There is some good news on the energy crisis front, albeit only a small scrap. This is the announcement by EDF that they are going to extent the life of Torness nuclear power station to 2030 - it was originally meant to close in 2023.
That said, it's going to make precious little difference to the energy crisis that is currently threatening us, and may even overwhelm us next winter, as Euan Mearns sets out in this recent post.
I'm going to be on BBC Radio Scotland shortly to discuss what the Torness decision means.
Well I didn't get a lot of airtime, but I'm not sure I needed to. The callers did seem to be mostly hostile to the green energy agenda.
Republicans in the US House of Representatives are currently trying to get a grip on one small part of the Washington bureaucracy by trying to get the National Science Foundation to concentrate on funding useful science. Lamar Smith, the Texas Congressman who is leading the charge, is firing off shots over NSF's funding for public necessities like a climate change themed musical, an effort that set the taxpayer back some $700,000. He wants standards set in place - things like "increasing the health and welfare of the public".
Reasonable enough? Apparently not. Entirely unembarrassed by their excesses, the bureaucrats and their chums are declaring their outrage. President Obama is even threatening a veto.
They work for you, I'm told.
I keep a weather eye on developments in the nuclear fusion field, although always with an eye to the oft-levelled criticism that practical fusion is just 30 years away and always has been.
But last week I did start to get a bit more excited when I learned that the Chinese have managed to contain hydrogen plasma at 50 million degrees C for nearly two minutes. The shift from fractions of a second to minutes seems, to me at least, to bring about a change in perception. We are dealing with an engineering problem rather than a science problem.
Windfarms are already redundant - they have never been anything else - but perhaps they are going to be joined on the scrapheap by oil and gas much sooner than we thought.
Although of course we'll still have to deal with the green protests first.
In related news, the Chinese have a commercial-sized pebble-bed fission reactor ready to switch on next year.
The latest exchanges over the Marvel et al paper make for fascinating reading. Over at RealClimate, Gavin Schmidt writes a rather thin response to Nic Lewis's critique. Lewis has responded at length at Climate Audit.
Gavin, as might be expected, has made heavy use of his standard, "paraphrase, don't quote" technique, creating a series of strawmen that he can knock down with ease. For instance, at one point Lewis set out a great deal of evidence that suggested that land-use changes may have been omitted from a calculation. He mused about whether there was a rational explanation. Gavin paraphrased this as [my emphasis]:
Lewis in subsequent comments has claimed without evidence that land use was not properly included in our historical runs, and that there must be an error in the model radiative transfer.
If you thought the antics of the greens at the Cuadrilla inquiry were silly, take a look at Bob the Blether's latest in the Independent, outlining a vast right-wing conspiracy centred on, erm, 55 Tufton Street, Westminster.
And they call us conspiracy theorists!
In related news, the owners of the Independent are considering closing it down.
For those with nothing better to do, the livestream of the Cuadrilla public inquiry can be seen here. For everyone else who wants to see what Friends of the Earth are getting up to, there are daily summaries at Drill or Drop, a green tinged website that tries hard to present a balanced view of the shale gas story.
Although FoE haven't tried their "sand is a carcinogen" line yet, they do seem to have come up with some fairly wild claims. Like this for example:
[FoE barrister Ms Dehon] put it to [Cuadrilla planning witness Mr Smith] that if Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road operated together they would generate waste fluid that would amount to 65% of the UK waste treatment capacity.
They have also knocked the exploration operation for only creating 22 jobs and...wait for it...not being a tourist draw.
[Robin Green, the barrister for Roseacre Awareness Group] said: “As a tourism draw, fracking is unlikely to be up there as a draw”
For those who are interested, here are the tourism data for Pennsylvania.
While I was busy yesterday, several people pointed me to another shot in the ongoing battle between advocates for indigenous peoples and the environmentalists who are trampling roughshod over them.
Survival International has apparently issued a formal complaint to the OECD about WWF, whose hired hands have been involved in violent abuse of the Baka people of Cameroon.
This is the first time a conservation organization has been the subject of a complaint to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), using a procedure more normally invoked against multinational corporations.
