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Thursday
Jul162015

Green donations splurged on swanky HQ

A couple of years back, WWF moved out of the converted industrial unit in Godalming that it had occupied for 20 years and settled into a smart new headquarters in Woking, a building that has just been shortlisted for the Stirling Prize for architecture. You can see why they might prefer this to a converted industrial unit.

The webpage for the award is rather cagey about what this swank has cost, saying that the figure is confidential. Fortunately, building.co.uk has some details for us, so as well as learning that WWF have chosen to build their HQ on a podium above a carpark - whatever happened to greens' enthusiasm for public transport? -  we can also learn that this was all achieved at a cost of £13 million.

I'm sure small donors to the green cause are grateful that their money is being spent carefully.

Wednesday
Jul152015

Soiled reputation

In the Mail this morning I read about Giant Hogweed, a particularly nasty plant that can cause horrific burns that take years to heal. I also read that the plant is easily controlled with glyphosate.

This afternoon I read that the Soil Association is trying to ban glyphosate.

Rotten timing for that announcement guys.

Wednesday
Jul152015

Deben diggin' in the dirt

Lord Deben has been speaking at a food industry conference, still exhibiting the pronounced eccentricity we have noted in recent months:

Lord John Deben, a member of the Government’s climate change committee, said there would need to be some ’fundamental changes’ in how the [food] sector operated.

A recent report by the committee warned the UK was in danger of seeing a reduction in productivity because of the damage caused by intensive farming practices.

Lord Deben said soils were degenerating ’so fast it is visible’.

"So far the agricultural community has been blind to what is happening.

"In 30 years the Fens will not produce because of what we have done to it," he said.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul152015

HH Lamb's scepticism confirmed

A new paper (£) in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change caught my eye on the Twitter feed this morning. With a title of "Ways of knowing climate: Hubert H. Lamb and climate research in the UK" Janet Martin-Nielsen's paper sounded as if it was going to be a direct response to Bernie Lewin's GWPF report on Lamb's work, but a look at the paper suggests that to the extent that it is such a riposte it is so feeble as to hardly warrant the description.

Certainly it covers precisely the same ground as Bernie's paper, documenting Lamb's career step by step, describing his focus on natural variability and his distrust of computer models and even featuring many of the same excerpts from Lamb's books that Bernie used. The riposte to the sceptics, such as it is, comes in the closing section, which opens with a quote from a piece that Bernie wrote for BH about how Lamb should be seen as a proto-sceptic, follows up with a claim that allegations about the misdeeds of CRU have been shown to be "wrong" (based on the Oxburgh report!!), before heading onward to the meat of the case:

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul152015

SNP "not against" shale

The Herald (£) is reporting that Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe has had private assurances from the SNP that they are not against shale gas development, confirming the view I had formed that the Scottish moratorium was simply a way to kick the issue into the long grass until after the election.

In some ways though the SNP have painted themselves into a bit of a corner. "More evidence is needed" they said before the election. This means that some kind of a fig leaf is going to have to be formulated to allow them to argue that the aforementioned evidence has been obtained. I wonder what it will be?

Tuesday
Jul142015

Quote of the day, unimpressed edition

Pope Francis should certainly be commended for his desire to deal with poverty in the developing world, but it is hard to see how he hopes to do so without economic growth and fossil fuels, both of which he thinks are unnecessary evils.

The Bishop of Chester is unimpressed with the papal encyclical

Tuesday
Jul142015

Oil brings development to Africa

The Economist describes how a major oil find in Northern Kenya has brought the possibility of development to an area that was once far from the benefits of civilisation. With oil prices low, it's all on hold for the moment, but even so, benefits have started to flow:

If and when it happens, Turkana will get its first paved roads, power stations and water treatment plants. Yet the knock-on effects of the oil boom are already evident and reach well beyond infrastructure. Drillers have found not just oil but reportedly also several large underground aquifers that could supply the bone-dry region with water for decades. Pastoralists might in future be able to grow crops. A man with a jerry-rigged distillery in a thatched hut near Tullow’s camp says: “We thought oil would bring us jobs and it’s done that—at least for some. But it’s so much more, both good and bad.”

