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Entries by Bishop Hill (6690)

Friday
May132016

How low can ECS go?

A new paper in a journal called Earth and Space Science says that effective climate sensititivity could be as low as 1°C. Here's the abstract.
Estimates of 2xCO2 equilibrium climate sensitivity (EqCS) derive from running global climate models (GCMs) to equilibrium. Estimates of effective climate sensitivity (EfCS) are the corresponding quantities obtained using transient GCM output or observations. The EfCS approach uses an accompanying energy balance model (EBM), the zero-dimensional model (ZDM) being standard. GCM values of EqCS and EfCS vary widely [IPCC range: (1.5, 4.5)°C] and have failed to converge over the past 35 years. Recently, attempts have been made to refine the EfCS approach by using two-zone (tropical/extratropical) EBMs. When applied using satellite radiation data, these give low and tightly-constrained EfCS values, in the neighbourhood of 1°C. These low observational EfCS/two-zone EBM values have been questioned because (a) they disagree with higher observational EfCS/ZDM values, and (b) the EfCS/two-zone EBM values given by GCMs are poorly correlated with the standard GCM sensitivity estimates. The validity of the low observational EfCS/two-zone EBM values is here explored, with focus on the limitations of the observational EfCS/ZDM approach, the disagreement between the GCM and observational radiative responses to surface temperature perturbations in the tropics, and on the modified EfCS values provided by an extended twozone EBM that includes an explicit parameterization of dynamical heat transport. The results support the low observational EfCS/two-zone EBM values, indicating that objections (a) and (b) to these values both need to be reconsidered. It is shown that in the EBM with explicit dynamical heat transport the traditional formulism of climate feedbacks can break down because of lack of additivity.

Predictably, our scientivist friends don't like it, but it's interesting to see that there are still a few hardy souls who are willing to say what they think.

Wednesday
May112016

Drought links

In the aftermath of my GWPF paper on drought the other day, ECIU has published a piece on the same subject. Entitled "Syria and climate change - did the media get it right?" it looks at the execrable Kelley et al paper that I have been so critical of over the last year or so. The author, Alex Randall, describes the paper as "measured and robust", which is a surprising thing to say about research that blamed a long-term, but slight decline in rainfall in Iran for social unrest in Syria, but as someone once said "Hey, it's climate science". 

His case is that the media have been misleading the public, hyping Kelley's paper and creating illusory links to the unrest. No doubt he is thinking of people like the ECIU.

In a companion piece, Randall claims that

 the media reporting and the Kelley paper were also broadly consistent with research exploring the impacts of drought on migration and displacement across the world. Specifically, there is strong evidence linking climate change impacts such as drought with patterns of rural to urban migration.

But if you read his links you find only support for the hypothesis that drought causes migration. With no evidence that climate change causes droughts to become more intense or more prevalent, our green friends are left to insert the word "climate change" whereever they can, and to hope that nobody notices what they are up to.

Friday
Apr292016

More climatologists for the Royal Society

The Royal Society has announced the latest cohort to be elevated to the fellowship. As always, the climatologists are prominent: with Ted Shepherd and Corinne Le Quere getting the nod. Adair Turner seems to have wheedled an honorary fellowship for himself as well. 

Friday
Apr292016

The liberal society and its publicly funded enemies

In my absence, readers will no doubt have been aware of the attempt by several noble peers of the realm to silence dissenting voices on climate change. Headed by Lord Krebs, they wrote to a letter to the Times with the normal mealy-mouthed line of "we are in favour of free speech but you shouldn't publish people who disagree with us".

Today, the Times publishes another letter from Lord Krebs:

 

Sir, Matt Ridley (”Climate change lobby wants to kill free speech”, Opinion, Apr 25) misses the point of the personal letter to the Editor of The Times that we signed with 11 other peers. The letter was not an attack on free speech and we clearly stated that a free press is essential for a healthy democracy.
Our point is that misleading stories on the science of climate change undermine the credibility of The Times. We expressed particular concern that the views of the Global Warming Policy Foundation appear to be unduly influential. That it was an adviser to GWPF who criticised us in your pages adds to our concern. 
The letter was discussed with several people, including the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, but it was from the 13 peers and not from anyone else. 
The admission of the involvement of the ECIU in the letter really does stink. Krebs is the chairman of the Adaptation Subcommittee of the Commmittee on Climate Change, and is therefore a paid government adviser. Lord Krebs and his gang of environmentalist chums are therefore doing their anti-liberal-society dirty work on the public payroll.
It seems to me that his position is entirely untenable. Amber Rudd should sack him.

