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Professor Catherine Mitchell is one of the those public funded political activists who masquerades as an academic researcher. She has come to the attention of this blog from time to time over the years.

Today's Telegraph carries a letter from the good professor, responding to a Rupert Darwall article about the UK's energy crisis. Here it is:

SIR – Rupert Darwall’s polemic on our energy crunch makes three major mistakes.

First, Britain is not going to see a US-style “shale revolution”; the economics don’t stack up, and British people don’t want fracking.

Secondly, wind and solar do not impose significant “hidden” costs on consumers. The Committee on Climate Change, which advises the Government, calculates the cost at about £10 per year per household.

Thirdly, Mr Darwall assumes that climate change is not a serious issue. It is serious, so a fossil-fuels-as-usual electricity system will not do.

Renewable energy can deliver the market-based electricity system that Mr Darwall wants, but getting there entails some years of transitional support. Renewables will not need the endless subsidies associated with nuclear power and fossil fuels.

Catherine Mitchell
Professor of Energy Policy, University of Exeter
Penryn, Cornwall

Of course, the Committee on Climate Change's estimate on the cost of renewables policies are based on a comparison of renewables against a theoretical world in which fossil fuel prices start high and then get even higher. It's hard to imagine that a "Professor of Energy Policy" is unaware of this.

File under "barefaced".


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Reader Comments (187)

Ivor Ward. What unmitigated claptrap. You would perhaps blame holocaust camp survivors for their being offended by the drivel propagated by holocaust deniers? I trust you are offended by my opening sentence - you are to blame.

Mar 12, 2016 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

If a history graduate 'became' a Professor of mathematics, and stated that 2+2=5, questions might be asked as to why that person had been made a Professor of mathematics.

Similarly, if a mathematics graduate became a Professor of History and stated that King Harold won the Battle of Hastings, based on a modern review of history, a reinterpretation of the Away Goals rule, and the Duckworth-Lewis formula for weather interuptions, questions might be asked about the motivation for even bothering, and why that person should be paid by the taxpayer.

Mar 12, 2016 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Prof Mitchell and her band of propagandists has trousered £1.3 million of grant money since 2012, not the grant money you would expect (sociology, politics, etc), but precious Engineering and Physical Science grant money:

Questions should be asked at high levels about this waste of precious science money.

Mar 12, 2016 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky


Whether you like it or not, offence is always taken never given, as the saying goes.

I wouldn't blame someone for taking offence but I wouldn't support their attempts to quash the speech that gave rise to that offence. That just plays into the hands of the Eternally Offended and those that like being the "victim"

Mar 12, 2016 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

Mar 12, 2016 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

I do not agree with everything Ivor Ward said but neither do I think it was unmitigated claptrap ^.^
I do believe that the offence is taken rather than given so that there are some people who can not help feeling offended (I think I am one of those and to some extent I am emotionally incontinent hehe). There are also those to whom offensive comments are as water off a duck's back, they seem able to decide whether or not to take offence.

Mar 12, 2016 at 1:08 PM | Registered CommenterDung

One thing that I do not understand about Dr Kendall's statements so far is very much like an issue that has come up in the EU referendum debate. It has been said that Michael Gove had to think long and hard about which side to support in the referendum because of his friendship and loyalty to David Cameron. So we are told that a Cabinet Minister actually weighed a friendship in the balance before doing the right thing for the UK? To me that attitude is totally disgusting and Dr Kendall has implied that he too kept quiet on occasion because of loyalty to friends/colleagues.

Mar 12, 2016 at 1:33 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung, a Real Climate of Fear exists in the Tory Party, about backing the wrong side of the argument, and being out of favour with the next UK Prime Minister. Some of them have to think about longer term career prospects and wage earning potential.

Mar 12, 2016 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Dung, so once again I find myself being attacked for my not publicly criticizing my colleagues during the climategate fiasco, now to the extent that this inactivity is branded as disgusting. I wonder if Dung has ever been placed in a position anywhere near that which I found myself. As I have already written in this thread, with the exception of Briffa, I didn't known the CRU collective very well and, when climategate broke none of us knew if the emails were bogus or not.

Later I chose not to add to the distress of my colleagues for a whole variety of reasons 1 some where subject to a torrent of abusive emails. Having myself been similarly vilified by email for my views I saw no profit in adding to their woes, not because they were colleagues but simply out of humanity. 2 if I had attacked them I'm sure that my own position within UEA would have come under even more threat. Would it have benifited anyone if I had lost the ability to influence my students to exercise their critical facilities re climate change, or my position to possibly influence future events?. I spent much time and effort trying to Influence the university to incorporate more sceptical people Into the investigations but without success (my letters and e-mails were not even acknowledged). I tried to work within the system rather than take the easy(?) way.

