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Ditching precaution in favour of innovation

A couple of days ago, I explained my surprise at the level of animosity displayed towards renewables by callers to Radio Scotland. Today I'm starting to wonder if this might be the first signs of a trend. Could we even have passed the high tide of greenery? I mean, when the politicians start coming round, it's hard not to think so.

OK it's French politicians rather than UK ones, but this does look like a big, big U-turn:

The once-ruling, right-wing party Les Republicains introduced the anti-fracking bill on the floor of the French parliament back in 2011, citing the “extremely harmful impact” of the hydraulic fracturing technique on the environment. But times and politics change and the party, which is now in opposition, has made a complete reversal on the issue. So much so that these days, it publicly and vocally embraces shale gas opportunities.

On February 14, Luc Chatel, stated that “Les Republicains must be the party that chooses the innovation principle over the precautionary principle – the party of shale gas, GMOs, biotechnologies. It’s my firm conviction." It's a strong statement from the leader of a party that could win the next presidential election in 2017.


The greens and their psychosomatics

A time-honoured tactic of those who oppose an industrial development is to claim that it causing ill health. Certainly the opponents of the Horse Hill oil well have wasted no time in setting out the chronic ailments that yesterday's successful flow test have caused.

Most prominently, local resident Lisa Scott has described the horrors of her early morning jog:

It was not a fast or longer run than normal but at three points near the site I felt short of energy. I normally run 10-12k and never stop. But this was only 4-4.5k. It was like running through an invisible plume three times. I felt something strange. I needed to walk in case I fell. I could feel it in my lungs.

That will be the same Lisa Scott who was pictured a few days ago with Natalie Bennett. Lisa's the one in the middle, leading the protest group.

I'm not entirely convinced that Ms Scott's ailment isn't psychosomatic.


Exit Stage Left - Josh 362

Following this story about the US Republicans attempting to get the National Science Foundation to do more science rather than musicals, I wondered what songs they would sing. Maybe readers can suggest some other appropriate numbers.

Cartoons by Josh


Captions please

I wonder what was said when Steve Sanderson, the Chairman of UK Oil and Gas Investments, met Natalie Bennet at the Horse Hill exploration site this morning?



Flogging the phosphorus horse

Over at the Conversation, a couple of academics are trying on the whole "we're going to run out of phosphorus" malarkey again. 

How the great phosphorus shortage could leave us short of food

This has been so thoroughly debunked so often that you'd think that nobody would want to risk it again, but it seems there is no limit to the foolishness of the eco-academic.

I think what they are actually trying to say is that they have invented a process to recycle a mineral. Unfortunately that mineral is cheap and abundant and nobody is interested in their work. But they'd quite like someone to invest in it anyway.

What a way to spend your life.



The UK just struck oil


A scrap of good news

There is some good news on the energy crisis front, albeit only a small scrap. This is the announcement by EDF that they are going to extent the life of Torness nuclear power station to 2030 - it was originally meant to close in 2023. 

That said, it's going to make precious little difference to the energy crisis that is currently threatening us, and may even overwhelm us next winter, as Euan Mearns sets out in this recent post.

I'm going to be on BBC Radio Scotland shortly to discuss what the Torness decision means. 


Obama and the climate change musical

Republicans in the US House of Representatives are currently trying to get a grip on one small part of the Washington bureaucracy by trying to get the National Science Foundation to concentrate on funding useful science. Lamar Smith, the Texas Congressman who is leading the charge, is firing off shots over NSF's funding for public necessities like a climate change themed musical, an effort that set the taxpayer back some $700,000. He wants standards set in place - things like "increasing the health and welfare of the public".

Reasonable enough? Apparently not. Entirely unembarrassed by their excesses, the bureaucrats and their chums are declaring their outrage. President Obama is even threatening a veto.

They work for you, I'm told.


Will fusion kill the climate debate?

I keep a weather eye on developments in the nuclear fusion field, although always with an eye to the oft-levelled criticism that practical fusion is just 30 years away and always has been. 

