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Thursday
Aug142014

Sir Alan Peacock

Sir Alan Peacock, a member of the GWPF Academic Advisory Council passed away last week. The Telegraph's obituary is here. David Henderson has posted an appreciation of his involvement in the climate debate here. GWPF has also reposted a letter he wrote to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2010.

I'm sure the sympathies of all BH readers are with his family.

Thursday
Aug142014

Ripoff tide

I was surprised to hear a couple of people speaking up in favour of wind and tidal power at the Tartan Heart Festival last weekend. I had assumed that everyone had now worked out that they were a long way from being commercially viable. Perhaps this is because of the insistence of some in the renewables sector that power from the oceans could make people lots of money. Our old friends at Bloomberg New Energy Finance were one such company, talking up prospects for the sector and explaining how the arrival of big engineering companies was changing everything.

However something else has been stirring, and that has been the interest of the engineering and industrial majors. In the last three years, Siemens, Rolls-Royce, Andritz and French naval defence company DCNS have bought minority or controlling takes in the tidal device makers Marine Current Turbines, Tidal Generation, Hammerfest Strom and OpenHydro respectively – while ABB and Alstom have done similar with wave energy specialists Aquamarine Power and AWS Ocean Energy.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug142014

The plastic bag scam

Some time ago it was announced that a compulsory charge would be introduced on plastic bags at retail shops, the proceeds to be distributed to good causes. At the time I suggested that the likely beneficiaries would be the same green NGOs that had campaigned for the introduction of the charge and lo and behold take a look at this:

For the first time, Tesco customers will be asked to choose the charities and environmental organisations that will benefit from an estimated £1.8 million set to be raised from carrier bag charges in Wales and Scotland.

The organisations on the shortlist for Scotland are Love Food Hate Waste, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Groundwork UK. For Wales, the shortlisted charities are Keep Wales Tidy and Groundwork UK.

Here are Keep Scotland Beautiful's pages on plastic bags. Love Food Hate Waste is a subsidiary of WRAP, the government's pet recycling (i.e. mostly pro-waste) campaign. Groundwork, however, looks clean.

Over the piece, I conclude that I am probably correct. It is a scam.

Thursday
Aug142014

Keeping the sheikh wealthy

As greens try to put a spanner in the works of the shale gas industry in Colorado, the Colorado shale gas industry is fighting back with a series of attack ads. Here's one, pointing out some of the ethical implications of relying on energy from the middle east.

And here's another about the oligarchs.

They're a bit racier than Cuadrilla's offerings, don't you think?

Wednesday
Aug132014

Faster bishop

Squarespace have emailed to say they think they have fixed the speed issues with the site. If you are still having problems, can you let me know in the comments.

Thanks

Wednesday
Aug132014

Spotting policy-based evidencemaking

Oxford economist Simon Wren-Lewis has a blog on the subject of macroeconomics called Mainly Macro. I chanced upon it this morning via my Twitter feed.

His latest post is about policy-based evidencemaking and who you should trust. There's plenty of good stuff in there, but plenty to take issue with too. For example, being an academic, he has an overly high opinion of academics:

I know I’ll get it in the neck for saying this, but if the analysis is done by academics you can be relatively confident that the analysis is of a reasonable quality and not overtly biased. In contrast, work commissioned from, say, an economic consultancy is less trustworthy. This follows from the incentives either group faces.  

In the climate debate at least, this confidence is misplaced.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug122014

Diary dates: Slingalongajulia edition

Julia Slingo is giving a public lecture at the Institute of Physics in London next month on the subject of climate models.

Taking the planet into uncharted territory: What climate models can tell us about the future

Climate change is arguably one of the greatest challenges that human civilisation will face in the 21st century. With the rise in carbon emissions continuing unabated and the evidence for human-induced climate change stacking up, the need to take action to mitigate future climate change grows. So what are these climate models on that so much of our decision-making rests?

Dame Julia’s lecture will examine how fundamental physics has shaped our understanding of the climate system, and how over the course of her career as a climate scientist, this has been encapsulated in climate models.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug122014

Soton scientists lose the plot

Academics are sometimes their own worst enemies aren't they? They so desperately want to be taken seriously but the otherwordliness of some members of the academy is so overwhelming as to make academia look more like a lunatic asylum than somewhere were knowledge is sought.

As an example, take the story carried at WUWT today. A group of academics at the University of Southampton - one of them a former airline pilot - have written a paper calling for a global regulator of air travel to be put in place.

