Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Green Britain faces blackouts

BRITAIN faces years of blackouts and soaring electricity bills because of the drive toward green power, a leading energy expert warned last night. A growing obsession with global warming and “renewable” sources threatens the stability of our supply.

Derek Birkett, a former Grid Control Engineer who has a lifetime’s experience in electricity supply throughout Britain, warned that the cost of the crisis could match that of the recent banking collapse.

And he claimed that renewable energy expectations were now nothing more than “dangerous illusions” which would hit consumers hard in the pocket. “We are going to pay a very heavy price for the fact there has been a catalogue of neglect by the former Government which has focused on renewable energy sources,” Mr Birkett said.

“We need a mix of sources and this takes time. Renewables have the problem of being intermittent, particularly wind, and we need more back-up capacity. By having all our sources in one basket we are risking disruption.

“There is a lot of over-enthusiasm by governments to push global warming, which makes me very suspicious.” Less than five per cent of our energy comes from renewable sources but the “disproportionate” cost of implementing green technology runs into many millions of pounds, he said.

In a new book, When Will the Lights Go Out, published this month, Mr Birkett claims things will only get worse. He said the “lavish incentives” being offered to developers of green energy are being passed on to customers as the UK struggles to meet EU directives on carbon emissions.

He also warned that a growing reliance on renewable energy is creating widespread uncertainty in the electricity supply chain.

With many nuclear power stations and coal plants ending their lives and being taken out of service we “can’t rule out” people being left without power. The real problem is the cost of making sure this does not happen, and Britain’s lights “do not go out”, he warned.

“The country is going to have to make a choice whether to go along with green ideas of renewable generation or go back to coal and nuclear power.”


Even the New Scientist says that the climategate inquiries were an unconvincing whitewash

Is Climategate finally over? It ought to be, with the publication of the third UK report into the emails leaked from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU). Incredibly, none looked at the quality of the science itself.

The MPs' inquiry - rushed out before the UK general election on 6 May - ducked the science because the university said it was setting up an "independent scientific assessment panel" chaired by geologist Ron Oxburgh.

After publishing his five-page epistle, Oxburgh declared "the science was not the subject of our study". Finally, last week came former civil servant Muir Russell's 150-page report. Like the others, he lambasted the CRU for its secrecy but upheld its integrity - despite declaring his study "was not about... the content or quality of [CRU's] scientific work".

Though the case for action to cut greenhouse gases remains strong, this omission matters. How can we know whether CRU researchers were properly exercising their judgement? Without dipping his toes into the science, how could Russell tell whether they were misusing their power as peer reviewers to reject papers critical of their own research, or keep sceptical research out of reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?

Russell's report was much tougher on data secrecy, finding a "consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness". Key data on matters of public importance - like CRU's assembly of 160 years of global thermometer data - cannot be regarded as private property. Even so, he ought to have joined Oxburgh in calling for greater documentation of the "judgmental decisions" that turned raw data into the graphs of global average temperatures. Data manipulation is the stuff of science, but that manipulation has to be as open and transparent as the data itself.

Russell's team left other stones unturned. They decided against detailed analysis of all the emails in the public domain. They examined just three instances of possible abuse of peer review, and just two cases when CRU researchers may have abused their roles as authors of IPCC reports. There were others. They have not studied hundreds of thousands more unpublished emails from the CRU. Surely openness would require their release.

All this, plus the failure to investigate whether emails were deleted to prevent their release under freedom of information laws, makes it harder to accept Russell's conclusion that the "rigour and honesty" of the scientists concerned "are not in doubt".

Some will argue it is time to leave Climategate behind. But it is difficult to justify the conclusion of Edward Acton, University of East Anglia vice-chancellor, that the CRU has been "completely exonerated". Openness in sharing data, even with your critics, is a legal requirement.

But what happened to intellectual candour - especially in conceding the shortcomings of these inquiries and discussing the way that science is done. Without candour, public trust in climate science cannot be restored, nor should it be.


Commentary on the above doubts here

Scientific malfeasance

Dr. Martin Hertzberg

After a brief respite to digest the “climategate” scandal and the IPCC's negligent acceptance of fraudulent claims about melting Himalayan glaciers, the SDN echo chamber of environmental propaganda has resumed in full form with the Peters-deBuys article of July 17. Such activists are trumpeting the recent spring increase of 0.1 C in average temperature while they completely ignored the previous decade decrease of 0.25 C.

The environmental propagandists are now back on message with their talking points in preparation for the Senate's consideration of an energy bill. The article is right about one thing: namely, that you should look at the data yourself; but not the eco-massaged data they recommend but rather the raw data as summarized in www.climate4you then click on May 2010.

