JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Weekend Unthreaded

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37 comments to Weekend Unthreaded

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    Say, watch this short video from YouTube.

    This has to be some of the best animation I have ever seen.

    Watch closely for the ending. It’s a beauty.

    Pigeon Impossible

    Tony.

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    Much is being made of how the U.S. is reducing the emissions of CO2. (And keep in mind that 40% or more of those emissions come from the generation of electrical power) It’s true that CO2 emissions are falling, and that has its reasons I’ll come to. They are now proceeding to lower them even further with the imposition of Regulations by the EPA. It’s been highlighted a few times this week on Lateline, and one of those featured a former President Obama advisor, who said that the EPA is being given the okay to implement these new Regulations by direct word from the President, bypassing totally legislation that should go through the Congress.

    The main new Regulation is that CO2 emissions be limited to 1100 Pounds per MWH of electrical power being generated. Now, while that sounds bland enough when viewed as just the one statement, it’s complex, and, as I’ll show here, quite cynical in its nature.

    New Technology USC coal fired power plants, the ones being constructed in China mainly, and in many other Countries around the World burn 15% less coal per MWH than older technology plants do, and even they emit around 1800 Pounds of CO2 per MWH, so, in effect they are precluded now from being constructed in the U.S. so old tech plants, every one of them currently in operation in the U.S. now also fall well above this new limit.

    Gas fired power plants emit around 40% of the CO2 of coal fired power plants in relationship to the actual power being generated. The once through OCGT gas fired plants emit around 900 to 1000 Pounds of CO2 per MWH, and the CCGT plants lower even than that, around 750 to 800 Pounds of CO2 per MWH. Now, gas fired power in the U.S. has ramped up considerably over the last 10 years, in fact, increasing power delivery by almost double in the last ten years, to the point where, now, gas fired power plant emissions amount to (just from the U.S.) 580 Million tons of CO2 per year, and rising. And hey, how lucky is this. The current CO2 emissions for ALL NG fired plants in the US is 933 Pounds per MWH. Wasn’t that lucky, eh!

    So, why is this new Regulation cynical in its nature?

    Look at this timeline.

    Natural Gas (NG) fired plants started really ramping up around 2006 to 2008. Small and old tech coal fired power plants started to close, not because of this CO2 scare leading to CAGW, but because nearly every one of them was 50 years old and more, some up to 80 years old, and all but totally clapped out, used mainly as Running reserve, burning coal, and emitting CO2, but not delivering power to grids unless called upon during the daily Peaks. While these tiny plants (mostly lower than 50MW Nameplate, and in fact, most lower than 20MW) closed in ever increasing numbers, they were replaced by NG fired plants, not only by their same sized Nameplate, but by more new NG Nameplate than those closed coal fired plants, which perform the same Peak Power providers, but able to run up from cold when required to do so. These new NG plants don’t have the same 50 year life span of coal fired plants which are more robust in their nature than the NG turbine (similar to a jet engine) driven generating units, but even so, they have the capability to make at least 30 years or more.

    So now, scroll forward to 2014 and this new Regulation, still allowing NG plants to emit 580 million tons of CO2.

    Nearly all of those new NG plants are basically still quite new, and have quite a long life ahead of them.

    Imagine a new Regulation which means their life is limited, because the next step for this regulation is that it be imposed on existing CO2 emitting power plants, and as you can see here, the only target here is coal fired power plants. Just imagine the protest from power companies if the regulation was set lower than the emissions from their NEW power plants, still with a long and productive life ahead of them, forcing them to close.

    Imagine if the EPA was actually serious about it, you know, if they actually believed the Science that the emissions of CO2, no matter how little, was in fact detrimental to the Climate and causing CAGW, then they would be seriously considering the shutting down of all CO2 emitting power plants, not just targeting just one form of power generation, and setting the limit that now actually ensures the construction of many more NG power plants, both CCGT and the more emissions intensive OCGT plants.

