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Big oil and the ECIU

Our environmentalist friends are fond of pointing to Peter Lilley's involvement with Tethys Petroleum and claiming that it means he can't be trusted on questions of energy and climate change.

How amusing then that Lord Howard, a board member of Richard Black's ECIU, turns out to be the director of an oil company himself and, moreover, an oil company that is the subject of an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.




A dampish squib

So President Obama has a new climate plan out and his fans in the BBC are getting very excited about it. The main thing seems to be a requirement for states to formulate climate plans, but not for a while. There is an even longer delay before they have to implement them.

Here are my impressions:

  • The main objective is to make climate change an wedge issue in the next round of elections.
  • The delays will make them more acceptable to the states.
  • The plan will make only a tiny fraction of a degree of a difference to global temperatures at the end of the century.
  • The US is halfway to the new target already on the back of the shale gas revolution.
  • The new rules are put in place by executive order and can therefore be removed just as easily.

I'm not sure this amounts to a particularly large hill of beans.


Wind turbines: worse than we thought

Readers may recall the little ding-dong between Gordon Hughes and David Mackay over the rate of decline in performance of wind turbines as they age. Hughes thought that this happened much faster than Mackay.

Mackay has been looking at the subject again today, analysing how newer windfarms have performed against older ones. His intention was to look at how technological improvements have shown up in the load factors of the turbines, but it's possible that he has inadvertently shown that Hughes was right.

The reason for this is that the rate of improvement in load factor is no greater than would be expected from the fact that the turbines are newer. So you can draw one of two conclusions:

  • load factors have not been enhanced by technological improvements
  • the rate of performance decline is greater than Mackay had thought.

Either way, wind turbines look just a bit more like a dead end than they did yesterday.


Media balance

Talking of crazy, the new SNP newspaper The National has an article about the proposed coal gasification project mooted for the Firth of Forth.

It features quotes from two green anti-capitalist groups who are opposed to the project, a local councillor who is very much against it and an MSP who hates it with a vengeance.

And they wonder why nobody reads newspapers any more.


The madness of the greens

The ability of green issues to make otherwise kind and decent people lose their grip on reality is always something to behold and there was an extraordinary example in the Guardian at the end of last week.

Take a look.

In a speech in Washington DC Rachel Kyte, the head of climate change at the World Bank, argued that the destitute of the developing world, who currently cook on wood and dung fires, would suffer increased levels of respiratory diseases if they got access to coal-fired grid electricity:

Do I think coal is the solution to poverty? There are more than 1 billion people today who have no access to energy,” Kyte said. Hooking them up to a coal-fired grid would not on its own wreck the planet, she went on. But Kyte added: “If they all had access to coal-fired power tomorrow their respiratory illness rates would go up, etc, etc …

In her defence she does seem to insinuate that this would be a price worth paying, but it's hard not to be left open-jawed at her believing something quite so preposterous.


Are greens now the bad guys?

I was intrigued by this trailer for a forthcoming anime film. From Wiki, we learn that it is set in a future in which humankind has spread across the universe but then gone into decline, and that Earth has subsequently been taken over by an "authoritarian universal government by the name of the Gaia Sanction" which "declares Earth a sacred planet, and thus forbidden for humanity to repopulate".

Anyone would think that the greens were starting to be seen as the bad guys.

Here's the trailer, which looks like a lot of fun even without the message.



Corals are survivors

The Natural History Museum has put on display a bit of fossilised coral reef discovered in what is now Wiltshire. It's a pretty thing.

The museum tells us that the fossil is 160 million years old and that some of the species included are relatives of those alive today, an observation that seems to have important implications for global warming alarmism:

Click to read more ...


EU sockpuppets

A few days ago, Universities UK set up its own campaign to support Britain's continuing membership of the European Union - another example of the abuse of state funding for political ends.

Daniel Hannan has responded with this rather amusing video about those, like UUK and our old muckers at Friends of the Earth, who are being so vocal about the necessity of keeping in with Brussels.


