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« Book shelf at Judy C's | Main | Ernst Georg Beck »
Friday
Sep242010

Science cuts

There is dismay across the science community at the prospect of 20% cuts in funding. Martin Rees has been holding forth on the subject:

  • 20 per cent cuts are the "game over" scenario, which would cause irreversible destruction and be "very tragic", said Rees.
  • 10 per cent is the "slash and burn" option with "serious consequences".
  • Constant cash, a reduction in real terms, "could be accommodated".

If only we weren't spending all that money on subsidising the windfarms that scientists say we need.

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Reader Comments (76)

Whilst I am fully in agreement with those who highlight the severe flaws in current UK and EU energy policy, I remain unconvinced that these bodies are acting out of either a sincere belief in CAGW or are somehow unaware of the flaws in alternative energy generation. Governments as a rule do not willingly tie their hands behind their backs - usually decisions are made on a far more hard-headed basis.

OK, the influence of the environmental lobby is clear for all to see, but the phrase 'it's the economy, stupid' is not just true now but has been forever, so what is the (real, as opposed to claimed) rationale for the current 'greener than thou' policies? Tax raising? Ok, but surely there is equal if not greater appeal for the Treasury in an energy policy based on sound economics - now more than ever? There are some signs that this is beginning to take effect due to the current economic crisis, but what I find hard to believe is the Treasury's apparent impotence on this matter until now.

When I say 'hard to believe' I mean it in the sense of 'there must be another reason' rather than 'how could they be so stupid?'

The above is all the more mystifying due to the electorate's general indifference / scepticism / contempt for CAGW theory (outside a few admittedly influential cliques).

Sep 25, 2010 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougieJ

"...When the public realises how it has been conned, the politicians who pushed this massive wind idea, our version of the Easter island statue cult, will be exiled, preferably on one of the windmills...." (Alexander)

But we DO. Oh HOW we do. But what can be done? It's a fait accompli, and we seem t be stuck with it, with more on the way. We've had plenty of warning that our electricity bills are going to rise extortionately, we (well, most of us) appreciate that the AGW business is a huge scam, that the IPCC and its officers, "scientists" and supporters are all of dubious credibility, that CO2 isn't a problem, and that it's likely to get cooler rather than warmer, and if it did get warmer, so what? And we appreciate, of course, that we're not going to drown in the sea which is forecast to rise a phenomenal amount, at an even more phenomenal rate.

Oh, we realise we're being conned, all right. So, what's to be done about it?

Sep 25, 2010 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterNatsman

Natsman,

A few years back, at around the time Cameron took over as leader of the Conservatives and decided to hug the glacier, very few people were saying it was a scam. That was when times were good and the prospects of paying for anti-climate change measures was distant. Some people always smelled a rat, if only because it looked like a glorious excuse to put up taxes and employ jobsworths. I think Cameron hugged the glacier because market research showed it was the thing for him to do.

These days, after Climategate etc., a couple of duff summers and cold winters, and with people feeling the pinch, I'd say there was a sizeable minority convinced it's a scam set up to solve a non-problem, while dodging real problems. The majority are feeling uneasy about it; it's making life expensive and inconvenient and they're starting to doubt there's a problem at all, but the flow of propaganda telling them there is, is unrelenting and there are other things to worry about. I don't see that much anger in people at large about it, but that could come.

All three main parties in the UK sing from the same hymn sheet on this and much of what we see is backed by EU legislation. There's no easy choice to vote for to end the madness. The Climate Change Act was passed with near unanimity.

I think it will end when it's clear that it we don't have and can no longer borrow the money to spend on nonsense and lining the pockets of spivs, and the time and money wasted could have been spent avoiding the mess. Its end will be part of a larger crisis.

Sep 26, 2010 at 12:03 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

And if you like the cuts, like The Bonfire of the Qangos if you're on Facebook!

Sep 26, 2010 at 12:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterIdle Pen Pusher

Just to say, Bishop, I'm holding your book, at last, ordered from the library! Hope you get the royalties. From what I can see its had about 7 readers since north Lancashire libraries acquired it. So, hot property! Don't worry, I am going to buy it. For my brother, first ( Physics, University College) who's still a bit of a believer - mostly, 'cause I'm not! Anyway, I look forward to the next couple of days reading.

