Sunday, June 16, 2013

Met Office withdraws article about Marcott's hockey stick

The Met Office's My Climate and Me website has removed a blog post about the Marcott Hockey Stick:

    "We previously posted an article entitled “New analysis suggests the Earth is warming at a rate unprecedented for 11,300 years” covering the paper by Marcott et al in Nature. The title of our article drew on the original press release for the paper.  However, we note that authors of the paper have since issued an extensive response to media coverage  which includes the following statement:

    "Q: Is the rate of global temperature rise over the last 100 years faster than at any time during the past 11,300 years?

    A: Our study did not directly address this question because the paleotemperature records used in our study have a temporal resolution of ~120 years on average, which precludes us from examining variations in rates of change occurring within a century. Other factors also contribute to smoothing the proxy temperature signals contained in many of the records we used, such as organisms burrowing through deep-sea mud, and chronological uncertainties in the proxy records that tend to smooth the signals when compositing them into a globally averaged reconstruction. We showed that no temperature variability is preserved in our reconstruction at cycles shorter than 300 years, 50% is preserved at 1000-year time scales, and nearly all is preserved at 2000-year periods and longer. Our Monte-Carlo analysis accounts for these sources of uncertainty to yield a robust (albeit smoothed) global record. Any small “upticks” or “downticks” in temperature that last less than several hundred years in our compilation of paleoclimate data are probably not robust, as stated in the paper"

    In the light of this statement from the authors, we no longer consider our headline to be appropriate.


Madness of the Met Office Summit meeting to find out why Britain's  weather is... normal

As of lunchtime yesterday, the Met Office wasn’t at all sure how Britain’s weather would turn out today. According to a spokesman, some of its computer models were predicting ‘a rather miserable day for some southern areas’. Others, however, suggested it would be ‘fine and bright’.  ‘Sometimes the atmosphere can provide a real challenge for forecasters,’ the spokesman admitted wearily.

The problem right now, apparently, is a phenomenon known as a ‘trough disruption’, a common type of westerly weather whose course both computers and human beings find hard to predict.

Still, the signs were that by the end of the week, temperatures would be normal for June, at about 20C. Looking further ahead, there were likely to be both some downpours and some nice, sunny days.

‘It’s what you’d term typically British weather and far from a wash-out,’ the spokesman concluded, adding that although summer only began officially on June 1, so far it has been relatively warm, a few cool days last week notwithstanding.

Pinch yourself. This deserves a headline: ‘Met Office shock announcement: Britain’s weather is normal.’

This is, of course, the same Met Office that next week is set to host what some have termed an ‘unprecedented’ meeting of climate scientists, an attempt to ‘brainstorm’ whether the ‘extreme weather’ of the past few years has been caused by ‘climate change’.

The cold winter and spring of 2013, the bitter winter of 2010, the floods of 2012 and the disappointing summers of the past seven years – all are up for discussion, together with their supposed origins.

No mention, you may notice, of the droughts and heatwaves we were once told to brace ourselves for as a consequence of what used to be termed global warming.

Then, as an analysis last week demonstrated, the period without a statistically significant increase in global average temperatures has now reached 17 years four months.

Small wonder that the nature of the world’s impending doom has had to be rebranded. At least the Met Office has the intelligence to realise that the forecasts of tropical diseases becoming endemic in England, which used to feature frequently in certain newspapers, currently look wide of the mark. But attributing every kind of weather to climate change can also be unconvincing.

 Last week yet another round of UN climate talks broke up without (as usual) an agreement on how to limit emissions of carbon dioxide. They took place in Bonn, which, like Britain, was enduring a chilly spell.

‘Winter has been extended,’ explained a delegate from the Cook Islands. ‘It’s supposed to be really hot, but it’s not, because global warming is happening right now.’

Looking back to one’s childhood, it’s easy to recall a succession of golden summer days and fool oneself into thinking this was then the norm.

Indeed, occasionally they actually happened: the summer of 1976 was pretty hot, with a drought from May to September. But I also remember 1973, when the Snowdonia summer camp I was attending was hit by a six-day deluge, which forced us to strike our flooded tents and seek refuge in a barn.

The truth, revealed by the hard data of temperature and rainfall records, is that hot, golden British summers have always been the exception, and neither rainfall nor average temperatures have shown much change for several centuries.

Paul Homewood, a retired accountant turned climate historian, is an assiduous student of the Central England Temperature Record, the world’s longest continuous series of accurate readings. His graph, shown here, of the five-year running average going back to 1660 demonstrates that while the summers since 2006 have indeed got cooler, such short-term trends have happened many times before.

