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

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What on earth is Ewing doing?

Cornwall Energy is reporting that Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing is worried about the lights going out. Indeed, so concerned is he, that he has written a letter to DECC. I kid you not.

In the letter, issued on Sunday 8 November, Ewing suggested that capacity margins were "worryingly low" and that the problem was being exacerbated by the government's energy policies.

Helpfully, Mr Ewing has made some suggestions about what DECC should do to ameliorate the situation:

He said policy needed to focus on ensuring faster build of new power capacity...

Seems sensible. And what types of generation do you think Mr Ewing flags up for DECC's attention?

...renewables in combination with increased storage capacity as well as carbon capture and storage for thermal generation.

Face, meet palm


For discussion

Industrial scale evil can usually be traced to (a) perverse incentives and/or (b) use of low discount rates.



Climate change and academic oversell

It's not often an article in Times Higher Education can make you laugh out loud, but Helga Nowotny's piece this week managed to reach those heights. Nowotny, from ETZ in Zurich, is writing about overselling of research results and the deleterious effects that this might have on trust in the academy. Her suggestion is that a bit more "we don't know that yet" might be a better approach.

Inevitably talk turns to climate change:

Asked if such an approach may have pitfalls – such as those detailed in the 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, when vested interests sow the seeds of scientific doubt as a way of forestalling action on issues like the harm caused by cigarettes or, more recently, climate change – she responded: “You cannot deny climate change; it’s happening. The scientific evidence is overwhelming.”

But she pointed out that modelling future changes to the climate is fraught with uncertainty, with climate forecasting broadly as accurate as weather forecasting was 100 years ago – although none of this should be used as an excuse for inaction.

I'm not sure that she understands that "evidence" for climate change is the output of those uncertain climate models. She seems to be a victim of the very overselling that she is complaining about.


403 errors

Quite a few people have been reporting 403 errors. I put in a ticket to Squarespace and here's the response.

The typical reason for getting this error message is because your customers IP addresses are being blocked from our servers...

Although clearing the cache and deleting the cookies can help. There is one big step that your viewers can do to resolve this, and that is to have them go to a Squarespace 7 site like

This site will prompt them to enter in a CAPTCHA and remove the block from their IP.

There are small cases where doing this wont work, and if you happen to run into one of these cases. Please have them take a screenshot of the error message, and get a copy of their IP address, and either write into us personally, or you can even forward us the information so that we can escalate the IP address, and get a deeper look into it.

Hope this helps.


Snow grow situation

Over on unthreaded, Sandy points us to this article at a blog that specialises in monitoring snow patches in the Scottish Highlands. The trend in August snow patches is not what you'd expect.


Greenpeace banned

The latest from the subcontinent is that Prime Minister Modi has finally decided that enough is enough and has banned Greenpeace for good:

Under the latest order issued by authorities in Tamil Nadu where Greenpeace is registered, the government said it had found that the organisation had violated the provisions of law by engaging in fraudulent dealings.

Greenpeace denied any wrongdoing and said the closure was a "clumsy tactic" to silence dissent.

It sounds a bit vague to me. I wonder what precisely these fraudulent dealings are? I'm also not really into banning things, although I think it's possible to make a good case where foreign agitators are involved.


Tip drive

Do you know it's almost a year since I did a tip drive on BH? I think it's time for another.

Many thanks as always to those who have been feeding the regular pot over the last twelve months. A few regulars have dropped out after long service, and thanks to them too. If anyone feels like stepping into the breach that would be nice.

I bet Exxon and Cuadrilla are wishing they'd contributed now.



On capricious government

The decision by New York regulators to investigate Exxon over climate change is an interesting one. Apparently the aim is "determining whether the company failed to disclose the climate change risks to investors as well as the public".

And you can't really say fairer than that. If companies are obliged to disclose risks - and there is no doubt that they are - then I don't think one can argue that Exxon or any other oil company should be disclosing to investors the possibility, say, that governments might do foolish things in response to hysteria over climate change. These are real risks that affect investors. There are interesting questions over what point any particular political foolishness becomes concrete enough to make it disclosable, however. Governments are driven by perverse incentives, and politicians are capricious at the best of times. Political risk is therefore always a hard thing to gauge.

Moreover, Exxon is a global company, and political risks in any one country are therefore even less likely to affect the overall business. Global political risks are even more nebulous than national ones: the possibility of a global carbon tax, for example, remains remote, with the developing world unwilling to let their populations die young in order to make western greens feel good about themselves.

