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

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Solar looters get more loot

Having fleeced taxpayers once by offering crazy feed in tariffs to solar power companies, DECC is now going to fleece them once again by offering compensation now the subsidies have been somewhat reined in. Huhne really is stark raving mad isn't he?


Climate change just happens

I've always shuddered rather when people say things like "70% of the observed temperature change is due to manmade carbon dioxide emissions". Christofides and Koutsoiyannis clearly feel the same way as shown in their presentation to the EGU a few days ago.

...we should be careful when we talk about causes, and that trends and shifts do not necessarily imply non-stationarity or a change in forcings: they can just happen.

The implications for all those claims of "we can only reproduce climate history with carbon dioxide in our forcing mix" seem rather profound.


Light blogging

It's half term at the moment and I've headed for the beach. Blogging will therefore be light.


Terence Kealey on post-normal science

Another brilliant talk from the EIKE conference, this time from Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham. Kealey's message is essentially "never mind the idealised version of science put forward by Popper, let's look at how it works in practice".


Praising post-publication peer review

Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal and regular critic of the pre-publication peer review process, writes on the subject of post-publication peer review.

But more important than...formal types of peer review is the informal, the thousands of comments, decisions, and actions from the many that lead to a sorting of studies. I may hear a study presented or read a paper and be impressed. Others in the audience or other readers might also be impressed. We talk to friends about it. We email colleagues. We put it on listserves. Some of the recipients are impressed and start their own cascade. Others are less impressed and see problems. Perhaps a statistician attracted by the clamour reads the clinical article and sees important flaws that she shares with colleagues. Somebody might incorporate the study into a lecture, a review, or a grant application. And so a study might attract increasing attention and assume a prominent place, or it might fade as its receives more attention and more problems are noticed.

Many studies, in contrast, attract no attention—usually, but not always, rightly.


More on the windy flops

There is a very amusing article on the BBC website about the John Muir Trust report on windfarms, which you read about here yesterday. The report, you may remember, noted that...

During each of the four highest peak demands of 2010, wind output reached just 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity, according to the analysis. which Jenny Hogan of the quango Scottish Renewables has retorted:

no form of electricity [works] at 100% capacity, 100% of the time.



Epic shale 

The shale gas boom just keeps getting bigger and bigger, having now reached what Nick Grealy calls a Wow! moment (H/T GWPF).

And surprise, surprise: China! Largest shale reserves in the world, surpassing even the US by far. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The only way I have been wrong about shale is by underestimating it's impact. But the Chinese figures change everything. World LNG? Toast! Which can't help Australia too much even with 395. Which leads to the other southern hemisphere wonders, although since this site mentioned them both in Q3 2009, it's only the massive scale of the resource that surprises, not the locations:

South Africa  485!

Argentina 774!  Repeat that.  That is not a mistake.  That is technicially recoverable.  That is astounding.

For some, however, this kind of good news just can't go unchallenged and I sense that there is a concerted effort to hype up the idea that there might be some important environmental concerns. Take this article in Time magazine for example, or this forthcoming conference.

Meanwhile, Zeke, writing at Lucia's blog, looks at an old chart of hydrocarbon deposits and the proportion used to date - it's hard to get the two figures on the same chart because mankind has used so little. Zeke wonders what it would look like now we have discovered all this shale gas.


Climate heroes

Eli Kintisch interviews Richard Muller, whose BEST project has been causing something of a stir in recent days. Muller certainly knows how to get attention...

I realized that Watts was doing something that was of importance. The issues he raised needed to be addressed. It made me seriously wonder whether the reported global warming may be biased by poor station quality. Watts is a hero for what he's done. So is [prominent skeptic blogger] Steve McIntyre.

ABC in Australia is also looking at BEST and Anthony W.


It's the ocean, stupid!

Jeff Id gave up blogging a few months back, but fortunately for us he just can't resist the urge to return from time to time. According to RP Snr, what he has said today is pretty important:

If you were to transfer enough ocean energy directly to the atmosphere to create 4 degrees of atmospheric warming, how much would that change the average temperature of the Earth’s water?

Would you believe –  0.001 Degrees C of ocean temp change?  The left side pancake wouldn’t look any different in Fig 1!   Hell, it wouldn’t change if we were in another oceanic current inspired ice age — think about that.


Windy flops


Cloud of obscurity

Richard Black reports that scientists have got themselves into a bit of a pickle over whether one of their ideas for geoengineering the earth is a good one or not. The proposal being considered is to spray clouds with seawater, which scientists hope will reflect more sunlight back into space cooling our overheated planet.

Well, some scientists anyway. Some think it will actually warm the planet.

Oh dear.


German greens riding high

With the slight hiccup at the Fukushima nuclear plant still fresh in German voters'  minds, a recent poll in that country has estimated support for the Greens at 28% of the electorate, a record high which puts them second behind the CDU.

This could be construed as good news. I don't suppose it will take long for the either the Greens or perhaps more likely the electorate to come to their senses. It doesn't matter which.


The good news and the bad

Matt Ridley looks at a couple of recent papers. One of these notes that sea level rise is less than expected and that it is slowing not decelerating. The other looks at deaths caused by biofuel manufacture:

The production of biofuels may have led to at least 192,000 additional deaths and 6.7 million additional lost disability-adjusted life years in 2010. These estimates are conservative [and] exceed the World Health Organisation’s estimates of the toll of death and disease for global warming. Thus, policies to stimulate biofuel production, in part to reduce the alleged impacts of global warming on public health, particularly in developing countries, may actually have increased death and disease globally.


Why electric cars are really coal cars

An interesting look at arguments for electric cars by a Professor of Chemistry:

It is claimed in a Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) report on electric cars that they are in any case cleaner because 80 - 90% of the energy put into them in terms of electricity is recovered in terms of useful power at the wheels, to be compared with 20 - 30% in a conventional oil-powered car. Well, that sounds good, but the reality is that only about one third of the energy in the coal or gas actually ends-up as electricity because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Carnot Cycle limit - the other two thirds being thrown away as heat. Thus the electric car is harvesting in terms of well-to-wheel miles only about 27% of the original fossil fuel energy, so not that much better than the standard car running on petrol or diesel. The difference is merely whether about the same quantity of waste heat energy is thrown away at source or in the vehicle.


Physician, heal thyself

Sometimes you have to wonder about the shamelessness of people at the top of the civil service:

Doctors must take a leading role in highlighting the dangers of climate change, which will lead to conflict, disease and ill-health, and threatens global security, according to a stark warning from an unusual alliance of physicians and military leaders.

Writing in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday, a group of military and medical experts, including two rear admirals and two professors of health, sent out an urgent message to governments around the world. "Climate change poses an immediate and grave threat, driving ill-health and increasing the risk of conflict, such that each feeds upon the other," said the authors...

The authors are as follows: