Is climate change denialism really on the rise in the UK?


10:11 am - December 11th 2011

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contribution by Alice Bell

The latest British Social Attitudes survey was released earlier this week, and it wasn’t exactly rosy for those who campaign on environmental issues.

The Guardian ran with “Public support for tackling climate change declines dramatically; the Daily Mail: Rise of the climate change sceptics.

I’m really not convinced by the narrative of a rise in scepticism, especially the BSA’s own focus on the impact of Climategate.

I guess the headline result is that 37% think many claims about environmental threats are exaggerated, which is up from 24% in 2000. I want to ask, however, whose claims? That is, have people stopped trusting the science, or do they just feel there is a lot of exaggeration and hype around environmental politics?

Maybe it’s less a matter of the impact of Climategate, and more a bit of climate media fatigue. You might trust a scientist on the news, and yet still find a DECC advert annoying.

For example, Attenborough’s calm concern in the latest Frozen Planet is rather different from exploding schoolchildren (or, for that matter, posing with huskies, or ads “made from recycled clips” or a host of other stunts). Personally, I don’t think we can take this data simply as a sign that sceptics are winning the climate communications war. It could be that too. We just don’t know.

The survey also considered whether people agreed more with these two statements: “We worry too much about the future of the environment and not enough about prices and jobs today” and “People worry too much about human progress harming the environment”* (p95). From this, the BSA report argues that the public are more sceptical that a threat exists. I’m not sure that follows. It could just be that people think we worry too much. Perhaps they just think there are other things to worry about. As the report itself suggests, the “financial pinch” of the recession may well be having an impact on the ways people make choices about the environment.

Or, perhaps people agree that climate change is happening, just that there is nothing we can do. Again, this doesn’t mean climate sceptics aren’t winning the communications battle here, I just mean I don’t necessarily see that from the data.

Something else that sprung out at me was that 52% of the people who said they think the rise in the world’s temperature caused by climate change reduce the energy use in their home (p91). Perhaps what this highlights is not a communications challenge of convincing people of the science, but more of a behavioral one. The figure is 39% overall though, so it does seem that agreeing climate change is dangerous has clear impact. The report also notes an “ascension of recycling to a national social norm”, so maybe this is possible, given political will.

One final thing that bugged me about this report was that it didn’t really examine how and where people got their information about the environment from, and yet still felt able to make loose connections between the timing of Climategate and the apparent rise in scepticism. From the final pages: “we conclude that media coverage may make a difference – not least ‘new’ media and the internet ‘blogosphere’ where unfounded opinion can sometimes be favoured over scientific fact” (p106).

The impact of the media on people’s understanding, reasoning and framing of any issue, perhaps in particular ones including esoteric expertise like climate science, is incredibly complex, and the BSA report writers should have known better.

Note: Leo Barasi’s blogging on the limited impact of Climategate on people’s attitudes.

—-
Alice Bell is lecturer in science communication at Imperial College, London. A longer version of this article is at Alice Bell’s blog.

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Reader comments


The public are far more likely to believe Attenborough because he has stood the test of time. His programmes have informed and given pleasure for decades because he has shown amazing things with that calm authority the OP describes and he hasn’t flinched from telling us about threats to them clearly and without hype.

Where do we see similar attitudes to environmental concerns in the wider media? The entire tabloid press are imbecilically deferential to their owners’ prejudices, the Times and Telegraph are unable to resist the lies of denialists, the BBC’s “balance” is often idiotic and fringe eco-warriors and their stunts attract too much attention. Green ideas are associated with windmills and a loss of the comforts we associate with progress. This need not be so.

Governments past and present must take much of the blame for this. Housing and infra-structure strategy for decades has paid mere lip service to the needs of the environment while entrenching wasteful but profitable economies.

We can have a green future and jobs and growth with a Green New Deal, but our politicians are unable to overcome the power of vested interests to do anything. I sometimes wonder whether they believe all their rhetoric but feel unable to use their authority to bring about change until we have seen some huge calamity that brings the necessary sea-change in opinion.

2. Man on Clapham Omnibus

I remember reading somewhere that a theoretical sociologist characterised modern society as ‘Magico-technological’. The magic derived from the association of an event with an outcome with no knowledge of underlining causality.For the raindancers among you this may ring bells but for the rest of us this lack of understanding is extremely dangerous and ,in global warming terms,fatal. I am sure that many are recycling and turning down their central heating in a Canute like attempt to stem the inexorable rise in greenhouse gases but ultimately this cannot be left the the actions of individuals however well meaning. This must be the province of both the individual and collective actions of Governments based on fact.
Sadly, the outcome (or non outcome) of the latest climate summit shows that despite what Joe public may think,world leaders are incapable of putting aside their national interests in favour of global ones. Happily, their is a slight silver lining.That inability for resolute action in Europe,by inducing economic meltdown may have at least inadvertently slowed Co2 emissions for the time being.

@2 – Ah, you’ve uncovered the governments climate change plan – get the poor to switch off their central heating!

The sceptics are not just in the UK. Irrespective of that, the way the poor are (again) being hammered on the extra taxes on utility bills absolutely stinks.

All this government is doing is using poor people’s taxes to buy wind turbines to allow wealthy landowners to milk the masses by charging to put them on their land.

Once again the poor are making the rich richer and having to choose to “Heat or eat” whilst those wealthy landowners are laughing all the way to the bank.

Why does the Labour Party not comment on this? Is it because old money upper class toffs like Harriet Harman and her cronies like milking the poor?

Seems to be…

5. Northern Worker

Despite the cascade of man-made global warming propaganda – primarily from the BBC – the public has moved on because of the recession. Saving polar bears and the planet is something you think about when you have money in your pocket. But when you don’t have a job and you are in fuel poverty, green is a luxury you can’t afford. People haven’t become climate deniers, they’ve become poor. They have become cynical because they can’t afford to keep warm as hidden, green taxes in their fuel bills make energy impossibly expensive. It’s alright for multi-millionaires like Chris Huhne, they can afford expensive gas and electricity.

@5 – Northern Worker

Absolutely agree. It’s easy for the tax avoiding, property owning, multimillionaire Ed Miliband to harp on about increasing poor people’s taxes to reward the rich landowners with their money but those very same poor people cannot afford those new taxes to reward the rich.

It stinks that a party that used to claim to care about the working classes is using this as an excuse to divert money to the wealthy.

I suppose when Labour rewarded bankers, city slickers and spivs more than any other UK government in history it should have shown people how much Labour seem to despise the poor.

The removal of the 10p tax rate and their support of this very policy shows appears to confirm this is the case…

7. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@5

‘Despite the cascade of man-made global warming propaganda’

Welcome to the world of magic. The fact that you may not like the class divide and the fact that the poor are getting shafted by Capitalists (no change there) doesnt detract from the fact that pretty much everything on the planet will eventually die if the human impact on the planet isn’t curbed. I would suggest that does call for a National policy at least irrespective of whether or not you like a particular leader of a party.

8. Man on Clapham Omnibus
9. Northern Worker

@7

Even supposing man is responsible for climate change, do you seriously believe that what happens in the UK makes any difference? If we switched off the whole country now and forever, China, India and Brazil would replace our carbon emissions in a matter of months. So while the BRICS are making hay, we’re taxed into freezing to death. For why? To give a lead to the world? I’ve been to India quite a bit on business in recent years and they think we’re idiots for taxing CO2 and they have no intention of following our lead.

What I can’t grasp is how the enviro-leftists can simultaneously call for green taxes, and also complain about fuel poverty and freezing pensioners.

11. Anon E Mouse

@8 – Man on Clapham Omnibus

I do indeed find that interesting however if the Lib Dems get their way the poorest will be exempt tax on the first £10k they earn which is better.

Although any benefit will be eaten up with this stupid “Green Tax” nonsense.

This is a left wing blog. Let me you ask you if you think it’s fair to reward wealthy landowners with ordinary taxpayers and pensioners money to line their pockets to have stupid wind turbines that only work when the wind blows and only when it doesn’t blow too hard?

How is the transfer of money for an essential service like heating from the poor to the rich fair?

After thirteen years of Labour rewarding bankers like Fred Goodwin with knighthoods and the like can you really not see the irony in it or has the Labour Party truly left the building?

@11

I do indeed find that interesting however if the Lib Dems get their way the poorest will be exempt tax on the first £10k they earn which is better.

Nope. I think you’ll find its everyone who earns over £10k who benefits the most from the Lib Dems changes. Those already not earning below the original threshold gained nothing. So the poorest saw no change whatsoever to their finances. Plus throw in the VAT rise, and they’re actually being taxed more now, despite lib dem claims about “lifting the poor out of tax altogether”.

Bah. Need to proofread better – “Those already not earning below the original threshold”.

Since there is not a single scientist anywhere in the world who supports the catastrophic warming fraud, without being paid to do so, it is unfortunate that substantial portion of the population believe there must be something to it. This is simply because the alternative is to believe that the government BBC, C4 and other state funded propagandists are wholly and completely corrupt fascist organisations. Of course they are but people don’t prefer not to believe is such total corruption.

However it is obviously becoming difficult for anybody, with any tinge of scepticism in their soul (& not dependent on the state for a living) to refuse to accept the total coruption of these fascist institutions. After all the only alternative is to believe that we are currently catastrophically warm and childrenn under 10 really have “never seen snow”

I have asked elsewhere if there is a single member of the Green Party whop has held real job, ie one not paid by the taxpayer, for any lengthn of time, without finding even one, but this might be a suitable place to ask again.

15. Albert Spangler

The fact is, we rely massively on limited resources to fuel our economy. Medicine, computers, food and most obviously, fuel, are all made from a finite resource. Even if you don’t give a toss about the world , the massive geopolitical instability and food shortages we would suffer, at the very least trying to make what we have last longer, and moving onto something we can generate ourselves rather than import from various dodgy countries should be a goal?

Also, do people feel that, if fuel poverty was a priority for poorer people and this apparent ‘green tax’ was only applied to those who could afford it, would that be acceptable? Or is that just a red herring to detract the argument away from the point made by the OP?

