LibLink … Ed Davey: Britain must signal the beginning of the end for coal investment

Ed Davey Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterEd Davey writes in the Guardian:

For over 200 years, modern civilisation has been built on fossil fuels; now climate science says we must phase out fossil fuel pollution in just a few decades. That’s a colossal challenge – especially if we are to keep anything resembling current lifestyles while also ending the poverty that blights the lives of more than 1 billion fellow human beings.

We are already seeing a significant shift in thinking. The Rockefeller Foundation is divesting from coal and tar sands. Oxford University is considering similar action. And the Bank of England is analysing the impact on financial systems of fossil fuel investments becoming “stranded assets” – in other words worthless – if the world gets its act together on climate change.

He refers to the five green laws that were adopted at Liverpool at the weekend for the manifesto.

These include a zero-carbon Britain bill to raise the UK’s own 2050 climate change targets and give the UK’s green investment bank borrowing powers.

We won’t rescue humanity from self-destruction without a dramatic change in how we invest for our future energy needs. While recent years have brought massive capital flows into clean energy, fossil fuel investments remain huge. Many long-term insurance and pension liabilities are offset by fossil fuel assets. Yet groups as diverse as the InternationalEnergy Agency, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Carbon Tracker Initiative tell us that such investments look increasingly risky – because much of the known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground, to keep warming under the two-degree limit scientists tell us we must stick to.

He concludes:

If London and New York can agree this year on new regulations requiring such disclosures, ideally with Brussels and Tokyo too, that would be a historic step forward in global climate change policy. And it might help persuade the rest of the world that the developed, richer nations were really serious about helping the emerging and developing world to grow, but in a low-carbon way. An ambitious global treaty in Paris would then look so much easier to achieve.

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35 Comments

  • The Centre for Policy Studies describes renewables as the “most expensive policy disaster in modern British history”

    The S & T Committee of the house of Lords says it is not acceptable for an advanced economy, hugely dependent on electricity, to sail so close to the wind. They were commenting on the way Mr Davey lavished our money on expensive, last minute emergency backup. Luckily for him demand was less than expected, saving the humiliation of publicly demonstrating that our energy industry has been transformed to that of a third world country.

  • David Evershed 18th Mar '15 - 5:00pm

    Well done Margaret Thatcher for removing the government subsidy to the coal mines which were producing the coal which when burned produces poisonous emissions. She still doesn’t get the credit.

  • Peter
    http://powerbase.info/index.php/Centre_for_Policy_Studies
    Of course a lobby group set up by Margaret Thatcher and Keith Joseph and other extreme rightwing Conservatives say that.
    What did you expect and objective analysis?

    I expect you will be quoting Lord Lawson next or some other Conservative or UKIP tool of the vested interests that deny science.

  • Simon McGrath 18th Mar '15 - 5:25pm

    @john – leaving aside who set up the CPS, which bit of their analysis is wrong ?

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Mar '15 - 5:47pm

    David Evershed18th Mar ’15 – 5:00pm

    Another Thatcherite Tory-sympathising interloper.

  • @Simon McGrath:

    Please indicate which of the following you believe is untrue:
    1. Burning hydrocarbons (i.e. fossil fuels) releases CO2 and lots of heat
    2. Heat can only be lost from the earth by radiation (convection and conduction don’t work in a vacuum)
    3. The radiation produced at the temperatures we’re talking about is principally in the infra red.
    4. CO2 strongly absorbs infra red radiation, trapping the heat.
    5. So the earth is losing heat at a slower rate than before, but now has more heat to lose.
    6. The earth is heating up (global warming).

    If you don’t believe that the earth is warming up, then you need to find some evidence to back up your view, and explain what additional cooling effect is now in operation.

    If you do believe that the earth is warming up, but that it is not due to human activities then you need an additional heating effect that is operating to warm the earth up, given that you have a cooling effect that is counteracting the human activities (but the earth is still warming up).

    I agree, we need to ensure reliable electricity supplies, but that’s not actually difficult, since we have nuclear (fission) power. I accept that this is not without risks, but at worst it will kill people in the thousands and not the billions (and (1) I live near a nuke, so I’m directly in the firing line, (2) No, I don’t work there or have relatives who do).

