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Saturday
Sep202014

The credibility of the Royal

The Royal Society seems to have got itself into a bit of a pickle over an article it published back in 2007, which claimed that a rare snail in the Seychelles had been forced into extinction, a later paper claiming that this was due to climate change.

After the original claim was made, a rebuttal was issued, which the Royal Society refused to publish.

Now, it seems the snail in question has been rediscovered.

But the Royal Society is still refusing to publish the rebuttal because it is now seven years old.

Correcting the record is for wimps, it seems.

Saturday
Sep202014

Stern's absurdity

Richard Tol has written a splendid riposte to Lord Stern's latest attempt to convince us that encumbering the economy with all manner of green "measures" will make us all richer.

The original Stern Review argued that it would cost about one percent of Gross Domestic Product to stabilise the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases around 525 ppm CO2e. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change puts the costs twice as high. Stern2.0 advocates a more stringent target, 450 ppm, and finds that this would accelerate economic growth.

This is implausible. Renewable energy is more expensive than fossil fuels. The rapid expansion of renewables is because they are heavily subsidised rather than because they are commercially attractive. The renewables industry collapsed in countries where subsidies were withdrawn. Raising the price of energy does not make people better off. Higher taxes, to pay for subsidies, are a drag on the economy.

Stern's magical thinking on climate economics has been disastrous for everyone, except perhaps for the man himself, who has become rich on the back of his forays into the climate debate. History will not be kind to him.

Postscript: Tol's article is also posted at the Conversation, where Stern supporters seem unable to respond with rational argument, heading straight for the ad-hominem offensive.

Friday
Sep192014

Envoy Barker

Greg Barker, who stood down as Energy Minister a few months ago, has been appointed David Cameron's personal climate change envoy and is off to New York to the climate change summit. While there he intends to go on the climate march as well.

Your taxes at work.

 

 

Friday
Sep192014

Klein babble

Will Boisvert, writing at the Breakthrough Institute blog, has written a long and relentlessly detailed takedown of Naomi Klein's latest offering, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Boisvert is rather more mainstream on climate change than I think most BH readers are, but still finds Klein's positions self-indulgent, badly thought through and rather foolish.

Klein’s ...understands, rightly, that a thoroughgoing mobilization of public resources is necessary to confront the challenge of climate change. But her uninformed, dogmatic treatment of the substance of that problem, so typical of the Left’s approach, generates only confusion and misdirection. To make a useful contribution to changing everything, the Left could begin by changing itself. It could start by redoing its risk assessments and rethinking its phobic hostility to nuclear power. It could abandon the infatuation with populist insurrection and advance a serious politics of systematic state action. It could stop glamorizing austerity under the guise of spiritual authenticity and put development prominently on its environmental agenda. It could accept that industry and technology do indeed distance us from nature — and in doing so can protect nature from human extractions. And it could realize that, as obnoxious as capitalism can be, scapegoating it won’t spare us the hard thinking and hard trade-offs that a sustainable future requires.

 

Thursday
Sep182014

Calling a bluff

The FT is reporting some new research by investment bank Lazard, which claims that in some parts of the US wind and solar are now cost-competitive with gas fired power.

Costs have fallen and efficiency has risen for solar panels and wind turbines, the investment bank found, to the point that in areas of strong wind or sunshine they can provide electricity more cheaply than fossil fuel plants.

I asked Ed Crooks, the author of the article, whether this wasn't just levelised costs rearing their ugly head again. He confirmed that it is, but argues that the impact of intermittency is low.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep182014

Antarctic confusion

With the sea ice in Antarctica breaking extent records again this week, New Scientist seems to have taken it upon itself to engage in a bit of damage limitation on behalf of the global warming movement. Its article today declares that the growth in sea ice is in fact caused by global warming (who would have thought it?!). 

There doesn’t actually seem to be any research to back this up – there is no link to a new paper or anything like that. We just have a couple of talking heads with a rather impenetrable explanation of their case:

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep172014

AskDrMann

Michael Mann is having a Twitter Q&A under the #askdrmann hashtag. Do take a look at it. Some of them are really quite amusing.