Sep 26, 2010 at 1:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterLewis

Atomic Hairdryer


Rather than hackers turning off meters, it's more risky if they cycle them until something goes bang.

Goddamnit! I wish you would stop giving away the plot to my next spy chiller book!

Yes, you are absolutely right. The security of all these brilliant toys is a joke. Quantum photonic encryption was touted as "unbreakable" just like the Engima Machine in 1938. And all some bad guy has to do is order 1,000,000 meters to disconnect -- very doable -- wait a minute and then flip them back on again. That should get just about every generator on the grid to rip itself off its mounts.

And you are also right about the faking the meter reading. Since there is a computer inside, it can be reprogrammed. I did enough embedded computer work to know that and you don't even have to know machine language any more. Hell, they even design chips in higher level languages. I wrote the manual for an early (1998 or so) version of Novas' Debussy Debugger. Any idiot can design a IC nowadays. As for doing an IC processor program, I suspect even Zedsdeadbed could do it.

Just a matter of time. Me, I have an emergency generator and a manual disconnect switch.

And as for tachyons, you will adapt I am sure. You can use E = M*T² instead and get a bigger yield.

Sep 26, 2010 at 3:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

As to the question posed upthread - If the authorities are able to see what the result of greening the electrical system will be, just what could be their motivation? - consider that capital investment has been outsourced to the rent seekers. Effective solutions to power generation like nuclear or coal would require massive quantities of government cash which can be put to much better political use propping up the welfare state. But perhaps it is as simple as effective bankruptcy having already occurred and cash for capital projects is available only at an "unsustainable" political cost. Our present has been spent and the only thing left to spend to prop up socialism is our future viz long term rental agreements.

Sep 26, 2010 at 6:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterTom Kennedy

Brittain's government's been trying to turn themselves into a 3rd rate nation. Looks like they've succeeded. There isn't anyway to climb out after you've dismounted the infrastructure.

Sep 26, 2010 at 7:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterCarrick

DaveJR

In response to you, hope not too far OT, firstly, ignorance of cause is no good scientific reason to reject strong evidence of correlation. think of Sun re. climate science. Now I don't doubt your experience - but there's more to homeopathic dilutions than just dilution.

What I've noticed is a whole mindset in the New Scientist / Grauniad scientific orthodoxy, that treats homeopathy in exactly the same way they treat Climate Science. Using abuse and belittling instead of scientific arguments, and even when apparently scientific arguments are used, I can see they are chosen because of an already-fixed belief system. I followed several links beyond the Rees article linked with this thread - to gather in more of a "cache" of evidence which simply bears out what I've noticed here and there time and again, and studied in detail in the past, though my notes are not to hand so I'm drawing on memory. But the reference below is excellent, highly recommended.

Take the work of Prof Benveniste. You always need to read the other side's story from the other side's point of view, not just from the detractors' stance - exactly as one must do with Climate Science ie not just go by RealClimate, but read HSI as Judith Curry recommends. In the case of Benveniste, we have in the "orthodox" sphere what Nature magazine did to him - they published his work on homeopathic dilutions, then called in their people with the express purpose of debunking Benveniste and making of him a laughing-stock. This did create stink in the quarters equivalent to "climate skeptics", to the extent that years later the BBC (?) did a whitewash. Even so they could not conceal certain things eg the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies on animals.

Benveniste was nobody's fool, he had risen to a senior position, and his research was of high quality. But after Nature did their dirty work he was excommunicated, fired, disbarred from defending himself. However, his interest had been piqued, he was certain he had had genuine results. So on his own dime he funded further research... Read all about it in "The Field" by Lynne McTaggart... a whole lot of science by brilliant scientists with integrity who challenge - what? - current paradigms of "reality".

Sep 26, 2010 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterLucy Skywalker

Re Don Pablo

Goddamnit! I wish you would stop giving away the plot to my next spy chiller book!

There's plenty to chose from. What happens to many electromagnetic locks when there's a power failure? L+G (and others) make much of their wireless connectivity to create a mesh network. Or attack vector to crack their crypto. If it's broken a la HDCP (predicted by scientists in 2001) then could pwn-a-meter. Or thousands, if service updates are via broadcasts or multicasts. Could be quite a field operation to retake control if providers end up locked out of their meters.