We’re going to run out of oil and gas eventually. I’d rather see us at the forefront of the technological revolution we’re going to need to adapt to this, rather than clinging to systems which both cause damage, putting money in the hands of oil barons and being at the mercy of regimes and companies which couldn’t give the slightest shit about the well-being of the people in the UK.

Back on topic, what’s interesting to note is that the scientific consensus is now completely unified that climate change is strongly affected by human activities. What’s a shame is that the media is reliant on advertising revenue from companies who’s interests do not lie with sharing that fact. I wonder if the hysterical shrieking from some environmentalists has played a part in that, or if that’s a misrepresentation itself.

16. Northern Worker

@15

Yes, we will run out of oil and gas eventually but later rather than sooner in the UK if we cash in on the 300 years of coal and 200 years of gas from fracking. Then there is the self sufficiency France enjoys from nuclear while Huhne fiddles with windmills.

Thinking about pollution, have you seen what China is doing to supply the rare earths we need for windmills and solar? They are wrecking our planet and poisoning their people. In India, of which I’ve first hand experience, the pollution is everywhere while we claim our green credentials and export our pollution to poison Indians (and Chinese).

Our ‘green’ policies are totally insane. We take money from poor people and give it to rich people. We export our industry to India and China and think we’re green. Meanwhile millions of good workers are thrown on the dole scrapheap. I repeat – our ‘green’ policies are insane.

17. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@9 No I dont think the UK can make a contribution alone. Now we are no longer in the EU for all practical purposes I dont think we have an influence on anything much.
However I dont particularly think that has a bearing on the overwhelming scientific evidence that warming is happening and it is man made.
The issues that are raised about fuel costs are exactly the same as a whole raft of goods and services in a capitalist economy.The poor are poor because they have less ability to engage in the market.Nonetheless the laws of supply and demand still apply and will increasingly be made worse as fossil fuels diminish unless alternatives are provided.Providing those alternatives may be less about reducing Global warming but more about fuel security.

18. Anon E Mouse

@17 – Man on Clapham Omnibus

You say; “The poor are poor because they have less ability to engage in the market.”

Which may be true but how do extra “Green Taxes” where their money goes straight to wealthy landowners help them?

How does making the rich richer by directly making the poor poorer help their position?

19. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@14
Since you favour your own homespun ideologies to science maybe you should stop tapping on a computer,which is, after all, a product of science.
I am not sure you know what fascism is. The BBC is certainly part of the state apparatus and is a little less offensive than the daily mail but fascist,I think not.

AM @ 11

I do indeed find that interesting however if the Lib Dems get their way the poorest will be exempt tax on the first £10k they earn which is better.

Will they? Will they be exempt from VAT & council tax? I just check…
…give me a sec…
…Nope, it appears that the poorest will still be paying heaps of their meagre earnings into these highly regressive forms of tax. Not only that of course, but will have to shoulder the cuts in services to pay for a massive tax cut, nearly four Billion quid a year.

Northern Worker @ 9

If you are suggesting that we need a better solution to tackle climate change, and (pretending the science is wrong is not going to make the problem go away, BTW), then lets hear it?

If we tell you what the annual ouput of industry’s CO2 output is and what it needs to be to stave of the worse effects, then tell us who to achieve that.

22. Albert Spangler

@16

Good points.

The problem remains with oil. It’s probably the most important component of our economy. It is going to run out and we will probably see shortages and cost increases in our lifetimes. We can grow biofuels (like rapeseed oil) to replace this but at a large cost, and the other issue with this is that (from what I understand) we do not have the agricultural capacity to sustain our population in Britain alone. Even if we could somehow convert enough land to sustain the UK population and grow biofuels, we could convert all the available land in the country to biofuel production and it would produce a tiny fraction of what we currently use. And then we’d all starve anyway.

The other issue is that as the climate changes will result in a lowering of crop yields, especially in Africa which was supposed by some to be the bread basket of the world, meaning we can’t rely on other countries growing biofuels for us either, or we might find ourselves in the unpleasant situation where countries starve their own people to supply us with computer components, medicine and petrol.

I’m all for nuclear power, but nuclear power is not renewable. There are actually limited sources of uranium available, and as you mention the unpleasant practices used to acquire the resources from countries like China and India, you should note the many unpleasant ways in which countries gain access to uranium as well. I think transferring to nuclear is a temporary solution to transferring to other sources of energy, but worthwhile to get ourselves out of the crap. If we’re lucky, science will prevail and we will be able to use nuclear fusion as a power source, but in the UK power generation can come from a number of sources, and we have good access to both offshore wind reserves and tidal power, although these themselves will cause significant environmental damage.
If we’re really lucky, we’ll find a cheap way of burning coal which removes the Co2 with carbon capture and the like. At the moment though it’s horribly expensive. If we’re unlucky, we’ll be back to the days of smog and there’ll be sod all political willpower to actually combat climate change. Which is probably more likely.

I’m by no means arguing for a continuation of ‘green’ policies which put a coat on human exploitation and putting weight on poor people. But we can’t fall into the trap of thinking ‘because the current version of this has problems, it’s unworkable’ because we really don’t have much of a choice. And the longer we leave it, the worse it’ll be when we try to change.

I’m of the opinion that transferring our polluting industries to other countries, putting people here out of work and supporting crap working practices and rights in China should be stopped. If we bothered to put pressure on countries who increasingly pollute there would at least be a slight possibility of stopping the worst damage from climate change. And even if we fail, at least we can say we tried, and have an industrial and economic advantage to boot. At the moment, talking about the admittedly huge increase in pollution from developing nations while the UK itself has no real commitment to a sustainable economy makes the govt look like massive hypocrites (ahem) and removes any desire of other countries to try, unless they themselves decide to lead by example.

@10: So true. Either you tax the emissions to make them more expensive, or you don’t. If you eat you cake, you can’t have it any more.

24. So Much For Subtlety

7. Man on Clapham Omnibus

The fact that you may not like the class divide and the fact that the poor are getting shafted by Capitalists (no change there) doesnt detract from the fact that pretty much everything on the planet will eventually die if the human impact on the planet isn’t curbed.

Sorry but could you please explain to me under what possible circumstances could human activities even become a threat to life on the planet, much less actually exterminate it?

@10 Many (probably most) Greens are more concerned about the human impact of climate change than about the effect on the rest of the natural world. And it’s worth noting that proposals for green taxes are intended to pay for things like free insulation schemes.

@11 wind turbines are not “stupid”. In northern Germany they produce between 25% and 50% of baseline electricity on any given day. As we have more wind than they do, there is massive potential to meet our energy needs through both offshore and onshore wind. And the great thing about it is that, once we’ve set up the turbines and the grid infrastructure to accommodate them, the ongoing cost is minimal. And, in any case, they’re only a part of the renewable energy and energy efficiency measures that Greens are proposing.

@14 If you meant that there isn’t a single “scientist” who thinks climate change isn’t happening, or that it isn’t in large part being caused by human activity without being paid by big oil companies, you may be right. If you think that there isn’t a single scientist who believes climate change is real and is primarily man-made without being paid to think so, then you’re completely wrong. Unless you consider “being paid to do scientific studies of the climate” to be “being paid to think that climate change is happening and is real”.

Your portrayal of what climate change means in your second paragraph is one of the most obviously strawman arguments I’ve come across in a very long time. Climate change will not mean every part of the planet getting too warm for snow all year round. It does, however, mean that average temperatures being warmer. And guess what? The 10 hottest years on record (i.e. since we’ve had direct measurements across the globe) are all within the last 13 years.

And as for a Green Party member with a job outside the public sector (not sure what makes public sector jobs not real – my friends who are doctors, teachers, nurses, paramedics, professors, or civil servants would be surprised to be told that they don’t work), I’ve been in my current job (I’m in an administrative job for a private company) for over six years and am a Green Party member.

@16 It’s worth noting that successive government’s environmental policies have, to date, rarely risen very far above the token level. They’ve certainly not been intended as a coherently thought-through strategy of how we as a nation can reduce our carbon emissions and put ourselves at (or at least near) the top in terms of the emerging green technologies that will be a necessity for the world as we deal with the twin threats of climate change and peak oil. If we did think it through, we could implement substantial “polluter pays” taxes, and use the money to help the poor and vulnerable – preventing pollution and eliminating fuel poverty at the same time.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the poor contribute less to climate change than the rich (the pensioner who struggles to pay her fuel bill isn’t likely to take half a dozen flights in a year or drive a gas-guzzler), and are likely to be hurt the most by its impact, as they have fewer ways to adapt to the world as it changes.

26. Leon Wolfson

@10 – I’m the one who constantly talks about people being frozen. And I call for nuclear power.

@22 – Er…the major reserves are in those nasty nations of Canada and Australia. Moreover, breeder reactors can re-use fuel. And uranium has NOT been comprehensively surveyed for by any means. Moreover, Thorium is far more abundant (and also not properly surveyed for), and is also a useful nuclear fuel with many advantages over uranium.

There are many hundreds of years reserves, even if nobody used breeder reactors.

Furthermore, switching to a hydrogen economy for cars is only really feasible with nuclear energy, used off-peak.

@25 – The ongoing costs are anything but “minimal”, failure to do proper maintenance is indeed the cause of a good proportion of the deaths associated with them. Furthermore, Britain is an important spot for bird migrations, and you are casually talking about the short term, for species, elimination of them.

They’re being built not because they generate electricity – and they’re being rated at WELL above what they actually supply – but because the UK’s broken law on this requires “renewable obligations”. They’re RO generators, no more, no less.

You talk the talk, but as an “Environmentalist” you’re after job security, not solutions, and your opposition to science is as usual notable. It’s ALL the poor who are struggling to pay bills – capital costs for reactors can and should be sunk by the government, meaning no major increases, whereas uneconomical feed-in tariffs and the like are directly contributing to poor people switching off their utilities.

27. Anon E Mouse

@25 – Green Christian

We’re not in Germany. I’m also sure some of the technology in the Hoover Dam is pretty impressive too. But we’re not in the US.

