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Thursday
Oct302014

McLean on clouds

John McLean, Professor of Physics at James Cook University in Australia, emails with details of a paper he has just had published in Atmospheric and Climate Sciences about the warming of the planet at the end of the last century. He adds a useful layman's summary.

The paper ...

- indicates that the temperature pattern can be attributed to a sequence of events, namely a shift in the prevailing ENSO conditions, then a reduction in total cloud cover and then a shift on cloud (decrease in low level cloud that was largely offset by an increase in mid and upper level cloud)

- uses the Trenberth, Fasulo & Kiehl energy balance diagram to show that the loss in total cloud cover caused an increase in heat energy being absorbed at the Earth's surface that was greater than the increase that IPCC 5AR claims was due to greenhouse gases

- indicates that greenhouse gases played little if any part in the warming, which not only refutes the IPCC's belief or opinion but also means that there is negligible, or even no, 16 or more years' of "missing heat" to be found.

- shows the changes in cloud cover and temperature both as global averages and then for the six latitude bands each of 30 degrees, the latter indicating the changes in cloud cover applied to most latitude bands except the Antarctic and to a less extent 30S-60S.

- doesn't attempt to identify the reason for the reduction in total cloud cover or the shift from low level cloud.

The paper is open access and can be seen here.

Wednesday
Oct292014

Snail's pace - Josh 298

As Richard Betts notes here "I see the '2 degree limit' as rather like a speed limit on a road". And which is also quite an apt metaphor for the pause in global temperatures - slower than a not very extinct snail.

Click image for larger version

Cartoons by Josh

Wednesday
Oct292014

Richard B on the two-degree

A reader points me to this long tweet from Richard Betts, which I missed while I was away last week. It's certainly worth of reposting:

I see the '2 degree limit' as rather like a speed limit on a road - both are set by policymakers on the basis of a number of considerations.

On the roads, the main issues are safety, fuel economy and journey time. Regarding safety, driving at 5mph under the speed limit does not automatically make the journey 'safe', and exceeding the limit by 5mph does not automatically make it 'dangerous'. Clearly, all other rings being equal, the faster one travels the greater the danger from an accident - but you also want to go fast enough to get to your destination in a reasonable time. The level of danger at any particular speed depends on many factors, such as the nature of the particular road, the condition of the car and the skill of the driver. It would be too complicated and unworkable to set individual speed limits for individual circumstances taking into account all these factors, so clear and simple general speed limits are set using judgement and experience to try to get an overall balance between advantages and disadvantages of higher speeds for the community of road users as a whole. Basically, a simple limit is practical and workable.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct292014

Newsnight does Antarctic sea ice

I can barely keep up with all the climate and energy stuff on the airwaves in the last couple of days. Last night Matt Ridley and Tamsin Edwards were on Newsnight discussing the enigma of the increasing Antarctic sea ice. This was preceded by a review of recent theories about the science presented by Helen Czerski, which was pretty good really, and in particular touched on what I consider to be the key point: that if the models fail to predict changes in the ice then there is something missing in the models. This Eureka moment was then closely followed by Evan Davis noting that global warming is "all about the models".

Perhaps we are getting somewhere.

Video here, from 34:00.

Wednesday
Oct292014

Maria McCaffrey on Radio 5

One more excerpt from yesterday's flurry of news pieces about renewables. This time it's Maria McCaffery of Renewable UK, who is someone whose public utterances generally have to be taken with a considerable pinch of salt.

It's no different this time.

Drive Power Cuts

Tuesday
Oct282014

Dieter Helm on energy policy

Dieter Helm's appearance before the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee today was pretty special, I gather. From his opening remarks - he said that it's a pretty amazing state of affairs that we are even discussing the possibility of power cuts and that we are failing on each of security, price and decarbonisation - that's certainly true. 

Video below or direct link here. Helm starts at 11:39.

Tuesday
Oct282014

Numbskull or nefarious?

Still on the subject of the National Grid report, Nicky Campbell on Radio Five Live interviewed Jeremy Nicholson of the Energy Intensive Users Group and Sally Uren, the CEO of Forum for the Future. This was a remarkable segment in more than one way.

The thing that has struck commenters here at BH was something Ms Uren said about the reliability of renewables. Accepting that the wind sometimes doesn't blow and the sun sometimes doesn't shine, she said:

...that's not a worry when we're thinking about security of supply from renewables because we have these things called "storage units" and so we have this grid that allows us to store energy and deal with peaks and troughs in demand and so this notion that when the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing so does our energy, it's just not true.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct282014

Wheels coming off

As if we needed a reminder, it seems that National Grid have confirmed what we at BH have been saying for a while now, namely that the UK is facing an energy crisis this winter. As Emily Gosden reports in the Telegraph:

Britain's spare power capacity will fall this winter to a seven-year low, forcing emergency measures to prevent blackouts, a report on Tuesday is expected to say.