Re DougieJ

When I say 'hard to believe' I mean it in the sense of 'there must be another reason' rather than 'how could they be so stupid?'

How could they be so stupid? Well, that's easy. Many politicians these days are career men. PPE, job with the party and wait for the call to get dropped into a safe seat. In the old days and for a few traditionalists, politics was something one went into after having a career. Ed Milliband's a nice example, young guy, bought and paid for by the unions. Their vote got him Labour's tob job.

Being a Brownite, his time at the Treasury would help explain aspects of our energy policy. Brown was paranoid about breaching his self-created and imposed 'golden rules'. So the government wouldn't, or couldn't committ to expensive capital projects and instead dumped as much as it could off-balance sheet, a la Enron. To make it tempting to private investors, generous rates of return had to be promised helping create our massive PFI liabilities. Other governments managed better, so France retained control of EDF and our rising energy costs help subsidise the French taxpayer. The Kent windfarm's owned by Vattenfall, owned by the Swedish government, so we subsidise them. The UK has been a sellers market because the customer was naive and inexperienced.

Then there's been more blatant conflicts of interest, so Oxburgh and his sidelines in carbon capture and 'renewables'. Or with 'smart meters', the allegations involving Lord Truscott and L+G. Labour stacked the decks of the HoL with 'working peers' and cronies, but didn't seem to mind checking who they were actually working for. That may be another problem with younger politicians. Once deselected or not elected, they'll need jobs, so networking and favours helps ensure those nice C-level or board level appointments later in life.

Sep 26, 2010 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Atomic Hairdryer

Thanks a lot! First I ask you to refrain from giving away my basic plot, and so you give away the whole book!

But yes. I agree with what you say. It would be possible to "freeze" millions of smart meters in the SD mode and so hold the electrical system of the country or what ever hostage. "Either you pay 100 billion or freeze in the dark". And all this can be done from downtown Beijing.

I might as well give away the rest of it and go back to the fairy tales.

The scheme is basically what you say. The bad guys grab control ("pwn") not only of the meters, but the servers as well. The only alternatives for the power utilities is to replace all the smart meters with the old analog ones, which they scrapped, or stuff copper bars into the slots where the meters are connected and forgo payment. Think about that, my friends. In the mad rush to create a "Green World", we have created a monster in a bottle and when it gets out -- which it will -- it will bite us very hard. And if Atomic Hairdryer and I can come up with the scenario, be assured that there are thousands of others who have figured it out. It is just a matter of time

That is why I have a emergency generator, plenty of gas and a manual disconnect switch on the Mains power line.

Sep 26, 2010 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Don Pablo..

Die Hard 4 kind of did that plot already. But perhaps we should collaborate? I have other ideas :)

Bruce Schneier, who's a very good and pragmatic security guy coined the term 'security theatre' which is what happens when the precautionary principle meets Hollywood, technothriller, or SF writers. Imagine a risk, exagerate the risk, profit from the risk. There are still some elements of truth in them though, but fiction writers take those elements and exagerate for dramatic effect. PR people and lobbyists do it for profit, so do the bad guys.

Global warming's simply doing the same. Climate change has been a staple of fiction and SF for years and helped created 'climate theatre'. No suprise given many of the VC outfits peddling green investments also promoted security theatre. It's aided and abetted by the likes of Gore's Inconvenient Truth promoting his own VC fund, or books like Lynas' "6 Degrees" selling fiction. All part of the marketing campaign, and few scientists have dared to speak out against it. Hardly suprising science is losing credibility, and funding.

Our energy security policy is just one example of this. It creates insecurity, but the government doesn't seem to be listening, or is listening to the wrong people. I was mailed this regarding Milliband-

He will have many challenges ahead in these next few days, but if he wants to be taken seriously, the first thing he's got to do is own up to his role in creating the mess that Britain is in and tell us what he'd do to fix it.

From advising Gordon Brown in the Treasury in the 90s, to serving in his Cabinet in the 2000s, he must recognise his central role in creating the financial mess we're all paying for.

Part of which was his work at DECC and our wonderful Climate Change Act. The most expensive and damaging legislation in UK history. Want to make cost savings? Why not look there.

