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Battery hype

UK readers might recall the episode of Top Gear, when Jeremy Clarkson drove from London to Edinburgh on a single tank of fuel. Today there are claims floating round that electric cars will soon be able to achieve the same feat.

A breakthrough in electrochemistry at Cambridge university could lead the way to rechargeable super-batteries that pack five times more energy into a given space than today’s best batteries, greatly extending the range of electric vehicles and potentially transforming the economics of electricity storage.

This sounds like great stuff, although if you read further, Clare Grey, the researcher whose breakthrough this is, says that there are a lot of caveats:

We haven’t solved all the problems inherent to this chemistry. least another decade of work is likely to be required to turn it into a commercial battery

She also claims that the battery can be recharged 2000 times, which, if it can also take a car the 400 miles from London to Edinburgh on a single charge, would give it a theoretical lifetime range of 800,000 miles.

I'm not sure I'm going to hold my breath here.


The last chance saloons of the Paris climate conference, Climate Change Predictions is having a lovely time reviewing all the previous "last chances" we have faced.

Just how many last chance saloons are there in Climateville?


Just what is DFiD spending money on?

On a whim, I downloaded the monthly expenditure details from the Department for International Development for August 2015, the most recent figures available.

Of interest are payments to:

  • ClientEarth £246,171 Aid programme
  • Climate Policy Initiative £32,500 Project delivery
  • WWF £371,860 Aid programme, Asia, Caribbean and Overseas Territories
  • World Resources Institute £867,847 Aid programme grants,Policy division
  • Solar Aid £239,875
  • Environmental Investigation Agency £69,416 Aid programme grants, policy division

I don't know about you but you could get the impression that a great deal of what DFiD reports as overseas aid spending is actually bungs to environmentalists.



Buying research

There is a rather interesting article in Times Higher Education today. It considers the question of whether academics are getting a reputation as being for sale. Actually I'm not sure why this is considered a question, as evidence that a significant proportion of academics will write a paper to show pretty much anything is hardly lacking. Who can forget the round robin from WWF to climate scientists trying to find someone to write a paper linking a heatwave in France to climate change? Or the Sarah Muckherjee's claim that most climate research was funded by big green.

The LSE's relationship with its funders has been the source of constant entertainment here at BH, with Colonel Gaddaffi and Jeremy Grantham apparently getting good value for money, so it's fun to see the article uncover that these are not the only parts of the LSE where money seems to be talking. The now notorious "charity" Kids Company seems to have been an active funder of "research" there:

In interviews, the charity’s chief executive, Camila Batmanghelidjh, cited a 2013 report from researchers at the London School of Economics as evidence that the organisation was well managed. However, neither she nor the report itself pointed out that the study had been funded by a £40,000 grant from Kids Company.

Read the whole thing.


Cheers, Gavin! - Josh 349

Here's an odd thing.

Click to read more ...


Making poverty permanent

The World Bank thinks we can end poverty by making energy more expensive.


Behind the CCC's numbers

Updated on Oct 28, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

In my absence last week, I missed the latest from the Committee on Climate Change, a document entitled "Power sector scenarios for the fifth carbon budget". This was widely reported as showing that renewables would be competitive with natural gas by 2020.

A reader has sent me some interesting observations which I thought were worth sharing.

Take this for example:

In a central scenario for gas prices and with a value attached to carbon that is consistent with meeting the UK’s 2050 target, the full cost of new gas generation would be £85/MWh for new plants coming on line in 2020 and £95/MWh for 2025. That assumes a gas price that increases from 46p/therm in 2015 to 66p/therm by 2025;

In fact, in a footnote, they note that the central scenario was in fact for a price of 72p/therm, but that they decided to reduce it by 6p "given sustained low gas prices".

Click to read more ...


