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In honour of Nigel Calder

This notice of a meeting to honour the life and works of Nigel Calder has just been published.

Nigel Calder 1931-2014

Memorial meeting

Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
London W1J OBQ

Tuesday 2 December 2014 at 4pm

Followed by an informal reception 5-6pm

This is to let you know that we are arranging an hour-long programme of talks celebrating the life and work of the science writer Nigel Calder.  Speakers are to be confirmed but will include his co-writer and friend Professor Henrik Svensmark. This event will take place on 2 December, which would have been Nigel’s 83rd birthday.

Further details, including how to reserve a seat, will be published on Nigel's blog on 11 November.  In the interim, any enquiries may be made by phone to 07771 620433.


Wind in the doldrums

The Telegraph is reporting the latest official figures about wind energy generation in the UK. Despite a rapid increase in capacity since last year, output in the three months to June was actually lower than a year ago  because the wind hasn't been blowing hard enough.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said that the impact of increased capacity was “out-weighed by that of very low wind speeds”.

“Average wind speeds were 1.6 knots lower than a year earlier, and the lowest for quarter two for four years. Average wind speeds in June were the lowest for any month in the last 14 years,” it said.

A glance at Gridwatch suggests that the next three months is going to be even worse. September has been nothing short of disastrous for wind generators, with the whole wind fleet at a virtual standstill.


Watts up with Mann?

This is a guest post by Katabasis.

It’s been an interesting few days, having attended both the Cook and Mann talks and have some valuable meetings (many for the first time) with other climate sceptics. I wanted to share a perspective that deviates somewhat from what appears to be an emerging – er – ‘consensus’ among a number of the people I had the pleasure to spend time with over the last week or so. There has been discussion in person, here and over at WUWT regarding the pursuit of some kind of rapprochement with the mainstream of climate science and climate scientists. A significant feature of the conversation thus far appears to be concern over the fractious nature of the debate, especially online. In particular there have been concerns raised regarding the effect on, and perception of, sceptics more generally as a result of the more angry and impassioned amongst us.

I want to offer something of a counterpoint. I want to, instead, make a few points in defence of angry sceptics.

Click to read more ...


Selfie Mann - Josh 294

The world's first climate cartoon selfie: includes Anthony Watts, Nic Lewis, Andrew Montford, David & Kate Holland, Caroline K, Richard Drake, Katabasis, James Delingpole, Leo Hickman, Richard Betts, Barry Woods, Michel Opdebeeck, Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook and me holding Michael Mann in place for this historic moment. Were you there too? I drew you in the back somewhere ;-)

Click to read more ...


Thought for the day, tricky edition

In the wake of the suggestion that Lewandowsky organised a lot of soft questions for Michael Mann after his Cabot Institute lecture, I was thinking about Mann's apparently interminable book tour. I wondered if there is any record of Mann ever having been on the end of a difficult question on one of his numerous public appearances.

Perhaps readers can suggest examples.


Belgian brownout, German emergency, British plan

I recently chanced upon a report about the plans that Belgium has put in place to deal with its impending electricity crisis, brought about by the shutdown of several of its nuclear reactors. It seems that the country is to be divided into six zones, which will each take their turn to be switched off when the grid is about to be overwhelmed. A more detailed version of the plan, released last week, shows who will be affected, right down to street level.

We knew about the Belgian energy crisis already, but somehow seeing the brownout plans up close brings the whole thing home.

Click to read more ...


Salt for the Earth

Over at the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is extolling the virtues of molten salt nuclear reactors, suggesting that these represent the future and could be cheaper and safer than the pressurised water reactors that are currently in vogue.

The Alvin Weinberg Foundation in London is tracking seven proposals across the world for molten salt reactors (MSRs) rather than relying on solid uranium fuel. Unlike conventional reactors, these operate at atmospheric pressure. They do not need vast reinforced domes. There is no risk of blowing off the top.

The reactors are more efficient. They burn up 30 times as much of the nuclear fuel and can run off spent fuel. The molten salt is inert so that even if there is a leak, it cools and solidifies. The fission process stops automatically in an accident. There can be no chain-reaction, and therefore no possible disaster along the lines of Chernobyl or Fukushima. That at least is the claim.

It's an idea, anyway.


Getting lower

Nic Lewis and Judith Curry have a new paper out in Climate Dynamics and report that climate sensitivity is even lower than previously thought. There is a long but somewhat technical writeup at WUWT, so this is my attempt to explain it all in layman's terms.