Sep 26, 2010 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Atomic Hairdryer

The Landis & Gyr smart meters use standard RTU telecommunications. That is DNP3 for the link layer, which is obvious, because it is needed for power line modems, and TCP/IP above. The security is IEC 61850, or digital signatures. In short the security is about the same as a terracotta piggy bank.

And yes, they use UDP broadcast to update the firmware into flash memory.

And yes, they build at least part of the meter in China. The boards I believe. The final assembly (configuration actually) and test occurs in the US. However, there have been PIN and CHIP scanners built in China that came equipped with an Extra Feature

Sep 26, 2010 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Don Pablo..

Check out the L+G Gridstream RF feature option. "Gridstream RF is a two-way mesh network that delivers advanced metering, distribution automation and personal energy management communications." which avoids the need to snoop high voltage lines, with attendent risks. Or benefits as there may be a Darwinian elimination of the less able hacker/cracker. Several 'smart meters' offer various wireless options making it easier to snoop for analysis and key extraction, as well as adding features to 'war driving' like the ability to create rolling blackouts. Some scientists are speaking up about the risks, but politicians don't seem to be listening. comp.risks has been covering it for a long time.

Sep 26, 2010 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Atomic Hairdryer

Wireless networks -- mesh or linear -- are far easier to tap into because they only require an antenna. But they are far, far easier to build out. Also, the transformers found in all distribution systems act as great filters so the signal going out of the power line modem is attenuated pretty badly. So I am sure that they will use the wireless option for cost reasons. However, I live in a rural mountainous area and so wireless does not work well for any distance making it expensive. So I have a power line modem. In a town or other built up area, they would certainly use wireless for cost. And even in my area, they do have wireless repeaters which go to leased fiber optic connections and into a DSL system. This typically is done in the substation. That way they can use fiber optic to control the substation, which makes it harder to crack because the network is not on the internet. But they can still get into the SCADA control network -- and that of the smart modems by way of the main office. So, when it comes down to it, just about anyone who wants to can get into the network. Cracking into the SCADA network would require some additional knowledge, but it can be found.

I have been a fan of Bruce Schneier for 20 years. However, I disagree with his assessment of the dangers of the PLA playing with our computer infrastructure. They are a serious threat. I once made a presentation while at L&G about our latest RTUs to a delegation from Beijing, which included some very high officials in the Chinese government. They knew the details of the damn thing as well as I did. They had inside information, and we had 10 Chinese engineers working for us in San Jose CA, where we were located.

You connect the dots.

And if they are building the meters or even just the mother board of the smart meter, who is to say that they didn't replace the original designed ASIC with one of their own counterfeited to look exactly like the correct chip, but with a few extra bits inside. Unless you pop the lid off the IC and look at it with a microscope, you would never know.

I made a comment earlier about any idiot can design an IC. The Chinese are not idiots. I might also add that NOVAS Debussy Debugger was designed in Taiwan. They are very, very, very good engineers.

Sep 26, 2010 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Industrial espionage is nothing new, either by competing businesses or by state actors. For a nice example, look what happened to Enigma machines post-war. In the security area, it's basic risk management. Identify the threat, design countermeasures to meet those threats. If the threats are exagerated or not understood, the system's going to be expensive or insecure. One smart meter hypes it's security by saying it relies on consumer's PCs and broadband connections. Generally in security, having your network designed around an untrusted man in the middle is not considered secure. Fear of foreign state actors can be part of security theatre though and used to gain competitive advantage. Checkpoint's firewalls had FUD because they were Israeli, Huawei's getting the same treatment because it's Chinese. Much safer to buy Cisco or Juniper, even though they've had many vulnerabilities and are made in China. It could be a threat, but it could be a one-shot deal given once it's detected and proven, it can be eliminated and would be something of a diplomatic incident. More practical risks are embargoes affecting spares availability, or rare earth supplies as Japan's just discovered.

Mitigating those risks gets us back on topic though. We've been happily outsourcing design and manufacturing work to places like India and China because that's been easier and cheaper than doing it domestically. They're happy to take that work because it boosts their industry and economy. They can then reinvest that money in their own education system to create more engineers and scientists. We're reducing investment and burdening our innovators with unnecessary costs and red tape. Why is anybody suprised our economies are going down the pan? Cutting science funding in the wrong areas and pumping cash into non-job/non-productive 'green' areas just accelerates our decline.