A global regulator with ‘teeth’ needs to be established, but investing such a body with the appropriate level of authority requires securing an international agreement which history would suggest is going to be very difficult. … the ticket price-increases necessary to induce the required reduction in traffic growth-rates place a monetary-value on CO2 emissions of approximately 7–100 times greater than other common valuations. It is clear that, whilst aviation must remain one piece of the transport-jigsaw, environmentally a global regulator with ‘teeth’ is urgently required.”

We could have a "green halfwit of the year" award, if it wasn't for the fact that the team from Southampton have probably just killed off any sense of expectation.

Tuesday
Aug122014

Vehicle movements and energy infrastructure

I was having an exchange of views with Michael Liebreich on Twitter yesterday. He was getting a bit excited about the number of vehicle movements associated with developing a shale gas pad, saying that the public needed to know that they would be on the receiving end of 60 HGV movements per day. We talked about the duration of these 60 movements per day and I pointed out that the AMEC report on shale had come up with a range of 14-51 movements per day, depending on whether water was tankered in or came straight from the mains.

This seems to have prompted a blog post from David McKay, the former chief scientist at DECC, who set out an analysis of vehicle movements for construction of a shale gas pad, a windfarm and a solar array. He came up with a range of 2900-20,000 movements in total for a 10-well pad, as compared to 7000 for an 8-turbine windfarm. I pointed out to him that his figures had nothing to cover access road construction, and so he redid the figures, coming up with a revised estimate of 7800. One could consider adding more to cover removal of soil for the foundations, but since this might be disposed of onsite, it is arguably valid to leave it out.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug122014

Sad news

Anthony is reporting some sad news from the US. I'm sure the thoughts of everyone in the climate debate are with Dr Christy.

Tuesday
Aug122014

Reading climate articles backwards

Updated on Aug 12, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

It's often said that canny users of financial accounts read them from back to front. Disreputable managers hide the problems away in the last few notes to the balance sheet, out of the view of anyone who chooses merely to glance at the profit and loss account.

This is probably a good approach to newspaper articles about climate change too, Steve Connor's latest offering in the Independent being a case in point. Were you to read only the headline you would come away with the impression that:

Rapid rise in Arctic temperatures to blame for world’s extreme weather

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug112014

The Eagle crash landed

I have an article up at the Spectator Coffee House blog about Labour's Maria Eagle.

Monday
Aug112014

A new survey

A new survey of climate scientists has been published. The author team is headed by Bart Verheggen and includes John Cook. Here's the abstract:

Results are presented from a survey held among 1868 scientists studying various aspects of climate change, including physical climate, climate impacts, and mitigation. The survey was unique in its size, broadness and level of detail. Consistent with other research, we found that, as the level of expertise in climate science grew, so too did the level of agreement on anthropogenic causation. 90% of respondents with more than 10 climate-related peer-reviewed publications (about half of all respondents), explicitly agreed with anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) being the dominant driver of recent global warming. The respondents’ quantitative estimate of the GHG contribution appeared to strongly depend on their judgment or knowledge of the cooling effect of aerosols. The phrasing of the IPCC attribution statement in its fourth assessment report (AR4) providing a lower limit for the isolated GHG contribution may have led to an underestimation of the GHG influence on recent warming. The phrasing was improved in AR5. We also report on the respondents’ views on other factors contributing to global warming; of these Land Use and Land Cover Change (LULCC) was considered the most important. Respondents who characterized human influence on climate as insignificant, reported having had the most frequent media coverage regarding their views on climate change.

Having Cook on the author team is obviously going to lead many people to write the paper off without even taking a look at it. When you are proven to have set out to write a paper to meet a predetermined conclusion, that is the way people will treat your work. 

But I'm sure we will all look at the paper carefully. Thoughts in the comments please.

Monday
Aug112014

More capacity margin shrinkage

Several nuclear reactors have been forced to close down temporarily due to a fault identified during routine inspection of their boilers. Initial estimates are that it will take eight weeks to fix the affected plant in Heysham and Hartlepool.

If it takes much longer, the capacity margins for the winter will start to look very interesting indeed.

 

Monday
Aug112014

Public thumbs up for shale gas

The UK Onshore Operators group has released the results of an opinion poll on shale gas, finding that 57% are in favour of going ahead, with only 16% against. Whether said survey is any more reliable than the windfarm one that claimed that the public were overwhelmingly in favour of carpeting the countryside with turbines is anyone's guess. But it should be good for a headline or two.