Seen elsewhere

Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace

A clean bill of health for shale?

Environmentalists like to claim that unconventional gas developments are going to cause us all to die of cancer or asthma. It's fair to say that few of these claims are quite as bonkers as Friends of the Earth saying that the sand used in fracks is a dangerous carcinogen. However, while the other claims are not quite that absurd, they are not exactly grounded in good science.

A paper published today in a journal called Science of the Total Environment describes a review of the evidence for actual health impacts from unconventional gas and conclude there is little evidence of adverse health effects that you would want to describe as "firm". Of the 1000 articles the authors reviewed, fewer than 100 were considered worthy of further attention based on the quality of evidence presented. Only 7 could be considered "highly relevant". Health impacts were mostly "inferred rather than evidenced".

So you can understand why they would conclude:

Current scientific evidence for [unconventional natural gas development] that demonstrates associations between adverse health outcomes directly with environmental health hazards resulting from UNGD activities generally lacks methodological rigour. 

But I think you could guess that anyway.




Fun with Flannery

A firm tip of the hat to reader Stewgreen for flagging up to us this radio programme from Australia in which host Alan Jones and Liberal MP Craig Kelly discuss some of the predictions made by Professor Tim Flannery back in 2006. 

It's very amusing to set out just how badly wrong "Australian of the Year 2007" Flannery has proved, but as the show makes clear, Australians are paying a very high price for heeding his augury.


Monbiot's audit trail

What is that old saying about repeating a lie often enough? George Monbiot is having a bit of rant in the Guardian today on the subject of (alleged) fossil fuels subsidies. It's the usual nonsense that redefines everything that greens are against as a "subsidy".

In his support, our George cites the IMF:

Already, according to the International Monetary Fund, more money is spent, directly and indirectly, on subsidising fossil fuels than on funding health services. 

If you follow the trail through his link you end up at the IMF's website and a working paper by Coady et al. However, before you read it, it's hard not to notice the disclaimer, in bold, which reads:

This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.


FOI: Coyne ridiculous

As many readers are aware, our old friend Stephan Lewandowsky has recently published a paper in Nature that sets out his views on the circumstances in which scientists should release their data to others - the thrust of the piece being that he thinks that a favourable answer need only be given to his mates.

I had rather rolled my eyes at this and wondered if I actually wanted to give him the attention that a rebuttal might bring, so I had resolved to ignore it. However, a post by Professor James Coyne, a psychologist who works in Groningen in the Netherlands, suggests that Lewandowsky's article is just part of a wider trend in academia.

Click to read more ...


Cue violence

The Telegraph is reporting that the cabinet are going to take planning decisions over shale gas developments out of the hands of councils. If correct, it means that planning officers will now be left to their own devices.

I think this probably means that the greens will resort to violence of one kind or another. 

In some ways it could be David Cameron's miners strike moment: the time when he is handed the opportunity to face down an anti-democratic and thuggish minority. I'm not sure DC is any kind of an iron lady though. A jelly gentleman or something like that.


New Era - Josh 360

Thanks to Robert B over at WUWT who thought up a great name for the era of climate science we are currently enduring – The Adjustocene, where no one will ever know what the temperature is.

Cartoons by Josh


Limited Integrity - Josh 359

Lots on the Green Blob's not having to tell the truth, see the post below and at Third Sector, OESG and at Michael Robert's blog which includes Ben Websters Times article.

Cartoons by Josh


FoE to get its comeuppance?

Things may be about to get a bit more tricky for the doughty campaigners at Friends of the Earth. According to the Times' Ben Webster, the Charities Commissioners have taken a dim view of an FoE leaflet that claimed that silica - that's sand to you or me - used in fracking fluid was a known carcinogen.

They were only able to get away with this by claiming that the claims were made by their wholly owned subsidiary FoE Limited, which is not bound by laws about fundraising by deception. 

