Julian Huppert MP writes… Carbon and fracking

Climate change is one of the most, if not the most, dangerous threat facing the world today. The evidence could hardly be any clearer – unless we curtail greenhouse gas emissions sharply, the results will be massively detrimental to us all and put the lives of future generations at enormous risk.

We’ve made progress in government. Investment in green energy has doubled since 2010, renewable energy sources now meet about a fifth of our electricity needs, and we are creating 200,000 new green jobs. That’s great – but nothing like everything that we need to do.

The government is keen to push ahead with fracking because it’s seen as a wonderful route to cheap energy. I’m sceptical of that promise. But I’m especially alarmed that the chase for shale gas will jeopardise any chance we have of reducing our carbon emissions, and I’m not prepared to see fracking go ahead if it means we pump more carbon into the atmosphere. That just wouldn’t be acceptable.

The government claims that fracking is a relatively clean form of energy. Whilst it’s better than coal, it’s far worse than renewables, which is where we need to be.

That’s why, together with Lib Dem colleagues, I’ve tabled an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill. It says that fracking should not be allowed unless the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – a group of experts most of us trust – have assessed that it will in fact lead to carbon reductions.

I don’t believe that it does, and as shown in Nature, a boom in shale gas extraction would likely squeeze out the development of the renewable energy sector. The government’s own report on ‘Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Shale Gas Extraction and Use’ says “we believe it is credible that shale-gas use would increase both short-term and long-term emissions rates”.

If the government means what they say, they should support my amendment. If they really believe fracking is a low-carbon energy source, they shouldn’t be scared of letting the CCC make a fair and accurate assessment of it.

Meeting our climate targets needs to be at the forefront of our energy policy. My amendment sets out to do that, and that is why I believe so strongly it must be supported.

There are many other amendments around on fracking. I’ve co-sponsored one calling for Sites of Special Scientific Interest, conservation areas, national parks and other important areas to be protected from fracking – I hope that will be supported as well.

Future generations will never forgive us if we make a choice that increases carbon emissions and destroys our most important landscapes.

* Julian Huppert was the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge from 2010-15

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44 Comments

  • I know you mean well, but you should really have a close look at the scientific facts. I mean established facts, not the output of climate models upon which climate science is largely based. The models and reality parted company last century but their creators continue to live in denial.

  • Jenny Barnes 21st Jan '15 - 4:38pm

    We really don’t need fracked gas. While gas burnt in CCGT power stations produces roughly half the co2 output per kW as coal, Qatar has plenty, and it can easily be delivered here. Well done!

  • “The government is keen to push ahead with fracking because it’s seen as a wonderful route to cheap energy. I’m sceptical of that promise.”

    With oil at sub 50 USD (per barrel), fracking across many parts of the USA is totally uneconomic. According to some oil industry sources whilst some (US) fields can make a small profit at 53 USD, many require at least 80 USD. Due to the added difficulties of UK geology, we can expect UK fracking to not be viable until prices return to circa 100 USD. The question is when will this happen, well according to the analyst’s Saudia Arabia has sufficient cash reserves coupled with some belt tightening to keep prices at circa 50 USD for the next 4~8 years.

    I suggest one of the ways that we can further reduce the rush to frack in the UK is to ensure that it receives zero government subsidy. The real concern we must have is the price oil will return to once Saudia Arabia either exhausts or decides to stop giving away, its cash reserves…

  • Simon Oliver – This illustrates the divergence between models and observations.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2014/02/95-of-climate-models-agree-the-observations-must-be-wrong/

  • Excellent! If this were Lib Dem policy I’d be far more likely to come back to vote for the party. But there’s no chance of that, so I – and many others – won’t be.

  • Simon Oliver
    The link I’ve provided may need some explanation. Ninety model predictions are shown for the climate temperature anomaly. The IPCC uses an ensemble of these actual model predictions as the basis for recommendations to policymakers.

    Two observation datasets are shown, HadCrut which is UK Met Office/Climatic Research Unit of East Anglia and UAH which is the University of Alabama sensor on the NASA Aqua satellite. Dr Roy Spencer is in charge of this system.

