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Guardian goes full ecobonkers

Yesterday, the IUCN, the body set up to worry about endangered species, issued the latest estimates on polar bear numbers. As Susan Crockford reports, the polar bear population seems to be at a record high, although the IUCN will not be drawn on the current trend and they seem to have been persuaded to leave the bears' status as "vulnerable".

Meanwhile, over in cloud cuckoo land, the Guardian is going the full ecobonkers on the report, with a gory headline about climate change being polar bears' 'single biggest threat'. Three subpopulations, they tell us, are in decline already. Strangely they seem to have neglected to mention the overall increase, and also the fact that two of these allegedly declining subpopulations were determined to be so more than ten years ago.


What's in a tax?

One of the most interesting parts of Amber Rudd's speech yesterday was the suggestion that renewables operators must pay for all the extra costs they bring to the system. Most people seem to be concluding that this means some kind of a tax on renewables.

This is all well and good, but the devil is in the details. So when the minister says:

In the same way generators should pay the cost of pollution, we also want intermittent generators to be responsible for the pressures they add to the system when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine.

Does she mean that the rest of the grid is going to have to pick up the tab for connecting all those hundreds of wind turbines to the grid?

Watch this space.



A new edition of the Hockey Stick Illusion

The Hockey Stick Illusion went out of print recently. This meant that the rights to the title reverted to me and I have spent most of the last couple of weeks trying to put my own edition out there so that it remains available.

The Kindle version is now available. A print version will follow in due course.

Details here.



A $100,000 climate prize

Climatologists often claim that they are able to detect the global warming signal in the temperature records. If they are right then they are going to be having a very happy Christmas indeed, because Doug Keenan is offering them the chance to win a very large cash prize at his expense. Here are the details.

There have been many claims of observational evidence for global-warming alarmism. I have argued that all such claims rely on invalid statistical analyses. Some people, though, have asserted that the analyses are valid. Those people assert, in particular, that they can determine, via statistical analysis, whether global temperatures are increasing more that would be reasonably expected by random natural variation. Those people do not present any counter to my argument, but they make their assertions anyway.

In response to that, I am sponsoring a contest: the prize is $100 000. In essence, the prize will be awared to anyone who can demonstrate, via statistical analysis, that the increase in global temperatures is probably not due to random natural variation.

The file Series1000.txt contains 1000 time series. Each series has length 135 (about the same as that of the most commonly studied series of global temperatures). The series were generated via trendless statistical models fit for global temperatures. Some series then had a trend added to them. Each trend averaged 1°C/century—which is greater than the trend claimed for global temperatures. Some trends were positive; others were negative.

A prize of $100 000 (one hundred thousand U.S. dollars) will be awarded to the first person, or group of people, who correctly identifies at least 900 series: i.e. which series were generated by a trendless process and which were generated by a trending process.

Each entry in the contest must be accompanied by a payment of $10; this is being done to inhibit non-serious entries. The contest closes at the end of 30 November 2016.

The file Answers1000.txt identifies which series were generated by a trendless process and which by a trending process. The file is encrypted. The encryption key and method will be made available when someone submits a prize-winning answer or, if no prize-winning answers are submitted, when the contest closes.

More here.


DECC consistently misled public over electricity costs

An interesting tweet from former DECC chief scientist David Mackay yesterday:



As readers here know, I have been quite strongly against the use of levelised costs (LCOE), referring to it as "the great levelised costs lie". It's therefore gratifying to see Mackay publicly agreeing with me.

Click to read more ...


Stuff their mouths with gold

In all the trailers for Amber Rudd's big energy speech today, the news that has struck me is not the phase out of coal, most of which was going to happen anyway because of low natural gas prices and EU regulations.

No, what is interesting is that Rudd will apparently admit that in order to get any gas-fired power stations built they are going to have to be subsidised. So a big "bravo" to the political establishment for managing to turn a functioning energy system into one in which everybody participating will be in receipt of taxpayer largesse. Oh well done indeed.

The six-million dollar question is, of course, just how much subsidy is going to be required to tempt investors back into the market. The political risk of taking part is going to be sky-high. Over the lifespan of a power station, governments will come and go. Will anyone want to risk that the bungs will survive so much change? My guess is that getting anything done is going to involve "stuffing their mouths with gold", and then some.


