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Entries by Bishop Hill (6690)

Thursday
Dec172015

Criminal records for Friends of the Earth, Sandbag

Guy Shrubsole: convictYesterday, the green activists who disrupted the Banks Mining facility next to Matt Ridley's home in Northumberland were up in court on charges of aggravated trespass. I have received the following report.

1. Yesterdays court case went ahead as planned at Bedlington Magistrates Court.

2. The nine charged protesters all appeared in court. They brought along a barrister from Manchester.

3. They appeared rather 'sheepish' in court.

4. The barrister argued mitigating circumstances on the basis of that it was a legitimate protest and that the protesters were frustrated by the lack of UK Government action to combat climate change. The judge (a district judge) apparently didn’t think much of this and suggested that it was not appropriate for matters of national politics to be argued by way of illegal obstruction of legitimate coal mining operations in Northumberland.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec172015

The vacuity of Naomi Oreskes

You turn your back for a few hours and suddenly Naomi Oreskes does something even more foolish and generally loathsome than normal. Her op-ed in the Guardian yesterday looked at the subject of nuclear energy, and using her normal considered approach to people with whom she has minor political differences she decided to unleash the 'd' word.

There is also a new, strange form of denial that has appeared on the landscape of late, one that says that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs.

Oddly, some of these voices include climate scientists, who insist that we must now turn to wholesale expansion of nuclear power. Just this past week, as negotiators were closing in on the Paris agreement, four climate scientists held an off-site session insisting that the only way we can solve the coupled climate/energy problem is with a massive and immediate expansion of nuclear power. More than that, they are blaming environmentalists, suggesting that the opposition to nuclear power stands between all of us and a two-degree world.

Of course nobody with an IQ in double figures takes anything Oreskes says seriously, but we have to welcome this intervention because it does give us the opportunity to laugh at all the people who are quite happy to use the 'd' word about those on the opposite side of the climate debate now venting their spleen over the use of the term in the energy debate.

 

 

 

Wednesday
Dec162015

The best laid plans of Westminster mice

  Do you remember the grid emergency the other day, when the grid was said to have accepted an offer of £2500 per MWh to supply power to the grid, a slight markup on the normal price of £40?  The Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee reckon there may have been some dodgy dealing going on and they have written to Ofgem asking for an investigation:

 

 The best laid plans o' Westminster mice gang aft into a rent-seeker's paradise. Perhaps it might have been a good idea to maintain higher safety margins on the grid?

Tuesday
Dec152015

Sierra Club silliness

Many thanks to John Shade for this hilarious video from the US Congress, which I hadn't seen before.

Tuesday
Dec152015

A fracking corrective

The levels of disinformation about the shale gas industry has been quite overwhelming, although obviously very much par for the course for environmentalists. It's good therefore to have a corrective in the shape of this paper by Kevin Hollinrake, the MP for Thirsk & Malton. 

Hollinrake has been to Pennsylvania to take a look at the shale gas industry on the ground and his approach of just driving around asking people what they thought leads to a powerful rebuttal of the scare stories:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec152015

Windfall

The Press and Journal has details of some truly phenomenal payments to wind farms in order to get them to switch off.

An energy giant was paid nearly £600,000 in less than a month – to turn off its windfarm and not produce any electricity.

Some or all of SSE’s 33 turbines at Strathy North were shut down almost daily between November 12 and December 10.

Last night, campaigners branded the situation “scandalous”, but the power company said it had to play its part in balancing the needs of the National Grid.

Westminster politicians: enabling graft and corruption since 1265AD.

Tuesday
Dec152015

The extraordinary climate effect of land-use change

The latest attempt to conjure up a hypothesis as to why things are going to get much worse on the climate front has appeared in Nature Climate Change, with an author team including Gavin Schmidt and Kate Marvel.

The paper delves deeper into the idea of forcing efficacy, a concept that is explained as follows:

The concept of radiative forcing is used to compare the effects of different physical drivers on the Earth's energy budget. Two forcing agents that produce a similar radiative imbalance might be expected to initiate similar feedbacks and have the same global mean temperature response. However, there can be variations in the size and type of feedbacks engendered by a specific forcing, mainly due to geographical variations in the forcing magnitude. These variations can be characterized by an efficacy that scales for the differences in temperature response. Forcings that project more strongly on the Northern Hemisphere, land or polar regions are systematically more effective at changing temperatures than an equivalent amount of CO2, whose forcing is more uniformly distributed throughout the globe. The converse is true for forcings localized in the Southern Hemisphere or ocean regions.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec142015

Library manoeuvres

Updated on Dec 14, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The opposition have called a debate on the Cumbria floods tomorrow, and so the House of Commons Library has issued a briefing paper to MPs. There's lot to amuse. For example, I read with interest that:

...there is a general understanding that climate change is likely to be linked to increased winter rain in the UK.

