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Wind Powers #1 : Civitas Fictitious ?

[ An extract from the online Christian Ecology Link discussion forum : 11th January 2012 ]

The Civitas report on wind farms.

A couple of days ago, Civitas published a report entitled, “Electricity costs: the folly of wind-power” : [ Download report PDF ]

This report was produced by the Civitas economist, Ruth Lea. The report attracted a fair bit of publicity and even more antagonism from those within the renewables industry. Sadly, as usual the media have done rather less research than they should have; in particular they failed to check the background of the authorities quoted, though the Guardian did point to Lea’s views on climate change.

The following YouTube link leads to Ruth Lea denying the significance of anthropogenic climate change and the ‘flaws’ in Britain’s expensive climate change legislation. She uses all the same sad old errors and, in so doing, limits her credibility as an effective researcher :

Her comments seem to be straight out of the Chicago School mythology that economics overrides nature – the view of many scientifically illiterates.

But it gets better, she quotes, as an authority, Dr Kees le Pair, but fails to mention that he is a member of the ‘Committee of Recommendation’ of the Fusion Energy Foundation. The development of nuclear fusion, if it happens, will require very significant investment, investment that could, perhaps, otherwise be made in wind farms and other renewables so there is an important conflict of interest that has been wholly ignored :

This matters to all of us because it shows the dangerous level of uncritical evaluation that is made of so called scientific reports and information sources. I still remember the days past when research involved trips to libraries and hours of reading and, unless, the library had an academic connection, new information would not have been easily available.

Perhaps it was the more difficult nature of research that made the media, and much of its audience, that much more careful. The advent of the Internet has provided for rapid transmission of information, straight to your computer or even your smartphone, but apparently at the cost of critical evaluation. So much information is available that even report writers seem to fail to check the background of their sources or the veracity of the information given by that source. Yet, that same Internet provides the means of checking and it’s far less tedious than back in the days of library visits.

Careful use of a search engine can throw up evidence of partiality and YouTube can often confirm background beliefs that have overridden scientific evidence if not common sense. It’s not just
in reports such as this one from Civitas but also within so many anti this, that and the other environmental groups that plague the Internet.

Look carefully at Occupy, for example, and dig deeply enough, you will find some truly amazing YouTube material on the way in which the City of London is a part of worldwide Zionism that is somehow linked with the Vatican and Knights Templar ! Did you know that the Bank of England is owned by the Rothschilds ? The Internet, as well as giving freer voice to information also gives voice to conspiracy theorists and to the murk of prejudice. Just as it is both wrong and dangerous to spread unfounded rumours so it is to spread disinformation, so please use your search engine, take a little time and then critically assess whether this information that you have been given is likely to be both accurate and honest.


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Open Letter to Renewable Energy Deniers

To all Renewable Energy Deniers,

Things are getting so much better with renewable energy engineering and deployment – why do you continue to think it’s useless ?

We admit that, at the start, energy conversion efficiencies were low, wind turbine noise was significant, kit was expensive. Not now. Wind and solar farms have been built, data collected and research published. Design modifications have improved performance.

Modelling has helped integrate renewable energy into the grids. As renewable energy technologies have been deployed at scale, and improvements and adjustments have been made, and electricity grid networks have adapted to respond to the variable nature of the wind and the sunshine, we know, and we can show you, that renewable energy is working.

It’s not really clear what motivates you to dismiss renewable energy. Maybe it’s because you’re instinctively opposed to anything that looks like it comes from an “envionmentalist” perspective.

Maybe because renewable energy is mandated to mitigate against climate change, and you have a persistent view that climate change is a hoax. Why you mistrust the science on global warming when you accept the science on everything else is a continuing mystery to me.

But if that’s where you’re coming from when you scorn developments in renewable energy, you’re making a vital mistake. You see, renewable energy is sustainable energy. Despite any collapse in the globalised economy, or disruption to fossil fuel production, wind turbines will keep spinning, and solar panels will keep glowing.

Climate change has been hard to communicate effectively – it’s a huge volume of research, it frequently appears esoteric, or vague, or written by boffins with their heads in the clouds. Some very intelligent people are still not sure about the finer points of the effects of global warming, and so you’re keeping good company if you reserve judgement on some of the more fringe research.

But attacking renewable energy is your final stand. With evidence from the engineering, it is rapidly becoming clear that renewable energy works. The facts are proving you wrong.

And when people realise you’re wrong about renewable energy, they’ll never believe you again. They won’t listen to you when you express doubts about climate change, because you deny the facts of renewable energy.

Those poor fools who have been duped into thinking they are acting on behalf of the environment to campaign against wind farms ! Wind energy will be part of the backbone of the energy grids of the future.

We don’t want and we can’t afford the concrete bunkers of deadly radioactive kettles and their nasty waste. We don’t want and we can’t afford the slag heaps, dirty air and melting Arctic that comes from burning coal for power. We don’t want and we can’t afford to keep oil and Natural Gas producing countries sweet – or wage war against them to keep the taps open.

Instead we want tall and graceful spinners, their gentle arms waving electricity from the breeze. We want silent and dark photovoltaic cladding on every roof.

Burning things should only be done to cover for intermittency in wind and sunshine. Combustion is very inefficient, yet you support combustion when you oppose renewable energy.

We must fight waste in energy, and the rising cost of energy, and yet you don’t support the energy resources where there is no charge for fuel. Some would say that’s curmudgeonly.

When you oppose renewable energy, what is it you’re fighting for ? The old, inefficient and poisonous behemoths of coal hell ? We who support renewable, sustainable energy, we exchange clunky for sleek, toxic for clean. We provide light and comfort to all, rich and poor.

When you oppose renewable energy, you are being unbelievably gullible – you have swallowed an argument that can ruin our economy, by locking us into dependency on energy imports. You are passing up the chance to break our political obedience to other countries, all because wind turbines clutter up your panoramic view when you’re on holiday.

You can question the net energy gain from wind power, but the evidence shows you to be incorrect.

If you criticise the amount of investment and subsidy going into renewable energy, you clearly haven’t understood the net effect of incentivisation in new technology deployment.

Renewable energy has a positive Net Present Value. Wind turbines and solar panels are genuine assets, unlike the liabilities that are coal-fired power stations and nuclear reactors.

Renewable energy deployment will create meaningful, sustainable employment and is already creating wealth, not only in financial terms, but in social welfare terms too.

Renewable energy will save this country, so why do you knock it ?

Quizzically yours,

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Clicking with Climate

Image Credit : University of California at Berkeley

Human beings have two brains. The first is a self-centred workhorse of pragmatic decision-making, interested in social engagement in order to further individual interests – whether those interests are purely for personal enrichment or for the reward of the social group more widely.

The second human brain is a relativistic engine, constantly comparing, reflecting, analysing. We are concerned about other peoples’ emotional response, wondering what other people think about us, responding to peer group pressure.

Are we more successful, popular than others ? Do people listen to us more than others ? We know we’re right, but do they ? We need to pitch ourselves in the right way. We jostle for pole position, for a place on the platform, hoping not to make too many opponents, whilst making more converts to our point of view.

Personally, I don’t listen to my second brain very often. As a social animal, I hope I’m tolerant, and my priorities in interpersonal engagement are mutual empowerment, transparent collaboration and inclusion. In my public projection, I’m not trying to vaunt myself over others, or massage my image for approval, or put up a fake facade. You get me, you get direct.

But I can’t avoid the second human brain entirely – as it is the reason for a lot of fuzziness in our view of the world around us. It’s too easy to stir doubt, falsehoods and bad ideas into the collective cake mix of society, where it fizzes into a bubbling mess. In matters of climate change science and energy engineering, there are no grey areas for me. But for a number of people I know, these are subjects of much confusion, denial and disinformation.

People hold on to the totem of what other people think. And so you have even very intelligent social commentators reciting from paid-for public relations by companies and business pressure groups. Journalists often do not appear to understand the difference between pseudo-science and real live science. There are too many people selling unrealistic, unworkable technological “solutions”, particularly in energy, so it’s hard to know what to accept and what to dismiss.

Yet it is critical to know what rock, what branch to keep a hold of in the flood of information that could sweep us away. The social construction of climate change is an important edifice, a safe house in an information world at war with itself. What high wind can sweep away the grubby pages of non-science from the Daily Mail ? What rising sea can cleanse the Daily Telegraph of its climate change denial columnists ? What can stop the so-called Global Warming Policy Foundation from infecting the Internet with their contrarian position ? What can make us accept the reality and urgency of global warming ? How can we learn to click with climate change ?

Three significant academic thinkers on the social significance of climate change are launching new works at the British Library in London, on 16th January 2012. The British Sociological Association have invited Mike Hulme, John Urry and Gordon Walker to discuss chapters from their recent books which address the question – where next for society and climate change ?

In the words of Chris Shaw at the University of Sussex, “they pull no punches in their analyses, and their approach is based on years of research into the social dimensions of the climate change debate. This is an essential opportunity for all those interested in bringing climate change into the democratic sphere, to help understand the issues involved in such a transition. It is also a chance to discuss the ideas with the authors and other delegates.”

For more information, see here and here.

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Climategate 2011 : It’s like déjà vu, all over again

If I had funding of the order of £494,625.00, I wouldn’t waste most of it on legal costs, I would spend it on a decent communications campaign – something fresh and not smelling of two year old turkey sandwiches.

Climategate 2011 ? It all smells like déjà vu, all over again. It’s so fresh, it’s practically putrid. Who’s going to take this seriously ?

If I were to have a word with the media outreach team of the organisation behind Climategate, I’d recommend they try climbing up the strategy ladder a bit. As Michael E. Mann says, this latest “release” of electronic mail, that is actually several years out of date, is “pathetic“.

