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Friday
Dec052014

Tree ring proxies RIP

Well, well. Look what Steve McIntyre has found. After all those years of sceptics calling for tree-ring series to be updated so as to provide out-of-sample validation of their effectiveness as proxies, and all those years of mainstream climatologists telling us how this couldn't happen because of the cost and difficulty, one of the key series in the Hockey Stick and many other temperature reconstructions has finally been brought up to date.

The series in question is Sheep Mountain, prominently featured in The Hockey Stick Illusion as having a hockey stick shape, the blade of the stick allegedly tracking the rise in northern hemisphere temperatures up to 1980, the end of the Hockey Stick reconstruction. Since 1980 we had another 18 years of temperature rises followed by a decade and a half of the pause.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec042014

Valuing "subsidies"

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the report by the Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change International, which claimed implausibly that the UK was delivering considerable subsidies to the oil industry.

Since then, I have been having a useful exchange of emails with Sam Pickard, one of the report's authors in which I attempted to understand how these figures had been arrived at. Sam pointed me to the section in the report on definitions of subsidies (p.23-27), which turns out to be four pages of masterly obsfuscation in which they never really quite get round to explaining how they define a subsidy.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec032014

Doctor, get a grip of yourself

The health lobby's contributions to the climate debate have been at best eccentric and typically irrational. Who can forget Andy Haines' putting the cost of carbon at $1000 per tonne, for example? Or what about UCL's Anthony Costello telling the world that climate change is the biggest threat to global health, sentiments echoed by Fiona Godlee at the BMJ here.

It's amusing then to see a team of geographers from, erm, UCL, among them Mark Maslin, effectively telling the health lobby to get a grip:

This commentary critically engages with the argument that climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the twenty-first century. A review of climate-health examples suggests that although it is important to be aware of the risk that climate change presents, health status is caused and mediated by multiple exposures. The current evidence suggests the impact of climate change over the next 30 years is not going to be catastrophic for health, and positioning it as the greatest threat – instead of other important factors such as poverty and health inequalities – could obscure the potential of current global health measures and reduce focus on other health risks such as non-communicable diseases and HIV/AIDS. Although climate change mitigation is vitally important to reduce far-future harm, the policymaking community should focus on current interventions that reduce populations’ exposure to climate change, boost populations’ ability to adapt, and reduce health inequalities.

It's paywalled, but the link is here.

Tuesday
Dec022014

Benny at the Senate

Benny Peiser's testimony at the US Senate is now available on YouTube.

Tuesday
Dec022014

Department for Exaggeration, Crookery and Conmen

Here's an astonishing essay, looking at the shambles DECC has made of smart-meter rollout.

Last week the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change announced that the UK’s smart metering deployment was facing another 12 months delay.  That’s 18 months after they announced that the UK’s smart metering deployment was facing another 12 months’ delay.  This is not all bad news.  It means that the growing population of consultants within DECC can look forward to what is fast becoming a never-ending gravy train of consultancy work, public consultations and project reviews.

There are also some astonishing revelations about DECC's attempts to hide its incompetence and this rather juicy ending:

It’s all part of the Alice in Wonderland world that is our current energy policy, which is coming to resemble Swift’s satire of extracting sunbeams from cucumbers.  That’s probably the only renewable energy policy that DECC has not tried funding, but now I’ve brought it to their attention, they might.  From feed-in-tariffs to keep the voters happy to offshore windmills that are about as effective as treadmills for mermaids, we have a department that is out of control and prepared to squander taxpayers’ money on anything that can be claimed to save energy, ministerial face, the climate or the world.

And you can count the MPs who give a stuff on the fingers of one hand.

Read the whole thing.

(Coincidentally, the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee are taking evidence on smart meters, right now).

Tuesday
Dec022014

Niceness at home and abroad

Shub Niggurath is bemoaning the lack of venues in which there can be conversations across the lines of the climate debate.

Good discussions used to take place, on occasion, at WUWT or BH. There were brief periods when the old Collide-a-scape blog and Bart Verheggen’s site provided such moments. They are hard to come by now. Maybe the consensus and conspiracy poison spread mindlessly and artlessly throughout the blogs by certain people is to blame.

He's right of course. I have struggled long and hard to make BH the venue where that can happen, but it seems that a visit from, say Richard or Tamsin is guaranteed to get some people riled, with the result that moderation becomes a full-time occupation. I can't afford to spend that amount of time on it.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec012014

The BBC's latest green recruit

Coinciding with the launch today of the Lima climate conference, the BBC has an article about a heatwave in Australia. The content is largely uninteresting apart from the revelation that the heatwave in question ended last week.

So why are they reporting it now? Presumably because of the Lima conference. If so it's yet another clear example of the BBC operating as a campaigning organisation on environmental matters.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec012014

E.ON to split

Reuters is reporting that German energy giant EON is to split in two, with its conventional generation assets ending up in a new company, while the renewables and energy efficiency businesses remain under the EON brand.