Today's top news: greens write a letter

Anti-capitalist green groups and crony capitalists are annoyed about George Osborne's decision to cut renewables subsidies and have written to the Prime Minister to say he's a bad boy. With depressing inevitability, the BBC has launched a full-scale PR campaign to back them up.

So we have a Roger Harrabin article about the letter here, a segment on the Today programme here (from 1:17.35), which is essentially an opportunity for a series of opponents of the new policy to air their views.  Interestingly, there was less quoting of green anti-capitalists this time round. Perhaps my criticisms of Harrabin's last piece made an impact. But not much of an impact - the nearest thing to a supporter of the policy changes was someone from KPMG, who thought the subsidy removal was necessary but taking place too quickly.

I gather the FiveLive phone in features anti-capitalist campaigner from Friends of the Earth as well.




Guardian advertorial

Look at what the Guardian put out the other day: an article by the head of Veolia UK protesting against the government's decision to slash subsidies for renewable energy and touting the idea of a "circular economy", in which a lot of recycling goes on.

Which is perhaps unsurprising for a business involved in connecting windfarms to the grid and with a subsidiary making large sums of money from recycling.

But a little hypocritical of a publication that gets uppity about alleged vested interests elsewhere.


Apples, oranges, whatever...

A new paper by Kevin Cowtan et al claims that the divergence of models and observations is not as big as we thought.

Global mean temperatures from climate model simulations are typically calculated using surface air temperatures, while the corresponding observations are based on a blend of air and sea surface temperatures. This work quantifies a systematic bias in model-observation comparisons arising from differential warming rates between sea surface temperatures and surface air temperatures over oceans. A further bias arises from the treatment of temperatures in regions where the sea ice boundary has changed. Applying the methodology of the HadCRUT4 record to climate model temperature fields accounts for 38% of the discrepancy in trend between models and observations over the period 1975-2014.

It sounds a bit odd to me, but I don't have a copy as yet, so I'm going to hold off further comment for the minute. One assumes though that even if the findings are sound the divergence of satellite temperatures from the models is unaffected.


Gritters out 

The Scotsman is reporting that gritting lorries have been out on the streets in rural Perthshire overnight, with forecasters pointing to the possibility of snow, hail and frost.

It's a worry, this global warming stuff.


Break out the popcorn

Tim Yeo is suing the Sunday Times for libel over its "sting" operation and subsequent articles that alleged that Yeo was offering himself as a parliamentarian for hire.

Story here.


Overriding the benefits

The World Resources Institute blog has a fascinating article about the greening of Ethiopia in recent years. This is largely based on a paper in Science of the Total Environment by Nyssen et al. 

Jan Nyssen, a geographer at the University of Ghent, together with a large team of colleagues reviewed historic photographs of the Ethiopian highlands comparing them to more recent pictures of the same locations. They then assessed the change in greenery in the landscape, using a benchmarking methodology to assign a value, before performing a multiple regression analysis against possible causes.

The upshot of their paper is that these welcome changes seem to be largely the result of human activity - the landscape has greened the most in areas of higher population density. This seems to be related to factors such as the planting of eucalyptus trees in response to market demand for poles as well as more obvious conservation measures such as the use of terracing to prevent water run-off and soil erosion.

Click to read more ...


A new green disinformation campaign

Cluff Resources' underground coal gasification project looks at the moment as if it might have escaped Holyrood's moratorium on fracking projects, and greens have therefore launched a concerted campaign to address this regrettable loophole. The latest development is that Frack Off have obtained a letter written in January by Cluff Resources to Scottish ministers. This is breathtakingly dull stuff. The company introduces themselves, explains how much they are planning on investing and the inquire whether they were covered by the moratorium.

In other words it's a complete non-story. Nevertheless it has been hyped up by the greens, who have characterised it as "holding the country to ransom", and this ridiculous claim has inevitably been given maximum publicity by the BBC's David Miller here. He also follows the corporation's normal policy of getting comments from two separate anti-capitalist environmentalist groups (in this case WWF and FoE) to liven things up, although in fairness they do seem to have tried and failed to get a response from Cluff, whose PR team seems to exhibit the same ineptitude as Cuadrilla's.

Click to read more ...

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