Electronic mail is informal – it does not constitute official publication of facts or figures. It is not formal research; it is “free speech” dialogue, protected under numerous laws in many jurisdictions. For the climate change sceptics to base their arguments against climate change science on the basis of climate change scientists’ e-mail is ridiculous. No, it’s worse than ridiculous, it’s laugh-out-loud weak. Anyone who has been drawn into the Climategate narrative is not thinking very carefully, or they would realise how tendentious and flimsy it is.

Look guys, we’ve had the inquiries, the reports, the investigations, the debates. You lost. Get over it. The climate change scientists have done nothing wrong. Start reading the actual science instead of the trumped-up nothing-there scandal.

Global Warming is a fact. It’s caused by excessive human greenhouse gas emissions. Climate Change is real, it’s happening now, and it’s causing damages around the world. It’s going to get worse – much worse – if we don’t have an integrated policy response.

All the recommendations of the economists have failed. All the international negotiations have so far failed. Many of the promises of the technologists have failed.

My dear climate change sceptics and skeptics, we need to pull together to resolve this. All your carping, speculation and stirring the pot isn’t helping. Can you please find some arguments that have a foundation in reality; proposals that can contribute something positive – or just get out of the road – you’re snarling up the traffic of genuine progress.

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Another Meeting I Will Not Be Attending

What appears to be a serious event is due to take place at the Energy Institute in London on 6th December 2011, “Peak Oil – assessing the economic impact on global oil supply“.

Dr Roger Bentley, author of a seminal 2002 paper on the subject, research that spawned hundreds of related learned articles, will be speaking.

But the event organisers have also invited one Dr Matt Ridley, the self-styled “rational optimist”, and member of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and this, I’m afraid, prevents me from attending.

Ridley projects a view that many probably find comforting – as his headline in The Times of 1st October 2011 summarises – “Cheer up. The world’s not going to the dogs”.

He has been captured speaking at a TEDx event pouring scorn on “environmental” scare stories of the past, but not bothering to delve or dig into how mankind has actually gone out of its way to act on past crises and prevent catastrophes.

And now he’s thrown in his lot with the shale gas miracle men, writing a report with a foreword by Freeman Dyson, one of the world’s most balanced individuals.

How much uncorroborated optimism can one man contain ?

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Everyone’s Entitled to their Opinion

Yes, indeed they are. Everyone is entitled to hold their own particular opinion. In this democracy of ideas, every longshot, wingnut, bonehead, rogue, charlatan, conspiracy theorist, crank, crony and astroturfer should be permitted access to the microphone on the stage. If we hold a public meeting about immigration, we should, of course, invite a white supremicist, a member of the British National Party, and a Daily Mail journalist to offer us their wise words. If we hold a sociological symposium on the Second World War, we should of course invite a Holocaust-denier. If an engineering conference, a cold fusion-in-a-test-tube enthusiast. Of course we should provide balance, as much balance as possible, and offer wisdom, insight and rant from all ends of all spectra. It’s only reasonable.

It therefore goes without question that somebody from the Global Warming Policy Foundation “think tank”, so copiously and generously sponsored by a person or persons unknown, should be invited to speak on the platform, or in a panel, at a well-funded quasi-establishment meeting on Climate Change. Regardless of a complete lack of training in atmospheric physics, or even knowledge of the span of the last five years in the science of global warming, naturally, a GWPF man must be invited by GovToday to a presitigious conference to be held on 29th November 2011 in the City of London grandly entitled “2011 Carbon Reduction : The Transition to a Low Carbon Economy”.

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Slaying the Climate Ghouls

They may have been BESTed, but the climate change denier spooks and ghouls are still fluttering about like deranged rabid bats. Here is a draft of a letter I am considering sending to somebody in an organisation under which I serve…

31st October 2011


It seems to me that you are labouring under several false impressions of the consensus in science regarding global warming and climate change. For example, you do not appear to accept that global warming is taking place, a fact that is evidenced by over a century of data. And as another example, you do not appear to accept that global warming is causing climate change, a scientific reality evidenced by countless studies. However, I’m not going to guide you to the peer-reviewed science for those points. All I want to do in this particular communication is offer you a popular critique of one of your key arguments, and challenge you to check your sources.

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The Problem of Powerlessness #2

On Wednesday, I received a telephone call from an Information Technology recruitment consultancy. They wanted to know if I would be prepared to provide computer systems programming services for NATO.

Detecting that I was speaking with a native French-speaker, I slipped into my rather unpracticed second language to explain that I could not countenance working with the militaries, because I disagree with their strategy of repeated aggression.

I explained I was critical of the possibility that the air strikes in Libya were being conducted in order to establish an occupation of North Africa by Western forces, to protect oil and gas interests in the region. The recruitment agent agreed with me that the Americans were the driving force behind NATO, and that they were being too warlike.

Whoops, there goes another great opportunity to make a huge pile of cash, contracting for warmongers ! Sometimes you just have to kiss a career goodbye. IT consultancy has many ethical pitfalls. Time to reinvent myself.

I’ve been “back to school” for the second university degree, and now I’m supposed to submit myself to the “third degree” – go out and get me a job. The paucity of available positions due to the poor economic climate notwithstanding, the possibility of ending up in an unsuitable role fills me with dread. One of these days I might try to write about my experiences of having to endure several kinds of abuse whilst engaged in paid employment : suffice it to say, workplace inhumanity can be unbearable, some people don’t know what ethical behaviour means, and Human Resources departments always take sides, especially with vindictive, manipulative, micro-managers. I know what it’s like to be powerless.

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BBC : Craven Power Muddle

Once again, the BBC has allowed to pass unchallenged the impression that green power policy and renewable energy investment are behind the dramatic rise in British domestic energy prices.

Disappointingly, this has come from John Craven, whose accuracy is renowned.

However, on this occasion, he has allowed a blooper meme to consolidate in the public mind.

Here’s how Countryfile went yesterday evening :-

[ Countryfile, BBC One, 16 October 2011, 18:25. Part way through recording, starting at approximately 20 minutes 32 seconds. ]

[ Ellie Harrison ] Earlier in the programme we were looking at the expected huge rise in wind power across the UK. But in the race to create more of our energy this way, who will win and who is set to lose out ? Here’s John again.

[ John Craven ] Earlier, I discovered how the plan to put wind power at the heart of our future energy supply is creating a building boom in wind farms, both on land and out at sea. With billions being poured into wind power, and with it being at the centre of the Government’s strategy on renewables, the future seems certain. So who will the losers and winners be in this wind revolution ? The most obvious winner is the environment as less fossil fuels are burnt. But who else benefits ? Well, another clear winner is big business. Companies building the wind farms get a generous price for the electricity they produce. […]

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We Need To Talk About Delingpole

James Delingpole clearly hasn’t heard of Global Dimming – a phenomenon successfully attributed to airborne particles – usually called “aerosols” in the scientific literature. It was featured in a Horizon programme, I think, which aired on the television several years ago now, in 2007, if I recall correctly, and it’s since been cached in YouTube, and unsurprisingly even has its own Wikipedia page, where I think James could start a proper education :-

At the present, Delingpole seems to think that it’s somehow news that Chinese economic development is connected to increased dirt in the sky, and that this has a temporary dampening effect on Global Warming until the microscopic gritty bits fall out of the air into some unlucky kiddie’s lungs.

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Mark Lynas : Oxford Ragwort

Image Credit : Mark Holderness

Mark Lynas betrayed more of his intellectual influences this week, when he tweeted as @mark_lynas “Colony collapse disorder – honeybees – not quite the environmental story it seemed:

Hmmm. That’s a piece from a new generation of Nordhaus-es, Hannah, writing for the Breakthrough Institute, founded by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, authors of “The Death of Environmentalism“, a document I truly regret wasting the paper to print. As I read it, I started scratching hot red comments in the margins, so many, that in the end the pages were more red than black-and-white.

Hannah’s piece, like her book, “The Beekeeper’s Lament“, is more delicate and considered, I think, but still shreds decades of environmental thought and much science, without any justification in my view.

She writes, “…very quickly, many journalists settled on neonicotinoids — pesticides that are applied to more than 140 different crops — as the likely culprit. It seemed a familiar story of human greed and
shortsightedness. With their callous disregard for nature, big chemical companies and big agriculture were killing the bees — and threatening our own survival. The honey bee’s recent problems have occasioned a similar rush to judgment. Before any studies had been conducted on the causes of CCD, three books and countless articles came out touting pesticides as the malady’s cause. Had I been able to turn a book around quickly, I might have leapt to the same conclusions. But I was late to the party, and as more studies came out and I came to better understand the science, I became less and less convinced that pesticides provided a convincing explanation for beekeepers’ losses…”

Her argument appears to be that pesticides are bad for other pollinators, not bees; but that this makes life harder for the bees, who then have to do all that pollination instead :-

“In steps John Miller, a boundingly energetic and charismatic beekeeper, who tasks himself with the care and the sustainable keeping of honeybees. He is descended from America’s first migratory beekeeper, N.E. Miller, who, at the beginning of the 20th century, transported thousands of hives from one crop to another, working the Idahoan clover in summer and the Californian almonds in winter. Back then beekeepers used to pay farmers to keep a few dozen hives on their land. But now farmers pay beekeepers millions of dollars to have their crops pollinated by upwards of ten thousand hives. With the rise of the monocrop and increasingly efficient pesticides, there are simply not enough natural pollinators to complete the massive task of sexing-up millions of acres of almond groves.”

This kind of writing seems to me like a lot of anti-green writing, where a straw man is set up, only to bow down and worship it. The central framework of fallacy appears to be :-

a. Environmentalists are zealous, and therefore crazy.
b. They believe pesticides are dangerous to bees.
c. They must be wrong, and pesticides can’t be all that bad for bees.