Why do you think it’s fair for poor people and pensioners to pay extra on their utility bills to give to wealthy landowners for wind turbines?

Seems that from your name and with this being a Sunday perhaps you ought to read the book of Matthew again.

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me”

From your post it would appear you seem to be neglecting the teachings of the Bible especially by advocating that the poor should reward the rich.

Over to you…

@26

I’m not “casually talking about eliminating species” by changing migration patterns. The last time I checked, there was relatively little impact on bird populations from wind turbines. We will, however, see major impacts on both migration and bird populations from climate change. It’s difficult to see how the UK can reduce our emissions without a substantial component of wind power in the energy mix.

And I agree that there are major issues with the current regulatory regime. We need a comprehensively thought-through plan to reduce our energy demand, increase our renewables capacity – with the full variety of renewable energy.

As for your comment that I’m interested in “job security”, I’m a Green Party member, but my day job has nothing to do with environmental issues.

And perhaps you could cite the part in my comment where you think I’m opposing science? The rest of that paragraph seems to suggest I was taking an anti-nuclear stance, when I didn’t mention nuclear either way (for the record, I’m sceptical that it’s an effective or affordable solution, but I’m willing to accept it as part of the energy mix during the transition between fossil-fuel and renewable energy models). If you look at my party’s policy, we’re advocating measures to help the poor pay their energy bills at the same time as weaning ourself off fossil fuels. Just because you portray us as being anti-poor doesn’t mean that you’re right to be doing so.

29. Anon E Mouse

@20 – Jim

I hate council tax and when I see libraries under threat whilst fat cat public servants at the top earn more than the PM it also irks me.

But increases in VAT affect the whole country and are not on books, food or children’s clothes. I also hate paying for the BBC to make “Eastenders” but am forced to. Those VAT increases would happen irrespective of the taxation rates in the country.

But despite all that please explain why it was right to remove 10p tax rate and why removing tax on the poorest isn’t a good thing.

Put it another way why do you think it is right to tax those who earn under £10K?

30. Leon Wolfson

@28 – No, that’s right, you’re actively ADVOCATING the slaughter of species.

You are, of course, completely unaware of the modern scientific studies on the topic.

” We need a comprehensively thought-through plan to reduce our energy demand, increase our renewables capacity – with the full variety of renewable energy.”

There IS a comprehensively thought-through plan to reduce our energy demand – it’s called making it unaffordable for the poor. You want to accelerate that, making power something the *middle class* have to ration. That’s what “renewable energy” pushed FAR beyond it’s economic limits means.

Never mind that it’ll turn us into a third-world nation. No, the ideology must stand!

“And perhaps you could cite the part in my comment where you think I’m opposing science?”

You’re a green.

“If you look at my party’s policy, we’re advocating measures to help the poor pay their energy bill”

You party advocates something like 2% of the additional cost over a decade. Won’t help in the slightest, of course. You ARE anti-poor. FREEZE THEM ALL is the green’s effective motto.

Nuclear power is the only reasonable way to move away from coal. If you’re not calling to freeze the poor, then coal will be the answer, as it is in Germany. Meanwhile, you’re simply advocating building RO generators which CANNOT provide base-load power.

@27 I, like the rest of my party, want a whole range of measures to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. This includes measures to help them decrease their energy bills

@30 Care to summarise these studies, or point me to them? And do they take into account the fact that renewables will reduce the impact of climate change on these species.

The plans Labour and the Tories have had over the last few decades haven’t been thought through. And we don’t want to see the poor priced out of energy consumption. Renewables are far more reliable, effective, and affordable than their critics give them credit for.

And what’s with the idea that Green = anti-science? Yes, we did have a few policies like that, which dated back a long time ago. But we’ve changed them all when we reviewed our science policy last year. In fact, our science policy is now significantly more pro-science than that of the big three parties.

As for renewables not providing baseload power, Germany manages to do it with their wind energy. What makes you think that we couldn’t do the same here? With the proper grid infrastructure, renewables can provide a heck of a lot more than people like you think it can. Yes, the technology isn’t yet in a place where we can convert to 100% renewables, but it’s now marching forwards at a rate of knots – despite decades of low investment.

And if nuclear is, as you say, the only solution: what happens when the uranium runs out? If we converted the whole word its energy on nuclear fission tomorrow, we’d run out of energy sooner than we’re currently projected to run out of oil. The long-term solution is reducing demand and improving renewable technologies. An emphasis on nuclear as the solution serves to some degree as a distraction. It is, at best, a transitional solution, which also brings its own environmental problems.@27 I, like the rest of my party, want a whole range of measures to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. This includes measures to help them decrease their energy bills

@30 Care to summarise these studies, or point me to them? And do they take into account the fact that renewables will reduce the impact of climate change on these species.

The plans Labour and the Tories have had over the last few decades haven’t been thought through. And we don’t want to see the poor priced out of energy consumption. Renewables are far more reliable, effective, and affordable than their critics give them credit for.

And what’s with the idea that Green = anti-science? Yes, we did have a few policies like that, which dated back a long time ago. But we’ve changed them all when we reviewed our science policy last year. In fact, our science policy is now significantly more pro-science than that of the big three parties.

As for renewables not providing baseload power, Germany manages to do it with their wind energy. What makes you think that we couldn’t do the same here? With the proper grid infrastructure, renewables can provide a heck of a lot more than people like you think it can. Yes, the technology isn’t yet in a place where we can convert to 100% renewables, but it’s now marching forwards at a rate of knots – despite decades of low investment.

And if nuclear is, as you say, the only solution: what happens when the uranium runs out? If we converted the whole word its energy on nuclear fission tomorrow, we’d run out of energy sooner than we’re currently projected to run out of oil. The long-term solution is reducing demand and improving renewable technologies. An emphasis on nuclear as the solution serves to some degree as a distraction. It is, at best, a transitional solution, which also brings its own environmental problems.

Oh, and if we’re going to be burning anything for power, it should be gas rather than coal. Gas the most abundant fossil fuel, and has the lowest emissions. We’d make a noticeable dent in our energy emissions just by converting our remaining coal and oil power stations to gas.

32. Leon Wolfson

@31 – Certainly, a few DOI’s;

10.1177/0270467611417844
10.1111/j.1474-919X.2006.00507.x
10.1016/j.cub.2006.08.004
10.1016/j.cub.2008.06.029
10.1016/j.biocon.2011.10.012
10.1196/annals.1439.015

(This includes the study which shows that they literally burst bat lungs, and have an even more significant effect on them!)

“And what’s with the idea that Green = anti-science? ”

The *Green party* has opposed science in multiple venues.

“As for renewables not providing baseload power, Germany manages to do it with their wind
energy.”

No, they do not. It’s impossible. 40%+ of power MUST come from stable energy supplies, if mass blackouts are to be prevented at peak times. Germany uses primarily coal for this, and is increasing it’s coal usage at the expense of nuclear.

“And if nuclear is, as you say, the only solution: what happens when the uranium runs out?”

200 years of reserves, IF we don’t use breeders, and it’s not fully surveyed for. Then, Thorium, which is considerably more abundant. If you think we can’t develop Fusion in 4-5 centuries…

And yes, again, you’re proposing to mitigate 2% of the impact on the poor. That’s maybe two months in TEN YEARS of rises, at current trends. No, it won’t do squat for the poor, many of which are like me, who ALREADY can’t afford heating in the winter.

And burn gas, right. Even more expensive, and Fracking is massively damaging. No wonder you don’t get the basics…

33. So Much For Subtlety

25. Green Christian

wind turbines are not “stupid”. In northern Germany they produce between 25% and 50% of baseline electricity on any given day. As we have more wind than they do, there is massive potential to meet our energy needs through both offshore and onshore wind. And the great thing about it is that, once we’ve set up the turbines and the grid infrastructure to accommodate them, the ongoing cost is minimal. And, in any case, they’re only a part of the renewable energy and energy efficiency measures that Greens are proposing.

Sorry but this is nuts. Wind power is stupid. Define northern Germany for us. You mean there are one or two towns where wind power provides a lot of energy? Because Germany as a whole only gets 9% of its power from wind. The rule of thumb for wind power is that for reliable base load power, you need to install something on the order of three times as much wind. There is simply no way anyone can do that. Even Denmark, which gets a piddling 20% of its energy from wind power, can only do that because they are attached to Britain, Norway and Germany. Which allows them to buy in a lot of power when they need it.

Nor are the on-going costs minimal. Maintenance is expensive.

And guess what? The 10 hottest years on record (i.e. since we’ve had direct measurements across the globe) are all within the last 13 years.

Another claim which verges on a lie. That is only close to being true because we have only had global records since the 1970s. It is not surprising that at one point in a short term cycle you have a lot of hot weather. It does not mean the planet is warming. As it clearly isn’t. Or that it has got hotter. Which it may or may not have done.

It’s worth noting that successive government’s environmental policies have, to date, rarely risen very far above the token level.

Which shows someone in the government is getting sensible advice.

in terms of the emerging green technologies that will be a necessity for the world as we deal with the twin threats of climate change and peak oil. If we did think it through, we could implement substantial “polluter pays” taxes, and use the money to help the poor and vulnerable – preventing pollution and eliminating fuel poverty at the same time.

Climate change is not happening by the looks of it. There is no need to adapt. And peak oil is not going to happen either. As fracking shows, as oil becomes more expensive, a whole range of alternatives become viable. The US is set to become a major oil producer again. We will have to wait for peak oil, peak gas, peak shale, peak tar sands and peak coal before we have to consider any other alternatives. The poor are polluters though. How can you tax them and make them better off?

28. Green Christian

The last time I checked, there was relatively little impact on bird populations from wind turbines.

That is not true for a whole range of raptors.

We will, however, see major impacts on both migration and bird populations from climate change. It’s difficult to see how the UK can reduce our emissions without a substantial component of wind power in the energy mix.

We have no idea if we will see changes to bird migrations or populations at all. You are saying this as if it was a fact. It is not. Even if climate change was happening. Which it is not. Nuclear is the only option to reduce emissions. Which we should do. Wind is a waste of time.

