Poland Dealing With Wind and Germany with Coal

Over on Tallblokes there’s an article about Poland building a new coal plant. They need energy. They have coal. It works. They are building. I really like the Polish people. Every one I’ve met has had a decent head on their shoulders and interesting to talk with. (Though when I looked at learning Polish I ran away quickly ;-) They glory in the “run on sentence” and it can take a page or two to reach the period at the end… ;-)


EU member Poland breaks ground on new coal fired plant
Posted: May 21, 2015 by tallbloke in Energy

By Kelvin Ross

A groundbreaking ceremony has taken place in Poland on the site of a €800m lignite power plant in Turów.

The ceremony was attended by Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and representatives Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Europe (MHPSE), which will build the plant in co-operation with Polish company Budimex and Técnicas Reunidas from Spain.

It goes on to talk about who and when and such. So Poland needs some added juice, and “renewables” are not on the menu. Might it be that they have seen the downside of wind? These guys are already coping with too much wind and not enough power (in more ways than one…)


Poland Builds Electronic Wall to Keep Out German Renewables

German renewables are invading Poland.

RenewEconomy, Giles Parkinson
November 18, 2013

Poland, the host of the climate change negotiations, is going to extreme lengths to protect its coal-fired electricity industry — making sudden changes to renewable energy support schemes, and even going so far as erecting a form of electronic barrier to keep renewable energy from neighboring Germany out of its grid.

The move appears to have been made with the sole intention of protecting the economic interests of its incumbent, centralized and heavily coal-reliant grid. As Germany roars toward a decentralized, renewables-based grid, Poland appears determined to stick to the past. The contrast between the two countries could not be starker.

The move to install equipment known as phase-shifters on transmission links between Poland and Germany is designed to give the Polish grid operator the power to block excess renewables output from Germany entering the Polish grid. As in Germany, a large amount of renewable energy causes wholesale prices to come down — and profits to fall.

The phase-shifters are being tested in coming months and will be installed over the next year by the German network operator 50Hertz, which looks after the grid in the eastern past of the country adjoining Poland.

Grzegorz Wisniewski, the president of the Institute for Renewable Energy, says the move is clearly designed to protect the income of the incumbent generators in Poland, and comes as the country is facing a looming energy deficit in a few years’ time.

“This is such a short-term strategy,” said Wisniewski. “We should be making the connections bigger, and opening the market up, not closing it,” Wisniewski said, noting that the state-owned utilities returned 10 billion Polish zlotys last year. “They are treating it like an extra tax.”

The move comes as Poland’s own renewable energy development grinds to a halt, hit by changing rules and a lack of policy support, and a renewable energy scheme that has encouraged coal-fired generators to burn biomass to generate green credits.

It goes on from there, generally moaning about the lack of support for renewables and how this must all just be a push for coal profits and all. It also has a rather funny photo… while attempting to promote more solar, it has a photo of a field of solar panels under low cloud / high fog and doing nearly nothing… Gotta luv it…

Polish Solar Under Clouds

I like some of the comments, which happen to show more understanding than some of the article. Such as:



The reason the ‘wall’ was put up is that the Germans wanted to force power onto Poland when it could not handle any more. Renewable output is impossible to manage on the scales that Germany is planning, and Poland does not want to freeze in the dark, as is the Germany plan for 2020.

Someone has clue. And it is Poland. And a guy named Tom Anderson.

But that got me wondering just what is a “phase shifter” and how does it stop power from flowing?

The Tech Of Valves On Power Lines

The Tech of a phase shifter is also known by the name “quadrature booster”. Nice to know about in case one ever needs a way to put a faucet in the power line somewhere.


A phase angle regulating transformer, phase angle regulator (PAR, American usage), phase-shifting transformer, phase shifter (West coast American usage), or quadrature booster (quad booster, British usage), is a specialised form of transformer used to control the flow of real power on three-phase electricity transmission networks.

For an alternating current transmission line, power flow through the line is proportional to the sine of the difference in the phase angle of the voltage between the transmitting end and the receiving end of the line. Where parallel circuits with different capacity exist between two points in a transmission grid (for example, an overhead line and an underground cable), direct manipulation of the phase angle allows control of the division of power flow between the paths, preventing overload. Quadrature boosters thus provide a means of relieving overloads on heavily laden circuits and re-routing power via more favorable paths.

Alternately, where an interchange partner is intentionally causing significant “inadvertent energy” to flow through an unwilling interchange partner’s system, the unwilling partner may threaten to install a phase shifter to prevent such “inadvertent energy”, with the unwilling partner’s tactical objective being the improvement of his system’s stability
at the expense of the other system’s stability. As power system reliability is really a regional or national strategic objective, the threat to install a phase shifter is usually sufficient to cause the other system to implement the required changes to his system to reduce or eliminate the “inadvertent energy”.

The capital cost of a quadrature booster can be high: as much as four to six million GBP (6–9 million USD) for a unit rated over 2 GVA. However, the utility to transmission system operators in flexibility and speed of operation, and particularly savings in permitting more economical dispatch of generation, can soon recover the cost of ownership.

So we are starting to see the stability issues and the resultant stability wars caused by too much power that can not be dispatched on demand. Thus the reasonable solution being a dispatchable power source like coal or gas turbines.

The rest is a direct quote of the wiki and their image. It’s pretty clear for anyone with electrical experience and an understanding of transformers. For everyone else, it’s a large metal box full of wires where magic happens in a controlled way… ;-)

Phase Shifter or Quadrature Booster

Simplified circuit diagram of a three-phase quadrature booster. Arrows shown on shunt transformer secondary windings are movable taps; the windings have floating ends shown, and grounded centre taps (not shown).

Method of operation

By means of a voltage derived from the supply that is first phase-shifted by 90° (hence is in quadrature), and then re-applied to it, a phase angle is developed across the quadrature booster. It is this induced phase angle that affects the flow of power through specified circuits.


A quadrature booster typically consists of two separate transformers: a shunt unit and a series unit. The shunt unit has its windings connected across the phases, so it produces output voltages shifted by 90° with respect to the supply. Its output is then applied as input to the series unit, which, because its secondary winding is in series with the main circuit, adds the phase-shifted component. The overall output voltage is hence the vector sum of the supply voltage and the 90° quadrature component.

Tap connections on the shunt unit allow the magnitude of the quadrature component to be controlled, and thus the magnitude of the phase shift across the quadrature booster. The flow on the circuit containing the quadrature booster may be increased (boost tapping) or reduced (buck tapping). Subject to system conditions, the flow may even be bucked enough to completely reverse from its neutral-tap direction.

What a nice little giant gadget! Lets you do neat things like string a bunch of parallel wires of different capacities and run just the right amount of power over each to keep it full, but not overfull. Even lets you control what gets onto your grid, or not, as the grid stability demands. It makes perfect sense to put one of these between the Overly Green partner and the folks with a stable and reliable grid…

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Posted in Energy, Political Current Events, Tech Bits | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

More on Middle East Drought, Cold, and California Drought

This posting is preserving a comment chain made at WUWT here:


E.M.Smith May 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

That part of the world gets drought during cooling events. In the 4.2 ky Event it caused empires to fall:




That would be Bond Event 3. An extreme cold plunge.
Bond Event 2 was “drought in the Mediterranean” and the collapse of late Bronze Age cultures.
Bond Event 1 was the Migration Era Pessimum about 1.4 kya, also known as the Dark Ages.