The complaint charges WWF with involvement in violent abuse and land theft against Baka “Pygmies” in Cameroon, carried out by anti-poaching squads which it in part funds and equips.
I would have thought the Charities Commissioner might take an interest too.
I once faced off against Paul Williams of Reading University in a radio debate. He came across as a pretty rational kind of guy and we had a nice exchange of emails afterwards. But I have to say that his most recent paper is one of those ones that make you despair with their sheer futility. Here's the BBC take on it.
Flights from the UK to the US could take longer due to the changes in the climate, according to a new study.
Global warming is likely to speed up the jet stream, say researchers, and slow down aeroplanes heading for the US.
While eastbound flights from the US will be quicker, roundtrip journeys will "significantly lengthen".
It's published in Environmental Research Letters, which is usually not a good sign. The authors apparently fed "synthetic atmospheric wind fields generated from climate model simulations into a routing algorithm of the type used operationally by flight planners" and deduced that westbound transatlantic flights were going to take longer while eastbound flights will be faster. But, almost inevitably, the losses are expected to outweight the gains.
I wonder what evidence there is that GCMs can predict, or even hindcast, changes in wind speeds in a warming world?
There was an interesting report on the Sky website yesterday about recycling firms who are going out of business, leaving piles of festering waste for others to clear up.
More than 60 rotting waste piles are blighting communities in areas including Wiltshire, Kent, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Fife.
The Environment Agency said in 2014-2015 it was dealing with 50 abandoned sites in England, 10 of which contain more than 5,000 tons.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency said it was handling the clearance of another 14 sites of varying sizes.
All follow the same pattern of recycling firms starting-up business on private land then going into liquidation and leaving the waste mounds for landowners or the authorities to clean up at a cost millions of pounds.
Insolvency on that scale looks more like design than accident. When you set this against what we already know about recycling plants - the daily fires and the stories of fraud that already blight the "industry", the sheer scale of the corruption that environmental policy is supporting becomes clear.
It's hard to credit the idea that anyone would think that mandatory recycling was a good idea. But the gentlemen pictured above apparently do.
Do I detect a new, more aggressive approach toward the greens from the shale gas industry? An article in the Times today (£) implies that Cuadrilla were behind a complaint to the Charities Commission about the way in which Friends of the Earth (the charity) seemed to be engaged in campaigning activity:
The charity said: “Cuadrilla seem to be trying to silence their opposition. They should stop changing the subject from the real issues at stake and join us in engaging in democratic debate on fracking and climate change. Our campaign against fracking will continue.”
And this morning, Greenpeace - which also seems quite happy for its charitable arm to get involved in political campaigning and media stunts - has launched an occupation of Parliament Square, with a mockup of a shale drilling rig, complete with flaring. Which prompted a rather-more-cutting-than-usual response from the Onshore Operators' Group
Parliament Square stunt @greenpeace shows importance of regulation. Did they have flaring permit?— UKOOG (@UKOOGroup) February 9, 2016
You have to say that it's about time the shale gas industry stopped lying back and hoping that the greens were going to adopt a more honest approach.
It's not what they do.
Barry Woods points us to today's webcast of the IPCC discussing its future communications strategy. I've just heard someone say that the IPCC reports need to have less of that complicated and very dull science stuff and much more simple messaging. Apparently science writers need to be involved from the front.
Unfortunately I can't spend all day watching this, but if anyone can bear it do let us know if they say anything new.
John Constable notes that now that fossil fuel prices have crashed, DECC has decided that the statement is no longer necessary. It's hard to see this as anything other than an attempt to hide the disastrous impact of the government's approach.
Apparently, in the last assessment it was said that in a "low-price" scenario, policy measures would be increasing prices by up to 77% for some users. Given that fossil fuel prices are far below those assumed in that scenario, that could easily be more than double.
Professor Hugh Montgomery is much given to making wild unsubstantiated comments about the terrors of climate change so it's no surprise to see him given pride of place in the ECIU's expensively produced report on the Paris conference.
Get a load of this:
Yessiree, human life on this planet is threatened this decade.