    The bottom line is that political or economic “realities” are pretty insignificant compared to physical realities (a point well understood and illustrated by King Canute some time ago).

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Mar '15 - 6:52pm

    JUF18th Mar ’15 – 6:08pm

    You’ll be lucky. He still believes the earth is flat.

  • @ JUF

    Forgive me for pointing out that your knowledge of global warming is a bit shaky.

    Carbon dioxide absorption is logarithmic so the effect is greatest at the start then diminishes as the absorption bands become saturated.

    Carbon dioxide has a warming effect because it makes the atmosphere less transparent to outward IR radiation, raising the altitude of the effective emission layer where the radiation is lost to space. In order to maintain the lapse rate (temperature gradient with altitude) the surface temperature increases.

    Most people don’t realise that the carbon dioxide effect is relatively small. Most of the warming predicted by climate models is due to positive feedback whereby water vapour increases due to the warming. Water vapour is a powerful greenhouse gas, leading to more warming, more water vapour and more warming.

    Luckily for us, the models are wrong. The predicted “hot spot” over the Tropics has not been found despite 30 years of intense searching. The humidity of the troposphere has been decreasing, not increasing. The temperature has been static for over 18 years, a fact not predicted or explained by any model.

    Current research is hinting at the explanation which has always been obvious to those scientists not besotted with global warming hysteria.

    A water based planet like ours is never likely to be vulnerable to runaway warming due to the positive feedback of water vapour as a greenhouse gas. We know that because our climate is remarkably stable despite massive fluctuations in temperature far greater than today and carbon dioxide levels up to 10 times the current level.

    The answer is that negative feedbacks dominate our climate, so if it warming too much, cooling is triggered and vice versa.

    The most likely explanation is that more water vapour causes clouds to form and clouds increase earth’s albedo (reflect more sunlight back to space) and is therefore a powerful cooling mechanism.

    Climate scientists don’t know how to model clouds and their models cannot handle the resolution that is required so this aspect of our climate cooling is not in any model. You may find this astonishing since every British holidaymaker fully appreciates the cooling effect of clouds.

    I’m afraid that the assumptions made by climate scientists and their models failed to surprise me years ago. However, challenging the models is a recipe for the cancellation of government funding and not many are prepared to abandon the lucrative gravy train while it is at full throttle. Those who do are ostracized and will never find work again since the entire organisation is punished for stepping out of line.

  • “For over 200 years, modern civilisation has been built on fossil fuels;”
    And the undeniable fact is that, once you exclude those fossil fuels, our ‘modern civilisation’, will go into a steep decline. Is he [Ed Davey], ready to tell the electorate that unpalatable truth? Are the electorate ready to accept the fact that they will have to consume less, …fly less, ….drive less? And those latter questions go to Ed Davey also! This Carbon Free meme, is easy to write pontificating articles about, but it will *not* be pain free for those who increasingly find themselves excluded from ‘modern civilisation’.
    Ask yourself Ed Davey:
    Are *you* ready to cancel that next 5000 air-miles holiday flight, for the good of our global climate, or are you saying that it is for others to lower their standards ~ not you?

  • At 20:53 this evening (when writing this comment) the total demand on the national grid was 44.09 GigaWatts.

    The largest contribution was from coal fired generation. After throwing billions in lucrative subsidies at the renewables generation market, wind power was contributing a remarkable 0.9 GW or just 2.13% of the total.

    This illustrates the pipe dream that constitutes our energy policy. I used the word “remarkable” because it is very difficult to imagine a more stupid and unworkable policy.

  • @Peter: can you point to any peer – reviewed articles in reputable scientific journals that back up your claims?

    If you look at the history of science, you’ll see that the prizes generally go to those who overturn the established theories, so there would be no reason not to publish. Plus a rather wealthy oil industry would be most grateful to any scientists who did prove that global warming wasn’t happening (and I could look forward to years more snowboarding).

    @John Dunn: no, moving away from fossil fuels won’t be pain free. But it will be a lot less painful than the consequences of global warming (which doesn’t care how popular or unpopular it is).