    These datasets are typical of the other terrestrial and satellite datasets, NOAA, GISS and RSS.

    The data shows an ever growing divergence between model output and observation, which is exactly what I said in the first comment under this post. The global warming scare now drives a multi-trillion dollar industry and major political movement. As always, pointing out that the emperor has no clothes may be honest, but it is never popular.

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Jan '15 - 7:50pm

    Two points – it may well turn out in hindsight to have been fracking that staved off the effects of peak oil for nearly a decade.

    Conventional oil production has flatlined since 2005, and world production has been kept up by non-conventional liquids – stuff drilled from 18,000 feet down under the seabed, liquidised forms of natural gas, shale oil and so on. The easy stuff that flows under pressure from not very deep down seems to have got scarcer.

    I am not entirely sure what started the downward trend in oil prices but many extraction activities were not making a profit at $110 a barrel. $50 a barrel is only going to leave conventional oil extraction intact – and not even all of that – profitable.

    My second point is not even as cheerful as this – the climate change may well have entered a terminal phase with the release of methane from the land and subsea Arctic permafrost. If this sis o, then some people are arguing that we are in the early stages of a self-reinforcing feedback loop which is unstoppable, and which leads to human extinction in the next few decades.

    http://guymcpherson.com/climate-chaos/

  • Well done Julian Huppert. Well done Lancashire County Council on today’s decision.

    As William Hobhouse says – RENEWABLES !

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Jan '15 - 8:04pm

    Peter,

    If only global warming was just a scare.

    I think you will find that the IPCC are, if anything, too conservative.

    Firstly,hey need to reach a consensus, and this weeds out more “extreme” views.

    Secondly, they only use dat from peer reviewed journals. The trouble is that if you have ever had any experience of the academic peer review process, you will know that this is often years out of date. None of the IPCC’s assessments has said anything about the beginning of methane release from the Arctic. For millions of years methane, which is twenty times more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, has been shut up in the land and undersea permafrost, held there by low temperature. a few years ago, it began bubbling out here and there. I am sure you will find plenty of youtube videos showing columns of this gas on fire under in the middle of Siberian snowfields.

    The trouble is, some of these columns are now 150km in diameter – imagine being in a ship in the middle of such a thing. Looking out to every horizon, you would see nothing but sea with methane seeping out.

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Jan '15 - 8:06pm

    Clarification – my first post above on peak oil. Fracking was not really profitable at $110 a barrel. it is not going to be profitable at $50 a barrel.

  • Yer and what happens when the lights go out due to your mad green policy

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Jan '15 - 9:28pm

    Tez,

    But how ill you keen the lights on at $50 a barrel oil? – the price of natural gas is linked.

  • Well, this is fun. Peter assures us that the bulk of peer-reviewed science is completely wrong and that we can just keep drilling, while Tsar Nicolas believes we’re going to be all dead in twenty years regardless of our actions.

    At the risk of falling into the logical fallacy of the golden mean, I suspect that the true outcome of the next few decades will end up falling somewhere in between.

  • @Peter – The fundamental question those who question the climate/environmental change science is: what is your plan if you’re wrong? I’m sure I don’t need to spell out what the plan is if the climate change science if found to be wrong…

    From a risk assessment point of view, it is significantly less risky to accept the science and start making changes. Because the choice is risk everything and potentially crash and burn (UK population sub 5m by circa 2050?) or make changes and increase our chances of maintaining a functioning society (albeit with a reduced population in 2050 compared to today).

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Jan '15 - 11:00pm

    T-J

    I did not say that I believed we would be dead in 20 years, but I did link to a lengthy article on the matter which lays out the facts.

    In fact, it is not a matter of belief at all – that is a logical fallacy known as – guess what – ‘the appeal to belief.’

    It is a fact that methane release on a large scale has started in the Arctic. It is also a fact that the IPCC has not dealt with this in any of its reports/assessments.

    http://guymcpherson.com/climate-chaos/

  • Tsar Nicolas, in my defense, you did originally couch your prediction in terms of ‘if this is so’ and ‘may well have’, so I think I was justified in referring to your statements as an expression of belief.

