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The environment correspondent's standards

The FT reports that carbon dioxide emissions remained steady in 2014, despite the global economy having continued to expand.

One of the reasons is apparently China's energy mix:

China has cut its use of coal, one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions, and installed more hydroelectricity, wind and solar power.

Now the FT article is written by Environment Correspondent Pilita Clark, so claims about the involvement of wind and solar need careful examination. I think a little data is required, which, thanks to Reuters, I am able to bring you:

Click to read more ...


Labour's energy wheeze

The election is approaching and politicians across the land are trying to outbid one another their attempts to come up with the most eye-catching (for which you should read "foolish") wheezes for the future of the country. Ed Miliband is something of an expert when it comes to foolish and he and his sidekick Caroline Flint - the Dastardly and Muttley of the energy debate - have decided that the way forward is to have prices in the energy market set by a bureaucrat.

A Labour government would give the energy regulator new powers to force firms to cut electricity and gas, Ed Miliband will say.

It follows Mr Miliband’s pledge to freeze energy prices for two years if he is elected.

The Labour leader will use a speech to say that if he wins the election he will pass a new law giving Ofgem a “legal duty to ensure fair prices this winter”.

It's stupidity piled on foolishness piled on insanity. It's bonkers, all the way down.


A convocation of rogues

So the Energy and Climate Change Committee are having their end of term shindig today, with a variety of subsidy junkies explaining why the country needs more expensive power (and why it should hand over more subsidies too, no doubt). Twitter feed here.

We gather that Tim Yeo has said we should have shale gas (one wag asks if this means he has got himself a seat on the board at Cuadrilla) and that we should not oppose onshore wind because the alternative is offshore wind at twice the price. Personally I reckon our choice might be slightly wider than that. I also wonder if Mr Yeo shouldn't get a copy of David Mackay's book.

Catherine Mitchell, the eccentric energy policy activist prof from Exeter is pushing demand-side management - but I'm not sure whether she is from the "switch off the factories" school or the "switch off the peasants" school.

And Jeremy Leggett to come. I can hardly wait.


Royal extremism

The Royal Society's policy people are working hard on their carbon footprints, jetting off to a conference in Sendai, Japan on the subject of disaster risk reduction, with particular reference to weather events.

Weather disasters are a bit of a theme in Carlton House Gardens at the moment. In the last few days the society has also produced a policy statement on the subject, which called for a top-down approach based on central planning and target-setting. Vorsprung durch Sozialismus! There was also a report at the end of last year.

Throughout all of these documents there is a sly elision of weather and climate. If you go back to the announcement of last year's report you will read:

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Carneyform waffle

Yesterday, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee took evidence from Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, who has shown himself keen to use his position to promote his environmentalist ideology.

A review of the transcript shows Carney be a consummate politician, able to waffle at any length necessary in order to have to answer a question. I'm therefore going to paraphrase one particular exchange that I think is revealing.

Nigel Lawson: You have said that insurance companies are at risk of having their fossil fuel investments becoming stranded because carbon policies will eliminate demand. But the IEA say that demand for fossil fuels is going to go up. Explain.

Mark Carney: It is important for us to warn the insurance market. There might be a risk.

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Cuddly greens turn to blackmail

ITV News inform us that in New Zealand, environmental campaigners have turned to blackmail to try to get their way, threatening to poison the nation's babies if they don't get their way.

Suspected 'eco-terrorists' have threatened to poison baby formula in New Zealand unless authorities ban a particular agricultural pesticide.

Anonymous letters have been sent to a national farmers' group and to Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, containing samples of infant formula laced with the poison known as 1080.

This seems like an opportune moment to note that the BBC has never allowed a critique of environmentalism to be aired.


Important paper alert

Judith Curry is discussing a new paper by Stephens et al, published in Reviews of Geophysics. As one commenter below the thread put it, his "this is an important paper" alarm was triggered, and having read it myself I agree.

Here's the abstract:

The fraction of the incoming solar energy scattered by Earth back to space is referred to as the planetary albedo. This reflected energy is a fundamental component of the Earth’s energy balance, and the processes that govern its magnitude, distribution, and variability shape Earth’s climate and climate change. We review our understanding of Earth’s albedo as it has progressed to the current time and provide a global perspective of our understanding of the processes that define it. Joint analyses of surface solar flux data that are a complicated mix of measurements and model calculations with top-of-atmosphere (TOA) flux measurements from current orbiting satellites yield a number of surprising results including (i) the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (NH, SH) reflect the same amount of sunlight within ~ 0.2Wm2. This symmetry is achieved by increased reflection from SH clouds offsetting precisely the greater reflection from the NH land masses. (ii) The albedo of Earth appears to be highly buffered on hemispheric and global scales as highlighted by both the hemispheric symmetry and a remarkably small interannual variability of reflected solar flux (~0.2% of the annual mean flux). We show how clouds provide the necessary degrees of freedom to modulate the Earth’s albedo setting the hemispheric symmetry. We also show that current climate models lack this same degree of hemispheric symmetry and regulation by clouds. The relevance of this hemispheric symmetry to the heat transport across the equator is discussed.

The idea that the albedo is buffered in some way seems important to me and it goes without saying that the inability of climate models to reproduce the buffering represents a critical failing. Changes in albedo are supposed to be an important part of the enhanced greenhouse effect that is supposed to produce rapid warming but hasn't. To some extent therefore, it may be that albedo buffering is a factor in the models' ever-increasing divergence from reality.

