The Wild and Windy Moors

Out on the wild and windy moors, a battle for the wuthering heights of Middle England is coming to its apogee.

For what seems like aeons, certain branches of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), and their “enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my” friends in the misnamed Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), have been jousting with stirred-up local passions, fighting the feared onslaught of Wind Power.
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Spot The Fatal Flaw #1 : Oil From Algae

ExxonMobil have a plan : harness the natural lifecycle of billions of little photosynthetic critters and make oil, oil, lots of lovely, slimy, rainbowy algal oil.

http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE56D0O120090714?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews
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Ed Miliband : Lost in TV

It’s a huge shame that the person charged with decisions about Energy in the UK doesn’t have a science or engineering background.

He can’t determine truth from fiction, that’s why.

We can produce report after report and datasheet after datasheet showing how ridiculous it will be to continue with Coal and Nuclear, and he won’t be able to see the wood for the trees.

This is yet again proof of why it is pointless trying to engage with the decison-makers. They don’t have the mental framework to be able to deal with the facts and figures.
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I’d Like To Thank

At the Oscars and the BAFTAS and so on, the winners, always bleary, always blubbing, always drunk, always start with an “I’d like to thank” speech, offering genuine (or coerced) gratitude very publicly to those who collaborated (or financed) their venture : “you made it all possible”.

In true TV award ceremony style, the British Government, plus “Special Adjunct” Tony Blair, in amongst their good work pursuing Energy Efficiency and True Renewables, appear to be virtually obliged to mention the Energy and Climate “solutions” of their closest lobbyists and corporate allies, or even relatives, in the case of Gordon Brown’s brother Andrew’s company Electricité de France :-
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What We Have Here Is A Failure To Innovate

Remember the American Space Program ?

Very large sums of public tax money have been ploughed into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration over the years, peaking in 1966 :-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget

OK, it gave us the Moon landings and Teflon (TM), but just recently, I don’t see much in terms of really, really new things.

What’s happened to the innovation ?
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What’s Wrong With This Picture ?

News just in of some sloppy UK Government photoshopping leading to a serious lack of public confidence and some mild humour :-

Yes, Big Ben’s Clock Tower appears to be leaning to the right (or from Ed Miliband’s point of view, to the left).

[ UPDATE : See the end of this post for proof positive of image modification ]

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Damage Limitation

Despite the fact that there are only about five (and dropping) Climate Change “sceptics” in the British Parliament; and despite the fact that all major scientific and academic bodies, institutions and societies all declare their support for cuts in Global Warming pollution; the Media are still galumphing about in the murky mud of the 1980s in terms of public psychology.

It is essential that there is meaningful debate in the public realm about what Climate Change is doing to our world, and how we can control emissions and work to protect against damaging outcomes.

The evidence is all around us. And gradually, increasing numbers of people are adjusting their mental aerials to tune into the greater ideas and the bigger picture. What we don’t need just now are obfuscation and turbulence and gleeful mischievous wreckers.
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Peak Everything (2)

The “Standard Fossil Fuel” Peak, that of Coal, Petroleum Oil and Natural Gas, is probably within 10 years.

We really have to avoid “Alternatives”, like Tar Sands, Oil Shale…or we could create Climate Crisis in another 10 years.

When BP branded themselves “Beyond Petroleum”, when Shell expanded its Renewables division briefly, we thought it was Greenwash, we thought it was about a bit of token Renewable Energy…but I think they might be serious – about “Alternative” Energy resources that would be way, way more Carbon-intensive than Coal.

It’s not something David Rutledge at CalTech has factored in, I think. He used to be talking about keeping Coal in the ground, but now he’s more optimistic that standard Fossil Fuels will not bring us to Climate catastrophe…

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I Am Not A Campaigner

As a bright-eyed Gospel-touting young person from a God-fearing Bible-bashing breast-beating Protestant Evangelical Christian family, one-time members of a troubled sect, I was drawn to the victim narrative of the Aid and Development agencies. Those poor people in those dirt-poor countries with their cripplingly poor lifestyles.

I needed to be a Campaigner, I reasoned. I needed to tell the World, make some converts to the Poverty and Development cause, draw some attention, create some devotion, raise some cash, raise some banners, wave some placards, get some pledges signed.