    Anyway, McPherson’s opinions don’t count as fact just because he’s written a truly epic blog post about them. He doesn’t get carte blanche to ignore the peer-review process by merely stating that all the professionals actually believe what he’s saying but daren’t say it, any more than Peter gets to say they really secretly agree with him but need the money from the great conspiracy.

    https://fractalplanet.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/how-guy-mcpherson-gets-it-wrong/

  • Tsar Nicolas 22nd Jan '15 - 4:54am

    T-J

    First paragraph – fair point.

    Second paragraph – McPherson doesn’t say that the IPCC daren’t agree with him nor does he say that there’s a conspiracy theory. He just points out that the peer review process has delays built into it by its very nature and that consequently the 2014 Assessment doesn’t take account of methane release.

    I know we live in a wolrd where plenty of people talk about social construction of reality and all that, and that is a reasonable position to take in many instances, but in the last analysis, whether methane is being released from the permafrost in large quantities is independent of whether people believe it is actually taking place.

    I wish more people would read Mcpherson’s s analysis and refute it, because the facts and his logic leads to a chilling conclusion.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Jan '15 - 5:31am

    I’m sceptical about fracking. Not allowing it could be one of those nice and simple to understand green policies I have been talking about. However, I don’t trust the UN, the IPCC, the EU or any other group that has supported alarmism and money making ideas such as emissions trading.

    My opinion doesn’t matter much at the moment, but at least I’m currently able to be independent minded.

  • @Simon – re: Dr Roy Spencer

    Interesting: he received his PhD in meteorology in 1981, subsequently worked in organisations and jobs on the leading edge of scientific discovery, then became a Principal Research Scientist at UAH in 2001; an entire career where the expectation is to publish your work and yet has not a single published scientific paper to his name…

  • The climate models are potentially the best tool for predicting future climate. They are highly complex and apply the known physics together with assumptions. As we can see, the models are showing serious warming compared to reality so some of the equations or assumptions are wrong.

    Models that cannot mimic reality are invalid as predictive tools and in normal science invalid models are either scrapped or modified. Climate scientists cling to the invalid models and hope that reality will catch up.

    There is clearly much less certainty about the carbon dioxide/temperature relationship today than decades ago when the models and observation were in good agreement. The alarmism generated at that time was justified, though it included the assumption that correlation implies causation. I think we can say today that the models are still suggesting catastrophic warming but reality suggests that it is highly unlikely.

    Tsar Nicolas – I am aware that you often cite Professor Wadhams who has a reputation for claiming that the Arctic sea ice would be completely gone by 2015. Not long to wait, but don’t hold your breath!

    Roland – This is a very serious question. The 18 year hiatus in temperature shows that the models are wrong, but it does not guarantee that rapid warming will not resume. Clearly, our understanding of the science is poor and currently no one knows what the climate will do next. There is, however, growing acknowledgement that catastrophic warming looks less and less likely as the hiatus continues. There are many who have a vested interest in the alarmism continuing who would disagree.

    The precautionary principle – we cannot afford not to react – is less justified than before and unilateral action has zero effect anyway. Adaptability is seen to be the better way, particularly now that the more extreme models are completely discredited. We need good, old fashioned research into the natural factors that control our global thermostat. Our planet is very good at negating climate changes. For decades the funding bandwagon has paid for greenhouse gas studies so our understanding of the natural climate driver basics has been neglected.

    Simon Oliver – With respect, this is a serious discussion of an important matter and I have no wish to get involved in smear tactics employed by activist websites that cannot argue with the science. I too, get highly abusive emails and threats for pointing out the facts.

  • @Roland
    His boss, John Christy, might publish the papers but that is purely a guess. The pressure to publish papers comes with the competition to get funding, perhaps that was not an issue. Another factor is government or commercial confidentiality considerations or intellectual property ownership. I’ve never published a research paper in my career, but I have filed over a couple of dozen patents worldwide.

