February 26, 2010

Sustainable Development Commission should go

The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) is a pointless body straying far beyond its remit and should be abolished. It looks like a quango - but no! On 1 February 2009 it became an executive non-departmental body (Executive NDPB).

Remember that the extent of any global warming is highly questionable, and if there is global warming there is no evidence that carbon dioxide is a major cause.

"Politicians have woken up to the threat the changing climate poses", says Will Day, the SDC's new chairman, "but there has been a collective failure on the part of politicians and lots of other people to articulate what a better world would look like":
The default setting seems to be on carbon, so we can measure it and value it and have graphs and make reductions. But as well as needing to live within environmental limits, it is clear that we need to be aspiring to be a healthy, fair and just society. We could end up transitioning to a low-carbon economy, but if we do that without recognising the need for a better society we will have lost the battle.
Note that the obscure Mr Day (with a background in international sustainable development) is unelected, so it is not for him to force his view on anyone.

In his world "the Department for Transport will clearly want to help deliver the health outcome by designing transport that helps improve the quality of life, and promoting walking or cycling". (Civil servants designing cars, ye gods!) "Education will want to help deliver the health outcome by teaching kids about health and diet" - which used to be something families undertook.

"Are we making decisions leading us to a healthier, more just society living within environmental limits", he wants to ask, "or are they simply saving us money in the next 12-15 months to get us over this particular hump?" Mr Day hasn't defined what he means by a "more just" society yet, but we can suspect it will involve equality rather than growth.

Quango or not, this sinister behind the scenes body, with its panels of experts influencing policy out of sight of public scrutiny, should be abolished.

Carbon brainwashing

It's especially important that BBC's children's news coverage should be balanced.

Thus we are told that a school in North Tyneside "is going green with an energy-saving wind turbine". The 9-year-old chosen to cut the ribbon and declare the turbine open says (or is made to say):
Having the wind turbine means that we will be able to save money as we won't have to use as much electricity.

It will also educate other children about different forms of green energy and how to save carbon.

Our turbine will generate enough energy per year to make 100,000 cups of tea or power 11 computers; Every year it will save over 1 tonne of carbon.

To see how much energy we are producing we have fitted electronic display panels.

These will show pupils and visitors how much electricity has been generated and how much carbon has been saved."
In days gone by, uncritical reports for children tended to feature uncontroversial items like fluffy bunnies. No problem there.

But the BBC has a duty to put the issue of carbon dioxide in a lightly sketched context. This celebrated turbine will only produce enough power for 11 computers - and not all the time, the wind charmingly came up and the turbine started turning as the boy cut the ribbon.

And the cost of this green folly? We aren't told. Wind turbines come at a significant cost, unlike fluffy bunnies.

By the way, how many tonnes of carbon dioxide were produced in the manufacture of this hardware? Not that I care, but in the interests of balance we should have been told.

February 24, 2010

More carbon nonsense 2

The 10-turbine Burton Wold Wind Farm near Burton Latimer already provides a third of the energy needs of Kettering, we are told, with its population of 81,000. All the time? The Northants Evening Telegraph seems just to have copied out a press release. The town "will get three quarters of its energy needs from wind power in the next five years". Don't believe it. Is it windy all the time at Kettering? And how much does all this cost us?

Intriguingly a representative of the Pro Wind Alliance (I kid you not) said that Northamptonshire was better placed to deliver wind power than Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, "where interference from communication and radar waves, existing power lines and urban development make it impractical". I thought there was some wild country in Derbyshire, but it's a few years since I've been.

While you puzzle over that, rejoice in the news that the famously competent Haringey Council "and it's (sic - told you they were good) partners, including Muswell Hill Sustainability Group, have been awarded over £600,000 by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to establish a Low Carbon Zone as a blueprint for sustainable living".
Muswell Hill was the area chosen for this pilot and will be the focus of carbon cutting exercises and behaviour change experiments over coming months, the aim being to test practical measures to reduce carbon emissions in the area.
We can be confident that none of this will make a blind bit of difference to any global warming that may be happening. Not one iota.

But you can look for the Carbon Reduction Label when you're shopping. Apparently shoppers don’t want to hear about big numbers and global targets – they want to see at a glance which companies and brands are doing their bit to tackle climate change. This seems to mean, however "polluting" you were, you just "pollute" a bit less and bob's your uncle. Laila Rouass, Strictly Come Dancing star and mum, will be impressed. It really is that simple. Apparently.

Do they take us for fools? Apparently yes.

February 22, 2010

More carbon nonsense

Councillors want to spend £500,000 on making Bristol a greener city ... another 12 communities from across the UK have been awarded up to £500,000 each to pioneer innovative green measures through DECC’s Low Carbon Community Challenge.

Happily, they haven't managed to spend the money they're already committed to waste:
The UK Government has distributed just £30m of £152m worth of key environmental and renewable energy funds over the last three years – representing an underspend of 80% – according to research by the Liberal Democrats.
Meanwhile, Vivienne Westwood has had a fashion show:
For Westwood, a fashion collection is never just about the clothes, and her inspiration told of a romantic ideal based on a love of art and 'loyalty to Gaia' - her way of drawing attention to a scientific theory based on global warming.

In an interview with Stylist magazine, she explained: 'I decided to use my fashion to get across this message that we have to get engaged with the world we live in and stop its destruction.'

February 21, 2010

Utterly barking

Drax wanted to build three plants which would run on biomass. This seems pointless.

First, it was going to require subsidies. Government let Drax work up these plans publicly and has now blithely announced that subsidies would be phased out after four years. This is no good for Drax, so if they build biomass plants it will be somewhere else with a more generous subsidy regime. If other countries want to throw their money at this, they are more than welcome.