Let’s just read a little around that idea, shall we ? Let’s start with Wikipedia, just to make it easy :-

“For the majority of pesticides that are registered in the United States, EPA only requires a short-term contact toxicity test on adult honeybees. In some cases, the agency also receives short-term oral toxicity tests, which are required in Europe. EPA’s testing requirements do not account for sub-lethal effects to bees or effects on brood or larvae. Their testing requirements are also not designed to determine effects in bees from exposure to systemic pesticides. With Colony Collapse Disorder, whole hive tests in the field are needed in order to determine the effects of a pesticide on bee colonies. To date, there are very few scientifically valid whole hive studies that can be used to determine the effects of pesticides on bee colonies.”

Actually, it’s not just “mad environmentalists” who are concerned about the effect of pesticides on honeybees. Here’s just one scholarly paper :-
“High Levels of Miticides and Agrochemicals in North American Apiaries: Implications for Honey Bee Health”, Mullin et el., 2010.

What has this got to do with Climate Change. I can hear you asking ?

Well, it’s like this – in order to do intensive farming, agricultural chemicals are used on crops. Specialised herbicides, pesticides and fungicides are used on genetically modified crops, along with chemical fertilisers.

In order to convince people to accept Genetically Modified food, they’ve got to be encouraged to believe that pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are really alright.

Hence, pesticides cannot be fingered as a problem for bees, otherwise people might not accept GM crops…

Yes, it’s coming back round to tampering with our food genes. And it’s being sold to us as a cure for Climate Change.

At the bottom of this page there’s a transcript of a snippet from a television programme I was unlucky and incensed enough to have viewed yesterday. Called “The Wonder of Weeds”, it took us through the basic logic of modern-day plant breeding, including the role for genetic modification of plants – without once mentioning the words “life sciences”, “bioengineering”, “biotechnology” or even “genetic modification”.

The GM crops are presented as being the saviour of humanity, without once mentioning why conditions in the world may be damaging crops in new ways in the future, a lot of which will be due to climate change.

There was the usual category error – of confusing science with technology. Let’s repeat that one again. Technology is when you play with the genes of a crucial staple crop like wheat. Science is when you discover, maybe 25 years later, that it has had knock-on effects in the food chain. Oh dear. Too late for remorse – the genetically modified genome is now globally distributed.

The presenter of the programme, Chris Collins, didn’t even spot the cognitive dissonance of his own script. In the first part of the programme he talks about common weeds that are foreign invaders in the UK and cause untold trouble. In the second part of the programme he doesn’t even blink when he talks about modifying crops at the genetic level – not questioning that introducing foreign genes into vital crops might have detrimental, unforeseen impacts – rather like a microscopic version of the imported “plant pariahs”, Buddleia davidii, Rhododendron ponticum and Japanese knotweed. Oh yes, Oxford Ragwort, another introduction to the UK, is not such a hazard, but you can’t guarantee what happens when you get plant invaders.

I find it astonishing that such obvious propaganda on behalf of corporate plans to modify crops for their own private market profit is allowed into BBC television programming.

Climate Change is being used as the Trojan Horse rationale in which to bring GM crops to the UK, and elsewhere, as part of international agricultural development programmes. This is the ideological equivalent of a rogue gene inserted into the DNA of science. I find this an outrage.

I recommend you check the work of GM Freeze to counter this braintwisting manipulation.

And if you want a little bit more of an insider on what Dr Alison Smith, featured in the BBC show, is actually doing with her amazing knowledge of plants – it seems her work encompasses improving the production of alcoholic beverages, not feeding the world. I kid you not :-
“Glucosidase inhibitors: new approaches to malting efficiency : Alison Smith, John Innes Centre : Improving the efficiency with which barley grain is converted into beer and whisky would reduce waste and energy consumption in the brewing industry, as well as ensuring profitability. This project aims to improve the efficiency of malting, the first stage in beer and whisky production, by building on new discoveries about how barley grains convert starch to sugars when they germinate.”

What is the BBSRC ? This is a research programme that’s “infested” with corporate people – whose agenda is money-making, not philanthropy.

And what’s genetic modification of crops got to do with Mark Lynas ? Well, just read his new book, “The God Species“, and you’ll find out.

The plain fact in my view is that we do not need genetically modified crops in Europe. In Africa, they’re too poor to afford the chemicals to use with the GM seeds. And in the not-too-distant future, the price of the chemicals will shoot up because of Peak Oil and Peak Natural Gas, making GM crops inaccessible to those North Americans who currently use it. So this particular technology takes us nowhere forward at all. We need to manage water and the root causes of poverty rather than tamper with genes.

Saturday 25 June 2011

“The Wonder of Weeds”

“Travelling around the UK and meeting experts in botanical history, genetics, pharmaceuticals and wild food, Chris Collins tells the story behind the plants most people call weeds.”

45 minutes 20 seconds

…And the massive irony of all this is that the very crop that has become a monoculture at the expense of weeds, wheat, was once a weed itself…

Plant scientist Professor Nick Harberd of Oxford University has researched the moment a weed became wheat.

Nick : “About half a million years ago, there was spontaneously, in the wild, nothing to do with human beings, a cross-hybridisation, a cross-pollination if you like, between two wild grass species…”

“…So one can imagine that humans were cultivating this wheat [10,000 to 12,000 years ago] in a field and then by chance a weed was growing within that field. And there was again a spontaneous hydridisation event beteen the cultivated wheat and this wild grass that was growing in that imaginary field.”

“The whole process made a plant that was bigger and more vigorous. And as a result of this we ended up with the wheat crop we all grow and feed off today.”

Nick can exactly recreate exactly how wheat and weeds crossbred in a lab today…

47 minutes 40 seconds

Weeds helped us out millenia ago and now scientists in the 21st Century have turned to weeds once again for one of the most important discoveries in plant biology ever.

It could save lives by creating a super wheat.

It all took place here, at the John Innes Institute in Norwich.

Alison : “So come on in Chris. You need to sterilise your feet here…”

Chris : “So this means we’re not bringing in anything nasty from outside…”

Alison : “That’s right. No thrips or viruses or anything else that might come in.”

Dr Alison Smith is head of Metabolic Biology here.

Chris : “This is the first time I’ve ever dressed up to go and see a weed.”

Alison : “We look after our weeds very carefully here.”

Alison’s team have been studying a small common weed called Arabidopsis [thaliana] or Thale Cress, which is now used as the model to map the DNA of all plants on the planet.

Alison : “Well this weed is incredibly easy for us to work on. And all plant scientists almost in the world take information from this weed. And many plant scientists only work on this little weed.”

“The reason why it’s really useful is that like a lot of weeds it goes from seed to seed really quickly, so we can get through lots and lots of generations, and that makes it easy for us to do genetic studies to understand how the weed behaves and what all of its genes are doing.”

“But also, about 20 years ago, plant scientists got together. And at that time they were working on lots and lots of different plants. And they decided, let’s work on one plant together that can become the model from which we can develop our understanding of plants.”

“So about the same time as we were sequencing the human genome, we started to sequence the genome of this little weed. So in 2000 we got the entire gene sequence of this weed, all of the genes are known, the same time as we understood the human genome.”

Chris : “So really then, this small weed is a blueprint for all plants ?”

Alison : “This is the model for all plant life, that’s right.”

But the sequencing of the Arabidopsis genome is not just for the sake of it. Alison and her 600 colleagues are unlocking the secrets of the plant’s success, like its speedy growth rate and its hardiness, and are transfering those abilities to the crops that matter to us, like wheat.

This is one of the most important discoveries in plant biology ever, where one of the humblest weeds could save millions of lives around the world.

Chris : “Now we’ve seen our magic weed and you’ve got this genetic blueprint. How do you take that blueprint and apply it to arable crops like this wheat ?”

Alison : “Well we can start to tackle, using this blueprint, some of the real problems that we have with our crops like disease, for example. Our crops are quite susceptible to some diseases. We’ve been able to breed for that, but we haven’t known what genes we’re breeding for.”

“In Arabidopsis, Arabidopsis gets diseases as well, we can understand exactly how it’s resistant to those diseases. We know what genes it needs. And we can say right, where are those genes in wheat ? Can we make sure that our new wheats have the genes that make them resistant to disease ?”

“Another example would be how the wheat exactly makes its seeds. Obviously, this is the really important bit of wheat. This is what we eat. This is human food. We understand a bit about the process of about how these little seeds are formed, but in Arabidopsis we understand in absolute molecular detail how those seeds are made, and that helps us to understand how we make to make better seeds, bigger seeds, more nutritious seeds in wheat. We can apply that knowlege in wheat.”

Well, I know scientists don’t like to be too dramatic, but I’m going to be, because of simply what I’ve found out. Weeds can play a big role in arable crops like wheat, or even maybe the future of humanity.

Alison : “I think it was the starting point for what has to be a revolution in our crops, a revolution in understanding how they work and making them work better and doing that fast.”

“It’s taken our ancestors, you know, millenia, to get to this point. We can’t afford to take the next step in millenia. We have to take it in tens of years or less. And in order to do that, you’re absolutely right, the information from Arabidopsis has been the key to pushing us forward.”

It’s the resilience of weeds and the insights they give us into helping crops survive that makes them amongst the most useful plants on the planet…

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Selling Thorium to China

Kirk Sorensen, formerly of Teledyne Brown Engineering, now of Flibe Energy

To: Claverton Energy Research Group
From: Jo Abbess
Date: 24 June 2011
Subject: “Don’t believe the spin on thorium being a ‘greener’ nuclear option”‏

Hi Clavertonians,

As you are, I’m sure, aware, context is everything.

I was so sure we’d escaped the clutches of the “Thorium Activist Trolls” a few years ago, but no, here they are in resurgence again, and this time they’ve sucked in George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Stephen Tinsdale, all apparently gullible enough to believe the newly resurrected Generation IV hype campaign.