    So instead of one new tech large scale coal fired plant with two 1100 to 1300MW generators, you now have to construct a plant with four to five units, or two, sometimes three new plants, just for an equivalent power delivery to grids across the U.S.

    And with this new Regulation soon to be aimed at already existing old tech coal fired plants, just how soon will they be closing down?

    The EPA has even said, that hey, new plants can open and old plants can stay in operation if they include Carbon Capture and Sequestration. (CCS) And here’s me thinking that the EPA would have bright, clever people in it who know that CCS is totally unobtainable on the scale required.

    Hey, if the problem is as bad as the EPA claims, why not just shut them down immediately.

    Just watch what will happen then. It’ll only take three to four days. Well, in fact, it’ll only take one hour really. The three to four days is how long it will take to get them all back on line again, and synched to each other and the grids.

    In that time, the U.S. will have quite literally ground to a halt. Full stop.

    And that would be political suicide.

    These new Regulations from the EPA are cynicism writ large.

    Tony.

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    vic g gallus

    There seems to be a push to get the acidification of oceans back into the limelight. Here is an article from The Grist (not to be confused with the Griss).

    Saunders said the carbon dioxide levels have increased dramatically in the waters of the Georgia Strait, forcing the PH levels to 7.3 from their norm of 8.1 or 8.2. … Saunders said the company has lost all the scallops put in the ocean in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

    Now pure water in a partial pressure of 0.000355 Atmospheres should have a pH of 5.65 and with a P=0.000400 it should be pH of 5.60. I fail to see how this could reduce the concentration of hydroxide in the buffered oceans from 1.3 x 10-6 M to almost 1/10th of this because of the extra 2.6 x 10-7M of acid. The best it could be reduced it to is 8, if the buffering was not present.

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    Peter C

    \Vacuum Flask Experiment

    For those who are impatiently awaiting the results I regret that there is a delay.

    I broke the flask as I was preparing to remove the aluminium coating and had to purchase another. The shop where I have bought several had only one left and is not getting anymore, so I have to be careful from now on.

    What I am trying to do is examine conflicting claims about the effect that reflected radiation has on a warm body. Some of the Slayers say that a body cannot absorb heat from its own radiation reflected back, whereas others say that reflected heat will either warm the body to a new higher temperature (if it has an energy source) or delay its cooling. Tens of thousands or words have been written so far, both sides quoting Voldemort’s law.

    My plan is to compare 2 seemingly identical vacuum flasks, for both warm and cold liquids. One of the flasks has its aluminium coating removed. My hypothesis is that if a body can absorb its own reflected radiation, the flask with the coating should perform much better than the flask without. The reason for using vacuum flasks is to minimise the confounding effects of conduction.

    I have a photo buth the image tag does not seem to allow an upload.

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      bobl

      The math is clear.

      Consider, if I force 100 Watts into a heating element, and then I enclose that heating element in a reflective container such that the heat can’t escape then the temperature inside of the reflective must increase until the loss from the container is equal to the input power. (Not taking into account losses). Now reduce in volume that reflective shield, until it is just larger than the filament) eg take it to the limit.

      Given a particular emission (loss) from that enclosed system, either the power input must fall to equal the emission or the temperature of the system must rise so that energy in = energy out. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Sum of Energy in must = Sum of energy out

      The Sky dragons are clearly wrong here

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        Graeme No.3

        So what?

        The basic premise has always been heat in = heat out, no temperature change.

        Somehow the Warmists have converted that to heat in = heat out (as observed at the Top of Atmosphere) therefore we have Global Warming.

        Why don’t you score a big success by disproving Loschmidt’s atmospheric paradox. That will confound the Sky Dragons.

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          bobl

          What do you mean so what?

          I have just shown that conservation demands that the source does heat up when you insulate it. It heats up to the point at which the energy in = energy out.