31. Green Christian

And do they take into account the fact that renewables will reduce the impact of climate change on these species.

That is not a fact. It is an opini8on.

Renewables are far more reliable, effective, and affordable than their critics give them credit for.

That is one of the most shameless bare faced lies I have seen in a while. We have figures for renewables. Most of them are not reliable – wind in particular. None of them are effective. Solar is slowly becoming affordable, but the rest are not even close. The only exception is hydro-electric power.

And what’s with the idea that Green = anti-science? Yes, we did have a few policies like that, which dated back a long time ago.

A long time being less than two years?

But we’ve changed them all when we reviewed our science policy last year. In fact, our science policy is now significantly more pro-science than that of the big three parties.

Oh, just one year in fact. That’s alright then. Thirty years of moonbattery can be ignored by a couple of months of electoral cynicism.

As for renewables not providing baseload power, Germany manages to do it with their wind energy. What makes you think that we couldn’t do the same here?

No Germany does not. Not even Denmark does. No one does. Wind is just not suitable for base load power. End of story. We can’t do it because no one can. You need power all the time and yet wind only blows some of the time – and you need it in a fairly narrow window of speeds. Too fast or too slow and you get no power. This is not a matter of debate. It is a fact.

With the proper grid infrastructure, renewables can provide a heck of a lot more than people like you think it can. Yes, the technology isn’t yet in a place where we can convert to 100% renewables, but it’s now marching forwards at a rate of knots – despite decades of low investment.

Sorry but what grid infrastructure would possible make up for the lack of wind? Renewables are an expensive waste of time. Solar is making gains but no form of renewable apart from dams is capable of providing the power we need.

And if nuclear is, as you say, the only solution: what happens when the uranium runs out? If we converted the whole word its energy on nuclear fission tomorrow, we’d run out of energy sooner than we’re currently projected to run out of oil.

No we wouldn’t. We don’t know how much uranium is around because we have not been looking for it. However we do know that if we shifted to breeder reactors and avoided the wasteful once-through light water systems we have now, the amount of uranium available to us is to all intents and purpose infinite. We could have as much power as we liked for as long as we liked. Because using those reactors, extracting uranium from sea water becomes economically viable – and the sea would be replenished by rock erosion faster than we could use it. Even if we did, extracting uranium from granite would be cost effective. I don’t think we are going to run out of granite any time soon.

It is amazing how Greens believe the fairies will come and make renewables cost effective some time soon – if we hope really hard – but they ignore every scientist who knows anything about nuclear power.

The long-term solution is reducing demand and improving renewable technologies.

No it is not. Demand will not be reduced. It can only grow. And renewables are an expensive waste of time.

The survey cited by the OP asked the wrong questions.

How about this one: –

“Would you rather pay £1 for energy made by burning coal or £2 for energy which comes from wind”.

I think it’s easy to surmise what people already being crushed by council tax, rent, VAT, and the myriad other taxes, would choose.

The mistake the OP makes is to assume that everyone thinks like he does, as though unproven environmental dogma and leftist idealism is more important than putting food on the table.

Would most people prefer renewable energy to fossil fuels? Of course. But not if it means they can’t turn the heating on in winter.

The solution to this issue isn’t more bloody government interference, that’s for sure. The solution is for renewable energy to compete for cost with fossil fuel energy, which will happen eventually.

I will also point out the other elephant in the room. There is no point in the UK even worrying about climate change unless places like India and China make efforts to get their populations under control. No point at all.

And another thing, all of these people who are suggesting that wind turbines are some miracle cure-all that the evil oil companies and horrible right wing people won’t allow clearly aren’t engineers.

Wind is not viable and will not be any time soon for this reason: –

Energy can not be stored. You can’t switch wind on when you need it therefore it is not a viable alternative to coal, nuclear, olive pits or any other bloody thing you can burn.

We need to burn more coal, not less.

The only viable emission free energy source is nuclear. If you’re serious about CO2 then this needs to be discussed.

36. Anon E Mouse

@31 – Green Christian

Why do you think it’s fair for poor people and pensioners to pay extra on their utility bills to give to wealthy landowners for wind turbines?

Seems that from your name and with this being a Sunday perhaps you ought to read the book of Matthew again.

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me”

From your post it would appear you seem to be neglecting the teachings of the Bible especially by advocating that the poor should reward the rich.

Over to you…

When I was born the world population of the human species was less than two and a half billion, and global warming was not a concern, neither was “feeding the world”, nor was the ongoing 6th great extinction of other species due to the relentless multiplication of the human population and the space and resources humans take up. Since I was born I’ve seen a colossal diminution in most species of flora and fauna in the UK, but that’s unlikely to bother people of a certain generation, for whom polar bears and penguins are more salient in their consciousness that that which is under their noses and outside their back-door. The relentless growth of the numbers of homo sapiens is the key underlying the world’s ecological problems.
Meanwhile, the left endorses economic growth, a prime engine of global warming, and promotes an unsustainable population increase in this country in its slavish worship of the sacred cow of immigration. They are the ultimate hypocrites.

http://populationmatters.org/

@14 You are detached from reality to a truly staggering degree. Really… quite alarming.

39. Robin Levett

@Anon E Mouse #29:

whilst fat cat public servants at the top earn more than the PM it also irks me.

[pet peeve]
Name me a civil servant in either local or central government who earns more than the PM’s c£500k package.
[/pet peeve]

40. Anon E Mouse

@39 – Robin Levett

You are using expenses which are required for the PM to do his job as a means of twisting the truth.

Here’s four that refused to take a pay cut despite cutting services like youth centres and libraries….

Andrea Hill, Suffolk, £218K
Geoff Altman, Hammersmith, £208K
John Foster, Islington, £210K
Stephen Hughes, Birmingham, £204K

Are you seriously asking people to believe that these individuals are worth the amounts they are fleecing the council tax payers for or that these people have more responsibilities than Tony Blair who took us to war in Iraq?

I really don’t think cleaning or not cleaning the local park compares to thousands lying dead abroad…

41. Leon Wolfson

@37 – So, who are you going to machine-gun first?

@40 – And in the private sector, in equivalent jobs? Oh right, can’t possibly have the public sector attract COMPETENT individuals, what else could you whine about then!

@41 I say we start with the odd-numbered houses down Trofim’s street…

(incidentally, my favourite kind of hypocrite is the one who is very concerned about over-population, but isn’t all that keen on women’s and lgbt rights)

40.AnonEMouse

You are using expenses which are required for the PM to do his job as a means of twisting the truth.

Still, a package is a package and there’s nothing inherently right – and indeed a lot of mendacity – about focussing wholly on the cash part of the remuneration.

Have you noticed how the market itself is strangling poorer energy users by the way?

Or are you ignoring that huge elephant to promote your weird beliefs too?

44. Anon E Mouse

@41 – Leon Wolfson

The private sector is just that. Private. The private sector does not get paid for by central government.

What they earn is not relevant as long as they pay their taxes and don’t try offshore wheezes like The Guardian Newspaper Group.

That’s why I dislike paying the head of the BBC nearly £1M a year.

This isn’t the Soviet Union fortunately.

45. Anon E Mouse

@43 – BenM

So you think it’s right then to reward rich landowners with taxes on utilities from poor people and pensioners to build wind turbines?

See you haven’t changed much….

46. Leon Wolfson

@44 – Blah blah PRIVATE SECTOR MAGIC PUBLIC SECTOR THIEVES 58%^()$£$¬!!!!

Get over yourself.

And yes, I’m sure you love the idea of Siberia for your enemies.

AEM@ 29

Christ almighty. You are saying that people on less on ten grand a year pay no tax. Get fucking real, they pay mountains of tax. If you want to lower the tax burden of the poor, using four billion quid, you use it to lower (or abolish) regressive taxation. You do not do it by pushing everyone’s tax allowance up, which is just fucking crazy. By the very definition INCOME tax is paid on INCOME, therefore people on low incomes pay low INCOME tax. Giving everyone a higher tax threshold means, by definition, you give better off people a tax cut too. If fact most of the money you give away never goes near the poor. If we define ‘the poor’ as the bottom ten percent (say)of the population, why have a tax cut that goes to the top ninety percent?

Council tax is a regressive tax. If we have four BILLION quid to spend reducing the tax burden of those on ten grand a year, then surely it makes sense to use that money to reduce the tax that actually affects those on lowest incomes most?

What is fucking wrong with that?

James @ 35

Energy can not be stored. You can’t switch wind on when you need it therefore it is not a viable alternative to coal, nuclear, olive pits or any other bloody thing you can burn.

What you can do though is use the energy to pump water up a hill and store it in a reservoir (for example) and use that to generate hydro electric power.

49. Chaise Guevara

Regarding the rise in people who think that claims are often exaggerated, this could be due to the increasing amount of “greenwashing” by businesses. For example, companies tend to refer to products as “environmentally friendly” when in fact they’re just less harmful than the previous model, which is somewhere between an exaggeration and a downright lie. So the extent to which this reflects changing opinions of climate scientists, NGOs and government statements is debateable.

Also, in theory anyone who thinks that climate change claims are “exaggerated” must believe that said claims have SOME basis in truth, or there’d be nothing to exaggerate! Although that does kinda rely on survey respondents being pedantic.

Apologies if anyone’s pointed out either of the above already.

AEM @ 40

I don’t think you understand what these jobs actually entail. There is no such job as a ‘Prime Minister’ as such. It is an elected position, the PM of the day is not an expert in anything, requires no qualifications or experience, other than the ‘qualifications’ required to sit in the house of commons. There is no market for Prime Ministers.

CEOs are recruited in the open market where the jobs DO require a set level of standards. They actually need to be able to have a skill set consistent with running an organisation with a turnover of several million quid. There is a highly competitive market for such jobs and council have to pay the going market value for such people.

51. Anon E Mouse

@46 – Leon Wolfson

I never said the public sector were thieves you did.

You are comparing apples with oranges.

