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« The green way | Main | A cartoon week - Josh 237 »

Stern the crows, what a performance

Just when you think it's a bit of a slow news day, the global warming bigwigs come up with something really quite startlingly foolish to provide us all with a bit of entertainment.

Heading up tonight's comedy routine is the noble lord, Lord Stern of Brentfordwood, who expounds on the subject of shale gas in the Independent.

Lord S is worried that soggy old Britain isn't soggy enough for fracking:

He is particularly concerned about whether some areas of the UK have enough water for such a water-intensive process, whether the country has enough space for such a space-consuming industry and whether fracking could pollute the water supply.

This is a picture of the river Uck in Sussex, one of the dryer parts of the country and not far from Balcombe:

It has a mean flow of 1.119 m3/s = 1119 l/s. Your average modern fracking well uses about 20 million litres of water (although much of this volume will be recycled). 20 million litres represents 17873 seconds or five hours' flow. Do you know what? I don't think lack of water is actually an issue at all.  You know what else I think? I think Stern read this article in the Guardian and just applied the same scare story to the UK without thinking it through. Because if you analyse the UK situation for even a couple of minutes you realise that water shortage just isn't an issue.

As for his claim that shale is a "space-consuming" industry, readers at BH already know that it has an astonishingly small footprint - far, far smaller than that of any of the renewables technologies that Stern favours. I think we can say with some certainty that he is talking out of his coronet on this subject too.

What else has the great man got for us? Well the evidence for climate change is apparently "stronger than ever". However, since everyone agrees that the climate changes, this is not really a very exciting thing to say. I wonder what Lord S makes of the things that people are actually disagreeing about, like estimates of climate sensitivity?

The article finishes of with a critique of some of the things David Cameron has said about shale (which I don't think comes from Stern himself - presumably this is the Indy's work). Embarrassingly the authors end up completely contradicting themselves. Having said that price reductions can't happen here because the US experience is not repeatable, the US being an isolated market, they then go on to say that any UK shale will also be transported overseas in liquefied form, a market they say is expanding like topsy. This, they imply means that UK shale will have even less impact on UK prices. Unfortunately they don't seem to realise that an expanded LNG market also means that we in the UK get access to all that cheap gas in North America. So whichever way you look, the market pressure is downwards.

This is an astonishing eructation of disinformation from an astonishing peer of the realm and an astonishing newspaper. Truly disreputable stuff.

[Updated, because I'd said  3-5m litres, but it should have been 3-5m gallons. I've gone with 20 m litres.]

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Reader Comments (59)

These people have got past caring how stupid they appear to the rest of society, who are beneath their dignity. They are making loads of dosh at the UK taxpayers' expense, so what do they care about anyone not within their elite orbit. Stern has never had a job in his life that wasn't highly rewarded by the luckless taxpayer. I wonder how much he charges for spouting nonsense to others of his ilk.

He should be amongst the first put on a treason charge.

Sep 3, 2013 at 9:54 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

They're terrified, aren't they?

Sep 3, 2013 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

"As for his claim that shale is a "space-consuming" industry, readers at BH already know that it has an astonishingly small footprint - "

Less than the footprint of a London house that could be subject to the LibDems proposed "Mansion Tax".

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Stern nailed his colours to the mast years ago. And now he pops up with yet more desperate tosh in the hopes of reinforcing his rapidly disintegrating reputation.

What else could anyone expect but special pleading from so obvious an non-entity elevated by a man as mad as Gordon Brown to serve a blatant, tax-raising agenda in the interests of a 'settled science' that even at the time was anything but?

And he still expects us to take him seriously?

Do me a buggering favour.

In more rational times, he would/should have been pelted with ordure before being sent about his sordid, self-serving business.

Stern is little better than an exceedingly well-fed, self-regarding cretin.

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered Commenteragouts

"lord" can be a verb

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:06 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

agouts: Come on, tell us what you really think of him ;-)

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:10 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It’s worse than you thought, Your Grace.

“..there’s always a role for scientific questioning, but those who wish to irrationally deny the science are not helping. The climate sceptics have been quite successful in terms of media air-time and noise, but not in terms of science. Bar-room chit-chat and graffiti do not help,” he added.
We’ve all been toasting Hickman’s departure from the Graun, but one rat leaving a sinking ship doth not a summer make.
He believes protests – such as the camp outside the potential fracking site in Balcombe and Greenpeace activists scaling the Shard in protest at Shell’s Arctic drilling plans – are an important part of a functioning democracy.
If only we could mount a protest outside the offices of the Independent to impede the publication of Lord Professor Sir Nicholas’s lorryloads of detritus. There must be a way.
Comments are open on Sir Nick’s article. Go there.

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:11 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Padlock shut the office doors at the Grantham Institute? He approves of direct action right?

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:14 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Hilarious how people like Stern, Ed Davey and Bob Ward all claim the evidence for climate change is 'stronger than ever'. Likewise the IPCC with their revised '95% certainty' claim.

Evidence is actually rushing full speed ahead in the other direction, casting doubt across multiple strands of previously 'settled' science.

