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Wednesday
Apr242019

Making the poor cold, and miserable

I have an article up at Think Scotland, on the subject of induced energy poverty

WE HAVE JUST learned something of the human cost of the government’s increasingly absurd energy policies. It’s not a pretty story. Buried in depths of a rather obscure statistical report, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has given details of how much energy households use for heating and lighting compared to the amount that they actually need.

Astonishingly, 69 per cent of households consume less energy than they need, with an average underspend of 10 per cent. This may overstate the case somewhat, but it’s clear that there is a real problem for those in fuel poverty, who underspend by 20 per cent. It’s particularly acute for households with children.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr232019

Another Attenborough tragedy porn exposé

This was posted up at Reaction magazine earlier today.

"Tragedy porn” is now a standard green propaganda technique. You’ve probably been on the receiving end of it, and will recognise it once I describe it. First of all you need a victim. Animals – preferably fluffy ones, and preferably with large eyes – are ideal, but people will do at a pinch. Then you have to film them in the process of dying or otherwise suffering. A presenter or scientist needs to be on hand to describe the events, preferably choking away their tears. Then you blame global warming.

It is often an effective technique, but care is required. Last week, tragedy porn proved to be the undoing of Sir David Attenborough, when on Netflix a carefully contrived story that global warming was driving walruses over cliff tops unravelled over the course of a week, as a series of flaws were discovered in the narrative and in the tales spun by the production team as they attempted to cover up what they had done. Once it emerged that the production team may well have played a role in causing the tragedy, it all started to look a bit problematic.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr182019

Attenborough does climate

This is an open thread for discussion of tonight's David Attenborough does climate thingy.


Thursday
Apr182019

More walrus articles

Over the last week, the walrus story has developed a lot.

I wrote an update at the GWPF blog, and then looked at some potentially explosive details of the geography of Cape Kozhenikova.

Then I summarised the whole story for Reaction magazine.

I'd say the Netflix team coming out of this looking very bad indeed.

Thursday
Apr112019

On walruses

My article on walruses appeared behind the paywall at the Spectator Coffee House blog earlier this week. 

Over the weekend, social media and the newspapers were full of stories of Pacific walruses plunging over sea cliffs to their deaths. Heart-wrenching film of the corpses of these magnificent beasts piled up on the shore have been driving many to tears.

This all came about as the result of the latest episode of Our Planet, the new wildlife extravaganza from Netflix. As is normal for such programmes, the story that accompanies the animal eye-candy is told by Sir David Attenborough and, as is positively compulsory, it is spiced with multiple references to the horrors of global warming. In fact, we are told, it is us who should shoulder the blame for the slaughter of the walruses, because shrinking sea ice caused by climate change forces them to haulout – leaving the water to take refuge on the shore instead.

The programme ends with Attenborough directing viewers to a website run by WWF, the co-producers of the series. It is therefore, in essence, an eight-part, multi-million pound fundraiser.

Which is a pity, because there is now considerable evidence emerging that the story is not quite what it seems.

For a start, as the zoologist Susan Crockford has documented for the GWPF, walrus haul out behaviour may not be related to global warming. In her 2014 paper On the Beach, she cites examples as far back as the 1930s, long before global warming. She also explains that there doesn’t appear to be a strong correlation between sea-ice levels and haulout behaviour.

Nor is the phenomenon of walruses falling to their deaths from sea cliffs new. American TV recorded the same phenomenon in 1994 and the New York Times reported 60 deaths in a single incident in 1996. Attempts were made to install a fence at one site, while another employs rangers whose sole job is to keep the walruses away from the cliffs. At the time, scientists explained that the most likely explanation  was overcrowding at the water’s edge.

Crockford thinks that the footage on the Netflix show comes from a well-documented incident that took place in the village of Ryrkaypiy, in eastern Siberia, in October 2017. September and October are the peak period for walrus haulouts, and there are numerous examples, which date back to the 1960s, of the cliff phenomenon taking place on Wrangel Island, a few hundred kilometres to the north.

However in 2017, as the Siberian Times reported, the colony attracted polar bears that frequent – and indeed at the time terrorise – the area. The bears drove several hundred walruses over the cliffs to their deaths, before feasting on the corpses. They continued to frequent the area right through into the winter.

I’ve been able to show that Crockford’s supposition about the geographical origin of the footage is correct: analysis of the rock shapes in the film and in a photo taken by the producer/director both match archive photos of Ryrkaypiy. The photo was taken on 19 September 2017, during the events described by the Siberian Times.

But whereas the Siberian Times and Gizmodo website, which also reported on the 2017 incident, were both quite clear that the walruses were driven over the cliffs by polar bears, Netflix makes no mention of their presence. Similarly, there is no mention of the fact that walrus haulouts are entirely normal. Instead, Attenborough tells his viewers that climate change is forcing the walruses on shore, where their poor eyesight leads them to plunge over the cliffs.

This is all very troubling as it raises the possibility that Netflix and the WWF are, innocently or otherwise, party to a deception of the public. Exactly who was aware of the presence of polar bears remains unclear, but it seems doubtful that no one at the WWF and the production team was unaware. And given that one of the prime objectives of the show seems to have been to raise funds for WWF, that seems… problematic.

Monday
Oct302017

Cartoons by Josh Calendar 2018

The best way to remember how entertaining (or horrifying) climate science, energy policy etc, was in 2017 is to buy a Cartoons by Josh Calendar.

The calendar is a new size this year and while the cartoons are the same size the space for the diary dates is reduced. This cuts the printing and posting costs by nearly half to £10 (+P&P) per calendar - which means less fossil fuel money and every calendar saving the planet just a little bit more!