They should have first done their research on the old Gen IV hype campaign that withered alongside the “Hemp will Save the World, No Really” campaign and the “Biodiesel will Save the World, AND You Can Make it at Home” brigade. Oh, and the Zero Point Energy people.

I was, I admit, quite encouraged by both the Hemp and Biodiesel drives, until I realised they were a deliberate distraction from the Big Picture – how to cope with the necessity of creating an integrated system of truly sustainable energy for the future.

Hemp and Biodiesel became Internet virally transmitted memes around the same time as the Thorium concept, but where did they come from ?

Where does the Thorium meme originate from this time round ? I found some people took to it at The Register, where they spin against Climate Change science a lot – watch the clipped video :-

I would suggest that there are connections between the Thorium campaign and the anti-Climate Change science campaign, and I have some evidence, but I’m too busy to research more in-depth just now, so I’m not going to write it all up yet.

The key issues with all energy options is TIME TO DELIVERY and SCALEABILITY, and I think the option presented by the Thorium fuel cycle fails on both counts.

Yeah, sure, some rich people can devote their life savings to it, and some Departments of Defense (yes, Americans) and their corporate hangers-on can try selling ANOTHER dud technology to China (which is the basis of some Internet energy memes in my view).

Remember Carbon Capture and Storage ? The British Government were very keen on making a Big Thing about CCS – in order to sell it to the miscreant Chinese because (WARNING : CHINA MYTH) China builds 2 !! coal-fired !! power stations a week/day/month !!

THORIUM – A Brief Analysis
TIME TO DELIVERY – 20 to 50 years
USEFULNESS ASSESSMENT – virtually zero, although it could keep some people on the gravy train, and suck in some Chinese dough

The Tyndall Centre say that global emissions of greenhouse gases have to peak AT THE LATEST by 2020. We should be thinking about rolling out the technology WE ALREADY HAVE to meet that end.

Don’t believe the hype,


PS What other evidence do we have that the Thorium meme is most likely just a propaganda campaign ? Nick Griffin of the British National Party backs it, and the BNP are widely alleged to promote divisiveness…

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Steve McIntyre : Plan Beak


Steve McIntyre, probably the only person on the planet who might grumble about the cost of Barack Obama’s suit rather than his all-American wars, has suddenly become an expert energy engineer, it seems.

This month, he’s taking aim at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, regarding their special report on Renewable Energy, questioning the contributions of an engineer, Sven Teske, and basing his objections on the fact that Teske works for Greenpeace :-

Flinging any kind of pseudo-mud he can construe at the IPCC is not Steve’s newest of tricks, but it still seems to be effective, going by the dance of the close cohort of the very few remaining loyal climate change “sceptics” who get published in widely-read media :-

He even pulled the turtleneck over Andrew Revkin’s eyes for a while :-

And Mark Lynas has been joining in, in his own nit-picky way :-

The few comebacks have been bordering on the satirical, or briefly factual, with the exception of Carbon Brief’s very measured analysis of the IPCC’s communication expertise :-

Leo Hickman’s being bravely evenhanded :-

It’s not a total surprise that New Scientist and The Economist wade in deep :-

Sven Teske’s explanation has not been accepted by Mark Lynas, although it seems really OK to me :-

The Daily Mail digs out the usual emotive terms :-

Steve McIntyre is playing out the “Princess and the Pea” narrative, complaining about a few wrunkles in a process of international collaboration, and distracting us from looking at the actual report, which I would encourage you most warmly to do :-

It is full of the most incredible case studies and intriguing engineering discoveries. It makes cautious, conservative calculations, and looks at conditions and caveats in a very transparent manner. For a work that relied on the contributions of over 120 people and managed to compose a document so helpful and illuminating, I’d say it’s a work of profound achievement, and should be read in every school and university. Four scenarios from a collection of 164 are studied in depth to compare their strengths and weaknesses – and the conclusion of the SRREN team is that :-

“Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies…”

Somehow, though, Steve McIntyre believes otherwise. I suppose it’s not completely fair to berate him, because he might be suffering from a delusion, given that he seems to believe his opinion trumps that of over a hundred of the world’s authorities on what is possible in Renewable Energy technologies; and I’m the last person who would criticise somebody for having a mental illness.

I’m wondering, however, since he often sticks his nose up at IPCC matters, and since the world is suffering from stress in the supply of fossil fuels, whether he has a “Plan Beak” for the world’s energy crisis ?

Come on Steve McIntyre, tell us what your plan is to provide energy for humanity. Don’t tell me you believe that Nuclear Power is the way forward. I just won’t believe you, and a large number of the citizens of the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and help us all, even Switzerland, would share my doubts.

As everybody can clearly see from the Columbia University graph at the top of this post, the IPCC are right about emissions, and the global warming data shows they’re right about that too. Why should they be wrong about Renewable Energy ?

I mean, I detect there are a few issues with the way the IPCC organises itself, and the style of its reports, but hey, where’s the viable alternative ? I don’t see one, anywhere. And don’t go pointing me to groups with pretensions.

We may just have to get used to complex international bodies, formed of complex, intelligent people, and learn how to read their complex, intricate reports with care and attention. And not get distracted by grumpy semi-retired mining consultants.

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Mark Lynas : Mutant Ninja

Mark Lynas may call himself a “green”, and be a clean-shaven, respectable, politely-spoken Oxford academic type but he appears to be mutating into something very unappealing indeed. He’s written some good books on climate change – every schoolroom and university module should have one – but on energy, he is deep in the political woods, without even a wind-up flashlight.

His latest stunt is to join in with accusations from Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit that the IPCC’s report on Renewable Energy has been partly crafted by people without appropriate independence or expertise. Here, from Andrew Revkin :-

“The IPCC must urgently review its policies for hiring lead authors – and I would have thought that not only should biased ‘grey literature’ be rejected, but campaigners from NGOs should not be allowed to join the lead author group and thereby review their own work.”

And who is this nefarious untalented Non-Governmental Organisation ? Greenpeace, it appears, according to Mark Lynas, is not capable of writing about the future of energy (or even the current situation).

Daniel Kammen has weighed in and The Revkin has updated his post :-

“There is no Himalaya-gate here at all. While there are some issues with individual chapters, there is no ‘Greenpeace Scenario.’ The 77% carbon free by 2050 is actually more conservative than some cases. The European Climate Foundation, for example has a 100% carbon neutral scenario and Price Waterhouse has a very low carbon one for North Africa. Further, while the IPCC works from published cases, the scenarios are evaluated and assessed by a team.”

There have been a number of reports written in the last year that back the viability of Renewable Energy technologies in replacing the world’s fossil fuel and nuclear energy systems. Not all of them were crafted by Greenpeace researchers. In fact, virtually none of them. Nuclear…yes…maybe it’s that little word “nuclear” that’s the root cause of Mark Lynas’ problem with Greenpeace.

In the Guardian, he is quoted as saying :-

“Many ‘green’ campaigns, like those against nuclear power and GM crops, are not actually scientifically defensible…”

And that’s where you are so wrong, Mark Lynas with the book coming out soon that you seem so desperate to publicise by saying things you know people will find annoying. Nuclear power is a TECHNOLOGY, not a SCIENCE. This is the same basic category error made by Dick Taverne and a number of other public commentators who don’t appear to have an engineering background.

TECHNOLOGY is where people decide that their designs to make something look like they’ll work, build them and don’t foresee flaws with them. SCIENCE is where people study the technology that they’ve built and research the flaws that appear and report on them. Science is what has shown the limitations with the original boasts about genetically modified crops. It turns out that GMOs are a ruse to sell chemicals. And on nuclear fission – the science is in and on the front of your daily newspaper : nuclear power plants pose a number of risks. The advice of the reputable scientists and engineers – old fission nuclear power plants should be withdrawn.

But returning to Renewable Energy, a number of organisations now believe that the demise of fossil fuels needn’t stop humanity from accessing abundant energy. Here is just a very short compilation :-

The Two Marks : Mark A. Delucchi and Mark Z. Jacobson :-

PriceWaterhouseCooper :-

CAT Zero Carbon Britain 2030 :-

Roadmap 2050 :-

European Renewable Energy Council R[e]volution :-

But oh, no, we can’t quote the last one because Greenpeace researchers were involved, and Mark Lynas wouldn’t approve of that. Mark Lynas appears to be living in a world where Greenpeace people can’t have engineering research skills because they have ideals, working for a world that uses safe, clean energy.

The IPCC report on Renewable Energy is here :-

Much as I respect turtles, I have to say it – Mark Lynas, you’re a turtle – slow-moving and easy to catch out and turn into soup. You should know by now not to get sucked in by spurious non-arguments from Steve McIntyre. The “cleantech” industry that’s ramping up to provide the world with green energy is worth billions, soon to be trillions of dollars worldwide, and this fact appears to have completely passed you by. The only future for energy is sustainable, renewable, non-nuclear, clean, quiet and safe. There is no other viable, liveable, option.

[ UPDATE : In the Independent newspaper, Mark Lynas is quoted as remarking “Campaigners should not be employed as lead authors in IPCC reports”. So, Mark, it’s really fine for employees of the major oil, gas and mining companies to take a leading role on major IPCC reports; but it’s not fine, according to you, that somebody working for much less money and much higher principles than mere corporate profit should contribute ? Denigrating somebody for being a “campaigner” is a stereotypical insult. Everybody’s got an agenda, campaigners included. What’s your agenda, Mark ? Selling your new book ? Don’t be dismissive about Greenpeace researchers. They may have ideals, but they’re not naive – they also have brains – and with their declared position on getting at the truth they can be trusted to be direct, decent and honest. Where’s your ethical compass, Mark ? ]

Viva Italia !