So you think it’s right then to reward rich landowners with taxes on utilities from poor people and pensioners to build wind turbines?

52. Anon E Mouse

@47 – Jim

Where did I say that the poor pay no tax under 10K?

I just say the poor have to be helped more by that move than Gordon Brown removing the 10p tax band.

@48 – Jim

Your pumping water uphill for some hydroelectric generation doesn’t work – the laws of thermodynamics stop that. You have just invented perpetual motion – well done*

@50 – Jim

Then let these overpaid individuals who believe their fat cat wages are more important than libraries and youth centres go into the private sector and seek employment there.

Then we won’t have to pay their greedy wages while they shaft the poor…

*You could store the energy in batteries and use motor/generator technology to both store and provide power on demand – that works perfectly well on Polaris subs as I am only too well aware…

53. Leon Wolfson

@51/2 – Right, someone working in the private sector is a different fruit to someone doing the same job in the public sector. As I said.

And your copy/paste moronicy fails AGAIN, given I’ve always opposed feed-in tarrifs for “renewable” energy.

Annnd…strangely enough, most of the poor were not HURT by fixing a mistake in the tax code either. The fact remains, the higher threshold is primarily a middle-class tax break. Can’t target help properly, right.

AEM @ 52

Your pumping water uphill for some hydroelectric generation doesn’t work – the laws of thermodynamics stop that. You have just invented perpetual motion – well done

Er, can you explain that? Where is the perpetual motion element here?

You take some of the wind power and use it to pump water up a hill and store the water during windy periods. During calm periods, you release the water and use the energy to create electricity. What is wrong with that?

Then we won’t have to pay their greedy wages while they shaft the poor…

Er, you are still going to have to recruit someone to do the job of CEO of the council. Someone with the skill set to manage a budget of hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

55. Anon E Mouse

@54 – Jim

It takes more energy to pump the water up hill than you would get back in generation.

That’s the perpetual motion bit – it is highly inefficient – you have to use more power to get it uphill than you will get back.

As a form of creating potential energy I agree it would work but there are so many better ways of achieving your aims and it is just too wasteful. Batteries are a proven technology and should be used.

Far better would be to stop waste in the first place – how about insulating the power cables used in pylons? That would help. And why not have wave power where no one’s land is used and the generation is regular and guaranteed.

That way the poor wouldn’t be shafted to help rich land owners and toffs like Harriet Harman and the landscape wouldn’t be blighted.

As for the skillset of managing budgets I don’t buy it – I remember the last Labour Prime Minister was totally out of his depth selling gold too cheaply and “Ending Boom and Bust” and these idiots can’t be that good since the services they procure get more expensive year on year yet everything else (consumer goods and the like) gets cheaper.

All politicians are doing is taking money from the poor to give to the rich. Heat or eat? I bet no politicians have to make that choice…

AEM @ 55

Pumping water up hills was an answer to the guy that suggested that wind power cannot be stored. Sure there are lots of ways you can store surplus energy during windy periods of time.

As for the skillset of managing budgets I don’t buy it

Whether or not you ‘buy’ it, you still need to employ people with the skill sets to run these huge organisations that employ thousands of people, cover hundreds of buildings, spend millions of pounds every week and are expected to keep to tight budgets. People with the necessary skills for that job can and do work in the private sector, therefore to employ people like that you are going to have to pay private sector rates to hire them.

57. Leon Wolfson

@55 – Nope, but you’re all up for making the poor do it.

“how about insulating the power cables used in pylons?”

Sigh.

And wave power? WAVE? Sigh…no, that’s a massive bill inflater.

“you have to use more power to get it uphill than you will get back.”

Yes, heard of “peak time” demand?

58. Robin Levett

@Anon E Mouse #40:

You are using expenses which are required for the PM to do his job as a means of twisting the truth.

Nope. We start with his salary of £134k, added to his MP’s salary, which makes a hair short of £200k. We then add his non-contributory defined benefit pension of 50% of the PM salary from time to time – payable not at 55, ort 60, or 68, but immediately on leaving office. Add also his MP’s pension, which is a defined benefit pension based on service but which goes up to the usual 2/3rds based on service – but with an option of accelerated accrual.

On leaving office he will also receive a “public duty costs allowance” of just short of £91k, unvouched.

His pensions package is therefore not just gold-plated, but solid gold – and (given the PM elements are payable short of retirement age) is literally unobtainable by anyone else.

He receives rent-free accommodation in the heart of London for himself and his family, together with free access to a small (!) pile in the country; and a chauffeur driven car and security. In anyone else’s hands these would all be taxable benefits; and are certainly cashable.

Hutton’s comment on comparisons with the PM’s salary was:

there is a trend to compare the salaries of all public servants with that of the Prime Minister which makes matters worse – and feeds the narrative. This measure has the advantage of simplicity, but is profoundly flawed…

Why?

Firstly, it does not capture the Prime Minister’s total remuneration – not least because David Cameron has chosen not to take the full salary to which he is entitled (£198,660). If the value of the Prime Minister’s living arrangements and allowances are included, his total remuneration would be significantly greater than even this higher salary: one estimate put it as over £580,000.

Secondly, and more importantly, the Prime Ministers’ pay is not objectively linked to the value of his job, or to the need to recruit and retain individuals. The rate is determined by politics more than by responsibility, (hence Prime Ministers are prepared to accept a considerable ‘political discount’ to their salary). The Prime Minister’s salary has no relation to labour markets. There is not a shortage of applicants and no job specification and there is no market or recruitment process for Prime Ministers. Hence any comparison with a job for which pay is set by reference to a need to recruit and retain in a market is an invalid one.

Geoff Alltimes at LBHF was, last year, on £281k including bonuses, pension contributions, returning officer’s fees and salary as CE of the local PCT (which contributed 30% of his salary). LBHF had a budget that year of £1.25bn, nearasdammit, provided services to a population of 163k, and employed 5,000 people; which figures exclude the PCT.

A private sector CEO in a company of comparable turnover (but probably a significantly smaller organisation in terms of staff) would be on around twice that figure (Hutton) – and turnover in those roles is slower in the private sector…

59. Robin Levett

@AEM #52:

takes more energy to pump the water up hill than you would get back in generation.

That’s the perpetual motion bit – it is highly inefficient – you have to use more power to get it uphill than you will get back.

As a form of creating potential energy I agree it would work but there are so many better ways of achieving your aims and it is just too wasteful. Batteries are a proven technology and should be used.

It’s called pumped-storage hydroelectricity. The UK’s got 4 stations – Ben Cruachan possibly being the best known, kicking out 400MW of power for up to 22 hours a day, using unused baseload electricity overnight to pump water uphill and supplementing that with runoff to the upper reservoir. That baseload electricity would otherwise be wasted.

As for batteries; the world’s largest battery was installed in Fairbanks Alaska in 2003; it weighs 1,300 tons. It can produce 40MW for 7 minutes. A battery producing a day of Ben Cruachan’s power would therefore need to be something of the order of 190 times the size; about a quarter of a million tons. The charging might be efficient; but the cooling needs would be pretty impressive.

60. Robin Levett

@AEM:

…and you ignore inefficiencies in converting AC generated power to DC battery stored power to AC grid power. As I understand it, that’s typically a loss of 35% one way, then another 6% the other way.

61. Anon E Mouse

@57 – Leon Wolfson

Transmission losses account for up to 10% of delivering electricity. Since you constantly whine about government cuts which are way less than that what’s the problem?

Wave Power – Try these guys:

http://www.wavegen.co.uk/news_press%20release%2018%20november%202011%20%20mutriku%20handover.htm

What does “peak time” demand have to do with the efficiency or otherwise of the system?

Once again you are not comparing like with like… sigh…

62. Anon E Mouse

@58 – Robin Levett

Expenses are not salary – you are just trying to fit your case by adding this and that and it’s fooling nobody.

Those fat cat councillors are overpaid and should not be becoming millionaires whilst in public service – that is not the spirit of the thing.

Furthermore Neil Kinnock (and his daughter and son in law) shouldn’t be doing the same at our expense in Europe…

I also know exactly what you are describing regarding hydro electricity and was just pointing out that you cannot generate more out than in by doing it.

Using unused off peak electricity to do it is obviously a good thing but I stand by my assertion that wave power is preferable.

But please let me know if you think it’s fair that green taxes are used against poor utility users such as minimum wage workers and pensioners to reward wealthy landowners to host wind turbines because so far on this blog no one seems able to respond to that important point…

@33

Instead of using a whole lot more time dealing with the specifics of wind, I’ll direct you to somebody else’s summary:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llIbjC49Fjs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO3V2uXTM6k

As for temperature measurements, I didn’t know that 1861 was in the 1970s.

Given that you’re rejecting the overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is happening and is primarily cause by human activity, it’s a bit rich accusing us of being anti-science. Yes, we did have some policy that dated back a very long time that was anti-science in a few areas (e.g. homeopathy). When somebody pointed out that we still had it on the books, we changed it as quickly as possible. It’s worth noting that there has been a substantial culture change within the Greens over the last few years. An influx of new members, a change in focus, and substantial electoral gains as a result of both have moved us on – there’s a much greater focus on the social justice side of Green politics (the reason a lot of our newer members joined), and we are transitioning to becoming a serious political party, rather than the fringe one we used to be.

@36
Like I said, we have a whole range of measures designed to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. Any advantage rich landowners get from renewable subsidies is likely to be counteracted by our proposed Land Value Tax. And our redistributive policies should more than make up for short-term fuel bill rises that the poor suffer as a result of introducing more renewables into our energy mix (remember: business as usual will inevitably mean massive price rises when the cost of fossil fuels really begins to rise). And not all farmers are wealthy. Many are struggling, and subsidies for things like wind turbines may well help keep those farms afloat.

64. Robin Levett

@AEM #62:

Expenses are not salary – you are just trying to fit your case by adding this and that and it’s fooling nobody.

Who’s talking about expenses? The closest to that description is the “public duty costs allowance”; which was unvouched, although this now appears to have changed to being pretty much unvouched.