 

Thursday
Apr282016

Diary dates: Dundee edition

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE

Art exhibition poses questions on the issue of fracking

Photo opportunity: 5:15pm Thursday April 21st. Centrespace Gallery, Dundee Contemporary Arts.

University of Dundee’s Centrespace Gallery will be home to a new contemporary art exhibition, honing in on the contested operation of fracking.

‘When The Future Was About Fracking’ opens tomorrow and is an immersive installation by Paris-based artists’ group HeHe. It depicts a doomed landscape after extensive hydraulic fracking. They will use the space to display leaky hissing ghostly wellheads. This will also mark HeHe’s first ever exhibition in Scotland.

The exhibition has been curated by internationally renowned Rob La Frenais, in collaboration with Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone, College of Art and Design andthe University of St Andrews research fellow Mette High.

Organiser Mette High said, “I am an anthropologist who does oil field research. I wanted to bring some of the concerns from the US oil fields right here, to Dundee and to Scotland. Art is an amazing medium for getting people to reflect and I was inspired by that potential.

“I really hope lots of people will pop by the Centrespace Gallery. It is an ambitious, provocative installation that does not seek to tell people what they should think. It has been crucial for both the artists and myself that this installation lets people make up their own minds. It isn’t our job to tell people what they should think, but it is our job to create environments in which such reflection can happen.”

The exhibition runs until May 18th and is open Monday to Saturday 12-4pm.

There will also be a preview evening will be held on Thursday, 21th April from 5.30-7.30pm when curator Rob La Frenais will give a tour at 6pm.

The installation has been funded by Creative Scotland and the British Academy.

More information here.

Monday
Apr252016

Parched earth policy

I'm back - after a fashion. I may get back to blogging more regularly in coming days if I can find something to say. Today though, I have a new paper out for GWPF. This is a companion piece to my earlier briefing on precipitation and floods. This one is on drought, heatwaves and conflict. Here's the headline message.

Droughts are not getting worse and they are not causing wars

Claims that droughts are getting worse are not supported in the scientific literature. This is true for both on a global level and for the UK, where historical records indicate much longer and more severe droughts occurred long before human carbon dioxide emissions became significant.

Moreover, claims that “climate change” was behind the conflicts in Darfur and Syria are shown to be based on highly partisan scientific studies that ignore a host of conflicting evidence.

Of course readers here know that papers like the "Drought caused the Syria crisis" one are bunk - I could have written lots more if I'd included all the stuff that has been debunked on the blogs. But there's enough in the peer reviewed literature to kill off this set of disinformation from our green friends.

The briefing is here.

Monday
Apr112016

The slow, green way to recycle

The news that a vast, shiny, new state of the art recycling centre in Lancashire is to be mothballed after incurring "catastrophic losses" will not come as much of a surprise to anyone who keeps an eye on the green scene. A moment's thought by anyone with more than a couple of braincells to rub together leads to the inevitable conclusion that expending vast resources - energy, labour, capital, chemicals and the like - to turn low value items into even lower value items is not much of an economic proposition. With councils increasingly cash-strapped, it is becoming ever harder to sustain the illusion that recycling is anything other than virtue-signalling from middle-class poseurs.

Perhaps landfill needs to have its brand detoxified. Rather than wasting all those precious resources on collecting refuse to turn it into heaven knows what, let's use the power of Mother Nature to break down and recycle what can be broken down, leaving what is inert to cause no trouble to anyone. Yes, it will be slower than what passes for recycling now, but aren't greens in favour of using slower, more natural approaches whenever they can?

"Landfill: the slow, green way to recycle".

 

Friday
Apr082016

The Bob-bot strikes again

 

At the end of last year, Bob Ward had this to say about a new paper on climate sensitivity:

 

 

In fact, far from being ignored by the sceptic community, the paper in question, by Marvel et al., turned out to be something of a car-crash and was the source of steady stream of more-or-less amused blog posts in the months that followed.

This morning I couldn't help but wonder if someone has replaced Bob with a bot, preprogrammed to issue identical tweets in the response to any new paper on climate sensitivity:

 

 

The paper, by Tan et al., looks as though it's a GCM-with-observational-constraints effort. 

Global climate model (GCM) estimates of the equilibrium global mean surface temperature response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2, measured by the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), range from 2.0° to 4.6°C. Clouds are among the leading causes of this uncertainty. Here we show that the ECS can be up to 1.3°C higher in simulations where mixed-phase clouds consisting of ice crystals and supercooled liquid droplets are constrained by global satellite observations. The higher ECS estimates are directly linked to a weakened cloud-phase feedback arising from a decreased cloud glaciation rate in a warmer climate. We point out the need for realistic representations of the supercooled liquid fraction in mixed-phase clouds in GCMs, given the sensitivity of the ECS to the cloud-phase feedback.