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Adam Curtis : Daft Punk


The final part (I really hope it is the final part) of Adam Curtis’ trilogy on “Evil” Computers and “Devillish” Enviromentalists – “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace” – a title drawn from a poem written by what would appear to be a madman – has now been uploaded to YouTube, allowing me to view it without taking part in the memory-eating public monitoring disappointment that is BBC iPlayer :-

Adam Curtis certainly reveals himself as a little monkeyish in this episode, throwing overarm and underhand javelins at “liberals” of all hues and cries, particularly environmental ones; and throwing in liberal references to primates wherever he can, seemingly to suggest that mankind has un- or de-evolved by adopting computing tools and studying the natural world.

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Retour au Latour

In the realm of conspiracy theories, one branch is particularly difficult to unseat – suppositions of technological risks to health – or what I am naming “technocankery”, since a good number of them attribute cancer to the use of technology. Why, it is clear to see : cancer is caused by small, unseen mutations, and it’s hard to pinpoint causal effects. “Carcinogen” is therefore a useful accusation to hurl at any technology you don’t like, even if you have no proof or evidence.

But we’re doing science. How we know what we know is through a long chain of experimentation and monitoring, data gathering that can lead to reasonable claims that can then be subject to further testing and assessing. People rightly assert that we need to keep our minds open to possibilities unconceived, or mistakes unknowingly trodden. As the Dalai Lama Tweeted 25th May 2011 : “To arrive at certainty, you need to start from a skeptical posture. The best scientists are impartial, not swayed by their own beliefs.”

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Adam Curtis : Chaotically Unstable

I’m looking quizzical, rubbing my chin. Adam Curtis appears to have lost control of his mind, or at the very least, is showing signs of unhealthy self contradiction. Where are the checks and balances ?

At the start of Part 2 of “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace”, he unpicks, and, I would suggest, stamps on, the idea that ecosystems are networks of feedback loops, tending to re-balance. And then at the end of the same presentation, he asserts that human revolutions fail, and society folds in on itself and returns to the state of power and control it was in before. Now which is it to be, Adam Curtis ? Self-correcting stability or non-correcting ebbs, flows and shifting sands ?

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Netting It

Christopher Booker and James Delingpole made common cause this weekend in opposition to the BBC 2 Horizon documentary “Science under Attack” that featured Paul Nurse :-

The Daily Telegraph commentators appear not to understand the Global Carbon Cycle, and how this has been disturbed by mankind’s activities – principally burning fossil fuels and cutting down trees.

There is ongoing exchange between the soil and the air and the plants and the air, and the seas and the air, and so on; but the key Carbon Dioxide fact is that it is building up in the sky.

It’s not the gross figures that count, it’s the net.

The net is the amount that gets left in the air when all the absorption and emissions processes from the Carbon Sinks and the Carbon Sources have nearly cancelled each other out :-

In the Horizon programme the observation is made that mankind’s Carbon Dioxide emission production comes to around 7 gigatonnes a year. By contrast, volcanoes “popping off” and the oceans contribute only about 1 gigatonne – obviously, that’s net, not gross.

The amount of Carbon Dioxide exchanged in both directions between air and seas is much larger :-

Booker claims that the programme was a “misrepresentation”. Delingpole claims that Paul Nurse has demonstrated “really basic, idiot’s-level mistakes about “climate science””.

Amusingly for me, neither of them appear to suspect they could be barking up the wrong creek with the wrong paddle.

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Algae BioDiesel Report Card : Fail

The New York Times blog asks, plaintively, when algae biofuels will be economically viable :-

“January 25, 2011 ; The Future of Algae Fuels Is … When? : By TOM ZELLER JR. : As I write in Tuesday’s Times, a new study from the Rand Corporation, the global policy think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif., and formed more than 60 years ago to advise the American government on military issues, suggests that Department of Defense is wasting its time exploring alternative fuels. It raised particular questions about the near-term viability of algae-based fuels, which the study’s authors considered to be more or less laboratory-level stuff — and certainly not likely to scale up to any significant extent in the next 10 years. Given that the military has gone to great lengths to publicize its ongoing efforts to go green, and in particular, algae-green, the report did not sit well with with everyone…”

The eagerness around algae biodiesel seems to stem largely from those who want something to invest in, now that fossil fuels are starting to look like a liability :-

“…Certainly a number of investors continue to bet on the promise of squeezing oil from algae in amounts substantial enough to put a dent in the use of petroleum-based fuels. And dozens of companies and academic labs are busy chasing that dream. Despite all this, the Rand study’s lead author, Jim Bartis, remained steadfastly skeptical that the technology would be ready for prime time within the next decade — and certainly not ready for widespread military use…”

Highly crucially, hypothetical research has shown that the return on investment may not be very high :-

“…What Colin discovered was that the EROI of the Reduced Case and Literature Model were 0.13 and 0.57, respectively. This shows that we have much to learn for the potential of making viable liquid fuels. Additionally, Colin’s calculations for the experimental setup (and Reduced Case analysis) show that 97% of the energy output resides in the biomass, not the bio-oil For his idealized Literature Model, 82% of the energy output was in the biomass. While these results seem discouraging, we do not have much ability to put these results into context of the rate of development of other alternative technologies and biofuels. How long did it take to get photovoltaic panels with EROI > 1 from the first working prototype in a lab? We have somewhat of an idea that it took one or two decades for the Brazilians to get reasonable EROI > 1 from using sugar cane for biomass and biofuel production (Brazilian sugar cane grown and processed in Sao Paulo is estimated near EROI = 8)…”

Can it be that venture capital is chasing an imaginary rabbit down a virtual warren ?

For just $250 (ker-ching !) you can purchase a copy of an informative report, that just might explain it all :-

Interestingly, it is noted, “The yields of oil and fuels from algae are much higher (10-25 times) than competing energy crops”. Those “energy crops” would be the genetically modified food crops that are intended for the BioEnergy agri-industry, then.

And what at the food crops that the GM scientists want to splice with ?

I think we need to understand who has intentions for which crops :-

“Gene stack increases biofuel crop productivity : Thursday, January 20, 2011 : By Jim Lane : In Illinois, Chromatin announced the successful first demonstration that genes can be assembled, stacked, and expressed in sugarcane using the company’s mini-chromosome technology…Developers, however, want to insert genes that offer improvements in multiple traits – when an organism has more than one gene inserted in this process – for example, for disease resistance, insect resistance, herbicide resistance – this is called a gene stack. In 2007, for example, Monsanto and Dow introduced an eight-gene stack (SmartStax) that contained eight herbicide tolerance and insect-protection genes, including Dow’s Herculex I and Herculex RW; Monsanto’s YieldGard VT Rootworm/RR2 and YieldGard VT PRO, Roundup Ready and Liberty Link tolerance genes. Gene stacking, thereby, is foundational in the drive for higher productivity from land crops…”

“…Not every plant genome is stable enough to support extensive cross-breeding in order to introduce desired genes. One of those is sugar cane. So, let’s say you wanted to introduce several genes, not just one – for example, insect resistance, herbicide resistance, disease resistance, higher sugar concentrations, and enzymes to enable better bagasse digestion. If you could do it at all in cane – and it would be a monumental, unprecedented achievement in cross-breeding, it would take, say 13 years or so to accomplish it. It has made changes at this level uneconomical. So that’s what the Chromatin breakthrough is all about. Creating a method to bring the sort of possibilities that have materially advanced yields in, say, corn and soy, to a whole new array of energy and food crops. Opening up the door for more rapid improvement of the underlying per-acre yields. Thereby reducing the amount of acreage needed to support, say, a cellulosic ethanol or renewable diesel processing technology. Increasing thereby the radius over which biomass can be transported at economically viable rates. Making the processing plants larger, and more cost effective. Speeding up the point at which a given technology can achieve parity with fossil oil. Pushing us faster towards the scaling of energy crops and biofuels…”

“Sugarcane and other feedstocks : Chromatin has wrapped itself into a worldwide exclusive with Syngenta in sugarcane – so, for improvements in the sugarcane genome, that’s where they will come from in so far as this technology is concerned. Meanwhile, Chromatin is pretty well wrapped up in terms of licenses for its technology in corn, soy, canola and cotton. And, Chromatin said last year that it would pursue opportunities in sorghum as a developer. But there are the energy canes, and the energy grasses like switchgrass and miscanthus. Or the woods like eucalyptus or poplar. Or the aquatic species, like algae. For those platforms, this is a licensable technology…”

Tampering with the genes of some of the most important crops in the world. That’s bold. Will we accept that ?

Syngenta are going to mess with sugarcane, all in the name of Climate Change alleviation.

And where will this sugarcane be grown ? In Brazil.

And who will be farming this sugarcane for BioEthanol use ? Dirt-poor people from the landless underclass, just as now.

So, corrupting the gene pool of one of the world’s most important food crops for some dubious possible gains in energy productivity, and still not resolving the human rights issues of how this is farmed.

What a revolution !

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Work with me, James Delingpole

To: James Delingpole
Date: 25th January 2011
Subject: Dodgy science on the telly

Dear James,

Like you, I felt somewhat intellectually “tampered with” by Paul Nurse (“Science under Attack”, Horizon BBC 2, 24th January 2011), and I wondered if we should make some sort of common cause against the domination of faulty thinking of the scientific elite in the media.

As you know, I’m a fan of Climate Change Science, and everything I see, read and hear confirms the projections. In the end, you will come to believe, but the evidence for manmade Global Warming is not the source of my contention with the BBC today.

I disliked the incredibly scornful tone of the Genetically Modified research technologist, who when interviewed avoided the broader picture of the imposition of GM crops against the will of the people. He asked a question something like “…if GM crops are so bad, then why have millions of American farmers planted them ?…” and naturally, because you are a smart chap, you and I both know the real answer to that question.

It’s not the quality of the products that keep farmers hooked on GM, it’s the power of the sales force and the exclusivity contracts people sign up to. What people are really buying is not the GM seed but the herbicides, and Paul Nurse didn’t even touch on that subject (but if he had, he might have “interfered with” that, too).

