Saturday, September 13, 2008


This is very big. Over in the UK, a group of Greenpeace supporters trespassed on to a coal-fired power station and started vandalizing it, painting a message to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown about global warming. They were arrested and prosecuted. Their defense strategy was to claim a "lawful excuse" on the grounds that their actions could help prevent significant damage to others' property that would result from global warming. Their defense witnesses included James Hansen, Al Gore's adviser and head of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, and Zac Goldsmith, ultra-wealthy heir of Sir James Goldsmith and a wannabe Tory MP. The strategy worked. Yesterday, a jury returned a majority verdict, acquiting the so-called Kingsnorth Six. As The Independent put it, the jury decided the "threat of global warming justifies breaking the law."

The ramifications are huge. Operators of coal-fired power stations in the UK have just been stripped of legal protection from the criminal actions of the environmental lobby (to call them extremists would be wrong - this is the mainstream). It is perfectly possible that a future jury will find differently, but the chances of that happening have fallen dramatically. Investor confidence in coal energy will therefore be damaged. There will be huge political risk in building a new coal plant. Existing coal plants will come under literal attack.

This is, as Matt Sinclair points out, the frosting on a cake of anti-energy pressures: We need to replace a huge share (PDF, pg. 67) of our generating capacity, at a cost of billions upon billions, in around a decade. The companies we are relying upon to do so already face a very tangible prospect of having the returns on their investment confiscated directly by windfall taxes or indirectly by threats of windfall taxes if they don't cough up. Their costs are constantly being pushed up by regulations and, when they pass that cost on to customers, they are demonised, in part by a Government funded pressure group. Now when their property is damaged to the value of $60,000 the perpetrators will be let off...

Coal is out. The same people hate nuclear and will work to delay new nuclear plants. Renewables are marginal, even according to the Renewable Energy Foundation. North Sea Gas is running out, so the only solution to keep the lights on is kowtowing to Vladimir Putin and Gazprom.

Let us also be quite clear why this has happened. The energy industry in the UK and Her Majesty's Government have allowed the environmental groups free rein to delegitimize coal (and oil for that matter). They have invested nothing in defending fossil fuels, legitimizing their product or in advancing strategies to combat global warming that do not involve getting rid of coal. As a result, the jury was, in a literal sense, prejudiced against coal. The benefits of affordable energy for the many must be championed, otherwise we will end up with expensive energy for the few.



Hyperion Power Generation, Inc., (HPG) with the assistance of Los Alamos National Laboratory, is developing and commercializing a small, factory-sealed, mass-produced, transportable nuclear power module that is uniquely safe and proliferation-resistant. The technology utilizes and builds upon similar features of the 60+ TRIGA training reactors that have been safely operated for years in universities and laboratories around the globe. Current identified applications include industrial use (oil shale & sand retorting), power for military installation, homeland security, emergency disaster response, and remote community and infrastructure. As of September 9, 2008, HPG has ten installation commitments and 50 pending. The first HPG reactors should be ready in 2013.

Three factories, spread across the globe are planned by the company to produce and ship the approximately 4,000 units of the first design. (4,000 small units would generate more nuclear power than the 104 nuclear reactors currently used in the United States. 108 GW for 4000 HPG uranium hydride reactors versus 98GW in the US now). Inherently safe and proliferation-resistant, the HPM utilizes the energy of low-enriched uranium fuel.

Each unit produces 70 megawatts of thermal energy, or 27 megawatts of electricity when connected to a steam turbine. That amount is enough to provide electricity for 20,000 average-size American-style homes or the industrial equivalent. First sales commitments have come from companies building residential and mixed-use developments in Europe. This has been good because the HPM (Hyperion Power Module), meeting all the non-proliferation criteria of GNEP, is an excellent solution for any location. This new technology, encompassing the simple concepts of the world's very safe training reactors that have been in operation for decades, makes it possible to deliver continuous clean, emission-free energy with only a fraction of the human oversight and financial investment required by conventional nuclear power stations.

The Hyperion Power Generations new, small, transportable nuclear "battery" was presented at International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 52nd General Conference in Vienna, Austria.