The data show nothing particularly dramatic for the last several decades: temperatures, polar ice coverage, and sea level fluctuations that are all well within the range of normal variability. For more details, see my recent CafĂ© Scientifique talk on and enter “climategate” and “hertzberg” in the search box. The data show that average Earth temperatures do not correlate with the recent increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and that neither of those quantities correlate in any way with the human emission of CO2 by fossil fuel combustion.

The entire theory that “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere can reradiate energy back to the Earth and thus cause more heating, has been proven to violate the laws of thermodynamics, and thus to be completely devoid of physical reality. Acceptance of that theory by some journals, scientific organizations, and government agencies both national and international, represents scientific malfeasance on a grand scale.


New British PM Abandons Labour's Green Spending Spree

DAVID Cameron is to slash spending on green technology but pour hundreds of millions of pounds into charities, voluntary groups and churches, the News of the World can reveal.

The Prime Minister's first pledge after taking over as Conservative Party leader was to slash greenhouse gasses and promote eco-friendly energy.

But he has shelved a £1 billion fund to invest in new British companies using green technology.

The money was supposed to be used by a Green Investment Bank which would plough cash into firms building offshore wind and wave farms, green power stations and other ambitious projects. It would have come from the sale of assets such as the Channel Tunnel rail link and the Port of Dover. Now any cash from any asset sell-offs will go back into government coffers to pay off debts.

Instead, Mr Cameron - whose party's logo is a green tree - will tomorrow reveal plans for a "Big Society Bank". In a speech in the North West, he will say that more than £350million sitting in unused or dormant bank accounts across the country will be used to fund the new ethical bank. The cash will then be handed out in low interest loans to start up community schemes. The Big Society Bank will be up and running within a year.

Mr Cameron's idea involves transferring power away from the state and giving individuals more responsibility.

He wants to cut state spending to help slash Britain's massive deficit. But he will promise these new schemes will ensure vital local projects which have depended on the government for cash will have MORE money to play with.

However, to do that, the PM has had to shelve plans to invest in firms setting up "green jobs." His Labour predecessor Gordon Brown promised to create a million jobs by investing in new green companies. But the money was never there because government borrowing had got so high.

Former Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said: "This development shows that the coalition is abandoning Labour's strategy of backing green industries to create the jobs of the future. "Failing to press ahead with the Green Investment Bank damages our chances of leading the world in the green economy of the future. The short-termist, anti-industry mindset of the 1980s is back."


Bad air in “green” buildings

A bit of dissension from within the Green/Left, it seems

As the “green design” economy grows, consumers tend to equate energy-efficient construction with environmentalism. We assume green buildings are in the interest of both the planet and public health. But a recent dust-up between a nonprofit that certifies energy-efficient buildings and a nonprofit concerned about human health has challenged this easy association, raising questions about the costs of going “green.”

A May report from Connecticut-based Environment and Human Health, Inc., titled “LEED Certification: Where Energy Efficiency Collides with Human Health,” raises concerns about indoor air quality in LEED-certified buildings. A certification of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The report notes that LEED certification offers a total of 110 points in seven categories, and that it’s possible to get the top rating—Platinum—while scoring zero points (out of 15) in “indoor environmental quality.”

The seven LEED categories include energy and atmosphere; sustainable sites; indoor environmental quality; materials and resources; water efficiency; innovation in design; and bonus credits. Of the 110 points, 35 are allocated to energy and atmosphere.

The report also raises questions about the quality of water (not just water efficiency), and the presence of pesticides in the building. It states, “There is no legal requirement to inform occupants about the chemicals that have been applied, their potential health effects, or their rate of dissipation.”

The report recommends remedies to these problems, such as putting more health experts on the USGBC board and requiring that builders earn a minimum number of points in each category.

Scot Horst, senior vice president for LEED at USGBC, said EHHI’s objections seemed based on theory. “In practice,” he said, “it’s very hard to earn a Platinum rating without addressing indoor air quality.”

According to the report, as buildings become “greener,” i.e., tighter and more energy-efficient, the danger of trapping pollutants inside increases. The report’s lead author is John Wargo, a professor of risk analysis and environmental policy at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In an e-mail, he said USGBC certification fails to mandate adequate “ventilation rates.”

“The solution to pollution is not dilution, as the ventilation standards suggest,” Wargo writes. “The true solution is to avoid bringing the hazardous chemicals into the built environment in the first place. “

New Haven has 12 LEED-certified buildings, three of which are Platinum-rated. One of them is 360 State, an upscale apartment building with ground level retail at the edge of downtown scheduled to open later this year. “The [EHHI] report is right on target,” developer Bruce Becker says. “We took indoor air quality very seriously.” He says he spent an additional $100,000 to install wood cabinets and doors that had not been treated with the preservative formaldehyde. “It off-gases and that’s a problem; a green building tends not to breathe as much as traditional buildings. If you have a tight building that doesn’t allow any air movement, it’s poisonous.”