Why is it that Paul Nurse could not distinguish between technology and science ? What blinkered him from separating the brute force of invention from the laboured acquisition of rigorous knowledge ?

Several top science advisers and commentators have made this mistake in the past, including John Beddington and Dick Taverne :-

So, James, can we stand shoulder-to-shoulder on opposing untested technologies ? Can we walk together under the same banner, protesting Frankenstein biofuels and gene poisoning ?

Can we find something to agree on, something to work together for ?

With my finest regards,

Jo Abbess

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On Bees and Compromise

Subject: Bee Safe

Bees are dying off worldwide and our entire food chain is in peril. Scientists blame toxic pesticides and four European governments have already banned them. If we get the US and the EU to join the ban, other governments across the world could follow, and save bees from extinction. Sign the petition and forward this urgent appeal :

From: RT

Scientific research does NOT fault one group of toxic pesticides as the primary cause of colony collapse. Most recently published research into the demise of US bumblebee species, for example, suggests that the varroa mite may be the primary cause – species that harbour the mite are declining and those which don’t are not. The introduction of the varroa mite has certainly aided the spread of viral disease and, whilst insecticide use further weakens bee colonies, the major voice suggesting insecticides as the primary cause is not science nor beekeepers but environmental groups. The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust (BBCT) has asked Avaaz to change their campaign but Avaaz declines to respond. I commented to Avaaz that many of us agree that reducing agricultural insecticide use, generally, would be of great benefit to biodiversity but falsely blaming insecticide use [for] colony collapse will damage our hopes of identifying the real causes and, perhaps, focus action in the wrong direction. BBCT are concerned that another primary cause is habitat loss. Avaaz have done themselves a great disservice, not so much in backing the wrong campaign, but by not bothering to check what research has indicated and by not answering critics.

From: jo abbess

In reply to RT’s helpful and well-informed message from a few days ago, I must add that it is becoming clear to me that opinions differ about pesticide safety in relation to bees – and that’s scientific opinion, not just “campaigning” opinion. For example :-

“Leaked document: EPA knowingly approved bee-killing pesticide : Wednesday, January 05, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer : A Colorado beekeeper recently obtained a leaked document revealing that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) knows a popular crop pesticide is killing off honey bees, but has allowed its continued approval anyway. Despite opposition from its own scientists, EPA officials first gave the a-okay to Bayer CropScience’s toxic pesticide clothianidin in 1993 based on the company’s own flawed safety studies. But now it has been revealed that the EPA knew all along about the dangers of clothianidin and decided to just ignore them…”

So, is there a hidden depth to this issue ? Are the various pathogens and parasites in bee populations the only reason for Colony Collapse Disorder ? Or are there other factors ? Is it that the industrial farming of hives – transporting them around the country (in the USA) is damaging their immune response, or is the combination of monoculture agriculture, pesticides and GM crops compromising bee survival ?

From: BM

Buglife is asking you to please write to your local MP to raise awareness of neonicotinoid pesticides, their effects on pollinators and to ask him/her to encourage Lord Henley to act on the Buglife Asks. Please feel free to use the draft letter below. You can find your MP’s address using the following link

Dear ……,

RE: UK pollinator declines and neonicotinoid pesticides

I would like to draw to your attention a recently leaked memo from a US government agency the Environment Protection Agency, whose scientists warn that bees and other non-target invertebrates are at risk from a new neonicotinoid pesticide and that tests in the approval process are unable to detect environmental damage.

Neonicotinoids are highly toxic to bees and other non-target insects, the biggest concerns are that, being systemic they end up in the pollen and nectar in the flowers of treated crops, and hence could poison pollinators, and that being persistent they could wash into streams, ponds and rivers and destroy aquatic life…

From: RT

Thanks, Jo, but of all the potential causes that you indicated, currently there is little evidence to indicate GM crops as a primary causal agent. Certainly there is evidence that there have been bee population collapses in the past but none, of which we are aware, that matches the current problem in the scale of it’s extent and damage.

My complaint against the Avaaz campaign is that there is a widespread agreement within the scientific community that is studying CCD that there is probably not a single cause, but many that appear to act together.

As I commented, earlier, reducing the use of pesticides is entirely to be recommended – but we should note the evidence suggesting that banning DDT has lead to a resurgence of malaria [SEE NOTE AT BOTTOM OF PAGE]. However, blaming one cause could lead to the others being ignored and we urgently need to stop CCD. Research has suggested that insecticide residue patterns do not suggest that any one pesticide or group is the primary cause. Some very interesting research that was published last year indicate the Israel acute paralysis virus as commonly found in hives that have experienced CCD. Research into the causes of CCD are taking place in the USA and the UK: in the USA, go to the Mid Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium at:
In the UK, go the Insect Pollinators Initiative at:
Also keep an eye on the work of Prof Francis Ratnieks at Sussex University:

From: jo abbess

In response to one of RT’s links to the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) […], I’d like to point out a few links to the page he mentions :-

Peer review panel membership :-

Professor John Coggins – University of Glasgow (Chair)
Dr David Aston – BBKA
Professor Tim Benton – University of Leeds
Dr Peter Campbell – Syngenta
Professor Angela Douglas – Cornell University
Dr Jeff Pettis – USDA
Professor Ingemar Fries – Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Dr Jane Hill – The University of York
Professor Graham Medley – The University of Warwick
Professor Stuart Reynolds – University of Bath
Dr Susanna Sansone – EBI
Professor Robert Smith – University of Huddersfield (Retired)
Professor Mark Tatchell – Independent

So what are these organisations known only by acronyms ?

The BBKA – British Beekeeping Association is sponsored by pesticide manufacturers
“…The British Beekeepers’ Association has been selling its logo to four European pesticide producers and is believed to have received about £175,000 in return. The active ingredient chemicals in the four pesticides the beekeepers endorsed are synthetic pyrethroids, which are among the most powerful of modern insect-killers…”

Syngenta – a manufacturer of pesticides and GM crops.

The EBI – who do they work for ? The companies include Bayer and Syngenta – both manufacturers of pesticides and GM crops :-

Interestingly, the USDA bee projects are fairly clear about the role that a certain group of pesticides plays in damaging bees :-
“Bee Research…Objective: To investigate the effects of several insecticides, primarily but not exclusively neonicotinoids, on honey bee mortality, foraging behavior, and overwintering success…to study the effects of neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides which disrupts foraging behavior and increases mortality of honey bees.”

So, do we believe that the BBSRC work on bee research is entirely neutral ?

When it’s being funded by companies who make pesticides and the companies that work for companies that make pesticides, I would say we could well be dubious.

From: TH

Hi Jo,

I don’t think the Independent article is very fair to the BBKA, I guess that’s journalism for you! The BBKAs official position is reasonably clear:

Certainly the BBKAs working with industry (which started a quarter of a century ago) does appear to have been effective in reducing colony losses from the applications of the older classes of insecticide. The four products which were endorsed are, Decis (Bayer, deltamethrin), Contest [Fastac] (BASF, alpha-cypermethrin), Hallmark (Syngenta, lambda-cyhalothrin) and Fury (Belchim, zeta-cypermethrin) which are all synthetic pyrethroids, not the neonics currently under suspicion.

Consequently I don’t think your listing of the BBKA among the bad guys is fair. No organisation is perfect, but broadly speaking the BBKA has been in the business of protecting & defending bees for a very long time. Its also a reasonably democratic organisation, which debates issues like this as they evolve.

From PDK

Someone from church has got excited about ‘Climate Week’.
Does anyone know anything about this? It feels a bit greenwashy to me.

From: RT

I was at the [Climate Week] launch and faith groups were well represented. It attempts to be an act of refocussing attention and of bringing together those engaged in positive action. I wonder why you feel that it is “a bit greenwashy”?

From: RJ

[The] steering committee had a long discussion about this and decided to purposefully not support [Climate Week]. We felt we couldn’t join up with the likes of RBS and EDF to do anything with any integrity.

On the other hand, where awareness is raised, we should make the most of it and have something to say! I’m thinking of writing my march parish magazine article about climate week and haven’t yet decided what to say!….anyone out there want to have a go?!

From: PDK

I worried about the messages on their website – it seemed like patting people on the back for doing very small actions that don’t really make a difference (on the homepage it actually talks about ‘doing your bit’). And I was suspicious about the corporate involvement. There is a huge Tesco logo on the homepage – these are the people promoting the message that if you cut down on plastic bags you can save the planet (the poster outside my local branch actually says this). I’m also inclined to agree with the steering committee about RBS and EDF. Still, they’ve got a good range of organisations backing it. (Eat your heart out, Climate Alliance!). If they can mobilise people good luck to them – maybe it needs that kind of mainstream approach. But I probably won’t be getting involved.

From: EP

“Exclusive: Bees facing a poisoned spring : New kind of pesticide, widely used in UK, may be helping to kill off the world’s honeybees : By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor : Thursday, 20 January 2011 : A new generation of pesticides is making honeybees far more susceptible to disease, even at tiny doses, and may be a clue to the mysterious colony collapse disorder that has devastated bees across the world, the US government’s leading bee researcher has found. Yet the discovery has remained unpublished for nearly two years since it was made by the US Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory. The release of such a finding from the American government’s own bee lab would put a major question mark over the use of neonicotinoid insecticides – relatively new compounds which mimic the insect-killing properties of nicotine, and which are increasingly used on crops in the US, Britain and around the world. Bayer, the German chemicals giant which developed the insecticides and makes most of them, insists that they are safe for bees if used properly, but they have already been widely linked to bee mortality. The US findings raise questions about the substance used in the bee lab’s experiment, imidacloprid, which was Bayer’s top-selling insecticide in 2009, earning the company £510m. The worry is that neonicotinoids, which are neurotoxins – that is, they attack the central nervous system – are also “systemic”, meaning they are taken up into every part of the plant which is treated with them, including the pollen and nectar. This means that bees and other pollinating insects can absorb them and carry them back to their hives or nests – even if they are not the insecticide’s target species. In Britain, more than 1.4 million acres were treated with the chemical in 2008, as part of total neonicotinoid use of more than 2.5 million acres – about a quarter of Britain’s arable cropland…”

My letter from MAFF 17.1.1989 “All insecticides by their very nature are active against living organisms and therefore pose a risk to both human health and the environment”


From: RT

Earlier this week I was present at the first directors meeting of a new trust that was established to preserve access to the River Thames and to protect its ecology. One of the other founders expressed the hope that we could keep our integrity by avoiding companies and organisations that perform acts that are antithetical to the new trust’s aims. I observed that we can only make change by establishing dialogue with those whom we would seek to change and a majority of those present agreed.