The wiki claims that the Little Ice Age was Bond Event Zero, but they are wrong. These things come around ever 1470 or so years. 540 AD onset of Dark Ages, plus 1470, gives 2010 … or just about now…

Oh, and The Dark Ages was a half Bond cycle… we get modest dips then. Yes, the LIA was “modest”…


So when there is severe drought in the Levant and Middle East, and severe drought in California, it’s a cold time, not warm, that’s causing it.

Crispin in Waterloo May 21, 2015 at 8:36 pm

The old events are well noted. Now, the claim in the paper is that if it gets warmer it will get drier and there are very specific mechanisms touted.

So, in 5000 BC when it was a couple of degrees warmer than now, was this region the cradle of civilisation and agriculture or Sahara Desert East?

And my reply, note that I’m not blockquoting from here on down as it would just be one giant block quote and hard to read. After this quote, I’m going to reproduce most / all of the Stanford page just to document the original in case some “pressure” is put on to have it rewritten…

@Crispin in Waterloo:

5000 BC, or 7000 BP? In Africa, the Sahara was a lush green savana about then:

Around 12,500 BC, the amount of dust in the cores in the Bølling/Allerød phase suddenly plummets and shows a period of much wetter conditions in the Sahara, indicating a Dansgaard-Oeschger (DO) event (a sudden warming followed by a slower cooling of the climate). The moister Saharan conditions had begun about 12,500 BC, with the extension of the ITCZ northward in the northern hemisphere summer, bringing moist wet conditions and a savanna climate to the Sahara, which (apart from a short dry spell associated with the Younger Dryas) peaked during the Holocene thermal maximum climatic phase at 4000 BC when mid-latitude temperatures seem to have been between 2 and 3 degrees warmer than in the recent past. Analysis of Nile River deposited sediments in the delta also shows this period had a higher proportion of sediments coming from the Blue Nile, suggesting higher rainfall also in the Ethiopian Highlands. This was caused principally by a stronger monsoonal circulation throughout the sub-tropical regions, affecting India, Arabia and the Sahara. Lake Victoria only recently became the source of the White Nile and dried out almost completely around 15 ka

So yeah, hotter makes the place lush. That’s why there are abandoned cities scattered through the deserts around there.


The Neolithic Subpluvial began during the 7th millennium BC and was strong for about 2,000 years; it waned over time and ended after the 5.9 kiloyear event (3900 BCE). Then the drier conditions that prevailed prior to the Neolithic Subpluvial returned; desertification advanced, and the Sahara Desert formed (or re-formed). Arid conditions have continued through to the present day.

But that’s more Africa focused and you wanted to know about Mesopotamia. While one could generalize from Africa, there is also specific information about it:


(Yes, that Stanford…)

After a millenium, the end of the Younger Dryas (9500 BC) came about almost as quickly as it had begun, warmth returned to the North, and water to the deserts of the Near East. Again about 6000 BC, another abrupt cooling in Greenland, (6200 BC) this a short lived cycle, then a warming for two thousand years the sun shining, a great green spring in the northern lands, the wolves retreating, as the planet entered the the mid Holocene altithermal.

6200 BC is the 8.2 kilo-year event, 8200 years before present, or Bond Event 5. (These things are pretty regular…) so cold and dry, then warm and wet returned In “the Near East”.

Consider Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers: warm and wet, interrupted by the aformentioned severe cold drought (6200 BC) Again, warm conditions returned and the sea rose again, now at about 50 feet below present level.

Illustration: We place the “Garden of Eden” in the lower Tigris-Euphrates (most recently the scene of the Gulf War) at the time of 8000 to 6000 yrs. BP (6000-3500 BC) at which time the temperature is warming culminating in an era warmer than present, when equatorial weather patterns may have reached farther north than at present, and the westerly storms of the north would have been confined to latitudes higher than at present.
In those warm wet years a kind of Eden in Egypt (7000 BC) , Reported (5500 BC) Mid-Holocene flooding of Baltic Sea. a time of canoes and elephants. (3000 BC) This period the Atlantic or altithermal or hypsithermal, (4000 BC) with temperatures 5 degrees warmer than at present, raining all the time, Lake Chad one hundred feet higher until 3000 BC. The desert now supports game allowing hunting and herding or nomadic pastoralism. Predynastic Nagada (Naqadah) cultures. Evidence for this “Garden of Eden” can oddly enough be found almost everywhere; in California, the rings of bristlecone pines (4850 BC) near the Nevada border grew fat in the wet heat. By 4500 BC the favorable climatic conditions and stabilized lower alluvial plains favoring territorial control and mound building (4500 BC) among native Amercan groups in the lower valleys. Slowing sea level rise at 10-15 below present level, beginning of meander belts on (4000 BC) Mississippi River. In the San Francisco Bay area we begin to see a transition from hunter-gatherer to sedentary cultures. (3000 BC) In Santa Barbara the Mid Holocene Atlantic wet period features high human population growth (3300 BC) with increasing hunting, sea fishing, residential bases, status ranking, mortar and pestle use for large pulpy seeds, technology in general. This seems to be reflected as well in the central coast (3600 BC) as well as santa barbara basin off the coast (3250 BC) ; some principal evidence locally exhibited in the Stanford man (3020 BC) and Sunnyvale girl (3160 BC) burials in the San Francisco Bay area. Photos of the “Stanford Man” skull can be seen on “the skull”. (3020 BC)

Elsewhere in the Mississippi valley we see a proliferation of native american mounds (3000 BC) starting at about 7000 BCE; See also sticks in boston (3100 BC) ; In New England coastal areas we find warmth and plenitude as represented by the great Boylston Street fish wier (3100 BC) discoovered in the 1940s some 15 feet below sea level, In Europe, early agriculture (3500 BC) appears.

Toward the end of the fourth millenium ominous signs in the North. The upper treeline in alps (3500 BC) drops 100 meters in 3500 BC then rises to 2500 BC indicating a northern cold spell (and corresponding Near Eastern drought) at 3500. See alsothe startling iceman of the alps ( BC) ; In the alps we see an Iceman; (3150 BC) see also iceman of the alps (3150 BC) ; At the same time the irish elm decline (4000 BC) occurs.

So a very consistent pattern with warmer being good times, advance of societies and cultures, plenty of food; always followed by a sudden plunge of temperatures into a collapse of societies as dry cold deserts make food dear. That last cold plunge is a bit unclear on the exact dating, using a 1000 year span and all, but Bond Event 4 was called the 5.9 Kilo-year-event, and was in 3900 BC. That gives it 400 years of ‘error band’ or perhaps just a long plunge to depth in 3500 BC starting a couple of hundred earlier.

What’s very clear in all cases: It is s a cycle. It is natural. It WILL happen again. Rain and plenty comes with warmth and civilization builds. Cold brings drought, crop failures and the collapse of civilizations. The last one was The Dark Ages starting about 535 BC to 540 BC (hazy as records were lost in collapse of the Western Roman Empire). It’s now “just about time”… (The good news is that there’s about 100 years error on some of the Bond Event timing, so we might have a few more decades. Maybe even up to 300 years as one author finds the average is 1470 years but it has some shorter near 1200 and some longer near 1800… or maybe it’s just the error in dating things that far back…)

The other thing that is clear is that increased drought in the Sahara and Levant into the Middle East and Near East is a sign of cold, not warmth.

