Corn A-plenty; In the Nick of Time

Mere freeways may be closed; but according to ever-vigilant NOAA, the rich planting benefits of global warming (or is it climate change this week) continue to accrue. Planting in Minnesota is JUST FINE; thank you very much. Snowdrifts 2 to 3 feet high, notwithstanding.

Tip to NOAA users: The ocean, which was supposed to be covering the beaches, has now gone elsewhere. Your climate watchdog is, well, a dog.


Last update: April 26, 2008 – 3:12 PM

A late April snowstorm dumped a foot of snow or more across parts of western and northern Minnesota, forcing authorities to close a major freeway and St. Cloud State to cancel its spring football game. At least two deaths were blamed on the storm.

The National Weather Service received reports of an estimated 18 inches of snow in Pelican Rapids, 15 inches in Hawley and 13.5 inches in Wilkin.

Other snowfall reports include 12 inches in Donnelly, more than 10 inches in Hewitt and 9.5 inches north of Park Rapids. It also snowed in the Twin Cities but not as much.

“This is a good old, Old Man Winter at his last gasp. It’s going to be gone,” National Weather Service meteorologist Tony Zaleski in Chanhassen said of the Twin Cities snow, which measured 0.20 inches at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

But western Minnesota was dealing with snowdrifts 2 to 3 feet high.

“This is the pits,” Wheaton Inn owner Connie Churchill said Saturday. She said her family already had put the snowblower away, and it’s “buried in a shed out back, and we can’t get out to that.”

A wedding party was staying at her motel, Churchill said, and 10 guests for the wedding had to cancel. But the motel was able to make up for the 10 rooms by travelers pulling off the roads, she said.

A snowplow already had made two trips to her motel and was coming back a third time, Churchill said.

“It’s been six months of winter, so it’s been unbelievable,” she said.

The Fergus Falls Salvation Army played host to travelers stranded by the snowstorm.

“People were in ditches. There was no room in the hotels and everyone was sending them here,” Salvation Army volunteer Melinda Tripp told KBRF Radio of Fergus Falls.

The Minnesota State Patrol closed Interstate 94 from Moorhead to the Osakis area on Saturday because of poor travel conditions. Many vehicles, mainly semis, were in the ditch, a patrol dispatcher said.

Two men were killed Friday in a head-on crash near Alexandria in which authorities said snow and slippery roads were a factor.

Kenneth Wayne Klug, 62, of Garfield and Julian Ray Kvanbek, 73, of Evansville were trapped in their vehicles and had to be extricated, the Otter Tail County sheriff’s office said. Both drivers were pronounced dead at a hospital.

The snow prompted St. Cloud State to cancel its spring football game, as well as a youth football clinic and Football 101 Class that were scheduled Saturday. The school said there will be no makeup dates.


Al Gore’s Ethanol From Corn

As President of the Senate, Al Gore cast the deciding vote (1994) to develop and subsidize ethanol from corn.  Like all Gore projects, ethanol from corn is absolutely the least efficient means – more efficient only than squeezing ethanol from rocks, which Al Gore would also very much like us to invest in.

Unfortunately, corn only yields a pathetic 300 gallons of ethanol per acre, while sugar beets yield 700 gallons of ethanol per acre in France.  Sugar cane in Brazil yields 662 gallons of ethanol per acre.  Switchgrass yields 1000 gallons of ethanol per acre in United States trials.  Another biomass source trial (U. Illinois) finds Miscanthus producing up to 1500 gallons ethanol per acre.

The net energy gain in ethanol from corn (the energy which comes from the corn) is 21%, the rest of the energy in ethanol from corn comes from conventional sources.  But this 21% neglects distribution and overhead costs; when these are considered, corn is a NET WASTE OF ENERGY when converted to ethanol.  Which explains why Al Gore likes it. Switchgrass yields a net energy gain of 343%.

An important consideration, as we perhaps enter the Al Gore Sunspot Minimum and Gore Ice Age (as are most indications if not “corrected” by James Hansen, Al Gore’s “science” advisor), is the efficient use of the growing season and cropland. But this aside: if we cannot process Miscanthus today, we should eat the corn anyway, at least as a matter of government policy. This would give us a real gain in energy; not an Al Gore gain (A gain for Al Gore is a loss for everyone else, as history and ethanol from corn shows). However, Al Gore persistently interferes in good government.

Cellulosic Ethanol: a greener alternative
By Charles Stillman, June 2006

… Sugarcane, at 1:8, yields about eight units of energy for every one unit invested to grow, harvest and convert the cane into ethanol. The fibrous cane material that remains after the sugar has been extracted (also known as bagasse) is used to provide heat (read: energy) in the distillation process. In most cases, this eliminates the need for energy from an external source. One unit of energy is used for every five units provided by the Miscanthus-based ethanol fuel. Switchgrass’s net energy yield is slightly less, at about 1:4. Sugar beets yield nearly two units of energy for every one unit that is used to grow and convert the crop into ethanol. Corn lies near the very bottom of the list at 1:1.4.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, last year the U.S. surpassed Brazil as the largest ethanol producer in the world. Despite having its production title stripped, Brazil remains unparallel in its use of ethanol. Today, ethanol accounts for as much as 40 percent of the non-diesel fuel used in Brazilian vehicles, as opposed to just 3 percent in the US. More than 70 percent of the automobiles sold in Brazil today are flexible-fuel vehicles, or FFVs, capable of running on gasoline, ethanol or a mix of the two.