It's anyone's guess what the Commission is going to do about it. They could crack down on campaigning by charities or they could make the subsidiaries abide by the same rules as their parent charities. Everyone is going to watch with interest, including GWPF, who now have their own campaigning arm, albeit one that operates by much better ethical standards than FoE.



Another one to bite the dust

Well if you are supposed to live in interesting times then it looks as though the next few winters could border on completely fascinating. I say this because of the news last night that SSE are thinking of shutting down another conventional power station.

Energy giant SSE is considering shutting its Fiddler's Ferry coal-fired power plant early, threatening to blow a hole in the Government’s plans to keep the lights on, the Telegraph has learnt.

The 2GW power plant in Cheshire produces enough electricity to power two million homes and in 2014 secured a subsidy contract with the Government to guarantee three of the plant’s four units would be available to generate in 2018-19.

Is it to early to describe the capacity market as an unmitigated disaster?


Behind the scenes at the Guardian

Many thanks to reader Stewgreen for pointing me to this fascinating look behind the scenes at the Guardian...


It pays not to be green

The latest opinion polls seem to show that greenery is slipping right off the political agenda. In fact there may even be a correlation between the direction of a party's poll ratings movement and the strength of its eco-urge.

The Greens and the LibDems are going hand-in-hand over the precipice, while Labour is hanging on by its fingertips. Meanwhile uber-baddies UKIP are on the up, as are the Conservatives, now that they are stepping back from the ecobrink.

Watch and enjoy.


Misson possible?

Just days after getting planning permission to drill 12 monitoring boreholes at its prospective shale pad in Misson, Nottinghamshire, IGas have started installing equipment.

Separate planning applications would be required to drill a well and again to frack it, so it's fair to say that there is a long road ahead.


A haszelnut in every bite

As I think I've mentioned before, I now  assume that most gongs are handed out to people, not for public service, but for "going the extra mile" in the furtherance of a cause dear to ministers' hearts. I was reminded of this when I read James Verdon's devastating take down of an article by our old friend Stuart Haszeldine OBE, professor of carbon capture and storage at the University of Edinburgh.

I first came across the good professor when I appeared at a Spectator debate on windfarms, and he spent a section of his talk bad-mouthing The Hockey Stick Illusion, before admitting that he hadn't actually read it. I'm therefore always on the lookout for his latest utterances. Earlier this week, he and colleagues from his group at Edinburgh wrote an article for the Energy and Carbon blog about waste water disposal in the oil and gas industry, with a particular focus shale gas fields. Unconventional oil and gas is not obviously where their expertise lies, and so one might have expected a few errors to have crept in to their text, but as James Verdon points out in his response, the level of incorrectness is...a bit of a worry.

Click to read more ...


A not-so-cunning plan

Just as the coalbed methane industry in Scotland looked as though it was going to become viable the SNP administration in Holyrood moved with considerable speed to kill it off. Shale gas looks as though it has gone the same way. 

Now, these same bright sparks have decided that the way forward is to set up some "schemes" for the offshore oil and gas industry, while calling on Westminster to deliver taxcuts. None of this will help an industry in which production costs are too high for the current marketplace. 

So to summarise, the SNP's strategy is to throw tidbits to the parts of the Scottish oil and gas industry that are not cost competitive and to close the bits that might just be able to spin a profit.

I have to say, I'm slightly unconvinced that this is going to work.


Hunky dory

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers has a report out today which looks at the UK's energy situation. It seems that we have a bit of a crisis ahead.

The loss of coal by 2025, along with growth in demand and the closure of the majority of our nuclear power stations will therefore be significant, leaving a potential supply gap of 40%–55%, depending on wind levels.

To bridge this gap, the Institute sees no option but new gas=fired power stations and UK shale gas. As they explain though, there are some slight problems with this strategy. If there is no increase in demand then we are only (only!) going to need 30 new CCGT power stations. Unfortunately we don't enough skilled people to build them. And demand actually looks set to go up. And the greens are going to prevent UK shale going ahead. 

Apart from that it's all hunky dory.