So don’t worry though. Just because the sun is taking a nap, the lunar tidal cycle is shifting on it’s regular 1500 to 1800 year wander of tides, and the atmospheric height has shortened from lower UV, that to me looks like it is causing lots of early and late snow in the mountains (and Boston ;-) and it is just exactly on schedule for Bond Event Zero, that’s no reason at all to expect things to get very very cold. The IPCC tells us it will be warm ;sarc>


Duplicate Stanford Page

This will duplicate the excerpts above, but preserves the page in case “PC Rewriting” gets pushed… There are a LOT of live links in the original and likely a lot more that needs exploring / preserving from there. Begin Quote:

Climate, Culture, and Catastrophe in the Ancient World

This page presents a summary narrative of and links to geological and paleoclimatalogical data bearing on the remarkable events of 3000 BCE (calendar years BC), when urban/technological society began. Most of our data comes from referenced scientific literature, although some of the studies, such as of the Mesopotamian delta,and certain sea level interpretations, are the author’s. You will also find a handy chronological index HERE. A summary graph of events around 3200 BC will be found here.
Illustration: Dry glacial climate in Near East, including Egypt and Mesopotamia. Monsoons are far to the south.

(20000 BC)


In the beginning, the earth in a fitful sleep, (100000 BC) , stirring in a night sweat every five thousand years. Last stands of (30000 BC) Homo erectus and Neanderthal. The end of the Ice Age; (13000 BC) Slowly the great ice sheets melt away, from Chicago and Boston and Seattle and London, under the influence of an “altithermal” climate several degrees warmer than today. The sea level, which has remained some 350 feet below its present level for 100,000 years, begins to rise at a rate of ten feet a century.

Then, 12000 years before present, when the sea level had reached 100 feet below present level, something happened to interrupt the process; temperatures plunged 7 degrees, the sea level hesitated. This was the beginning of the Younger Dryas, (10500 BC) a millenium in which the circulation system of the North Atlantic went into a kind of planetary fibrillation, the African monsoons migrated southward, drying the desert. After a millenium, the end of the Younger Dryas (9500 BC) came about almost as quickly as it had begun, warmth returned to the North, and water to the deserts of the Near East. Again about 6000 BC, another abrupt cooling in Greenland, (6200 BC) this a short lived cycle, then a warming for two thousand years the sun shining, a great green spring in the northern lands, the wolves retreating, as the planet entered the the mid Holocene altithermal.

I could not rest until I had written it out and then the great dread of my soul was that some accident would destroy the single copy & the world would lose a revelation.
–Ignatius Donnelly, 1882, on the writing of his “Ragnorak, The Age of Fire and Gravel”
Consider Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers: warm and wet, interrupted by the aformentioned severe cold drought (6200 BC) Again, warm conditions returned and the sea rose again, now at about 50 feet below present level.

Illustration: We place the “Garden of Eden” in the lower Tigris-Euphrates (most recently the scene of the Gulf War) at the time of 8000 to 6000 yrs. BP (6000-3500 BC) at which time the temperature is warming culminating in an era warmer than present, when equatorial weather patterns may have reached farther north than at present, and the westerly storms of the north would have been confined to latitudes higher than at present.

(5000 BC)


In those warm wet years a kind of Eden in Egypt (7000 BC) , Reported (5500 BC) Mid-Holocene flooding of Baltic Sea. a time of canoes and elephants. (3000 BC) This period the Atlantic or altithermal or hypsithermal, (4000 BC) with temperatures 5 degrees warmer than at present, raining all the time, Lake Chad one hundred feet higher until 3000 BC. The desert now supports game allowing hunting and herding or nomadic pastoralism. Predynastic Nagada (Naqadah) cultures. Evidence for this “Garden of Eden” can oddly enough be found almost everywhere; in California, the rings of bristlecone pines (4850 BC) near the Nevada border grew fat in the wet heat. By 4500 BC the favorable climatic conditions and stabilized lower alluvial plains favoring territorial control and mound building (4500 BC) among native Amercan groups in the lower valleys. Slowing sea level rise at 10-15 below present level, beginning of meander belts on (4000 BC) Mississippi River. In the San Francisco Bay area we begin to see a transition from hunter-gatherer to sedentary cultures. (3000 BC) In Santa Barbara the Mid Holocene Atlantic wet period features high human population growth (3300 BC) with increasing hunting, sea fishing, residential bases, status ranking, mortar and pestle use for large pulpy seeds, technology in general. This seems to be reflected as well in the central coast (3600 BC) as well as santa barbara basin off the coast (3250 BC) ; some principal evidence locally exhibited in the Stanford man (3020 BC) and Sunnyvale girl (3160 BC) burials in the San Francisco Bay area. Photos of the “Stanford Man” skull can be seen on “the skull”. (3020 BC)

Elsewhere in the Mississippi valley we see a proliferation of native american mounds (3000 BC) starting at about 7000 BCE; See also sticks in boston (3100 BC) ; In New England coastal areas we find warmth and plenitude as represented by the great Boylston Street fish wier (3100 BC) discoovered in the 1940s some 15 feet below sea level, In Europe, early agriculture (3500 BC) appears.

Toward the end of the fourth millenium ominous signs in the North. The upper treeline in alps (3500 BC) drops 100 meters in 3500 BC then rises to 2500 BC indicating a northern cold spell (and corresponding Near Eastern drought) at 3500. See alsothe startling iceman of the alps ( BC) ; In the alps we see an Iceman; (3150 BC) see also iceman of the alps (3150 BC) ; At the same time the irish elm decline (4000 BC) occurs.

In recent years analysis of ice cores has yieklded even more precise information. recent studies of the ice cores by the GISP2 team (3200 BC) shows a minglacial feezeup at about 5000 BP.

Illustration: Rain storms, climatic oscillation. Millennial-scale warming terminates with a period of climatic disturbance and flooding in the lower latitudes (Nile, Arizona, Morocco, Israel, Mesopotamia), followed by a drought; general, worldwide, climate-driven shock to early societies living in “edenic” geography of plenty with “fertile crescent” survivors organizing into more centrally administered culture based on irrigation.

(3500 BC)


Sea Level Changes

Fairbridge cycles…. late Holocene sea level ( BC) Holocene delta development worldwide (3500 BC) By 4000 BC sea level rise began to slow and deltas begin to form.The sequence of events along the coast is illustrated graphically in a diagrammatic sequence in “The End of Eden” (4000 BC) San Francisquito geology ( BC) More locally view of San Francisquito creek development ( BC) Recent data from the Han River delta (3500 BC) indicate a rapid sea level rise (3 meters) from 4000 to 3000 BC. The sea level curve of the Han river delta (3500 BC) does not contain enough data in the 4000-3000 BC period Huang Ho river (2900 BC) also the South Carolina sea level (3500 BC) South Carolina sea level ( BC) ; The Fiji sea level (3500 BC) drops; the Fji sea level curves. ( BC) show a one meter drop between 3500-3000 BC. For example, data collected by Atwater a few years ago in San Francisquito bay (3300 BC) features sea level stillstands (3000 BC) Also the Mississippi delta (3400 BC) In Iraq sea level, persian gulf (4000 BC) Studies of the Nile and holocene delta development worldwide (4000 BC) shows a similar sequence. At about 6000 BC something odd happened. This is recorded in an erratic sea level response all over the world; when the rise stopped rivers began to discharge their silt onto a constant shoreline. Deltas were built, with their rich loads of fertile silt. A notable example is the mesopotamia delta (3200 BC) in times leading up to the great flood. This is a condition that had not existed for 120,000 years. It is a history that is preserved to this day in most of the delta environments (6000 BC) of the world.
Mesopotamian and Nile Deltas

