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Tuesday
May052015

Fracking chemicals found in space

The New York Times is reporting today that fracking chemicals have been found in drinking water in Pennsylvania.

Fracking chemicals detected in Pennsylvania drinking water

An analysis of drinking water sampled from three homes in Bradford County, Pa., revealed traces of a compound commonly found in Marcellus Shale drilling fluids, according to a study published on Monday.

The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, addresses a longstanding question about potential risks to underground drinking water from the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The authors suggested a chain of events by which the drilling chemical ended up in a homeowner’s water supply.

In related news, BH learns that health food stores are selling fracking chemicals to unsuspecting customers! Housewives have been washing their children's clothes in fracking chemicals! And fracking chemicals have been detected in deep space, worrying evidence that the oil industry is taking over the universe.

Sheesh.

Monday
May042015

Turning our backs on the poor - Josh 325

It is extraordinary to think that Bjorn Lomborg first published The Sceptical Environmentalist in 1998 - that's as long as The Pause!

However there has been no pause in some people ignoring his message as we have, rather depressingly, read on this very blog over the weekend.

It is really simple: the money we spend on Climate Change mitigation can be better spent on health, education and cheap energy. Why is this hard to understand? Do they think climate science is done in a moral vacuum? Can they not see that divesting from fossil fuels hurts the poor the most?

Incredible.

Cartoons by Josh

Click the image for a larger version

Monday
May042015

Your money or your lights

Keith Anderson, the head of Scottish Power has an article in the Herald in which he reveals that his company is willing to take steps to keep the lights on. But only if a large enough bung is sent Scottish Power's way.

One thing that remains constant in this period of change is security of supply. To help achieve this, ScottishPower is investing around £8 billion over the next five years, mainly in renewables and networks. But with renewables, the wind doesn't always blow, so having sufficient flexible back-up generation is vital. We plan to invest in further gas-fired generation to do exactly that. And 50 years after our Cruachan pumped storage plant first provided the benefit of instant generation to meet demand peaks, we intend to double its capacity if it proves economic to do so with appropriate incentives.

The next 12 months are going to be rather interesting.

Monday
May042015

Who would have guessed it? Green studies indoctrinate not educate

I would have loved to be there when Brown University environmental studies student Jaqueline Ho suddenly realised that the course she had (presumably) forked out oodles of cash for was not actually an education at all. It turned out to be just a very expensive brainwashing exercise. Can you imagine the look on her face?

At Brown, ideas first planted by [Bill] McKibben were reinforced in courses where she read classics by Aldo Leopold and Garrett Hardin, along with recent books by Van Jones and Elizabeth Kolbert.

With these authors anchoring her understanding, it was easy for Ho to believe about climate change “that fossil fuel corporations were to blame, that we had a suite of low-carbon technologies we could deploy immediately, and that grassroots solutions held promise,” she recalls.

Click to read more ...

Monday
May042015

A comfortable chat

Lord Stern was on the Today programme this morning, for a chat about his views on saving the planet. The rottweiler John Humphrys suddenly came over all lapdog.

Strictly for the dedicated.

 

Stern Today prog

Monday
May042015

Off the agenda

Channel Four's Jon Snow wonders why climate change is off the political agenda.

Having seen his video, I think I know why.

Sunday
May032015

Creating distance

On the previous thread, Richard Betts argued that nobody was arguing for shifting resources from dealing with the problems of the present and towards the (hypothetical) problems of the distant future.

As evidence to the contrary, I give you firstly the reaction to Bjorn Lomborg's arguments - namely that we should focus on problems like clean water, malaria and access to energy in the developing world today. For this he has been subject to what can reasonably be characterised as a hate campaign by environmentalists.

Secondly I give you Bob Ward, who described a Matt Ridley article calling for a focus on energy access for Africa as "extreme nonsense":

Click to read more ...

Sunday
May032015

Tamsin on climate sensitivity, lukewarmers and what we risk

As a pearl in the dunghill of the Guardian's climate change coverage, Tamsin Edward's wise article today is going to take quite a lot of beating. It attempts to sideline the namecallers, pointing to the areas of agreement and sensible disagreement in the climate debate, particularly over climate sensitivity, and ends on these very pertinent questions.

But whether we are in denial, lukewarm or concerned about global warming, the question really boils down to how we view uncertainty. If you agree with mainstream scientists, what would you be willing to do to reduce the predicted risks of substantial warming? And if you’re a lukewarmer, confident the Earth is not very sensitive, what would be at risk if you were wrong?