  • Tsar Nicholas 18th Mar '15 - 9:08pm

    Peter

    Your argument leaves out historical events like the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (55 Ma), where the global average temperature jumped five degrees centigrade in just thirteen years, triggering off a mass extinction and leaving the area north and south of the equator up to 30 degrees an uninhabited zone.

    Your argument also ignores the fact that methane is now leaking out of the permafrost in the Arctic at an exponentially increasing rate. Methane is up to 100 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in the short term. Its pre-industrial level was around 720 parts per billion. Its current mean concentration is 1840 ppb – a pretty substantial increase, and in parts of the Arctic it has reached peak levels of around 2500 ppb recently. I would like there to be some negative feedbacks but I fear that we are not seeing them. Everything is happening much faster than anyone expected.

    If there is a serious problem with the models it is in their underestimation of how quickly things are turning out as a calamity.

  • Peter, when I read JUF’s list, it struck me that though I would not contest each statement, the significance of each factor and the dynamic nature of the atmosphere – fuel use and ecosystem – was omitted. some of your comments appear to err in an opposite direction, though you do seem to acknowledge the dangers of positive feedback loops (but then promptly dismiss the importance of this). Surely the models over-simplify inordinately, but I am sure there is no one credible has better models that do not include a link between global average temperature and the progress of industrialisation.

  • Yorkshire Guidon 18th Mar '15 - 10:07pm

    So is the end of new technology coal fired power stations and a regional CCS network?

  • @JUF
    In previous posts I have produced dozens of references to peer reviewed papers backing up my claims. Of course, they never get read, so I’m afraid you will either have to accept my word on the matter or do your own research.

    I do not dispute that global warming has happened and may happen again. I question the model predictions upon which policies have been based. I should point out that in normal science models are required to be validated which means demonstrating their ability to hindcast the past and accurately predict all aspects of the future. Models that fail to do this are rejected or modified.

    In climate science the models continue to be used regardless of how much they deviate from reality. All climate models now deviate substantially from reality. I have no idea how the so-called scientists justify this to themselves or anyone else but it is probably due to the culture of not asking awkward questions that might derail the gravy train. Outside of the discipline, climate science is regarded as “Post Modern” i.e. bizarre new rules of the scientific method apply.
    @Tsar
    I know that you are a fan of Dr Peter Wadhams of Cambridge who has quite a reputation for claiming that the Arctic will be ice free by 2015. We don’t have long to wait, but I have to say that the thaw will need to be very rapid indeed.
    @Martin
    To be fair to JUF he was pretty accurate in his description and perhaps I was a bit harsh in my criticism. People seldom realise that the feedbacks are much more important than the forcings.

    Forcings are what climate scientists call drivers of change such as more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Feedbacks are how the multitude of climate factors react to that change.

    Positive feedback is the same as when a microphone picks up the noise from your loudspeaker and sends it through the amplifier and out through the speaker again, but this time much louder, then the microphone picks it up again and so forth. The result is a loud squeal as the audio signal amplification system becomes unstable.

    Negative feedback opposes change and maintains constant conditions. A room temperature thermostat is a good example of that. It is a rule of thumb that stable systems (such as our climate which has supported life all this time) has mainly negative feedbacks. Systems that have positive feedbacks are inherently unstable and short lived.

    The climate models assume a positive feedback for water vapour which makes it the main driver of global warming (CO2 has a small, limited effect).

    There are a number of physical consequences of this positive feedback which are predicted by the models and I mentioned some above, eg the “hotspot”. Actual measurements do not support the predictions of the models. Even the global temperature has remained constant for over 18 years so the models are wrong.

    The bottom line is that burning fossil fuels does lead to global warming. The warming will be much less than predicted by current models and climate variability and negative feedbacks are more important than previously thought. Adaptability is probably more appropriate than many current policies. We are not going to fry anytime soon.

  • @ JUF
    “John Dunn: no, moving away from fossil fuels won’t be pain free. But it will be a lot less painful than the consequences of global warming (which doesn’t care how popular or unpopular it is).”
    I agree.
    But my point is, that those who pontificate about using less fossil fuels and reducing their carbon footprint, are invariably speaking of *others*, reducing their *carbon lifestyles*, not themselves.?? Will Ed Davey halve his air miles, to give us all an example to follow?