(3250 BC) In the middle East, Egypt’s Nile delta (3250 BC) A core (5-44) taken at the south margin of one of the coastal lagoons at the north end of the Nile delta showed a layer of potsherds 25 ft. below sea level dated at 3,500 to 4,500 CYBP. egypt, nile (3090 BC) Similar evidence permits a reconstruction (by the author) of stratigarphy of the mesopotamia delta (4000 BC) showing the ancient city of Ur at the edge of a 100 mile flood basin.
Illustration: sea level rise and stabilization in Gulf of Persia, and accompanying warm, 4000 BC

(6000 BC)


Lake Van oscillation (3150 BC) ; Ironically Ur is a t the center of the recent Gulf War and notably very close to the area in with the “Gulf War Syndrome” reportedly originated. chemical gas poisoning ( BC) tigris-euphratres (3200 BC) This sequence may be compaed with other events in a Tigris and Euphrates comparative chronology ( BC) . Beginning of the Sumerian king list culminates with Glgamesh, king of Uruk. (2700 BC) Between Palestine and Mesopotamia, the lost city of Jawa. (3000 BC) Tigris and Euphrates alluvial plain (3500 BC) Irrigated society, 3500 BC

Sumerians in Mesopotamia (3000 BC)

The story of the great flood was told in the 1930s by Leonard Woolley. (3500 BC) dated later by Father Burrows (3700 BC) His associate the Jesuit epigrapher Father Burrows (3700 BC) presents an early Mesopotamian version of the flood story, Also this is the time of Pharoah Sneferu at Meydum (3400 BC) ; sumerian influences on egypt (3000 BC) ; unification of Egypt (3100 BC) ; recent reports of ancient egyptians in palestine (3000 BC) . A dramatic rise in Dead Sea level near mt. sedom (3001 BC) occurs at this time. According the Lebor, as inter[erted by O’Rahilly… cessair (3200 BC)

The Flood (3150 BC) 3150 BC(?). Abrupt cooling at higher latitudes, possibly related to oceanic effects, especially in Northern Europe, corresponding to peak of megalith cultures. Probable oscillation in sea level shortly before 3000 BC followed by 10-15 ft. alluvial deposition in river valleys.

The Great Shock of 3250 BC

( BC) ; Many other paleocliamtic events are summarized on the paleoclimate data page (3200 BC) . A period of stormy weather (3250 BC) ; The sequence of events is shown in a San Francisquito Creek history (3250 BC) ; This period corresponds to the so-called palynological Pora oscillation in Europe (3250 BC) ; Elsewhere we see natural catastrophes during the bronze age (3000 BC) ; as shown on the paleoclimate data page ( BC) ; sierra cooling (3100 BC) ; gisp ice core (3100 BC) ; Globally corresponds sulfate in gisp2 (3250 BC) ; In Greenland sulphate spike ( BC) ; atmospheric methane (3250 BC) ; sulphate spike (3150 BC) ; camp century, greenland (3150 BC) ; yangtze river (3110 BC) ; methane peak, (3050 BC) ; methane ( BC) ; Heckla eruption heckla eruption, iceland (3190 BC) ;
In the Americas devon island (3050 BC) ; bristlecone pines (3000 BC) ; hemlock decline new england (3250 BC) ; elm collapse (3270 BC) ; july summer cooling, soviet union (3300 BC) ; wooden tracks (3000 BC) diamond pond, (3000 BC) ; paleoclimatic flood, global (3150 BC) ;

In the Americas: a flood peak (3150 BC) ; huascaran glacier (3250 BC) ; general wetting western u.s (3000 BC) ; republican river, (3100 BC) ; floods in netherlands (2970 BC) ; pine bursts (3250 BC) ; pomme de terre river (3200 BC) ; end of alluvial period (3100 BC) ; new data from peru ( BC) ;

Significant archeological finds of this period include: belgian coastal monuments (3300 BC) ; brittany coast emerges (3050 BC) ; newgrange megalithic tomb (3075 BC) newgrange megalithic tomb (3075 BC) ; carnac megaliths (3000 BC) ; mayan recreation (3113 BC) ; ancient french trapper (3000 BC) ; french coastal megaliths (3212 BC) ; stonehenge (start) (3100 BC) ; newgrange start (3250 BC) ; In Europe irish oaks (3199 BC) ;

Posted in AGW Climate Perspective | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Drought, or Stupid Rescue Killing Delta Smelt?

At present, California is in the middle of a drought. Despite the news calling this the ‘worse ever’, it isn’t. California has had far worse droughts in the past. Some lasting hundreds of years.

This got me wondering: “Given that the Delta Smelt survived those droughts, why do they need our help in this one?”

Well, it seems that it isn’t just the water that’s an issue.

The narrative in the news is that we need to flush roughly 1/3 of the available fresh water through the San Francisco bay / delta system to keep the delta smelt happy and reproducing. Since brackish water can only migrate a little ways up stream, I find that hard to believe as well. All those folks using water in the central valley have it return to the drainage system anyway, and last I looked the Sacramento River still flowed. But even if we ignore those questions (of the form “wasn’t the water lower than this in the 200-ish year drought that ended the Anasazi” ) and accept that fresh water levels are lower, is that low enough to cut the population of delta smelt down to near nothing? (Some news reports have claimed it might be as low as a few hundred fish. For something 2 inches long, that’s about enough to fill one tiny pond… and I’m sure there is at least that much appropriate habitat along the delta somewhere. I’ve boated and fished there my whole life and it is a huge place.)

Something about the whole story just seemed wrong. So I took a look. What I found sure looks a lot more like the delta smelt is dying out from a stupid “rescue” attempt and that no amount of fresh water can change that. We’ll start with the wiki, and with it’s green bias, anything other than water that gets through that filter will be pretty well undeniable.


Delta smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus, is an endangered slender-bodied smelt, about 5 to 7 cm (2.0 to 2.8 in) long, in the Osmeridae family. Endemic to the upper Sacramento-San Joaquin Estuary of California, it mainly inhabits the freshwater-saltwater mixing zone of the estuary, except during its spawning season, when it migrates upstream to freshwater following winter “first flush” flow events (around March to May). It functions as an indicator species for the overall health of the Delta’s ecosystem.

Because of its one-year lifecycle and relatively low fecundity, it is very susceptible to changes in the environmental conditions of its native habitat. Efforts to protect the endangered fish from further decline have focused on limiting or modifying the large-scale pumping activities of state and federal water projects at the southern end of the estuary. However, these efforts have not prevented the species from becoming functionally extinct in the wild.

So lives in the brackish areas. To me, that says salt water intrusion further up the delta would give it more living space. It also clearly migrates, so would normally be expected to just migrate upstream a bit if the fresh / brackish interface moved.

Has “low fecundity”… so anything that competes with it could cause a load of problems. If a competitor in the same niche has just a few more offspring / cycle, it will eventually swamp them. Doesn’t sound like a water issue to me…

The delta smelt is one of five currently recognized species within the Hypomesus genus, which is part of the larger Osmeridae family of smelts. The genus has been subject to many revisions since it was first classified by Gill in 1863. The first major revision occurred in 1963, when the Osmeridae family was reexamined by Canadian ichthyologist Donald Evan McAllister. Expanding on Japanese researcher Hamada’s earlier determination that H. olidus was not a monolithic widespread species, but rather one of three distinct species of Hypomesus, McAllister assigned them new names, and further delineated what he believed were four subspecies. This was the first description of H. transpacificus; named for its supposed occurrence on both sides of the Pacific, and also “to the friendship of Japanese and Canadian ichthyologists.” He separated these geographically isolated populations into separate subspecies: H. t. transpacificus and H. t. nipponensis.