BBC: "To hell with your charter obligations"

This morning the Today programme welcomed Professor Paul Ekins onto the airwaves to discuss what he saw as the problems with government energy policy (audio below). Professor Ekins came over as a highly media-trained green activist, which is perhaps entirely unsurprising because that is what he is - as a former co-chair of the UK green party and the author of tomes such as "A New World Order: Grassroots Movements for Global Change", he has been in the forefront of green politics for 20 years.

It's just that the Today programme didn't want you to know that, and Professor Ekins was presented as just some disinterested academic brought in to provide some rigour to proceedings. Coming so soon after the episode in which the Today programme accidentally forgot to mention Jeremy Leggett's financial interests this is starting to look like policy rather than oversight.

And when you also take into account the decision of presenter Sarah Montague to let Ekins expound at length, with barely a word of challenge, the impression you got was that this was simply the BBC trying once again to fight battles on behalf of the green movement.

The message from the Corporation is, once again, "To hell with your charter obligations, we're on a mission from Gaia".

Ekins Today


Alarmism in a Huff - Josh 351

Breibart reports on an extraordinary Huffington Post article arguing that the response to the terrorism in Paris should be "a successful Climate Change Conference". Gosh.

Cartoons by Josh


Mackay bashes EU energy policy

David Mackay is in the headlines this morning, having described the EU Green Energy Directive as "scientifically illiterate" in a forthcoming episode of Costing the Earth.  He takes a potshot Ed Miliband for the foolishness of his policy decisions. Excerpts were included in the Today programme this morning, alongside a response from Ed Davey, who comes over very badly in my opinion.

Inevitably a BBC journalist - Tom Feilden - has tried to spin Mackay's comments as an attack on the government. Fortunately Mackay has corrected him - given that the current government was not mentioned at all in the Today programme, Feilden was not even allowing himself a level of plausible deniability, which was a bit daft, even by BBC standards of shamelessness. The offending tweet has now been removed.



The Today programme piece is well worth a listen. It's here.


Mackay Today


Eaten: A novel

Susan Crockford has written a novel about people being eaten by polar bears. Here's what she has to say about it.

This is a polar bear attack thriller. What Jaws did for the beaches of New England, Eaten does for northern Newfoundland. Terror and carnage abound as hungry polar bears come ashore in droves seeking any food available, including human prey.

Set in the year 2025 at the edge of the Arctic, the story considers future possibilities no one has yet contemplated. In this tale, the occupants of hundreds of small towns and isolated outports spread across northern Newfoundland are quite unprepared for an early spring onslaught of hungry polar bears. People haven’t just been killed, they’ve been eaten. As the attacks multiply, people find they are not safe even in their own homes.

Local residents, Mounties, and biologists struggle with a disturbing new reality: they have a huge polar bear problem on their hands, and if they don’t find a solution quickly, dozens more people will die gruesome deaths, and hundreds more polar bears will be shot.

A Newfoundland seal biologist gets help from an expat Alaskan carnivore specialist as they team up with officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to address the threat. Stopping the carnage and the relentless terror will be the biggest challenge they’ve ever faced as they struggle to prevent this from being the most horrifying disaster in Newfoundland's history.

From science to science fiction?

I'm a scientist but I grew up in a family of storytellers and avid fiction readers. When it was clear the time had come to try my hand at writing a novel, it felt like a logical progression from science writing, not a leap. Starting with polar bears just felt right.

And here’s why: for years, polar bear specialists have being playing “what-if”. They’ve used computer models to predict polar bear responses to computer-predicted sea ice conditions 25-90 years into the future and insist their prophecies will become reality unless human behaviour changes. They like to call their "what-if" science.

I decided to play too – except I call my “what-if” a novel.

Arguably climate science fiction with a twist, some call this genre “speculative fiction” or “technothriller.” I’ve included a “recommended reading” list at the end of the book for those who want to follow up on the science background but the book is primarily for readers who prefer their science “lite” and those who love a good story.