The U.S. has sugar cane crops of its own that could be used to produce ethanol. In July, the US Department of Agriculture is due to release a study evaluating the economic feasibility of converting US sugar into ethanol. With import quotas that prop U.S. sugar prices at levels twice that found on the world market, it is believed that many farmers will likely continue converting their cane into sugar. In fact, the price of U.S. sugar is expected to continue rising due primarily to the loss of crops caused by last year’s hurricanes as well as reduced imports of Brazilian sugar, prompted by the South American country’s decision to divert more of its cane to ethanol production. Some analysts believe that continuing high oil prices and the current demand for ethanol as an alternative to MTBE will entice some U.S. sugar cane and sugar beet growers to venture into ethanol production nonetheless. In Maui, the Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company and Maui Ethanol LLC have done just that, forming a partnership that is expected to produce 12 million gallons of ethanol per year from sugar cane. The economics of converting sugar cane to ethanol makes more sense in Hawaii where gasoline prices are about a dollar more per gallon than on the mainland. Growers in Louisiana and Florida also are flirting with the idea, but as of yet none have opted for ethanol over sugar. Jose Alvarez, senior vice president of operations at the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, says that a recent feasibility study indicated that their farmers stood to earn less than half as much for their sugar if it went towards the production of ethanol, rather than being sold as raw sugar.

Dr. Pat Westhoff is the program director with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) and a research associate professor in the department of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri. When asked for his reaction to corn’s seemingly illogical prominence among scores of superior biomass options such as sugar cane, Dr. Westhoff cited shear economics as the reasoning. “The amount of ethanol that can be produced from an acre of corn is less than from an acre of sugar, but an acre of sugar costs much, much more to produce in this country. Brazilian ethanol has been economical largely because sugar production costs are much lower there.”

Texas is the fourth largest sugar cane growing state, with most of the cane concentrated in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Steve Bearden, President and CEO of Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers, Inc., says that at this point, the organization is not considering converting its cane to ethanol. Sugar cane growers stand to make more money selling their cane to sugar refineries than to ethanol distilleries, he explains. The organization is, however, conducting a feasibility study to assess the potential of manufacturing ethanol distilleries that would be powered by sugar cane bagasse but produce ethanol from other agricultural feedstocks. (article continues)


Planting Delayed; Globe Too Hot

As long as “Too Hot” means too much ice and cold, as it does at NOAA.

I would’ve thought the purpose of NOAA should be to alert us to climate risks or dangers; apparently widespread late planting is not among NOAA’s concerns.

Search “Delayed planting 2008” for a revealing litany of reported planting delays.

(and for diversity)

The typical article follows. But we are likely to get another batch of planting delay articles every day now. Maybe we can pay a subsidy for delay of planting the subsidized crop.

Submit your own crop delay search terms; but I am off to get ammo for the explanation of why ethanol from corn uses more energy than it can deliver (ethanol from sugar cane and switchgrass actually add to energy supplies).

Planting Season Delayed

April 23, 2008- Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Blackfoot – Idaho
By Araksya Karapetyan
KIDK Television

Although cold, long winters aren’t anything new here in Idaho, over the last few years they’ve been pretty mild.
But this year, there seems to be no end.
And for many local farmers in the area, this is throwing them a little off schedule.

Usually more snow means more moisture, farmers have no complaints there.
But longer winters does delay the planting season.
I spoke with couple farmers and they all say they’re close to two weeks behind.

James Hoff, farmer:”We’ve had plenty of moisture this season.”

That’s always a good thing.
That means farmers have a prosperous growing season ahead.
But first they need to get started.

Hoff: “From the last five years we’re ten to fourteen days later than we would have been normally.”

And if you go west or north of Idaho Falls, up toward Rexburg those farmers are even more behind.

Hoff: “Those guys still have snow on the ground and the fields are very wet.”

A farmer in Osgood tells me last year, he started planting grain, wheat, and barley in the beginning of March.
This year he’s a good two to three weeks late.
And Idaho’s stare vegetable the spud, is behind schedule too.

Gauge Study Denial

NOAA: . . . Global Land Temperature Sets Record
…The average global land temperature last month was the warmest on record and ocean surface temperatures were the 13th warmest. Combining the land and the ocean temperatures, the overall global temperature ranked the second warmest for the month of March. Global temperature averages have been recorded since 1880…

After the weather balloon data is manipulated and cherry-picked, after the surface stations are located at air conditioner exhausts and on roofs of buildings, and within a few feet of warm structures. After the data is manipulated further to consistently reduce previous years observations. After the data is liberally massaged by the predictors of climate, and peddlers of carbon credits, perhaps we could imagine that NOAA actually believes temperatures are higher again. But it would be a stretch!