There seem to be two main strands of innovation in the paper. Firstly Nic and Judy have used the estimates of ocean heat uptake and radiative forcings reported in the Fifth Assessment itself. Secondly, they have made their energy budget approach somewhat more sophisticated in order to deal with the twin problems of volcanos and natural cycles.

Click to read more ...


Mann at the Cabot

As we waited in our seats for Michael Mann's lecture at the Cabot Institute to begin, I was struck by the sight of the great man alone at the side of the stage. He stood there for several minutes, ignored by everyone, as the last of the audience appeared and the Cabot Institute people, Lewandowsky among them, scurried about making final arrangements. I couldn't help but be reminded of Mark Steyn's comments about climatologists' stark failure to make any amici submissions to the DC court on Mann's behalf. The other day I also heard a story about a room full of paleo people rolling their eyes and groaning at the mere mention of his name. Somehow the Cabot Institute's abandonment of the honoured speaker at the side of the stage seemed to epitomise this growing isolation. Even the scientivists seemed to be abandoning him.

Click to read more ...


Renewables don't work

The message that renewables simply don't work seems to be getting around. John Morgan, an Australian industrial scientist working in the area of grid storage technologies, has been looking at the EROI measure that was discussed at BH a few weeks back and has concluded that there is a bit of a problem with the whole concept of grid storage:

Several recent analyses of the inputs to our energy systems indicate that, against expectations, energy storage cannot solve the problem of intermittency of wind or solar power.  Not for reasons of technical performance, cost, or storage capacity, but for something more intractable: there is not enough surplus energy left over after construction of the generators and the storage system to power our present civilization.

Given the amount we have lavished on renewables in this country, Morgan's conclusions could be viewed as just more than slightly unfortunate.


Bristol bound

I'm off to Bristol this morning as I will be attending the Mann lecture this evening. I'm expecting little of the occasion, but it will be nice to meet Anthony beforehand.

Blogging may be light for a couple of days.


Green jobs disappear

Paul Homewood has discovered, via an FOI request, that the government has decided to quietly shelve its green jobs dataset. Paul surmises, surely correctly, that the promised green jobs have not actually materialised.

I have often noted that to the extent that green jobs are created, the related technologies will be expensive. Mr Davey's great economic breakthrough is to burden the country with technologies that are both expensive, disfunctional, and do not actually create much employment at all.

He has broken the mould.


The Royal and the Arctic

Updated on Sep 22, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Updated on Sep 22, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The Royal Society is holding a scientific meeting today on the Arctic and climate change, beautifully timed to coincide with the annual minimum in Arctic sea ice. Unfortunately, the ice, which looks to have passed the minimum over the weekend, has recovered again this year, so no headlines were garnered.

Readers can see a bit of what is going on at the meeting by visiting the RSArctic14 hashtag and it looks pretty interesting. I was amused to see that Julienne Stroeve seems to be tentatively suggesting that the recovery in Arctic sea ice in the last couple of years has made the GCM predictions look rather clever. Put next to their failure in the Antarctic, it feels more like luck than judgement, but perhaps that's just my natural cynicism about climate models.

Click to read more ...


Growing ice is evidence of warming

With Antarctic sea ice breaking extent records again this week, the green fraternity has been forced to go the full Monty on the PR front in an effort to negate the impact. In an article today, Grist reports that the ever-expanding sea ice is in fact bad news.

I kid you not.

For the third year in a row, the sea ice ringing Antarctica has set a new record. Its extent is the farthest now since observations began in the late ’70s, and scientists say the growth is largely the result of climate change.

Antarctic sea ice melts during the early part of the year but typically packs it back on by September. The ice broke last year’s record for extent on Monday, according to a report in New Scientist. It’s the latest evidence of a small but significant growth trend of about 1.5 percent per decade.

More sea ice is evidence of global warming. Less sea ice is global warming. 

The problem is, I think they probably actually believe what they are saying. Their mystification as to why other people might not be convinced is a wonder to behold.


The credibility of the Royal

The Royal Society seems to have got itself into a bit of a pickle over an article it published back in 2007, which claimed that a rare snail in the Seychelles had been forced into extinction, a later paper claiming that this was due to climate change.

After the original claim was made, a rebuttal was issued, which the Royal Society refused to publish.

Now, it seems the snail in question has been rediscovered.

But the Royal Society is still refusing to publish the rebuttal because it is now seven years old.

Correcting the record is for wimps, it seems.

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