  • Some of you will be aghast that this is a Daily Mail article. A fellow of the Royal Society explains why he and many of his peers disagree with the scientific establishment view on global warming. I share his views completely.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2995239/Why-Royal-Society-wrong-climate-change-devastating-critique-world-s-leading-scientific-organisation-one-Fellows.html

  • Simon McGrath 18th Mar '15 - 10:35pm

    @JUF – Not sure what point you are making – have i said anything about global warming ( nor as it happens does the CPS report). . I simply asked J Tilley on what grounds he disagrees with it. Perhaps you can tell me on what grounds you disagree with it ?

    http://www.cps.org.uk/publications/reports/central-planning-with-market-features-how-renewable-subsidies-destroyed-the-uk-electricity-market/

  • Tsar Nicholas 18th Mar '15 - 10:39pm

    Peter

    It is misleading to keep repeating the old denialist mantra of the models being wrong.t the science and reality of global warming is much more deeply rooted in actual events in deep time – the past being the key to the present and to the future.

  • @ Simon McGrath
    DECC feed in tariffs have completely destroyed the energy market. We pay huge amounts for an energy supply that is completely inefficient, unreliable, intermittent and literally subject to the weather.

    Left to the market, investment in this sector for the national grid would be zero.

    Mr Davey and all in DECC should be sacked immediately if not sooner. See my comment at 8:59 pm if you are a fan of renewable energy.

  • I’m not sure ‘Britain’ – I think in this context Ed Davey means the British government, the two are not synonymous – needs to ‘signal’ the beginning of the end of any particular industry. If it set a uniform carbon price instead of tinkering around with a bewildering array of different price-interventions and subsidies, there would be no need for government ministers to take a view on what were the best ways of delivering low-carbon and efficient sources of energy. This (a simple ‘upstream’ carbon tax) would be a more powerful and effective signal to the market than the present complex (and sometimes conflicting) web of overlapping measures and policy instruments.

    For example, under current policies, not only do businesses face much higher implicit carbon prices than households, but all users face lower carbon prices on coal-fired electricity than on gas-fired electricity. This is because neither the Climate Change Levy nor the Renewables Obligation distinguish between non-renewable fuels on the basis of their carbon content, raising the implicit carbon price for the less polluting gas relative to coal. What is green about that?

    As Ed Davey acknowledges in his words if not always his deeds, the challenge is to reduce carbon dependence in the most economically efficient way: to minimise the total cost of reducing emissions. This is because we don’t want energy policy to reverse the trend of rising living standards that has been such a striking feature of the last few centuries, and is making such a difference in transforming the lives of many millions of people in fast-growing emerging economies. We need to harness the most effective tool we have for achieving economically efficient outcomes, the market, in order to deliver a better and cleaner environment in a way that stands a chance of carrying public support. Fixing the current mess of UK energy policy would be a good start.

  • When it comes to thermometers measures earth’s temperature we have one going back to about 1650 but most originate from about 1850 and the area covered is largely NW Europe and NE USA. As areas have become developed so has the coverage by thermometers but largely in urban areas. Temperatures have been taken by ships but coverage is patchy. In addition many thermometers have been taken out of use. The best coverage of the Earth’s temperature is by satellite which dates from 1979. The satellite data shows no overall warming for about 17 years. In addition, the land based temperature record HADcrut 4 does not show much increase .

    Various forms of environmental data indicate there are periods of warmer and colder climates which last 200-400 years. The Medieval Warm Period lasted from about 950 AD to 1250 AD, a reason why Vikings were ables to grow crops in Greenland. The Little Ice Age lasted from about 1650-1850AD , though a warm period from about 1700-1750AD probably assisted the Agricultural Revolution. Any warming from 1850-1950AD was most likely due to coming out of the LIA. If we look at warming , the period of about 1919-1940 and 1976-1998 look very similar.