This has been a major problem within the environmental movement, perhaps even more generally within the voluntary sector. I have heard people talk of purity but not of change and that, I believe, is fruitless.

The recent comments on bees and on Climate Week both refer to companies which should be avoided, but how then do we change them? Breaking the windows of RBS offices in Scotland may make some people feel good but it hasn’t changed their policies.

I’m sure that I have mentioned on this list before that I am a member of the Aldersgate Group. This came about, in Aldersgate’s early days, because I was able to introduce a think tank to the group and to provide a small link with the Church of England. I remained one of a small number of individual members and have seen the group grow very considerably in membership and influence.

I should explain that Aldersgate is a company and NGO led environmental lobbying organisation which seeks more and more effective environmental legislation. It’s a slow process: about nine months ago I first raised the issue of biodiversity, in two weeks we will have our first roundtable and a working group will begin to consider what we should say both to companies and to government.

Last week we had one of our receptions, in the House of Commons, and listened to Chris Huhne talking about where the Government hopes to go, following Cancun. He didn’t get an easy ride, neither did some of his colleagues, late last year, at another reception at Bank of America to discuss the Green Investment Bank.

There are two points that I think derive from this, the first is that Governments tend to listen to major companies, the second is that many companies are beginning to take a strong stance on environmental protection.

I have the good fortune of regularly meeting with senior representatives of major companies and I generally, but not always, find a depth of understanding and concern on environmental matters. I also find people who are active Christians and many others who retain respect for the Church.

Over the past four or five years I have got some respect, probably unwarranted, for being a little acerbic when it comes to getting the science right! Aldersgate is now being flooded by requests for membership and we are being careful to impose limits so that no sector is over represented. We require that members sign up to our five principles which commence with: “Our long-term economic success depends on a healthy environment and the sustainable use of natural resources.”

It’s not perfect but it’s a good start and the way in which the group supported my request for taking up biodiversity is, I believe, evidence of good intent. I asked the Natural History Museum team which headed the UK International Year of Biodiversity to advise us and that has been welcomed by Aldersgate and by the NHM. Greenwash still exists but real changes are being made.

Surely, though, there is another point that is wholly relevant to us, Jesus engaged with sinners, even with members of the Roman army of occupation and the hated tax gatherers. Much of his ire is recorded as being directed at the ‘righteous’, at those who had regard for their visible place in society.

I do not have any great regard for Tesco, EDF or RBS – or, indeed, for pesticide manufacturers – but I will talk to them, if I’m given the opportunity. The next Aldersgate event will be hosted by RBS, they are not members and I will take every opportunity to sign them up. I’m still working on HSBC; their head of climate change is an active Anglican.

I do not point to this involvement with any sense of pride: according to Richard Dawkin it is simply down to coincidence, having made a friend in the Compass think tank executive shortly before discovering Aldersgate. I like to think that it is yet another of the wonderful opportunities that God has given me. The most significant point is that other Aldersgate members have proven to be good, concerned people who also want to make change.

From: RS

Perhaps different people need to pursue what is good in different ways. I would not feel able to participate in an environmental initiative which included, for instance, RBS, while RBS is a major funder not only of coal developments but of the mining company Vedanta, which is guilty of criminal and abusive behaviour in India (see ).

If your involvement in such initiatives enables you to put pressure on them to change, then by all means use the opportunity. It’s not something I could do myself.

The extent to which people enter into discussion with companies is a matter of discussion within London Mining Network, for which I work, and different groups take different stances. When the matter involves the rights of communities in the face of large corporations, I think it is essential that their views be taken into account and that we do not attempt to speak on their behalf without their permission, or pronounce as acceptable projects against which communities are fighting.

Jesus engaged with all sorts of individual people as individual people, and always with respect. He did not necessarily therefore accept as legitimate what the institutions for which they worked were doing.

From: RJ

RT, I think it’s fantastic what you’ve done with aldersgate. It did take a while for [us] to come to the [Climate Week] decision we did – personally I flip-flopped from one to the other! But I came to the conclusion that although I totally agree we need to engage with these “sinners”, we shouldn’t do so at the expense of helping their PR unless we think it is worth it. And it is a matter of keeping ourselves from evil. Jesus ate with sinners, but he didn’t get involved in their tax collecting. It’s a hard one though,

From: BM

I am not sure you can change people, unless they want to change. I remember when trade with China started we were all told it would change the Chinese way of doing things and help human rights. I think the jury is still out on this one.

I do think people pressure is having an effect on big companies, and if this in turn has an effect on politicisations, all the better. (maybe science is having an effect on big companies as well).

Jesus was killed for all those things he did, and, although he has put light in many hearts to change their ways, there are still plenty of people out there who would do the same again.

good luck [to] RT

From: jo abbess

I think that cooperation is vital across all sectors.

However, I do not like having my involvement co-opted for somebody’s profit-making agenda.

If I discuss a matter with somebody from the Government or business, I try to ensure that the dialogue is genuine, and that I am talking to the person rather than the organisation. It is only with true and careful human contact that any progress in understanding and commitment can take place.

My pointing out the corporate involvement of the members of the BBSRC research establishment is to highlight the unfortunate possibility of conflict of interest.

We all know that compromise is possible and ubiquitous. The question is, should we welcome people being in a position where they may be coerced into a compromise position ?

I would rather that the bee research is not conducted by scientists who are employed by the pesticide companies. It could put them in a corner at some point.

Plus, I was unhappy about the police mismanagement of the 1st April 2009 Climate Camp in the financial district in London. Kettling people put pressure on the volatile minority. I left the Climate Camp on that day when I saw that the police people had been beating up protestors, and found out that some rather excited persons had broken windows – their passions probably having been roused by the caging of protesters – called “kettling”.

I am very unhappy about the advertising rewards that companies will get from sponsoring Climate Week – such a cheap way to sharpen their brand image ! They don’t have to actually cut corporate emissions, they can just attach their name to the event.

I’m not denigrating real efforts on behalf of companies who are making real changes – for example the Carbon Disclosure Project, the supply chain PAS2050 initiative, and the work of the Carbon Trust has had and will continue to have a major impact on carbon control.

The central problem is compromise. Not all corporate initiatives have value, and we need to keep companies accountable by a variety of means.

For this reason, I applaud the work of organisations such as the Ecumenical Council on Corporate Responsiblity – a grown up approach to asking for responsible behaviour. This is leagues beyond Climate Week in looking towards genuine, lasting, significant outcomes.



“…WHO’s anti-malaria campaign of the 1950s and 1960s relied heavily on DDT and the results were promising, though temporary. Experts tie the resurgence of malaria to multiple factors, including poor leadership, management and funding of malaria control programs; poverty; civil unrest; and increased irrigation. The evolution of resistance to first-generation drugs (e.g. chloroquine) and to insecticides exacerbated the situation. Resistance was largely fueled by often unrestricted agricultural use. Resistance and the harm both to humans and the environment led many governments to restrict or curtail the use of DDT in vector control as well as agriculture…”

Bad Science Climate Change Climate Chaos Global Singeing Global Warming Green Investment Green Power Hide the Incline Media No Pressure Non-Science Political Nightmare Regulatory Ultimatum Renewable Resource Science Rules The Data Unqualified Opinion

A Fairy Castle of Froth

Well, it would seem the wheels have definitely come off the Climate Change sceptic-denier trolley bus, and the passengers are raving, and metaphorically drowning in their own pus-riddled intellectual bile, judging by the spluttered, splattered comments I am receiving on this web log.

Wegman is going down (the anti-science, anti-Hockey Stick Wegman Report, you understand, not the man himself) – and I mean down; down to the depths of dissmissal and reproach, and scorn mountains will be heaped, and his “strange scholarship” will be ribbed and ridiculed and his assertions and claims fobbed off for ever more, it seems, by those whose opinions really count :-

“Turns out climate skeptics’ favorite report (the Wegman Report) might not be as scientific as Congressman Joe Barton claims…”

We’re talking pit-wise plumbing here, the nether reaches of the pile of tried-and-rejected hypotheses. We’re talking dearie-dearie-me, what a mess have we got here, then ? :-

Michael Mann was right. You, dear sceptic-deniers, are wrong. Even the Daily Mail newspaper says so, and don’t retort that, of course, the Daily Maelstrom is not exactly the Source of All Validity, and testily question why I trust the Daily Maul when it agrees with me, and not otherwise :-

“Influential climate change report ‘was copied from Wikipedia’ : By DAILY MAIL REPORTER : 23rd November 2010 : Research questioning the validity of global warming was copied from Wikipedia and textbooks, it has been claimed. A report by statistician Edward Wegman criticised earlier research led by scientist Michael Mann that said global temperatures were highest in the last century than the previous 1,000 years. But according to plagiarism experts, ‘significant’ sections of the 91-page report were lifted from ‘textbooks, Wikipedia and the writings of one of the scientists criticised in the report’…”

You can take or leave your truth universe, and the Daily Mall certainly does that, but I’ll stick with the data, thanks, the hard-won, carefully-kept, un-fudged, un-compromised actual measurements…

Bad Science Climate Change Global Warming Non-Science Science Rules The Data Tree Family

Hot Old Forests

The Register reports that way back, way back, when the rainforests were good and hot, they prospered and life proliferated.