          I also mentioned losses, for example with the lamp experiment, some energy will be lost in the expansion of the parts, light emissions, conduction, chemical changes, even sound energy. This is where energy may be transformed to another form. In the climate system there are plenty of losses to explain why energy out is not equal to energy in. Photosythesis is a big one, wind, waves, lightning, erosion, even the pinging sounds that come from a tin roof when you heat it up are non radiative losses.

          On the other hand if you take an already hot element that has no power input, and insulate it, it will not get hotter because there is no extra energy in, stored energy must flow out. You will however slow down it’s cooling. Back radiation doesn’t exist in that sense. I don’t like back radiation in that sense, it’s a poor way of saying that reflective insulation slows down the rate of cooling ( reduces emissivity) and causes a higher temperatire equilibrium. Who really cares if the cause of that slowing is photons bouncing back to the source.

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            Graeme No.3

            My apologies; I thought you were a believer in the Radiation Theory to “explain” global warming, but obviously you have realised it is nonsense.

            My statement “heat in = heat out (as observed at the Top of Atmosphere) therefore we have Global Warming” is a slightly shortened version, it should read
            “heat in = heat out (as observed at the Top of Atmosphere) therefore as carbon dioxide is rising (and back radiating) we have Global Warming”.

            The problem with your reflective foil experiment is that the insulation (the atmosphere) isn’t that reflective. Even if the CO2 molecule absorbs radiation from the earth’s surface it will be impacted by non-GHG about 1,000 times before it can radiate that energy. The reverse is true that CO2 can gain energy from collisions. So radiation causes the whole atmosphere to warm, and that is your insulating cover. As you go higher in the atmosphere the rate of collisions slows as the molecules are further apart, and more radiation can be lost. It is not a 50% downward either as there is the angle to the horizon. Circulation carries vast amounts of water vapour upward to where the radiation losses are higher.

            And IMHO the effect of CO2 is vastly over-rated. Considering that water vapour is there in much larger amounts and is far more effective at absorbing IR (check the IR spectra, water covers vastly more wavelengths than water vapour), the overall effect if CO2 is far less than the warmists think. A figure around 2% would be flattering.

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        Peter C

        Thanks bobl,

        What proportion of the heat should I expect to be reflected by the aluminium coating? Probably not all of it. Supposing 50% is reflected. What is the predicted rate of cooling if conduction is negligible?

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          bobl

          Probably enough to burn out the filament or break the glass. It would depend on the reflective index of the coating, but up to 98% could be reflected. This is one of the reasons why insulation installers must leave a clearance around light fittings, the insulation reduces cooling and the fitting runs hotter and can overheat.

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            Peter C

            No heating in this experiment.
            Can you help with a mathematical expression linking cooling rate to absorbed reflected energy?

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        Truthseeker

        I think people are mis-interpreting what the “Slayers” are saying. In your example of the heating element, the temperature inside the container will rise if you are stopping the loss of heat, however the heating element itself will not get hotter because it is the source of the heat (heat flows from hot to cold). In the atmosphere example if the ground is the local source of heat, it will not get hotter by any reflection from the atmosphere, because it is the source for the same reason.

        Let us not construct straw men to argue the point.

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          bobl

          But this is wrong, consider the situation where the coating is made smaller and smaller until it bounds the surface of the filament, the thermodynamics are the same, the interior (ie the filament) must get hotter, to the point at which the energy loss = the energy in.

          What the slayers have to realise is that any system where there is an energy source will behave like that. They are correct though for a passive source, that is a surface tbat is not receiving any thermal energy. It will only cool, reflective insulation will not make that surface warmer, because there is no way to accumulate photons.

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            Robert JM

            The problem with the slayer vs non slayer argument is that nobody seems to realise that their theories are not mutually exclusive!
            Alarmists on the other hand…..

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            Truthseeker

            Bobl,

            If the coating “bounds the surface of the filament” then it becomes part of the filamanet and you are changing the emission characteristics of what is now a different system. You are again not characterising the “slayer” argument correctly.

