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Remember when Nature was a science journal?

Climate change: Climate justice more vital than democracy

Title of new paper published in Nature

I can still remember the days when Nature magazine was about science.


Top French weatherman suspended for forbidden views

France's top weatherman, Philippe Verdier has been suspended from work for publishing a book about climate change which suggests that the IPCC might be just a tad unreliable and more than a little politicised.

In his book, the author, who rejects the term "climate sceptic", notes "the many happy and positive consequences of global warming." It also highlights scientific uncertainty... [he] speaks of "manipulated science", "blinded media", "mercantile NGOs" and "religions in search of new creeds."

It will be Île du Diable for him then.


Anti-everything Joss the boss

Utility week is reporting that Joss Garman is going to move from the woolly-left IPPR to become head of policy for Lisa Nandy, the shadow energy and climate minister. Garman has come a long way since he organised mass-trespass and criminal damage at airports.

His stance on energy should provide everyone with plenty of entertainment. He is anti-nuclear, anti-coal and anti-gas, for example, leading one to wonder if Labour's policy on energy security is going to involve a great deal of finger-crossing.

He also has an eyebrow raising attitude to factual accuracy. Take for example this piece, about alleged risks of "explosions" under houses located near unconventional gas wells:


Cuadrilla pursues its foe

Shale gas pioneers Cuadrilla have complained to the Charities Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority about the behaviour of Friends of the Earth, whose campaign of lies and disinformation about unconventional gas has been a favourite topic at BH.

The boss of fracking firm Cuadrilla is calling on the Charity Commission to put a stop to the “wilfully misleading” and “scaremongering” claims in fundraising material pumped out by FoE.

The Advertising Standards Authority is also being asked to block the claims.

My money would be on a wholesale rejection of the complaints, no matter how valid they might be. Blind adherence to the green faith is so ingrained in most of our institutions that I don't look to them for the truth or for justice.


Royal Society: "Please give it up for the rogues"

In a move no doubt timed to coincide with the Paris climate conference, the Royal Society's Phil Trans A has decided to hand over a full issue to that pillar of scientific integrity Stefan Lewandowsky.

You can imagine the calibre of author that Lew has chosen to enlighten us. There's Naomi Oreskes. There's James Risbey of "let's just's make stuff up about climate sensitivity" fame. There's a guy from the Environmental Defense Fund. Quite the collection of rogues and an astonishing step for an allegedly scientific journal to take.

The willingness of academic institutions to stand behind wrongdoers is always a wonder to behold. Why do they do it?



Yeo sueshi

The BBC is reporting that Tim Yeo is going to sue the Sunday Times over its 2013 allegation that he was influence peddling for green companies.

I can't see this ending well.




Diary dates, megadeath edition

The Edinburgh Geological Society has a lecture on 25 November about ocean acidification.

At the boundary of the Permian and Triassic, ~252 million years ago, is the greatest mass extinction documented, where we estimate that more than 90% of Earth’s species died. The “PT” or 'Great Dying' hit marine species the hardest - killing off, for instance, the once ubiquitous trilobites.

Recent work has shown that ocean acidification triggered by Siberian Trap volcanism was a possible kill mechanism for this mass extinction. We present a high-resolution seawater pH record across this interval, using boron isotope data from the UAE combined with a quantitative modelling approach. In the latest Permian, increased ocean alkalinity primed the Earth system with a low level of atmospheric CO2 and a high ocean buffering capacity. The first phase of extinction was coincident with a slow injection of carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean pH remained stable. During the second extinction pulse, however, a rapid and large injection of carbon caused an abrupt acidification event that drove the preferential loss of heavily calcified marine biota.

As such, the extinction holds a cautionary lesson for today: because of CO2 released by burning fossil fuels, oceans could now be acidifying even faster than they did 250 million years ago, although the process hasn’t yet persisted nearly as long.

Details here.


Nursery Rimes - Josh 347

On the eve of the opening of the COP 21 in Paris, a new study published Oct. 12 in the journal Nature Climate Change by an international team of researchers based at KEDGE Business School, University of Leeds, University of Bonn and University of Rome demonstrates that Summaries for Policymakers produced since 1990 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are too difficult to read.

Read about it in Nature here.

Cartoons by Josh


Has the BBC banned all non-alarmist views?

Peter Lilley has just issued the following press release.


The BBC is undermining its reputation for impartiality by apologising for “giving a voice” to two MPs and by putting a ‘health warning’ on the BBC website casting doubt on their credibility – even though the accuracy of what they said is not disputed: says Peter Lilley MP in a letter to the Director General.  

He added: “It is particularly outrageous that the BBC should try to discredit the only two scientifically qualified MPs who served on the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee; absurd to suggest my views are “outside the scientific consensus” when I said on the programme that I accept the proven science of global warming though my views on the likely amount of warming are at the “lukewarm” end of the range given by the IPCC; thoroughly unscientific to claim the Met Office views are upheld by scientists when, on the matter under discussion, their predictions had been falsified; and discourteous to publish these insulting and untrue remarks without even informing me.”

The letter in full:

Click to read more ...


Justiciable climate?