See the YouTube book trailer.   

More detail and links here.

The paperback is ready to order and will ship as soon as the books are printed; the ebooks are available for pre-order and will download November 30, 2015. Price for the paperback is US$14.49; for the ebooks US$6.99

Here's where to buy it:

(Temporary Kindle links, until Amazon gets it linked to the paperback)

  • ePub version (via Smashwords, which ships to Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo), see 

LIMITED TIME OFFER for the ePub version: November 30, 2015 until December 3, 2015 only

FREE with promotion code GW98Q (not case-sensitive)



Changing climate open thread

I have to go out shortly, so no time to write anything about Roger Harrabin's climate change programme.

Feel free to add your comments below.


RICO repercussions

The RICO affair, in which a group of green-minded academics tried to get the full force of the law used against those who disagree with them, continues to have repercussions. This is the latest.

CEI Files FOIA Lawsuit Against George Mason University for Denying Existence of Records Related to RICO-20 Letter

George Mason University (GMU) faculty claimed "no records" existed in response to a Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) FOIA request regarding the involvement of Professor Ed Maibach in the RICO-20 campaign seeking prosecution of opponents of his view of climate policy.  Yet, CEI has evidence of such records. This prompted CEI to sue GMU over the FOIA dispute, which aims to inform the public about the role of Maibach in organizing the campaign led by GMU Professor Jagadish Shukla calling for prosecution of their political opponents. 

Emails the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) obtained under the Washington State and Florida open records acts show Professor Maibach, a taxpayer-funded instructor of “how to mobilize populations to adopt behaviors and support public policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” used his University title, position and email account in the RICO-20 effort.  Numerous records provided by other state universities notwithstanding, GMU informed CEI that Prof. Maibach insisted he had no records responsive to the same request to that school.

The full press release is here.


An analysis of the energy crunch

Over the weekend, Jonathan Leake wrote a trailer for Amber Rudd's speech on energy later this week, in which she is apparently going to signal something of a change in direction in government policy, with a shift of the focus from decarbonisation to consumer bills. As Matt Ridley pointed out in the Times a few days earlier, the government is running a real risk of getting landed with the blame if and when the energy grid goes pearshaped, so it's nice to think that the message might be sinking in.

And the risk of chaos still looms large, as the power price spike last week made clear. There is some very interesting, if rather technical, analysis of those events at the blog of Timera Energy, a firm of energy consultants, and one that carries a fairly firm warning for Ms Rudd:

Click to read more ...


Misconceptions and mislabellings

So, some minor brouhaha this morning over Roger Harrabin's piece about Richard Tol this morning. In it, Richard is quoted as follows:

Prof Richard Tol predicts the downsides of warming will outweigh the advantages with a global warming of 1.1C - which has nearly been reached already.

This is contrasted with Matt Ridley, quoted as follows:

Matt Ridley, the influential Conservative science writer, said he believed the world would probably benefit from a temperature rise of up to 2C.

And if you refer to the transcript, which Roger has helpfully made available at Joe Smith's Climate Creativity site (!) you can read this:

Click to read more ...


Looney green tunes

Just when you thought our environmentalist friends couldn't become any more absurd, they have to go and outdo themselves. The editor of the Ecologist, Westminster and Oxford educated Oliver Tickell, son of the equally silly and equally posh Crispin Tickell (also Westminster and Oxford), has just written a post arguing that the Paris terrorist attacks were intended to disrupt the COP21 climate talks, driving up oil prices and putting petrodollars in the pockets of ISIS. Oh yes, and western oil interests were probably in on it too.

So, assuming - as seems probable at this stage - that the Paris outrage was carried out by or for ISIS, was it in any way motivated by a desire to scupper a strong climate agreement at COP21? And so maintain high demand for oil long into the future, together with a high oil price?

Let's just say that it could have been a factor, one of several, in the choice of target and of their timing. And of course ISIS was not necessarily acting entirely on its own. While not alleging direct collusion between ISIS and other oil producing nations and companies, it's not hard to see a coincidence of interests.

Blimey, he's so bonkers you half expect Paul Nurse to try to squeeze him into the Royal Society alongside Ehrlich.