A series of power plant breakdowns and closures in recent months have eroded the safety buffer between maximum supply and peak demand, the report from National Grid is likely to show.

I gather that ministers have been grilled on the subject on the Today programme this morning and I'll try to post some audio when this becomes available.

Today on power cuts

Monday
Oct272014

Lew fan gong

Reality sometimes has the extraordinary ability to outdo even the most ludicrous works of fiction and the award of this year's Maddox Prize is certainly a case in point. The prize is awarded by Sense About Science for 'courage in promoting science and evidence on a matter of public interest' and this year the judges have picked an Oxford academic and Guardian columnist called David Grimes. Here is an example of his heroic work:

A series of investigations published last year by Prof Stephan Lewandowsky and his colleagues – including one with the fantastic title, Nasa Faked the Moon Landing – Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science – found that while subjects subscribing to conspiracist thought tended to reject all scientific propositions they encountered, those with strong traits of conservatism or pronounced free-market world views only tended to reject scientific findings with regulatory implications.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct272014

All the talents

Elizabeth Truss's performance on the Sunday Politics yesterday certainly caught the eye as an indication of the extraordinary levels of numptiness within the government, but it may be that another government minister has managed to go one better.

...Viscount Ridley, a Conservative peer and critic of government efforts to stop temperature rises, questioned [DECC minister Baroness Verma] on when warming would start again.

He told peers at question time in the House of Lords: 'The fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change has confirmed in the same words that there has been a hiatus in global warming for at least the last 15 years.'

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct272014

Global swarming - Josh 297

Since the polar bear has been become something of a sceptic mascot, there's been a search for another cuddly animal to carry the Catastrophic Anthropogenic torch: cue the walrus. Sadly for alarmists it has not quite worked out.

Cartoons by Josh

Monday
Oct272014

A steady trickle

There is a steady trickle of articles coming through about the absurdity of energy and climate change policy in the UK. Take a look at this from the FT:

Although not a total consensus, the 2008 policy was grounded on the broad acceptance of four cornerstone propositions, which over time have turned to dust. These core beliefs were:

* fossil fuel prices would rise inexorably as global demand exceeded supply;

* Europe could gain a material competitive advantage by being the first major region in the world to develop a low-carbon economy based on renewables;

* a gradually rising carbon price would increase the cost of externalities including air pollution and climate change, until renewables became fully competitive;

* the negative effects of higher energy costs on competitiveness would be mitigated by a global deal with all the world’s major economies making progress towards the common goal of reducing emissions.

The inconvenient truth is that none of these beliefs have proved to be true.

Could it be that word is finally going to get round that all this greenery is a liability at the ballot box?

Monday
Oct272014

Wind is not working

The Scientific Alliance and the Adam Smith Institute have a joint report out on windfarms. Martin Livermore, the head of the Scientific Alliance, has a blogpost up summarising the paper here.

The results will be no surprise to anyone who has looked at this topic in any detail: output is highly variable, and the entire fleet would only produce 80% or more of its rated output for about one week a year. The problem is that, however much we hear about wind being a free resource and the cost of equipment coming down, the effect of adding more and more wind turbines to the electricity grid is to push prices up with only a modest impact on carbon dioxide emissions (the whole reason for current policy) and no improvement in energy security.

If there were no arbitrary renewable energy target, governments would be free to focus on what most voters expect: providing a framework in which a secure and affordable energy supply can be delivered. If emissions are also to be reduced, the most effective measures currently would be a move from coal to gas and a programme of nuclear new build. In the meantime, the renewables industry continues to grow on a diet of subsidies, and we all pick up the tab. Getting out of this hole is not going to be easy, but it’s time the government started the process rather than continuing to dig deeper.

The report is here.

Sunday
Oct262014

Your future in their hands

Take a look at the new Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss discussing the green blob with Andrew Neil. It is scary to think that people like this have our collective future in their hands. Even scarier to consider that a Prime Minister would want them in his cabinet.

Sunday
Oct262014

Lights on, factories off

There is some interesting stuff around in this morning's papers, which is good to see.

In the Mail on Sunday, David Rose has been taking a look at the network of green billionaires and trust funds that fuels the UK's green blob.

Meanwhile, in the Sunday Telegraph, Ed Davey is unequivocal that the lights are not going to go out. But there's a catch:

To boost supply, “mothballed” plants could be brought back into use. Generating companies could also be told to “max-generate”, running at full capacity for a short-term surge. New demand-side contingencies are potentially more disruptive. In the event of a sudden shortage of power, big industrial consumers such as factories would be paid to switch on emergency backup generators and produce their own power.

So, our heroic Secretary of State is telling us that he has got the country's energy market into such a shambles that factories are going to have to be switched off to keep the lights on.

A scandal.