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Tuesday
Oct212014

Primary science

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11157299/Top-university-gives-science-lessons-to-primary-age-pupils.html

I was interested to read this article about  boosting primary science teaching. In view of the fact that it originates from Imperial College , I just wondered if anyone has had experience of using the materials supplied and whether they are even-handed about our favourite topic.

TM

Tuesday
Oct212014

The 97% in Parliament

From Hansard

Question Asked by David T. C. Davies (Monmouth) [N] Asked on: 10 September 2014

Department for Energy and Climate

Q. To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what assessment he has made of (a) the implication for his Department's policies of the paper Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature and (b) allegations of fraud in that paper.

Answered by: Amber Rudd

A. The 2013, peer-reviewed paper Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature analysed the abstracts of around 12,000 scientific papers and found that, of the third which expressed a view on the cause of global warming, 97% considered it to be man-made. We are not aware of any evidence of fraud relating to this paper.

The main conclusion of the paper is consistent with findings from all other such studies, and as is evident from the recent Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that there is an overwhelming scientific consensus that recent global warming is largely caused by human activity.

Tuesday
Oct212014

Nothing changes

DECC have just published their latest policy paper on emissions trading with their fingers in their ears. "The UK believes"...really? TM

The UK believes the EU ETS, the world’s largest cap and trade system, should remain the cornerstone of EU energy and climate change policy. The centrality of the EU ETS in delivering the objectives of the 2030 framework was highlighted by the European Council in March 2014.

The UK’s vision for the future of the EU ETS is for a System that:

  • delivers EU emissions reductions consistent with meeting the long-term EU objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80%-95% by 2050 at least cost, including a 2030 emissions reduction target of 40% moving to 50% in the event of an ambitious global deal, including by driving investment in the low carbon economy
  • is designed in such a way that energy-intensive industries remain competitive during the transition to a global low-carbon economy, adequately protecting them from the risk of carbon leakage so that they can adjust over the longer term
  • demonstrates global leadership through delivery of an effective and economically efficient emissions trading scheme, ready to link with all suitable ETSs as the foundation of a global carbon market
Monday
Oct202014

Worse than they thought

Europe's leaders are meeting this week and they'll be talking about climate change and cutting carbon emissions. They've agreed they have to be cut by 80% by the middle of the century and 40% over the next 15 years. But one senior figure on the UN's panel for climate change, Prof Jim Skea - vice chair of the UN's panel on coping with climate change - says that 40% figure is not high enough. Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment Analyst.

This gem was reported on BBC Radio 4's Today programme at 6.52am. Skea appears to think we will have to have even larger CO2 cuts accompanied by ever more drastic action and changes to our lives to reach extended IPPC targets, while RH was hand -wringing over the fact that having made us all incredibly energy efficient and put all the renewables in place we will have nowhere else to turn in order to achieve them.

This  is the link to an article Professor Skea wrote earlier this year.

It's all rather depressing- perhaps they could speak to a rational optimist?

TM.

Monday
Oct202014

Light blogging

I'm away for a few days this week, so blogging will be light to non-existent. I have a couple of things lined up to post in my absence, and Today's Moderator (TM) may post topical threads too.

Monday
Oct202014

The snail paper

Readers who have been following the saga of the extinction and resurrection of the Aldabra banded snail will be interested in this posting. As you no doubt recall, the snail was declared exctinct by researcher Justin Gerlach in 2007. His findings were hotly contested by another expert in the area, Oxford's Clive Hambler.

In their wisdom, the Royal Society, who had published Dr Gerlach's original paper decided that the rebuttal should not see the light of day, a decision that turned out to be a bit of a problem when the snail was rediscovered a few months ago. Dr Hambler has now published the rejected manuscript on his website and I have to say it makes rather interesting reading.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Oct192014

Powerless

 News is breaking of a major fire at the Didcot B gas fired power station in Oxfordshire. From the photos, this a big one which will put it offline for a long time. The station's cacacity is 1300MW or thereabouts, so it represents a pretty serious erosion of the UK's already paper-thin safety margin. Time to start praying for a mild winter.

Updated 11.54am 20 October 2014 and 13.58pm. TM

Peter Atherton, energy analyst at Liberum Capital, said that the risk of blackouts this winter was now far higher due to the UK's "meagre capacity" to absorb unexpected events.

Dorian Lucas, energy analyst at Inenco, said the long term impact of the fire on the UK's power supply could be "significant" if the damage takes some time to repair.

Calling Ed Davey, calling Ed Davey....

Updated...we would like to hear what you have to say now. 

Saturday
Oct182014

Informality in the ICO

This is a guest post by David Holland.

When the Information Commissioner's Office investigate a complaint its recent practice is for the case officer to outline what he or she proposes to do, beginning with,
Where possible the Information Commissioner prefers complaints to be resolved informally and we ask both parties to be open to compromise. With this in mind, I will write to the public authority and ask it to revisit your request. It may wish to reverse or amend its position. If it does, it will contact you again directly about this.
However, in the case of Peter Wadhams' Review Editor's reports as discussed here in April, the next thing that happened was a Decision Notice arriving by post. The key paragraph 11 of the Decision Notice reported that the University of Cambridge...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct182014

Dogs that didn't bark

Owen Paterson's GWPF lecture continues to make waves, with further supportive comment appearing today in the Times and the Telegraph.