    The proof of a computer model is to replicate actual data. The computer models run extremely hot from about 1998. Balloon and satellite record cool spots about about 10km above Earth’ Surface north and south of the Equator when the computer models predict hot spots. Freeman Dyson FRS has stated that we understand fluid dynamics well but we do n not understand clouds.

    Water vapour and cloud formation have the greatest impact on temperature. Carbon Dioxide has the greatest impact on temperature at concentration between 0 and 20ppm. Between 200 and 400ppm and 400ppm and 600ppm the impact of CO2 on increases in temperature is uncertain. If we understood the Earth’s climate adequately the computer models would replicate actual data. If the World was to spend more money on collecting data and less on modelling, perhaps we would actually obtain a better understanding of climate. One issue which is uncertain is how much Carbon dioxide is released by volcanoes , both on land on the sea floor. Other aspects which need to be better understood are
    1. Energy out put from Sun.
    2. Distance of Earth from Sun.
    3. Energy in put into Earth from Sun.
    4. Reflection of energy from Earth into space.

    Climate changes for many reasons we do not understand: the questions are s how much difference to carbon dioxide concentrations do humans make, what are the impacts and do they matter? Carbon dioxide increases rooting depth of plants which makes them less prone to drought. Satellite images of dry areas of Africa shown an increase in greening due to vegetation growth.

  • “Well done Margaret Thatcher for removing the government subsidy to the coal mines which were producing the coal which when burned produces poisonous emissions. She still doesn’t get the credit.” (David Evershed 18th Mar ’15 – 5:00pm)

    Aren’t you forgetting that part of the logic for closing the mines was that we were importing coal at a significantly lower price…

    Yes, I’m ignoring all the other politics of the 80’s, but I’m sure being green wasn’t anywhere on Mrs T’s agenda.

  • @Peter – Whilst I appreciate you may disagree with the current officially recognised scientific advance on global warming and climate change, one of the things we do need to face up to is the mismatch between our increasing consumption of energy and the finite exploitable reserves of fossil and mineral (eg. uranium) fuels.

    Yes some of the investments being made in largescale deployment of renewable technologies are questionable (for example connecting wind farms to the national grid)., however, without this investment these technologies are unlikely to develop to the point where they are sufficiently ‘mature’ to permit widespread usage. Remember one of the complaints made over nuclear is that because of it’s negative image, it has in fact been starved of funding to enable research to progress at anything other than a pedestrian pace.

    I think, Alex Sabine (19th Mar ’15 – 11:12am) summed it up well, Ed is looking at the real world implications of the current prevailing scientific view. The challenge is therefore two fold: firstly to the climate change scientists to be certain about their findings because they do have costly implications, and secondly to others to research serious alternatives to fossil fuels that can be used to generate the levels of energy necessary to satisfy our current demands on the national grid.

    So yes there is a need to robustly question the scientific orthodoxy, but at the same time we need to work through the implications beyond the simplistic idea that overnight we can stop using fossil fuels, whilst we still have the luxury of fossil fuels to enable us to burn the midnight oil…

  • Passing through 19th Mar '15 - 10:22pm

    I do wonder about denialists.

    Presumably when they have a toothache they go see their car mechanic, and when their car breaks down they call a priest, and if they have any theological questions they email their dentist.

    Because whenever you ask them to produce any genuine peer-reviewed climate science to support their position they invariably quote some tabloid interview with someone with ABSOLUTELY NO expertise in any aspect of climate science.

    I know Michael Kelly’s Fellowship of the Royal Society is supposed to wow us all into submission but as that august body’s motto states “Nullius in Verba” and Kelly’s academic background … well that would be in electronics. You may as well ask your dentist.

    There is something like 10,000 actual climate scientists out there with hundreds of thousands more in related fields, if AGW was such a busted flush you’d imagine they could occasionally get more than the same sad handful of names (of varying degrees of scientific relevance) to support them. Strange that.

  • Modern society requires an ability to store energy. It is vital to be able to increase electrical production within minutes of any increase in demand. Two methods worth looking at are underground coal gasification and liquid fluoride thorium reactors.There is also the possibility of using methane hydrates located on the sea floor at certain locations. There are plenty of oil and gas deposits which are located in technically difficult locations and in countries which until recently have been of political and economic high risk.