So it was thought to be one big species, then was thought to be 4 subspecies. Four fish so close to the same that it was hard for professional fish biologists to notice they were not one species. Ok…

Modern analysis of the genus would elevate all of McAllister’s subspecies to full species status, based on fin ray counts and the number of chromatophores between their mandibles, a change which genetic analysis has supported. In fact, genetic analysis would conclude that despite their morphological similarities, H. nipponensis and H. transpacificus are actually members of different phylogenetic clades.

The abbreviated distribution of Hypomesus species along both the east and west sides of the Pacific ocean suggests that their common ancestor had a range that would have crossed the Pacific. Researchers have hypothesized that climatic changes may have reduced the range of the ancestral species during cooling periods, which would have created a reproductive barrier, allowing speciation to occur. Although the low number of species in the genus and high levels of homoplasy have frustrated attempts to determine whether the northern Pacific H. olidus or H. nipponensis are the basal species of Hypomesus, it is known that the most recent speciation event in Hypomesus was between the two native east Pacific species, H. pretiosus and H. transpacificus. This is plausibly due to a geographic isolation of a widespread eastern Pacific ancestor, of which some members were isolated in a freshwater basin in western California, possibly in the lakes that would have been located in the southern San Joaquin Valley during the Pleistocene epoch.

Now we’re calling them all 4 full species… “This time for sure!”… This matters a bit further down… But for now, what about habitat?


The delta smelt is endemic to the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta in California, where it is distributed from the Suisun Bay upstream through the Delta in Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Solano Counties. The delta smelt is a pelagic (lives in the open water column away from the bottom) and euryhaline species (tolerant of a wide salinity range). It has been collected from estuarine waters with salinities up to 14 parts per thousand.
Historically, delta smelt were distributed from San Pablo Bay upstream to Sacramento on the Sacramento River and Mossdale on the San Joaquin River, which varied seasonally and with freshwater outflow. Today, large areas of historic delta smelt habitat and designated critical habitat have become unsuitable for some life history stages of the species, even though key environmental characteristics (e.g. temperature, salinity, water depth) of these areas have not changed. Delta smelt disappeared from the southern portion of their historic habitat in the late 1970s, which coincides with substantial increases in the amounts of water exported from the Delta. It is likely that water export operations have a great effect on the distribution, abundance and genetic diversity of delta smelt.


The delta smelt is semelparous, living one year and dying after its first spawning. Delta smelt spawning occurs in spring in river channels and tidally influenced backwater sloughs upstream of the mixing zone where saltwater meets freshwater. The Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers then transport the delta smelt larvae downstream to the mixing zone, normally located in the Suisun Bay. Young delta smelt then feed and grow in the mixing zone before starting their upstream spawning migration in late fall or early winter.

The delta smelt is preyed upon by larger fish, especially striped bass and largemouth bass, which are introduced species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

So the entire argument over water comes down to a coincidental drop in “the late 1970s” when water projects opened (built, BTW, under Gov. Brown the elder…) and despite the statement that the key water quality indicators have not changed. Makes a fellow go Hmmmmmm…


Fishing for Black Bass

(Micropterus spp.)

Bass angling provides recreation and economic value to the state of California. For several years, California has been the center of attention for producing trophy-sized black bass. In a list of the top 25 largest largemouth bass caught in the U.S., 21 of the bass are from California waters. Nationwide attention to California ‘s largemouth bass fisheries began with the success of Florida largemouth bass introductions. Numerous catches of largemouth bass over 10 pounds were reported following the introductions and in 1972, the first largemouth bass over 20 pounds from California was caught at Lake Miramar. In addition to trophy-sized largemouth bass, the introduction of Alabama spotted bass in 1976 and subsequent introductions to other California waters has produced trophy-sized, and state and world record catches from California waters.
Largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, were first introduced into California from Quincy, Illinois, into Lake Cuyamaca ( San Diego County ) in 1891, and are now found throughout California. Two subspecies are recognized, the northern subspecies, M. s. salmoides, and the Florida subspecies, M. s. floridanus. The first introduction of Florida largemouth bass was made in 1959 into southern California. The value of Florida largemouth bass has been demonstrated by increased catches of trophy-sized fish and nationwide public attention. Many bass greater than 10 pounds have been caught from California waters including a 21 pound 12 ounce bass caught from Castaic Lake, Los Angeles County, in 1991.

So about 1960 they first come to Southern California. Then at some unclear later time get put in Northern California… if it were about 10 years, that would be about 1970… just in time to start snacking on smelt in the delta… and in 1976 we have a flood of Alabama spotted bass being introduced all over too.

The striped bass show up earlier, directly into the bay delta system, so have had more time to snack. Though it looks like they were not able to fully predate that smelt.


History of Striped Bass in California

There were originally no striped bass in California. They were introduced from the East Coast, where they are found from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Alabama. The initial introduction took place in 1879, when 132 small bass were brought successfully to California by rail from the Navesink River in New Jersey and released near Martinez. Fish from this lot were caught within a year near Sausalito, Alameda, and Monterey, and others were caught occasionally at scattered places for several years afterwards. There was much concern by the Fish and Game Commission that such a small number of bass might fail to establish the species, so a second introduction of about 300 stripers was made in lower Suisun Bay in 1882.

In a few years, striped bass were being caught in California in large numbers. By 1889, a decade after the first lot of eastern fish had been released, bass were being sold in San Francisco markets. In another 10 years, the commercial net catch alone was averaging well over a million pounds a year. In 1935, however, all commercial fishing for striped bass was stopped in the belief that this would enhance the sport fishery.

I’d put my money on the large mouth bass as being the culprit. They are known to eat anything that moves, and are an ‘issue’ for many species when introduced into a water system. In any case, having one top predator added to your environment is bad, having two or three added is way bad. Then again, these are not called a ‘bait fish’ for nothing…

But there’s more…

When we look into one of those new “species” we find an interesting history…


Hypomesus nipponensis

The wakasagi, Hypomesus nipponensis, is an important food fish native to the lakes and estuaries of Hokkaido, Japan. It has been introduced in other locations, including the San Francisco Delta of the United States. It is raised in fisheries, and is very similar in appearance to the delta smelt (H. transpacificus).

Hmmm…. wonder why we never hear about the Japanese smelt… Is it dying out too? Has it reached the brink and does it need a flush of water to save it? One would expect that it, being nearly identical, might be subject to the same pressures of water issues.

Introduction to the United States

Native to the lakes and estuaries of Hokkaido, Japan and introduced to the lakes on Honshu and Kyushu, the Japanese wakasagi was introduced to California water reservoirs by the California Department of Fish and Game to provide more prey for stocked rainbow trout after failed attempts to introduce native delta smelt to three foothill reservoirs. At the time, the California-native delta smelt and the Japanese smelt were thought to be separated members of the same species, H. olidus. In 1959 the CDFG imported 3.6 million fertilized eggs attached to palm fiber mats from a population in Suwa Lake, located east of Tokyo; many of these eggs were dead on arrival. The fiber mats were placed in streams feeding into six lakes and reservoirs that appeared to be ecologically suitable for the smelt. It was thought at the time that these reservoirs could be chemically treated to eradicate the fish if they were found to be undesirable. In 1972 and 1973 about 77,000 fish from the Shastina Reservoir were moved to the Almanor Reservoir in Plumas County. All attempts to introduce the fish were successful, except the Dodge and Big Bear Reservoir introductions, the latter of which may have been partially attributable to chemical treatments meant to eradicate stunted crappie and goldfish.

Progression into delta

Although a retrospective analysis of preserved delta smelt samples caught in 1972 and 1982 from the Delta region has shown that wakasagi had been invading the estuaries in undetected quantities since at least the early 1970s, wakasagi expansion from these original introduction sites southward was not tracked until several years later. In 1994 they were detected at the State Water Project pumping plant for the first time, and by 1998 the fish could be found throughout the estuary including the Suisun and San Pablo Bays.