  • @Peter – “His boss, John Christy, might publish the papers but that is purely a guess”

    He might, but it has been considered bad practise since the 80’s to omit the names of the team/contributors from the article, so that they can gain credit and enhance their reputations (and justify to the university why they should continue to fund their researches). But I found it surprising that on both his own website and on the Wikipedia article no formal scientific papers were listed.

  • Simon Oliver 22nd Jan ’15 – 4:30pm
    All I am doing is asking for a scientific reference – something you have still failed to provide. If you are going to make scientific assertions, back it up with some actual science.

    Simon Oliver, don’t hold your breath if you are waiting for “Peter” to come up with a reputable scientific source. Some time ago I asked him for one in a thread about nuclear power. I have given up waiting.

    I do not know if “Peter” is his real name, if he has any connection with the Liberal Democrats, or even if he is paid by the comment to post in LDV.

    T-J 21st Jan ’15 – 9:48pm
    “……..Well, this is fun. Peter assures us that the bulk of peer-reviewed science is completely wrong …”

    Yes indeed — I prefer to believe the 98% of scientists who have demonstrated that Peter and the Flat Earth Society might well be wrong.

  • @ Roland
    I found the following on Wikipedia. I have no idea whether this is an exhaustive list or not.

    Peer-reviewed papers
    Spencer, Roy W.; Christy, John R. (1990). “Precise Monitoring of Global Temperature Trends from Satellites”. Science 247 (4950): 1558–1562. Bibcode:1990Sci…247.1558S. doi:10.1126/science.247.4950.1558. PMID 17782811.
    Spencer, Roy W.; Braswell, William D. (2007). “Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations”. Geophysical Research Letters 34 (15): L15707. Bibcode:2007GeoRL..3415707S. doi:10.1029/2007GL029698.
    Spencer, Roy W.; Braswell, William D. (2008). “Potential Biases in Feedback Diagnosis from Observational Data: A Simple Model Demonstration”. Journal of Climate 21 (21): 5624–5628. Bibcode:2008JCli…21.5624S. doi:10.1175/2008JCLI2253.1.
    Spencer, Roy W.; Braswell, William D. (2010). “On the diagnosis of radiative feedback in the presence of unknown radiative forcing”. Journal of Geophysical Research 115 (D16): D16109. Bibcode:2010JGRD..11516109S. doi:10.1029/2009JD013371.
    Spencer, Roy W.; Braswell, William D. (2011). “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance”. Remote Sensing 3 (8): 1603–1613. Bibcode:2011RemS….3.1603S. doi:10.3390/rs3081603.

  • Below find 40 peer-reviewed papers published in science journals by 120+ scientists that have low (2.0 C or less, 1.1 C median) climate sensitivity estimates (with ECS values highlighted below).

    [ECS = equilibrium climate sensitivity, TCR = transient climate sensitivity]