I don't believe my actions then were in anyway disgusting. I rather resent (for the second time) having my motives questioned by people who I believe have no knowledge on which to base their prejudiced comments.

Please sort out who your allies are.

Mar 12, 2016 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall


"You can only choose to be offended."

Or, to misquote Eleanor Roosevelt, 'no-one can make you feel offended without your permission'.
Of course, it it difficult not to take offence sometimes, but since that it usually the intent, you can turn the tables by choosing not to.

Mar 12, 2016 at 3:55 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

I find that once I decide that someone is deliberately trying to offend me, it actually becomes almost impossible for them to do so. It's the people who take themselves too seriously who are the most offensive.

Back on topic, was the Mitchell letter also in the print version? Sometimes letters are edited and can (inadvertently) make the writer appear more deluded or dishonest than they really are, though it would seem quite a challenge in this instance.

Mar 12, 2016 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Of course, British universities are not always quite so keen to tolerate controversy - as Sir Tim Hunt found out when he dared to make a quip in the presence of a grievance monger...

I suppose it must depend which set of academic sensibilities one offend against..

Mar 12, 2016 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

Michael Hart

It was published in the same form in the printed newspaper.

Mar 12, 2016 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

Alan Kendall, thank you for your continued participation.

UK Academia is no different to most institutions around the world, when it comes to dealing with whistleblowers. Whether it is financial/corporate corruption, allegations against Jimmy Saville, or NHS malpractice, the complaint from the media and public is why didn't somebody do something, or say something? Clearly you tried to point out some issues and consistencies.

It makes the Climategate Whitewashes even more shameful, and is proof for me that climate science is inherently untrustworthy. I was taken in by the Hockey Stick once, and it seems to me that CRU saw it as a guaranteed financial future.

Obviously others are free to make different interpretations! (Especially if their climate science career depends on it)

Mar 12, 2016 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The idea that in the USA frakking is carried out by unsupervised and unregulated cowboys is another unfounded myth propagated by the anti frakking ( read anti/energy/anti capitalist/ anti humanist ) "Green"?? lobby.

Spectator, I've heard that from UK drillers too, not just fractivists/Greenies.

I agree that it's not a fair picture but there have been some very badly constructed and maintained wells in the USA over the years (but out of thousands rather than the hundreds in the UK).

If anything, the Greenies' reliance on American propaganda material means they don't want to allow any suggestion that the UK drilling industry does things cleaner and better, but would rather smear them with the same (false) brush.

It certainly has done, being in more populated areas for the most part, but the USA has made great strides in recent years.

Mar 12, 2016 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

Alan Kendall,

Thank you for your efforts in teaching critical thinking skills and objectivity to the young minds you have educated. One can only hope that there are many others within the world of academia that quietly work toward the same end.

Surely you can understand the vitriol directed at those like Mitchell? The association of her behaviour with her employment institution is inevitable, indeed, your efforts to "work within the system" to change the governance of the university towards an open balanced environment would support that supposition.

(Your patience and your consideration to your peers is admirable, without getting into details I was myself at one time in a similar situation, within the commercial world not academia, so I fully can empathize with your position and actions).

I understand the frustration and anger demonstrated by many of the commentators here. I'm a retired chemical engineer with the majority of my career in the energy industry, and I also frequently find my patience tested and my blood pressure rising to dangerous levels. Those conditions are exacerbated when I read some of the garbage published by people like Mitchell who have no professional knowledge, education, skills or experience in the topic and therefore whose motivations can only be considered self-serving, or far worse.

Don't underestimate the intelligence of the silent majority of the readers of this and similar blogs, nor their ability to form their own reasoned opinions.

With the exception of the obvious trolls, readers wouldn't be here if they didn't already question and challenge the CAGW meme and the motivations of the boosters. I chose to believe that they, the silent majority, are more than capable of accepting the occasional outburst of vitriol and that it will in no way pursued them that the skeptic community are descending into moral turpitude.

Regards the originating post, the signature used by Mitchell says it all, the use of positional authority. She has no other basis for credibility, none, zero, nada, a truly empty vessel. The fact that she uses the signature, with no disclaimer that the views expressed are her own and not necessarily those of her employer, implies that she does so with at least the acceptance of, or even worse, encouragement from the university.

