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Tuesday
Sep232014

Renewables don't work

The message that renewables simply don't work seems to be getting around. John Morgan, an Australian industrial scientist working in the area of grid storage technologies, has been looking at the EROI measure that was discussed at BH a few weeks back and has concluded that there is a bit of a problem with the whole concept of grid storage:

Several recent analyses of the inputs to our energy systems indicate that, against expectations, energy storage cannot solve the problem of intermittency of wind or solar power.  Not for reasons of technical performance, cost, or storage capacity, but for something more intractable: there is not enough surplus energy left over after construction of the generators and the storage system to power our present civilization.

Given the amount we have lavished on renewables in this country, Morgan's conclusions could be viewed as just more than slightly unfortunate.

Tuesday
Sep232014

Bristol bound

I'm off to Bristol this morning as I will be attending the Mann lecture this evening. I'm expecting little of the occasion, but it will be nice to meet Anthony beforehand.

Blogging may be light for a couple of days.

Monday
Sep222014

Green jobs disappear

Paul Homewood has discovered, via an FOI request, that the government has decided to quietly shelve its green jobs dataset. Paul surmises, surely correctly, that the promised green jobs have not actually materialised.

I have often noted that to the extent that green jobs are created, the related technologies will be expensive. Mr Davey's great economic breakthrough is to burden the country with technologies that are both expensive, disfunctional, and do not actually create much employment at all.

He has broken the mould.

Monday
Sep222014

The Royal and the Arctic

Updated on Sep 22, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Updated on Sep 22, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The Royal Society is holding a scientific meeting today on the Arctic and climate change, beautifully timed to coincide with the annual minimum in Arctic sea ice. Unfortunately, the ice, which looks to have passed the minimum over the weekend, has recovered again this year, so no headlines were garnered.

Readers can see a bit of what is going on at the meeting by visiting the RSArctic14 hashtag and it looks pretty interesting. I was amused to see that Julienne Stroeve seems to be tentatively suggesting that the recovery in Arctic sea ice in the last couple of years has made the GCM predictions look rather clever. Put next to their failure in the Antarctic, it feels more like luck than judgement, but perhaps that's just my natural cynicism about climate models.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Sep212014

Growing ice is evidence of warming

With Antarctic sea ice breaking extent records again this week, the green fraternity has been forced to go the full Monty on the PR front in an effort to negate the impact. In an article today, Grist reports that the ever-expanding sea ice is in fact bad news.

I kid you not.

For the third year in a row, the sea ice ringing Antarctica has set a new record. Its extent is the farthest now since observations began in the late ’70s, and scientists say the growth is largely the result of climate change.

Antarctic sea ice melts during the early part of the year but typically packs it back on by September. The ice broke last year’s record for extent on Monday, according to a report in New Scientist. It’s the latest evidence of a small but significant growth trend of about 1.5 percent per decade.

More sea ice is evidence of global warming. Less sea ice is global warming. 

The problem is, I think they probably actually believe what they are saying. Their mystification as to why other people might not be convinced is a wonder to behold.

Saturday
Sep202014

The credibility of the Royal

The Royal Society seems to have got itself into a bit of a pickle over an article it published back in 2007, which claimed that a rare snail in the Seychelles had been forced into extinction, a later paper claiming that this was due to climate change.

After the original claim was made, a rebuttal was issued, which the Royal Society refused to publish.

Now, it seems the snail in question has been rediscovered.

But the Royal Society is still refusing to publish the rebuttal because it is now seven years old.

Correcting the record is for wimps, it seems.

Saturday
Sep202014

Stern's absurdity

Richard Tol has written a splendid riposte to Lord Stern's latest attempt to convince us that encumbering the economy with all manner of green "measures" will make us all richer.

The original Stern Review argued that it would cost about one percent of Gross Domestic Product to stabilise the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases around 525 ppm CO2e. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change puts the costs twice as high. Stern2.0 advocates a more stringent target, 450 ppm, and finds that this would accelerate economic growth.

This is implausible. Renewable energy is more expensive than fossil fuels. The rapid expansion of renewables is because they are heavily subsidised rather than because they are commercially attractive. The renewables industry collapsed in countries where subsidies were withdrawn. Raising the price of energy does not make people better off. Higher taxes, to pay for subsidies, are a drag on the economy.

Stern's magical thinking on climate economics has been disastrous for everyone, except perhaps for the man himself, who has become rich on the back of his forays into the climate debate. History will not be kind to him.

Postscript: Tol's article is also posted at the Conversation, where Stern supporters seem unable to respond with rational argument, heading straight for the ad-hominem offensive.

