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Tuesday
Mar182014

Walport's presentation

Mark Walport's staff have kindly made available the slides he used in Glasgow. They can be seen here.

As I have suggested previously, the talk was a recitation of the standard case for alarm, but there were many aspects of it that piqued my interest. For example, I noted that while warming up to the first slide he spoke about energy security first, before moving on to climate. Later on in the talk he spoke of the three lenses through which the climate problem had to be viewed and the first of these was again energy security. Is this a new tack? Are backsides starting to be covered? Perhaps.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar182014

Kickoff at Airth

The public inquiry into Dart Energy's plans to extract coalbed methane at Airth on the Firth of Forth kicks off today. As one might expect, Friends of the Earth Scotland are busy trying to mislead the public, sticking a #fracking hashtag on their tweets so as to kid on that fracking is an issue in the inquiry. In fact the planning permission doesn't involve fracking at all and I seem to remember the Dart guys telling me that the coal seams at Airth are unsuitable for deploying the technique.

We will watch with interest.

Monday
Mar172014

Sceptics' new friends

Updated on Mar 18, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The Columbia Journalism Review takes a look at the ongoing attempts to get hold of Michael Mann's emails and revels in the delicious irony of leftie journalists finding themselves filing an amicus brief that will help the evil right-wing fossil-fuel-funded denier conspirators in their nefarious aims.

Organized by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 17 news organizations, including National Public Radio, Dow Jones, and The Washington Post, submitted an amicus brief in November, supporting the group’s rights to Mann’s emails.

“By defining an exemption to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (‘VFOIA’) as broadly as the lower court has done, this Court Would be, in effect, removing almost all public documents from the ambit of the records law,” reads the brief. By exempting Mann’s emails from public release, the group argues, the court is setting what journalists see as a dangerous precedent—making it much more difficult to gain access to public records.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar172014

Nurse flounders

Paul Nurse has taken to the pages of the Telegraph, although I have no idea why. He appears to have nothing to say of any importance and his analysis, such as it is, consists of platitudes. I relay the article's existence, dear reader, out of a sense of duty rather than because I think it's worth your time.

The evidence is becoming increasingly clear. However, not every question has yet been answered or every detail defined – for example, there are debates concerning the models used to predict the exact extent of global warming.

Monday
Mar172014

What is the Gaelic for "integrity"?

Benny Peiser email to tell me that there is a bit of a kerfuffle over the Irish Sea. Benny has been invited to appear on a TV show called 'Prime Time', opposite Professor John Sweeney, a geographer at the National University of Ireland who doubles as the President of An Taisce, the Irish National Trust.

However, it seems that Professor Sweeney is not sufficiently confident in the strength of his case to want to argue it in public, and An Taisce has issued the following press release.

Prime Time invited John Sweeney, Ireland’s leading Climate Scientist, onto the Panel and some members of An Taisce into the audience for next Tuesday’s show on ‘Climate Change’.  We looked forward to contributing to the debate on how we should deal with the serious problems that ‘Climate Change’ will present to our children and grandchildren.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar162014

Friends of the Earth want Scotland covered in "high risk" boreholes

Rob Edwards of the (Glasgow) Herald is taking a pop at unconventional gas once again, this time revealing that the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency has declared that there is a "high risk" of aquifer contamination from deep boreholes.

The story is based on an internal SEPA document obtained under freedom of information legislation - by whom we are not told, but one assumes that, as is normal for Rob Edwards articles, the ultimate source is Friends of the Earth.

The key words "high risk" do indeed appear in the text - indeed they are in the very first sentence, but there is actually rather less here than meets the eye, as the paper concludes that the answer is to shift holes in the ground that are more than 200 metres deep to a different regulatory regime. This hardly appears to represent what you would do when facing impending armageddon.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar162014

Danny Alexander struggles to tell the truth

 

A few days ago I quoted Nigel Lawson's stated views on whether carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.

While CO2 is indeed a greenhouse gas, increasing concentrations of which may be expected to have (other things being equal) a warming effect, scientists disagree about how large that effect may be.

I don’t deny for a moment that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but there are so many other factors that affect climate.