Not realising that this kind of missionary zeal marked me out as a complete lunatic, I applied to a Famous Development Agency for a job. I was interviewed but ditched, probably because I had wild eyes, and wouldn’t stop spouting fundamentalist claptrap.
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The Best A Man Can Get : The Tales Of Two Gillettes

You can take the soul out of an engineer with a boring, stressful or ethically suspect career, (like the Manhatten Project), but you can’t take the engineer out of a soul.

I have a persistent interest in things engineering, and some say I waste too much of my time thinking about systems engineering and the Laws of Physics.

I also have a persistent interest in the minds of engineers. How do we work ? What makes us tick ? And do we have an overview on social organisation that could be useful ?
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Cheering the Truth; Regretting the Twist

At the London School of Economics last Friday 5th June 2009, there was a conference called “The politics of climate change : from economic crisis to business revolution”.

In the afternoon, after Adair Turner spoke, we were treated to the pragmatic realism of Andy Duff, the CEO of RWE npower, the Energy group.
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Carbon Offsets : Dangerous Distraction

Well, Friends of the Earth are not to be found beating around any bushes or mincing any words today. It’s up front and confrontational on the matter of Carbon Offsetting coming out of the Clean Development Mechanism, and how it’s going to fail us. The new report is titled “A Dangerous Distraction : Why Offsetting is Failing the Climate and People : The Evidence” and its language is brutal :-

http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefing_notes/dangerous_distraction.pdf
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The Weyburn Warning : Carbon Capture and Enhanced Oil Recovery

UPDATE : I have been advised to be more precise about what Beulah actually is. The update is bolded for your convenience.

The Weyburn Oil Field field in Saskatchewan, Canada has been the centre of attention for several good reasons over the last few years.

Some of the grease-brained petroleum engineers had a brilliant idea one day : how about trying to pump extra oil out of the field by injecting waste gas into it ?
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Retooling, Retreat and Retrenchment

The green figleaf is well and truly fluttering off into the windy landscape for Royal Dutch Shell. They’re an oil and gas company, with some petrochemistry on the side, and to prove it, they announced on 17th March 2009 that they were pulling their last tiny percentage points out of Renewables :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/26/fred-pearce-greenwash-shell-exxon
“Greenwash: Shell betrays ‘new energy future’ promises”

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G20 Climate Camp – Splash Update

I’m getting reports of people with an outline plan to take a skinny dip in the fountains in Trafalgar Square.

Apparently, to raise the profile of Carbon Trading, they’re going to paint themselves with some kind of black paint, or black marker pen, and splash about shouting something like “Carbon Trading doesn’t wash !”

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Lifeboat Britain – Tortilla Curtain

At first glance the two news articles seem to be about completely different subjects, but I can assure you they are both about Climate Migration.

The Observer, in a two page spread, complete with photographs of schoolchildren, outlines that Britain’s population is set to rise, as drought sets in, in different places of the World, and the heat picks up.

Britain, because of its historical global interference during its Empire days, will be assumed to be responsible for accepting a wide range of Climate Refugees.

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Right on Perils – Wrong on Proposals

Professor John Beddington, the Daily Telegraph’s new favourite bearded authority, the Government’s Chief Scientist Adviser, has been talking up the risks of compounded crises from environmental stress.

I don’t know exactly why the Government has made this beard their new head geek. And I don’t know why the Daily Telegraph has adopted this beard as their new star. But it is definitely something about the beard in my view.

Are beards supposed to make a scientist trustworthy ? What about women scientists ? Do they need to have beards as well ? Or do women never make it to Chief ?
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The Climate Denial Zoo – A Letter to The Guardian Environment

Dear The Guardian Environment,

I had to rub my eyes in disbelief at the article abstract entitled
“Global cooling?” for James Randerson’s 5th December piece “2008 will
be coolest year of the decade” :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/dec/05/climate-change-weather

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Shall We Go Nuclear ?

Shall We Go Nuclear ?

The way I see it, it’s not a simple straight choice between one energy production technology and any other. It’s quite a lot more complicated than that. There are issues of national energy policy, the method of financing and influential key players, practical details, economics, security and surety of supply, safety, security of installations, and also historical experience, when considering each option.

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