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Green reviews of the year

I've been struck by a couple of the environment correspondents' reviews of 2010, particularly as regards Climategate and the impact of my own GWPF report on the inquiries.

For example, when the report was issued, the contents, which to my mind show pretty conclusively that the Oxburgh and Russell reviews were whitewashes, were reported by the Telegraph's Louise Gray without disputing either the facts or my analysis. One could see her article as an attempt to divert attention away from my principal evidence, but there was no case that the facts were contested.

Click to read more ...


Climate solution? More PR

The IPCC is looking for a new communications bod - a position that Nature describes as "the toughest job in the world". Time for Bob Ward to move on from the Grantham Institute?



Anthony Giddens, economics and logic

A few weeks back, I reported some snippets from the House of Lords debate on energy. The second reading of the bill took place just before Christmas and had many interesting points, several of which came from Lord Giddens, the sociologist and Labour party guru.

Last time round, I majored on the long-since refuted claims that "green" jobs were a benefit of government policy. I therefore read with some hope these words of Lord Giddens:

...job creation is often mentioned as an important outcome of investment in home insulation, renewable energy and wider energy innovation. However, there is an awful lot of loose talk around this, some of which appears in government documents,I am afraid.

Correct. However, the noble lord quickly demonstrates that his own take is remarkably deviod of substance...

Where it is said, for example, that wind power will create so many thousand jobs, what is important is not the jobs that are created by specific technologies or innovations but, because jobs will be lost in the older energy industries, the net new jobs that are created. Have the Government done a calculation of net job outcomes from the innovations in the Bill and the wider innovations that are proposed? Without that, you cannot say that these innovations will create net new employment. Most new technologies tend to reduce the need for labour rather than expand it. This is an important aspect of investment in new energy technologies and I feel that a lot more work must be done on it than I have seen. As I said, many statements on this topic are simply superficial.

They are indeed. As has been said ad nauseam, we want to generate the energy we need with as few people as possible. So Giddens would appear to be one of those people making superficial statements about green jobs.

Earlier in the debate, Lord Lawson had referred to the government's proposals as "dirigiste", a characterisation that seems quite apt. However, he was taken up on this by Giddens, who replied with a spectacular piece of circular logic:

The noble Lord, Lord Lawson, called them “dirigiste” proposals, essentially as a way of dumping on them. I would say the opposite. I think that it is right and proper in energy and climate change, where you are planning for a 20-year or 30-year cycle, to have a plan.



Norfolk Police speak

Climate Change Dispatch has extracted a statement on the progress of Norfolk Constabulary's investigation into the Climategate:

Following the publication of e-mails and other data prior to the COP15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009, the Norfolk Constabulary investigation into the data breach at the University of East Anglia continues.

With the many different lines of enquiry that officers identified, the workload has varied with specialist investigators/law enforcement partners used when needed.

Commenting on the investigation, Senior Investigating Officer (SIO), Detective Superintendent Julian Gregory said:

“This has been a complex investigation, undertaken in a global context and requiring detailed and time consuming lines of enquiry. Due to the sensitivity of the investigation it has not been possible to share details of enquiries with the media and the public and it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further at this time.”

Note to Editors:
It is acknowledged that interest in this case continues, given that the enquiry has now been running for approximately a year and that there is a desire for us to publish further detail. However, the circumstances of the case do not lend themselves to public comment at this time due to the sensitivities of the investigation and this is unlikely to change in the near future.”


David Henderson on Deutsche Bank

I'd forgotten to post this up a week or so back - David Henderson's article in the Financial Post about Deutsche Bank getting into the political activism game and the questions this should raise for their investors.

For any organization of standing, not least a leading multinational company such as Deutsche Bank, an obvious aspect of responsible conduct is a demonstrated concern for accuracy and the truth. The bank’s management board could now manifest such a concern, first, by commissioning an independent and informed review of this report, and second, by withdrawing and repudiating the report if the review supports McKitrick’s analysis.

There is also Terence Corcoran's take on the same affair.

As Mr. Henderson puts it, the Deutsche report on climate skeptics has been rendered worthless as a guide to the science and for investors. It also betrays a larger issue, which is a corporate role on the part of Deutsche Bank that makes Exxon look like a Boy Scout.


