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Things can only get dearer

Also in Standpoint, a look at Britain's energy policies.

In private, the best-informed analysts now agree that Britain's environmental policies have put the country on track to have the world's most expensive electricity.

It feels to me like we are heading for crunch time.


Of droughts and flooding rains

Clive James, writing in Standpoint magazine, looks at the shifting sands of the global warming narrative as presented to Australians.

Before the floods, proponents of the CAGW view had argued that there would never be enough rain again, because of Climate Change. When it became clear that there might be more than enough rain, the view was adapted: the floods, too, were the result of Climate Change. In other words, they were something unprecedented. Those opposing this view — those who believed that in Australia nothing could be less unprecedented than a flood unless it was a drought — took to quoting Dorothea Mackellar's poem "My Country", which until recently every Australian youngster was obliged to hear recited in school. In my day we sometimes had to recite it ourselves, and weren't allowed to go home until we had given evidence that we could remember at least the first four lines of the second stanza, which runs like this. 

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror —
The wide brown land for me.


Breaking the ice

The Gulf of Finland is in danger of grinding to a halt from a lack of ice-breaking capacity.

The Gulf of Finland is covered by thick ice from the Estonian mainland to Osmussaar, making it possible for only large ships to reach Muuga Harbour. Recently, eight vessels were icebound near Kunda and Sillamäe. The situation has been no different on the Gulf of Riga, where the port authority is working its icebreaker Varma non-stop, and still needs help. Chaotic conditions have been reported.

EUReferendum has the story.


New names for Speccy debate

The Spectator's global warming debate on 29 March now has two new names on the list of combatants. The sceptic team has added Graham Stringer MP, while Simon Singh will add his voice to the institutional interest side. Let's hope his contribution rises above name-calling this time.

Full details here.



LSE boss resigns

The head of the London School of Economics, Howard Davies, has resigned over the links between his institution and the Libyan regime. There appears to be some sympathy in the media, with the Guardian in particular pointing out that universities have been encouraged to get more and more funding from private sources.

Readers here are aware, of course, of the source of funding for the Grantham Institute, home of a certain Mr Ward. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has noted the incongruousness of Ward's overtly political actions being issued from the heart of a centre of learning.

Of course Mr Grantham is free to do what he likes with his own money, including setting up study institutes in famous universities. To my mind the problem is more in the fact that the LSE took the money without any apparent concern for what the Grantham Institute would be getting up to. There is something of a parallel in the case of the Gadaffi money, which seems to have been accepted without considering the risk of damage to LSE's reputation. Pecunia non olet, perhaps, but in business reputation is all. In a rapidly commercialising higher education sector, university bosses would do well to remember it.



A thread for those who want to discuss Bob Ward's recent piece at the Guardian, complaining about the Johnny Ball piece on the Daily Politics.

Interestingly the criticism is that nobody challenged Ball's views. This is odd because there was a studio debate immediately after Ball's recorded piece, but even then it's hard to take the article seriously when Ward and his ilk consistently refuse to engage in debate with sceptics because the science is settled.

Perhaps if the BBC were to hold a debate so that Ward could challenge away to his heart's content?


Crisis over?

Anthony Watts is reporting a new paper that puts the climate's no-feedback sensitivity to CO2 at 0.45°C per doubling, less than half that of previous estimates. Interesting stuff.




The third-world ambition of the UK

Thanks to Phillip Bratby for this clipping from the Telegraph, which seems to encapsulate the UK's third world ambition (in Nicholas Hallam's memorable turn of phrase).

The talk of dwindling gas supplies is strange. Has Mr Holliday not heard of shale gas? Or does he know something we don't? It would be interesting if someone could get David MacKay's opinion on continuity of supply later today.


David MacKay live 

David MacKay, the chief scientist at DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change), is doing a live webchat at the Guardian tomorrow.


Will Philip Hammond apologise?

Much interest in the comments to the Johnny Ball thread, with reader "Mac" noting the claim of Transport Secretary Philip Hammond that offonshore wind generation does not require subsidy. This is, ahem, not exactly true, as the following excerpts from Hansard makes clear:

Onshore Wind Farms

7. Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con): Whether historical wind measurements are taken into account in determining 'subsidy allocation for onshore wind farms'. [15500]

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Charles Hendry): Onshore wind farms can claim one renewables obligation certificate (ROC) for each megawatt-hour of electricity actually generated, which focuses investment in those areas where the wind resource is strongest. It is therefore in the developers' direct interest to study very carefully the historical wind measurements.

Andrew Bridgen: As my hon. Friend is no doubt aware, Leicestershire is one of the most inland and least windy counties in England. Will he please assure me that 'subsidies for wind farms' will only be allocated in areas that can demonstrate that the amount of wind is sustainable and economically viable?

Charles Hendry: I can absolutely assure my hon. Friend that the way the ROC system works ensures that the 'greatest incentive' is there to develop wind projects where the wind resource is strongest. We are absolutely committed, too, to the principle of localism for those below 50 MW and for local communities to be directly involved in these decisions and to receive a more direct benefit than was the case under the previous Government.

It appears then, that Mr Hammond was 100%, ahem, mistaken. Will he apologise? Or even issue a correction? We're not holding our breath here.


US cold caused by warming

It looks as though they just couldn't resist the urge to link every known weather event to climate change. The Union of Concerned Scientists has apparently said that this winter's crazy weather in the USA was caused by global warming:

This winter's heavy snowfalls and other extreme storms could well be related to increased moisture in the air due to global climate change, a panel of scientists said on Tuesday.

This extra moisture is likely to bring on extraordinary flooding with the onset of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, as deep snowpack melts and expected heavy rains add to seasonal run-off, the scientists said in a telephone briefing.


Why code should be published

Nick Barnes has written an interesting article on why scientific code should be published, with particular reference to John Graham-Cumming's work on the Russell review code.

This report included a good algorithmic description, and has been accompanied by source code. We greatly welcome both of these departures from the norm, as setting a good example and following the report’s own recommendation. These facts also allow us to illustrate particular reasons why code release is important, and why science software skills should be improved.

The four separate bugs – in the description, in the code, in the configuration, and in the expectation of the reader – are, in this case, trivial and unimportant – they do not affect the broad results of the report in any way. However, each is characteristic of problems with science software which can be more serious, and which are impossible to discover unless code is released.


Tip jar again

Tip jar is live again. As always, thanks to them that contributes!


Johnny Ball

TV mathematician and AGW sceptic Johnny Ball is on the BBC's Daily Politics show today, discussing scaremongering.


The long death of environmentalism

A long, long article by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus looking at where the green movement went wrong.

Yet today, environmental efforts to address climate change and build a green economy lie in ruins. The United States Congress this summer once again rejected climate legislation that even had it succeeded would have had virtually no impact upon U.S. carbon emissions over the coming decade. The magnitude and consequence of this defeat are poorly understood outside of Washington. Greens had the best opportunity in a generation -- a Democratic White House and large Democratic majorities in Congress. But they banked everything on a single bill and walked away with nothing -- or rather worse than nothing, since today environmental credibility with lawmakers of both parties is today at an all-time low.

Meanwhile, green stimulus investments ended up creating very few jobs. Those that it did create were low-wage and temporary custodial jobs -- not the high-wage manufacturing jobs that created the black middle-class after World War II. And today, the clean tech sector-- the darling of high tech VC's at the height of the green bubble-- is in a state of collapse as stimulus funds expire, large public deficits threaten clean energy subsidies both here and abroad, and Wall Street firms short clean tech stocks.