In a June 4 open letter to EHHI, USGBC founder and President S. Richard Fedrizzi wrote, “We could not agree more with the need for serious action on improved indoor air quality. But your report fails to provide a complete picture of how interconnected the built environment and public health truly are.” He then invited EHHI to meet and discuss how the two groups might collaborate.

EHHI accepted the invitation. The meeting will take place on July 22 in one of New Haven’s architectural jewels: the Platinum-LEED-certified Kroon Hall, the new home of Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Regardless of the outcome, Wargo says he plans to continue working “to assure that green buildings are healthy buildings.”


The Green plan to kill your job

Andrew Bolt points out the insane policies of Australia's Green Party -- a grab-bag of just about every nutty Leftist idea ever thought of. Australia's Senate is elected by a form of proportional representation so the Green Party does get some seats there

ONE election result is already clear - and makes this debate about Tony Abbott’s “secret” plans even more brainless. Wake up, people. The Greens will have the balance of power in the Senate.

Labor sealed that deal when it agreed this week to swap preferences with a party that its wiser heads know would devastate the economy if it could. That’s politics, I guess. Winning is all, and to hell with the national interest.

But how grotesquely irresponsible. Labor is helping into power a party that demands we scrap our power stations and close industries that earn us at least $60 billion a year. Oh, and it wants us all to have more holidays, because hard work and making money really sucks.

About 12 per cent of voters say this is just the party for them, and even Labor now says it’s the best of the rest. Yes, that really is how infantile our society, and our politics especially, has become.

But Labor, whose primary vote has been unusually low, says this only because it badly needs Greens preferences to tip it over the line. In exchange, it’s agreed to help the Greens save its own five Senate seats - and to probably win a couple more.

It was already virtually inevitable Labor would win back some Senate seats from the Coalition, which overachieved in 2004, the Mark Latham election. But this deal also kisses goodbye to Victoria’s Family First Senator, Steve Fielding, who lucked his seat in 2004 when Labor absentmindedly preferenced him but will lose it now Labor is steering its second votes to the Greens instead.

That will be all it takes. After this election, no Government will be able to pass a law against the Opposition’s objection without the support of the Greens, and Greens alone.

Never before has this party had so much power - and so much opportunity to finally inflict on us some of the policies that so many innocent voters have treated as a just-dreaming position statement, rather than a deliberate manifesto for the de-industrialisation of our economy and the tribalising of our society.

This now is the real issue: how much of our future did Labor sell off just to get these Greens’ preferences? Never mind this week’s faked scare campaign about what workplace laws Opposition leader Abbott might secretly plan. The hapless schmuck couldn’t get them through a Greens-Labor Senate even if he wanted to.

No, what really needs debate is what the Greens might now demand from a Gillard government in exchange for its vote. And that, in turn, needs journalists especially to at last take seriously this party’s policies.

The truth is that the Greens’ manifesto has not been written down just for a joke or some mood music. It is the serious work of the serious ideological warriors hiding behind Bob Brown’s amiable front.

Vote Greens in this election and you won’t get cuddlier koalas, bigger hugs and cleaner rivers.In fact, you’ll be voting to “transition from coal exports”, which means ending a trade worth $55 billion a year. You’ll be voting to “end ... the mining and export of uranium”, worth another $900 million a year. You’ll be demanding farmers “remove as far as possible” all genetically modified crops, which includes GM cotton worth about $1.3 billion a year.

You’ll be voting to close down many other businesses and industries, including the export of woodchips from old-growth forests, certain kinds of fishing, oil and mineral exploration in parks or wildernesses, and new coal mines of any kind. You’ll even be voting to close the Lucas Heights nuclear facility, even though it actually produces treatments for cancer.

In fact, you’ll be voting for policies deliberately intended to make us poorer. Less industrialised. Or as the Greens’ policy puts it, for a “reduction of Australia’s use of natural resources to a level that is sustainable and socially just”. Whatever that formula means.

Maybe you think it won’t matter if a few industries get shut, as long as the rest make up for this loss of 6 per cent of our national income each year. Maybe you really are that stupid.

But you haven’t heard the rest of the Greens’ policies yet, have you? You see, the Greens also plan to shut the coal-fired power stations that produce 80 per cent of the electricity used to run our homes, factories, offices, hospitals, shops, traffic lights and airports. They not only “oppose the establishment of new coal-fired power stations” - claiming they make the planet dangerously hot - but intend to ban new coal supplies for those we already have. What’s more, they’ll hit our power stations with a new carbon tax to make wicked electricity too expensive for you.