Today we have the Chief Secretary to the Treasury opining on Lawson's views:

With [Lawson,] one of the leading exponents of this theory also a noted denier of climate change, it is perhaps no surprise that a cool analysis of the facts and figures clearly shows that they are completely missing the point. 


Sunday
Mar162014

Greenery will destroy us

David Rose's article in the Mail on Sunday this morning is a must-read. He has been over in the USA looking at the supply chain for the new wood-fired generation facilities at the Drax power station here in the UK.

[North Carolina’s forests] are being reduced to pellets in a gargantuan pulping process at local factories, then shipped across the Atlantic from a purpose-built dock at Chesapeake Port, just across the state line in Virginia.

Environmentalists destroying the environment. Part 125.


Sunday
Mar162014

Getting away with 'Müller' in the climate debate

This is a guest post by Alex Hadcock.
As an undergraduate studying classics at Oxford, close to exam time one of my tutors, semi-jokingly, provided us with the following tip for what to do when flummoxed by an exam question: "if you can't think of anything to write, invent an early-20th century German scholar called 'Müller', assign to him the most extreme point of view you can think of, and argue tooth and nail against it". In the context of classics, this could involve assigning 'Müller' with the opinion that Clytemnestra was, in fact, a devoted and loving wife. Or that killing his daughter was the easiest decision Agamemnon ever made. Thankfully, I never had to use this tactic, though it was always comforting to have it in the armoury.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Mar152014

The Incredibly Useful Sceptic Science & Policy Scale - Josh 265

I have been musing for some time about a way to show the range of sceptic views compared to non-sceptic views and I think I have come up with something simple that could be useful and fun.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Mar152014

Walport at the GSC

Last night found me at Glasgow's Science Centre to listen to Mark Walport talking about climate change.

In common with so many of these kinds of talks this had something of the air of a sermon about it. Almost everybody in the congregation was already convinced of the case for radical decarbonisation, right from the greenhouse effect, through the models, to the impacts, the economics and the wisdom of covering the country in windfarms. Walport said little that would have raised them from their complacency. The exceptions were when he pointed out to a questioner from gas-fields of Falkirk that natural gas was probably a good idea in current circumstances and when he spoke of the importance of having a conversation about climate change in a liberal society. Many in the liberal intelligentsia are of course deeply opposed to conversations on the subject of climate, or at least to those involving sceptics.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar142014

RSPBonkers - Josh 264

Not to mention the wind turbines' need for tons of steel and concrete, the devastation of the countryside, permanent loss of habitat and noise pollution. And they produce little energy for no reduction in CO2 emissions. Barbaric vandalism. 

H/t BishopHill and Ron Hughes' grandson 

Cartoons by Josh

Friday
Mar142014

A Peer reviewed - Josh 263

 

 Evidence gleaned here.

Cartoons by Josh

Friday
Mar142014

Diary date: correct messages edition

The Environmental Physics group of Institute of Physics has organised a meeting to look at how scientists and journalists can work together to convey "the correct messages". It's on 27 March in London.

The degree to which humans are influencing the physical mechanisms that are causing the Earth’s climate system to warm, remains a controversial subject that has caused passionate and heated debates in the news media.

As the public gather most of their information on these issues from newspapers, TV, radio and the internet, the way that evidence is communicated by scientists to journalists is a crucial factor in the public understanding of climate science.

Through group discussions and a number of keynote talks, the aim of this event is to bring together environmental scientists, journalists and science communicators to discuss the ways in which communications in climate science can be improved, and what each of the stakeholders can do to present their work more effectively.

The event will also cover how scientists work with public engagement officers and journalists to ensure that they are conveying the correct messages.

Details here.

Friday
Mar142014

Energy poll

As a measure of how successful the likes of Friends of the Earth have been in misinforming the public, take a look at Ipsos-Mori's latest poll on public attitudes to science, and in particular the section on energy (p.31 here):

  • 76% of adults support offshore wind, 36% support shale gas
  • 58% think that offshore wind will have a positive effect on the UK economy (about the same percentage as for shale gas)

I wonder how much of UK industry will be shut down before we see those figures change.

 

 

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