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

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Tuesday
Jul212015

DECC prioritises prices over carbon

Amber Rudd is currently explaining DECC's priorities under the new regime. It's pretty snoozeworthy, and the members of the committee are not exactly excelling themselves in asking probing questions, but a few points of interest are coming out:

  • hints of an emphasis on value for money ahead of decarbonisation
  • a suggestion that Paris will be a damp squib, with 2degrees being unachievable but should be kept within reach.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul212015

A private communiqué

The hijacking of learned institutions by political activists is something of a theme at BH, and today's news brings further depressing evidence that the situation has not changed. It seems that the managers of a group of UK learned societies have decided to try to influence the political agenda ahead of the Paris conference, issuing a joint call to arms (another one!), no doubt without consulting a single one of their members.

The communiqué opens with a decidedly shonky statement about the scientific evidence:

The scientific evidence is now overwhelming that the climate is warming and that human activity is largely responsible for this change through emissions of greenhouse gases.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul212015

Diary dates, Winchester Science Festival edition

Some of the events at the Winchester Science Festival may be of interest to readers.

This Sunday, we have a talk by Tamsin Edwards:

How can we predict the future of our planet?

Every week the papers report new predictions about future climate change – whether about rising sea levels, more severe heat waves, or better wine making in the UK. Scientists make these predictions using highly complex computer models and measurements of the past. But it’s rare to hear much about how they do this, or the sometimes surprising stories behind the science and technology. What do climate models have in common with car radios? Did you know we use the same algorithms as email spam filters to reject “junk predictions”? Tamsin will lift the curtain on this cutting-edge research area.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul202015

Hansen's direst forecast?

The Daily Beast recounts James Hansen's latest prognostication of doom, under the headline 

Climate seer James Hansen issues his direst forecast yet

The immediate thing that struck me was that this must be some pretty far-out stuff, because Hansen has issued some truly blood-curdling predictions in the past. So what is it this time?

James Hansen’s new study explodes conventional goals of climate diplomacy and warns of 10 feet of sea level rise before 2100.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jul192015

Greenpeace and the Labour party

David Rose has an explosive story about David Mills, the husband of Labour party bigwig Tessa Jowell. It is damning for Mills, who seems to be linked to a major money launderer and to "a criminal network dumping toxic and radioactive waste in the oceans". 

What caught my eye about the story was that this was all uncovered by a team at Greenpeace. Rose takes up the story:

 

The report into the dumping of illegal toxic waste, seen by this newspaper, was the work of a three-year probe by a team from Greenpeace International. It said Mills – whom it described as ‘a figure of substance in the London legal profession’ – set up UK companies owned by Swiss financiers who funded this illegal trade.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul172015

More polar bear poop

Another day, another misleading piece on the alleged dangers of global warming. This time it's an article by Matt McGrath, which sexes up claims made in a new paper about polar bear metabolisms:

Polar bears are unable to adapt their behaviour to cope with the food losses associated with warmer summers in the Arctic.

Scientists had believed that the animals would enter a type of 'walking hibernation' when deprived of prey.

But new research says that that bears simply starve in hotter conditions when food is scarce...

Polar bears survive mainly on a diet of seals that they hunt on the sea ice - but increased melting in the summer reduces seal numbers and as a result the bears struggle to find a meal.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul172015

Greens trashing the environment part 625

According to the Committee on Climate Change's recent report, soils in the south-west of England are facing a problem:

 

Changes in crop type are reducing the risks of soil erosion in some areas. The area under high erosion risk crops such as potato and sugar beet has fallen while there has been an increase in the area under low erosion risk crops such as oil seed rape. However, this has been partly offset by the five-fold increase in the area of land under maize between 1988 and 2010, which is potentially increasing soil erosion risk in some parts of the country, particularly the south west of England.

And why has there been a five-fold increase in maize?

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul162015

Minority Report and the polar bears

Polar Bears International has launched its programme to help the recovery of the thriving population of the said beasts. In their post, the team have helpfully explained some of the problems they faced:

...our team faced a unique task: to create a recovery or management plan for a species whose primary threat is largely in the future, not the past.

