This is a guest post by John Bell.
In March of 2004 I took a job as a hydraulic pump design engineer at a private company in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The company had a contract with the EPA (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor to design and build prototype hydraulic pumps to be used in hybrid UPS delivery trucks. The project was the brainchild of Charles Gray, who had been with the EPA since its inception, and who retired in 2012. I was happy to further my career and to be involved in this interesting project, to help design a drive train that would use hydraulic pumps and accumulators to capture braking energy and then reuse that energy to accelerate the vehicle again. I believed in the project for the first six months, and then I saw the light. Turns out it was just another wasteful government boondoggle.
Updated on May 22, 2015 by Bishop Hill
Guido has helpfully listed the division of select committee chairmanships between the parties for the new Parliament. The individuals concerned will have to be elected, but it's fair to say it doesn't look good so far.
Energy and Climate Change has been handed to the SNP. This should at least make for good entertainment, given that party's suicidal policies on wind power. I'm not entirely convinced that it bodes well for the future of electricity supplies in the UK.
More from Cameron Rose, who is attending a business and climate conference in Brussels.
The Big Fat Carbon Price (see the end of yesterday's post) was the subject for the first discussion, surprise, surprise. Tony Hayward was the man to watch. He is chairman of Glencore, a mining company, and CEO of an Anglo-Turkish company called Genel Energy. He was once BP CEO. Here are the key points I noted:
- 'Fossil fuels provide 82% of world energy but in 30 years the IEA expects it to be a percentage in the early 70s.' (Not much reduction there, then)
- 'The emissions trading scheme (ETS) has been a mess and we are now left with a dysfunctional energy market.' (Not afraid to speak plainly.)
- 'If the objective is to change behaviour it must be at the point of use. We need to eliminate subsidies.'
- 'The abatement of a tonne of CO2 from a coal power stations should be treated the same way as for other, new technologies.'
- 'China and India must complete their industrialisation.'
Whenever you mention the benefits of global warming, upholders of the climate consensus tend to go all vague and mumbly, with lots of circumlocutions around the idea that maybe the benefits are just not so clear as the harms that they say will befall us.
One of the great bones of contention in the impacts area has been the balance between deaths due to heatwaves and reduced deaths to to cold, but a paper in the Lancet looks as if it is going to put this particular debate to bed. This is partly because of the size of the sample - some 74 million deaths were analysed - but also because of the vastly greater number of deaths from cold - 20-fold more than deaths from heat.
This morning, I asked Michael Liebreich - a green-tinged businessman and potential candidate for London mayor - about his views on aid for fossil fuel projects in Africa. He supported them.
It's generally a ban on coal projects, except in exceptional circumstances. Yes, I'm comfortable with that.
And when I suggested that his support was despite the death toll from indoor air pollution, he said this:
And all because I don't want our taxes spent on solutions that are neither cheap nor quick nor healthy. OK.
SSE has announced that it is to close a coal-fired power station at Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire, taking a further 2GW of capacity out of the grid. I'm not sure whether this has been factored into Ofgem's capacity margin calculations already.
The unions, who have been toeing the green line for years, are squealing loudly. If I were one of their members I would be wondering what I'd been paying them for all this time.
I commend to readers this brilliant article by Jesse Ausubel at the Breakthrough Institute blog.
Despite predictions of runaway ecological destruction, beginning in the 1970s, Americans began to consume less and tread more lightly on the planet. Over the past several decades, through technological innovation, Americans now grow more food on less acres, eat more sources of meat that are less land-intrusive, and used water more efficiently so that water use is lower than in 1970. The result: lands that were once used for farms and logging operations are now returning as forests and grasslands, along with wildlife, such as the return of humpback whales off the shores of New York City (pictured above). As Jesse Ausubel elucidates in a new essay for Breakthrough Journal, as humans depend less on nature for the well-being, the more nature they have returned.
Wow. Things are getting better for Gaia. Environmentalists are going to hate this.
As sure as the sun rises every morning, the Guardian's front page will be a mass of distortions, misdirections and misconceptions. Today's effort is about fossil fuels again, and claims that they are "subsidised" to the tune of $10m a minute. Read a little further, and you discover that when they say "subsidy" they mean something rather different.
The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change.
In similar fashion, you can be fairly sure that when the Guardian says "black" it means what people usually refer to as "white", "yes" probably means "no", and that when a Guardian journalist tells you that he "didn't have sex with that woman" the truth is probably entirely indecent.
Roger Harrabin is positively revelling in his role as agitator for the green movement today, with an article on the views of Unilever boss Paul Polman, who is apparently demanding decarbonisation.
This is an astonishingly poor article. For a start, we have to wonder why the views of a businessman nobody has ever heard of are considered newsworthy. Of course it fits the BBC's agenda, in a way that "people dying from lack of fossil fuels" just doesn't ("lifting them out of poverty", Roger's concession to the facts on the ground, is not exactly the same as "stopping them dying", in my opinion). Again and again we see the news agenda being set by whatever green-tinged press release happens to pop into its correspondents' inboxes of a morning. GWPF press releases, or even things like the Ecomodernist Manifesto go straight in the bin.
I found myself thinking about a well-known climate change cartoon by Joel Pett, and wondered if the wording didn't need to be changed slightly (original here). The words on the left come from the Climategate emails.
Roddy Cambell says:
The decent mass of scientific society, in a quiet but significant majority, getting on with it in a civilised and peaceful fashion in the library/laboratory/Antarctica/satellites/rain forest/literature, no shouting please, debating what works and what is right. The righteous Union of Concerned Climate Hawks with their megaphones, degrowth manifestos, 100-denier underwear, dinner inspections, LSE platforms and disinvestment petitions. Who wouldn't be a bit shy?
Many thanks to Roddy for the idea of Shy Scientists being like Shy Tories - they won't offer their thoughts when there are so many vocal alarmists ready to shout them down.
PS If you feel like donating then please do. I am trying to set aside time to put some of the cartoons into a book. Any support would be greatly appreciated!
The Pope has apparently lent his approval to a petition by the Catholic Climate Movement, which wants to step up the pace on global warming policy. The petition's wording is as follows:
Climate change affects everyone, but especially the poor and most vulnerable people. Impelled by our Catholic faith, we call on you to drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous threshold of 1.5°C, and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts.
No fossil fuels for African people then. To save the poorest we had to abandon the poorest. It's Bến Tre all over again.
Updated on May 15, 2015 by Bishop Hill
For those who have been following the unfolding saga of the latest Lew paper, the said work of art has now been published at Global Environmental Change. There is little that will cause anyone any great surprise - it's all out of the standard Lewandowsky playbook: strawman following nonsense following outright falsehood. Take the case he outlines for why there is no pause:
Claims about a “pause” typically invoke a period commencing in 1998; the top panel of the figure shows that that year saw particularly high temperatures owing to an extreme El Niño event. When this single outlying year is omitted (as illustrated in the bottom panel), the purported pause in warming is no longer apparent. Statistically, what one observes is a decrease in the rate of warming—a slowdown, if you will—but this slowdown is at most modest: during the last 15 years (1999–2013) the linear trend is .13 °C/decade, compared to the trend for the overall period (1970–2013) which is .18 °C/decade. It is only when 1998 is arbitrarily used as the starting point to define the “pause” that the recent rate of global warming has been appreciably lower (.10 °C/decade) than the long-term trend.