So these guys were more hardy and able to “make it” in lakes where the delta smelt could not. They are happy to live in fresh water, it seems. Then they progressed from the lake system, down the rivers, arriving in the Delta somewhere in the early ’70s and continued to spread out, eventually making it all the way over to where water is sucked off to Los Angeles and are now found “throughout the estuary” including the prime areas used by the delta smelt in Suisun and San Pablo bays.

Can you say “competition”? I knew you could…

So the native delta smelt gets a double whack of predation from fish introduced by The Government, then gets out competed by an imported cousin, introduced by The Government, and now The Government is saying flushing water out the bay will save it? What the???


Because the two species are very similar in morphology and life history, the wakasagi presents several potential threats to the endangered delta smelt. Besides direct competition for nutritional resources and the possibility that wakasagi may prey on the eggs and larvae of delta smelt, hybridization could either dilute the species or cause population decline due to sterilizing effects. In fact, a few hybrids have been captured in the wild, although all of them were first generation crosses and no evidence of back-crossing has been found, which would suggest that the hybrids were not viable.

Misidentification of the species is an additional concern, which could lead to inaccurate assessments critical to making policy decisions; however this problem may be mitigated if genetic markers are used for identification.

In addition to its negative effects on the delta smelt, the wakasagi significantly reduced Kokanee fisheries, but helped increase growth rates of other salmon and trout fisheries.

These Japanese versions of smelt are predators on the other smelt, but sometimes will swamp them in the mating dance as evidenced by the occasional crosses (either diluting their genetics, or just resulting in failed matings as the delta smelt choose non-productive paring with the more common competitor – guess they can’t tell it’s a different species or sub-species either ;-) and have also consumed eggs of Kokanee (red salmon in lakes) reducing them too.

So not only are the delta smelt being more heavily predated by bass, but by other smelt too, who sometimes get them mating without benefit, and are swamping them with competition for their niche, food, and space.

As these introduced smelt seem to be not having any problem with the water flow, tell me again how dumping fresh water is going to fix the problems faced by the Delta Smelt? I’d even go so far as to speculate that the Delta Smelt, being a known lover of brackish water, and the Japanese smelt, being called the “fresh water smelt” as that is what it prefers, having MORE salt water intrusion would be likely to favor the native Delta Smelt.

This paper finds much the same thing on competition:


(Though I can’t cut / paste from their PDF. Yeah, I know, I could break the copy protect,and on my tablet a different link that I can’t find anymore let me download it.. but…)

These folks too:


Means of Introduction: Wakasagi were intentionally introduced in 1959 from Japan by the California Department of Fish and Game as an experimental forage fish for trout (Wales 1962; Moyle 1976b; Dill and Cordone 1997).

Status: This species is established in several reservoirs and associated tributaries in California (Moyle 1976a; Shapovalov et al. 1981; Courtenay et al. 1986). It has not been recorded in Big Bear Lake since 1960 (Swift et al. 1993).

Impact of Introduction: This species has been found to negatively impact kokanee Oncorhynchus nerka and threadfin shad Dorosoma petenense (Dill and Cordone 1997). It also is known to hybridize with the native and federally endangered delta smelt Hypomesus transpacificus. Hybridization between the two species was suspected by Courtenay et al. (1986), and was later confirmed (Dill and Cordone 1997; Trenham et al. 1998).

Remarks: Dill and Cordone (1997) reviewed its introduction history in California. In documenting the original introduction, Wales (1962) incorrectly identified the species as Hypomesus olidus. Several authors (e.g., Moyle 1976a; Lee et al. 1980 et seq.) treated the introduced wakasagi as a subspecies of H. transpacificus (i.e., as H. t. nipponensis). In California the wakasagi is generally considered a freshwater species, hence its often-used name “freshwater smelt” in that state; however, it has recently been discovered in brackish waters, further threatening the continued survival of the imperiled delta smelt (Dill and Cordone 1997).

They have a nice map of where these guys have made a home in California:

Where the Japanese Smelt are living

Where the Japanese Smelt are living

So these guys are doing just fine, thanks.

Tell me again how flushing 1/3 of the available fresh water out the Gate is going to stop predation by bass and competition and genetic swamping by the Japanese smelt?

Frankly, it looks to me like a Government caused problem. A failed attempt at introduction of the Delta Smelt into lakes to spread it around, followed by an introduction of a stronger more dominant competitor that they failed to contain, along with introductions of a couple of top predator fish to make the sport fishing more interesting. In short, it is The Government that is driving this native smelt to extinction. Then flushing more fresh water out the bay just gives the introduced species an easier time of it in less brackish water. Sheesh. Can they do any worse?

At this point, IMHO, the best that can be done is to try to make a viable hybrid that can compete and have it replace the pure native. Rather like being done with Elm trees and Dutch Elm Disease. Or we could just admit that damn near nobody can tell the “invader” from the “native” and just let it take over the niche. All the predators will be happy to eat it, and nobody will really notice the difference in the delta. (In fresh waters it might reduce other fish, but we can’t stop that at this point anyway.) Perhaps we could find a place, like the Monterey Bay, where it is remote from the Japanese smelt populations but still has some brackish / fresh interfaces and establish a delta smelt population there. Maybe.

IMHO there is no justification at all for dumping loads of fresh water out the bay to “save” the Delta Smelt. Fresh water isn’t the problem, and might even be making things worse.

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Curing Pancreatic Cancer with Thymoquinone

As is often the case, when researching one thing I run into another. I was looking into cannabis and cancer for that overdue posting on cannabinoids and ran into this.


The site itself is fascinating. It claims to look for things that are under reported and will change the world. From their “why this site” page:

The Articles Selected for this Site are based upon an ambiguous classification of weight. The articles chosen are not based upon popularity but how forcefully a variety of factors in an event may influence future outcomes. Often this will result in a 50/50 mix of research and current events. Many heavily weighted events we post, are past events yet to be evident in future outcomes. You will find this in many of the older post of DNA, and Genetic mutation articles etc……

We are not a conspiracy site, or a site attempting to influence a reader towards any particular frame of mind. This site unfortunately cannot escape that there will always be some element of personal prejudice involved in article selection. If you as a reader see this occurring please do not hesitate to ask for an explanation.

So, as of now, I’ve spent several hours there and could spend a few days… But back on this particular topic.

Nigella Sativa and Cancer

Thymoquinone, an extract of nigella sativa seed oil, blocked pancreatic cancer cell growth and killed the cells by enhancing the process of programmed cell death.

Public release date: 18-May-2008

Contact: Steve Benowitz
[contact info deleted – EMS]
Thomas Jefferson University

Traditional herbal medicine kills pancreatic cancer cells, Jefferson researchers report

(PHILADELPHIA) An herb used in traditional medicine by many Middle Eastern countries may help in the fight against pancreatic cancer, one of the most difficult cancers to treat. Researchers at the Kimmel Cancer at Jefferson in Philadelphia have found that thymoquinone, an extract of nigella sativa seed oil, blocked pancreatic cancer cell growth and killed the cells by enhancing the process of programmed cell death.
According to Hwyda Arafat, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, nigella sativa helps treat a broad array of diseases, including some immune and inflammatory disorders. Previous studies also have shown anticancer activity in prostate and colon cancers, as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Using a human pancreatic cancer cell line, she and her team found that adding thymoquinone killed approximately 80 percent of the cancer cells. They demonstrated that thymoquinone triggered programmed cell death in the cells, and that a number of important genes, including p53, Bax, bcl-2 and p21, were affected. The researchers found that expression of p53, a tumor suppressor gene, and Bax, a gene that promotes programmed cell death, was increased, while bcl-2, which blocks such cell death, was decreased. The p21 gene, which is involved in the regulation of different phases of the cell cycle, was substantially increased. She presents her findings May 18 at the Digestive Disease Week in San Diego.

