Click images for more details



Recent posts
Recent comments
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« The third-world ambition of the UK | Main | Will Philip Hammond apologise? »

David MacKay live 

David MacKay, the chief scientist at DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change), is doing a live webchat at the Guardian tomorrow.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (25)

Grauniad also reveals that Climate Camp disbanded: Climate activists decide to end annual camp and focus on tackling broader ecological, social and economic issues

Mar 2, 2011 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterOxbridge Prat

In 1993 I was at a physics summer school with David McKay in Corsica. I remember him because he wore a T-shirt with the statement "Bayesians PROBABLY do it better" printed on it. Funny if you are a geek ;-)

I have also read his very good treatise on sources of energy and energy conservation. Very comprehensive and educational although I think he pulls his punches everywhere when he deals with renewables.

However I was also disappointed to read in yesterday's Royal Society of Edinburgh report on Scotland and renewables and climate change a quote alluded to him saying something like "ignoring climate change is like a riding a fast motorbike near a cliff in the fog" (page 23 end of 1st paragraph).

I mean that is just so wrong and so alarmist. It's far more like sitting in a fairly cool room and someone either turning up the thermostat by 1 degree or turning it up by 2 degrees.

Mar 2, 2011 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred Bloggs

Talking of The Guardian, and T shirts.....

Mar 2, 2011 at 7:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Way ahead of you Charlie. Believe it or not I already own that T-shirt. I am just waiting for the summer before I can wear it in public. Can't wait ;-)

Mar 2, 2011 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred Bloggs


Thanks. Missed that. I shall have a good malt later on to celebrate.

Fred Bloggs

Agreed - MacKay's book is very good, but very optimistic in its evaluation of renewables.

I very much doubt that I'll have time to watch the webcast, but hopefully BH will do a follow-up or it will get discussed in comments here tomorrow.

Mar 2, 2011 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Fred, I'm wearing mine as often as I can when out driving my tractor - unfortunately, due to all this Global Warming stuff, it's hidden under tatty wax jacket, grubby overalls, cheap'n'cheerful jumper and cliche check farmer shirt. One day a lovely beauty will be striding up the footpath, think I'm that hunky farmer she's been longing for, and I'll be able to get it out and show her. The T-shirt, that is.

Mar 2, 2011 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie


I understand the end of November can be relied on for warmist-approved weather if they should ever think of rescheduling it.

Mar 2, 2011 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

I don't understand why some people here like Mackay's book, "Without Hot Air".

Sure, it's a readable ramble with some interesting calculations before it strays into discussion of state population control and banning cars. But while it might be an interesting thought experiment to work out how much power you could generated by carpeting the UK with solar and wind subsidy farms - it's not a practical energy policy. But as MacKay says at one point in the book "I'm not interested in economics".

The tone of the book leaves little doubt about where he stands in the energy debate: He refers to CO2 as 'pollution' 17 times. And according to Mackay fuel is always "guzzled". So no matter whether Grandma is trying to keep warm in winter, no matter if Grandad is driving to her to the hospital - In Mackay's book they're all selfishly GUZZLING; drinking greedily, consuming to excess.

And this guy is the UK's chief energy scientist. God help us.

Mar 2, 2011 at 9:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli


I shouldn't be so hard on MacKay. He has, after all, gone to the trouble of writing a book which illustrates how impractical decarbonisation through renewables actually is.

Mar 2, 2011 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

In today's Daily Telegraph there is a small article on page 14 with the rather worrying headline "Era of constant electricity at home is ending, says power chief."

I could not find the article in the Telegraph's website but in the printed newspaper the chief executive of the National Grid was quoted as saying "families would ahve to get used to only using power when it was available, rather than constantly."

Once our leaders aspired to improve society. Now it seems the goal is to make Britain a Third World country.

Mar 2, 2011 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Sure, it's a readable ramble with some interesting calculations before it strays into discussion of state population control and banning cars.

The idea of banning cars isn't new. Konrad Lorenz wrote, "the automobile is just one example of mankind's unbelievable stupidity". That was in the 60's, before Hansen got his Phd!

Mar 2, 2011 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

i see no attribution for this madness. btw, Met Office must stop using the words "climate change":

2 March: UK Telegraph: Met Office urges public to blow bubbles and count vapour trails to monitor climate
The Met Office is urging people to blow bubbles and spot vapour trails as part of a national survey of Britain's climate.
Researchers are also urging schoolchildren to blow bubbles to measure wind speed and direction near the ground, to reveal how the built environment affects the wind, as well as watching cloud movement to record wind direction in the sky.
The Open Air Laboratories (Opal) survey also involves the public recording how hot or cold they feel as part of efforts to see how people might cope with temperature changes.
Thousands of schools are set to take part in the public science project, along with members of the public.
Scientists are also keen to discover what confuses people about climate change so that they can widen public understanding of the topic...
Dr Mark McCarthy, climate research scientist at the Met Office, said: "Climate change poses many challenges for both the natural environment and human populations worldwide.
"These new insights will complement and build on our existing research, looking at the potential impacts of climate change through the 21st century."
Anyone in England can take part in the survey by downloading a pack here.