In January, the Met Office claimed that 2012 was the second wettest year on record, behind only 2000 – prompting claims that this must surely be evidence of climate change. However, as Mr Homewood points out, while records for the whole UK go back only to 1910, there are England and Wales figures that date from 1766, and they reveal that the wettest year was actually 1872, followed by 1767.

As for long-term trends, there have been many decades as wet or wetter than the supposedly ‘extreme’ conditions experienced recently. It’s just that the period 1965 to 2000 was unusually dry, and so we’re less used to them.

‘This is a part of the world in which climate change is pretty hard to quantify,’ Professor Myles Allen, head of Oxford University’s climate research network, said yesterday.

We are an island between an ocean and a continent, which also benefits from the Gulf Stream. As the Met Office was admitting, the UK’s location means that reliably predicting weather just 24 hours ahead can be impossible.

Centuries ago, when astronomers found it hard to square their observations with the then-orthodox theory that the Earth lay at the centre of the universe, they invented the concept of ‘epicycles’, convoluted wobbles and twists that supposedly accounted for such discrepancies.

Citing some cold British winters and unsettled summers as evidence of climate change has about as much credibility. I suppose we should be thankful that unlike the bogus epicycles, such efforts are not, as yet, being enforced by the Inquisition.


12 good reasons to scrap Britain's Met Office

By James Delingpole

I love the Met Office, as you know.  That's why, I can't resist celebrating this compendium of its achievements prepared by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Whenever it's criticised, the Met Office like nothing better than to have its extensive PR operation (funded with the help of the £200 million we pay the Met Office each year out of our taxes) go into extreme denial mode, knowing that its mendacious, straw-man-filled defence will be reported uncritically everywhere from the BBC and the Guardian to the New Statesman.

So, Met Office Reality Denial Machine: get weaving with this lot…

*   The Met Office’s temperature forecasts issued in 12 out of the last 13 years have been too warm. None of the forecasts issued ended up too cold. That makes the errors systemic and significant.

*    Met Office To Hold Summit On Disappointing (sic) UK Weather

*    The Guardian, 14 June 2013: Climate scientists and meteorologists are meeting next week to debate the causes of UK’s disappointing weather in recent years.

*    Washout summers. Flash floods. Freezing winters. Snow in May. Droughts. There is a growing sense that something is happening to our weather. But is it simply down to natural variability, or is climate change to blame?

*    To try to answer the question the Met Office is hosting an unprecedented meeting of climate scientists and meteorologists next week to debate the possible causes of the UK’s “disappointing” weather over recent years, the Guardian has learned.

*    Met Office 2008 Forecast: Trend of Mild Winters Continues

*    Met Office, 25 September 2008: The Met Office forecast for the coming winter suggests it is, once again, likely to be milder than average. It is also likely that the coming winter will be drier than last year.

 *   Reality Check: Winter of 2008/09 Coldest Winter For A Decade

*   Met Office, March 2009: Mean temperatures over the UK were 1.1 °C below the 1971-2000 average during December, 0.5 °C below average during January and 0.2 °C above average during February. The UK mean temperature for the winter was 3.2 °C, which is 0.5 °C below average, making it the coldest winter since 1996/97 (also 3.2 °C).

*    Met Office 2009 Forecast: Trend To Milder Winters To Continue, Snow And Frost Becoming Less Of A Feature

*    Met Office, 25 February 2009: Peter Stott, Climate Scientist at the Met Office, said: “Despite the cold winter this year, the trend to milder and wetter winters is expected to continue, with snow and frost becoming less of a feature in the future. “The famously cold winter of 1962/63 is now expected to occur about once every 1,000 years or more, compared with approximately every 100 to 200 years before 1850.”

*   Reality Check: Winter Of 2009/10 Coldest Winter For Over 30 Years

*   Met Office, 1 March 2010: Provisional figures from the Met Office show that the UK winter has been the coldest since 1978/79. The mean UK temperature was 1.5 °C, the lowest since 1978/79 when it was 1.2 °C.

*    Met Office 2010 Forecast: Winter To Be Mild Predicts Met Office

*    Daily Express, 28 October 2010: IT’S a prediction that means this may be time to dig out the snow chains and thermal underwear.

*  The Met Office, using data generated by a £33million supercomputer, claims Britain can stop worrying about a big freeze this year because we could be in for a milder winter than in past years… The new figures, which show a 60 per cent to 80 per cent chance of warmer-than-average temperatures this winter, were ridiculed last night by independent forecasters. The latest data comes in the form of a December to February temperature map on the Met Office’s website.

*    Reality Check: December 2010 “Almost Certain” To Be Coldest Since Records Began

*   The Independent, 18 December 2010: December 2010 is “almost certain” to be the coldest since records began in 1910, according to the Met Office.