[Update]

The calendar is now printed and pre-orders posted. You can order one here

Cartoons by Josh

 

Saturday
Oct212017

WHO Science? Not the IARC - Josh 391

From Reuters: 

LONDON (Reuters) – The World Health Organization’s cancer agency dismissed and edited findings from a draft of its review of the weedkiller glyphosate that were at odds with its final conclusion that the chemical probably causes cancer.

Documents seen by Reuters show how a draft of a key section of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) assessment of glyphosate – a report that has prompted international disputes and multi-million-dollar lawsuits – underwent significant changes and deletions before the report was finalised and made public.

IARC, based in Lyon, France, wields huge influence as a semi-autonomous unit of the WHO, the United Nations health agency. It issued a report on its assessment of glyphosate – a key ingredient in Monsanto Corp’s top-selling weedkiller RoundUp – in March 2015. It ranked glyphosate a Group 2a carcinogen, a substance that probably causes cancer in people.

That conclusion was based on its experts’ view that there was “sufficient evidence” glyphosate causes cancer in animals and “limited evidence” it can do so in humans. The Group 2a classification has prompted mass litigation in the United States against Monsanto and could lead to a ban on glyphosate sales across the European Union from the start of next year.

The edits identified by Reuters occurred in the chapter of IARC’s review focusing on animal studies. This chapter was important in IARC’s assessment of glyphosate, since it was in animal studies that IARC decided there was “sufficient” evidence of carcinogenicity.

One effect of the changes to the draft, reviewed by Reuters in a comparison with the published report, was the removal of multiple scientists’ conclusions that their studies had found no link between glyphosate and cancer in laboratory animals.

In one instance, a fresh statistical analysis was inserted – effectively reversing the original finding of a study being reviewed by IARC.

In another, a sentence in the draft referenced a pathology report ordered by experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It noted the report “firmly” and “unanimously” agreed that the “compound” – glyphosate – had not caused abnormal growths in the mice being studied. In the final published IARC monograph, this sentence had been deleted.

Reuters found 10 significant changes that were made between the draft chapter on animal studies and the published version of IARC’s glyphosate assessment. In each case, a negative conclusion about glyphosate leading to tumors was either deleted or replaced with a neutral or positive one. Reuters was unable to determine who made the changes.

Link here

Cartoons by Josh

Tuesday
Oct102017

'Daring to Doubt' Tony Abbot GWPF Annual Lecture 2017 - Cartoon notes by Josh

Click image for larger version

Tony Abbott, former Prime Minister of Australia, gave an excellent GWPF annual lecture last night. 

The text of the lecture is on the GWPF website here and the video is below.

Cartoons by Josh

Sunday
Oct082017

Media blackout

A couple of weeks back, the BBC's Nick Robinson was bemoaning the fact that the general public is increasingly shunning the corporation, favouring instead the multitude of alternative news sites that have sprung up in recent years.

I couldn't help but think of this today, when I learned of a peaceful demonstration in London yesterday, which had attracted a crowd in the tens of thousands - some have suggested as many as 70,000. It was an anti-extremism march organised by a group calling itself the Football Lads Alliance. Shamefullly, there has not been a word about the march from the corporation (or indeed from any other part of the mainstream media). In fact, the Football Lads Alliance is not mentioned on the BBC website at all.

Yet the BBC is quite happy to report a protest by 150 people demanding changes to disability benefits and a protest by "hundreds" about the Grenfell Tower fire. 

It's fair to say that this will not encourage greater use of the BBC or the mainstream media.

 

Thursday
Sep142017

Biofuels in the 2050 calculator

I've been playing about with DECC's 2050 calculator and I wondered if BH readers (if any of you are still popping by) to take a look at something.

I'm interested in how it handles bioenergy. Here's how the relevant help screen describes the process.

In 2007, the UK used 4000 km2 of land to grow energy crops, which is less than 2% of the country. For comparison, 174 000 km2 of land was used for arable crops, livestock, and fallow land. The 2050 Calculator contains two options relating to agricultural biomass and land use: land use management (described here) and livestock management (described on another page).

In his book, Mackay uses a value of 244,000 km2 for the area of the UK, so "less than 2%" is correct.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul212017

Climate Politics as Manichean Paranoia by Roger Pielke Jr

Last night Roger Peilke Jr gave a superb talk, hosted by The Global Warming Policy Foundation, on Climate change politics. It was timely, challenging and positive. I will post the video links when they are available but you can read a Twitter version of the talk here. My cartoon notes are below and click the image for a larger version.

The GWPF video of the talk

Posted by Josh

Cartoons by Josh

 

 

 

Friday
May262017

A very bad boy

It seems that Lord Stern is a very bad boy.

Very bad indeed.

Take a look at this.

Tuesday
May092017

Spirit of inquiry

I've been taking a look at the BEIS committee's report on the effects of Brexit on climate and energy policy, and in particular the section on investor confidence, which struck me as likely to be the most interesting. The section opens thus.

The decision to leave the EU should not distract from the Government’s policies to provide secure and affordable energy supply and to seek ambitious plans to decarbonise our energy system.203

The citation is to the submission from, erm, 38 Degrees. Which does rather make it look as if they are dictating the text. 

Reading on, I find that:

Click to read more ...

Monday
May082017

Slay The Dragon - Josh 390

Theresa May is fun to draw and it looks like she might have a bigger battle on her hands in the coming years if she wins the one on 8th June.

If you are reading Yanis Varoufakis terrifying new book "Adults In The Room" then you will understand why I have drawn the EU as a dragon. The book is reviewed by The Guardian here.

Cartoons by Josh

Wednesday
May032017

Chris Essex at GWPF - cartoon notes

Chris Essex was at GWPF last night to lecture on "The Great Climate Change Fervour". Josh sends his cartoon notes.