Mar 12, 2016 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

So they claim that it costs every UK household an extra £250 a year for the Windmills and The Solar Panels

We'll help me with the maths here

but that doesn't factor in the Extra Fuel Payments BENNFITS from the Elderly the Poor and Umenployed who can't afford the the extra £250 in the first place ,so the real figure for renewable energy has to be 3 or £400 a year for every WORKING household in the UK.

Maybe someone from The Taxpayers Aliance has calculated the real figure.

Mar 12, 2016 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Alan Kendall,

Thank you for your efforts in teaching critical thinking skills and objectivity to the young minds you have educated. One can only hope that there are many others within the world of academia that quietly work toward the same end.

I am delighted to second Mike Singleton's sentiment. Opposition from the inside is a very difficult and thankless endeavour - see Animal Farm and 1984. It is important that students have a role model of your sort - although they will probably not recognise its value for some time after they have experience the world outside undergraduate academia

Keep it up!

Mar 12, 2016 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

Spectator, wish I could keep it up, but I am now long retired.

I got a great deal of pleasure from stimulating young minds to the extent that my wife believed I would do it for nothing. When I continued teaching part time.for an additional two years I almost did.

Mar 12, 2016 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Dr Kendall

I have already said that I hope you spend more time at BH and I do not take that back at all. However I speak the truth regardless of who takes offence and I get the same from others.
I actually did not call your behaviour disgusting but I did think it was similar to the politicians I criticised.
I have nothing to apologise for since I did the same when I worked for Goodyear Tyres UK.
During my time at Goodyear we built a huge new warehouse but there were massive problems. Customers were having the wrong tyres delivered to the wrong location at the wrong price and they were seriously unhappy. The CEO made a speech to customers about our new facility and said we had gone from Jurassic park to Star Wars. I emailed the CEO and told him that rather than Star Wars it was more like Lost in Space. I emailed the Distribution Manager manager and told him that if I was as incompetent as him then I would lose my job so why was he still employed? I regret nothing.

Mar 12, 2016 at 7:23 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Interesting quote from a DECC spokesman this afternoon:

"The British government is committed to Hinkley and committed to new nuclear. It is the only proven low-carbon technology that can provide continuous power, irrespective of whether the wind is blowing and the sun is shining. The industry will create thousands of jobs and benefit companies in the supply chain."

Seems Prof Mitchell might need to change her hymn sheet if she wants to keep her seat on the energy policy gravy train.

Mar 12, 2016 at 8:29 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Ivor Ward. What unmitigated claptrap. You would perhaps blame holocaust camp survivors for their being offended by the drivel propagated by holocaust deniers? I trust you are offended by my opening sentence - you are to blame.
Mar 12, 2016 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

I choose not to be offended in spite of your admitted attempt to cause offence. That is my choice. You have now opened the next can of worms which is the concept of "blame". Why would I have the right to "blame" holocaust survivors for anything. It is their right to choose whether to be offended by statements made by other people. The concept of "forgiveness" is a process frequently used to free people from their gut reaction of taking offence and of apportioning blame and it enables people to move on with their lives. It is these concepts that allow us to rise above our base instincts of retaliation and physical aggression. We delegate responsibility for apportioning blame to the judiciary and the adjudication of offence to the clergy, or at least we used to. Now it seems we have delegated both to Twitter and Facebook.
I do hope you are not offended by my refusal to be offended by your crass comment.

Mar 12, 2016 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Salopian, I do enjoy proper gravy, to go with a roast, and roasted potatoes. Without reliable power, there will be no gravy, or train.

If Professor Mitchell gets her way, kids in the future won't know what hot food is.

Mar 12, 2016 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


Without reliable power there will be no roasts or roasted potatoes, let alone gravy.

Mar 12, 2016 at 10:18 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

"Please God, don’t say that any of our tax money is paying this woman to write such Panglossian drivel. Please!"

are the only words Dellers adds on this matter in his Breibart Column

(nothing in the comments either ..I guess they all agree it's obviously propaganda not science she spouts)

Mar 13, 2016 at 5:22 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Readers should be aware that there will probably be no new Hinkley Point nuke from EDF. This is because until the company has fixed the faults with the Brittany and Finland nukes, it will not commit to a third potential commercial disaster.