    Passing through . So Prof R Lindzen of MIT does not know what he is talking about?

  • Alex Sabine 20th Mar '15 - 1:29am

    I am deliberately side-stepping the debate in this thread about the science and the reliability of climate models, because I am no scientist and find it difficult to adjudicate on the blizzard of conflicting claims. Given my lack of scientific knowledge I am willing to assume for the purposes of policy that the scientific consensus is right, both that climate change is occurring and that there is a man-made contribution to it.

    Having said that, I am conscious of the fact that scientific progress does not come through consensus but through the observation of phenomena and the validation (or invalidation) of hypotheses and theories. This would suggest some caution about labelling anyone who departs from the consensus, or expresses scepticism about the modelling, as a ‘denialist’. This strikes me as a rather dangerous attitude that has more in common with religious zealotry than the rational and empirical qualities that I associate with scientists.

    The reason why, on balance, I believe we should take action to reduce our carbon emissions is not scientific certainty but in some ways the lack of it: I compare a scenario where the scientific establishment turns out to be right with one where it turns out to be wrong. If at some future date we conclude that it is incontestably right, and in the meantime we have done nothing about the man-made contribution to climate change, the effects could be very damaging, and irreversible. If the received wisdom turns out to be wrong – not a ‘hoax’ but simply a genuine intellectual or empirical error – and we have reduced emissions unnecessarily, what will have happened? We will have imposed some unnecessary costs on our economy and living standards but – provided we get the economics of climate change policy right, a crucial proviso – these costs need not have been too severe and they should also be reversible.

    Moreover, insofar as environmental policy reduces pollution and not just carbon emissions, and preserves the natural environment, these are desirable ends in themselves. Those who have been kind enough to read my comments on LDV will know that I am a strong advocate of market economics, but – as I am often at pains to point out, though a fat lot of good it does me! – that doesn’t mean I think markets are infallible. Pollution is a classic example of a cost to society which is not reflected in market-determined prices – in the costs, profits and decision-making of businesses and consumers – meaning that policy action is required to ‘internalise’, or embed, that cost in those prices.

    Pollution, congestion and degradation of the countryside cannot be captured in any GDP measurement, because no one has individually defined property rights to these benefits, and because we don’t purchase them individually. Owing to their inherently collective nature we have to make a collective decision on the value of these benefits which can be set against the cost of preserving them. It is bad market economics to refuse to put a value on consumer preferences simply because they are expressed collectively rather than via individual purchase.

  • Alex Sabine 20th Mar '15 - 2:07am

    Of course we already do price in these ‘external’ costs and benefits in the UK and indeed we arguably over-shoot in some areas, like road fuel, while under-shooting in others. It is the incoherent overall design of our policy interventions and their distorting effects as between different forms of energy and different consumers of energy (households and businesses) that I have a problem with, not the principle of attaching a price to carbon emissions or pollution.

    To me the fact that there is uncertainty over the scale of climate change, over how large a contribution humans make to it and could make in tackling it, and over exactly how large or damaging the effects might be, underlines the need to get the economics right. We must ensure that policies aimed at reducing emissions (or other environmental goals) pursue these objectives in the most economically efficient, cost-effective way possible. This means using the most powerful economic tools we have, market instruments – price signals and profit-maximising incentives – to help correct the harms that the market would otherwise permit.

    The aim must not be, as the Green Party and some environmentalists aspire to, a ‘steady state’ of zero economic growth, let alone negative growth. Indeed we should deal with the ‘spillover’ effects of economic activities – and note that these arise in any industrial economy, they are not a feature of capitalist industrialisation: indeed some of the worst environmental catastrophes occurred in the planned economies of the former communist countries.

    But we must seek to achieve this at the lowest cost to material prosperity (the costs to labour productivity of lower energy consumption in industrial activities, and the extra resource costs required to provide non-polluting forms of energy).