But last week I did start to get a bit more excited when I learned that the Chinese have managed to contain hydrogen plasma at  50 million degrees C for nearly two minutes. The shift from fractions of a second to minutes seems, to me at least, to bring about a change in perception. We are dealing with an engineering problem rather than a science problem.

Windfarms are already redundant - they have never been anything else - but perhaps they are going to be joined on the scrapheap by oil and gas much sooner than we thought.

Although of course we'll still have to deal with the green protests first.



Further to yesterday's post, it seems that the Independent will be ending its print editions in just a few weeks' time. Leo Hickman helpfully reminds us what we'll be missing.


Marvellous exchanges

The latest exchanges over the Marvel et al paper make for fascinating reading. Over at RealClimate, Gavin Schmidt writes a rather thin response to Nic Lewis's critique. Lewis has responded at length at Climate Audit.

Gavin, as might be expected, has made heavy use of his standard, "paraphrase, don't quote" technique, creating a series of strawmen that he can knock down with ease. For instance, at one point Lewis set out a great deal of evidence that suggested that land-use changes may have been omitted from a calculation. He mused about whether there was a rational explanation. Gavin paraphrased this as [my emphasis]:

Lewis in subsequent comments has claimed without evidence that land use was not properly included in our historical runs, and that there must be an error in the model radiative transfer.

Click to read more ...


Talking of comedians

If you thought the antics of the greens at the Cuadrilla inquiry were silly, take a look at Bob the Blether's latest in the Independent, outlining a vast right-wing conspiracy centred on, erm, 55 Tufton Street, Westminster. 

And they call us conspiracy theorists!

In related news, the owners of the Independent are considering closing it down.


Greens: shale gas is not a tourist draw

For those with nothing better to do, the livestream of the Cuadrilla public inquiry can be seen here. For everyone else who wants to see what Friends of the Earth are getting up to, there are daily summaries at Drill or Drop, a green tinged website that tries hard to present a balanced view of the shale gas story.

Although FoE haven't tried their "sand is a carcinogen" line yet, they do seem to have come up with some fairly wild claims. Like this for example:

[FoE barrister Ms Dehon] put it to [Cuadrilla planning witness Mr Smith] that if Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road operated together they would generate waste fluid that would amount to 65% of the UK waste treatment capacity.

They have also knocked the exploration operation for only creating 22 jobs and...wait for it...not being a tourist draw.

[Robin Green, the barrister for Roseacre Awareness Group] said: “As a tourism draw, fracking is unlikely to be up there as a draw”

For those who are interested, here are the tourism data for Pennsylvania.


Greenshirt thuggery condemned

While I was busy yesterday, several people pointed me to another shot in the ongoing battle between advocates for indigenous peoples and the environmentalists who are trampling roughshod over them. 

Survival International has apparently issued a formal complaint to the OECD about WWF, whose hired hands have been involved in violent abuse of the Baka people of Cameroon.

This is the first time a conservation organization has been the subject of a complaint to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), using a procedure more normally invoked against multinational corporations.

The complaint charges WWF with involvement in violent abuse and land theft against Baka “Pygmies” in Cameroon, carried out by anti-poaching squads which it in part funds and equips.

I would have thought the Charities Commissioner might take an interest too.


Tail wind

I once faced off against Paul Williams of Reading University in a radio debate. He came across as a pretty rational kind of guy and we had a nice exchange of emails afterwards. But I have to say that his most recent paper is one of those ones that make you despair with their sheer futility. Here's the BBC take on it.

Flights from the UK to the US could take longer due to the changes in the climate, according to a new study.

Global warming is likely to speed up the jet stream, say researchers, and slow down aeroplanes heading for the US.

While eastbound flights from the US will be quicker, roundtrip journeys will "significantly lengthen".

It's published in Environmental Research Letters, which is usually not a good sign. The authors apparently fed "synthetic atmospheric wind fields generated from climate model simulations into a routing algorithm of the type used operationally by flight planners" and deduced that westbound transatlantic flights were going to take longer while eastbound flights will be faster. But, almost inevitably, the losses are expected to outweight the gains.

I wonder what evidence there is that GCMs can predict, or even hindcast, changes in wind speeds in a warming world? 

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