Nigel Lawson was on the Today programme this morning, up against Brian Hoskins of the Grantham Institute.
Hoskins was reasonably circumspect about the link between global warming and the recent floods. However, some of his peripheral insinuations were seriously dodgy - sea level rise (trend began before global warming), Arctic sea ice (claimed that last year's minimum hadn't been seen for a very, very, long time; and what about the Antarctic?), insinuations that we can detect a changing climate here in the UK.
Good that Lawson got in a pop at renewables.
Here's the audio.
Re the Arctic sea ice, Doug McNeall points out that when he said "in the summer" he may not have meant last summer, but something more like "in summers". This is a reasonable interpretation.
The Mail is reporting that the lower reaches of the Thames were not dredged because the Environment Agency saw its first duty as being to protect a rare mollusc.
In a 2010 report, seen by the Mail, they ruled out dredging between Datchet and Staines because the river bed was home to the vulnerable creatures.
And even though a public consultation indicated support for de-silting work, the quango said it would be ‘environmentally unacceptable’ due to the ‘high impact on aquatic species’.
Take a look at Nicola Davies' article about the floods and the recent Met Office/CEH report. This is rather level-headed stuff, with none of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that usually accompany the paper's utterances on the subject. Here's the conclusion:
Is climate change ultimately the cause?
It is not possible to link the current floods definitively to climate change. "In terms of the number of storms there is scant evidence that has been increasing due to climate change so far," said Scaife. "[But] we do expect that winter rainfall is likely to increase in the future." This is in part down to a warming planet. "As the air warms it can hold more water."
That seems to me a scientifically supportable case. I wonder how much more water the air can hold if it's, say, 2 degrees warmer?
Inside the Environment Agency is reporting that he has received a letter from a potential whistleblower who claims to have evidence that Agency officials are conspiring with the Labour party to undermine the government.
I have been following your blog for the last few months. You make some truthful claims but they are only the tip of the iceberg. I have been working for the Environment Agency as a team leader for six years. Your last post on political hypocrisy is what has prompted this email. I can give you the evidence you need showing senior managers in the South West conspiring with Labour MPs to discredit this government over the past two to three years, which I believe have made the floods far worse than they otherwise would have been. The MPs involved are: xxxxx (edited out for legal reasons - Labour MPs based in South West towns and cities)
There's always the possibility that it's not true, but it might be worth laying in supplies of popcorn, just in case.
The second of the Energy and Climate Change Committee's hearings into the Fifth Assessment Report is taking place this morning. The panels are:
- Sir Peter Williams, Royal Society, and Dr Emily Shuckburgh, Royal Meteorological Society
- Guy Newey, Policy Exchange, Jonathan Grant, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and James Painter, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford
The hearings started at 9:30 and the video is below (direct link here).
The boss of American oil company Breitling Energy took out a full-page ad in this week's Sunday Telegraph, trying to persuade us all to get behind shale gas.
I like his style - see this bit for example:
Fracking is going on under my own home, my whole town, and much of my home state. We're surrounded by thousands of fracked oil and gas wells, and my family and I drink the water every day. If I thought it was unsafe I would not be living on top of it.
There is nothing like putting your money where your mouth is.
In his interview with the Today programme this morning, Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith was asked about the idea that it was the policy of the Agency to allow the Somerset Levels to flood (audio below; 7:00mins for key quotes). Smith was asked specifically about a policy document from 2008 which referred to the possibility - so-called option 6 - of allowing parts of the Levels to flood:
Policy Unit 8- Somerset Levels and MoorsPolicy option 6 – Take action to increase the frequency of flooding to deliver benefits locally or elsewhere, which may constitute an overall flood risk reduction.Note: This policy option involves a strategic increase in flooding in allocated areas, but is not intended to affect the risk to individual properties.
Updated on Feb 10, 2014 by Bishop Hill
The torrent of claim and counterclaim about the floods continues apace. Last night Twitter was abuzz with environmentalists trying to defend Lord Smith, the head of the Environment Agency, while those of a more sceptical bent (myself included) were furiously pointing out some of the flaws in the argument.
Some have been making the claim that dredging would not have prevented the floods on the Levels, but as David Rose pointed out in the Mail on Sunday yesterday, not all of the area is a dredging-free zone.
Dramatic confirmation can be seen just a few miles away, in the northern part of the Levels.
At the Gold Corner pumping station, three giant pumps are still lifting the waters from the rivers Axe and Brue up seven feet into the Huntspill Drain – an artificial watercourse about 100ft wide which runs straight to the sea.
The Met Office and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) - a government research centre - have issued a joint report into the storms in south-west England. To mark the occasion Julia Slingo has taken to the airwaves, trying desperately to insinuate that there is a link to climate change:
Dame Julia said while none of the individual storms had been exceptional, the "clustering and persistence" were extremely unusual.
"We have seen exceptional weather," she said.
"We cannot say it's unprecedented, but it is certainly exceptional.
"Is it consistent with what we might expect from climate change?
"As yet there can be no definitive answer on the particular events that we have seen this winter, but if we look at the broader base of evidence then we see things that support the premise that climate change has been making a contribution."
Friends of Science has issued a report into the claims of a 97% consensus.
As this report shows, there’s no 97% consensus on global warming in these surveys. Not even close. They’re fooling you.
Republican lawmakers in Washington have introduced a bill into Congress that would force the Environmental Protection Agency to reveal the science behind new regulations it puts in place.
“Public policy should come from public data, not based on the whims of far-left environmental groups,” Arizona Rep. David Schweikert, the author of the bill, said in a statement.
“For far too long, the EPA has sponsored regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions,”
This video of a panel debate at the Energy Institute last autumn is very interesting. Chaired by Ian Marchant of SSE, with Steve Holliday of National Grid, Charles Hendry the former energy minister, and lastly Simon Roberts from Bristol's Centre for Sustainable Energy.
I particularly enjoyed the bit at 9.00 when Holliday explalined that consumers are going to be facing a "different price dynamic" and a new world of intermittency. This thought was echoed at 13:00 when Roberts told us that we need to think about what happens in the consumer mind, for example whether they choose to flick a switch as opposed to sitting in the dark for a bit longer. He seemed uncomfortable with the idea that people might be able to have power when they wanted it and seemed also to think that his role was to tell people how to behave.
Also interesting was Charles Hendry's enthusiasm for central planning (22:00). I'm slightly bemused by his idea that a profit seeking business would run down its plant in order to deliver price security to customers. He also made the surprising admission (31:30) that we don't know if the price of renewables is going to come down sufficiently to make them affordable in the longer term.
A director of a company involved in the Keystone XL pipeline project in North America has had a late night visit from a group of concerned environmentalists.
James Delingpole's thesis doesn't seem far off the mark, does it?
Upholders of the global warming consensus have just been handed an almighty dilemma by Natural Environmental Research Council. Having spent years dismissing any results produced by sceptics as (allegedly) big oil funded and therefore untrustworthy, they are going to have to come to terms with the fact that in future a large chunk of environmental research is going to be done in collaboration with Shell.
NERC has today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with multinational oil and gas company Shell.
The partnership will enable Shell to put NERC's world-leading environmental science at the heart of responsible management of our planet, by providing access to independent, objective advice and information.
Collaborating with Shell in this way will benefit NERC in a number of ways, such as helping to identify opportunities for joint funding and postgraduate training which align with both partners' requirements.