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« So what about bioenergy? | Main | IPCC Circus - Josh 107 »

This time it's hydro

Mark Lynas is back in the groove, relaying new allegations of bias in the renewables report - this time related to the hydropower chapter.

“The value of the IPCC report is weakened by the strongly biased treatment of hydropower,” says Peter Bosshard, policy director for International Rivers, which campaigns to raise attention of the damaging effects large dams can have on riverine ecosystems. “At least half of the lead authors of the hydropower chapter are not independent scientists, but have a vested interest in the promotion of hydropower. This creates a conflict of interest, which is reflected throughout the report.”

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Reader Comments (32)

Anyone surprised ?

Jun 20, 2011 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

No way back to the comfort zone for Mr. Lynas after his second successive mortal sin against the Church of Climatology. Welcome to our world Mark.


Jun 20, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterpointman

This time there's much more humor potential as the IPCC in this case is ignoring the environmentalists to promote their agenda.

Jun 20, 2011 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

Is Pachauri now selling these author positions?

Jun 20, 2011 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

You do not have to dig deep into the IPPC to find vested interests. A whole chunk of the environmental lobby has become a 'vested interest':

'There are about 100 professional anti-oilsands activists in Canada, who do nothing but attack Canada’s oil industry. Typically they pose as grassroots environmentalists. But the facts are different.
Most environmental activists are actually paid professionals. And most work for foreign lobbyists.
Greenpeace, for example, is a $200-million multinational corporation based in Europe. If they don’t raise a million bucks a day in fundraising, they’d have to shut down.'



Jun 20, 2011 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

I'm beginning to think we should take a chapter each of the report, find out the contributor, find out where they make their dosh from, do a text search for their contribution against campaigning/industry organisations and document the trail. Woodward & Bernstein watch out!


Jun 20, 2011 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterpointman

None so righteous as the converted - hopefully!

Jun 20, 2011 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Oh what a tangled web we weave...

Has national and international governance really got to such an absurd state of lobbying power that this type of circularity is common?

The more I hear about the IPCC and their shotgun/foot interface problems, the more I wonder whether this is not just the tip of an enormous iceberg of the symbiosis between lobbyists and politicians throughout the western world. Time for some serious journalists to start lifting the lid and seeing just where our money is going...

Jun 20, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan B

The thing we reports like this is that when you follow the money and follow the ideology it always highlights how science has been hijacked for profit and undue influence.

Jun 20, 2011 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac


Good idea. Let's just pick one other chapter to start with - How about Chapter 2 - Bioenergy and 3 - solar. I'll put up new threads for any findings.

Jun 20, 2011 at 5:13 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Another "new normal"...the IPCC WG3 reports are pure rubbish unless shown otherwise.

Jun 20, 2011 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

@The Bishop,

Deal. Money where the mouth is time. Is that one chapter or two?


Jun 20, 2011 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterpointman

If I maybe so bold wrt pointman's suggestion, I think you need to clearly craft your intentions or it will be labeled a witch hunt by many. Prominently and clear mention those who have no or little interest on either side in order to establish credibility.
I agree that many with vested interests are involved with the IPCC mostly because their employers(out of the goodness of thier hearts?) are willing to pay them for their time on the panel.

Jun 20, 2011 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norris

Dear Bish

Look at this post in Desmogblog (quoted in full)

The New York Times ran an op-ed last week by Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute, a group funded by Koch Industries, ExxonMobil and other polluters to confuse the public about climate change and energy issues. Bryce goes to great lengths to portray solar and wind power as land-hogging energy choices. He suggests that fracked shale gas and nuclear are somehow more environmentally preferable energy options.

This is a common argument from Bryce, who had a similar pro-fracking op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, and who has emerged as one of the loudest of a growing cadre of critics of clean energy. Most of these critics are, not surprisingly, affiliated with “institutes” (i.e., front groups) that get money from the dirty energy industries that solar and wind are starting to disrupt.

Bryce’s argument was quickly debunked by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which points out a number of factual errors and omissions in the Manhattan Institute representative's piece. AWEA was correct to take on Bryce's misinformation and set the record straight. Climate Progress also picked apart Bryce's claims in detail.

But one important question remains - why does The New York Times print such misleading opinion pieces without revealing the clear conflict of interest that a Koch/Exxon-funded front group representative has on such matters? Did the Times’ even ask, and does it do so as a matter of standard practice?

