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A cap on hunger

Precisely what is meant by sustainable development has never been entirely clear, but you could be forgiven for thinking that it was something to do with killing off as many people in the third world as possible. Take, for example, the case of biofuels, which were touted by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth (among others) as important contributors to sustainable development and a mighty blow in the war against fossil fuels to boot. When European farmers saw the possibilities it was not long before corrupt bureaucrats in the EU leapt into action and put legislation in place to make the dreams of environmentalists and farmers a reality.

The problem was that it was a reality that involved quite a lot of hunger, not a little outright starvation, and perhaps some landgrabs too.

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Building a crony capitalist society

A few days ago I noted the comments of the UNFCCC's Christiana Figueres about the UN's desire to transform the basis of daily economic life:

This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for the, at least, 150 years, since the industrial revolution.

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Worst fracking paper ever?

Richard Black's Energy and Climate Change Information Unit has published what must surely rank as one of the most outrageously misleading contributions to the unconventional gas debate since Frackland.

The image explaining the unconventional drilling process is simply jaw-dropping, with readers invited to believe that aquifers are just a few feet below the surface and that shale seams are just a few feet below that.

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Another witchhunt

So the usual suspects in the green-tinged media are running another of their witchhunts. This time they have returned to the attack against Willie Soon, with the New York Times' Justin Gillis and the Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg in the front line.

As far as I can see, the story is that Soon and three co-authors published a paper on climate sensitivity. At the same time (or perhaps in the past - this being a smear-job it's hard to get at the facts) he was being funded by to do work on things like the solar influence on climate by people that greens feel are the baddies. They and the greens feel he should have disclosed that baddies were paying him to do stuff on a  paper that was not funded by the baddies.

I guess you can make a case that he should have done, but I'm struggling to get very excited about it as a transgression.

And as a fairly ugly attempt to poison the well the articles in the New York Times and the Guardian are an indictment of the standards at those once respected publications. Their failure to discuss the contents of the Soon paper speaks volumes.


Congressional hearings?

According to the Daily Caller, Republicans in the US Congress seem set to announce hearings into the surface temperature records. This intelligence was based on a tweet from Dana Rohrabacher, the vice chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.



It seems fairly clear that the surface stations are a shambles. It is not so obvious that this has led to a material overstatement of warming. But I think we can say with some certainty that a congressional hearing is probably not going to get to the bottom of the scientific issues.


The only way is Essex

GWPF have posted a new climate talk, this time given by Christopher Essex. No time to look at it myself, but it's here for those who are interested.



Building up to Paris

No sooner do we learn of the BBC's Climate by Numbers, than climate change makes another appearance on the airwaves, this time Philomena Cunk's short slot in the Charlie Brooker show. Climate scientists on Twitter seem to like it. See what you think (from 25 mins).

I wonder if this is the start of the BBC's big push for Paris.



More numbers

Tamsin Edwards has posted some more details about the Climate by Numbers show at the start of next month. Of particular interest is the official blurb for the show:

In a special film for BBC Four, three mathematicians will explore three key statistics linked to climate change.

In Climate Change by Numbers, Dr Hannah Fry, Prof Norman Fenton and Prof David Spiegelhalter hone in on three numbers that lie at the heart of science’s current struggle to get a handle on the precise processes and impact of climate global climate change.

Prof Norman Fenton said: “My work on this programme has revealed the massive complexity of climate models and the novel challenges this poses for making statistical predictions from them.”

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Green shoots of decay

Having eschewed climate change and greenery to a large extent in recent years, the Edinburgh Science Festival has clearly found the lure of Paris too much for them and this year devotes a whole strand to energy and climate issues. Here's what they have to say about it.

We are merely the caretakers of our extraordinary planet; it does not belong to us but its future health depends directly on our current actions. Since the industrial revolution our demands for energy, largely from fossil fuels, have increased continuously, however our ideas about what is plentiful are now altering and we have to deal with the concept of changing our approach to energy while simultaneously dealing with the consequences of our past actions.

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Time to lose the labels

Hot on the heels of their paper on labels in the climate debate, Candace Howarth and Amelia Sharman have a piece up at the Conversation:

We need new ways of framing and talking about climate change. We need to remember that science “does not provide us with convenient yes/no answers” and being sceptical is part of the scientific process.

Removing these antagonistic labels from the debate could encourage all those engaged in this area to think of it less as a polarised debate and move towards a more nuanced and constructive discussion about specific issues of disagreement.

The current academic focus on categorising labels about climate change diverts attention away from much-needed research on underlying rationales. Scientists can play an important role in informing and legitimising new policies, therefore it is vital that climate researchers pay attention to their choices of language.

Well worth a read.


The benefits of public spending

In a bid to show how careful it is with taxpayer's cash, DECC has decided to launch a climate change photography competition.

Run by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the #BackClimateAction 2015 competition opens on Friday 20 February.

Entries must be entered on Instagram or via Twitter.

Organisers say they are seeking an image that ‘challenges us to re-imagine climate change in the most original and engaging way’, by addressing one or more of the following: What do you most want to protect? (this could be your own or your family’s health); What feeling does climate change provoke? (e.g. loss, challenge, change or action); and What can tackling climate change lead to? (this could include changing technology, new ways of living, or new energy sources).

Yes folks, you are working your fingers to the bone so that "civil" "servants" can spend their time looking at pretty snapshots.


Ecoterrorism in Canada

Updated on Feb 18, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Via GWPF, we learn that Canadian police are worried about violent extremists in the environmental movement:

The RCMP has labelled the “anti-petroleum” movement as a growing and violent threat to Canada’s security, raising fears among environmentalists that they face increased surveillance, and possibly worse, under the Harper government’s new terrorism legislation.

In highly charged language that reflects the government’s hostility toward environmental activists, an RCMP intelligence assessment warns that foreign-funded groups are bent on blocking oil sands expansion and pipeline construction, and that the extremists in the movement are willing to resort to violence.

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I am hearing on the grapevine that a senior IPCC official has been accused of sexual harassment and that a police investigation has been commenced. The official denies everything and has also issued a complaint to police, alleging a hacking attack.


Dealing with Davey

You have to pity the poor energy companies trying to deal with someone quite as erratic as Ed Davey. As he lurches from ridiculous policy measure to preposterous policy statement, people's livelihoods are trashed and trampled with the occupant of DECC apparently careless of what he is doing.

The Guardian has obtained a letter written by the head of Oil and Gas UK to Davey, essentially inquiring if he has thought through the implications of what he is doing and saying:

Webb wrote to Davey a few days later: “[Newspaper] articles reported you backing moves that would encourage investors to think about moving their money out of ‘risky’ fossil fuel assets, suggesting global emissions limits could make hydrocarbon reserves unburnable, therefore stranding assets and rendering them worthless.”

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Our consensus

The Register has a fascinating story regarding a complaint to the BBC about its coverage of a scientific issue. Could We Survive A Mega Tsunami? was:

dramatised the effects of a giant ocean wave ("starting at one kilometre high"), far greater than the tsunamis created by earthquakes, and illustrated by (in the BBC's own words) "Hollywood-style graphics". The film showed havoc being unleashed upon European and North American seaboards.

Unfortunately, the mega tsunami theory appears to be viewed as comical among geophysicists, and has apparently been comprehensively debunked in the scientific literature. This, you might have thought, would therefore be an open and shut case, since the BBC has repeatedly said that they must follow the scientific consensus. A backdown and apology is surely in order?

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