Standpoint on green energy

A timely piece about Britain's mad, mad 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. This is mainly because our competitors are almost certain to choose cheaper routes to emissions reductions, such as natural gas, or to shun emissions reductions altogether. The Coalition's own Annual Energy Statement for 2010 concedes that by the year 2020, nearly one third of the average domestic electricity bill will consist of green energy charges imposed by law (£160 out of £512, or 31 per cent). Business will be hit even harder, with environmental charges for the average medium-sized non-domestic user accounting for £404,000 out of £1.224 million, or 33 per cent.

 Read the whole thing.


In which I ban a commenter

I can't recall ever banning a commenter before, but Macsporan just stepped over the limit.

There has to be a first time for everything I suppose.


Josh 63


Iain Stewart and the MWP

Remember Climate Wars - the BBC hit piece on global warming sceptics? Look at the first few seconds of this excerpt - is that the "hide the decline" graph, with the instrumental records spliced onto the proxy measurements, that Iain Stewart is pointing at?

Remember, Prof Brian Cox reckons this is the epitome of a science documentary!



Martin Rosenbaum of the excellent Open Secrets blog at the BBC has been looking at some information extracted from the Met Office under FoI.

The documents we requested show that scientists within the Met Office were uneasy about the language of [the barbeque summer] prediction. One internal report states:

"The strapline 'odds on for a barbeque summer' was created by the operations and communications teams to reflect the probability of a good summer. Concern over the use of the strapline and its relationship to the scientific information available was expressed by the scientific community, who were not consulted prior to the media release."

The Met Office then resolved to use "more conservative terminology" in future. But its seasonal prediction for last winter was also awry, failing to signal sufficiently the long and severe cold spell.


Acton and UEA in the pillory

The Information Commissioner has required the University of East Anglia to sign a written undertaking to obey the Freedom of Information laws in future.

The University shall, as from the date of this Undertaking and for so long as similar standards are required by the Act, the Regulations or other successor legislation, ensure that requests for information are handled in accordance with Section 1 of the Act and regulations 5 and 11 of the Regulations. Internal reviews are to be handled in accordance with part VI of the section 45 Code of Practice, or regulation 11 of the Regulations as appropriate.

They go on to state that proper training and IT procedures must be put in place.

Because FoI laws don't allow in practice for the punishment of civil servants who flout them, this kind of public humiliation is the only option available to the Commissioner. But at the end of the day, civil servants are not held responsible for their misdeeds.



Climate skeptic shop

Slightly late for Christmas, but once you get the urge to start spending in the new year,  Michael Cejnar's Climate Skeptic Shop looks like the perfect place to get equipped with the look of the moment.


Tip jar live again

...if anyone fancies it...


The Quarmby audit

I am grateful to commenter "hmc" for pointing out that David Quarmby has also produced an audit on the country's response to the start of the cold weather a month or so ago. This includes some further interesting information about the Met Office's advice to government:

The Met Office gave ‘early indications of the onset of a cold spell from late November’ at the end of October, but detailed forecasts of snow were not possible until a few days before the first precipitation. The amounts of snow were generally well captured, although in some areas were considerably underestimated by some weather forecast providers.

I find the quotation marks at the start of this excerpt particularly interesting. What this suggests to me is that Dr Quarmby was advised that such an "early indication" was given, but that he didn't see it himself.

I've emailed to check if this surmise is correct.


GWPF calls for inquiry into Met Office

From Benny Peiser

LONDON, 21 December 2010: The Global Warming Policy Foundation has called on the Government to set up an independent inquiry into the winter advice it received by the Met Office and the renewed failure to prepare the UK for the third severe winter in a row.

"The current winter fiasco is no longer a joke as the economic damage to the British economy as a result of the country's ill-preparedness is running at £1bn a day and could reach more than £15 billion," said Dr Benny Peiser, the GWPF's Director.

"It would appear that the Met Office provided government with rather poor if not misleading advice and we need to find out what went wrong. Lessons have to be learned well in advance of the start of next year's winter so that we are much better prepared if it is severe again," Dr Peiser said.