For a mainstream scientist, are you confident enough in your computer simulations to argue that they support the need for the shifting of resources away from dealing with the problems of today - clean water and energy for developing countries are obvious candidates - and towards the problems of the next century?

Saturday
May022015

The sci-journalist as naif

A conference at the University of the West of England in July is going to hear from Felicity Mellor - a frequent subject of BH posts - about science journalism. Here's her abstract:

Conventionally, academics studying science journalism, as well as practising science journalists, claim that science reporting follows the same news values as other forms of news. Whilst this is true in many respects, it fails to account for how science journalism differs from many other beats in its failure to adopt a critical stance. This paper explores the extent to which an additional set of 'non-news values' also operates, and suggests that it is here that the science beat differs from other beats. Taking the news coverage of invisibility research in the field of transformative optics as an example, I show that sources of funding, uncertainties, and limitations are routinely excluded from science news, suggesting that an implicit set of normative values structures what is omitted from news reports. These non-news values draw on a naïve, idealist philosophy of science which construes questions of interests and fallibility as a non-concern for news discourse about science.

It looks as if one person has worked it out, at least.

Friday
May012015

Academic demands totalitarian response to AGW

Tony Thomas points me to this remarkable video of University of Melbourne professor Peter Christoff talking at a conference on "Law and Desire". Professor Christoff is

...a member of the Victorian Ministerial Reference Council on Climate Change Adaptation, and member of the Board of the Australian Conservation Foundation. He was formerly a member of the (Victoria) Premier's Climate Change Reference Group, the Vice President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, and the Assistant Commissioner for the Environment (Victoria).  

From about 20 mins, Prof Christoff makes a remarkable call for "climate denial legislation" to criminalise dissent on the issue.

Click to read more ...

Friday
May012015

Climate tragedy

Another polar climate change expedition has come to grief. Previous adventures have ended in farce. Unfortunately this time the story is a tragedy.

The Coldfacts organisation, funded by the Dutch arm of WWF, has sent two men to the high Canadian Arctic, to look at sea ice:

Polar explorers Marc Cornelissen and Philip de Roo (The Netherlands) will head for the Canadian High Arctic / Nunavut to gather valuable datasets for scientific research on sea ice in the heart of the so-called "Last Ice Area".  This is the area where summer sea ice cover is expected to be most resilient to warming and to remain for decades to come. Anticipating on this resilience, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has identified this region as an area for which special stewardship should be sought through consultation of and cooperation with stakeholders. A solid science base is needed to do this.

However an emergency message has been received and all contact has been lost. The two are presumed drowned.

Friday
May012015

A strange fellow

Congratulations are due to Dame Julia Slingo, who has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Here is the citation:

Julia Slingo is a world-leading figure in the area of tropical climate processes and climate modelling. In her tropical research she has produced seminal work on the interaction between cumulus convection, weather systems, larger scale variability and the mean state of the atmosphere, and also on the interaction with the upper layers of the ocean. The Madden Julian Oscillation and the Asian Summer Monsoon have been two particular foci for her. She has led Met Office science and University climate modelling with great success and had major international influence, particularly in the move to much higher resolution climate models.

Friday
May012015

The weaselly ways of Lord Stern

Some delicious weasel words from Lord Stern over at the Guardian this morning. The great man purports to be explaining the state of the climate debate, and invites us all to believe that extreme weather is getting worse.

More frequent and severe extreme weather, rising sea levels and acidifying oceans are already posing threats to homes and businesses across the world...

But read that again. It's a sentence of striking ambiguity. Is he saying that extreme weather has become worse? That would be untrue, of course. But perhaps he is saying that there is the threat of increased extreme weather. The question that one would then have to ask is why, if the threat of extreme weather has gone up, hasn't the number or intensity of extreme weather events gone up too.

As for the suggestion that a marginal decrease in alkalinity in the oceans is "already posing a threat to homes and businesses", you have to wonder what threat precisely he is thinking of?

Thursday
Apr302015

Hook, line and sink 'er - Josh 324

Apparently there is a General Election on. Good luck everyone!

Cartoons by Josh

Click the image for a larger version

Update: Hilarious!

Thursday
Apr302015

Quote of the day, forecast edition

A genuine expert can always foretell a thing that is 500 years away easier than he can a thing that's only 500 seconds off.

Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

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