Meanwhile, there's another attempt at a rebuttal, this time by Professor Gordon McKerron of Sussex University. The green blob has certainly been stamping its feet a great deal at Paterson stepping out of line, and who can blame them when their jobs and rents are on the line? However, as a reader points out to me by email, it's quite revealing to consider the areas of Paterson's speech that have not yet been attacked. This is, presumably, a partial list, formulated as direct quotes from Paterson's words:

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct172014

Another climate bully

The latest chapter in the saga of Peter Wadhams attempts to bully and threaten those who ridiculed his ridiculous Arctic ice predictions at a Royal Society meeting a few weeks ago has just been made public. Wadhams, it seems, has written to the meeting's organisers and to senior officials once again. Once again the response has been to make the good professor's missive public so that everyone can laugh at him. The letter is vastly enlivened by the annotations that have been added. I particularly enjoyed number 7, commenting on Wadhams assertion that the proper place for criticism of his work is in a scientific journal:

First Prof Wadhams cannot tell people where and how to debate science. Secondly the irony of Prof Wadhams using graphs from uncredited blog pages in his RS presentation and yet calling for discussion only in journals seems to have escaped him.

There is also a strong hint that Wadhams makes a habit of this sort of behaviour.

Friday
Oct172014

Another 1% off grid margin

The Telegraph is reporting that the nuclear reactors at Heysham and Hartlepool that were taken offline because of cracking in their boilers are to stay out of commission for slightly longer than expected. However, more worryingly, when they do come back online they will not be running at full capacity.

The two twin-reactor plants at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool have been shut down since August amid safety fears following the discovery of cracks in one boiler structure at Heysham.

The ageing reactors are likely to be restarted in coming months at just 75pc-80pc of their usual output in order to prevent high temperatures causing further cracks, EDF said on Friday.

Both stations are in the 1GW capacity range, so we are looking at the loss of another 0.5GW of output, which could be as much as 1% of peak winter demand. Margins for winter 2015/16 were already expected to be as low as 2.5%.

I think National Grid are going to have to step up their efforts to get additional reserve capacity available.

Friday
Oct172014

Another parliamentary whitewash?

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee is taking a look at whether the UK's lights are going to go out in the next few years and has just published the written evidence. I don't hold out much hope for an inquiry headed by an advisor to Richard Black's ECIU, namely the Earl of Selborne, and the presence of Lord Willis of Climategate notoriety and Lord Rees of, erm, Climategate notoriety too, is hardly encouraging. Matt Ridley is the only member who might be expected to ask awkward questions.

I have skimmed the evidence and there are some quite interesting submissions, not least that of the Scientific Alliance, which got some headlines last week after they predicted huge increases in energy bills. I was also interested in comments (p. 26) by the City of London Corporation:

The City Corporation is concerned that a possible “black start” - where supply is suddenly unavailable across the whole of a network and needs to be restored - would severely affect the Square Mile and its ability to continue to operate as a business centre. We are also gravely concerned about the effect that such an event would have on London’s reputation.

There is too much for me to go through in detail. Do post anything interesting in the comments.

 

Thursday
Oct162014

Quote of the day, joined up policy edition

An energy policy that has the Hinkley Point C contract and off-shore wind as its two flagship achievements must eventually collapse under the weight of its own idiocy.

The capital markets consider energy policy after Paterson's speech.

Thursday
Oct162014

Failure to deny

Lord Deben and his team have issued a response to Owen Paterson's speech last night. There's plenty to take issue with. For example, readers will recall my amusement over their scientific travails over future rainfall, so it's fun to see that they are having similar problems with the temperature trends: they are touting a 0.05 degrees per decade rise as showing that surface temperatures have not stopped. Given that the error in the record appears to be considerably larger than 0.05 degrees in a single year, I think it's fair to say that the trend is indistinguishable from zero.

But perhaps of greater interest is the CCC's response to Paterson's central point, namely that we face a risk that the lights will go out. Here's what Lord D has come up with:

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct162014

The Sun says

A a new Climate Dialogue has just begun, this time looking at the effects of the sun on the climate. Here's the introduction:

According to the latest IPCC report, AR5, the influence of the sun on our climate since pre-industrial times, in terms of radiative forcing, is very small compared to the effect of greenhouse gases.

According to some more skeptical scientists such a small solar influence is counterintuitive. The Little Ice Age, the period roughly from 1350 to 1850, in which winters on the Northern Hemisphere could be severe and glaciers advanced, coincided with the so-called Maunder Minimum, a period of supposedly low solar activity. In their eyes, the sun therefore still is a serious candidate to also explain a substantial part of the warming since pre-industrial times.

Click to read more ...