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Congress to investigate Shukla

Via GWPF, we learn that the US Congress has decided to investigate the institution behind the RICO letter, which called for sceptical scientists to be prosecuted for racketeering. As everyone no doubt knows, some of the authors of the letter appear to have been lining their pockets with taxpayer dollars in a fairly brazen manner.

Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a letter to Dr. Jagadish Shukla, a professor of climate dynamics at George Mason University who founded the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES). IGES is a non-profit organization that has received millions of dollars in federal grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA.

Don't you just love it when scientivists overstep the mark?


Climate cool-aid

Via El Reg, we discover that a whole new source of climate coolants has been discovered.

A team of top-level atmospheric chemistry boffins from France and Germany say they have identified a new process by which vast amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted into the atmosphere from the sea - a process which was unknown until now, meaning that existing climate models do not take account of it.

The coolant in which they are interested is isoprene, which was previously thought to be produced mainly by marine plankton. It now seems that it can be produced abiotically too, and in quantities that might even explain the model-observation divergence.

As with the last story, I'd suggest a measure of caution might be valuable.


A new fusion process

A collaboration between researchers in Sweden and Icelands claim to have developed a new nuclear fusion process. It's based on deuterium, and takes place in in small laser-initiated reactors. More importantly they say that they have already got it generating more power than it consumes.

The laser-induced nuclear fusion process in ultra-dense deuterium D(0) gives a heating power at least a factor of 2 larger than the laser power into the apparatus, thus clearly above break-even. This is found with 100-200 mJ laser pulse-energy into the apparatus. No heating is used in the system, to minimize problems with heat transfer and gas transport. This gives sub-optimal conditions, and the number of MeV particles (and thus their energy) created in the fusion process is a factor of 10 below previous more optimized conditions. Several factors lead to lower measured heat than the true value, and the results found are thus lower limits to the real performance. With the optimum source conditions used previously, a gain of 20 is likely also for longer periods.

Inevitably with nuclear fusion, a degree of caution is always advisable. Nevertheless, it's an interesting paper, which can be seen here.



Hybrids and the cost of virtue signalling

Readers will be much amused by the recent report from consultancy firm Element Energy (see bottom of post). Prepared for Lord Deben's Committee on Climate Change, it describes the gap between real-world performance of motor vehicles and what happens in the test laboratory - a topical subject, I'm sure you will agree.

The report's main theme is that manufacturers are gaming the rules of the test procedures to make their cars appear to perform better than they will do in real life. The performance gap could be as much as 50% in a few years' time although it is expected to shrink when new performance standards come into play.

What caught my eye was the discussion of hybrids. The official tests assume that hybrids are driven in electric mode for two thirds of their mileage. The reports authors' reckon that it is rather less and suggest that, as a result, the overall carbon emissions could be as much as 50% higher than suggested by the test results.

Click to read more ...


A bloody truth or a big bloody truth

George Monbiot is sounding off about the guys at the Breakthrough Institute today - it seems they are insufficiently green for the great man's liking and so they are to receive a tongue lashing.


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No significant trends in rainfall extremes

In January 2013, in the wake of some heavy rainfall, the Met Office published a non-peer-reviewed briefing paper that found that extreme rainfall might have increased. This was reported by Roger Harrabin here, with readers informed that "Professor Julia Slingo, chief scientist at the Met Office, said the preliminary analysis needed further research but was potentially significant."

Today, the International Journal of Climatology has published just what Prof Slingo was a looking for. However, the paper concerned has a more mixed message than I think she might have wanted:

The England and Wales precipitation (EWP) dataset is a homogeneous time series of daily accumulations from 1931 to 2014, composed from rain gauge observations spanning the region. The daily regional-average precipitation statistics are shown to be well described by a Weibull distribution, which is used to define extremes in terms of percentiles. Computed trends in annual and seasonal precipitation are sensitive to the period chosen, due to large variability on interannual and decadal timescales. Atmospheric circulation patterns associated with seasonal precipitation variability are identified. These patterns project onto known leading modes of variability, all of which involve displacements of the jet stream and storm-track over the eastern Atlantic. The intensity of daily precipitation for each calendar season is investigated by partitioning all observations into eight intensity categories contributing equally to the total precipitation in the dataset. Contrary to previous results based on shorter periods, no significant trends of the most intense categories are found between 1931 and 2014. The regional-average precipitation is found to share statistical properties common to the majority of individual stations across England and Wales used in previous studies. Statistics of the EWP data are examined for multi-day accumulations up to 10 days, which are more relevant for river flooding. Four recent years (2000, 2007, 2008 and 2012) have a greater number of extreme events in the 3- and 5-day accumulations than any previous year in the record. It is the duration of precipitation events in these years that is remarkable, rather than the magnitude of the daily accumulations.

I haven't read the paper, and so I wonder what other multi-day accumulations they tested and whether they assessed the possibility that these results might have happened by chance. I'm not sure I'm alarmed by any of this.


CCS projects may be uninsurable

While looking to see what the insurance industry made of Mark Carney's speech (they seem to have ignored it so far) I chanced upon an article in Insurance Times about CCS.

Insurers will be reluctant to cover projects that capture carbon emissions and store them permanently underground, or they may charge “large risk premiums”, according to Royal Dutch Shell.