The hypocrisy is blinding.

Jun 20, 2011 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub


Bryce describes himself as a "liberal who was mugged by the laws of thermodynamics."

Jun 20, 2011 at 7:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRandomReal[]

@Jun 20, 2011 at 6:11 PM | Shub

Yet another classic of Projection.

Desmogblog is an entirely altruistic blog, completely unsullied by any commercial considerations?

Yeah. Right.

And isn't it a shame that all the inconvenient facts that are "debunked" or "discredited" by these paid hacks just keep on coming up, time after time.

Nothing to do with them being factually correct and completely ananswerable, then?

Jun 20, 2011 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Actually, coming back to the Bish's posting, I have to say that hydroelectic is one of the very few "renewable" technologies that actually works and usually makes sound commercial sense.

Yes, there are a number of egregious examples where hydro schemes have given very bad results (dam failure or rapid silting up) or have been imposed very insensitively (e.g. The Kariba Dam, commissioned 1958/63. The native people who were moved out of the way are still - as far as I know - waiting for compensation).

But people didn't stop buying cars after the Ford Edsel. You have to be able to learn from mistakes.

Jun 20, 2011 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

From Shub, Desmogblog:

The New York Times ran an op-ed last week by Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute, a group funded by Koch Industries, ExxonMobil and other polluters to confuse the public about climate change and energy issues....

Methinks Desmog doth protesteth too mucheth, but that's probably all he's gotteth. Maybe Mark Lynas should make sure Desmog doesn't think the IPCC is a great Newspaper.

Jun 20, 2011 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJPeden

The involvement of people with vested interests isn't necessarily a negative thing. I would prefer that realistic projections of achievable capacity with ecologically benign consequences mandate the involvement of people with experience of installation and operation speaking freely. It strikes me that the house style at the IPCC is subterfuge and dishonesty with the eco activists, eco entrepreneurs, quango hoppers and politicians in cahoots guiding output.

The micro and small hydro end of things isn't very amenable to corporate exploitation/lobbying and considerable safe capacity has been delayed / stopped by bureaucratic high handedness and bad behaviour - some of which is presently going to UK Judicial Review in one case which is being closely watched by many others.

In the UK there is evidence emerging that the UK Environment Agency has executed a series of monumentally miserable screw-ups related to licensing micro and small hydro power schemes which were reinstating old facilities in general - which would be economic (less profitable) without ROCs 'n FiTs - schemes which if properly configured are quite ecologically benign - anglers note.

The wind and waves aren't very reliable but the tides are - and *that* challenge has been avoided by the entourage of vested subsidy junkie interests pushing wind and solar via IPCC.

Sheesh what a mess....

It's becoming clear to more people (like Mr Lynas) that the IPCC is unfit for pretty much anything apart from enriching Mr. Patchauri and as a marketplace for vested interests from both the "public" and private sectors. The poor old taxpayers who are being pillaged to pay for all this will hopefully wake up sometime - I hope.

Jun 20, 2011 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom

Somewhat off topic (although it does involve vested interests, and water) did anybody else see this story?

Jun 20, 2011 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward

I don't suppose Peter Bosshard has a vested interest?

Jun 21, 2011 at 1:25 AM | Unregistered Commenteremckeng

Jeff Noriss

Are you worried being labelled a witch or a hunter?

Jun 21, 2011 at 2:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Steiner

Not so sure about tidal energy. There are long periods around high tide and low tide called "slack water" because the tide isn't moving much.

Draw a sine wave and remember that the power output depends on the slope.

Jun 21, 2011 at 3:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Neither. I prefer to be labled a noble knight errant; righteous and vigilante. Willing to step into the gutter to fight evil when necessary, but never the sewer.

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norris

Tom says

"The wind and waves aren't very reliable but the tides are - and *that* challenge has been avoided by the entourage of vested subsidy junkie interests pushing wind and solar via IPCC."

What exactly is the problem with the Severn barrage to make it's creation being scrapped currently?? Massive tide there that I see routinely so definitely a large potential 'Green' energy source without any real massive obvious damage 'seeing how most would be in the tidal zone anyway'.