Meehl bashes Karl

The US CLIVAR project publishes a newsletter/cum journal, a recent issue of which was dedicated to the hiatus in global warming. Featuring papers from a variety of well-known climatologists, I was interested to see the headline article, from Gerald Meehl, which seems to take a fairly hefty pot-shot at the data tweaking approach adopted by many climatologists.
There have been recent claims that the early-2000s hiatus...was an artifact of problematic sea surface temperature (SST) data (Karl et al. 2015), lack of Arctic data (Cowtan and Way 2014), or both. Such claims indicate that when corrections are made to SST data, by taking into account various measurement methods that introduce biases in the data, then “there was no ‘hiatus’ in temperature rise...[and] a presumed pause in the rise of Earth’s average global surface temperature might never have happened” (Wendel 2015). Often there are issues with observed data that need adjusting - in this case such claims of “no hiatus” are artifacts of questionable interpretation of decadal timescale variability and externally forced response - not problems with the data. Thus, the hiatus is symptomatic of the much broader and very compelling problem of decadal timescale variability of the climate system.
Whether Meehl is any more correct than Karl is anyone's guess though.

When the Tyndall Centre loved big oil

Kevin Anderson, the deputy director of the Tyndall Centre, wondered a couple of days ago whether oil-company funding was "worse than tobacco funding".

How different to the founders of the Tyndall Centre, who were extremely keen on oil companies, discussing a strategic partnership with Shell that would include the provision of funding, placements of students with the company.

What happened in the intervening years I wonder, to change the minds of the Tyndall Centre people so far?


Wake me up when it's over

The news on Twitter this morning is that a small group of greens have tied themselves to machinery at the Banks Mining opencast site in Matt Ridley's back garden.




The Evolution of Everything

For reading matter on my half-term trip away, I took Matt Ridley's latest book The Evolution of Everything. At nearly 400 pages long it's not a short book, but it turned out to be not nearly long enough to keep me occupied and by the middle of the week I had finished it.

There's only one word to describe it: subversive.

It's subversive of pretty much everything - religion, politics, technology, statism, central banking, education, culture. You name it and it's subverted by the book's central hypothesis. This is the idea that while we seek proximal, top-down explanations for change, in truth bottom-up forces are more powerful, more sustained, and more often than not are the true causes.

So on the subject of societal change we read:

In society, people are the victims and even the immediate agents of change, but more often than not the causes are elsewhere – they are emergent, collective, inexorable forces.

One example is that of the general who leads his army to victory, with no credit given to the malaria that killed off the opposing army. Politicians and activists obsess over aid payments and plans for poor countries, while the people there quietly evolve their way to a better life.

The hard of understanding are struggling with this. There was a typically execrable review in the Guardian which asked "What about the exercise of power?", an argument that almost completely missed the point made in the quote above (which appears on page 5 of the book, leaving one with the impression that the Guardian's reviewer didn't get further than the blurb).

Similarly, science-y people on Twitter have been vehemently arguing that Ridley is wrong to suggest that government can't make technological breakthroughs, which is a futile point to make since Ridley argues no such thing. His case is, as throughout the book, that evolutionary progress is much more important than big breakthroughs and that top-down, planned approaches have less impact than unplanned tinkering.

So with this book, Ridley sets the philosophical cat well and truly among the pigeons, and those who make their living in the world of top-down plans are up in arms.

You can see why I call it subversive. Read on.


COP this 

Updated on Oct 26, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I was reading Donna Laframboise the other day on the expected arrival of 40,000 delegates to the COP 21 conference to be held at the incongruously chosen  venue of the  private jet airport of le Bourget. I remembered seeing a breakdown of the horrendous costs of the Copenhagen conference and  I idly wondered what the estimated costs are to be this time. Private finance has been sought apparently but there doesn't seem to much on offer anyway. What investors might  expect to get out of it, I have no idea. Surely COP doesn't make a profit to be distributed to investors? Or does it?

But French taxpayers will be delighted to know the following:

Click to read more ...


Walport’s gloom

I think this article covers all the gloom and doom that can be rustled up on this topic, as yet another alarmist article leads us in to COP21.  

Any bets as to what the next article will be on - dying polar bears, melting Himalayan glaciers (or maybe melting polar bears and dying Himalayan glaciers), Maldives’ cabinet meeting under water again, shortage of water, shortage of heat (or increase in water and too much heat), increase in malaria,  increase in wars,  increase in immigration, reduction in size of … oh there’s lots to come.

Act now -the end may be nigh, but not of this nonsense unfortunately. TM



Saturday singalong


More heat than light

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