I can't imagine quite how large the gap between a 5.7°C-ECS climate simulation and the historical temperature record is going to be. I wonder what fairy story will be conjured up to explain that away.

Wednesday
Mar302016

Jolly green giants toppled

Two of the headlines on Greenpeace's daily news review stuck out at me this morning.

Coal: Nearly $1 trillion could be wasted on unneeded plants

Renewables: SunEdison on brink of bankruptcy, Abengoa files

The companies named in the second headline are two of the largest players in the renewables field, so it's pretty big news that they are on the brink of exctinction, despite all the millions in taxpayers' money that has been poured into them by wise and noble politicians.

Who knows, perhaps there might be room in the marketplace for coal-fired power stations after all.

Tuesday
Mar292016

Sea ice holds firm

This morning's story appears to be the hoary old "Arctic sea ice in freefall" one.

The Arctic is in crisis. Year by year, it’s slipping into a new state, and it’s hard to see how that won’t have an effect on weather throughout the Northern Hemisphere,” said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the Colorado-based NSIDC.

As usual on these occasions, I take a quick look at the Cryosphere Today anomaly page, where I find the sea ice apparently still stuck firmly in "pause" mode.

Friday
Mar252016

Some oddities in HadSST

Reader John McLean emails with details of some surprising finds he has made in the Hadley Centre's sea-surface temperature record, HadSST. John is wondering whether others might like to take a look and confirm what he is seeing. Here's what he has found:

1 - Files HadSST3-nh.dat and HadSST3-sh.dat are the wrong way around.

About 35% down web page https://crudata.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/ there's a section for HadSST3. Click on the 'NH' label and you go to https://crudata.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/HadSST3-nh.dat, which has 'nh' in the file name.  But based on the complete gridded dataset that data file is for the Southern Hemisphere, not the Northern.  The two sets are swapped.  The links to named files are correct but the content of those files is wrong, likely due to errors in the program that created these summary files from the  SST3 gridded data.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar252016

BBC turns a blind eye

Do you remember when the Today programme had Jeremy Leggett on and described him as a renewable energy expert, accidentally failing to mention that he is the boss of a big solar energy company?

They did it again the other day, when they had Ed Davey on to talk about the new EDF nuclear power plant at Hinckley Point. He was introduced as a former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, but BBC journalists strangely failed to have mentioned that Davey  now works for a PR firm that includes EDF among its clients. 

Ben Pile sent a complaint to the BBC:

Ed Davey was interviewed on the Today programme this morning. He was introduced as a former SoS for Energy and Climate Change, and was asked to defend the economics of the planned EDF nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, which he was responsible for arranging while in office. The deal between the government and EDF is extraordinary on any analysis, and the project has consequently been called 'the most expensive power station in the world'. Your interviewer rightly brought up the fact of this expense being a burden that the bill payer and tax payer would have to shoulder for decades to come.

However, since being removed from office by the voting public, Davey has taken a position at MHP Communications -- EDF's PR firm -- as was revealed by The Times. Davey was given the opportunity to speak to your listeners to defend the deal he was responsible for, and his function as an interested party in EDF's business was not brought up in the discussion.

While it is conceivable that Davey's role at EDF's PR and public affairs firm is a coincidence, I believe the fact that Davey is engaged by the company which is in turn engaged by EDF to defend the very project Davey negotiated -- seemingly on the public's behalf -- would be of interest to most listeners, and would influence their understanding of the discussion on the programme. Davey now being a position to benefit financially from the decisions he made in office, one could reasonably argue that Davey's recent appointment may have been a reward for the deal that he secured for the benefit of EDF, at the public's expense. I believe therefore that the Today programme failed to introduce Davey properly, as an interested party, and has let the audience down.

The response from the BBC was rather extraordinary, even by their normal dismal standards:

From: bbc_complaints_website@bbc.co.uk <bbc_complaints_website@bbc.co.uk>
Date: 24 March 2016 at 13:26
Subject: BBC Complaints - Case number CAS-3742272-YHTBLK
To: Ben Pile 

Dear Mr Pile

Thanks for getting in touch. Apologies for the delay in replying. We do very much regret that we've not been able to get back to you as quickly as we, and you, would have liked.  We raised your concerns about the Ed Davey interview with the Today programme. They explained that the programme was aware that Sir Ed Davey is an employee of MHP but it took note of the agreement he reached with the Government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments which agreed that “…he would not have any involvement with EDF whatsoever in relation to their generating business prior to the announcement of a final investment decision in relation to Hinkley Point C.”