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul142015

Shale gas coolness

While looking for something else I came across this (promotional?) video for a new drilling rig for shale gas operations, which claims huge efficiency gains because it can partially assemble itself and also walk from one well to the next.

Which I thought was pretty cool.

Tuesday
Jul142015

Public views of shale gas

James Wilsdon points us to a fascinating paper published by some of his colleagues at SPRU. Laurence Williams et al have conducted a series of focus groups with members of the public in Lancashire to see what they make of fracking. The views exhibited are something to behold.

Participants came from one of a restricted number of groups:

  • allotment holders
  • ex-miners
  • wildlife trust employees
  • mothers of young children
  • industrial history society members
  • parents of university students

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul132015

Debunk alarm - Josh 336

There's been a minor kerfuffle of bruised feathers on Twitter today about the speedy way our host debunked the latest paper from the LSE. It does seem that blogs are increasingly agile in spotting duff science - something I am fairly sure is a good thing and should be universally approved of.

Cartoons by Josh

Monday
Jul132015

Integrity and scholarship at the LSE

Bob Ward and the Grantham Institute are jumping up and down this morning about a new paper the Institute has published. It's fair to say the conclusions of author Fergus Green, as reported in the Grantham Institute press release are striking:

Countries will benefit economically from almost all of the actions needed to limit global warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, according to a paper published today (PDF) (13 July 2015) by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at London School of Economics and Political Science.

The paper suggests that individual countries have large incentives to make ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and to agree to strong collective action at the United Nations climate change conference in Paris in December.

Remarkable stuff, I'm sure you will agree, overturning much of what we thought we knew about the economics of global warming mitigation. It's even more surprising when you learn that Mr Green is not an economist at all, but a post-graduate student who was until recently a lawyer at a firm in Australia.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul132015

Gray lady

The BBC for once has published a story that could credibly be seen as justifying its taxpayer funding - a fascinating profile of the head of ethics at the Cabinet Office, Sue Gray. The misdeeds of civil servants is something of a theme at BH, but I was particularly interested in this story because as far as I can tell it was Ms Gray who cleared Lord Deben's appointment as head of the Committee on Climate Change despite knowing that he had a conflict of interest.

The story paints a picture of an over-powerful Whitehall official, who seems to operate with an almost total disregard for the law, particularly on FOI. This would not be the first time we have come across public sector officials behaving like this - recall for example the breaches of the law by UEA. Nor is it the first time we have noted the almost complete lack of any consequences suffered by the perpetrators.

Saturday
Jul112015

Hot spot or not - Josh 335

It is good to see Christopher Booker writing about the 'hottest day of the year' in the Telegraph again. Paul Homewood's excellent posts, on which his article is based, are well worth reading.

The story starts here, with more here, and Booker's first article, followed by more doubts, some Met Office spin, then a belated response, comment moderation, and finally more Met Office spin. It's quite a saga.

Anyone would think they are trying to hype every possible weather event they can. I wonder why?

Cartoons by Josh

Friday
Jul102015

Keeping the heat out

An article in the Mail tells the story of the number of people - apparently large - who are choosing to decamp rather than continue to live in their ecohouses.

 

When Emma Taylor was offered a two-bedroom apartment in an award-winning block of flats, she couldn’t wait to move in.

Newly built, she was informed the building had been constructed to such high eco-standards that it would cost just £1 a week to heat. Unfortunately, as she’s discovered to her extreme discomfort, keeping warm is the least of her problems.

Because unlike most Britons, 23-year-old Emma has come to dread the summer months. Her ground-floor flat in Coventry is so well insulated that when the sun shines the temperature inside rockets — regularly over 25C, a point at which experts say health can suffer.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul102015

Truth and the green 

Among the environmentally concerned, playing fast and loose with the actualité is seen as a tactic that delivers good results quickly and it's easy to see why: environmental correspondents are almost to a man (or woman) signed up members of the green movement and can be relied upon to repeat even the grossest misrepresentations.

As a good example of truth-telling among the green fraternity, take a look at the column written by Catherine Porter in the Toronto Star, in which she describes a "run-in" her nine-year-old daughter had with sceptic writer Ezra Levant. Then take a look at Levant's video response:

Unbelievable.