    The basic idea of a Pigouvian carbon tax is that we pay a tax equal to the damage we are doing: households and businesses are incentivised to stop doing those things where the future damage exceeds the current benefits, but to keep doing the things where the current benefits outweigh the future damage. There are trade-offs to be made: we should attach a value to environmental benefits but it is both unrealistic politics and bad economics to act as if that value were unlimited and did not have to compete with other consumer preferences.

    If people are expected to wear sackcloth and ashes, and lectured (by politicians much better-off than they are) that they mustn’t drive or take foreign holidays or whatever, then the ‘climate change agenda’ will forfeit public support even more than it already has, and rightly so in my view.

    Under the current arrangements decarbonisation is more expensive than it needs to be and the system is vulnerable to corporatist ‘boondoggles’. The government should simplify and flatten carbon taxes as a priority, and stop trying to plan in minute detail what our energy system will look like far into the future. The market mechanism is a far more flexible, subtle and potent means of identifying and driving forward the technological developments and changes in consumption patterns that will maximise current benefits and minimise future damages – ie maximise human utility over time – than endless ‘deals’ and schemes and initiatives dreamt up in the DECC.

  • The dire warnings of global warming come from the computer models that predict the future evolution of our climate. They also predict an increase in extreme weather events and a number of technical changes.

    The global temperature has not increased in over 18 years, extreme weather events have declined in frequency and the technical changes have not taken place.

    So what do we conclude about the models? The IPCC models predicted huge temperature increases such as up to 4.5 degrees for a doubling of CO2.

    A paper published today in the Journal of Climate implies that the increase will be much closer to 1 degree. This is just the latest in a number of papers to downgrade the warming attributed to increases in carbon dioxide.

    The science is certainly not settled, but it does look as though we have no urgent reason to rush into crazy, expensive energy schemes in a mad panic.

    If you look at our energy policy that is exactly what we are doing. Our plan is to close conventional power stations and rely on renewable energy. Yet, though we have spent billions on wind farms, earlier this week wind generation was a pathetic 2% of demand. Good job we kept some conventional power stations open, Mr Davey.

    Yet, we have given ourselves a legal requirement to rely more and more on renewables. We now pay for polluting diesel generators to be on standby, we pay up front for emergency purchases of energy to keep the lights on and if all else fails we will pay industry to shut down. I can only describe all of this as hugely expensive madness.

    The effect on energy intensive industries is devastating. Aluminium previously smelted here by gas generated electricity is now made in China using coal generated electricity. Add to that the carbon footprint of shipping the aluminium back here and the cost of lost jobs. Such green “successes” are common.

    Nuclear power should be a better option but it probably isn’t. We used to lead the world in this technology but now we are nowhere so anything we do will cost a fortune. We should consider an R&D programme to assess the feasibility of getting power from materials with shorter decay lives in order to reduce the enormous decommissioning costs involved with plutonium and uranium.

    Carbon capture is a pipe dream. I’m not saying it will never be possible, but at present it is just a dream.

    The shorter term solution is gas to replace coal and fracking provides an amazing opportunity. The green movement has all but stopped this in its tracks by peddling lies and propaganda. They will be pleased when the lights go out because they welcome a culture with no industry or financial growth.

  • Passingthrough 20th Mar '15 - 1:14pm

    “So Prof R Lindzen of MIT does not know what he is talking about?”

    Well that’s one, now what about the other 9,999 climate scientists in the world what do they say and do you believe they know what they are talking about?

    To short-cut a tedious round of denialist whack-a-mole, where you scour the internet trying desperately to find enough bona fide dissenting climate scientists to fill a mini-bus (I have heard it is just about possible but barely worth the effort and avoids a lot of mental contortions) and I point out they either don’t actual contest AGW but are quibbling about some minor detail, aren’t actually a climate scientist, are paid shills or are simply unrepresentative, we’ll cut to the chase.

    The consensus behind AGW is somewhere in the 99% region, the 1% who dissent actually represent a broad and internally contradictory spectrum of opinion so the numbers who actually subscribe to the views of say Lindzen or even Peter are much smaller still, overall they tend to be second- and third-rate researchers who publish less often and in more minor journals and crucially have manifestly failed to seriously contest the AGW consensus where it actually matters which is within the peer-reviewed scientific literature, unsubstantiated claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

    The consensus is recognised as being so strong that there isn’t a single national or international scientific body which formally dissents from it, up to and including the last holdout which was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, who have accepted it since 2007. I suspect if we think long and hard about it we can perhaps work out why petroleum geologists might be the scientists most reluctant to support the theory but even they in the end couldn’t maintain their disbelief and had to concede it was happening, a decision which deserves some respect.