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob B

@Jun 21, 2011 at 3:30 AM | Jack Hughes

That's true. But because the tidal flows are well understood and can be predicted years in advance, you can run the thing to produce worthwhile (and also predictable) amounts of energy for most of the time. More sophisticated (and more expensive) configurations such as the two concentric circular reservoirs idea can produce continuously.

OK, ludicrously expensive compared to good old coal and gas. But if you want to shovel money into "renewables" then it needs to be hydro or the tidal variant where you will at least produce something worthwhile. Don't forget there are a fair number of operational tidal schemes, starting with the Rance barrage which came on line in 1966.

@ Rob B The reason why the Severn barrage won't go ahead (I hesitate to blame it on cost when they are sticking windmills up like there is no tomorrow) is largely because of the alleged ecological implications. Other concerns (shipping etc.) can be met with a bit of effort and another couple of bags full of money.

Now, one might have thought that, if water levels exceed the inside leg measurement of the British Standard duck, said duck would piss off and paddle elsewhere. But it isn't as easy as that. The Severn estuary is a EU Special Area of Conservation. I don't think that the Coalition has the Cojones to take on all the Greenies, the Twitchers AND the EU. And some of their key voters.

Maybe it would be easier if it was somewhere 'up north'.

We shall see.

Jun 21, 2011 at 8:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Like most New Zealanders who grew up with the knowledge that most of our electricity was generated by this method, I find it difficult to understand the anti-hydro argument. Rain falls in huge quantities in New Zealand, water runs downhill, so why not capitalise on these basic facts?
At the turn of the 20th century my maternal grandfather saw the potential of hydro and installed a small American-made Pelton wheel and generator on a creek on his farm. He intended supplying electricity to the nearest hamlet but the outbreak of WW I made copper transmission wire unobtainable and later, when the technology became accepted by government and large projects initiated, small plants such as my grandfather's were rendered illegal to ensure the commercial success of the infant National Grid.
Most of the NZ hydro capacity was constructed before the idea took root that civil servants are not to be trusted with anything that matters; the entire national infrastructure was built by what seems in retrospect to be a very socialist ethos. The government was divivded into a number of departments under responsible ministers, and this model served us well until all of the former 'State Enterprises' such as the National Airways Corp, Post and Telegraph, the Electricity Department, the Railways Department, etc were broken up and the constituent parts sold off at fire-sale rates to mostly American corporations that had no interest in the good of the NZ citizenry but saw the sell-off as a bonanza from which they could profit mightily without any need to reinvest in the foreseeable future. And it was a supposedly socialist Labour government that did the selling!
The Minster responsible for those mad asset sales, the Hon. Mr Prebble, later wrote a book titled 'I've Been Thinking' - it was not a best seller!
In my opinion, New Zealanders are now very much peasants in their own land; Generations of politicians have metaphorically sold the family farm, hocked all the good silver and the dinner sets, and now must rent assests that they collectively once owned. Now politicians are bent on demonising carbon, despite the fact that we are carbon-based life forms and even want to tax the production of CO2 which nourishes our most important industries such as horticulture, viticulture, agriculture, forestry and our enormous national forest parks.
As the Americans would say 'Go figger'.

Jun 21, 2011 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Jack Hughes

It can be done. The trick is to have two basins, one of which is topped up at high tide and the other drained at low tide. Stick your turbines in the barrier between the two basins and you get continuous production.

Whether it pays or not is quite another matter.

Jun 21, 2011 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

To support Jack Hughes comment on Jun 21, 2011 at 3:30 AM...

Anyone who sails in tidal waters is well aware of "the rule of twelve"... In general levels rise/fall 50% during the mid two hours of each tide.

Jun 21, 2011 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterPogo

Of course the SRREN report will be heavily biased in favour of hydro.

- In real terms, hydro is the only renewable that really makes an impression, accounting for over half the total contribution of all renewables to the global energy mix. Biofuels (ie wood and dung) is the next most significant component.

- To expand the marginal and intermittent/variable wind and solar contribution you must increase hydro as your energetic reserve for when its calm/dark.

- Unless of course you aren't an energy fantasist, and you build lots of nuclear instead.

Jun 21, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD not a problem so all that has to happen now is tell us where in the UK is hydro is going to be built , only anywhere it seems to be possible its already done . But any suggest are always welcome .

Jun 23, 2011 at 11:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR


I think you may be reading me wrong.

Jun 24, 2011 at 12:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

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