It is pointless to pay money in order to cut emissions of a beneficial gas. And anyway we can't afford it.

But it was environmentally odd anyway. The plants would each have been bigger than any comparable biomass project - "and would have to be fed by a steady stream of cargo ships loaded with trees from as far away as Canada"! So no energy security there.

Whatever was the point of this proposal then?

Top down doesn't work

Stalinist top down diktat doesn't work. To take a simple example, some Manchester police have been recording snowball throwing as "serious violent crime". Their Chief Constable condemns their lack of common sense.

So why do they do it? The chairman of the police authority has a theory:
This constant measure of performance makes people nervous and indicates almost a lack of confidence, which says that what I will do, I'll report this and be safe. You know, it's disappointing that we're not using elements of common sense in this.
The Assistant Chief Constable adds that:
Due to the complexity of the Home Office Crime Categories, occasionally incidents could be classified as a serious violent crime when they are first reported but downgraded when an officer has visited the scene and established the actual circumstances.


We are working with officers to ensure they know how to properly code crimes so they are an accurate reflection of the situation.

There we have it. The top down control regime is stifling common sense on the ground. Make the police accountable to a chief elected by the local communities they are paid to serve, and these national measurements won't be required.

Way more serious is this account of how sheaves of top down diktats increase costs in the NHS, stamp on local initiative, and stop local problems being addressed. The peope who the organisation has to satisfy aren't the patients, but its masters in the NHS bureaucracy and Whitehall. Patients have no power until a lot of them die unnecessarily.

But politicians think they have the answers to problems which baffled their predecessors. The bureaucrats' jobs depend on the politicians' maintaining this illusion. So who is going to break into this cosy circle and tell the self-regarding would-be ministers just how limited their effect would still be, even if they had the ability and experience to do their jobs competently?

Thus we are doomed to repeat the top down mistake over and over again.

February 20, 2010

Are we made of money?

The McCanns seem to think so. They want us to spend yet more money in the probably doomed search for their daughter. It's very sad, but not a good use of our money at this late stage.

Nor is Prince and Princess Michael of Kent being given armed police protection at a cost of more than £250,000 a year.

For the next election we need a "we can't afford it" party. We can't afford the EU, we can't afford pointless policies to cut emissions of the lifegiving gas carbon dioxide, we can't afford hugely expensive Regional cabinet meetings, we can't afford to subsidise Gordon Brown's first home or Dave Cameron's big mortgage, we can't afford show-off security for minor royals.

Let's have a stitch up

Conservatives are being criticised for not agreeing a consensus approach on care for the elderly and the proposed high speed rail line to Birmingham - not least in a biased "report" on the Radio 4 6pm news.

The Tories wouldn't appear on Newsnight last night to debate the rail line. Paxman went through the motions of being brusque with Lord Adonis but didn't think on his feet. The Tories had been involved in the process so far, said Adonis, and when the government published its proposals in the next few weeks it would lay out its choice of route, which the Tories would not have been committed to.

So how was the Tories' withdrawal from the process at this stage slowing it down? All Adonis could come up with was that it halted agreement on the 'general principles', bur he was never asked for an example of what these general principles were, so we were left in the dark. Lazy Paxman.

Why should these 'general principles' be decided out of our sight, behind closed doors?

As with rail lines, so with care for the elderly. Dame Jokewell, and those like her who know better than the rest of us, think that the great and the good should sit in conclave and then announce to the world how such care should be funded. Vulgar debate could distress the elderly, don't ya know, and lead to unseemly disagreement - and possibly even political differences!

Imagine! How much better for us to slump on our sofas watching government television advertisements exhorting us to take more exercise, while politicians and shadowy charities conspire to decide what would be best for us and most convenient for them.

Excuse me! Whose money is it, again? Why shouldn't we have a voice?

February 18, 2010

Global 'warming' in geological perspective

An intriguing post on Jo Nova's blog, which puts recent 'global warming' in perspective. It's like zooming out from the past 150 years and seeing changes and climate in a far longer perspective.

Of course the old questions about 'what is global temperature' still apply. But it's easier to understand the concerns of Henk Tennekes, linked to by Richard North. Like Lomborg, Tennekes thinks the money thrown at reducing emissions of carbon dioxide could be spent much better to feed people and reduce human suffering. But, unlike Lomborg, he worries about the possibilities of cooling:
"I am much more anxious about the cooling of the earth. The ultimate fate of this planet is a new ice age. If the main wheat belts of the Northern hemisphere fail to produce their much needed harvest, heaven knows how we will feed ourselves. Well, it could be that warming will lead to a disaster. I still want to accept that. But you must weigh this unknown risk against other problems."
Both are fascinating reads.

We're investing in low carbon areas

Oh good, the government is picking winners. We know how good they have proved to be at that down the years. And it's not as if ministers risk any of their own money. No, it's all ours.

Hurrah, Britain now has six Low Carbon Economic Areas (LCEAs). The LCEA in South Wales will specialise in hydrogen energy, and the one in the Midlands will focus on advanced automotive engineering.
The new LCEAs join four others - in the North East focusing on ultra-low carbon vehicles, North West and Yorkshire on civil nuclear energy, Greater Manchester on the built environment and the South West on marine energy.

LCEAs were announced as part of the Government’s Low Carbon Industrial Strategy. Their purpose is to capitalise on the strengths of particular regions where existing geographic and industrial assets could help give the UK a global advantage.
Nothing wrong with focusing on nuclear energy - but it's thanks to government that we've lost ground. Lack of orders drained away the UK's civil nuclear expertise, and now we're paying to get back to where we should have been.