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n6/full/ngeo1836.html
    2.0 (17 scientists, 14 of them IPCC Lead Authors)
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00382-012-1375-3?LI=true
    2.0
    http://folk.uio.no/gunnarmy/paper/aldrin_env_2012.pdf
    2.0
    http://www.klimatupplysningen.se/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Bengtsson-Tellus.pdf
    2.0
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304380014000404
    1.99
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00382-013-1770-4
    1.9
    http://www.int-res.com/articles/cr2003/23/c023p001.pdf
    1.9
    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~mzelinka/Forster_etal13.pdf
    1.8
    http://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/4/785/2013/esdd-4-785-2013.html
    1.8
    http://www.iac.ethz.ch/doc/publications/Chylek-Lohmann-GRL2008-comment.pdf
    1.8
    http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/5/139/2014/esd-5-139-2014.html
    1.8
    http://file.scirp.org/Html/24283.html
    1.7
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00382-014-2342-y
    1.64
    http://www.princeton.edu/~gkv/papers/Padilla_etal11.pdf
    1.6 (TCR) [using Lewis & Curry assumption that ECS = 1.15*TCR = 1.84C]
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2011GL050226/abstract
    1.55 (TCR) [using Lewis & Curry assumption that ECS = 1.15*TCR = 1.78C]
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00473.1
    1.6
    http://people.duke.edu/~ns2002/pdf/EARTH_1890.pdf
    1.5
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1307.3706.pdf
    1.35
    http://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/5/529/2014/esdd-5-529-2014.html
    1.3
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13143-014-0011-z
    1.3
    http://www.clim-past-discuss.net/8/4923/2012/cpd-8-4923-2012.html
    1.1
    http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~douglass/papers/published_E&E%20douglass_christy.pdf
    1.1
    http://multi-science.metapress.com/content/k76363u651167q65/
    0.96
    http://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/4/25/2013/esdd-4-25-2013.html
    0.67
    http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/236-Lindzen-Choi-2011.pdf
    0.67
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/Spencer-and-Braswell-08.pdf
    0.67
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Spencer_Misdiagnos_11.pdf
    0.62
    http://www.scipublish.com/journals/ACC/papers/846
    0.60
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364682612001617
    0.53
    http://multi-science.metapress.com/content/3678681q807n8236/fulltext.pdf?page=1
    0.51
    http://www.iac.ethz.ch/doc/publications/Chylek-et-al-JGR2007-climate-sens.pdf
    0.50
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01592922
    0.50
    http://www.int-res.com/articles/cr/10//c010p069.pdf
    0.40
    http://www.ecd.bnl.gov/steve/pubs/HeatCapacity.pdf
    0.39
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0450%281979%29018%3C0822%3AQCTPIO%3E2.0.CO%3B2
    0.30
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2006GL026355/abstract
    0.29
    http://www.klimatupplysningen.se/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/paltridgearkingpook.pdf
    0.26
    http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~douglass/papers/DK_reply_PLA_2012.pdf
    0.21
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412008001232
    0.02
    http://atlatszo.hu/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/article.pdf
    0.00

    h/t The HockeySchtick

  • @Simon Oliver
    If you are relying on the skepticalscience website for your source of “truth” then I am not prepared to waste my time discussing it. The “LIE”s that you list have long been accepted by facts as the climate science community. These points are not in dispute.

    How can anyone dispute the pause in temperature when it is a scientific fact agreed by all the leading scientists and is there in the global temperature record? The UK Met office has published several reports on it. The reasons for the pause have been the main subject of debate in climate science for more than a decade with hundreds of papers on the subject. The Cowtan and Way paper does not make any difference to the accepted facts. except in the minds of those who wrongly used it to claim there was no pause.

    I recommend that you get your information from more reliable sources.

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd Jan '15 - 7:19pm

    Every article I read by Dr Huppert makes me wish that he was standing for election in my constituency.

  • Simon,
    Your point 9 above claims that the temperature pause is a lie.

    Let’s put all of this in perspective. The first two sentences in this post are less true today than they were a few decades ago. Global warming is no longer considered to be a life threatening catastrophic problem and the science is not settled at all.

    I’m not saying global warming does not exist or that it is not a problem, I’m simply pointing out that the problem has eased a bit. You don’t hear that being said much for a number of reasons. I’ll come back to that.

    To explain my point, I linked to Roy Spencer’s graph. All the data on that graph is completely genuine and accepted by everyone. It is all in the public domain as individual results, he just put it in one graph. It shows the rapid warming and good agreement between models and the actual temperature in the early part of the curve.

    The scientists believed that the warming was completely due to CO2, nothing could stop it and the rate of warming would continue. The alarmism was justified if they were right. Then the warming stopped.

    The models continue to show strong warming because they were programmed to relate the rate to to the increase in CO2.

    The observational data shows that none of the models is correct. They are all running too hot. They have invalidated their ability to be used for prediction. That is just a simple fact. The scientists are responding in different ways. There have been about 70 papers trying to justify that this is a temporary blip and that the problem is still building up. None of these has been taken up with enthusiasm because they all lack sufficient evidence.

    The 40 papers I have linked to above say that the climate sensitivity is lower than previously thought (CS = degrees warming for a doubling of CO2) . Some of the warmer models were using climate sensitivities of about 6 or 7. The new papers are talking about less than 2 and possibly 1.

