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Friday
Sep052014

Carbon confusion - Josh 292

I had a request from Richard Betts to do a cartoon on this paper in Nature about soil CO2 emissions. The abstract says soil emits "60 petagrams of carbon per year to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide”.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep052014

I hope he was joking

I look forward to the opportunity of working positively with Vivienne Westwood on improving our energy supplies and security.

Matt Hancock MP, minister of state for Energy, yesterday

Friday
Sep052014

Flint wins lowlife prize

If we are to have any hope of tackling spiralling energy bills, improving our country’s energy security and stopping dangerous climate change, we must vote to decarbonise the power sector by 2030.

Caroline Flint, shadow Energy & Climate Change Secretary, June 2013.

The future of Thoresby and Kellingley coal mines has now been in limbo for more than five months, which raises concerns about energy security. Both the Business Secretary and the previous Energy Minister, Michael Fallon, said that they were not open to supporting or providing state aid, but the new Minister of State has indicated in meetings that he may be open to state aid, so will the Secretary of State clear up once and for all whether the Government will consider providing it?

Caroline Flint, shadow Energy & Climate Change Secretary, September 2014.

Friday
Sep052014

Come on down - Josh 291

The hiatus is all the rage these days. Many thanks to Matt Ridley for his inspirational WSJ article.

Cartoons by Josh

Friday
Sep052014

The pause and its coming of age

There should be a big coming of age party for the pause in the next month or so. On one measure it's now 17 years, 11 months old, so depending what temperatures do in the near future the pause should be heading for the local boozer for its first pint.

In fact on other measures the pause is already well into adulthood, as Matt Ridley reports in the Wall Street Journal.

Well, the pause has now lasted for 16, 19 or 26 years—depending on whether you choose the surface temperature record or one of two satellite records of the lower atmosphere. That’s according to a new statistical calculation by Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada.

It has been roughly two decades since there was a trend in temperature significantly different from zero. The burst of warming that preceded the millennium lasted about 20 years and was preceded by 30 years of slight cooling after 1940.

This has taken me by surprise. I was among those who thought the pause was a blip. As a “lukewarmer,” I’ve long thought that man-made carbon-dioxide emissions will raise global temperatures, but that this effect will not be amplified much by feedbacks from extra water vapor and clouds, so the world will probably be only a bit more than one degree Celsius warmer in 2100 than today. By contrast, the assumption built into the average climate model is that water-vapor feedback will treble the effect of carbon dioxide.

But now I worry that I am exaggerating, rather than underplaying, the likely warming.

Friday
Sep052014

The coming president

Updated on Sep 5, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

After Paul Nurse's outburst yesterday, my thoughts turned to the end of his term as president. The Royal Society elects its leaders for a period of five years so Nurse will step down at the end of 2015.

Who, we wonder, will replace him?

One assumes that I am not the only one who has wondered about the succession; the backroom boys at the Royal are no doubt taking soundings already. The Society likes the man at the helm (thus far it's always a man) to have a Nobel prize in the display cabinet, which does rather restrict the field. I'm not aware of a list of living British laureates, but perhaps readers can suggest likely candidates. One name that occurred to me was John Sulston, the medical scientist who shares some of the millenarian views of many recent holders of the post.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep042014

Blackouts inch closer

The Telegraph is reporting that the nuclear plants in Lancashire that EDF closed a few weeks ago will not now reopen until December at the earliest.

On Thursday [EDF] announced that the reactors, which produce enough power to meet more than 4pc of winter demand, would only be returned to service gradually between the end of October and late December.

“Dates for returning the stations to service depend on the findings and completion of the inspections,” EDF Energy said.

The delay leaves Britain facing the first months of winter with significantly less power capacity than had been expected to help keep the lights on.

Thursday
Sep042014

Slingo at the IoP

This report of Julia Slingo's recent lecture at the Institute of Physics was originally posted in the discussion forum by a reader. I thought it worthy of elevation to the main blog. My thanks to "Colonel Shotover" for his efforts.

