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Windfarm critic fired by Danish university

Another day, another researcher on the receiving end of retribution from his green-minded colleagues. The story this time comes from Denmark, where a leading expert on infrasound, in particular infrasound generated from windfarms, has lost his job at Aalborg University. English translations of the coverage in the Danish newspapers is here:

He is not only known as the country's leading noise researcher, but also as a person who with his academic qualifications has repeatedly challenged and criticized both the EPA and the wind turbine industry for misinforming others about the low‐frequency noise that large wind turbines emit.

Now the 63‐year‐old professor Henrik Møller has been fired from Aalborg University after 38 years of service, and the reason is that the professor is no longer sufficient financially lucrative for its faculty.

The official explanation is that I do not earn enough money. Apparently I am not my money's worth, because I've spent my time on wind turbines. But I know there have been many years where my activities have resulted in quite a substantial income. Besides, statistically, it is probably about half of the faculty members who make a loss...

H/T John Droz.


Yong wrong

Science journo Ed Yong points us approvingly to an article in Grist magazine. It's about an oil refinery in Delaware which apparently is going cap in hand to the government to help it deal with the threat of rising sea levels.

The refinery has tried to get help, submitting an application with the Coastal Zone Management Act seeking shoreline protections due to “tidal encroachment” — which is one way of saying sea level rise.

Yong is not sympathetic.

Quick, fetch me my tiniest possible violin

Click to read more ...


NRO's brief goes online

The National Review's opening gambit in the Mann libel case has been published. It's a useful reference document, presenting a very accessible summary of the case and the legal issues. It's not flawless - the "hide the decline" data truncation is ascribed directly to Mann, and while there is a case to be made that he played a part in the similar shenanigans prior to the Third Assessment Report, it was Phil Jones who prepared the cover of the WMO report.



Greens go violent

The BBC is reporting that an employee of an unconventional gas company in Northern Ireland has had his home petrol bombed.

The company exploring for shale gas in County Fermanagh has confirmed that the family home of one of its site workers has been attacked with petrol bombs.

Two petrol bombs were thrown at the house in Letterbreen during the early hours of Sunday, but no-one was hurt.

The fracking firm, Tamboran, said it followed a number of unlawful incidents and threats to its security staff.

Staff were threatened at a quarry in Belcoo, where Tamboran is intending to drill a gas exploration borehole.

Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth. They all sound so nice, don't they?


Scotland inches towards a shale industry

A couple of news snippets from north of the border this morning suggest that Scotland is inching its way towards exploiting its shale gas assets. First up is petrochemicals giant Ineos, best known as operator of the Grangemouth refinery, which has announced that it is going to get into the shale gas industry itself, saying that it is likely to apply for exploration licences in the near future.

Ineos, which has a registered office in Hampshire but its headquarters in Switzerland, needs gas as fuel for its chemical production plants at Grangemouth and Runcorn in Cheshire, and Crotty expressed frustration at the slow place of UK shale development. He feels the industry is held back by a lack of clear communication and leadership.

I've heard the performance of the management of UK unconventionals criticised before. I certainly think they could deal with their green tormentors in a much more robust fashion. But I think it's a bit unfair to say that this is what is holding the industry back. Surely it's the regulatory and political environment that is the problem.

At the same time, the Scottish Government has released the results of an inquiry into the safety of unconventional gas extraction north of the border and has, like everyone else who has looked at such questions, concluded that it should be fine.


Which industries will Davey close first?

Sometimes it's hard to find words to express how one feels about the energy policy of the United Kingdom. Having hosed down the green crony capitalists with public money to enable them to rape the countryside by covering it in windmills, Mr Davey and his colleagues are developing a sort of Gosplan for the UK. This will enable them to work out which industries will be allowed to wither and die because they can't afford their power bills and which ones be hosed down with public money to keep them afloat. This being the era of "eyecatching initiatives", a public consultation is being held.

DECC said: “We welcome views from all interested stakeholders on the proposed eligibility criteria so that these schemes target the support where it is needed most, helping to secure and maintain critical industrial investment in the UK.”

Ed Davey: closing down the UK a little bit every day.


Coral atolls are safe

Mark Lynas famously makes much of his living advising the government of the Maldives on climate change. The chief alleged threat to these low-lying atolls is of course that they are going to be swamped by rising seas.

Unfortunately for Lynas, a news article (£) in Science magazine suggests that his position is based on a misconception about how atolls work.

In 1999, the World Bank asked [University of Auckland geomorphologist Paul Kench] to evaluate the economic costs of sea-level rise and climate change to Pacific island nations. Kench, who had been studying how atoll islands evolve over time, says he had assumed that a rising ocean would engulf the islands, which consist of sand perched on reefs. “That’s what everyone thought, and nobody questioned it,” he says. But when he scoured the literature, he could not  find a single study to support that scenario. So Kench teamed up with Peter Cowell, a geomorphologist at the University of Sydney in Australia, to model what might happen. They found that during episodes of high seas—at high tide during El Niño events, which raise sea level in the Central Pacific, for example—storm waves would wash over higher and higher sections of atoll islands. But instead of eroding land, the waves would raise island elevation by depositing sand produced from broken coral, coralline algae, mollusks, and foraminifera. Kench notes that reefs can grow 10 to 15 mill imeters a year—faster than the sea-level rise expected to occur later this century. “As long as the reef is healthy and generates an abundant supply of sand, there’s no reason a reef island can’t grow and keep up,” he argues.