It is hardly surprising that EON wants to be able to protect its cash-cow renewables operations from the losses its conventional assets are generating - an inevitable consequence of the market having been so thoroughly rigged against them. You can see the logic in the step management have taken. In the short term, management look as though they are going to bet more money on renewables. However, with the Energiewende seeming to lurch from one shambles to another, a change of ministerial sentiment could completely change the energy landscape. It's not hard to imagine a world in which the hived off conventional power stations start to look like attractive assets and the renewables start to look like a collection of dead ducks.

But with the choice between the two businesses being a bet on a minister's whim, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to invest their money in either.

Thursday
Nov272014

Bob misrepresents the science again

Bob Ward's interview with Conor Gearty is fun, with the film-noir style making Bob look even stranger than normal. His views are amusing too, having only the loosest connections with the science. Take this bit on the 2-degree target.

This is straight from the science...we've seen from the evidence that if we go above global warming of more than 2 degrees we will be facing very severe risks that the world has not seen for millions of years...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov272014

Diary date, Senate edition

On Tuesday, Benny Peiser will be appearing before the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to talk about European climate policy.

Details here.

Thursday
Nov272014

Harrabin on the Royal report

Roger Harrabin has an interesting take on the Royal Society extreme weather report, picking up on what is in fact a fairly minor point in the report - namely the response to floods in the Somerset Levels - but in doing so putting things in a very stark light.

...the authors of a Royal Society report on resilience to extreme weather have told BBC News that they believe the campaign to protect the Levels prompted politics to override science.

They say those resident on the Levels may have to get used to living with floods, and they question whether investment to protect farmland is the best use of public money.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov272014

A right royal contradiction

Updated on Nov 27, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Today the Royal Society publishes its report on resilience to extreme weather events and it's a bundle of laughs. I confess I haven't read the whole thing - it was only sent to me late last night - and you will see why I didn't want to persevere.

As ever with these things it's good to start at the back, where we learn that the project was funded, among others, by Jeremy Grantham. (I wonder who approached whom?). The list of those consulted was also interesting, including familiar names such as:

  • Sam Fankhauser
  • Geoffrey Boulton
  • John Beddington
  • Brian Hoskins
  • Keith Shine
  • Eric Wolff

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov262014

To frack or not to frack?

Yesterday MPs had a short debate in Westminister Hall on the subject of fracking. The proceedings were led by the Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, who provided - presumably unintentionally - a handy list of every piece of misinformation on the subject of shale gas extraction that is still doing the rounds. There was also this amusing intervention from Graham Stringer, referring to Caroline Lucas's contribution:

The hon. Lady uses as a basis for opposing fracking the fact that we will not meet our emissions targets. So what? We are hitting our emissions targets—[Interruption.] Well, I will explain it to the hon. Lady, because she is in a fantasy world. In hitting our emissions targets, we are responsible for more carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere than we were before, because of embedded carbon coming in through industrial manufactured goods from China and elsewhere. The hon. Lady’s policy does not help the climate or reduce carbon dioxide. Her policy is about deindustrialisation, which is responsible for increasing the costs of industrial goods in this country by 9%, putting people out of work, and for increasing the cost of domestic energy, depending on how it is counted—by and large, it is not counted properly—by between £50 and £120 a year. The hon. Lady is concerned about carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere, but that is increasing because we are effectively subsidising imports from China and India.

I'm not sure that the debate went anywhere, but it was interesting nevertheless.

Wednesday
Nov262014

First day in court

Mark Steyn's entertaining account of the Appeal Court hearing regarding the Mann libel case can be seen here.

The three lady judges - by comparison with that slapdash idiot Combs Greene in the trial court - were on top of the case, and they had some sharp exchanges. When Mann's lawyer sneered that the defendants did not believe in "climate change", Judge Easterly interjected, "Man-made climate change". It was interesting that she thought it an important distinction to draw.

Wednesday
Nov262014

The pursuit of Ramsey

Readers will no doubt recall a very interesting thread concerning Doug Keenan's pursuit of Christopher Ramsey, an Oxford researcher whose work on radiocarbon dating has led to considerable controversy in the archaeology world, as his methods lead to much ancient history potentially having to be rewritten.

Keenan had accused Ramsey of fraud and had issued a formal complaint to the University of Oxford. However, during the discussions on the BH thread discussing the case, it turned out that at least one of the allegations was wrong.

But this has not been the end of the affair. Doug has rewritten the complaint, bringing in a new allegation that he had held back previously and has put the whole thing to the University. A detailed account of what has happened can be seen at Doug's website, but suffice it to say that a fairly thick coat of whitewash has been applied by the powers that be.

Click to read more ...