I can see how that would be a problem. It's rather like something out of Minority Report, but instead of precrimes solved by precogs we will have premelts dealt with by prethinkers.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul162015

Casual smears at RTCC

A year or so ago I caught the people at the Responding to Climate Change website fabricating a story. They had claimed that an island in the Solomons was being evacuated due to climate change but a little research showed that it was due to a tsunami. RTCC had simply tried to appropriate the story for "the cause".

Today I find that RTCC editor Ed King has done a drive-by smear on Matt Ridley, alleging that he is the owner of a coal mine. The insinuation is fairly clear - that Ridley argues against decarbonisation in order to protect this business interest. Of course as readers here know, all subsurface energy assets in the UK are the property of the state so it it is not even possible for Ridley to own the coal under his land. Moreover the mines there are operated by H.J. Banks Ltd: Ridley is therefore neither owner nor operator. In fact he only receives a wayleave from Banks for access to the site.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul162015

Muddy, or waters?

As noted yesterday, Lord Deben is concerned about the loss of peat soils in East Anglia. According to his CCC report:

Peat soils have high organic content (over 50%) and as such tend to be very fertile. Such land provides a comparative advantage for intensive high-value cropping, including vegetables, salads and horticulture.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul162015

Green donations splurged on swanky HQ

A couple of years back, WWF moved out of the converted industrial unit in Godalming that it had occupied for 20 years and settled into a smart new headquarters in Woking, a building that has just been shortlisted for the Stirling Prize for architecture. You can see why they might prefer this to a converted industrial unit.

The webpage for the award is rather cagey about what this swank has cost, saying that the figure is confidential. Fortunately, building.co.uk has some details for us, so as well as learning that WWF have chosen to build their HQ on a podium above a carpark - whatever happened to greens' enthusiasm for public transport? -  we can also learn that this was all achieved at a cost of £13 million.

I'm sure small donors to the green cause are grateful that their money is being spent carefully.

Wednesday
Jul152015

Soiled reputation

In the Mail this morning I read about Giant Hogweed, a particularly nasty plant that can cause horrific burns that take years to heal. I also read that the plant is easily controlled with glyphosate.

This afternoon I read that the Soil Association is trying to ban glyphosate.

Rotten timing for that announcement guys.

Wednesday
Jul152015

Deben diggin' in the dirt

Lord Deben has been speaking at a food industry conference, still exhibiting the pronounced eccentricity we have noted in recent months:

Lord John Deben, a member of the Government’s climate change committee, said there would need to be some ’fundamental changes’ in how the [food] sector operated.

A recent report by the committee warned the UK was in danger of seeing a reduction in productivity because of the damage caused by intensive farming practices.

Lord Deben said soils were degenerating ’so fast it is visible’.

"So far the agricultural community has been blind to what is happening.

"In 30 years the Fens will not produce because of what we have done to it," he said.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul152015

HH Lamb's scepticism confirmed

A new paper (£) in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change caught my eye on the Twitter feed this morning. With a title of "Ways of knowing climate: Hubert H. Lamb and climate research in the UK" Janet Martin-Nielsen's paper sounded as if it was going to be a direct response to Bernie Lewin's GWPF report on Lamb's work, but a look at the paper suggests that to the extent that it is such a riposte it is so feeble as to hardly warrant the description.

Certainly it covers precisely the same ground as Bernie's paper, documenting Lamb's career step by step, describing his focus on natural variability and his distrust of computer models and even featuring many of the same excerpts from Lamb's books that Bernie used. The riposte to the sceptics, such as it is, comes in the closing section, which opens with a quote from a piece that Bernie wrote for BH about how Lamb should be seen as a proto-sceptic, follows up with a claim that allegations about the misdeeds of CRU have been shown to be "wrong" (based on the Oxburgh report!!), before heading onward to the meat of the case:

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul152015

SNP "not against" shale

The Herald (£) is reporting that Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe has had private assurances from the SNP that they are not against shale gas development, confirming the view I had formed that the Scottish moratorium was simply a way to kick the issue into the long grass until after the election.

In some ways though the SNP have painted themselves into a bit of a corner. "More evidence is needed" they said before the election. This means that some kind of a fig leaf is going to have to be formulated to allow them to argue that the aforementioned evidence has been obtained. I wonder what it will be?