More here

New research: 'Temperatures began to rise ~3000 years before atmospheric carbon dioxide"

Abstract below:

Northern Hemisphere Controls on Tropical Southeast African Climate During the Past 60,000 Years

By Jessica E. Tierney et al.

The processes that control climate in the tropics are poorly understood. Here, we apply compound-specific hydrogen isotopes (deltaD) and the TEX86 temperature proxy to sediment cores from Lake Tanganyika to independently reconstruct precipitation and temperature variations during the past 60,000 years. Tanganyika temperatures follow northern hemisphere insolation, and indicate that warming in tropical Southeast Africa during the last glacial termination began to rise ~3000 years before atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. deltaD data show that this region experienced abrupt changes in hydrology coeval with orbital and millennial-scale events recorded in northern hemisphere monsoonal climate records. This implies that precipitation in tropical Southeast Africa is more strongly controlled by changes in Indian Ocean sea-surface temperatures and the winter Indian monsoon than migration of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone.

Science September 11, 2008

New Paper: US Hurricane Counts are Significantly Related to Solar Activity

There is a new GRL paper in press by Elsner and Jagger entitled: 'United States and Caribbean tropical cyclone activity related to the solar cycle.'

The Abstract states:

The authors report on a finding that annual U.S hurricane counts are significantly related to solar activity. The relationship results from fewer intense tropical cyclones over the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico when sunspot numbers are high. The finding is in accord with the heat-engine theory of hurricanes that predicts a reduction in the maximum potential intensity with a warming in the layer near the top of the hurricane. An active sun warms the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere through ozone absorption of additional ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Since the dissipation of the hurricane's energy occurs through ocean mixing and atmospheric transport, tropical cyclones can act to amplify the effect of r elatively small changes in the sun's output thereby appreciably altering the climate. Results have implications for life and property throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and portions of the United States.


Hockey Stick? What Hockey Stick?

Written by the Right Honourable The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

An extraordinary series of postings at, the deservedly well trafficked website of the courageous and tenacious Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre, is a remarkable indictment of the corruption and cynicism that is rife among the alarmist climate scientists favored by the UN's discredited climate panel, the IPCC. In laymen's language, the present paper respectfully summarizes Dr. McIntyre's account of the systematically dishonest manner in which the "hockey-stick" graph falsely showing that today's temperatures are warmer than those that prevailed during the medieval climate optimum was fabricated in 1998/9, adopted as the poster-child of climate panic by the IPCC in its 2001 climate assessment, and then retained in its 2007 assessment report despite having been demolished in the scientific literature. It is a long tale, but well worth following. No one who reads it will ever again trust the IPCC or the "scientists" and environmental extremists who author its climate assessments.

Source. Full report here (PDF)

Another Australian climate skeptic

Dangerous human-caused warming can neither be demonstrated nor measured

By Physicist Dr. John Nicol, Chairman, Australia Climate Science Coalition, former Senior Lecturer in Physics at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.

There is no evidence, neither empirical nor theoretical, that carbon dioxide emissions from industrial and other human activities can have any effect on global climate. In addition, the claims so often made that there is a consensus among climate scientists that global warming is the result of increased man-made emissions of CO2, has no basis in fact. The results of accurate measurements of global temperatures continue to be analysed by the international laboratories, now with 30 years experience in this process while a large number of scientists continue to perform high quality research. The results of these activities clearly demonstrate a wide range of errors in the IPCC projections.

Among the more obvious of these errors was the prediction of global warming expected by modelling of climate for the last three years. The actual measurements of global cooling in 2007/2008, flew directly in the face of these IPCC models. It would be difficult to find a more definitive illustration of an experimental error.

However, the claim of a consensus continues to be used in efforts to attract attention away from the lack of verifiable evidence, in a final desperate attempt to support the hypothesis that anthropogenic carbon dioxide is responsible for global warming. In the past, verifiable and reproducible evidence was required before acknowledgement of a scientific truth. In regard to global warming, this principle has been replaced by a process involving a majority vote.