Of course, the investigation looks more like a fishing trip, trying to get access to Exxon's internal communications on behalf of environmental activists. There is, in the minds of greens at least, a vast oil-funded conspiracy to be exposed. I don't suppose they will find very much.




OMG moment

This from the FT's coverage of yesterday's power shortages.

Traders watched in amazement as prices surged, with the grid paying £2,500 per MWh to one operator, Severn Power, as it bought in emergency supplies; the usual going rate is around £60.


Quote of the day, shameless edition

Bryony Worthington seems to want to reverse the tide of deindustrialisation her Climate Change Act has brought about.

[T]he Redcar situation... illustrates how important it is that we get our energy and industrial strategy right. There is a risk to dragging our feet and there is an urgency involved in sorting out our policies on how we are going to not just maintain but actively attract industrial players back to the UK to reindustrialise our nation.

I wonder if she goes to sleep at night thinking that all she has achieved in her life is to put thousands of productive people on the scrapheap. I really wonder.


Dead calm

Yesterday it seems that National Grid had to invoke its emergency procedures as outages at coal-fired power stations and an almost complete lack of a contribution from the wind fleet led to generation margins falling to dangerously low levels.

Given that the weather is very mild at the moment, this is worrying to say the least.

Wind remains very low this morning, although it looks as though it will pick up later in the day.

Interesting times.


Walport tour dates

Following on from his climate change tour in 2014, Mark Walport is hitting the road again, this time to talk about energy policy. All over the country nubile young environmentalists are going weak at the knees.

Over the next 6 months, Sir Mark Walport will tour the UK to talk about how we supply and use energy today, and the options we have for the future...

Sir Mark said:

The UK faces a series of choices about energy. We all require energy to live and our dependence on it is total. But how we supply energy and how we use it in the future needs to change. We need power that is secure, affordable and more than ever we need it to be sustainable.

When world leaders meet at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris this December, energy will be at the heart of the debate.

Details here.


L'Alternative Paris

With COP21 coming up there is an alternative conference being organised.

The Paris Climate Challenge

In 2009 we laid down the Copenhagen Climate Challenge, when we asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to answer 10 questions about climate. We’re back to ask the same and more questions, and challenge the climate ‘consensus’ in Paris at COP 21 with alternative climate hypotheses. If you have something to say in Paris, we still have places for a few more speakers. Take some time to navigate our pages, you can leave a comment if you’d like to say something in response to the articles backing up our 10 questions to Ban Ki-Moon below.

Head over to this site to read all about it.

Posted by Josh


A letter to the Foreign Secretary

Reader Alex Henney sends a copy of a letter that he has recently sent to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. It concerns our representative in Paris, Sir David King.

Dear Mr. Hammond,

Professor King and the Paris Conference of Parties

I write to object on several grounds to Professor King being UK climate representative at Paris.

The attached paper “The scientific flaws of the Committee on Climate Change and the expensive consequences” shows there is no need for significant concern about climate change.

Professor King knows very little about climate science and has a track record of naïve alarmism, if not semi hysteria:-

  • In March 2004 he warned MPs that the Antarctic had already lost 40% of its ice and that the melting of the polar ice caps could cause a shift in the Gulf Stream which would lower temperatures in Britain and Europe by as much as 10°C.  In fact the sea ice in Antarctica is at record extent since satellite assessment started in 1979.  The IPCC does not rate the shift of the Gulf Stream as a likely risk

Click to read more ...


Green vision

This morning I chanced upon some interesting documents that set out the vision for the UK of Friends of the Earth. The docs are FoE's contribution to the 2050 Calculator site set up by DECC's former chief scientist David Mackay a few years ago. The site allows users to set down how they think the UK's energy mix should be achieved in the future.

In the graph below (click for larger), we can see that FoE believe that we are going to reduce demand by 30% or so, which strikes me as optimistic. More interestingly they seem to have recognised that we are going to need standby gas powered generation right through to 2050. However, in their wisdom, they seem to think that three quarters of this gas should be imported rather than produced locally. Their stance on oil is similar. Given their stance on unconventional gas this is probably the only choice, but the conclusion must be that FoE believe that when calculating the trade off between environmental posturing and carbon emissions, it is environmental posturing that should win out.

So much for caring about the planet.


Click to read more ...

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