Attempts by environmentalists to gain an advantage in the climate wars through the courts continue to attract the interest of commentators, particularly those on the sceptic side. Judith Curry has a review of some recent developments and Booker was discussing similar questions behind the Sunday Telegraph's paywall over the weekend.

I'm unsure about just how far the legal system is going to accept the kinds of cases that the greens are hoping for. It may well be that it depends on the particular jurisdiction. Philippe Sands reckons that because international courts involved themselves in the question of whether the Japanese whaling programme was scientific, they can (and should) involve themselves in questions of climate change. This seems an almost preposterously weak argument for a senior lawyer to make. Whether some activity is scientific or not is a question of categorisation - quite different to questions such as "What is the value of climate sensitivity?"

Click to read more ...


Is good news actually news at all?

Over the weekend there was a minor kerfuffle when the Sunday Times' Jonathan Leake breached the embargo on a press release about the latest GWPF report. Ho hum.

The report itself is by Indur Goklany and is about the benefits of higher carbon dioxide levels - increased crop yields and a general greening of the planet being the principal ones. Richard Betts has been taking a look and has come up with some interesting and some not so interesting points.

For example, he reckons that Goklany is inconsistent, accepting climate model predictions of a reduced threat from water shortages but pointing to the failures of climate models in general. This doesn't seem an unreasonable point to make, although neither do I think it unreasonable of Goklany to point out that even the models, flawed though they may be, are predicting benefits from global warming.

Richard also notes that the IPCC discusses carbon dioxide fertilisation in its reports and reckons Goklany's contribution is therefore not newsworthy.



This is true, but I'm not sure that represents a criticism of Goklany's report. I'm struggling to recall an occasion on which the IPCC has proclaimed the benefits of higher carbon dioxide levels to the general public, so the new report represents a valuable contribution to the public debate, filling in the bits the IPCC didn't want to discuss in public.

I hope Richard welcomes the public gaining a deeper understanding of climate science, both the bad news and the good news.


Guenier on Sands

Those following the recent developments on the "law and climate" front will be interested in the article at Paul Matthews' site from Robin Guenier.


The perils of delegation

As a follow up to the last posting, consider this excerpt from the Guardian article by Client Earth director James Thornton (pictured above on a long-haul holiday):

The most obvious liabilities for companies and their directors relate to physical loss or damage. The residents of Tuvalu in the Pacific and Kivalina in Alaska, whose homes are disappearing beneath rising waters, have both threatened challenges against polluters.

Follow the Tuvalu link to its source and you find a national Geographic Article entitled:

Will Pacific Island Nations Disappear as Seas Rise? Maybe Not

and which contains this:

Some islands grew by as much as 14 acres (5.6 hectares) in a single decade, and Tuvalu's main atoll, Funafuti—33 islands distributed around the rim of a large lagoon—has gained 75 acres (32 hectares) of land during the past 115 years.

I wonder if Mr Thornton wrote the article himself?


Zac paying greens to sue city bigwigs

A group called Client Earth is threatening to sue big UK businesses for not doing as greens tell them on the climate change front.

The Companies Act 2006 codifies directors’ duties in law for the first time. They must “promote the success of the company”, first by considering “the likely consequences of any decision in the long term”. Failing to plan for climate change is incompatible with this and other duties and leaves directors open to legal challenge.

The case for climate litigation against reckless directors grows ever stronger. Increased regulation, changing market dynamics and heightened risk to physical assets means maintaining the status quo is no longer an option for those keen to protect their finances and reputation.

We at ClientEarth are closely monitoring the activities of FTSE 250 companies. We will pursue those directors who fail to protect their investors from the challenge that climate change presents. Those intent on following a business-as-usual model, be warned: the “usual” has changed.

Even Guardian readers seem unimpressed.

So who is behind Client Earth? A list of their funders is quite interesting, including the City of London Corporation Charity and...wait for it...the personal charity of Zac and Ben Goldsmith. Yes that's right folks, the aspirant mayor of London is paying greens to sue the companies that bring the wealth to the city.

It's an interesting tactic.


A gallery of rogues, spivs and wideboys

There's an article at the Guardian today that really takes one aback. Taking into account the author, the author of the underlying report, and those it quotes, it's quite a gallery of rogues.

Guardian energy editor Terry Macalister writes that wind energy is now the cheapest technology for electricity generation in the UK. Yes, folks this is the Great Levelised Cost Lie in action again. Here's how Macalister explains it:

The numbers drawn up by Bloomberg are a “levelised cost of energy” (LCOE) which takes into account financing, intermittency and other issues, so that different technologies can be fairly compared. However LCOE does not account for the cost of managing intermittent power in the national grid electricity system.

Everybody, but everybody in the energy policy debate knows that levelised costs are grossly misleading because the cost is only one half of the equation. The value of the output matters just as much, and the value of intermittent renewables is only a fraction of the value of dispatchable technologies. So when Macalister - or Doug Parr of Greenpeace, or Seb Henbest of BNEF - tell you that LCOE is a way to "fairly" compare different technologies it's not true. And when they tell you that wind is "fully competitive" with other technologies it's not true either.

They are behaving like the worst kind of city spiv, the most shameful dealer in dodgy share schemes.

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