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      vic g gallus

      I think that the experiment that you should try is purely an insulation experiment. Four sets of experiments.

      On an insulator (polystyrene foam) place two equal pieces of warm metal (black dumbbell weights). Cover the these with metal bowls. One is painted black on the inside and the other is painted black on the out side. One is left unpainted and the other is painted black on both side.

      These are then covered by a black bin to limit heat loss through convection but a good absorber of LWIR. I suspect that there will barely be a noticeable difference between the control and that painted black on the inside. The lid will warm through convection.

      Both the lid painted only on the out side and the one painted black on both sides will cool quicker, the former only slightly slower despite not radiating LWIR back. The latter is the what the description of the atmosphere closely resembles. LWIR absorbed by greenhouse gases get absorbed before the tropopause and this is like a lid on convection.

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        WikiWatcher

        Yep, one carbon dioxide molecule in 2,500 air molecules absorbs and re-emits some radiation. Big deal! But 2,499 other molecules absorb thermal energy direct from the surface by conduction, Then these pass on energy by diffusion to the radiating molecules (water gas, carbon dioxide, methane etc) which act like holes in the blanket and radiate the energy to space.

        Of the total radiation coming in from the Sun, according to the original NASA net energy diagrams, 19% got absorbed by the atmosphere, whereas only 15% of the original energy got absorbed on the way back up out of the surface. That’s why water gas cools rather than warms.

        But the IPCC says water “vapour” warms – like by about 25 degrees or more. So I will be waiting for you to show me some moist regions that are 20 to 30 degrees hotter than dry ones at similar latitude and altitude. Until you can do so, frankly you don’t have a clue as to how it all works.

        Go and explain how the Venus surface gets enough energy to rise in temperature by 5 degrees during its 4-month-long day.

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          Robert JM

          Just compare the clear sky night time cooling rates of the tropics vs the deserts. Same day time temp, 25 deg difference at night.

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        Peter C

        The experiment sounds simple enough. But I am not sure that heat loss by conduction is sufficiently controlled.

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          vic g gallus

          A vacuum would around the experiment would be better but who’s got the money? I think that you might know the answer to that.

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      Louis Hissink

      Dr Pierre-Marie Robitaille has shown that Kirschhoff’s law is fundamentally wrong, and this fact causes a bit of a domino effect to Plank’s Law etc. I am not sure that anyone participating in the climate debate has taken the implications on board.

      Presentation here and well worth waiting to the end.

      Apart from this, there is an increasing body of evidence coming out of NASA etc that earth-weather is directly influenced by solar-weather; one example – solar flares etc seem to speed up the wind speeds of hurricanes etc.

      Google Dr. Kongbop U-Yen and watch his Youtube presentations etc.

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    Truthseeker

    Seen today in the pedestrian mall near where I live. A man put a large cardboard sign on the ground, leaning up against a rubbish bin. In large letters it said the following …

    N.E.W. World Order
    Information Desk

    Classic.

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    Steve

    WUWT recently posted images of what looks like a new “super el nino” brewing.
    No-one at that site commented on the fact that it could easily be a plume of hot water that has originated from the Bougainville trench on the ring of fire. This area is studded with hydrothermal vents and underwater volcanoes. Perhaps cyclical geothermal venting is what drives the el nino?
    Thoughts anyone?

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      Robert JM

      It definitely looks like a strong nino. The super el nino of 97/98 was preceded by a 5% cloud decrease over a number of years.
      This time there is warmth in the indian ocean which will possible compete with the El nino atmospherically and help to reestablish the trade winds sooner.
      The la nina which follows is the big worry right now.

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      Mark D.

      Steve, my first thought is: “hidden” heat finally escapes

      Oh wait that sounds like a headline….