Sep 26, 2010 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

The Kent wind farm subsidy is mostly a waste of money, even measured by UNIPCC’s case for taking drastic action on CO2.
First, two statements and a bit of data.
1. “... the Kent windfarm. £780m invested to chase £50 ROCs. Offshore is double bubble, so £100/MWh generated.” (Sep 25, 2010 at 1:41 AM | Atomic Hairdryer )
2. “An effective carbon-price signal could realise significant mitigation potential in all sectors. Modelling studies show global carbon prices rising to 20-80 US$/tCO2-eq by 2030 are consistent with stabilisation at around 550 ppm CO2-eq by 2100. For the same stabilisation level, induced technological change may lower these price ranges to 5-65 US$/tCO2-eq in 2030.” (P.18 UNIPCC Summary for Policymakers)

3. An alternative for a wind farm is a small, modern, fossil-fuelled power station. These 500kg of CO2 per MWh.

So the subsidy should be no more than the trading credit CO2 of 12.5-50 £/tCO2.

Based on these figures, it is possible to state that of the £100/MWh subsidy, at a very minimum, £75 is a dead loss to society. At most it could at much as £95. This is before you undertake a present value calculation on the trading credits value in 2030, or start questioning the underlying economic assumptions. Further this is whilst accepting UNIPCC consensus position in its entirety.

More detail on my blog http://manicbeancounter.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/kent-wind-farm-a-dead-loss-to-society/

Sep 26, 2010 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

To anyone interested in making economies or increasing efficiencies in science, there is a nice talk here http://sms.cam.ac.uk/media/871991?format=flv&quality=high&fetch_type=stream, where Tim Palmer of the 'ECMWF' explains how much duplication is involved in current Global Climate Modeling. He points out much greater efficiency could be obtained by having each group world wide focus on specific aspects of the problem rather than having every group trying to do everything itself.

Strangely he also opines about less accurate computing schemes - indicating that the stress placed on reproducible results in climatology (?) may be unfounded.

Anyway, it is clear from this talk that:

1) The uncertainties in GCMs are large.
2) The amount of scientific funding wasted on such activities is vast.

Tim Palmer is a signer of the MET office petition - so presumably he is presenting everything in the best possible climatological light.

The talk is ~70 minutes - but to those interested in this field it will repay the investment in time.

Sep 27, 2010 at 2:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

I beg to differ on the subject of investment in wind farms and alternative energy technologies in the UK. The UK's indigenous energy resources are running down and the country increasingly imports energy in the form of oil, gas and coal. This contributes to the UK's balance of payments deficit and means that the UK has to sell UK owned assets ( Heathrow/BAA, UK banks, electrictity companies, Corus, Jaguar/LandRover etc) to balance the books. In the end, the middle east countries get richer and richer, the UK gets poorer and poorer and no longer owns any of its major industries. So trying to generate energy from whatever sources the UK has, such as wind, tides or waves seems a good idea. CO2 doesn't even feature in this reasoning and is an unfortunate sideshow that hides the real economic problem.

Sep 27, 2010 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterSidF

I have now confirmed my view that the least-confident part of IPCC modelling, 'polluted cloud cooling' correcting over-predicted AGW, is in a mess. See this: http://www.pnas.org/content/105/21/7370.full . The experimental difficulties are immense. The clouds were thin, as shown by low albedo values.

The mathematical analysis is based on a single optical physics, diffuse scattering, convolved with a bolt-on goodie, as asymmetry parameter, equations 1 and 2. It gives a fixed scaling of predicted albedo and in the limit [tau =1], the albedo tends to a fixed level - no effect of pollution on thick clouds.

Think of it. The experimentalists are concentrating on nearly transparent clouds for which the effect of pollution is to vary the small part scattered back to space. I’m coming to the party with a variable asymmetry parameter for which a small reduction in the proportion of radiation scattered back to space can give a high heating effect.

There's another criticism, the instrument used to measure albedos, a pyranometer, has a sensitivity for radiation, a cosine law, which assumes a diffuse [Lambertian] emitter. The aim is to average over an area, fine except that by scaling-down the directional central albedo peak predicted from the second physics, you don't measure it!