The fundamental requirement of reproducible evidence, has been lost in the process of promulgating the messages regarding the output from the experimental computer models providing suggestions of global warming for the IPCC reports. No two of these 23 models provide the same values of temperature - the results are not reproducible.

That human-caused global climate change is so small that it cannot yet be differentiated from natural changes, has not been accepted. Rather our governments are being subjected to calls to provide policies based on unsubstantiated assertions of largely non-scientific executives of the IPCC, who ignore the uncertainties expressed in the main scientific reports of the International Panel. Evidence that no changes have been observed in Monsoonal activity, snow in the Himalayas, the rate of glacial retreat and the rise of sea level is conveniently ignored or presented as perceived evidence of "change". Alarming reports are presented of the many natural processes of glacial cracking, ponding of water in the Arctic Ice and the common and repetitive droughts in the drier continents of Australia, America and Africa while insufficient attention is given to the many benefits of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, which forms the basis for plant growth through photosynthesis.

In summary, the future global and local climate is as uncertain as it has always been. Multi-decadal warming, cooling trends and abrupt changes, will continue to occur. Appropriate climate related policies are needed that, first, closely monitor change; and, secondly, respond and adapt to deleterious climatic events in the same way that we already approach hazardous natural events such as droughts, storms and earthquakes. Measures include appropriate mitigation of undesirable socio-economic effects and other economic stresses resulting from changes of the world's climate.

The best scientific advice available at present is to "Follow the Sun".

Adaptation to climate change will not be aided by imprudent restructuring of the world's energy economy in pursuit of the mitigation of an alleged "dangerous human-caused warming" that can neither be demonstrated nor measured.



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Actve said...

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and encourage your readers to use the
Energy Environment Forum !

rob's uncle said...

James Hansen in his own words [Nature Sep 05 2008]:
This week, James Hansen was in London, UK, to testify on behalf of activists who defaced a coal-fired power station in Kent. Geoff Brumfiel caught up with Hansen at a London hotel to find out what has got him all hot and bothered.
Why did you come to testify?
Nothing could be more central to the problem we face with global climate change. If you look at the size of the oil, gas and coal reservoirs you'll see that the oil and gas have enough CO2 to bring us up to a dangerous level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
There's a potential to solve that problem if we phase out coal. If we were to have a moratorium on coal-fired power plants within the next few years, and then phase out the existing ones between 2010 and 2030, then CO2 would peak at something between 400 and 425 parts per million. That leaves a difficult problem, but one that you can solve.
Do you think that leaders like UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown have lived up to their promises on climate change?
It depends on whether they will have a moratorium on coal-fired power. I think that the greenest leaders, like German chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Brown, are saying the right words. But if you look at their actions, emissions are continuing to increase. All of these countries and the United States are planning to build more coal-fired power plants. And if you build more coal-fired power plants, then it is not possible to achieve the goals that they say they are committed to. It's a really simple argument and yet they won't face up to it.
So do you think that these activists were justified in doing what they did?
The activists drawing attention to the issue seems to me as justified. You should try to do things through the democratic process, but we really are getting to an emergency situation. We can't continue to build more coal-fired power plants that do not capture CO2 if we hope to solve the problem.
We need to get energy from somewhere. So if we're not getting it from coal, then where?
The first thing we should do is focus on energy efficiency. The fact that utilities make more money by selling more energy is a big problem. We have to change those rules. Then there is renewable energy — in order to be able to fully exploit renewable energy, we need better electric grids. So those should be the first things, but I think that we also need to look at next-generation nuclear power.
Some have said you are hypocritical for flying all the way from the US to the UK just to testify. How do you respond?
I like to travel as little as possible, not only because it uses less CO2 but because I prefer to do science. But sometimes there are things which are sufficiently important that I think it makes sense.
What do you think the roll of the scientist should be in the broader societal debate on climate change?
I think it would be irresponsible not to speak out. There is a clear gap between what is understood by the relevant scientific community and what is known by the public, and we have to try and close that gap. If we don't do something in the very near future, we're going to create a situation for our children and grandchildren that is out of control.