Mar 3, 2011 at 1:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Roy - Phillip Bratby mentioned the Telegraph on the 'Will Phil Hammond Apologise' thread but thanks for posting this, it needs widespread coverage. My father gets the Daily Telegraph for the crossword, but I the article may not be in the Scottish edition; any chance of scanning it and getting it online somehow?

I think this is the most significant energy story since the development of the national grid - a clear admission that due to the failure to replace our ageing coal and nuclear plants the lights are going to go out. Sure, they have made plans for this (rolling blackouts) eventuality under national emergency conditions but no-one ever imagined blackouts every time there's a dominant anti-cyclone over the British Isles in the cold winter months when peak demand can reach 55-60GW and generation from wind drops to less than 200MW (as has happened numerous times in the previous 5 winters). The 1GW potential from the other key renewable (hydro) also drops to a fraction of this due to low flows from frozen run-off. So peace time blackouts here we come.

Lots of people in rural areas and in the Highlands (where temperatures regularly fall to -15C in these conditions do not have mains gas or oil central heating, and rely on electricity to keep their houses warm. The cost of kersene for oil boilers has increased by 500% in the last 10 years and fuel poverty is already a significant problem for many householders who can no longer afford to heat their homes. In urban areas looting and disorder would be an inevitable consequence of blackouts. I'd like to have a copy of the article so I can at least show it to my MP and MSPs for their comment and explanation.

The legal framework could be key here, afaik the electricity companies operating the national grid still have a legal duty to provide a stable electricity supply 24/7 365. If there are significant outages, they have to explain the reasons why in writing to the relevant Minister [in Scotland this used to be the Secretary of State for Scotland, so it is probably John Swinney as Cabinet Secretary now]. I assume it is the same situation south of the border. I wonder if Brussels now has an input here - it could be that the UK will be breaking European Law for not being able to provide electricity to industry, schools, hospitals and consumers just because the wind drops? Knowing the perverse priorities of politicians, it could be that the threat of a wrist slap from Brussels is all we need to get them to see sense and stop the ROCs for wind now, and kick-start the rapid construction of thermal plants? If money is tight, the £30bn could be diverted from the high speed train line which will only go from London to Birmingham anyway - the current journey times are not long enough journey to merit making the hour saved worth the money.

Mar 3, 2011 at 6:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

O/T Do not always go over to WUWT, but they have a new paper as an item. New paper claims a value one seventh of the IPCC best estimate for Climate Sensitivity for a CO2 doubling.

There is a comment that made me laugh, because it just sums up everything about climate modelling in one simple formula:

George Turner says:
March 2, 2011 at 10:45 pm
The modelers can just add

Whew! That was almost a funding crisis.

Just made me chuckle, climate modelling as a simple formula...

Mar 3, 2011 at 7:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

"In today's Daily Telegraph there is a small article on page 14 with the rather worrying headline "Era of constant electricity at home is ending, says power chief.""

Roy, that is the most dispiriting headline. If that's what the power chief really says, it is time for a new power chief before all able desert this country with its third world ambitions.

Mar 3, 2011 at 7:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam


I've sent a scan of the article to Andrew. Maybe he can send it to interested parties. Otherwise, he could give you my email address and I will forward it.


Mar 3, 2011 at 7:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I'm banned from the grauniad for some unspecified crime (failing to agree with the party line on AGW is the likely reason), so can't post a question.

I hope that he will be doing the same at other the Torygraph and/or the Mail, so that I too as a UK resident and taxpayer may have a chance to quiz him.

Mar 3, 2011 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

"warmist-approved weather"

The MO just reported that the winter just past (measured from Dec-Feb) was not as cold as last year. Can that be true?

Mar 3, 2011 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"The Guardian and T shirts"

I think we should get Zed one of those...

Mar 3, 2011 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

David MacKay's contribution to the debate on AGW is a strangly suprious and tangential given his obvious mathematical expertise ( He could inform himself and others by attempting to demonstrate for himself the truth, or otherwise, of the assumptions which underly his essentially political stance.

As to his staggering ineptitude in the matter of analogy: "If you were riding a fast-moving motorcycle in fog near a cliff-edge, and you didn't have a good map of the cliff, would the lack of a map justify not slowing the bike down?"

Is there a cliff, David, or, indeed, any fog? Has a shallow incline been exagerated by unscrupulous map salesmen, keen to exploit the unwary motorcyclist? This "slowing down", will it, in fact, be akin to placing ones genitals in the spokes of said motocycle?

Mar 3, 2011 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterqwerty

Just heard the laughable discussion on climate change between Harabin and Mackay on Radio 4. Mackay suggest we all play with so that we can all see how best to reduce our CO2.

Childish is not a strong enough word to describe the interchange.

(I'm going to do a Willis now.....another beer (glass of wine, actually!)) Arrrgggh

Mar 3, 2011 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

O/T, but inspired by the Grauniad's image, the idea of Prof MacKay Live, and Private Eye

Mar 3, 2011 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

I commented on the Mackay web live thing on the Guardian that the calculator was basically useless without costings. He agreed with me !!!

Mar 3, 2011 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred Bloggs

Avoided all penetrating questions completely. Disappointing. Even Mark Thompson the BBC DG did better on the Telegraph three years back.

Mar 5, 2011 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

I thought this might be available on the Grauniad's website by now, but the only webchat posted is one about Rugger. It did happen, I suppose..?

Mar 7, 2011 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>