Frances Saunders, president of the Institute of Physics, introduced the lecture, telling us she was particularly delighted to welcome JS, first because her work on climate models showed the importance of physics to everyday life, and second because she was a woman, and so critical in supporting the objective of getting more women into physics. A cynic might suggest that these represented the twin pillars of government science: obtaining funding by demonstrating ‘relevance’ and supporting government policy objectives in return.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep042014

Crusher Nurse fails to squeeze

A retweet into my Twitter feed points me to an article in the Guardian. Paul Nurse it says, is wants people to "call out serial offenders who are using misinformation on science issues". The article is here.

Nurse is calling for malefactors to be "crushed and buried", which sounds as though he has been reading too much of the Marxist literature he apparently favoured at one time, or perhaps indicating too many hours spent in front of Game of Thrones. Amusingly though he doesn't seem to want to call out and crush any such bad people himself, nor even it seems to give them a gentle squeeze:

We have to be aware of, and beware, organisations that masquerade as lobbying groups, which we see a lot in climate change. We have to be aware of politicians that cherry pick scientific views, even ministers who listen to scientists when it's about GM crops and then ignore them when it's about climate change,

We know who he means of course, because he has made such allegations against Nigel Lawson in the past. On that occasion, Nurse got himself into a bit of a pickle, unable to defend himself from Lawson's accusation that he was lying. Eighteen months later, he is reduced to repeating the general allegation, still without any specific details of the offence, but this time minus the name as well.

You have to laugh.

Wednesday
Sep032014

Quote of the day, ditch the scientific method edition

You’re allowed to say, well I think we should do nothing. That’s a policy choice. But what you’re not allowed to do is to claim there’s a better estimate of the way that the climate will change, other than the one that comes out of the computer models. It’s nonsensical to say ‘we know better’, you can’t know better.

Professor Brian Cox appears averse to the idea that data trumps hypothesis.

Wednesday
Sep032014

Salby in Blighty

Mike Haseler emails a link to a new video recording of Murry Salby's visit to the UK last year.

Wednesday
Sep032014

The ASA is a kangaroo court

Americans tend to be completely taken aback when they learn that the UK has a body that rules on what can and cannot be said in the public sphere; they see the Advertising Standards Agency as an affront to the hallowed principle of free speech. A ruling against an advertisement in the Telegraph by US unconventional gas company Breitling suggests that they are right to do so.

This is not the first time that the ASA has been called on to adjudicate in a shale gas case. Last year, shale gas operator Cuadrilla was hauled up in front of them after a complaint about a leaflet it had distributed. Some of the ASA's ruling was bizarre. For example, a statement that

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep022014

Climate emergency

The urge to do something about the alleged threat of climate change finally seems to have brought us to the brink of a real emergency:

Emergency supplies of electricity are being sought by the National Grid for this winter because of the threat of shortages of output from the UK’s coal, gas and nuclear power stations.

National Grid said on Tuesday it was extending its search for additional sources of temporary supplies, blaming emergency shutdowns at two nuclear power stations operated by EDF of France and unexpected fires at two key coal-fired stations during recent months – Ironbridge in Shropshire and Ferrybridge in Yorkshire.

Is it time that MPs demanded a statement from Mr Davey? Or do they not actually care?

Tuesday
Sep022014

10 old climate change controversies - Josh 290

Alice Bell has posted an interesting collection of articles on what she terms 'new' climate change controversies. They seem fairly well established sceptic topics to me - perhaps she has been reading the wrong sort of blogs. But it did make me think that the Road the Paris is looking rather sceptical in its approach. Maybe the message is finally getting through.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep022014

Demand response

The Energy and Climate Change Committee are currently considering demand response, which is an interesting subject for those who quite like the idea of having energy when required rather than when permitted by the political classes. The hearing started a few moments ago and features:

  • Duncan Burt, Head of Commercial Operations, System Operation, National Grid
  • Phil Jones, Chief Executive, Northern Powergrid
  • Sara Bell, Executive Director, UK Demand Response Association
  • Yoav Zingher, Co-founder, KiWi Power (who make kit for demand management)
  • Zoe Leader, Climate and Energy Specialist, WWF

(because you can't have any hearing at the ECC without a green on board). This is followed by a separate panel.

Click to read more ...