Pielke Sr calls the paper a landmark. I don't think he's wrong.

The full paper is available here.


Dazed and confused in the AAAS 

Three former presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science have written a piece in the Guardian decrying attempts by greens to obtain email correspondence of state-funded scientists using freedom of information requests. In it, they make this inapt comparison:

[The greens'] attack is reminiscent of ‘Climategate’, where the release of private emails did immense, unwarranted damage to the reputations of climate scientists. Now the vocal anti-GM lobby appears to be taking a page out of the Climategate playbook.

Click to read more ...


Salby reminder

Just a reminder that Murry Salby's London talk is a week today. Details here.


iGas hooks up with Ineos

Some interesting developments on the UK shale front this morning, with Ineos buying a share in iGas's UK shale assets. The deal will bring a great deal of capital oomph to iGas and gives Ineos a stake in the Bowland shale.

Not a lot of use if they can't drill anything though.


Moore's law for the oil industry has an interesting and extremely optimistic take on the future of the unconventional oil and gas industry. The pace of technological advances in hydraulic fracturing technology is, it seems, absolutely breathtaking, with people are even invoking Moore's Law:

In the case of the Eagle Ford region, one of the most prolific in North America, rigs are producing at a rate 18 times more efficiently than they were in 2008, and 65 percent more efficiently than they were in 2013.

Technology is whitewashing old school rules. In many ways, Moore's Law has finally arrived in the oil patch.

If this is right then the oil price is not going to shift upwards any time soon. Good news for consumers, but if your livelihood is based on oil production in the North Sea it may be time to think about moving on.


Ditch the greens if you want to keep the wild places

Matt Ridley's article in the Times (£) this morning looks at the continuing growth of grain harvests around the world and contrasts this good news with the weasel-worded claims of disaster from environmentalists and scientivists.

The whole thing is worth a read if you have access to it, but I want to pick up on one particular point. It turns out that harvests are not actually increasing everywhere. Th main exception is of course Europe and the reasons are plain:

The fault lies in European officialdom’s perpetual war on innovation in agriculture — its precautionary and bureaucratic de facto opposition, at the behest of what the former environment secretary Owen Paterson calls the Green Blob, to safer pesticides and genetic modification, both of which demonstrably boost yields, save inputs and spare land elsewhere in the world.

Click to read more ...


The causes of big climate

Judith Curry points us to the draft of a paper soon to be published in the Independent Review, the journal of the Independent Institute. Written by two economists, it takes the idea of the big player - a well-established concept among economic thinkers - and uses it to try to explain the groupthink that plagues the climate debate. As the authors explain:

In markets, prototypical Big Players are central banks and government agencies empowered with discretionary policymaking... [M]arkets dominated by Big Players are prone to herding, where market participants, with little reliable information as to the Big Player’s next move, look to what others are thinking and doing.

As far as scientific endeavour goes, the authors suggest that big players can prevent the feedback mechanisms that provide a wide variety of information to "market" participants. And when it comes to the IPCC the situation is even worse:

Professional success in climate science has become more tied to the acceptance of the IPCC’s pronouncements than with the exploration of contrary possibilities; in fact, scientists who profess competing hypotheses are routinely castigated as “deniers” and some have reported unusual difficulties in negotiating the publishing process.

While a large majority of climate scientists are reported as being in general agreement with the AGW hypothesis and with the IPCC’s pronouncements, the accuracy and extent of this consensus has been questioned. The oft-quoted 97% number may be unrealistic and unsupportable, but the general acceptance by the majority of scientists having any connection to climate science seems real enough. This herding is a predictable result of the IPCC’s Big Player presence.

This all seems spot on to me.


When did Quakers turn bad?

The Mail is giving the Joseph Rowntree charities a veritable pasting this morning over their financing of organisations sympathetic to terrorism, both Irish and Islamic, antisemitic groups and organisations with an at best ambivalent attitude towards free speech.

It is worth noting however that the Rowntree charities have also been funding some highly dodgy green groups. For example, according to the JR Charitable Trust website, they have recently given £100,000 to WWF, a group that has been accused of funding abuse of tribesmen in Cameroon. They have also recently stumped up another hundred grand for 10:10, of exploding schoolchildren fame and £60,000 for COIN, of "Deniers Hall of Shame" shame.

Joseph Rowntree was, by all accounts, a pretty liberal sort of guy. He'd be turning in his grave if he could see the uses his money is being put to now.


FoE in support for fracking shock

Updated on Mar 6, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

After years of campaigning against fracking, Friends of the Earth Scotland have made an extraordinary u-turn and are now vigorously campaigning in favour of the controversial* technique.

This shock news comes to us via the Scottish Government who have announced a £250,000 fund to accelerate development of geothermal energy in Scotland. The press release includes a statement from the minister involved Friends of the Earth's Richard Dixon:

Heating is our biggest source of climate emissions and geothermal energy can play a major part in replacing fossil-fuelled heating. We already know that there is potential to deploy geothermal energy on a very wide scale in Scotland This new funding is very welcome and will help good proposals get moving and attract further investment. Different techniques will have different impacts but geothermal energy is clearly worth serious investigation, and it is great that the Scottish Government is taking the lead in making this happen.

Click to read more ...

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