Wednesday
Sep172014

The OAS and replicability

The news that there is a new learned society for atmospheric scientists is very exciting and I'm sure that everyone at BH wishes those behind the move every success.

The focus is inevitably going to be on the Open Atmospheric Society "throwing down the gauntlet to the AMS and AGU" angle, but I'm also struck by the "throwing down the gauntlet to scholarly publishers" angle, summed up in this important position statement by the OAS regarding its journal:

[There is a] unique and important requirement placed up-front for any paper submitted; it must be replicable, with all data, software, formulas, and methods submitted with the paper. Without those elements, the paper will be rejected.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep162014

The Texas textbook massacre

Leo Hickman points us to an article by the Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg:

Texas proposes rewriting school text books to deny manmade climate change.

Sounds pretty interesting. Here's the article. In it we learn that:

Texas has proposed re-writing school text books to incorporate passages denying the existence of climate change and promoting the discredited views of an ultra-conservative think tank.

The proposed text books – which come up for public hearing at the Texas state board of education on Tuesday – were already attracting criticism when it emerged that the science section had been altered to reflect the doctrine of the Heartland Institute, which has been funded by the Koch oil billionaires.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep162014

Prosecute scientific misconduct

Richard Smith, the former editor of the British Medical Journal and an expert on peer review, has called for scientific misconduct to be criminalised:

After 30 years of observing how science deals with the problem, I have sadly come to the conclusion that it should be a crime, for three main reasons. First, in a lot of cases, people have been given substantial grants to do honest research, so it really is no different from financial fraud or theft. Second, we have a whole criminal justice system that is in the business of gathering and weighing evidence – which universities and other employers of researchers are not very good at. And finally, science itself has failed to deal adequately with research misconduct.

The point about fraud and research grants is an interesting one. Would it be possible to prosecute people under existing common and statute law? My guess is that it wouldn't be. And if we need new laws, how exactly would you frame them? Perhaps readers with legal qualifications can provide some clarity.

Tuesday
Sep162014

Our neutral civil service

I awake this morning to find my timeline awash with spam from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, furiously retweeting the launch of a report by the New Climate Economy group, a group of green-minded economists headed by Lord Stern and including such eco-figureheads as Ottmar Edenhofer.

 

 

In fact there were so many retweets about the report that I could only repost a few here.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep152014

Dixon of crock green

BH favourite Richard Dixon points us to this article in a dicky-looking journal called Environmental Health Perspectives. Sound the alarm, cries the great man:

New US study shows living near gas wells, including sites, is bad for your health.

The study is here. A few interesting features:

  • The authors suggest the study is "hypothesis generating" not conclusive.
  • The study was funded by green billionaires.
  • The underlying survey was performed with the assistance of an anti-fracking group.

Sheesh.

Monday
Sep152014

It's just about the...kerching, kerching

Deep pocketed billionaires are being urged to splash the cash on global warming campaigns rather than any other of the causes so dear to green activists.

The call to hike climate change spending is unprecedented in its scale, with the signatories – all winners of major environmental awards – taking out a full-page advert in today’s International New York Times.

They include former Green Party chairman Jonathon Porritt, Bianca Jagger and Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project of exotic ecosystem-domes in Cornwall and which hopes to prompt a “tipping point” in climate action.

I hear rumours that there is significant measure of climate fatigue among US philanthropists, so this may well represent a distress signal from our environmentalist friends, who have long enjoyed fabulous wealth.

Look out for attempts to make up the shortfall from taxpayers.

Friday
Sep122014

Artificially flavoured, naturally variable - Josh 293

Flavours being added all the time.

Cartoons by Josh

Friday
Sep122014

Diary date, communication edition

There is to be a Westminster Hall debate on October 23rd to consider the Science and Technology Committee's report on Communicating Climate Science. No details of time yet.