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Mark Lynas : Turtleneck Enchainment

Mark Lynas’ increasingly entangled, highly chained argument about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, is beginning to look like it could be one big prank to me. Either that or he’s hiding inside a very large turtleneck and hasn’t had much air lately.

“Some green-tinged commentators, in trying to protect the IPCC from any criticism – legitimate or illegitimate – are now seeking to deflect attention by putting blame elsewhere. Carbon Brief, a sort of PR rapid-response service which takes on climate sceptics (and which has former Greenpeace campaigner Christian Hunt as its main press contact), admitted that there were “legitimate issues with the organisation’s communications” – but tried to pin the blame on the media…”

So…let’s get this straight – according to Mark Lynas – Christian Hunt, who used to work with the Public Interest Research Centre, and helped edit the first Centre for Alternative Technology report “Zero Carbon Britain“, which PIRC published, is now a mere ideologue ? You mean he is incapable of reporting accurately on the work of thousands of British and international renewable energy engineers because he used to work for Greenpeace ?

Sorry. That argument doesn’t hold. Why does Christian Hunt now have to be in the “bad boy” box ?

Previously, Mark Lynas was confident of a renewable energy future for Britain, but was “agnostic” about Nuclear Power :-

““Localism will become the buzzword,” says Mark Lynas, the environmentalist and author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. “It is technically possible to achieve a zero-carbon Britain by 2050 as we are blessed with abundant renewable resources, especially off-shore wind in the shallow North Sea – although it will be a harder task without nuclear, on which I am agnostic. This largely covers electricity generation, but weaning ourselves off fossil fuels for our transport needs is much harder to achieve.”

Now, it appears, he’s in love with the dreamlike future of Nuclear Power :-

“Lynas belives we can now claw our way back below the 350ppm CO2 boundary – and that we can do it without cutting consumption or radically changing our habits. Nuclear-charged electric cars, biofuelled jets and continuing economic growth mean it will be business as usual in the low carbon future he envisages.”

What changed ? Fukushima Daiichi happened, or rather, started happening and got progressively worse, halfway through writing his new book, but that didn’t put him off the atomic power trail. He’s on a very lonely island. Perhaps he’s there with David MacKay, the author of the book “Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air” which I think has some pretty unrealistic visioning about harvesting uranium from seawater. Have they both drunk the Kool Aid ? I can see no other reason for their unsuppressed belief in the March of Nuclear Progress, unless they’ve spent too long talking to Matt Ridley, who could probably even be optimistic about Fukushima Daiichi…Oh…wait… He has been ! But I digress.

Mark Lynas believes in the power of Renewable Energy, even though he’s been snared in the cult of Atomkraft :-

“Personally I think that 80% of the world’s energy probably could be met by renewables by mid-century – but the IPCC’s renewables report singularly fails to demonstrate that. (So I’m not a clean energy ‘unbeliever’ – denier? – even by [Greenpeace’s Sven] Teske’s standard above.) Instead, the figure comes from one of 167 [no, 164, actually] different energy scenarios, none of which are assessed in terms of their likelihood or feasibility. They are just ‘scenarios’, not plans, strategies or even projections.”

An international group of experts have put together a collection of 164 potential pathways, but how can Mark Lynas possibly know which is the most likely ? Which is the best ? Which the most optimal ? Who better than the people on the IPCC to assess the best options ?

A lot of our energy future rests on choice – the choices that governments, companies and people make – about the best energy technologies to invest in, about the regulations for environmental protection, and about how best to match and marry energy resources.

Without care and composure and strategic policy, these choices will probably be made on a step-by-step basis, with limited systems thinking. This has been the way throughout the development of the use of fossil fuels and uranium, and we have ended up with heinously wasteful power generation networks, and rapacious resource scavenging around the world.

It’s right that we give priority not to particular, favourite technologies, but to packages of options that fit well together and have synergistic effects on resource optimisation, environmental protection and climate safety.

Many groups are working on this very problem, and not just the non-governmental organisations. We now have government departments, engineering companies and energy systems analysts around the world looking at economy-wide responses to climate change, and how to effect the changes in the energy systems that can meet the challenge.

There are many experts out there. Many of them resist new Nuclear Power as costly, dangerous and defunct, and propose strategies similar to the Greenpeace [r]Evolution, which, as Sven Teske explains, was written by an alliance that spanned industry as well as Civil Society.

What gives Mark Lynas (and his New Best Friend, Steve McIntyre), the authority to say that Sven Teske’s judgement on the best way forward is wrong ? And why shouldn’t the IPCC prefer a scenario similar to the one proposed by Greenpeace ?

Nuclear Power is not a very pragmatic choice. It’s lumpy, costly, unreliable, risky and lots of the expenses are stacked up towards the end of a reactor’s life. It’s part of the dying paradigm of centrally-provided electricity generation. It’s proved it’s uselessness. Let’s move on from Nuclear Power.

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