February 17, 2010

Yes, carbon is a religion

Church leaders are urging people to give up iPods rather than chocolate this Lent as part of a 'technology fast' to save the planet as well as our souls, says The Telegraph's Louise Gray.

Senior bishops are calling for a cut in personal carbon use for each of the 40 days of Lent, for carbon is bad, isn't it. Their list of ways to achieve this includes eating less meat, flushing the toilet less often and cutting vegetables thinner so they cook faster. That'll balance out the effect of China's and India's new coal power stations.

But one of their tougher challenges is to give up technology such as television, mobiles and iPods for one day. The "Carbon Fast", organised every year by development agency Tearfund, even suggests giving up technology for a day every month of the year and giving the money to charity - what money would this be?

Click for more of this bonkers stuff.

February 16, 2010

Hain the vain keeps asking for more

The self-regarding Peter Hain has become the first cabinet minister to back the campaign for a "Robin Hood tax" which would see money raised from a levy on financial transactions used to fund international aid, combat climate change and boost public services, reports The Guardian. He says:
Global poverty, climate change and public services need our urgent attention.
You've been in power for all those years, you're overspent, and you still need more? Will you never be satisfied?

Labour always want to find a new source of tax - whether it's for inefficient state monopoly services, aid for overseas dictators, or to combat global warming - which may or may not be happening, and is probably natural if it is.

Labour have an insatiable appetite for more money. And - er - isn't there a big debt to be cleared?

Lancs CC is innumerate carbon nanny

Drivers are being encouraged to consider lowering their CO2 emissions for Lent - a decision that could also help them save money on fuel and be safer on the roads.

Neil Cunliffe, Lancashire County Council's Road Safety Group Manager, said: "We have all heard reports on climate change and know how important it is to cut down on CO2 emissions (this has ... what ... to do with road safety?). The easiest way is to use public transport or to walk or cycle on shorter journeys, but if this is not possible you can make small changes to the way you drive.

"Why not use Lent as an opportunity to stop bad driving habits for life? Follow our top ten tips (yes, there are eight) to help you lower your CO2 emissions while you drive."

• Make sure your vehicle is serviced as often as your owner's manual suggests, to keep the engine running smoothly and efficiently.
• Check your tyre pressures at least once a week. Under-inflated tyres create more rolling resistance which can increase fuel consumption by up to 3%.
• Take anything out of your boot that you don't need as this is extra weight to carry.
• Remove roof racks, boxes and bike carriers if not in use as they create drag and wind resistance, reducing fuel efficiency.
• Plan your journey before you set off to avoid congestion, roadworks and getting lost.
• If you adopt a lighter touch on your accelerator pedal, you can reduce your fuel consumption.
• Turn off your air conditioning, heater blowers and heated rear window when not in use, to save up to 10-15% on fuel consumption.
• Drive at or within the speed limit. The AA reports that if you drive at 70mph it uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph.

February 15, 2010

Anti-carbon biofuels policy will kill people

Up to 100 million people in developing countries could go hungry if the UK and Europe meet targets on increasing renewable fuel, according to a new report published today.

The study, from charity Action Aid, warns that EU legislation for ten per cent of transport fuels to come from renewable sources will have a disastrous impact on the world's poor as food prices rise.

More

February 14, 2010

Woodland Trust to spend more of our money

The Woodland Trust has launched a carbon scheme that it says will allow companies to mitigate their emissions, whilst at the same time enhancing the UK countryside.

The Woodland Trust says that by joining its Woodland Carbon scheme, UK businesses can help meet their carbon offset targets at the same time as increasing the native woodland coverage in the UK. Trees capture carbon and store it by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

Currently 12 per cent of UK land is covered by woodland, but most of that is made up of non-native species, such as conifers, which don’t aid biodiversity. The Woodland Trust says native woodland will play a vital role in helping us adapt to future climate change by creating valuable wildlife habitats, aiding flood alleviation and offering wind protection. The conservation charity’s aim is to double the coverage of native woodland in the UK from its current four per cent.

More

The Woodland Trust is a fake charity, mainly funded by parts of government.

February 12, 2010

Brown wants yet more money to combat global warming

Prime minister Gordon Brown today accused climate change sceptics of going "against the grain" of scientific evidence, as he launched a new group to raise billions of pounds for the fight against global warming, reports The Guardian.

Mr Brown will co-chair the United Nations High Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing with Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi.

The group aims to raise $30bn (£19bn) over the next three years - rising to $100bn annually by 2020 – to help poor countries limit their contribution to global warming and adapt to its effects.

Cash raised from state and private sources will fund measures to halt deforestation, encourage low-carbon development and adapt to rising sea levels, extreme weather events and higher temperatures.

... Mr Brown brushed aside the sceptics' challenge during a UN webcast to launch the group today:
Those people who have become global warming deniers and those people who have become climate change deniers are against the grain of all the evidence that has been assembled that global warming and climate change are indeed challenges that the world must meet and that can only be met together.
He has previously denounced what he described as "anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautioned against thinking that the cold winter in the northern hemisphere – which is currently causing heavy snowfall in the New York area – disproves the global warming hypothesis:
"It may be true that you have seen some cold weather, as we have seen recently in New York, but the overall tradition of scientific evidence suggests that global warming is happening much faster than one may realise. That is what I have been told by the scientists and I believe that is true.
... Asad Rehman, senior international climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:
$10bn a year might sound like a wave of new money for poor countries to tackle climate change, but in reality it's a drop in the ocean compared to what is required. What's worse is that most of this money from rich countries will be plundered from existing aid budgets.