The Pause is causing those guys real, acute embarrassment. Yet there must be a way of calling them out on this blatant lie?

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

Maybe his point was that the UK gets very little rainfall due to it's dry sunny Mediterranean climate. If that is what he sees then indeed there is a cause for concern.

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterWillR

This does not weaken the post at all but I think there may be a slight mix-up in units/ quantities. My understanding is that a typical "frack" requires 3 - 5 million gallons of water, not litres. Those are american gallons so we are talking about 16 - 20 million litres: still only 4 - 5 hours' flow.

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:18 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

This is an astonishing eructation of disinformation from an astonishing peer of the realm and an astonishing newspaper. Truly disreputable stuff.

.... but not the least surprising or unexpected....

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

The fact that the UK is a dry and water-poor nation will come as a great surprise to most of its residents.

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJon Jermey

This would appear to be a near perfect example of "Agnatology"

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

as I see it the current warmist meme is that....although observed tempertures seem to be diverging from the models, if we modify the observations to take account of volcanoes and ENSO and the results from elephant seal dives, then the observations would fit the models.

therefore it's worse than we thought.

No one seems to ask, why not just modify the models for ENSO and volanic activity and elephant seal dives.....Entropic Man would probably tell you why

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I know the Uck; runs through Uckfield. The picture was taken from the bridge over the river. It has a tendency to flood occasionally due to....ahem.....heavy rainfall not climate BS:

Should be enough water for a bit of fracking...

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered Commenter52

This proves beyond all reasonable doubt that Lord Stern is an evil communist. No doubt with close connections to Leon Trotsky.

Stern launches carbon credit ratings agency

By Fiona Harvey in London

Published: June 24 2008 20:52 | Last updated: June 24 2008 20:52

Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the UK’s Stern report on climate change, will launch a new carbon credit ratings agency on Wednesday, the first to score carbon credits on a similar basis to that used to rate debt.

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff


I am right with you on this (ahem apart from the Climate Sensitivity comment of course ^.^)

he is talking out of his coronet on this subject
but just out of interest please explain why he is sitting on his coronet?

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:48 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I know the Uck; runs through Uckfield. The picture was taken from the bridge over the river. It has a tendency to flood occasionally due to....ahem.....heavy rainfall not climate BS
Sep 3, 2013 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered Commenter52

Stern and the Uck in flood.

There's some words to conjure with :)

Sep 3, 2013 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Suck and Utern

Sep 3, 2013 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim C

Tim C

I think michael hart had a totally different effing conjuring trick in mind ^.^

Sep 3, 2013 at 11:13 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Of course an increase in supply won't result in the price dropping.

But then I failed Economics 1. Looks like I'm in exalted company.

Sep 3, 2013 at 11:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

Oh, Lord. 'Eructation'.

I'll be looking this one up.

I guess I just went to the wrong schools.

Sep 3, 2013 at 11:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

"I'll be looking this one up."

Yes, I had to look it up too. Engineering school for me. But it is a very apt description.

Sep 3, 2013 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce Cunningham

I've noted that some Texas towns in the Eagle Ford field have twigged on to the fact that fracking does not require very high quality water and have started selling their processed sewage to the oil companies.
It seems they and Stern are more or less in the same lkine of business, though the texans don't try to pretend it is anything but sewage they're peddling..

Sep 3, 2013 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered Commentertty

A minor correction, Lord Stern is Lord Stern of Brentford, not Brentwood - his full title is, I believe, Baron Stern of Brentford, of Elsted in the County of West Sussex and of Wimbledon in the London Borough of Merton. [Thanks, corrected. BH]

Brentford is just down the road from me, and rarely suffers from water shortages - in fact it gets thoroughly inundated from time to time, for reasons completely unrelated to climate change...

Sep 3, 2013 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

What else has the great man got for us? Well the evidence for climate change is apparently "stronger than ever".

I think we all understand by inference which definition of climate change the Lord is referring to, which is why it is always worth getting individuals and institutions to clarify their meaning so that those who insist on humanising the climate can be hoisted by their own petard.

Sep 3, 2013 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Short of brains not water is my diagnosis.

Sep 4, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

Hark, the chicken farts!

Chicken Little Stern, is eructating belching again.

Cripes, even among the alarmist campers, surely they cannot take this gadgie seriously?

Sep 4, 2013 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Stern's view of the peer review process is somewhat peculiar too:

In a wide-ranging interview, Lord Stern said that evidence for man-made climate change is stronger than ever. He challenged climate sceptics to publish the opposing case in a peer-reviewed journal – where leading experts in the field are required to vouch for the work before it can be published.

Peer review isn't meant to be gate keeping by a select few 'experts' and reviewers are not required to vouch for the work they have reviewed. That interpretation of peer review would explain the behaviour of The Team though.

Lord Stern says scientists had a lot more potentially alarming findings up their sleeves that they have not fully highlighted because they are particularly difficult to “model”. The problems associated with melting permafrost, or ground ice, in the Antartic are particularly alarming, he said.

It's worse than we thought. We can't prove that, and we can't model it either but it's worse than we thought.