Do you have any idea how many businesses would be driven broke by this green frolic? How many hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost?

Already Labor’s threat to bring in emissions trading some time after 2012 has caused power station operators to cancel half the $18 billion they’d planned a year ago to spend on maintaining the ones they had or building the new power stations we’ll need as we grow bigger and richer. Power shortages now seem certain.

But if you think the Greens must surely have alternative power sources in mind to make up for the 80 per cent they’ll switch off, you’re dreaming. The Greens want to keep Labor’s ban on nuclear power, the most likely alternative and greenest source of base-load power. They even want to scrap government-financed research into carbon capture and storage, which is Labor’s one hope of making coal-fired stations still greenhouse-friendly.

Sure, the Greens do promise to somehow get 30 per cent of our electricity from “renewable” sources within just 10 years, but there’s a small problem. Correction, huge one. We’ve only managed to lift our renewable energy to 6 per cent after all these years of subsidies, and three quarters of that is from hydro-electricity. But guess which party bans any more of these river-killing dams?

So consider. If the Greens get their avowed way, we’ll have huge industries banned, businesses driven broke and power prices driven through the roof, with not enough electricity for what industries will be left.

So with our income slashed to ribbons, what do the Greens propose? Not deep cuts in every government program, but a spending spree to make Kevin Rudd seem a miser. It’s free money for everyone. If you vote for the Greens, you’re voting for an extra week of holidays for all, “mandated shorter standard working hours”, more pay to women workers, higher pay for casuals, and better weekly benefits to students and artists.

More pay for less work, at the mere stroke of a green pen. Isn’t this a darling way to reorganise the economy? What could possibly go wrong?

Too spendthrift, you complain? Wise up, friend. The Greens have barely started. They promise to lift foreign aid to “a minimum of 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2010”, which means an instant rise in handouts of $4 billion a year.

Another $2 billion a year will go to scrap tertiary fees and forgiving all HECS debts. Billions more will go on putting train lines underground and subsidising “green” power.

On and on the spending spirals, as if the Greens are the party for spoiled children using daddy’s credit card, with not the slightest giddy thought of how it’s all going to be paid for.

Oh, excuse me - the Greens do lazily assume that the bill will be covered by hiking corporate taxes, hitting the richer 5 per cent of us with wealth taxes, and slugging air travellers. Show us your costings, Bob. Wouldn’t come within a bull’s roar.

I’d be amazed if after a year of two of this that anyone would want to come to a country that by then would be a smoking hole in the ground. Yet the Greens plan to do their airy best to attract more beggars to their new nation of freeloaders.

Any “asylum seeker” making it here by boat would be freed into the community within 14 days, security checks permitting, and rewarded with instant benefits, medical services and school for the children. These tempting goodies will be offered to “environmental refugees”, too.

Guess to the nearest 10,000 how many people from Third World countries will want to cash in? Guess how many more billions this will cost, and what fresh tensions we’ll import?

By then, though, we’ll have more of our own ethnic tensions than ever, as the Greens divide us into tribes, squabbling over precedent and spoils.

Aborigines will be written into the constitution as having “prior occupation and sovereignty” over this shared land, and will be allowed to “reclaim language, heritage and cultural practices”. Like payback?

The more newly arrived will win the right to have government programs “implemented in languages other than English”, and to have their “cultural and linguistic diversity ... respected”. Like shariah law?

As for our defence ties with the United States, well, phooey to those white capitalist imperialists. The Greens want to close the joint bases here, pull out of the US missile defence program and end the ANZUS treaty. Naturally, many counter-terrorism laws will also be “reformed”. Which means weakened.

There’s not much point in going on, picking out the economic idiocy and social lunacy of a manifesto that would leave us poorer, more divided and more defenceless. The laughing stock of Asia.

It’s all so crazy that you may dismiss it as the idle dreams of homoeopaths in tofu sandals. But a new, militant industrial agenda is also buried in this New Age madness, signalling the arrival in Bob Brown’s party of “watermelon Greens” - green outside and red in, and meaning business big time.

These, like lead NSW candidate Lee Rhiannon, seem Greens more of convenience than faith, using this doctors’ wives party to smuggle in the kind of hard-Left politics that would scare off the voters if they saw it coming under a hammer and sickle.

But be clear: vote for their Greens and you’re voting for a return of union muscle of the most bullying kind. Secret ballots for industrial action would be abolished. Unions would have a formal right to strike, and their victims less right to sue for damages. Union bosses would have more power to barge into your workplace, and to dragoon workers into “industry wide agreements that are union negotiated”.

This is what a vote for the Greens really means. And it’s this party of vandals, tribalists and closet totalitarians that shameless Labor now helps to such threatening influence.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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