Government wastes more taxpayers' money on carbon

The government has allocated £60m to four eco-town sites selected last year, despite continued concerns over the viability of the programme and the public’s appetite for low-carbon housing.

More

And the government is investing £19.5m to help establish the Midlands car industry as a world leader in next-generation, low-carbon automotive technology. The money from the Advantage West Midlands regional development agency will fund research into 15 areas, including battery technology, aerodynamics and power electronics.

More and more

And another carbon project

For East of England content production businesses, the low carbon fund is the biggest low carbon initiative to come out of the UK this year for Film, Documentary, TV and Computer Games. Before you even apply, you have to attend two workshops!

The Low Carbon Fund will provide low carbon, digital production investment across Film, Documentary, TV and Computer Games to commercially viable projects in the East of England.

The Low Carbon Development Fund will provide East of England businesses with funding to develop and exploit low carbon focused digital content across Film, Documentary, TV and Computer Games

The Low Carbon Business Support Programme will provide finance, and advice and guidance for critical project planning and commercial exploitation for small and medium-sized digital content businesses in the East of England.

What's carbon dioxide got to do with digital activities anyway?

Tinker in Islington and make a difference

Combating climate change and global warming is the single biggest challenge we face, say Islington Lib Dems.

"Local Lib Dems are pledging to make Islington greener. We will do this through more local energy generation. This will lower peoples’ (sic) energy bills and create new green, local jobs."

Catch up, people!

February 11, 2010

More bureaucracy at Wirral Council

Wirral Council has put in an extra layer of bureaucracy.
In December last year, the Liberal Democrats in Wirral secured the unanimous agreement of Full Council to put carbon budgeting on a level footing with financial budgeting.

Wirral Council will now be the first local authority in the North West to set an annual carbon budget for each Council department alongside its financial budget, due to be considered by Cabinet on February 22 and Full Council on March 1.

Each council department will prepare carbon budgets, detailing carbon emissions and carbon reduction targets, for presentation at Budget Cabinet alongside the council's financial budget.

A Carbon Budget is similar to a financial budget in which each council department is given an allowance of carbon dioxide in which to operate and deliver their services. Each department's carbon budget is expected to decrease annually by its target figure with the aim that as time progresses the Council will be able to continue to deliver services to the borough whilst decreasing its carbon emissions

Through setting a carbon budget, a clearer picture can be built of the environmental impact of Council spending and help to meet local, national and global carbon reduction targets.

Local authorities also have a clear financial incentive to reduce carbon emissions through the Government's Carbon Reduction Commitment. From April 1, the Government is introducing a national carbon trading scheme for large users of energy, including councils.

Participants will have to purchase allowances for their energy-related emissions, and will be reimbursed according to their relative position in a league table, based on the extent to which emissions have been reduced. One tonne of carbon dioxide is equivalent to a £12 stake in the Carbon Reduction Commitment.

Deputy Leader of Wirral Council and Liberal Democrat Cabinet member for Corporate Resources, Cllr Simon Holbrook said, "The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen was a disappointment to many people, but even so there is no doubting the need for all of us to make progress on reducing carbon emissions.

"Smart Councils will be those taking action now; the opportunities to benefit from the green economy of tomorrow will come to those who are ahead of the pack on Climate Change rather than playing catch up."

Wirral Liberal Democrat Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Gill Gardiner said, "This council has an excellent track record of recycling, waste reduction and energy efficiency. We want to take this to the next stage and make sure the council knows and understands the environmental impact of all its activities."

"We need to stay ahead of the game. There is no doubt in my mind that carbon budgeting will greatly assist us in doing just that and help us to save money not just by reducing our energy bills but also through the Carbon Reduction Commitment trading scheme."

"Of course, there are some who remain unconvinced by the climate change argument for reducing carbon emissions. I hope that they will be persuaded by the obvious economic argument for carbon budgeting and the clear financial savings to be made through the procurement of energy efficient and low carbon contracts, goods and services."

Oxfam calls for action on global warming

The world set out what it wanted and needed from the Copenhagen summit. We were let down. Leaders knew what they had to do and they failed. Their failure to reach a fair and binding deal cannot be allowed to happen again. In the words of Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, "Mother Nature does not negotiate." To ensure an emissions reduction of 40% by 2020 we need real leadership, real governance and a legally binding deal. The time for shirking responsibility has passed....
More

That's where some of your money goes.

P.S. Susan Hill criticises Oxfam bookshops.

February 10, 2010

Chucking more of our money at carbon

A plan to build 30 cutting-edge zero-carbon homes on the edge of Halton has been boosted by a £500,000 grant.

The grant, which will be shared between three groups, comes from the government's Low Carbon Community Challenge.

More

Indoctrinating children

A report on a children's tree planting exercise includes this:
Emily Ward, 10, from Stocksfield, took part on the day with her brother Josh, six. She said: “I’m learning about how trees get rid of carbon dioxide in science. It was really good being able to plant lots of different kinds of trees that we can come and visit as they grow.”
So carbon dioxide's bad, then?

So much for "climate science"

At WUWT, there's a cracking paper on climategate and the state of science by Jerome Ravetz, Professor of Philosophy of Science at Oxford. Stuffed with good points, and talking of 'certain' climate science in the past tense.

Enjoy.

Wind turbine news

Eleven green-energy wind turbines in Minnesota, which are supposed to provide environmentally safe electricity and fight global warming, cannot operate because they are frozen stiff.

The Star-Tribune reports the machines were supposed to be spinning by Christmas, but so far have been motionless. The state's power agency says cold hydraulic fluid has turned to gel and oil lubricants are getting sluggish.

North St. Paul City Manager Wally Wysopal says, "it's been a little embarrassing to have it not turning on the windiest of days."