“Global warming is actually good for rainforests, say boffins” reads the headline from Lewis Page, “plus 3 degrees C, 1000 parts per million Carbon Dioxide did jungles a world of good last time”.

Not quite, Lewis old chap. Not quite.

1. The change in global temperatures at the Paleocene-Eocene border was only “rapid” in geological time – at around 20,000 years for the whole event. Plenty of time for rainforests to adapt. Not like now.

2. “There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics”, says the Abstract of the research paper “Effects of Rapid Global Warming at the Paleocene-Eocene Boundary on Neotropical Vegetation” by Jaramillo C. et al., in Science, 12 November 2010, Volume 330. Number 6006, Pages 957 – 961, DOI: 10.1126/science.1193833

Yet evidence of severe droughts in the Amazonian rainforest area today makes the analogy with the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum rather thin. With the current incredibly fast rate of warming in South America, it’s unlikely that regular, intense, droughts are going to reduce in the rainforest area.

Added to the current data, there is every reason to believe that the climate in the tropics was very different at the time of the PETM – the Americas had not yet met, and no Gulf Stream northwards existed.

3. “”It is remarkable that there is so much concern about the effects of greenhouse conditions on tropical forests,” says Jaramillo’s Smithsonian colleague Klaus Winter”, write Lewis Page. Klaus, who ? He’s not even listed on the research paper author listing. Does Mr or Dr Winter have anything to do with this research ? Why does Lewis Page quote hiim ?

4. Have you seen the organisations that contributed to this research ? They include “Colombian Petroleum Institute”, “Petróleos de Venezuela S.A.” and “Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos, Bogotá, Colombia” and a number of mining companies. What do they want out of research into rainforest productivity 55 million years ago ?

5. Have we talked about the massive extinction of animal life that took place at the PETM ? Well, perhaps we should…

I wonder what Dr Simon Lewis, rainforest expert, will make of this latest “atrocity” from The Register ?
[ UPDATE : The Daily Mail reported Dr Simon Lewis’ views some way down in an article on the subject here. By e-mail, Dr Simon Lewis wrote to me, “[One] obvious point is they are happy to extrapolate 56 million years to now from three points in a tiny corner of South America, which is a bit different from their usual views about historical proxy data…” ]

When I get the access to this report, I will need to delve deeper into the reasons why Lewis Page has proved, once again, that he doesn’t understand current Climate Change science, and doesn’t understand why the climates of yesteryear often have very little to say about the climate of today and tomorrow.

Bad Science Bait & Switch Carbon Capture Carbon Commodities Carbon Taxatious Climate Change Climate Chaos Corporate Pressure Delay and Deny Disturbing Trends Divide & Rule Emissions Impossible Energy Change Energy Revival Engineering Marvel Extreme Weather Financiers of the Apocalypse Fossilised Fuels Genetic Muddyfixation Geogingerneering Global Singeing Global Warming Low Carbon Life Major Shift Media Money Sings No Pressure Non-Science Nuclear Nuisance Nuclear Shambles Oil Change Optimistic Generation Peak Emissions Peak Energy Peak Oil Political Nightmare Realistic Models Regulatory Ultimatum Science Rules Social Change The Data Unqualified Opinion

We Will Get To You

Video Credit : Brooklyn Space Program

Eventually we will reach you.

Scientists are proverbially poor at communication, but we will eventually be able to explain to you what is happening to the Earth in a way that you will understand.

You need to give some time to the data, to the arguments. You need to read the significant research papers, learn how to read graphs, learn the acronyms, abbreviations, technical terms.

You will need to be able to weigh in your mind the significance of probabilities, the risks of extremes, the trends, the changing patterns.

After a while, you will start to reappraise the evidence, and start looking into the data and see the conclusions for yourself.

You will begin to appreciate the strong line of reasoning, and come to be in awe of the minds of many who work on Climate Change.

I’ve become impressed by the body of scientific evidence, that’s why I will always be aligned with the Climate Change science community.

We’re not going anywhere. We’re here, and we’re right. There has already been significant change in the Earth’s climate due to humankind’s mining-to-burn activities, and the projections are for further, possibly very dangerous change.

The scientists know what the problems are, and what the engineering solutions are. Some companies/corporations, economists and politicans and sadly even some compromised “environmentalists” promote non-solutions like carbon pricing, Carbon Taxation, Carbon Trading, Carbon Capture (and Storage), GM Crops, Nuclear Power, geoengineering – but the academies of scientists are telling you they won’t work, or won’t solve all the problems.

What is needed is wholesale removal of Fossil Fuels from the global economy in order to prevent further deterioration and disruption in the global climatic conditions. Either BP, Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil hang up their boots forever, or they need to embrace new clean energies (not Nuclear Power) to stay in business.

Oil, gas and coal depletion in the production facilities of those countries that are national players will mean that they will go bust, because a consistently high price for Fossil Fuels is not supportable, because the global economy is so Fossil Fuel-dependent currently. This is both a buyer’s market and a seller’s market, so the price will be governed by the operation of this two-sided cartel, not by the theories of “scarcity economics”.

Either Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, China, Venezuela and so on are on their way to extreme poverty, or they will embrace new clean energies (not Nuclear Power) to stay economically developed.

Meanwhile, the project of empirical scientific enquiry continues apace, and even though rich fossil fuel businesses are financing doubt, even though people with pension funds in mining pour scorn on Climate Change science, and even though the mainstream media can’t recognise uneducated propaganda when they meet it; you need to trust the intellectual community of Climate Change science researchers.

Stop listening to accusations of malpractice, dodgy data, weak methods, poor models. Do you really know what you are talking about when you pass judgement on the scientific community ? Who told you that scientists were wrong ? Can you really trust the people who tell you not to trust the scientific community ? Do you have the right or the authority to lay somebody else’s fabricated blame at the door of those whose whole lives are devoted to discovering the truth ?

Why don’t you do an integrity check on your sources, before replicating myths ?

Read the science journals and not the newspapers, is my advice.

And when it comes to the Internet, search wisely. You can’t believe every website you come across – there are some web loggers who are misled, and there are others seeking to mislead.

If you want to filter out the nonsense, try this :-

True Science

Bad Science Climate Change Global Warming Media Non-Science Science Rules The Data

BBC : Licence to Manipulate ?

Another Earth-shatteringly ridiculous piece on the practice of Climate Change science has dribbled from the loudspeaker of the BBC :-
“Doubts over scientists’ climate change debate claims”

Why am I surprised that they seem content to repeat falsehoods and rehearse a patronising tone ?

Where’s the proper investigative journalism ? Why get somebody so young and fresh-faced as Adam Fleming to tear up his good reputation so soon into his career ? I mean, he’s only done kids’ TV before now, as far as I know. Why was he only briefed with Climate Change “sceptic” fantasy nonsense ? And what will the University of East Anglia Press Office do to react ?


Date: Tue 19 Oct 2010
From: Jo Abbess
Subject: The BBC Gets It Completely Wrong Once Again
To: Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia Pres Office

Dear Press Office at CRU UEA,

I am completely astonished at the paucity of the latest
offering from the BBC on so-called “Climategate” (see
forwarded e-mail I have sent to Professor Phil Jones).

I would see this as a prime moment to correct the BBC
publicly, and you could be the people for the job, which is
why I am drawing this to your attention.

I’m sure you don’t need me to pinpoint the inaccuracies in the
BBC piece, but I can offer comments if you would like to hear


Jo Abbess


Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2010
From: Jo Abbess
Subject: The BBC Gets It Completely Wrong Once Again
To: Professor Phil Jones
Cc: Dr Ben Santer, Dr Gavin Schmidt

Dear Professor Jones,

I can’t help asking myself why it is that the BBC has got
Climate Change science so, so wrong yet again.

Can’t they read ? And who have they been listening to ?

This is a really appalling re-write of recent history from the
BBC (see below). It’s insulting, judgemental and just plain

They couldn’t have done worse if they had been deliberately
trying to be annoying, in my view.
“Doubts over scientists’ climate change debate claims”

I counted at least 10 “revisions of history” in a piece of
film shorter than an ad break.

Surely some of your colleagues have the energy left to
complain ?



19 October 2010
Last updated at 13:48

Press coverage has cast further doubt on climate scientists’
claims that man-made global warming is real and adversely
affecting the planet.

Polls show that the public are becoming increasingly confused
about the issue. Adam Fleming reports.



It’s the year that “uncertainty” became the buzzword in the
climate change debate, even for scientists who are convinced
that human activity is warming the planet.

Last year saw the publication of private e-mails written in
these buildings, the Climatic Research Unit at the University
of East Anglia. Experts spoke of doing “tricks” with numbers.
They hinted at the deletion of data that didn’t fit their

This summer, an inquiry, the last of three, left the
scientists’ reputation intact, but told them that they had to
be more honest about how they reach their conclusions.

Then came “Glaciergate”. In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, the group of international scientists that
inform global environmental policy, had written a report
saying that most of the glaciers in the Himalyas could melt by
2035, but that was proved to be wildly inaccurate.

The head of the IPCC, the Indian academic Rajendra Pachauri
came under pressure to quit. In future [the] chairman will
serve just one term, and again the academics were told to be
more honest about the question marks in their research.

Back at home, David Cameron has pledged the “greenest
Government ever”, but there are limits This week the Coalition
announced it wouldn’t fund tidal power in the Severn Estuary
because the bill was too high.


Met vriendelijke groeten,