The data does not stand up under the inspection of Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts, even 16-year old Kristen Byrnes, (whose website has gone viral) and a host of others. We can have no confidence at all in NOAA’s computer theories of weather, which predicted significant warming in the last ten years, and precisely none followed. We were threatened with catastrophic global warming, and got no warming at all. We can have no confidence in NOAA’s ability or even its desire to measure temperature correctly. NOAA expects us to swallow, hook, line, and sinker, its latest assertion, however bad are the gauges and analysis methods. We cannot do it.

Check out the fancy performance of NOAA and others in maintaining its gauges (surface stations), courtesy of Anthony Watts, just below. The estimated error for most of the devices is greater by far than the change we want to observe. Of course, one could correct the data IF WE COULD RESTRAIN OURSELVES FROM DISTORTING IT FURTHER in the process. The “corrections” seem to only add to the error. 77% of these devices are expected to produce error of more than 1 degree centigrade. With such a motley population of gauges, how do we manage to correct them, anyway.

Detailed report (from NOAA, dated April 16) here.


Climate Reference Network Rating Guide – adopted from NCDC Climate Reference Network Handbook, 2002, specifications for siting (section 2.2.1) of NOAA’s new Climate Reference Network:
Class 1 – Flat and horizontal ground surrounded by a clear surface with a slope below 1/3 (<19deg). Grass/low vegetation ground cover 3 degrees.
Class 2 – Same as Class 1 with the following differences. Surrounding Vegetation 5deg.
Class 3 (error 1C) – Same as Class 2, except no artificial heating sources within 10 meters.
Class 4 (error >= 2C) – Artificial heating sources = 5C) – Temperature sensor located next to/above an artificial heating source, such a building, roof top, parking lot, or concrete surface.”
Class 5 (error >~= 5C) – Temperature sensor located next to/above an artificial heating source, such a building, roof top, parking lot, or concrete surface.”

On The Impact of Global Warming to Humans

With respect to success of the human species, from human history, and from paleoclimatology, success can be fairly summarized:  periods of warmth have been conducive to humanity, taken globally, but frigidness has presented great difficulty.    One crucial consideration is the impact of the length of growing seasons on the magnitude, quality, and variety in the food supply.  Without doubt, another crucial consideration is the mobility of humans, which is facilitated during warmth, but greatly inhibited during frigid periods.  By whatever mechanism, the human species thrives in warmer conditions.  Historically, human culture has progressed, by any measure, when abetted by warmth..

An argument is persistently made in The Chilling Stars (deep into the book) that ice-ages are also beneficial to human-kind. Humans, it is argued, evolve better in the freezing cold; or under climatic stress. Karl Marx (and successors) also made an argument which apparently persists today, that humans require more evolution; and some selection, however natural, was in order; as long as he, and they, did the selection. This is an extreme form of social engineering. Please take this opportunity to judge for yourself the fruits of this persistent dogma (don’t forget today’s food riots in Venezuela and elsewhere). The subject is generally avoided in polite discussion, for some reason. If changing humanity for the better requires one innocent human life be sacrificed, we should reject it; if only because we do not, and cannot, know what is better.

I guess we could make the argument that polar-bears would also benefit from some climatic stress.

I would dispute that ice-ages are beneficial to humans. I dispute even more that humans can evolve from our present condition, at any observeable rate. But most of all, I dispute that hypothetical “evolution” of humans can be beneficial; but maybe it can, if we can become independent of a star.

The “history” of Earth is profoundly clear (although more can be learned), with respect to climate: you will not be happy if you are trying to live on a glacier. You may even be dead. I would’ve thought it obvious, but it took me 300 words to get here.

Undoubtedly, species adapt. In terms of human life, and human misery, adapting to cold will be far more costly than adapting to warmth, whether evolution is involved, or not.

In conclusion, denial of Earth’s “history” will not help us avoid its repetition. Carbon dioxide has been higher than today by an order of magnitude and more; and if Earth gets as warm as it has ever been, which is far warmer than today, humans will thrive. On the other hand, if Earth gets as cold as it has been, humans will be decimated, if not become extinct. Studying “history” produces at least one simple result: odds favor a cold future, hands down. Earth today is uncommonly warm; and uncommonly comfortable. Will it get more comfortable, or colder?

Al Gore’s Perfect Storm

Gore and affiliated parties have diverted science to carbon dioxide abatement; and diverted croplands to subsidized corn for even more expensive fuel than we had already.  Grain prices are exploding.  With a few more winters like the last one, global warming will become global starvation.  But it may happen NEXT WINTER.  Worldwide the effects of high grain prices are already causing starvation.  And there is no real sign of cycle 24.

Al Gore may have created the perfect storm; the storm which will make 1935 starvation in the very breadbasket of Stalin’s Soviet Union a feast, in comparison.  In spite of Stalin’s efforts, there are many more hungry human mouths today.

In 1935, it was warm.   

Stalin's Forced Famine 1932-33 7,000,000 Deaths

Carbon dioxide residence time debunked

It seems the cold Pacific Ocean may be taking up a lot of carbon dioxide.

HT, source: Icecap, Anthony Watts

(more coming)

Carbon Dioxide Ocean Uptake?