More important, however, are the pension arrangement – 50% of PM salary immediately on leaving offfice (even if it’s for the back-benches) and up to 2/3rds of MP pay on an accelerated earn; and the free accommodation/car/security.

65. Robin Levett

@Anon E Mouse #62:

But please let me know if you think it’s fair that green taxes are used against poor utility users such as minimum wage workers and pensioners to reward wealthy landowners to host wind turbines because so far on this blog no one seems able to respond to that important point…

Probably because it’s a non-point. Is it fair that electricity bills are used against poor utility users such as minimum wage workers and pensioners to reward wealthy shareholders in construction companies to build offshore wavepower stations? Is it fair that electricity bills are used against poor utility users such as minimum wage workers and pensioners to reward wealthy landowners to host gas or nuclear power stations?

It is fair that everybody should pay the true cost of the energy they use. It is only because the externalities aren’t factored into the price of fossil fuels that they look cheap. I can see advantages in graduating fossil fuel electricity prices so that they increase, rather than reduce, as you use more; and a rational system may well mean that minimum energy usage is charged at no more than today’s level. That isn’t however an argument against green taxes in principle.

I also know exactly what you are describing regarding hydro electricity and was just pointing out that you cannot generate more out than in by doing it.

Of course not – but you can use it to store electricity more efficiently and cheaply than using batteries; and the technology diminishes the major argument against renewables that they only produce power when the wind blows or the sun shines as the case may be.

66. So Much For Subtlety

64. Robin Levett

It is fair that everybody should pay the true cost of the energy they use. It is only because the externalities aren’t factored into the price of fossil fuels that they look cheap.

Sorry but what externalities would these be? Petrol is already taxed at a higher rate than Lord Stern suggested would be sensible. The only example I can think of that might even be close to true is coal – depending on how you want to value ruined lives of coal miners.

Of course not – but you can use it to store electricity more efficiently and cheaply than using batteries; and the technology diminishes the major argument against renewables that they only produce power when the wind blows or the sun shines as the case may be.

Well it would – if we had enough suitable sites for new dams. The truth is that we have pretty much used all the hydro sites available to us. Where is all the new storage going to come from? Monbiot tried to work this in his book and basically called for every single valley in Scotland and the North to be dammed. Which is pretty much what it would take. Hydro has been shrinking as a supplier of UK energy in relative terms. Down from about 2.5% in the 1990s to about 1% now. Even wind is now a larger producer – over 3%. So just to cover the wind power we have now, you would need to massively expand the available dams. Bearing in mind that you may have to cover a week with no wind across the whole UK. We have had it recently. But to go from 1% to 100%? I don’t see that myself. Even to 30%. I have relatives who have protested new dams in India. I would love to see how ape-sh!t they go over proposals to dam every river valley in the UK.

More hydro-storage is not a viable option.

Ther is work goiing on to diss frozen planet:

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2011/12/climate-sceptics-dont-mess-with-attenborough

Incredibly the the skeptics meet at the HoC

No doubt they decided to go with the stroy about filming in a zoo instead – that will so seeds of doubt.

The skeptics are well funded and well organised.

Why do people like Lawson care so little about our planet

@ 35 James ”Wind is not viable and will not be any time soon for this reason:”

You don’t know what yopu are talking about mate

Electricity generated by wind power does not need to be stored. It replaces the gas generated electric used at peak times in the grid.

Thus at maximum load on windy days turbine generated electric is used rather than gas. This saves gas reserves as well as reducing carbon emissions.

Coal power generation is less flxible as turning the furnaces on and off takes time.
Any A Level Science student knows this so I suggest you go and do an A Level in a Science

You appear to know nothing about how power is used by the grid.

69. So Much For Subtlety

67. tigedarwin

Why do people like Lawson care so little about our planet

Do you think such childish comments help?

68. tigedarwin

You don’t know what yopu are talking about mate

You’re a wind-up merchant, right?

Electricity generated by wind power does not need to be stored. It replaces the gas generated electric used at peak times in the grid. Thus at maximum load on windy days turbine generated electric is used rather than gas. This saves gas reserves as well as reducing carbon emissions.

Yes. But it does mean you need to build a gas plant of equal size to your wind power plant doesn’t it? Because you need to have it on stand by in case the wind falls. So …. why not run the gas plant full time? It is cheaper.

Coal power generation is less flxible as turning the furnaces on and off takes time. Any A Level Science student knows this so I suggest you go and do an A Level in a Science

Oh tempora, oh mores. Wind is by definition not flexible. Because when the wind doesn’t blow, there’s no energy. It is true that starting from a cold plant takes time with a coal fired thermal power plant. But some of them are kept spun up so they can generate power within minutes. Not all of them, but some of them. However it is also true that a lot of stand-by power is provided by hydro and by gas. Which tend to be quicker. What they cannot be provided by is wind.

You appear to know nothing about how power is used by the grid.

Pots and kettles mate.

70. Leon Wolfson

@69 – Actually, to be fair, running 15-20% wind is probably perfectly possible, and while gas is extremely expensive, the plant itself isn’t (unlike other types of fuel).

The problem is that the 15-20% commercially viable wind isn’t what’s being developed.

Moreover, running a hydrogen economy for cars needs “excess” power, non-peak power…and for that, nuclear can’t be beaten for marginal costs!

This think tank report about electricity generation is quite good if anyone is interested. It is primarily about energy policy in Scotland, but some of the figures are useful.

http://reformscotland.com/public/publications/Powering_Scotland_.pdf

72. Robin Levett

@SMFS #66:

Well it would – if we had enough suitable sites for new dams. The truth is that we have pretty much used all the hydro sites available to us. Where is all the new storage going to come from?

I don’t accept the premise. We have only 4 pumped-storage hydro installations. That leaves plenty of scope for retrofit to existing hydro installations. Not all may be suitable; but do you have evidence that none are?

Leon Wolfson @ 41:

“who are you going to machine gun first?”

You’re a marvellous source of tedious hackneyed responses and wilful misinterpretation, Leon Wolfson. A lefty speciality.

So when David Attenborough says ‘All environmental problems become harder – and ultimately impossible – to solve with ever more people’, he’s wrong?

Worth listening to yesterday’s Food Programme about the bleak future for your children and grandchildren, because of ever-increasing competition for food and other resources.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0183p6c

It would certainly help if the growth of the world’s population could be attenuated, but that entails facilitating access to contraception for women – something obviously not approved of on the left. We are indeed entering a new era.

@73 Since when did Catholics become interchangeable with “the left”? They’re the main group opposed to promoting contraception. Hell, one of their African Bishops told his faithful that condoms are laced with HIV as part of a pan-european plot to kill off Africans.

75. Leon Wolfson

@73 – You mean I point out the consequences of what you call for, right.

And the *problem* is the irrational competition in a universe which isn’t short of the building blocks we need. The answer is also certainly calling for mass deaths, which is the only way which you’re going to end up with less than a peak at 9 billion.

But hey, don’t worry, the people who will die over this winter of cold and starvation because of the welfare system being progressivelyshredded is a good start for that problem.

@74 – Because of course that’s his /style/. Don’t harsh his vibe!

(No, not Christian. And I certainly don’t have anything against preventing conception)

76. Chaise Guevara

@ 73 Trofim

“It would certainly help if the growth of the world’s population could be attenuated, but that entails facilitating access to contraception for women – something obviously not approved of on the left.”

Um, perhaps you could unpack that statement for the benefit of everyone who doesn’t live in your fantasy world?

77. Robin Levett

@SMFS:

#66 generally:

Has it occurred to you that when the wind isn’t blowing the sun is often shining?

#33:

And guess what? The 10 hottest years on record (i.e. since we’ve had direct measurements across the globe) are all within the last 13 years.

Another claim which verges on a lie. That is only close to being true because we have only had global records since the 1970s. It is not surprising that at one point in a short term cycle you have a lot of hot weather.

We’ve only had global records since the 1970s? On which planet? Is this a claim that the only way to measure temperature is to point a satellite at it?

As for:

It does not mean the planet is warming. As it clearly isn’t. Or that it has got hotter. Which it may or may not have done.

If the planet isn’t warming, why is it not doing so? We know that the amount of CO2 we’ve injected into the atmosphere should have produced warming.

Your claim is wrong, anyway; the records clearly show continuing warming.

78. andrew adams

Of course we should be very aware of the effect of high energy prices on the poor, but “green taxes” are hardly the only reason for energy prices continuing to rise, nor are energy prices the only thing causing strain on the poor. The case for green taxes deserves to be considered on its wider merits and its perfectly possible to support such measures and also support measures to improve the lot of the poorest people in society so they are not so badly affected by rises in the cost of essential items, including but not limited to energy costs. Similarly it’s right that we examine whether the proceeds of such taxes are being used in an effective way and I think the subsidies given to landowners for wind power are very much open to question.

The government is certainly open to charges that its policies tend to disadvantage the poor and benefit the wealthy but that is a much wide argument than the specific issue of green taxes.

79. So Much For Subtlety

72. Robin Levett

I don’t accept the premise. We have only 4 pumped-storage hydro installations. That leaves plenty of scope for retrofit to existing hydro installations. Not all may be suitable; but do you have evidence that none are?

Well I am interested that you do not accept the premise. Denial is always an interesting way to go. But I don’t see how it is going to help you. Because if you actually read what I said, I pointed out that hydro-electricity provides something like 1% of all British power. A little more. So even if we converted every single dam capable of generating power in the UK into a pumped storage facility – and not all are suitable – it would not come within a billion miles of being enough. We would need what is technically known as a sh!tload of new dams. Which we do not have. Having used pretty much every suitable site in these British Isles.

Now if you had read what I said, you might have noticed that.

Trofim

So when David Attenborough says ‘All environmental problems become harder – and ultimately impossible – to solve with ever more people’, he’s wrong?

Yes he is wrong. When New Zealand had a small population they did stupid things like release weasels and stoats. Environmental disaster followed. Now they have a bigger population, conservation work is well funded. It is also true of Australia, America and pretty much everywhere else. Britain’s environment is much better now than it was 100 years ago. Despite more people.