The problems are in Areva, the old Siemens nuclear arm; they have lost their metallurgical skills and have no money to fix the problem. A bad pressure vessel is a time-bomb, as predicted by Sir Alan Cottrell in the 1960s. His PhD was in welding, so he knew what he was talking about.

Consequently, this Mitchell idiot will have to argue that as we enter the new Little Ice Age, there being near zero CO2-AGW, the excess death toll from no wind power for months at a time is not the fault of her eco-fascist mates. That death toll was 45,000 in 2009-2010. With a monopoly of heating by wind power, it could be 5x that figure as we enter the new little Ice Age from end 2018, just in time for the 2020 election!

Mar 13, 2016 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

PS an excess death toll of 200,000/winter in the new, Windmill-cooled LIA would be 4 London Blitz death tolls/annum.

Supposedly, that Hitlerian period was quite evil. Hence we can legitimately equate the technological and sociological ignorance of Mitchell as eco-facism, the cull of the poor and old to which the Eugenicists behind the Green Blob apparently aspire. After all, their elite claim is that such drains on society have no right to live in the Green New World: evil incarnate.

Mar 13, 2016 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Don't forget an awful lot of Arab money is invested in Exeter Uni.

Mar 13, 2016 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered Commentermarc

Obama flying over on Airforce One to London to keep us in the E U

How much CO2 is that little trip gonna generate.Bring Leonardo De Caprio with him

Mar 13, 2016 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

NCC 1701E, under Green Blob Maths/Science/Logic rules, I am further confused. Should we now have additional VAT imposed on Green electricity as a 'luxury good', that society simply can not afford?

Or is the Guaranteed Unreliability, Unsustainability and increased cost of Green Power with consequent increased death rate amongst the poor, weak and vulnerable, meant to show benefits to the fit and healthy, by reducing pensions and healthcare provision?

If Darwin proposed survival of the fittest as a theory of evolution, a mass extinction event for mankind is now inevitable as greedy fat cats can not sustain themselves, and there is no reason for anybody else to help them.

Malthusians should be left alone to die, and fulfil their own prophecies, allowing everyone else to make the most of their noble self sacrifice.

Mar 13, 2016 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

What we have with the Green Blob is an inevitable logic: CO2 emissions' reduction is the equivalent of Moslems praying 5 times a day and visiting Mecca at least once in their lives. Common Purpose Scientology Lite teaching is preaching a Green Salafism; 'Back to the beginning'.

Indeed this typical bit of incisive insight by me shows that the Eco-fascists, with their desire to put us back to a hunter-gatherer society, once the city dwellers have died off, excused as 'Sustainability', is Salafism in word and deed.

So, we must insist the Eco-fascists wear the same clothes as Moslem mediaevalists and that they pray to their CO2 God 5 times a day, and they must visit the University of Pennsylvania and GISS at least once in their Lifetime.....:o)

Mar 13, 2016 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

NCC 1701E, the Grauniad might proclaim a fwaat for such heresy.

As it bears no resemblance to anything created by God, Mann's Hockey Stick could be relabelled as Islamic Art - a random pattern of shapes and colours.

Mar 13, 2016 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Indeed GC; should Mann who is of course based at and protected by an institution which has protected men with' interests' in children, start to slice off the heads of 'Deniers' with a sharpened Hockeystick?

Just think; eliminate 40 'Deniers' at one time and the prophet becomes The Prophet.

It all fits.........

Mar 13, 2016 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

NCC 1701E We need more Climate Scientists and pointless Professors in secure positions in Institutions. It would be better for at least 97% of the world's population.

Unfortunately, this particular Professor, like many others in climate science, may have no concept of what 97% of anything actually is. They know it is a very important sounding number, and keep going on about it.

"Renewable energy can deliver the market based electricity system ....." Professor Mitchell. Yes, guaranteed demand, without guaranteed supply, does indeed create a 'market'.

Mar 13, 2016 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

There are some terrifically well argued points in this thread but

Mar 11, 2016 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered Commentermailman

hit the thing right on the head.

Mar 14, 2016 at 5:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

The 4th page of a comment thread is like a party at 5am, only the deranged remain (or those that remain are deranged).

So, there, Catherine Mitchell is my new crush.

Mar 14, 2016 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterAyla

Halleluja Ayla!

Mar 14, 2016 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

@ayla seeings Catherine Mitchell's BLOOMERS may have given you a crush
..but the the rest of us they give us the creeps..the consequences for the country of Green lunacy being so serious

Mar 14, 2016 at 10:23 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

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