Dr. Arafat and her co-workers also found that thymoquinone caused “epigenetic” changes in pancreatic cancer cells, modifying the cells’ DNA. She explains that these changes involve adding acetyl groups to the DNA structure, specifically to blocks of proteins called histones. This “acetylation” process can be important for genes to be read and translated into proteins. In this case, it could involve the genes that are key to initiating programmed cell death.

At the same time, adding thymoquinone to pancreatic cancer cells reduced the production and activity of enzymes called histone deacetylases (HDACs), which remove the acetyl groups from the histone proteins, halting the gene transcription process. Dr. Arafat notes that HDAC inhibitors are a “hot” new class of drugs that interfere with the function of histone deacetylases, and is being studied as a treatment for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Finding that thymoquinone functions as an HDAC inhibitor, she says, “was very remarkable and really exciting.”

Pancreatic cancer, the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in this country, takes some 34,000 lives a year. The disease frequently is detected after it has spread and only 4 percent of individuals with pancreatic cancer live for five years after diagnosis

That has “wow factor” for sure. Pancreatic cancer is considered essentially incurable. And a traditional herbal kills the cells… That kind of thing is why I have an interest in traditional / herbal medicine, why I have 3 books on how to “DIY” with plants, and why I’m fond of the pharmacopoeia of 1897 that has a long list of such traditional treatments from before doctors decided not to use them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much in favor of modern medicine. Just don’t see any reason to throw out the old ways and see them as usable in an “After The Fall” environment.

So what is this nigella sativa? Well, the first part is ‘black’ and the last part is ‘cultivated’ (I think), so not very helpful.

The Plant

Lifting things from the wiki:


Flower of NIgella Sativa from wiki by AndreHolz

Nigella sativa (Kalonji or simply Nigella) is an annual flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae, native to south and southwest Asia. It grows to 20–30 cm (7.9–11.8 in) tall, with finely divided, linear (but not thread-like) leaves. The flowers are delicate, and usually coloured pale blue and white, with five to ten petals. The fruit is a large and inflated capsule composed of three to seven united follicles, each containing numerous seeds which are used as spice, sometimes as a replacement for original black cumin (Bunium bulbocastanum).

What gets me is the large number of common names. Trying to find this at the local Indian Food Store could be interesting…

Common names

In English, Nigella sativa seed is variously called kalonji, fennel flower, nutmeg flower, black caraway, and Roman coriander. Other names used, sometimes misleadingly, are black cumin, onion seed and black sesame. Synonymously, it may be referred to as thymoquinone after its principal extract under preliminary research for several possible effects in humans.

Blackseed and black caraway may also refer to Bunium persicum.

Nigella is used as part of the spice mixture paanch phoran or panch phoron (meaning a mixture of five spices) and by itself in many recipes in Bengali cuisine and most recognizably in naan bread.

OK, put “learn to make naan bread” and visit Indian Food Store on the ToDo list… I knew there was a reason I liked Indian food, other than the obvious spice, flavor, texture, aroma, presentation, … but I digress ;-)

It has been around for a while, and with an interesting history:


According to Zohary and Hopf, archaeological evidence about the earliest cultivation of N. sativa “is still scanty”, but they report supposed N. sativa seeds have been found in several sites from ancient Egypt, including Tutankhamun’s tomb. Although its exact role in Egyptian culture is unknown, it is known that items entombed with a pharaoh were carefully selected to assist him in the afterlife.

The earliest written reference to N. sativa is thought to be in the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament, where the reaping of nigella and wheat is contrasted (Isaiah 28: 25, 27). Easton’s Bible dictionary states the Hebrew word ketsah refers to N. sativa without doubt (although not all translations are in agreement). According to Zohary and Hopf, N. sativa was another traditional condiment of the Old World during classical times, and its black seeds were extensively used to flavor food.

Seeds were found in a Hittite flask in Turkey from the second millennium BCE.

Some of my favorite places, folks, and times… Hittites and Egyptians.

The wiki goes on into other interesting bits.


Seeds of Nigella sativa have a pungent bitter taste and smell. It is used primarily in confectionery and liquors. Peshawari naan is, as a rule, topped with kalonji seeds. Nigella is also used in Armenian string cheese, a braided string cheese called majdouleh or majdouli in the Middle East.

So in the “bitter medicinal” category. And add ‘find Armenian food store’ to the ToDo list…

And what is that part about “liquors”? Hmmmm…. “It’s my medicinal herbs, dear”… (Hick!)…


Nigella sativa oil contains conjugated linoleic (18:2) acid, thymoquinone, nigellone (dithymoquinone), melanthin, nigilline, damascenine, and trans-anethole.

In 2010, Nestlé filed a patent application for use of extracted thymoquinone from N. sativa as a food allergy treatment. Nestlé states that the patent would cover “the specific way that thymoquinone – a compound that can be extracted from the seed of the fennel flower – interacts with opioid receptors in the body and helps to reduce allergic reactions to food”.

Preliminary human research

Mainly for its seed oil extract, thymoquinone, Nigella sativa is under research for its potential to affect human diseases, such as cancer or metabolic syndrome.

As a person with food allergies, that use is particularly interesting. Nestlé may try to patent the use of the chemical, but the spice is up for grabs. I see some cooking experiments in my future…

Then we have a reference to an effect on ‘metabolic syndrome’ as well. That’s the “pre-diabetes and fat with low energy” cluster. So might have a bit of pick me up and slenderizing in it too. Things that make you want to find some Armenian String Cheese ;-)

These folks have a nice picture of the pod and seeds. Claim all sorts of health benefits from asthma to high blood pressure to rheumatoid arthritis.


They also have a useful ‘what might be bad’ section and claim to site studies, but I’ve not followed those links:


Tests on animals indicate that high doses of nigella sativa may damage the kidney and/or liver. What’s more, taking nigella sativa during chemotherapy may hamper the effects of chemotherapy drugs.

Supplements haven’t been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get tips on using supplements here, but if you’re considering the use of nigella sativa supplements, talk with your primary care provider first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Using Nigella Sativa for Health

Due to a lack of scientific support for its health effects, it’s too soon to recommend nigella sativa as a principal standard treatment for any condition. If you’re considering the use of nigella sativa for treatment or prevention of a specific health problem, make sure to consult your doctor before you start your supplement regimen.

Nothing to say I can’t just add some to my jelly doughnut and see if my food allergies get lessened or my morning stiffness and sporadic creaky joints goes away…

These folks also find some benefits, but being mostly traditional doctor oriented, have a more tepid approach (that is likely warranted this early in the game of extract and enhance chemical processing):


BOTTOM LINE: Black cumin seed has not been shown to treat cancer in humans.
Black cumin seed is used for cooking and in medicine in India, Arabia, and Europe. Laboratory studies have shown that some components have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore, there is some speculation that black cumin seed may be useful in the treatment of cancer and protect against the side effects of radiation therapy, but these have been proven in humans. Early phase studies suggest that black cumin seed may help to control high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

I think they left out a “not” in the “proven in humans” sentence… but I find the blood pressure and arthritis points as interesting (or maybe more so, as I don’t know anyone with pancreatic cancer…)

At this point, given the multiple folks interested in it, the historical and long standing uses, and the recent extract trials showing some real effects on many cells, it is a plant “of interest”.