Robin Levett

Has it occurred to you that when the wind isn’t blowing the sun is often shining?

Then the equations become complex. Not solved. The problem does not go away. It just becomes harder to work out when you need your reserve.

We’ve only had global records since the 1970s? On which planet? Is this a claim that the only way to measure temperature is to point a satellite at it?

On this planet. We have partial records for some parts of the world (which is to say, the odd little bits that speak English due to some quaint habits of the English speaking people) before the 1970s. But yes, the only way to properly measure temperature is to point a satellite at the Earth.

But if you want to introduce the partial land based records, by all means. I will simply point out that half the warmest years on record, based on those partial records, were in the 1930s.

If the planet isn’t warming, why is it not doing so? We know that the amount of CO2 we’ve injected into the atmosphere should have produced warming.

No we do not. The Earth is a complex body. The feed backs are many, poorly understood and yet very powerful. We have no idea what they are or what effect they may have to counter our CO2. Except we can be absolutely certain they are robust enough to survive whatever we can throw at them without wiping all life off this planet. Given that the Earth has had massively higher levels of CO2 and yet here we are. It may be that more CO2 would cool the planet. Although I do not believe so.

Your claim is wrong, anyway; the records clearly show continuing warming.

No they do not. Remember the “hide the decline”. The point of that was simple – the proxies that Mann et al were using did not agree with the post-1960s data which showed the planet warming. So they had to be cut short. Which means, probably although it is hard to be certain, that they were calibrated too high. The proxies were assumed to show a cooler past – as the modern proxies must agree with the modern temperatures. So if they do not agree with the modern readings, they were calibrated wrong. It may well be that the past was just as warm as today. We do not know.

@77. Robin Levett: “Has it occurred to you that when the wind isn’t blowing the sun is often shining?”

The high pressure over the UK around about Christmas means that it isn’t very windy. Owing to the time of year, it is not sunny. Thus we go for a pleasant walk with the dogs, with a bit of a chill in the air, returning to our homes heated by energy sources that do not rely on wind turbines or solar power. But the telly and lights don’t work because there is no bloody electricity.

+`@ 69 You’re a wind-up merchant, right?

No energy supply is not just about cost.

Its also about proximity to sources. Wind power is especially good for our provincial cities such as Plymouth, Glasgow.

Further gas supplies are very restricted. Our resevres are very low, 20 years at best and we will be dependent on Russia, just look at Ukraine for how that panned out.

Reduction in the use of gas , especially as the wind blows on well over 200 days a year and in some case up over 300 in many parts of the UK extends gas reserves substantially and reduces our dependence on foreign reserves. The idea we just build more gas plants is risible and the idea we just burn coa lis completely unacceptable environmentally.

You have completely ignored the restrictions to supply in gas abd the env strain casued by coal. I assume you8 are a global warmiong denier- says it all doesn’t it.

Wind power technology is improving and storage will also improve over the coming years.

”The high pressure over the UK around about Christmas”

No pressure is on average low in the three winter months.

Further HP does not mean the wind doesn’t blow

To make wind turbines go round there only has to be a light wind it doesn’t need to be a gale.

Calm days are pretty rare in the UK

83. Robin Levett

@Charlieman #80:

Owing to the time of year, it is not sunny.

Odd that; here I am, looking out of the window and I’m sure I can see sunshine. Must be an optical illusion (caused presumably by accessing too many optics).

More seriously; PV panels do produce (albeit less) power even on cloudy days (and even a full moon will get some power from them).

84. Robin Levett

@SMFS #79:

Well I am interested that you do not accept the premise. Denial is always an interesting way to go.

The premise I didn’t accept is that we have maxed out the possibilities of pumped storage systems.

I’ll pass up the obvious cheap, but accurate, shot.

But I don’t see how it is going to help you. Because if you actually read what I said, I pointed out that hydro-electricity provides something like 1% of all British power. A little more.

Closer to 2% installed capacity according to DECC; that figure excludes existing pumped storage. There’s potential for almost as much again. Load factors vary as a result of rainfall etc; as a result hydro produced (in 2009) about 1.4% of supply, or 2.4% including pumped-storage.

So even if we converted every single dam capable of generating power in the UK into a pumped storage facility – and not all are suitable – it would not come within a billion miles of being enough.

Enough to do what? The word I used in my post that started this offf was “diminishes”, not “eliminates”.

We would need what is technically known as a sh!tload of new dams. Which we do not have. Having used pretty much every suitable site in these British Isles.

Now if you had read what I said, you might have noticed that.

Slightly ironic…

Britain’s environment is much better now than it was 100 years ago. Despite more people.

Is that so? By what measure?

Has it occurred to you that when the wind isn’t blowing the sun is often shining?

Then the equations become complex. Not solved. The problem does not go away. It just becomes harder to work out when you need your reserve.

But surely not beyond the wit of a species that manages to increase environmental capital while simultaneously spending it as if it’s limitless.

There’s a group of people who make their living running the National Grid, making decisions on switching supplies in and out at seconds’ notice. I think they may be able to work this problem out.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that substantial wind-power installations replacing conventional power stations make it possible for the Grid to have less standby generation available at any time. As things stand, the Grid has to have enough power on spinning reserve to cover possible losses of running generators. A conventional power station has installed capacity in 660MW generator sets; loss of a single set makes a significant difference to the Grid. Wind turbines installations are far more granular; they don’t require the same power reserve to be kept. That offsets the inherent load factor problem with wind.

National Grid doesn’t see any insoluble technical problems with incorporating 32GW of windpower into the grid before 2020 to replace retired capacity. They do foresee balancing problems with intermittency of wind, and more particularly with introduction of larger gas plant.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmenergy/194/194we32.htm

85. Robin Levett

@SMFS #79 (contd):

We’ve only had global records since the 1970s? On which planet? Is this a claim that the only way to measure temperature is to point a satellite at it?

On this planet. We have partial records for some parts of the world (which is to say, the odd little bits that speak English due to some quaint habits of the English speaking people) before the 1970s.

“…the odd little bits that speak English” is an odd way to describe a quarter of the Earth’s land surface at most of the relevant times. An Empire “on which the sun never sets” is arguably global – particularly when it extends from little short of the Arctic to the Antarctic. The fact that the French and Dutch also measured temperature seems to have passed you by.

But yes, the only way to properly measure temperature is to point a satellite at the Earth.

You prefer inference to direct measurement of temperature?

But if you want to introduce the partial land based records, by all means. I will simply point out that half the warmest years on record, based on those partial records, were in the 1930s.

I’ll bite; which years were these, and where do you get this information from? Please remember that we are talking about “global” temperatures, not the temperature of the lower 48 states of the USA.

If the planet isn’t warming, why is it not doing so? We know that the amount of CO2 we’ve injected into the atmosphere should have produced warming.

No we do not. The Earth is a complex body. The feed backs are many, poorly understood and yet very powerful. We have no idea what they are or what effect they may have to counter our CO2.

But the feedbacks are reasonably well-constrained. You do realise that if we have no idea what the feedbacks are, then we should stop pressing the one switch whose effect (modulo feedbacks) we know to produce warming.

Except we can be absolutely certain they are robust enough to survive whatever we can throw at them without wiping all life off this planet. Given that the Earth has had massively higher levels of CO2 and yet here we are.

Nobody suggests that we will wipe all life off this planet. The worst-case is that we will destroy the network of interdependency upon which we rely for our current civilisation.

We have had massively higher levels of CO2 at the same time as we have had a cooler sun. We have however not had the same massive increase in the short term that we are currently inflicting upon the Earth.

It may be that more CO2 would cool the planet. Although I do not believe so.

No comment required.

Your claim is wrong, anyway; the records clearly show continuing warming.

No they do not. Remember the “hide the decline”. The point of that was simple – the proxies that Mann et al were using did not agree with the post-1960s data which showed the planet warming. So they had to be cut short. Which means, probably although it is hard to be certain, that they were calibrated too high.

You have little clue. One particular set of proxies – high-latitude tree-ring data – which had agreed with the instrumental, diverged from it, showing cooler, during the the 1960s. There are a number of reasons why this might have happened, and research has been carried out. The likelihood is that the effect is directly or indirectly anthropogenic. There is no evidence that the relevant proxies were “calibrated too high”.

Mann did not use high-latitude tree-ring data in his study. Nor did he cut short the series. His “trick” was plotting reconstructed (proxy) and instrumental data on the same graph.

The proxies were assumed to show a cooler past – as the modern proxies must agree with the modern temperatures. So if they do not agree with the modern readings, they were calibrated wrong. It may well be that the past was just as warm as today. We do not know.

We do (with error bars, of course).

86. So Much For Subtlety

84. Robin Levett

The premise I didn’t accept is that we have maxed out the possibilities of pumped storage systems.

Where do you suggest we put them?

Closer to 2% installed capacity according to DECC; that figure excludes existing pumped storage. There’s potential for almost as much again. Load factors vary as a result of rainfall etc; as a result hydro produced (in 2009) about 1.4% of supply, or 2.4% including pumped-storage.

Irrelevant quibbling. Even if I conceded the nonsense claim there was room for that much again it is still irrelevant. We would need vastly more than that to store the sort of energy we are talking about. 3% gets us nowhere.

Enough to do what? The word I used in my post that started this offf was “diminishes”, not “eliminates”.

More quibbling. That the idea is slightly less wildly impractical does not make it practical. It is still, as everyone has been telling you, silly.

Is that so? By what measure?

Any sane measure you care to take. Air quality. Water quality. You can hardly deny this so I assume you’re being deliberately obtuse.

There’s a group of people who make their living running the National Grid, making decisions on switching supplies in and out at seconds’ notice. I think they may be able to work this problem out.

They may. Or they may not. That is not the point. As I said, the problem gets harder, it does not go away.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that substantial wind-power installations replacing conventional power stations make it possible for the Grid to have less standby generation available at any time. As things stand, the Grid has to have enough power on spinning reserve to cover possible losses of running generators. A conventional power station has installed capacity in 660MW generator sets; loss of a single set makes a significant difference to the Grid. Wind turbines installations are far more granular; they don’t require the same power reserve to be kept. That offsets the inherent load factor problem with wind.