“Insurance will be able to address only part of the financial risk exposure,” Shell said in a report on its planned Peterhouse Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) project that the company posted on the Department of Energy & Climate Change website.

“As the risk can currently neither be defined nor quantified, no insurance solutions are available,” Shell said.

(They mean Peterhead rather than Peterhouse I think). Another nail in the coffin, I would say.


The otherworldliness of Mark Carney

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has once again been trying to use his position to bully the insurance industry into supporting the green movement. His speech last night at Lloyds of London was fascinating - a blend of pseudoscience, green activism and big state interventionism the likes of which one rarely finds outside DECC and Defra. 

As far as I can see, Carney's big idea was that more should be done "to develop consistent, comparable, reliable and clear disclosure around the carbon intensity of different assets". 

[A] framework for firms to publish information about their climate change footprint, and how they manage their risks and prepare (or not) for a 2 degree world, could encourage a virtuous circle of analyst demand and greater use by investors in their decision making.  It would also improve policymaker understanding of the sources of CO2 and corporate preparedness.

Click to read more ...


RICO letter disappears

Steve Milloy notes that the letter by Shukla et al calling for sceptics to be had up on racketeering charges has suddenly disappeared from the website where it was hosted.

You can imagine the horror on the signatories' faces when they realised that some very determined people were about to take a close interest in their financial arrangements and those of their colleagues at IGES.

I'm not sure taking the letter down is going to help much though.


Jumping the climate shark

Yes folks, we may have reached peak climate drivel, with the news that we are being saved from impending climate disaster by the heroic actions of a hardy bunch of...sharks.

Turtle-eating sharks help slow global warming, scientist says

Sharks help to reduce global warming by eating sea turtles and other creatures that consume carbon-rich sea grasses, an Australian scientist said on Tuesday.

Sometimes there are no words adequate to describe the silliness of the climate change researcher.


Top trolling from the Sun

The Sun is to be commended for its splending trolling of the left-wing establishment.


Hidden advertising on the Today programme

The shale gas revolution is having its effect, and Shell has decided that drilling in the Arctic no longer makes economic sense. Radio 4's Today programme saw this as a valuable opportunity to give an environmentalist some airtime (audio below). Interestingly, the man chosen was Jeremy Leggett, best known as the author of a book about peak oil. I suppose we should recognise the BBC's chutzpah in choosing such a character to discuss the results of oversupply in the oil market.

Leggett was introduced as chairman of the "Carbon Tracker Initiative" and expounded at length about oil companies setting up renewables divisions. He also told us that it was not controversial to say that "droughts and floods and other horrors" are heading our way. More renewables are required.

With host James Naughtie listening on in docile fashion, the whole episode rather gave the impression that the people involved had something to sell. Certainly, Jeremy Leggett did, since as well as being involved in Carbon Tracker, he is also the director of a solar energy company.

The BBC forgot to mention that though.


Leggett Today


Follow the money

There is a big story breaking at Climate Audit right now about the authors of the letter demanding that climate sceptics be put on trial, and in particular the instigator, Jagadish Shukla.

In 2001, the earliest year thus far publicly available, in 2001, in addition to his university salary (not yet available, but presumably about $125,000), Shukla and his wife received a further $214,496  in compensation from IGES (Shukla -$128,796; Anne Shukla – $85,700).  Their combined compensation from IGES doubled over the next two years to approximately $400,000 (additional to Shukla’s university salary of say $130,000), for combined compensation of about $530,000 by 2004.

Shukla’s university salary increased dramatically over the decade reaching $250,866 by 2013 and $314,000 by 2014.  (In this latter year, Shukla was paid much more than Ed Wegman, a George Mason professor of similar seniority). Meanwhile, despite the apparent transition of IGES to George Mason, the income of the Shuklas from IGES continued to increase, reaching $547,000 by 2013.  Combined with Shukla’s university salary,  the total compensation of Shukla and his wife exceeded $800,000 in both 2013 and 2014.  In addition, as noted above, Shukla’s daughter continued to be employed by IGES in 2014; IGES also distributed $100,000 from its climate grant revenue to support an educational charity in India which Shukla had founded.


Windfarms' gannet problem

A new paper has apparently found that offshore windfarms pose a much greater threat to gannet populations than was previously thought. This is because when hunting they turn out to fly at a height that puts them in danger from turbine blades.

The RSPB are going to have an interesting time responding to these findings. They have previously said that they will only support windfarms that do not threaten bird populations. That's fine, but potentially problematic when you consider a map of gannet distribution in the UK.

There doesn't seem to be anywhere that you can put a windfarm offshore without it posing a threat to gannets.

Does this mean that the RSPB now has to oppose all offshore windfarms?


More laughs from the Cabot Institute

The famous..erm...Maldives dykes, keeping the sea at bayAccording to one of Stephan Lewandowsky's colleagues at the Cabot Institute, more than 80% of the Maldives lie below sea level.

Although ~30 to 100 cm of sea level rise may seem insignificant, it is worth considering what this means for other regions. For example, more than 80% of the Maldives lie one metre below sea level. In this region, sea level rise has the potential to impact up to 360,000 citizens and lead to widespread migration.

I would suggest that the author, Dr Gordon Inglis, has got a bit confused here, particularly as his source says something rather different.