rises in temperature, rises in sea levels and some extreme weather events becoming more common, making life more difficult.

Where are the crippling heat waves, the endless droughts, the 30m sea level rises, the hurricanes and floods, the massive species extinctions, etc., etc. that will reduce life zones to the poles? So now AGW is only going to make life more difficult? A pet does that.

Have climate scientists revised their beliefs on the basis of new evidence? Truth is, if it hadn’t been for skeptics elbowing their way into the public eye, we would still be hearing the same old fear-mongering themes.

Science is capable of enforcing those norms that benefit its own survival, but can’t seem to control baseless speculation, sloppy statistics, cherry-picking and hiding data among its ranks.

The message I get from the sickly jingle is “How nice it would be to be powered by renewable energy and emit less carbon, don’t you agree?” Well, I don’t agree. And I don’t agree carbon dioxide has caused most of the recent warming. Neither do a lot of other reputable scientists. So there.

Reform Gillard Style

Has there ever been a bloat like this before?

Just think of all those possies for their mates (and Bob and Christine’s mates)! And just the fun they will be able to have with other people’s money (nuclear and CCS proponents are urged – forced – to stay away).

These agencies are:

o Clean Energy Finance Corporation

o Climate Change Authority

o Energy Security Council

o Clean Energy Regulator

o Land Sector Carbon and Biodiversity Advisory Board

o Australian Renewable Energy Authority

I would like to call for cost-benefit analyses on all these agencies – something that all economists would surely endorse.

More details on this “sophisticated” plan at Carbon Central.

Sea Level Rise Debate

Global sea level must accelerate beyond the less than 3mm/yr rise presently to produce rises of a meter or more put out by the Australian Government fear-mongers. Challenges to the main basis for the 1 meter projections just posted on RC Is sea level rise accelerating? shows just how lame the defense of these catastrophic claims has become.

This is modelling I and many other have been very critical of in the past. A response by Houston and Dean contains further complaints about Rahmstorf’s modeling:

… it is easily seen that the portion of Figure 1 where the agreement is “good” compares their modeling versus increasingly meaningless data, and they have been selective in showing only data that appear to match their modeling and not the data that strongly disagree.


A recent workshop of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2010) considered the semi-empirical approaches of Rahmstorf (2007), Vermeer and Rahmstorf (2009), and others and concluded, “No physically-based information is contained in such models …” (p. 2) and “The physical basis for the large estimates from these semi-empirical models is therefore currently lacking” (p. 2).

Geoff Sherrington back in my original post noted a few more rebuttals and asked:

What does it take to drive a stake through its heart sufficient that no reputable scientist will refer to it except as an example of what not to do?

Climate Commission scientist Will Steffen aims high:

“I expect the magnitude of global average sea-level rise in 2100 compared to 1990 to be in the range of 0.5 to 1.0 metre,” Steffen said in his preface to “The Critical Decade”.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, seized on the Climate Commission report saying:

“We don’t have time for false claims in this debate. The science is in, climate change is real.”

H&D sum up the complaint — there is no evidence of the acceleration needed:

To reach the multimeter levels projected for 2100 by RV requires large positive accelerations that are one to two orders of magnitude greater than those yet observed in sea-level data.

To which Rahmstorf responds — we don’t need no stinkin’ evidence:

As Houston & Dean state in their final sentence, we indeed predict a much larger acceleration of sea level rise in the 21st Century than is observed in the 20th Century. That is a direct logical consequence of the fact that we expect much larger warming in the 21st than in the 20th.

Meanwhile, at some climate conference in Melbourne.

A CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship climate researcher, Dr Whetton said that, compared to annual average temperatures recorded in 1850, a 4ºC warming might occur by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions stay high. She said the projections are based primarily on the Australian regional results from up to 23 global climate models.

Yada yada yada.