Updated on Oct 28, 2015 by Bishop Hill
In my absence last week, I missed the latest from the Committee on Climate Change, a document entitled "Power sector scenarios for the fifth carbon budget". This was widely reported as showing that renewables would be competitive with natural gas by 2020.
A reader has sent me some interesting observations which I thought were worth sharing.
Take this for example:
In a central scenario for gas prices and with a value attached to carbon that is consistent with meeting the UK’s 2050 target, the full cost of new gas generation would be £85/MWh for new plants coming on line in 2020 and £95/MWh for 2025. That assumes a gas price that increases from 46p/therm in 2015 to 66p/therm by 2025;
In fact, in a footnote, they note that the central scenario was in fact for a price of 72p/therm, but that they decided to reduce it by 6p "given sustained low gas prices".
There have been recent claims that the early-2000s hiatus...was an artifact of problematic sea surface temperature (SST) data (Karl et al. 2015), lack of Arctic data (Cowtan and Way 2014), or both. Such claims indicate that when corrections are made to SST data, by taking into account various measurement methods that introduce biases in the data, then “there was no ‘hiatus’ in temperature rise...[and] a presumed pause in the rise of Earth’s average global surface temperature might never have happened” (Wendel 2015). Often there are issues with observed data that need adjusting - in this case such claims of “no hiatus” are artifacts of questionable interpretation of decadal timescale variability and externally forced response - not problems with the data. Thus, the hiatus is symptomatic of the much broader and very compelling problem of decadal timescale variability of the climate system.
Kevin Anderson, the deputy director of the Tyndall Centre, wondered a couple of days ago whether oil-company funding was "worse than tobacco funding".
How different to the founders of the Tyndall Centre, who were extremely keen on oil companies, discussing a strategic partnership with Shell that would include the provision of funding, placements of students with the company.
What happened in the intervening years I wonder, to change the minds of the Tyndall Centre people so far?
It's over. Nine arrests.
See you in the morning.
For reading matter on my half-term trip away, I took Matt Ridley's latest book The Evolution of Everything. At nearly 400 pages long it's not a short book, but it turned out to be not nearly long enough to keep me occupied and by the middle of the week I had finished it.
There's only one word to describe it: subversive.
It's subversive of pretty much everything - religion, politics, technology, statism, central banking, education, culture. You name it and it's subverted by the book's central hypothesis. This is the idea that while we seek proximal, top-down explanations for change, in truth bottom-up forces are more powerful, more sustained, and more often than not are the true causes.
So on the subject of societal change we read:
In society, people are the victims and even the immediate agents of change, but more often than not the causes are elsewhere – they are emergent, collective, inexorable forces.
One example is that of the general who leads his army to victory, with no credit given to the malaria that killed off the opposing army. Politicians and activists obsess over aid payments and plans for poor countries, while the people there quietly evolve their way to a better life.
The hard of understanding are struggling with this. There was a typically execrable review in the Guardian which asked "What about the exercise of power?", an argument that almost completely missed the point made in the quote above (which appears on page 5 of the book, leaving one with the impression that the Guardian's reviewer didn't get further than the blurb).
Similarly, science-y people on Twitter have been vehemently arguing that Ridley is wrong to suggest that government can't make technological breakthroughs, which is a futile point to make since Ridley argues no such thing. His case is, as throughout the book, that evolutionary progress is much more important than big breakthroughs and that top-down, planned approaches have less impact than unplanned tinkering.
So with this book, Ridley sets the philosophical cat well and truly among the pigeons, and those who make their living in the world of top-down plans are up in arms.
You can see why I call it subversive. Read on.
Updated on Oct 26, 2015 by Bishop Hill
I was reading Donna Laframboise the other day on the expected arrival of 40,000 delegates to the COP 21 conference to be held at the incongruously chosen venue of the private jet airport of le Bourget. I remembered seeing a breakdown of the horrendous costs of the Copenhagen conference and I idly wondered what the estimated costs are to be this time. Private finance has been sought apparently but there doesn't seem to much on offer anyway. What investors might expect to get out of it, I have no idea. Surely COP doesn't make a profit to be distributed to investors? Or does it?
But French taxpayers will be delighted to know the following:
I think this article covers all the gloom and doom that can be rustled up on this topic, as yet another alarmist article leads us in to COP21.
Any bets as to what the next article will be on - dying polar bears, melting Himalayan glaciers (or maybe melting polar bears and dying Himalayan glaciers), Maldives’ cabinet meeting under water again, shortage of water, shortage of heat (or increase in water and too much heat), increase in malaria, increase in wars, increase in immigration, reduction in size of … oh there’s lots to come.
Act now -the end may be nigh, but not of this nonsense unfortunately. TM
Does the sun shine all night in Australia? Are the new batteries a breakthrough? Over to you.
In an almost unprecedented meeting at the Australian Parliament on Monday, well-respected researcher and author Dr Jennifer Marohasy was invited, along with climate sceptic Bob Carter, to debate with three alarmist scientists. She was particularly emphasising the differences found between real world data and computer modelling and the need to disclose which was which.
Splendid little item on Inside Science last night on BBC Radio 4 9.21pm or so which made me laugh, in which Adam Rutherford interviewed Ralf Barkemeyer, Associate Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility at the Kedge Business School. Being interested in the interface between science and policy, he has made an analysis of the ”linguistic readability” of the IPPC summaries, which are, of course, intended for policy makers. He was looking at such things as the length of words and sentences used and the overall comprehensibility expressed as a percentage, for a non-specialist reader.
In comparison, the linguistic readability of a theoretical physics paper was 30-35% for a layman to read, while the IPPC summaries received the very low score of 20% comprehensibility.
Is anyone surprised, and is it deliberate obfuscation or just a badly thought out mess? TM
A new book by Professor Ian Plimer is published today.
HEAVEN AND HELL: THE POPE CONDEMNS THE POOR TO ETERNAL POVERTY (Connor Court Publishing Pty Ltd)
Summary: The recent papal Encyclical was on climate and the environment. This book criticises the Encyclical and shows that we have never lived in better times, that cheap fossil fuel energy has and is continuing to bring hundreds of millions of people from peasant poverty to the middle class and that the alleged dangerous global warming is a myth.