This isn't new of course. Kench's work is years old and was mentioned in de Lange and Carter's report on sea-level rise for GWPF. But it's interesting to see Sciencemag allowing such heresy on its pages.


Smythe busted

I was away from my desk yesterday, and in my absence we had a hugely amusing story from the Times about Professor David Smythe, who readers may recall has been a prominent critic of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas and who was an expert witness for objectors to the the Airth coalbed methane planning inquiry.

Eyebrows have already been raised about Prof Smythe's alleged expertise, since he hadn't published anything in the field since 1998 and has been living in comfortable retirement in the South of France for many years. James Verdon had noted that he seemed unaware of recent developments in drilling technology. However, it seems that both the Geological Society and Glasgow University are seeking to distance themselves from him, the former demanding that he not describe himself as a chartered geologist and the latter saying that he should not suggest that his views are representatives of scientists actually working at the university.

The story was broken behind the Times paywall and was picked up by James Verdon and a number of MSM outlets (for example here). The quote from Glasgow University's Professor Paul Younger is particularly strong:

He has published nothing on [shale gas] in any proper scientific forum - no doubt because he knows he would never get past peer review with his pseudo-scientific scaremongering. He falsely claims to be a chartered geologist. That’s fraudulent. It’s wilful untruth. I am concerned about the damage to the reputation of the university by someone who never fails to use his university affiliation.

I wonder how this news will affect the ongoing inquiry at Airth.


Fire in the galley

SSE's Ferrybridge C power station in Yorkshire is currently on fire. As this picture suggests, it's a big one.

There has been some speculation that it may have something to do with the renewables activities on the site. The main plant now cofires with biomass and there is a dedicated mixed-fuel power station on site too. However, word on Twitter is that the fire is actually in the flue gas desulphurisation plant which has been installed for two of the operating units in the main power station. If you look at Google Earth you can see the relevant part of the power station.

The more interesting aspect of the story is what it means for grid margins. Ferrybridge C has a 2GW capacity, which represents a substantial chunk of peak winter demand. There are reports of explosions on site at the moment, so heaven alone knows how long it will be out of action.

Better pray for a mild winter.


Fewer climate movies for the natives

From time to time I have noted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's spending on a network of "climate change advisers". On one occasion, I noted one such public funded official using their time to do research for Democrats in the US Congress. Another seemed to fill her days with showing ecodisaster movies to the natives and helping them to make their own ones.

It's therefore quite pleasing to see that William Hague has belatedly been reining back the spending somewhat:

The UK is slashing its climate change diplomacy budget even as global efforts to reach a deal intensify, RTCC can reveal.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) cut spending on its core climate change activities by 39% over the past three years.

Given Hague's posturing as a green, this has no doubt been driven more by the cost-cutting imperative in the Treasury than any concern over whether the money is being well spent. Nevertheless, one should not look a gift horse in the mouth...



Greens try to get scientists removed from select committee

Caroline Lucas has been using her holidays to go after Graham Stringer for having the temerity to dissent from the alarmist line on climate change and in particular the Energy and Climate Change Committee's report on AR5. 

The good lady has written to Ed Miliband, asking him what he is going to do about this appalling situation, in effect demanding that one of only two scientists on the Energy and Climate Change Committee be removed.

Dear Ed,

I’m writing with regard to yesterday’s report from the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee on climate science and the 5th assessment report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Click to read more ...


Beddington honoured

BH favourite Sir John Beddington has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. I kid you not.

Sir John Beddington, the former UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA), has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon (Kyokujitsu Chu-Jusho) from the Emperor of Japan.

The award was apparently prompted by Sir John's advice to the British Embassy and UK expats in Japan after the Fukishima incident.

Click to read more ...



Reuters is carrying a report that the German Environment Agency is trying to kill off any shale gas developments in that country. The bureaucrats lack the ability to put an outright ban in place, so the intention seems to be to apply a garotte of red tape to neck of the infant industry.

A spokeswoman for the environment ministry said draft laws on fracking would be presented to the cabinet after the summer break. She added that the rules laid out in the water protection law - the responsibility of the environment ministry - would mean that fracking would be ruled out in the foreseeable future.

Bizarrely though, the report notes that German gas companies have used fracked non-shale gas formations - so called "tight gas" - for decades without incident. And a recent moratorium on new tight gas licences is expected to be lifted at the same time as the shale industry is strangled.

I'm struggling to understand the apparent inconsitency.


Breaking the frame

Nic Lewis has published another paper on objective Bayesian approaches in climate sensitivity study. This looks at an old but very important paper by David Frame and Myles Allen, which implied the use of an objective approach, but actually turned out not to. Lewis's paper looks at two genuinely objective approaches to the problem and compares the essentially identical results they give to the clearly erroneous and inevitably much more alarming one obtained by Frame and Allen.

A very technical blog post on the subject is up at Climate Audit, and the paper is here.



The US Senate report on funding of environmental groups by a small group of wealthy individuals and their trusts is getting a huge amount of play on the internet at the moment (Breitbart coverage here, Forbes here). We knew the sums involved were astronomical but I can't recall the funding streams of the greens being set out in such detail before. It would be interesting to see a similar analysis done for the UK.

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