  • @Passingthrough
    Why has there been no warming this century?

  • Passingthrough 20th Mar '15 - 5:11pm

    “Why has there been no warming this century?”

    There has been loads of warming this century you simply claiming the opposite doesn’t make it true any more than your patently false claim that the entire evidence for AGW is based on nothing more than some allegedly dodgy computer models.

    I mean what’s more likely, that many thousands of trained climate scientists with accumulated millennia of experience in the field are either deliberately lying or gobsmackingly incompetent when it comes to their field of expertise or that some random bloke on the internet has been overly-credulous in believing the repeatedly disproven claims that constantly bubble out of the denialosphere echochamber.

    Take this as an example:-

    “A paper published today in the Journal of Climate implies that the increase will be much closer to 1 degree. ”

    The first point is even if this paper is correct (and that your interpretation of it is correct) this still indicates that AGW is happening which in itself disproves the central claim of the denialists.

    The second is are you even competent enough to make that interpretation? I’ve just flicked through the abstracts of today’s issue of Journal of Climate (Volume 28, Issue 6 (March 2015)) which you probably weren’t expecting me to do.

    All 24 of the published papers explicitly or implicitly accept the reality of AGW and I can’t find a single one which appears to claim “the increase will be much closer to 1 degree”, if such a claim exists it is either buried deep within the actual article relegating its importance massively or has somehow been extrapolated by a third party (who?) so never actually appeared in the original paper, in which case how do we judge their honesty and competence in interpreting the data. Your failure to actually identify the paper means their is no way of telling which is the case. I wonder if you even know which paper it is meant to be from?

    Now as it happens I am a postdoctoral research scientist with over a decade of active research behind me and to be honest I often barely understand the highly-technical jargon of papers outside my field nor often have the background understanding to follow their arguments. Do I have any reason to believe you are any better at interpreting this I am?

    For example, can you explain to me what (to pick one at random) :-

    “The space–time structure of the leading monsoon intraseasonal oscillation (MISO) in three-dimensional diabatic heating is studied. Using the ERA-Interim data of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, the diabatic heating data were constructed by the residual method of the thermodynamic equation. The MISO was extracted by applying multichannel singular spectrum analysis on the daily anomalies of three-dimensional diabatic heating over the South Asian monsoon region for the period 1979–2011.The diabatic heating MISO has a period of 45 days, and exhibits eastward propagation in the equatorial Indian and Pacific Oceans and northward propagation over the entire monsoon region. The horizontal structure shows a long tilted band of heating anomalies propagating northeastward. The period, horizontal pattern, and propagation properties of the diabatic heating MISO are similar to those found in precipitation, outgoing longwave radiation, and circulation in earlier studies. The vertical structure of the diabatic heating MISO indicates deep columns, with maximum values at about 450 hPa, propagating northeastward. The vertical structure of the heating anomalies has good correspondence with that of the moisture anomalies but with a phase difference. The moisture anomalies lead the heating anomalies and may provide a preconditioning process for the propagation mechanism. The temperature anomalies also show oscillatory behavior corresponding to the diabatic heating MISO but the phase difference between the two varies from region to region.”

    …. actually means? I suspect not, in fact I suspect the basis of your entire argument is simply a cut’n’paste job from some denialist blog where the blogger is probably no better informed than you and you’ve simply regurgitated it here without the slightest understanding in the hope we don’t notice and just uncritically accept it.

    And there we have it, a claim I can’t source or validate which even if true and correctly interpreted doesn’t support your argument and this is the standard of debate from the science-denialists. No wonder it lacks any traction within the actual field of climate science.

  • “There has been loads of warming this century you simply claiming the opposite doesn’t make it true…”

    May I suggest that you simply google “temperature pause met office”. .

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