The company that installed the turbines, which came from California, says it was not consulted on "climate compatibility."

h/t tmtisfree in WUWT

Rocky road ahead for Greece

Much excitement in the media this morning that Germany may, in some undefined way, bail out the Greek economy.

Leave aside the unfairness to Ireland, which has taken stern measures to get itself out of trouble.

If Germany does stand behind Greece somehow, it's pretty clear that they will impose economic austerity of Teutonic severity. Will Greeks accept it? Some reports suggest that small businesspeople in Greece may understand the need for retrenchment. But what of the Greek public sector? The unions? The farmers?

This is not just about rolling over the next few tranches of Greek debt. It is about stopping Greece from piling up even more. Can that be made to stick? It's a very big ask. And once any German guarantee for Greek debt is in place, it's hard to see how it could be withdrawn.

Sweden and the UK are suggesting the involvement of the IMF. Why? They have experience but no magic wand. Their recipe is to retrench and devalue. But Greece fiddled its way into the eurozone for the money. Now it can't devalue.

Any optimism here looks extremely premature.

February 09, 2010

More money pointlessly thrown at carbon

A GREEN pressure group has expressed its delight at news it will receive a £500,000 Government grant. Low Carbon Hook Norton will help people in the village use the six-figure sum to promote sustainable energy use. The article comes with a picture of primary school children from the Hook Norton Primary School eco committee in Oxfordshire....

Meanwhile, tossing money around as if it's going out of fashion, Cornwall is to get £9m to help get its eco-town project off the ground.

Housing Minister John Healey confirmed the project to regenerate the china clay area will receive a share of a £60m government handout.

The money will be used to create a number of "carbon-neutral eco-show homes" around St Austell to give residents an example of green living.

Some houses will also be given a green makeover. More details will be unveiled by the government later....

February 08, 2010

What next for 'global warming'?

The big political UK news over the weekend, picked up by Philip Stott, was of growing climate scepticism among Tories - and not a moment too soon.
Most Conservative MPs, including at least six members of the shadow cabinet, are sceptical about their party's continued focus on climate change policies, it has been claimed.
The wider global warming debate (let's not fool ourselves that we're discussing 'climate change', this is about global warming) has reached the stage where errors are being found - Amazongate, glaciergate, floodgate etc. The warmists maintain that each of these is an isolated error, with the fundamental case for global warming remaining unaffected.

These are like body punches landed on a strong boxer. They may wear the boxer down slightly, but he is still on his feet. The audience, seeing the blows land, may shake their heads a bit, but he still stands. His supporters cheer him on as he stands, his ample frame soaking up the isolated punishment.

Bodyblows are fine, but what's required are blows to the head. This means temperature data, showing that the temperature records are so unreliable that there is no uncontroversial global warming, and that what there is cannot be uncontroversially attributed to CO2.

This is a more complex narrative than we've seen so far, but there are plenty of good writers who will be able to popularise it for a wider public.

The temperature records do look highly questionable. If so, it's only a matter of time.

To take a few examples, we know that temperature stations were disappeared from the datasets during the 1990s; thanks to Anthony Watts we know plenty of US surface stations are unsuitably sited; and we know that scientific software has got a poor reputation for error, with some of the major problems with the UEA Climatic Centre's software having been embarrassingly described in the climategate leak.

This is not a matter of duff citations for individual alleged consequences of global warming: the temperature data obviously goes to the heart of the global warming case. And as for tinkering with the traces of CO2 in the atmosphere - as Stott observes:
There can be no predictable outcomes for fiddling at the margins with one single human factor in a system such as climate, the most complex, coupled, non-linear, semi-chaotic known.
But the most powerful counter-punch the sceptics can land is to be able to ask: What global warming?

Become a composting champion

If you live on the Isle of Wight, you can go to a free composting training day and become a composting champion.

Yes, composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces in 3 months!

And so on.

How global warming is affecting ski resorts

Ski resorts all over the world are taking an active interest in the affects of global warming.

This is because global warming will have a direct impact on their business for the worst. Temperatures around the globe are expected to rise an average of 6 degrees Celsius within the next century. It may sound like a small number, but the affects can be devastating to a ski resort business that depends on frigid temperatures to attract visitors.

A few major ski resort tycoons have already begun steps to “go green” by hiring environmental affairs specialists to come up with ways to keep them in business and have their operations run more efficiently. Much of these efforts involve implementing practices of conservation when it comes to water usage and reducing greenhouse emissions. One such resort taking these steps is Aspen in North America. They have also set up consultants who work with other ski resorts to ‘go green.’

Experts agree that by reducing greenhouse emissions, we could see an increase in snow production. To this end, ski resorts are beginning to install compact fluorescent lights in lieu of high wattage bulbs. They are also using more paperless forms of recordkeeping to reduce the amount of trees being cut down for paper sources. Ski resorts are also encouraging their guests to take part in energy conservation, because they realize that it takes much human power to reduce the affects of global warming. (Wow, this should help.)

The Alps in Europe are on-board with energy conservation, as the glaciers are melting too quickly for comfort. It is estimated that if steps to control global warming are not taken immediately, low-lying ski resorts in Europe may have winters where they receive no snow at all. This could be a reality within 15 years.

Some European ski resorts have already invested much money into snow-making machines, but have come to realize that even these machines only work if temperatures are below freezing. They will do no good in the scenario of global warming, if temperatures are consistently rising.

While the gradual lack of snowfalls weighs heavily on the minds of ski resort owners, so does the fact that global warming will eventually cause massive floods as glaciers continue to melt rapidly. If this is the case, lack of snowfall will not be the biggest issue ski resorts have to face.