      Truthfully I think that the “science” has missed a significant source of energy input from the Sun via magnetic induction. The Earth has some iron in her core and it is spinning. From there yes you could imagine warming seawater. All of this would not be a part of the advertized insolation energy balance.

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      vic g gallus

      The heat from 500°C rock coming up unevenly under the oceans must have an effect on currents. It must have a bigger effect than back radiation of LWIR that can only warm up the first cm of water directly and only the first 100 m through agitation of the surface. Even if warm water becomes more dense than the cooler water underneath due to evaporation, the extra heat would barely cause extra evaporation.

      Have you ever watched a pot of water warm up (I know that you shouldn’t because you’ll be there forever)? Its a lot different to a pot left in the sun.

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    I was pointed me to two new papers by Stephan Lewandowsky, claiming increased uncertainty on future catastrophes gives greater justification for mitigation policies. I would agree if catastrophic climate change is a fundamental truth that needs to be revealed. Otherwise, the failures of climate scientists to understand climate catastrophes is because they are wrong.
    http://manicbeancounter.com/2014/04/06/lewandowsky-climate-scientists-should-be-listened-to-because-they-are-wrong/

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    Many will be aware that Climate Economist Prof Richard Tol asked for his name not to be included on the recent UNIPCC report as, in his view, the summary focused on ‘scare stories’ and suggestions the world faced ‘the four horsemen of the apocalypse’.
    So the great Bob Ward has attacked Tol for inaccuracies.
    The Daily Mail has posted on this story, along with a piece by Ben Pile showing instances where the summary exaggerates or contradicts the main text.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2597907/Green-smear-campaign-against-professor-dared-disown-sexed-UN-climate-dossier.html

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    pat

    questions will have to be answered – sceptical geologists will need to provide evidence. disclosure: i’m not a fan of fracking:

    5 April: Reuters: Series of small earthquakes rock Oklahoma in record seismic activity
    Earthquakes rattled residents in Oklahoma on Saturday, the latest in a series that have put the state on track for record quake activity this year, which some seismologists say may be tied to oil and gas exploration…
    Last year’s number of “felt” earthquakes – those strong enough to rattle items on a shelf – hit a record 222 in the state. This year, less than four months into the year, the state has recorded 253 such tremors, according to state seismic data…
    Oklahoma recorded 278 earthquakes from 2008 through 2013 that have registered on the Richter scale at a magnitude of 3.0 or greater, a level that can shake objects inside a home.
    Before that, from 1975-2008, the state on average recorded less than six earthquakes a year..
    http://news.yahoo.com/series-small-earthquakes-rock-oklahoma-record-seismic-activity-173349780.html;_ylt=AwrBEiLCQUBTDxwAIUvQtDMD

    6 April: UK Independent: Fracking and earthquakes: Scientists link rise in seismic activity in Oklahoma to increased oil and gas exploration
    In 2009, there were 50 quakes in the central US state; in 2010 there were more than 1,000. Tim Walker reports
    The controversy has also come to California, a state that is all too familiar with seismic activity. This year, the Los Angeles city council voted to ban fracking in the city until council members were content that the process would not have a detrimental effect on Angelenos’ drinking water. The risk of earthquakes was also cited in the ban…
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/fracking-and-earthquakes-scientists-link-rise-in-seismic-activity-in-oklahoma-to-increased-oil-and-gas-exploration-9242411.html

    March/April: Mother Jones: Michael Behar: Fracking’s Latest Scandal? Earthquake Swarms
    Turns out that when a barely regulated industry injects highly pressurized wastewater into faults, things can go terribly wrong
    Such seismic activity isn’t normal here. Between 1972 and 2008, the USGS recorded just a few earthquakes a year in Oklahoma. In 2008, there were more than a dozen; nearly 50 occurred in 2009. In 2010, the number exploded to more than 1,000. These so-called “earthquake swarms” are occurring in other places where the ground is not supposed to move. There have been abrupt upticks in both the size and frequency of quakes in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, and Texas. Scientists investigating these anomalies are coming to the same conclusion: The quakes are linked to injection wells. Into most of them goes wastewater from hydraulic fracking, while some, as those in Prague, are filled with leftover fluid from dewatering operations…
    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/03/does-fracking-cause-earthquakes-wastewater-dewatering

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      toorightmate

      Gee, there must be a lot of fracking going on in the Pacific Ocean at present – just off the coast of northern Chile!!!!