I think it's fair to say that this is complete drivel. As Richard Betts has quite rightly noted, predictions of UK climate are incredibly difficult because of our geographical position. Most commentators also agree that GCMs are useless when it comes to rainfall. So predictions about UK rainfall are almost impossible to take seriously. The "increased winter rain" story is of course derived from the UKCP09 climate projections, which are so wrong they put even Lord Deben in the shade. The idea that there is a "general understanding" of anything based on this farce of a computer simulation is preposterous.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec142015

Superforecasting

I'm sure for many readers here, Philip Tetlock's famous studies of the predictions of experts need little introduction. His most famous finding - that specialists are considerably worse at making predictions than generalists - is now quite well known, although less so among the general public and media than it should be.

His more recent work has been a project looking at forecasts in the realm of geopolitics and the results are summarised in his latest book, Superforecasting. The project asked panels of volunteers to make forecasts and then tested how accurate they turned out to be in reality. Much of the book focuses on "superforecasters" - those people who turned out to be noticeably better at it.

Suffice it to say that there was little by way of expertise that made these people stand out from the crowd. They were bright people, but not off-the scale geniuses; numerate but not those inclined to conjure with arcane mathematics. It was more about independence of mind, the ability to constantly recalibrate and to question assumptions, the ability to think in terms of probabilities rather than in black and white terms.

And although the book barely mentions climate, and indeed the focus of the project was on short-term predictions not long-term ones, it was hard while reading it not to keep wondering "do climatologists think like this?"

Co-authored by pop-sci writer Dan Gardner, the text is as light as a feather, making it readily accessible to nearly everyone. A good Christmas pressie for the geek in your life. Buy it here.

 

Monday
Dec142015

Kaye sera sera

I was on the Kaye Adams show this morning, talking about Paris and what one can do about one's personal carbon footprint. Also featured was BH favourite Louise Gray, although we didn't get a chance to interact.

We touched on energy, recycling, the global warming movement and green gestures although I'm not sure Ms Adams realised I was a "bad person" until rather late in the day. It was great fun.

Audio should be available here this afternoon (climate segment was from the top of the show, with me on after about half an hour).

Sunday
Dec132015

Saudi snow

A reader in Saudi Arabia send this picture which was taken recently in the north of that country.

The naughty thing doesn't seem to be conforming to the local sumptuary laws.

Sunday
Dec132015

Cold light of day is earlier than usual

As predicted in our lighthearted look at the COPs, the breakthrough moment at COP21 was reached yesterday. The cold light of day appears to have been reached almost immediately afterwards.

Grand promises of Paris climate deal undermined by squalid retrenchments

Friday
Dec112015

Greens lining the pockets of farmers

This excerpt is from Farmer's Weekly, (paywalled here).

I’ve been spotted rummaging through the hedges and tracks than border my farm, searching high and low for, would you believe, an electricity substation. It turns out that if you are lucky enough to find one on or near your farm, and it’s over 33kV, you’re blessed: you can now go ‘generator farming’.

On a concrete pad (hmm, carbon footprint?), surrounded by a massive earth bund, an array of diesel-powered (yes, diesel) generators are installed and linked to the grid. Their sole purpose is to switch on and provide back-up power when the national grid is found wanting. They are known as ‘short term operating reserves’, or Stors.

The figures (as supplied by Strutt and Parker) are astonishing. The average Stor will supply 20MW, and so will need 50 400kW generators. The rents are even more mind blowing. The rule of thumb is £1,000-£2,500/MW capacity, so for a 20MW Stor – well, do the sums yourself. The other good news (assuming you yourself don’t live in earshot) is they tend to only work at night – probably something to do with the inherent night-time uselessness of solar farms. And if you do live nearby, fifty grand a year will pay for some serious double-glazing, or even a new house at the far end of the farm.

 

Friday
Dec112015

The Lewandowsky concoction

The Social Psychology of Morality, a forthcoming book from the Psychology Press, has a chapter on the interaction between "high moral purpose" and scientific integrity, and takes a brief look at the work of Stephan Lewandowsky, including this summary of the great man's work:

Understanding when people are and are not persuaded by science is an interesting and important area of research. But this curious case highlights the threat to scientific integrity that can stem from high moral missions. The notion that skeptics believed something so silly as the faking of the moon landing is yet another myth essentially concocted by the researchers.

 

 

Friday
Dec112015

The world the greens created

While the energy and climate punters are concentrating on Paris, the results of the government's latest capacity auction are out. The market cleared at £18/kW which means that no new CCGT power stations will be built. Instead, the gap is going to be filled with diesel generators and OCGT.