On gas prices Stern and his ilk are wedded to the notion that gas prices must rise. The expected rise in gas prices is due to the effects of legislation and increased consumption. A downward pressure on wholesale gas prices due to a significant increase in supply will make the government's actions to increase energy bills all that more obvious.

Sep 4, 2013 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

"climate change is apparently "stronger than ever""

Which is why, a few days after they realized there were ZERO Atlantic Hurricanes in August, National Geographic came up with this story:

"Many scientists have blamed global warming for more intense recent hurricane seasons and for the more destructive storms that are predicted in years to come, but a new study says climate change could eventually help safeguard the U.S. Atlantic Coast from hurricanes."

Sep 4, 2013 at 12:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

This article is written in the style of Douglas Adams. It's oozing irony :)

Sep 4, 2013 at 1:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

He is free of responsibility in regards to anything he says in this matter (as anyone in the AGW boat is) so, naturally, he says whatever he feels like saying with full knowledge there will be no ill consequences at all whatsoever.

Sep 4, 2013 at 2:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Lord Stern is, well he is Lord Stern. And who did you say bishop hill is?

Sep 4, 2013 at 2:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Steiner

The problem with fracking isn't the water. It's the zombies.

Sep 4, 2013 at 4:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterGaryM

I've read that in the USA in areas where water shortages are a guenuine issue ( like in the very dry areas of Texas), the fracking companies simply truck the water from one site to the other a reuse it. It help avoid issues of needing settling ponds etc.

Sep 4, 2013 at 5:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss

If BS was music, Lord Stern would have multiple huge orchestras at his command.
Why does a supposedly-civilised country with a reasonable standard of education not tell this unhinged person, who talks such demonstrable nonsense, to bugger off, leave the adults to get on with it, and find something useful to do; Lord Stern is just another puffed-up buffoon promoted way beyond his competence by the arch-buffoon Gordon Brown when he was in a position of authority.

Sep 4, 2013 at 6:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

He is part of a movement that want's a radical change today's society by taking away the cheap,energy it's based on. So any form of alternative cheap energy will be demonized.
If Europe go fracking the Enviro's will go nuts?

Sep 4, 2013 at 7:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJon

Bit of good news the protesters at Balcmbe have lefft to go to Gloucestershire to stop the Badger cull.

Sep 4, 2013 at 7:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

If Quadrilla were to listen to Stern they could save a fortune on operating costs.

Sep 4, 2013 at 7:43 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Lord Stern, the man who may brought Lehman Bros down by getting them to bet the farm on carbon trading, and in so doing started the world financial crash:

Sep 4, 2013 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Thank you for giving me the word "eructation" and improving my opprobrious vocabulary.

Sep 4, 2013 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterNick Milner

Kremlin propaganda from two Americans resident in London published on 29 Aug 2013.

Any connection with the above Stern report?

Sep 4, 2013 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Well

Lord Stern is worried about space-consuming industries. Like many other people I also worry about such industries. We should all be delighted to welcome Lord Stern as an ally in the campaign against useless, expensive, space-consuming wind farms!

Sep 4, 2013 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Stern is well know for disinformation.

He lied about the (possible) effects of climate change on crops using an "adjusted" (standard Mannian trick) graph of plants responses to higher temperature lifted from an obscure journal.
I wrote to him about this- of course the fraudulent peer did not respond.

Sep 4, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Talking out of his coronet? Excellent euphemism. :D.

Sep 4, 2013 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterLynne

As poor quality water is acceptable there is no reason why fracking companies could not sink boreholes below aquifers used to supply potable water into those where the water is saline. Most ground water below 200m in the UK is unsuitable due to salinity . By law ,any property can abstract up to 20,000L without need for a license.

Sep 4, 2013 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Bruce (Sep 4, 2013 at 12:59 AM):

Is the National Geographic going the way of so many other previously-notable “science” publications?

…more intense recent hurricane seasons…

When? The last major hurricane (category 5) that hit the US was Katrina, nearly 8 years ago! “Superstorm” Sandy was merely category 1, making only just a hurricane; where it became effective was to make landfall at a spring high tide, and meet up with a mid-latitude depression. Similar events (storms coinciding with high tides) happened in the UK in the 1960s, so the Thames flood defences were built; similar events have happened (at least 3 times in the 19th century, all with stronger hurricanes; they got off light, this time. When will be the next?) in New York’s history, yet nothing has been done about it. We are constantly told how the Americans are so much quicker to learn and act than the British but, what about the simple idea of learning from history, America?

Sep 4, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

“Eructation”? Look to Harry Hill, and his version of that well known Victorian show: “The Electronically-transmitted Visual Display of Moving Pictures Eructation.” Big hit, it was, in its day. Unfortunately, all copies have been lost (which, sadly, cannot be said for Harry Hill).

Sep 4, 2013 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

I've said it before but if Gilbert and Sullivan were alive AGW proponents would make an ideal target for a Topsy Turvy Operetta.

Stern could be the Lord High Excrete-ushioner!

Sep 4, 2013 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

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