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    toorightmate

    The O&G fraternity has been fracking in the Prudhoe Bay are for decades – successfully, with no damage or effect to anything.
    The O&G gang have an enormous bank of knowledge on the practice. It is not unusual for strata requiring fracturing to be below several “water tables”. Most of the critics seem to believe there is only one “water table”.

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    Snafu

    Meanwhile in the real world and more important news, Mickey Rooney has died at age 93.

    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/mickey-rooney-dead-at-93-20140407-368av.html

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     D C  

    How it ought to read …

    Second law of thermodynamics

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases in the course of every spontaneous (natural) change. In other words: over time, differences in temperature, pressure, and density tend to even out in a horizontal plane, but not in a vertical plane due to the force of gravity. For example, density and pressure do not even out in a vertical plane, and nor does temperature because gravity acts on individual molecules, and this means molecular kinetic energy interchanges with gravitational potential energy in free path motion between collisions.

    Entropy is a measure of progression towards the state of thermodynamic equilibrium which has the greatest entropy among the states accessible by the system. In a vertical plane in a gravitational field, thermodynamic equilibrium exhibits a non-zero gradient in pressure, density and temperature, each being less at the top of a planet’s troposphere.

    The most common wording for the second law of thermodynamics is essentially due to Rudolf Clausius:

    “ The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium. ”

    There are many statements of the second law which use different terms, but are all equal. Another statement by Clausius is:

    Heat cannot of itself pass from a colder to a hotter body.

    This, however, is strictly only correct in a horizontal plane where the state of thermodynamic equilibrium has uniform temperature. When that state exhibits a thermal gradient in a vertical plane, then temperature inversions can occur in which the upper, cooler region is warmer than normal, even though cooler than lower regions. In such instances there can be heat transfers from cooler to warmer regions because such transfers are increasing entropy and restoring thermodynamic equilibrium. This is how energy absorbed in the cooler Venus troposphere is transferred into (and warms) the surface.

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    john

    The state wants to make sure the developer, which lost a key funding source in a court ruling, can afford to finish four projects in Maine worth $1 billion.

    http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/Maine_DEP_asks_First_Wind_to_prove_financial_capacity_.html

    The DEP’s request affects four wind-energy projects: Oakfield Wind in Aroostook County, Hancock Wind in Hancock County, Bingham Wind in Somerset County, and Bowers Wind in Penobscot and Washington counties. Taken together, the projects could cost about $1 billion to build.

    “The Law Court’s decision on First Wind and Emera’s relationship throws into question the validity of financial capacity documents relating to four wind projects,” Jessie Logan, a DEP spokeswoman, told the Portland Press Herald on Tuesday. “The department is committed to working aggressively with First Wind to ensure all license conditions are met.”

    The DEP is scheduled to release a statement Wednesday about its request to First Wind, she said.

    The department is asking First Wind for the information because applicants for wind-energy projects must show that they have enough money for construction and maintenance, and for restoring sites after wind farms go off line. The proof can be in the form of a performance bond, a surety bond, a letter of credit or other financial assurance acceptable to the DEP.

    Late last month, First Wind announced that it was seeking to raise $75 million through a bond offering to institutional investors. The company’s spokesman, John Lamontagne, said Tuesday that the deal has closed and the company received the money last week.

    ————————–

    Watch out for the REPO 105 accounting trick…

    http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2010/03/15/lehmans-repo-105-more-than-you-ever-wanted-to-know/

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