This deals with any issues of a potential conflict of interest in relation to MHP’s contract with EDF. It also means that questions about Sir Edward’s record regarding the commissioning process, for which he was responsible as the then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, could be considered on the basis of his record in office not his current employment.

Accordingly, the programme did not refer to his employment with MHP.

Thanks for going to the trouble to let us know your thoughts on this. Your comments have been sent to the right people.

Kind regards

Lucia Fortucci

It's hard to avoid the impression that the BBC is giving its blessing to the revolving-door between politics and big business. It's very much part of the problem.

Thursday
Mar242016

The silence of the wells

Readers will recall my amusement at the antics of the anti-fracking fraternity at the Cuadrilla shale gas inquiry in Lancashire, who had found a tame noise consultant who was willing to testify that the sounds emitted by a shale gas operation, which were expected to reach the levels of the dawn chorus at times, would be wholly unacceptable.

Given that Cuadrilla have already drilled and fracked a well at Preese Hall in Lancashire, this begged the question of how residents in that area had coped. Backing Fracking, the pro-shale group, has gently inquired of Lancashire County Council to see what complaints had been received by council noise abatement officers and they have now had a response.

Press release: for immediate release

Legal officer confirms that earlier drilling and fracking on the Fylde didn’t result in a single nuisance complaint. 

A request for information made to Fylde Borough Council has revealed that during the construction, drilling and fracking carried out previously by Cuadrilla Resources at sites in Weeton, Singleton and Westby, the local council didn’t receive a single complaint about noise nuisance from nearby residents.

When asked for clarification, and whether or not the council had received any complaints about other sources of potential nuisance such as odour, dust, traffic or light pollution, Fylde Borough Council’s legal officer replied saying that the responsible environmental health officer had received no complaints at all.

The request for information was made by campaigners at Backing Fracking, who support shale gas exploration in Lancashire and elsewhere in the UK, after hearing testimony from local opponents at the recent six-week long public inquiry in Blackpool saying that noise had been a problem before and would be again.

The inquiry was established to consider Cuadrilla’s appeals against the refusal of planning permission for two temporary shale gas sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, and heard from a number of local people expressing views both for and against fracking.

Chris Evans, from Backing Fracking, says the lack of complaints is a real eye opener.

“The fact that the council didn’t receive a single public complaint about noise or other potential sources of nuisance when Cuadrilla was operating at its earlier three sites on the Fylde, just goes to show how unobtrusive and tolerable those activities must have been at the time.

“I think what’s happening now is that some opponents are unfairly using the threat of noise and sleep disturbance to influence residents into objecting to shale gas exploration. Without any current frame of reference, those residents are understandably going to be worried about what it will be like, but all they need to do is look to past experience which tells us it wasn’t as bad as it is now being claimed.”

The group also obtained copies of the planning permissions relating to Cuadrilla’s earlier sites, and found that they each imposed a planning condition limiting night time noise to a maximum of 42 decibels. During the public inquiry, representatives for Lancashire County Council and local opponents argued that 42 dB limit was insufficient to provide protection from noise nuisance.

“Faced with this evidence of a previous precedent, you have to ask why it is that Lancashire County Council and others would now try to argue that 42 dB is too high a limit, especially in light of the fact that nearby residents were undisturbed by it. What’s different now that wasn’t a problem back then in virtually identical rural settings?

“The fact that there were no complaints to Fylde Borough Council in the past means it really does look like the opponents are deliberately scaremongering in order to stop shale gas at any cost, which would not only mean we could lose out on the potential economic benefits but would lock us into coal and higher CO2 gas imports for longer,” concludes Chris. 

Tuesday
Mar222016

Oh no! It's DECC!

 

In Parliament yesterday, energy minister Greg Hands explained that DECC is organising a modular nuclear reactor competition for the UK.

Following the announcement made at the Budget, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) launched the first phase of a competition to identify the best value small modular reactor for the UK on the 17th March. This development builds on a previous announcement, made at Autumn Statement 2015, that DECC would conduct this competition to help pave the way towards building one of the world’s first small modular reactors in the UK.

Surely one of the most important advantages of small modular nuclear reactors is that you can have competition among many suppliers. Different niches, including "best value", can be found from the bottom up.

Why would we want a top-down process to find the best value modular reactor? And surely DECC are the last people on earth who you would want running it?

Monday
Mar212016

Game just changed again

It’s an absolute game-changer

The citation on the award of a Danish design prize to the Tesla powerwall battery in 2015

Tesla has quietly removed all references to its 10-kilowatt-hour residential battery from the Powerwall website, as well as the company’s press kit. The company's smaller battery designed for daily cycling is all that remains.

Recent news report