Yesterday's posts seemed to generate quite a lot of heat, with several commenters reading rather more into them than they should. The object was not to blame climatologists for the actions that their climate models are used to justify, but to ask them what they thought about those actions. I had hoped that we might get some condemnation of the attempts to prevent Africans getting access to fossil fuels, but there was nothing along these lines.
As an aside, I should point out that it is my understanding that these attempts span more than just coal - it's the whole range of fossil fuels that politicians are now seeking to sideline, as this paper makes clear.
...under US Senate Bill S.329 (2013) the Overseas Private Investment Corporation – a federal agency responsible for backstopping U.S. companies which invest in developing countries – is essentially prohibited from investing in energy projects that involve fossil fuels...
With Alan Rusbridger's divestment campaign being relentlessly hammered in the Guardian, it's no surprise to see Roger Harrabin answering the call to arms with an article at the BBC on the same subject. It's quite funny in parts:
Are we approaching the twilight of the fossil fuel era? A few years ago that question would have seemed absurd. But a combination of forces is squeezing carbon assets like never before.
The oil price remains stubbornly low.
And of course we can't burn the fossil fuels, blah blah.
The oil price is of course low because of a surge in production. I'm struggling to see oversupply of a commodity as the herald of its downfall. Readers should also rest assured that the consequences of divestment for the Third World are not addressed. For the BBC and the Guardian and their fellow travellers it is morally wrong to consider such unpleasantness.
In Nature, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger is calling on scientists to put pressure on organisations like the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuels. Now I'm not sure about the idea of scientists taking up the activist cudgels in this way, but I'm certainly interested in the views of climate scientists on the moral dilemmas involved. A month or so ago I asked climate scientists a very similar question on Twitter.
Climate scientist followers: what is your response to people who seek to deny third world access to fossil fuels because of AGW?— Bishop Hill (@aDissentient) March 15, 2015
A survey by the website Travelzoo has revealed that greens really do go by air, and bigtime.
Green Party supporters are the most likely to book a long-haul holiday, new research has shown.
As well as being the most likely to jet off to distant shores, Greens are more likely to book a hire car rather than take a taxi. They were also the most likely to pinch the hotel toiletries.
This was reported at the Telegraph, where you can see the full results. Hat tip to John Ferris.
In what looks to be one of the silliest climate papers known to man, researchers at the University of St Andrews are claiming that the 0.1°C warming in ocean temperatures that is alleged to have been caused by human activity has caused whales to migrate one month earlier than they did 30 years ago.
A long-term study conducted between 1984 and 2010, now published in scientific journal PLoS-ONE, has documented for the first time how whales have adapted to increases in sea surface temperature over recent decades.
The research, conducted with Canadian research body the Mingan Island Cetacean Study, has found that over the 27-year period the whales arrived at feeding grounds on average one day earlier each year, suggesting a remarkable ability to react to small fluctuations in sea temperature.
Remarkable indeed. But not so remarkable as the idea that anyone would take this nonsense seriously.
Sometimes you find support for your position in the most unlikely places. In the New York Times, Eduardo Porter has been looking at the "Eco-modernist Manifesto", a document produced by a group of (mainly) academics including several from the Breakthrough Institute and Mark Lynas as well.
Here's the introduction to the manifesto.
To say that the Earth is a human planet becomes truer every day. Humans are made from the Earth, and the Earth is remade by human hands. Many earth scientists express this by stating that the Earth has entered a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans.
As scholars, scientists, campaigners, and citizens, we write with the conviction that knowledge and technology, applied with wisdom, might allow for a good, or even great, Anthropocene. A good Anthropocene demands that humans use their growing social, economic, and technological powers to make life better for people, stabilize the climate, and protect the natural world.
In this, we affirm one long-standing environmental ideal, that humanity must shrink its impacts on the environment to make more room for nature, while we reject another, that human societies must harmonize with nature to avoid economic and ecological collapse.
Remarkably, Porter seems to accept these views and even suggest that depriving destitute Africans of the benefits of fossil fuels is not actually a good thing to do.
Not that the Conservative manifesto is much better. Here are some excerpts. First up is a proposal to put a non-endangered species on the endangered species list:
We will press for full ‘endangered species’ status for polar bears and a ban on the international trade in polar bear skins, as well as for greater attention to be paid to the impact of climate change on wildlife and habitats in Polar Regions in the Arctic Council and other international fora.
Then there is a case of highlighting "things we have done nothing to change":
Many people of my generation lament the state of British comedy, so it's nice to have the Green Party to restore faith in our ability to raise a laugh. The party's manifesto, released today, must rank as one of the funniest things I've seen since Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Opening with the observation that there is a big problem with fuel poverty, Ms Bennett announces that the problem must be addressed by a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. That's by 2030. With full conversion to a zero-carbon economy by 2050. Oh yes, and this is going to be achieved through better energy efficiency, a massive investment in renewables, phasing out nuclear and coal and a ban on domestic production of gas from unconventional sources. Simples.
Stephen Tindale, the former head of Greenpeace UK, has a post up at the RTCC website. Tindale has come to the attention of this blog before, you may recall, because of his newfound level-headedness on environmental issues now that he is no longer trying to keep a big green scaremongering machine solvent.
In today's post he is speaking in similar vein, taking environmental campaigners to task for their lack of pragmatism. This is welcome, of course, although unfortunately his idea of pragmatism seems somewhat different to mine. So while he takes his fellow greens to task for their visceral anticapitalism and their on-off hatred for technological advancement, he seems remarkably keen on carbon capture and storage, an idea that could best be described as "rather far-fetched". His suggestion that renewables are the best source of energy is similarly preposterous.
A headline at lefty smear site DeSmog:
Two funders of Lord Lawson's climate denial charity linked to energy industry.
The funders concerned are Lord Cavendish and Bryan Bateman. Their energy industry links are detailed later in the article. Lord Cavendish:
...recalls being the first person in Britain to build wind farms.
while Bateman is
a former engineer working on nuclear power stations.
So those links are to the low-carbon energy industry then.
A fascinating speech by New Zealand chemist Nicola Gaston on the subject of scientists relationship to the public reveals someone who is thinking deeply about the trials and tribulations of publically funded scientists and the role that power plays. I don't think she is quite there, but this certainly represents a step forward.
Gaston notes firstly that politicians have power over scientists in a way that often prevents the latter from speaking freely, but then moves on to consider the power that scientists have over the public:
[T]he use of expertise — or rather, the misuse of academic status as a proxy for expertise on a particular question of public interest, is an exercise of power. The exercise of such power is at its most blatant when it happens along the lines of ‘trust me, I’m a scientist’ and at its most useful when the scientist involved is willing to explain the science. But there is always a power dynamic in any form of science communication, and understanding that has to be a prerequisite to doing it well.
This is a guest post by David Holland
At 10 am On Friday 17 April, in Northampton, I have the dubious pleasure of squaring up for the second time against the Met Office over Zero Order Drafts of an IPCC Assessment Report. I am no Perry Mason and the hearing was not my idea, so I am not recommending that anyone turn up for a stellar performance from me. But if anyone in the area is contemplating an appeal of an FOI decision, it is an opportunity to see an oral hearing.
As you may know at the first oral contest with the Met Office, over the seven AR5 ZODs that had not been leaked, I lost.