Friday
Sep192014

Envoy Barker

Greg Barker, who stood down as Energy Minister a few months ago, has been appointed David Cameron's personal climate change envoy and is off to New York to the climate change summit. While there he intends to go on the climate march as well.

Your taxes at work.

 

 

Friday
Sep192014

Klein babble

Will Boisvert, writing at the Breakthrough Institute blog, has written a long and relentlessly detailed takedown of Naomi Klein's latest offering, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Boisvert is rather more mainstream on climate change than I think most BH readers are, but still finds Klein's positions self-indulgent, badly thought through and rather foolish.

Klein’s ...understands, rightly, that a thoroughgoing mobilization of public resources is necessary to confront the challenge of climate change. But her uninformed, dogmatic treatment of the substance of that problem, so typical of the Left’s approach, generates only confusion and misdirection. To make a useful contribution to changing everything, the Left could begin by changing itself. It could start by redoing its risk assessments and rethinking its phobic hostility to nuclear power. It could abandon the infatuation with populist insurrection and advance a serious politics of systematic state action. It could stop glamorizing austerity under the guise of spiritual authenticity and put development prominently on its environmental agenda. It could accept that industry and technology do indeed distance us from nature — and in doing so can protect nature from human extractions. And it could realize that, as obnoxious as capitalism can be, scapegoating it won’t spare us the hard thinking and hard trade-offs that a sustainable future requires.

 

Thursday
Sep182014

Calling a bluff

The FT is reporting some new research by investment bank Lazard, which claims that in some parts of the US wind and solar are now cost-competitive with gas fired power.

Costs have fallen and efficiency has risen for solar panels and wind turbines, the investment bank found, to the point that in areas of strong wind or sunshine they can provide electricity more cheaply than fossil fuel plants.

I asked Ed Crooks, the author of the article, whether this wasn't just levelised costs rearing their ugly head again. He confirmed that it is, but argues that the impact of intermittency is low.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep182014

Antarctic confusion

With the sea ice in Antarctica breaking extent records again this week, New Scientist seems to have taken it upon itself to engage in a bit of damage limitation on behalf of the global warming movement. Its article today declares that the growth in sea ice is in fact caused by global warming (who would have thought it?!). 

There doesn’t actually seem to be any research to back this up – there is no link to a new paper or anything like that. We just have a couple of talking heads with a rather impenetrable explanation of their case:

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep172014

AskDrMann

Michael Mann is having a Twitter Q&A under the #askdrmann hashtag. Do take a look at it. Some of them are really quite amusing.

Wednesday
Sep172014

The OAS and replicability

The news that there is a new learned society for atmospheric scientists is very exciting and I'm sure that everyone at BH wishes those behind the move every success.

The focus is inevitably going to be on the Open Atmospheric Society "throwing down the gauntlet to the AMS and AGU" angle, but I'm also struck by the "throwing down the gauntlet to scholarly publishers" angle, summed up in this important position statement by the OAS regarding its journal:

[There is a] unique and important requirement placed up-front for any paper submitted; it must be replicable, with all data, software, formulas, and methods submitted with the paper. Without those elements, the paper will be rejected.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep162014

The Texas textbook massacre

Leo Hickman points us to an article by the Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg:

Texas proposes rewriting school text books to deny manmade climate change.

Sounds pretty interesting. Here's the article. In it we learn that:

Texas has proposed re-writing school text books to incorporate passages denying the existence of climate change and promoting the discredited views of an ultra-conservative think tank.

The proposed text books – which come up for public hearing at the Texas state board of education on Tuesday – were already attracting criticism when it emerged that the science section had been altered to reflect the doctrine of the Heartland Institute, which has been funded by the Koch oil billionaires.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep162014

Prosecute scientific misconduct

Richard Smith, the former editor of the British Medical Journal and an expert on peer review, has called for scientific misconduct to be criminalised:

After 30 years of observing how science deals with the problem, I have sadly come to the conclusion that it should be a crime, for three main reasons. First, in a lot of cases, people have been given substantial grants to do honest research, so it really is no different from financial fraud or theft. Second, we have a whole criminal justice system that is in the business of gathering and weighing evidence – which universities and other employers of researchers are not very good at. And finally, science itself has failed to deal adequately with research misconduct.

The point about fraud and research grants is an interesting one. Would it be possible to prosecute people under existing common and statute law? My guess is that it wouldn't be. And if we need new laws, how exactly would you frame them? Perhaps readers with legal qualifications can provide some clarity.