In summary, ski resorts all over the world are working together to develop plans of energy conservation and reduction of greenhouse emissions to keep their industry alive in the coming years. If every resort takes steps to help the environment, then the whole world will benefit.
Unsurprisingly, the original article had attracted no comments.

Green children's books

Catch 'em young, like the Jesuits.

February 05, 2010

Public opinion tilts against AGW

A straw in the wind, maybe, but this poll should worry Ed Miliband, who wants his AGW message sold to us. It should also worry Dave Cameron - if he cares what anyone else thinks.

The proportion believing in AGW has slumped from 41% to 26%.

25% don't believe "climate change" is happening at all. Any scientist will tell you the climate is always changing, so what has gone wrong here? There's no mystery: the warmists some time ago conscripted the phrase "climate change" to stand in for the more easily mocked "global warming". They say "climate change" when they mean "global warming", and this 25% have smelled a massive decomposing rat.

In fact January sea surface temperatures were very warm, while just a few days later we have huge snow storms working up the eastern coast of North America. Confused about what "global temperature" means? The scientists seem to be too. Amazingly the earth and its atmosphere do not warm and cool uniformly everywhere.

The two middle statements in the poll are fairly similar. Put them together and we have a powerful 48% accepting that the climate is changing, but it may not be, or it definitely is not, caused by humanity.

And this is pretty much where we seem to be now. There's some sign that temperatures may have been rising a bit, but there's no rigorous persuasive science showing the man is the most likely cause. None. Indeed, maybe land temperatures at least are dipping. We don't know what's gong to happen over the next few months, let alone the next few years or the next few decades.

If there's no clear temperature trend, all the modelling, the climategate, the Amazongate, the glaciergate, the Pachaurigate and so on fall away. People are being asked to make themselves poorer on the basis of a rickety theory only 26% of us believe in - hardly any more than believe that climate change isn't happening at all.

Much talk about how the MSM are running to catch up with the bloggers. Watts Up With That, Bishop Hill, and Richard North are among those who have been particularly clear - so much so that mistakes and omissions in the Guardian's series of articles and in Simon Jenkins' latest piece leap off the page. Yet pointless to fisk at their edges - the central message is to leave the AGW missionaries ever more isolated.

Interestingly the pollster comments that
people ... are influenced by all the voices they hear, what they read and what people they know are talking about.
And here the constant ramming home of the AGW message has been counter-productive. Our household, for instance, became affronted by the uniform preaching of the certainty of AGW. So we drop the occasional AGW barb into conversations with people we would never talk regular politics with. I'm sure we're not the only ones.

Considering that newspaper coverage has only recently become even-handed, press influence doubtless has the capacity to depress the numbers of believers further. Pachauri's departure would not affect the case for AGW one iota, but he could become a symbol of rottenness in people's minds however rapidly he was disowned - which he will be if his time comes. "No smoke without fire", people will think.

We are being told to make huge changes to our lives on the basis of a threadbare scientific theory based on rickety measurements - a scare, if you like.

The government is throwing huge amounts of our money at the carbon non-problem, with the connivance of Opposition parties. Those sums could be used to tackle real problems - if we actually had that money to spend. But we haven't.

The science blogs need to keep up the barrage of questioning and facts. If the AGW edifice deserves to fall, let it fall soon.

Apparently most of the British people won't be surprised.

Northampton spends money to cut carbon

Northampton Borough Council has signed up to the 10:10 national energy campaign that is aiming to reduce C02 emissions across the UK.

The authority has made a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint by 35% by 2012 and has carried out a number of projects to do this, including installing cavity wall insulation at Lings Forum, heating improvements to The Mounts Baths and an out-of-hours switch-off of the lights at both the Mayorhold and Grosvenor multi-storey car parks.

Future projects include a lighting upgrade at the bus station, fitting time clocks to immersion heaters and boilers at several council-run sites and a lighting upgrade to the Westbridge depot.

Excuse me, why were they keeping lights on out of hours? And the rest of us have time clocks on our heaters and boilers, but apparently such mundane considerations didn't apply to Northampton council.

How government burdens the NHS

North East Lincolnshire Care Trust Plus aims to go green with the launch of its sustainable development management plan, which sets out arrangements to support carbon reduction and sustainable development agendas within the Trust.

And which is not what the NHS was set up for.

The NHS as a whole has pledged a commitment to sustainable development, writes a Lib Dem councillor: "Sustainable development is making sure the needs of the present are met without compromising the needs of future generations. It is about energy efficiency, carbon reduction and recycling and also ensuring social justice and equity, and integrating environmental, health, social, political and economic issues into decision making."
The NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy 2009 sets out clear and measurable milestones to monitor and reduce direct carbon emissions, which make a contribution towards this commitment. There are clear links to financial sustainability and to transforming services in a way which makes them more acceptable to patients and reduces carbon.
So that's another unnecessary NHS overhead.

DECC throws taxpayers' money at carbon neutrality

Ballymena is bidding to become Northern Ireland’s first carbon neutral town thanks to an innovative new scheme to heat homes and businesses using energy from beneath the earth’s crust.

It is one of two projects in Northern Ireland to have won funding of up to £500,000 apiece to install district heating schemes that will slash fuel bills and reduce reliance on imported energy.

The town of Ballymena has been awarded £500,000 from the Government’s Low Carbon Community Challenge to pursue its plan of building a district heating network based on deep geothermal, biomass and residual heat technologies. The scheme will be used to heat public buildings, social housing and private residences, cut fossil fuel use and fuel poverty.

Meanwhile, Camphill Community Glencraig, near Omagh, has been awarded funds to install a biomass district heating scheme using locally sourced wood.