    I’ll continue in a new comment.

  • Another source of uncertainty creeping in is that the scientists originally stated that all the warming was due to CO2, nothing else could have done that and nothing could stop it. The pause has changed all that. Something has stopped the warming even if the effect is just temporary. If it is a natural effect, then the power of natural effects have been greatly underestimated and if it caused the warming to stop then it might have caused some of the warming in the first place.

    No one knows why the warming stopped. This is why it is now wrong to say that the science is settled. Equally, no one knows if the warming will suddenly resume at some frightening rate. The recent papers on climate sensitivity coming down tend to suggest that the warming will never be catastrophic. It does suggest that the assumptions in the models were wrong.

    One possible explanation is this: Carbon dioxide only causes limited warming. That has always been known. The effect is logarithmic with concentration so the first bit of CO2 has the greatest effect and subsequent increases have less and less. It was always thought that the warming atmosphere would hold more water vapour and the warmth would evaporate more water. Water is also a greenhouse gas so it would cause more warming, more evaporation, more water vapour, etc. This is the real catastrophic, runaway warming mechanism, but it is not well known to the general public who only hear about CO2. CO2 is really just the primer that gets the warming going.

    Many people argue that such a positive feedback loop is unlikely because in the past, CO2 has been at ten times the concentration without a problem. Our climate is actually very stable suggesting lots of negative feedbacks. Positive feedbacks are found in very unstable systems. There has been no evidence of the water vapour increase because the humidity has not increased and the famous hot spot in the troposphere predicted by the models has never been found despite decades of looking.

    Another possibility is that the extra water vapour forms clouds, reducing the heat input from the sun and therefore provided a cooling mechanism. No one knows whether any of these explanations are correct.

    So at the moment, there is huge uncertainty and no one knows what will happen next. The people who think our climate is dominated by the sun are predicting a long cooling period starting in 2017. If it does start cooling, that will be a shock to people.

    A lot of people actually hope the warming will resume because they do very well out of it. Governments have lots of green taxes. They refuse to fund research that questions the warming but lavish money on research that supports the warming.

    Most climate scientists are a bit biased because they get lots of funding and are worried that if it suddenly started cooling they could face some awkward questions.

    Consider that 1998 was the hottest year in the modern temperature record. Then the temperature stayed pretty flat after that. It is not surprising that every year since then has been very close to the 1998 temperature, either the same, slightly higher or slightly lower. Every time it is slightly higher there is a huge fuss made. 2014 is such an example. It is the hottest by 2 hundredths of a degree. In fact, the error is plus or minus one tenth of a degree so to claim it is the hottest year is not strictly true. It is impossible to say because it lies within the error band. That is just froth really, but it does demonstrate that the scientists are not being honest or objective.

    In conclusion, the science is not settled, though many still claim that it is. I don’t hear any scientists claiming loudly that we shall return to the massive warming shown by the more extreme models. The majority of them think that serious warming will resume. A growing number think that moderate warming will resume but it is not going to be serious. I don’t know which prediction is right, but I tend to think that the warming will be moderate. Professor Curry of Georgia Tech thinks that the pause will last a decade, maybe two. One thing is certain, our climate will change eventually because that is what it does.

  • Tsar Nicolas 24th Jan '15 - 6:56pm

    Peter,

    The so-called ‘pause’ is non-existent. It is a statistical artifact, the creation of a line that artificially starts in the El Nino year of 1998, when a lot of warmth came out of the ocean. If you plot a trend line that does not give 1998 undue prominence the so-called pause is not there.

    You will find plenty of year-to-year variation in the temperature – just as in any other complex system. if there is bull market in equities you will find plenty of days when share prices go down even though the general trend is up. that is called ‘noise in the system.’

    Two other points – the land temperatures do not take into account the greater warming of the oceans, and secondly, you must take into account the fact that there is a 40 year time lag for dumping CO2 into the atmosphere and the bulk of the warming effect to show up. So what was pumped into the air in 1975 is largely responsible for the warming that’s taking place now.