Then there are these folks that list all sorts of details on dosing and what-not. Where did it come from? Don’t know. But I’ve not read it all in detail, just a quick skim. They say, though:


This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Whoever they are…


It is a fairly long detailed article and I don’t see how an extract of it would be useful, so ‘hit the link’ if interested in more.

This one is interesting in that it has a lot of links at the bottom to what look like actual trials.


Black cumin is mentioned in the Bible (Isaiah 28:27 NWT) as well as in the words of the prophet Mohammed (Islam), he said, “Use this seed regularly, because it is a cure for every disease, except death.” Nigella Sativa has been regarded as a true “miracle cure” and was found in King Tut’s tomb, suggesting that even centuries ago, kings thought of it as a valuable plant and herb of blessing. Nigella Sativa seeds were not carefully researched until about forty years ago. Since this time, more than 250 studies have been conducted in universities (see studies/clinical trials below).

According to EzineArticles.com researchers have evaluated the benefits of black seed oil in the treatment of many medical conditions, including cancer, arthritis, diabetes, liver damage, parasitic infections, bacterial infections, viral infections, asthma / other respiratory illnesses, and diffuses the toxic effects of bees and wasps. It was used historically as a pain reliever and modern research has supported this use, though the mechanism of action is unclear (see “Treating headaches with Nigella Sativa”).

An interesting article and fairly easy read. Detailed and careful, but with a sense of history and aesthetics… rather like most things Japanese, IMHO.


Of course, there’s a web site…


Premium Black Seed Oil/Seeds and Herbs – Available for Worldwide Shipping

Gary Null, PHD and Healer stated, “Black Cumin Oil is probably the most important healing oil you can take in your system!!!!!”

Nigella Sativa – Also Known as Black Cumin, Black Seeds, Kalonji and Haba Al-Barakah

What is Nigella Sativa?

Black seeds, also known as Nigella sativa, black cumin, kalonji seeds and haba al-barakah (Arabic phrase) have been used by people for thousands of years. Some associate black caraway with black seeds and they come from two different plants. Kalonji seeds are found in India and haba al-barakah is an Arabic word and used in the Middle East mainly. Black seeds are commonly used in the kitchen also in many recipes.

Nigella sativa (black seeds), an annual flowering plant that grows to 20-30cm tall, is native to Asia and the Middle East. The flowers of this plant are very delicate and pale colored and white. The seeds are used in Middle Eastern cooking, such as in their local breads. The seeds are also used by thousands for their natural healing abilities.

The use of a half dozen !!!!! makes me wonder about hype level, but they claim to sell the stuff.

I’ve not found a particular source for seeds intended for planting, but it looks like any spice isle with a load of these guys ought to have whole seeds.

In Conclusion

Not really seeing a reason to get too excited about it just yet. Looks like a very useful plant, likely with some real medicinal values. We also see the ‘typical’ cycle of taking apart the plant and finding a chemical in it that can be used and patented, then that becoming the western drug. OTOH, a spoon of the seed is supposed to be about the right dose per the Hishamakl site above. That’s about the amount needed to make a good bagel better, so not a big deal to work into a meal plan. ;-)

One hopes that they can actually make a workable cure for pancreatic cancer out of it. If not, it is still an interesting broad spectrum herbal medicinal worth exploring; and putting in a preparedness seed package.

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Polar Night Jet and UV Driven Albedo

This is just a quick speculation.

While watching the weather on WeatherNation (much better than The Weather Channel that is now un-Reality TV much of the time) I notice an odd pattern.


Has an interesting “stream live” button that does give you a video feed, but only after sitting through a commercial. Still, much better “click and go” than many other sites. It is now my “go to” weather channel on TV. That there is a ‘click and go’ option on the computer just earned them a bookmark.

So what they were showing was the cloud cover and rain patterns. I noticed that the cloud extended out into the Pacific to the end of the radar. Then noticed a large fat ‘tongue’ of clouds down over the middle prairie. Exactly where you find a similar cold blob of “Canadian Air” when a mobile polar mass moves in. That got me thinking.

We had UV drop, so the stratosphere cooled off. Also less UV going into the oceans so they will slowly cool. All that caused the atmospheric height to lower (even NASA noted that less drag was on satellites). At the same time, the Total Solar Irradiation is not much different. So, in places like the Tropics, there will be the same total heat driving the same water into the upper Troposphere. (Perhaps even more as the prior UV carried energy is now showing up in longer wavelengths that are absorbed at ground level). So what happens then?

Thunderstorms and Hadley Cells, Oh My!… The hot air rises, then catches a Cat-2 hurricane force wind sideways toward the poles. Especially toward the winter pole where it forms the Polar Night Jet and then descends as very cold air into the polar vortex.


“The polar vortex is not a recently discovered phenomenon; in fact, it has been talked about in the meteorological world for decades,” AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
A polar vortex is a large pocket of very cold air, typically the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere, which sits over the polar region during the winter season.
The frigid air can find its way into the United States when the polar vortex is pushed farther south, occasionally reaching southern Canada and the northern Plains, Midwest and northeastern portions of the United States.

When Vortex Meets Humid

So my muse was just visualizing a more flattened Polar Vortex (and general downwelling cold air at the poles) as the column height is lower, and seeing it as colder since the stratospheric air starts out colder with less UV heating. That displaces colder air further toward the equator, and more often. So what happens when the greater extent and degree of cold pole runs into the same or warmer and wetter tropical source air?

Clouds. More of them, more widely spread, more complete cover, and also of a somewhat more compressed height. In short, a more effective cloud cover (and likely with more rain too).

So this would mean an increase in the albedo of the temperate band, and much less warmth at the surface. Something I’ve been experiencing this year in the yard. In many years, May has been warm and summer like. This year it is cool to cold and winter like. Heck, we even have had rain a couple of times. Almost unheard of and you need to go back many years to find historical similarity.


We’ve also had more rain in the areas where that air collision is happening, including the “flooding droughts” in Texas…


So while that is ‘anecdotal’ observation, it is the thing that forms a “dig here!” for confirmation (or refutation).

That’s my muse. Related to Stephen Wilde’s ideas, though he looks more at the position of the jet stream and how it wiggles, while I’m just looking at the relative temperature and what it does to humidity. (It is possible I’m looking at one part of ‘how it works’ and he is describing the overall context and results). But I’m not sure if this is already incorporated in other folks stuff. At any rate, I think the idea of looking specifically at cloud albedo changes based on atmospheric height changes and ‘polar jet strength / polar vortex and downwelling strength’ causing stronger temperature differentials is worth breaking out as a specific question.

To me, it looks very much like things are more cloudy and cold. Both in California and looking at the weather maps of other areas. Actual data would help and a full analysis would be enlightening. Sadly, I’m pretty sure we have lousy cloud cover data… and I’m not even sure where to find that.

If true, this brings in two other factors for crop growth. First off, less sunlight at ground level. Some crops want “full sun”, others are ok with “partial shade”. IF we have a lot more cloud cover, some crops will take longer to ripen. Perhaps too long. Second, degree days. As it is colder, it will take longer to ripen for any given crop. You need a certain number of degree days for a given crop, and if the days are cool and cloudy, it takes more days for that degree x days product to reach harvest. This all combines to say “longer growing season needed just when frost leaves later and comes back sooner” and that folks will need to shift to cooler environment crops and smaller degree days to harvest.

I think I need to practice making buckwheat pancakes…

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