And in England the Ashton Hayes Going Carbon Neutral project has been selected as one of 20 communities to receive government funding worth up to £500,000. Ashton Hayes’ funding will be used primarily to transform the village's local school into a mini power station, equipping it with a combined heat and power system and a host of renewable energy technologies such as photovoltaics.
Doubtless there will be more, and doubtless these projects won't be financially viable without our money.

Carbonballs down under

Consumers can enjoy a steak or lamb chop with confidence of its small carbon hoof-print thanks to today’s release of research highlighting the environmental efficiency of Australia’s red meat industry.

More

They can have no idea what a relief that is.

February 04, 2010

So far it's Scotland's coldest winter since records began

The average temperatures in January and December were the coldest in Scotland since 1914 - the year that data was first logged.

More money thrown at carbon

The BBC and the British Council are out of control, using significant chunks of our money to encourage people in other countries to spread the word on global warming. It will be interesting to see if any mainstream media acknowledge Richard North for breaking this scandalous story.

Six pioneering wave and tidal projects are to receive a share of a £22 million public fund aimed at bringing marine renewables close to full-scale commercialisation in 10 years. Good idea, because our energy supplies need to be more secure - not because they tidal and wave power will cut the UK's production of beneficial carbon dioxide.

How we went to war without the cabinet

Sue Cameron in yesterday's FT lays out how papers containing inconvenient truths about the illegality of a prospective Iraq war were kept from cabinet - the worst case of sofa government so far. Blair invisibly removed the checks and balances on his power and no one uttered a squeak - not even the sainted Cook, who only walked when the die was cast.

Read her and blanch. Seems we are now an elective one-man dictatorship.

Her postscript about a more recent Brown proposal is pertinent, though hardly recent. I wonder who whispered that parallel in her ear.

Greece stumbles predictably nearer the edge

Greece edges closer to the abyss today as unions there start to react to first sightings of government reform proposals approved by the European Commission. Is Wall Street right that the numbers make Greek capitulation somehow inevitable, or are EU watchers right that politics will prevail over economics?

This blog thinks the numbers will prevail. The Greek people will never accept the measures needed to stabilise the Greek debt. And even if they did - which they won't - the Greek economy would become headed into a spiral of contraction.

Financial fortunes will be made, and the markets will move along to the next economy in line. The financial support needed will be just too big for German politicians to be able to smuggle past their voters.

February 02, 2010

It's the temperature, stupid

Only on Saturday Lord Leach wrote that "the surface temperature record is deeply flawed: not just the discredited 1,000-year “hockey stick” that was the iconic centrepiece of Al Gore’s film, but also the more recent data". And, he added, "the temperature record certainly suggests no immediate cause for alarm". 

Now The Guardian has written about the study that Phil Jones co-authored claiming that urbanisation in eastern China had a minimal effect on the temperatures there. It was cited by the IPCC. But, strange to relate, his co-author had lost the data the study was based on. The chinese scientist he got it from has lost most of her records too. And did Prof Jones ever see any of the data at all? That question seems to hover in the air.

This is deeply puzzling to a PPE graduate. If you were going to analyse the data, would you not first put it on a computer? Then it gets backed up and archived, and it's hard to see how it could get completely lost.

Then, later on, nn 2008, Jones prepared a paper for the Journal of Geophysical Research re-examining temperatures in eastern China. It found that, far from being negligible, the urban heat phenomenon was responsible for 40% of the warming seen in eastern China between 1951 and 2004. As The Guardian's man says, this "raises serious new questions about one of the most widely referenced papers on global warming, and about the IPCC's reliance on its conclusions".

But, he adds, this "dramatic revision" of the estimated impact of urbanisation on temperatures in China does not change the global picture of temperature trends. Indeed not.

Nor does the news (via Bishop Hill) that New Zealand's 'leading' climate research unit, NIWA, "does not hold copies" of the original reports documenting adjustments to New Zealand's weather stations. The raw data disclose no measurable change in average temperature over a period of 150 years. Their graph of the same 150-year period shows a sharp warming trend, but that's "adjusted" data, and they can't document or justify the adjustments. So it's no warming for New Zealand then.

There's certainly more to come on temperature data. It's the flaws in the temperature records that will sink the AGW agenda.

Pachauri's an irrelevance now. 

Update: Bishop Hill points out that UEA have issued a press release contradicting the Guardian story. Game on.

How long can Greece stay afloat?

After writing a wacky article wondering whether Germany might leave the €uro rather than bail out club med, Ambrose is back on firmer ground today on this unfolding drama.


Investor flight from Southern European debt markets has begun to subside, he writes, as EU political leaders move closer to some sort of rescue for Greece, but it remains far from clear whether the Greek people will accept Europe’s increasingly draconian terms.

Germany's foreign minister says Greece has the "full backing" of his country and other EU partners, but the EU would not tolerate any delay in carrying out spending cuts.

The EU's draft of measures is calling for cuts in "average nominal wages" across the entire public sector, says Ambrose. That alone would be enough to bring the demonstrators onto the streets. But they also want pensions cuts ... a rise in the retirement age ... a fuel levy ... luxury taxes.

Cue torching the streets. In classic Greek style Mr Papandreou "hopes to rely on growth to do much of the work. Brussels has made short shrift of that illusion".

So far the Greek drama has played out slowly. But the pace may quicken, and soon. The political dialogue among the men in suits has been slow and serious. But the Greek people are predictable only in their ability to flare up suddenly.

At some point Mr Papandreou - elected on a manifesto to increase state spending - will have to take at least some of these measures to the Greek nation if he is not to lose all credibility in the corridors of Berlin.