Sorry but this is just not even remotely true. With wind generation you need proper back up all the time. Yes, the failure of one wind turbine is less of an issue than the failure of a thermal power plant. But that is not the failure you need to look for. You need to plan for weeks at a time with no wind across a large geographical area. As Denmark has had – over a month. You need roughly 100% back up for that. Now luckily for the Danes they are next to Norway which has a huge hydro reserve and Germany whose grid dwarfs theirs. So they get by. I am not sure Britain will be so lucky.

National Grid doesn’t see any insoluble technical problems with incorporating 32GW of windpower into the grid before 2020 to replace retired capacity. They do foresee balancing problems with intermittency of wind, and more particularly with introduction of larger gas plant.

Britain’s energy use is what? 10 exajoules? Electricity accounts for some 390 TWhrs of that. So they can cope with a pimple on an elephant’s backside. Big news. Although I am surprised it is that big. Do you have a source? Either way what they are saying is that we cannot move away from sensible forms of power like coal, gas and nuclear.

87. So Much For Subtlety

85. Robin Levett

“…the odd little bits that speak English” is an odd way to describe a quarter of the Earth’s land surface at most of the relevant times. An Empire “on which the sun never sets” is arguably global – particularly when it extends from little short of the Arctic to the Antarctic. The fact that the French and Dutch also measured temperature seems to have passed you by.

News to me that the Bengalis spoke English. What they did not have was a sizable number of Church of England clergymen who routinely measured temperature. It did not pass me by. It is just not relevant.

You prefer inference to direct measurement of temperature?

I prefer accuracy and global measurements which can only be done up there.

I’ll bite; which years were these, and where do you get this information from? Please remember that we are talking about “global” temperatures, not the temperature of the lower 48 states of the USA.

No we are not. That is the point. If you want to introduce pre-1970s partial land records, you cannot pick and choose. It is either all of them – which means that the 1930s were warmer – or none of them.

But the feedbacks are reasonably well-constrained. You do realise that if we have no idea what the feedbacks are, then we should stop pressing the one switch whose effect (modulo feedbacks) we know to produce warming.

Sorry but why are you wasting my time? Unknown feed backs by definition are not well-constrained. We may assume they are, but we do not know. Because they are, tah dah, unknown. I agree that it is highly dangerous to continue to meddle with a system we do not understand. But it is not a guarantee of total and imminent disaster either. We have got away with it so far. We have every reason to think the Earth is robust enough to cope. We need to do more serious research to find out as soon as possible.

Nobody suggests that we will wipe all life off this planet. The worst-case is that we will destroy the network of interdependency upon which we rely for our current civilisation.

“7. Man on Clapham Omnibus

“The fact that you may not like the class divide and the fact that the poor are getting shafted by Capitalists (no change there) doesnt detract from the fact that pretty much everything on the planet will eventually die if the human impact on the planet isn’t curbed.”

I think some people are.

We have had massively higher levels of CO2 at the same time as we have had a cooler sun. We have however not had the same massive increase in the short term that we are currently inflicting upon the Earth.

Sorry but how do you know the sun was cooler? I like the fact you are bringing the sun back in. Given the observable fact that the Sun has been active since the 1970s, as many people have pointed out, does that mean you accept it is likely the Earth has been warming due to the Sun and not human activity? The Earth was struck several times by large meteors. Which seem to have incinerated pretty much all the land-based biomass on the planet. Which would have meant a massive increase in CO2 spread over, say, a day or two. So I think we have.

You have little clue. One particular set of proxies – high-latitude tree-ring data – which had agreed with the instrumental, diverged from it, showing cooler, during the the 1960s. There are a number of reasons why this might have happened, and research has been carried out. The likelihood is that the effect is directly or indirectly anthropogenic. There is no evidence that the relevant proxies were “calibrated too high”.

The most likely reason being those tree rings were crap – take them out and most of the past warming simply disappears. And you misunderstand the point yet again. The rings do not agree with the instruments. The tree rings are calibrated against the instruments. This many millimetres coincides with this temperature in the period when we have good instrument readings. Thus in the past, the rings were X millimetres thick so the Earth was Y degrees. Now if they diverge from the 1960s, when we have good instrument readings, it means they were wrongly calibrated. They must agree in the 1960s. By definition. It means the past was warmer. But it doesn’t matter as if you take those trees out – and tree growth at that altitude is likely to be affected by more than temperature – pretty much all of the warming goes away.

Mann did not use high-latitude tree-ring data in his study. Nor did he cut short the series. His “trick” was plotting reconstructed (proxy) and instrumental data on the same graph.

Umm, yes he did and yes he did.

We do (with error bars, of course).

No we don’t. Although it is nice to see the Team admitting the MWP once more.

@82. tigerdarwin: Quoting me: ”The high pressure over the UK around about Christmas”
tigerdarwin: “No pressure is on average low in the three winter months.”

I was wrong first time. My argument was mistaken by talking about high and low pressures.

For most of the winter months in the UK there is a modest pressure differential, which means little energy from wind turbines. Or a high pressure differential, like the one that some of us endured last night. A night when the whirring of turbines was absent.

@83. Robin Levett: “Odd that; here I am, looking out of the window and I’m sure I can see sunshine.”

An hour after you posted your comment, I crossed the office to pull down a blind. I cut off bucket loads of energy. You are correct in saying that England can use solar power during our winter months, to reduce reliance on conventional sources. But the solar power of winter, locally generated, will not boil a kettle to provide the UK basis of sustenance: a cup of tea.

89. Robin Levett

@SMFS #97:

Ignoring your beliefs that only the English used thermometers, that there weren’t any English in Bengal in the early part of the 20th century, and that drawing inferences based upon the same physics that supports the diagnosis of global warming is the only sensible way of measuring temperature…

No we are not. That is the point. If you want to introduce pre-1970s partial land records, you cannot pick and choose. It is either all of them – which means that the 1930s were warmer – or none of them.

Then cite your reference for the claim that all temperatures were higher in the 1930s than today.

Sorry but why are you wasting my time? Unknown feed backs by definition are not well-constrained. We may assume they are, but we do not know.

You constrain variables whose sign and/or magnitude are unknown by comparing what you would expect from what you know with observations. To claim that because we don’t know everything we don’t know anything is a form of epistemological nihilism and counter to undertaking any scientiffic endeavour.

We have had massively higher levels of CO2 at the same time as we have had a cooler sun. We have however not had the same massive increase in the short term that we are currently inflicting upon the Earth.

My above comments followed a claim by you that the fact that the Earth had had massively higher levels of CO2 in the past and that we existed proved that nothing we could throw at the system could wipe all life off the Earth.

Sorry but how do you know the sun was cooler?

You’d have to ask the astrophysicists and paleoclimatoligists about that; but the astrophysicists say that stars like ours brighten during their lifetime on the main sequence, and paleoclimatologists report results consistent with that expectation for our own prehistory.

I like the fact you are bringing the sun back in. Given the observable fact that the Sun has been active since the 1970s, as many people have pointed out, does that mean you accept it is likely the Earth has been warming due to the Sun and not human activity?

No; the Sun has not significantly changed its output since the 1950s.

The Earth was struck several times by large meteors. Which seem to have incinerated pretty much all the land-based biomass on the planet. Which would have meant a massive increase in CO2 spread over, say, a day or two. So I think we have.

Oddly those events seem to have coincided with mass extinctions – but I accept that the majority of those extinctions probably occurred as a result of the impact, rather than the elevated levels of CO2. I suspect that a repeat of the Yucatan impact, however would probably destroy our civilisation pretty dramatically without any help from the subsequent climatologicial effects of excessive CO2.

But I repeat – no-one claims that global warming will wipe all life of the Earth; the claim is that it could at least disrupt our current civilisation, if it does not destroy it.

The most likely reason being those tree rings were crap – take them out and most of the past warming simply disappears.

This is untrue. If you say otherwise, point me to a study to this effect.

And you misunderstand the point yet again. The rings do not agree with the instruments.

The rings of a subset of high-latitude tree-rings ceased to agree with the instruments (and other proxies including other dendrological data) in the 1960s. they agreed before then.

The tree rings are calibrated against the instruments. This many millimetres coincides with this temperature in the period when we have good instrument readings. Thus in the past, the rings were X millimetres thick so the Earth was Y degrees. Now if they diverge from the 1960s, when we have good instrument readings, it means they were wrongly calibrated.

No; because changing the calibration removes the agreement with instruments (and other proxies) in the past.

They must agree in the 1960s. By definition.

Not if those trees have changed their response to temperature.

It means the past was warmer. But it doesn’t matter as if you take those trees out – and tree growth at that altitude is likely to be affected by more than temperature – pretty much all of the warming goes away.

Untrue – and the word is “latitude”, not “altitude”. If you continue to claim otherwise, please provide a study to that effect.

Try BEST, the climate auditors’ last best hope. Oops, sorry; they get the same results (from the instrumental records going back to the 1800s) as the others.

Mann did not use high-latitude tree-ring data in his study. Nor did he cut short the series. His “trick” was plotting reconstructed (proxy) and instrumental data on the same graph.

Umm, yes he did and yes he did.

We’re talking about MBH98; this study did not use high latitude tree-ring data affected by divergence. If you say otherwise, let’s have a reference.

“Hide the decline” was not Mann – it was Briffa.


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    RT @libcon: Is climate change denialism really on the rise in the UK? http://t.co/RsZiG1ry

  20. Britain, a nation of climate sceptics? Really? | through the looking glass

    […] (where he stresses timing of survey, a point I’ve heard made about other chapters too), and a shorter version of my post on […]

  21. Oxfam Midlands

    RT @libcon: Is climate change denialism really on the rise in the UK? http://t.co/i4gmb2wQ

  22. Link Loving 13.12.11 « Casper ter Kuile

    […] The British Social Attitudes claims that Britain is becoming more sceptic about climate change is false. Alice Bell. […]





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