  • @Peter – Thanks for the list of papers, I was sure a list existed given the various reports.

    What I find strange is that whilst Dr Roy Spencer whilst at NASA did publish a paper that was found to contain factual inaccuracies due to the misreading of data, didn’t do two things: firstly simply acknowledge the error, it wasn’t the only major error NASA scientists had made – remember they had put the ozone hole over Antarctica down to an instrument malfunction. Secondly, base any further work on a detailed understanding and analysis of data. Instead the subsequent papers you listed largely focused on trying to justify a belief rather than simply correct the data reading error. Then he seems to have given up doing any real empirical research in his own right, hence all his subsequent (public) work has no empirical evidence to back it up. The reason why this is odd and hence why I dismiss his claims, is that his scientific grounding is in the detailed gathering and analysis of laerge complex data sets, hence he should have the skills necessary to dissect the work of others and identify the flaws in their logic.

    So when Dr Roy Spencer finally submits a paper to a recognised peer-reviewed scientific publication that shows the flaws in the various climate models and projections being banded around, I’m sure many will pay attention; until then he does himself no favours by spouting pseudo-science.

  • @Roland – I haven’t been following Spencer’s activities though I’m aware that he was one of the first to attack the performance of the models. I chose his graph simply because it compared about 90 models. Most similar graphs usually have 20 or less.

    Where we go from here is the point that interests me. All the models are running very much warmer than reality and that is a major embarrassment for the modellers. Yet they continue to use the models partly because they represent huge investment of resources and are massively complex, but also because they believe strongly that the climate will at some stage return to the projected warming curve.

    The other approach is demonstrated by the 40 papers listed above which claim that the sensitivity of the climate to increasing CO2 is much lower than previously believed.

    The models have a big problem because they largely ignore clouds because they don’t have the computing power for the necessary resolution or the understand of the mechanisms involved.. They tend to use aerosols as the cooling “lever” to tweak models that are running hot. Now that they are very hot compared to reality, the aerosols and other parameters are becoming too far removed from credible values.

    We are in an interesting time while Mother Nature keeps everyone guessing.

  • Tsar Nicolas 25th Jan '15 - 1:32pm

    Peter,

    Most of the climate change concern has been based on historical events in deep time, not on modelling the future.

    We are now at 0.85 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level, and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere now, given the 40 year time lag) will take us to at least 2 degrees celsius over baseline. there is no way to reduce CO2 levels over very short time spans so we must resign ourselves to a warmer world. Moreover, we may be in the early stages of a runaway greenhouse effect, given that large quantities of methane are bubbling out of the Arctic permafrost.

  • @Tsar Nicolas – I cannot say whether you are right or wrong. Certainly it has been warming since the little ice age, about 250 years ago. Overlaid on that are multidecadal ocean cycles, solar cycles, some anthropogenic warming and probably other effects we have not identified. The rate of sea level rise is slowing very slightly which may suggest the long term, underlying warming is slowing down.

    The CO2 residence time and time lags are hotly debated and seem to range from 5 years to 800 years. I take that to mean that no one knows. I know you are concerned about the arctic ice but it is strongly influenced by the oceans and the ice extent and can vary enormously over long periods. I’m not aware of any serious consequences due to released methane, but it is certainly raised as a danger from time to time and as a greenhouse gas the risk is plausible.

    But I have no special knowledge about these things. The problem with climate is the high degree of uncertainty associated with most aspects.

  • – Julian, 1. In 2025 where are we going to get the gas for standby power stations that are normally eeded to work in tandem with intermittent wind, solar and piddly straw bale power stations ?

    – 2. Please show us your graphs of future UK gas consumption and imports marked with the point that UK gas imports fall to zero.
    (So that we can compare it against what happens in the real world.)

    – 3. If you are going to suggest that gas standby power stations are going to be replaced by magic unproven solutions like battery banks and tiny domestic fridges linked to smart meters, then please supply similar graphs of future projections.
    4. Will any electricity end up coming from diesel generators ?

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