That's when the fun will really begin. And once it does, bailing Greece out will fast become politically impossible for the German government.

No wonder Mr Papandreou is not rushing to get into the endgame.

February 01, 2010

More green money to be spent

Government today published detailed consultation proposals for the world’s first Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which will pay people for the heat they generate themselves. The scheme, which is due to start in April 2011, will lead to a rapid increase in the number of homes and offices heated by woodfuel, biogas, solar thermal, heat pumps and waste-to-energy technologies.

This will be driven by the RHI guaranteeing that the average household will be paid well over £1,000 for the renewable heat they generate themselves. Today, renewable heat technologies meet just 0.6% of UK heat demand, but by 2020 the government aims to meet 12% or more of the UK’s heat demand through renewables.

Demand for heat dominates energy use in the UK and is responsible for 47% of the UK’s Carbon Emissions.

REA Policy Director Gaynor Hartnell said; “The UK may be languishing behind the rest of Europe on renewable heat, but the proposals launched today are an important world first. The industry is confident these proposals give the UK pretty much the best chance of generating over 10% of its heat from renewables by 2020.”

The scheme, known as the “Renewable Heat Incentive”, offers long-term, fixed payments based on the type of installation. There will be payments also for every unit of renewable gas fed into the gas network. This “biomethane” is chemically identical to North Sea gas (or Russian imports).

Gaynor Hartnell said; “Renewable heat is the sleeping giant of renewable energy in the UK with a major contribution to make. The sooner we invest and build capacity in the renewable heat industry, the better value and energy security this will bring the UK - and the more jobs will be created.”
  • And at peak times, how reliable will these extra sources of energy be?

Temperature data will sink Miliband

Richard North seems to have eaten something that disagreed with him last night. He rightly castigates Ed Miliband for minimising the IPCC's failings (he's a politician, what do you expect?), and then explodes that "for a graduate in philosophy, politics and economics to presume to lecture us in basic physics is an arrogance beyond measure". Hey, we can read, you know.

Mind you, with advisers like David King, anyone might struggle.  He's made himself look stupid in print this morning, claiming that climategate "was probably carried out by a foreign intelligence agency", by a team of skilled professionals, either on behalf of a foreign government or at the behest of anti-climate change lobbyists in the United States. He reasons that "the emails date back to 1996, so someone was collecting the data over many years. It looks like possibly the work of an intelligence service." It might be Russians, he says, but concludes: "Right now, the American lobbyists are a very likely source of finance for this, so the finger must point to them". And he reaches this conclusion how? He "did work with our [intelligence] agencies, and the American agencies". They must have been glad to be shot of him.

Back to Miliband. The trouble is that he seems to have spent Sunday spouting nonsense all over the place. If he really wants a summary of the "basic physics", he could do worse than look over a recent letter to The Times from Lord Leach, where he says, "The basic physics tells us that greenhouse gases have some warming effect".

So far so good for the desperate minister, but then Leach adds:
How material, how lasting, how much offset or accentuated by natural influences is unknown at this stage of scientific understanding — the temperature record certainly suggests no immediate cause for alarm.

Computer models will not give us the answer. They can only regurgitate what is programmed into them.
Oh dear. Mr Miliband must be hoping that Labour lose the election, so that in Opposition he can put global warming climate change behind him and work up another special subject.

Just in case he should be tempted to press on with this one, he should recall that rising temperatures are key to the whole global warming climate change enterprise. If they're not rising, or rising exceptionally, why fuss at all?

As North puts it:
Clearly, this pathetic excuse for a human being simply does not have the intellect to perceive that the "temperatures" to which he refers are artifices, constructs which are calculated from adjusted raw data, of dubious provenance, subject to multiple errors, distortions and, most likely, fraud. They are no more real than was Luke Skywalker flying in his X-wing fighter into battle against the Death Star.
Or in Leach's words, "the surface temperature record is deeply flawed: not just the discredited 1,000-year “hockey stick” that was the iconic centrepiece of Al Gore’s film, but also the more recent data".

Miliband is throwing up chaff to divert the incoming attackers: detail about the IPCC process (boring to most people),  "mistakes" by the IPCC (boring to most people), hacked emails (boring to most people).

He is happy to draw fire onto those peripheral issues. What he must dread is a skilled populariser getting their teeth into the temperature records. Then it really will be curtains for AGW.

Pentagon to rank global warming as destabilising force

The Pentagon will for the first time rank global warming as a destabilising force, adding fuel to conflict and putting US troops at risk around the world, in a major strategy review to be presented to Congress, reports The Guardian. It will direct military planners to keep track of the latest climate science, and to factor global warming into their long term strategic planning.

Heatwaves and freak storms could put increasing demand on the US military to respond to humanitarian crises or natural disaster ... more than 30 US bases are threatened by rising sea levels ... melting sea ice in the Arctic opening up a new security province .... There are so many mistakes here, I give up.

Miliband attacks "absolute nonsense" climate sceptic claims

Ed Miliband described as "absolute nonsense" claims that recent controversies surrounding the reliability of scientific evidence relating to climate change was starting to undermine the case for the truth of man-made global warming.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently became embroiled in the controversy after it emerged there had been mistakes in claims the IPCC made about how long it would take for Himilayan glaciers to melt.

"The first volume of the IPCC ... is about the evidence of the climate science, the fact that we've had the hottest years in the last few years ... what's been happening to CO2 in the atmosphere," he said.

"None of these things have been disproved and they won't be because this is something that goes back hundreds of years, 150 years in fact, this evidence of the effect of CO2 on temperature."

A Spectator writer adds his comments here.