The climate models always predict a negative cloud albedo effect, cooling, recognised as much greater than can be measured. The second process may give significant heating. I could be wrong but it looks to me as if both theory and the experiment have conspired to give a very biased result - cooling which can't really be measured and ignore heating, ideal if you want to prove the CO2 hypothesis!

Sep 27, 2010 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander

Delingpole has your number, SidF:

'In Britain, for example, Chris “Chicken Little” Huhne’s suicidal “dash for wind” will be re-invented as a vital step towards “energy security.”'

See: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100055500/global-cooling-and-the-new-world-order/

Sep 27, 2010 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Just as a 'Corrigendum'(!) to what I wrote. It's actually had 10 borrowers but in fact originates from Dunfermline, Fife. Hence, I shall have to buy a copy for my own libraries. The earliest borrowing seems to have been in April. If you take the standard three weeks per borrowing as a limit, with 10 borrowings, that makes it very 'hot property', ie, I was not being ironic.
I'm enjoying it very much (at page 170), I'm just a bit curious - is the title of the chapter 'Line Brawl' a pun and in reference to what or is it just descriptive? Review (if you want it ) later, when I've read it at least 3 times!

Sep 27, 2010 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterLewis

'In Britain, for example, Chris “Chicken Little” Huhne’s suicidal “dash for wind” will be re-invented as a vital step towards “energy security.”'

As a retiree after 30 years of being part of the unsuccessful task of trying to make and export products and keep UK manufacturing going ( Rover, ICL, ICI, Cadburys have all gone, as have the companies I worked for) , my focus on energy sources has always been economic rather than in terms of security. Importing less energy would be one possible contribution to reducing the ever increasing UK balance of payments deficit. We certainly can't hope to export more goods from the UK as we don't make much any more.

I'm sure we can buy all the oil, gas and perhaps coal from the Middle East, Russia, Venezuela, China or Brazil as long as we are nice to them and do as they when things get tough. I don't know what Mr Delingpole's view are on dealing with these countries on that basis. I need to research his blog to find out whether the continuing economic decline of the UK is something that he considers important and whether he has any suggestions for fixing the balance of payments problem and in particular how make the UK more self sufficient in energy.

Sep 27, 2010 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterSidF

OK, Sid, let me try to prong you with Booker instead. I personally think there is no economic justification for renewables for massive energy production - they are only suited to those with money to spend and few alternatives, e.g. wind and solar power on yachts, or remote research stations. I think they are also of interest to anyone concerned with the potential disruption to the grid caused by dramatically intermittent power sources, and who can afford some back-up of their own to help cope with blackouts. I think I'd favour a diesel generator for that, but I'm willing to listen if you want to make the case for something else. Anyway, here is Booker in rattling good form:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/8025148/The-Thanet-wind-farm-will-milk-us-of-billions.html

How to link this to science cuts? Easy. Two angles of attack: (1) the scientists deserve cuts, after all they have failed to protect us from the CO2-alarmism which has led to, amongst other nonsenses, windfarms (2) the scientists need more money to help us avoid such nonsenses as windfarms. Depends on how highly you regard 'scientists', and what weight you want to give to anything from the Royal Society leadership these days when at times they seem little other than an agent of government.

Sep 27, 2010 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

"What is the mechanism by which homeopathy works?"

'Homeopathy' really just means treating like with like, stimulating a helpful reaction from the body's own defences (as with vaccines, for instance). Whether you believe that the potentisation mechanism (shaking and dilution) works probably depends on whether it has worked for you, but not understanding the mechanism applies just as much to some conventional treatments. Do you know how anaesthetics work, for instance, or would you rather not have one until you do?

Unlike climatologists, complementary medics are not suggesting that theirs is the only way to treat a problem. As one whose partner has only found relief through homeopathy, I found Mitchell and Webb's sketch somewhat unfunny.

Sep 27, 2010 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"I'm sure we can buy all the oil, gas and perhaps coal from the Middle East, Russia, Venezuela, China or Brazil as long as we are nice to them.."

And a Carrington Event doesn't wipe out all communications! I'd feel happier if we produced a bit more of our own food, too...

Sep 27, 2010 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

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