*    Met Office Predicted A Warm Winter. Cheers Guys

*    John Walsh, The Independent, 19 January 2010: Some climatologists hint that the Office’s problem is political; its computer model of future weather behaviour habitually feeds in government-backed assumptions about climate change that aren’t borne out by the facts. To the Met Office, the weather’s always warmer than it really is, because it’s expecting it to be, because it expects climate change to wreak its stealthy havoc. If it really has had its thumb on the scales for the last decade, I’m afraid it deserves to be shown the door.

*    BBC Analysis: A Frozen Britain Turns The Heat Up On The Met Office

*    Paul Hudson, BBC Weather, 9 January 2010: Which begs other, rather important questions. Could the model, seemingly with an inability to predict colder seasons, have developed a warm bias, after such a long period of milder than average years? Experts I have spoken to tell me that this certainly is possible with such computer models. And if this is the case, what are the implications for the Hadley centre’s predictions for future global temperatures? Could they be affected by such a warm bias? If global temperatures were to fall in years to come would the computer model be capable of forecasting this?

*    A Period Of Humility And Silence Would Be Best For Met Office

*    Dominic Lawson, The Sunday Times, 10 January 2010: A period of humility and even silence would be particularly welcome from the Met Office, our leading institutional advocate of the perils of man-made global warming, which had promised a “barbecue summer” in 2009 and one of the “warmest winters on record”. In fact, the Met still asserts we are in the midst of an unusually warm winter — as one of its staffers sniffily protested in an internet posting to a newspaper last week: “This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”

*    Met Office 2012 Forecast: Drier than average conditions for April-May-June

*    Met Office 3-month Outlook, 23 March 2012: “The forecast for average UK rainfall slightly favours drier-than-average conditions for April-May-June as a whole, and also slightly favours April being the driest of the 3 months. With this forecast, the water resources situation in southern, eastern and central England is likely to deteriorate further during the April-May-June period… This forecast is based on information from observations, several numerical models and expert judgement.”

 *   Reality Check: Wettest April for 100 years

*  April: 2012 had wettest April for 100 years, Met Office says “It has been the wettest April in the UK for over 100 years, with some areas seeing three times their usual average, figures from the Met Office show. Some 121.8mm of rain has fallen, beating the previous record of 120.3mm which was set in 2000.”

*    June: June on course to be wettest in a century: Flooding, storms and persistent showers have blighted the country in recent weeks putting this June in line to become one of the soggiest in 100 years.

*    25 June: Spring is wettest in Britain for 250 years – England and Wales are on course for the wettest late spring and early summer for 250 years, experts said yesterday. June has just seen its fourth washout weekend and yet more downpours are forecast. Now it is feared combined rainfall for April, May and June will break the record of 13.2in (336mm) set in 1782 and be the highest since records began in 1766.

*    Met Office 2013 Forecast: Feb-March Above-Average UK Temps More Likely

*    Met Office, 20 December 2012: For February and March the range of possible outcomes is also very broad, although above-average UK-mean temperatures become more likely.

*   Reality Check: Met Office confirms coldest March in more than 50 years

*    Press Association, 29 March 2013: This March is the coldest in the UK since 1962, forecasters have confirmed. After weeks of speculation about whether this miserable March would top the list, the Met Office has announced it is the coldest in 51 years according to provisional statistic.

*    Paul Hudson: Met Office global forecasts too warm in 11 out of last 12 years

*   Paul Hudson, BBC Weather, 10 February 2012: Although this discrepancy is within the stated margin of error, it is the 11th year out of the last 12 when the Met Office global temperature forecast has been too warm.  In all these years, the discrepancy between observed temperatures and the forecast are within the stated margin of error. But all the errors are on the warm side, with none of the forecasts that have been issued in the last 12 years ending up too cold.  And, in my opinion, that makes the error significant.

*    Martin Rosenbaum: The Met Office and its seasonal problems
    BBC Open Secrets, 23 December 2010

    As Britain remains cold and snowy, an interesting little dispute has boiled up between the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and the Met Office over the quality of longer-range weather forecasting.

    And this is illuminated by documents obtained by the BBC under freedom of information from the Met Office. These shed new light on the problems faced by the Met Office in its public communications and the strategies it has adopted for tackling them.

    The Met Office is under attack from the GWPF, for its “poor advice” on the likelihood of a harsh and cold winter.

    The GWPF is drawing attention to a map published on the Met Office website in October which indicated that the UK was likely to experience above-normal temperatures in the ensuing three-month period.

    For the GPWF, which is sceptical of the Met Office and other mainstream analysis of global warming, this is evidence of a Met Office tendency to under-predict cold weather and over-predict mild winters…..


More Green fraud

A peer caught up in a lobbying scandal is facing more embarrassing questions over claims that he was paid to host a reception costing £25,000 at Westminster on behalf of a green firm now under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

Lord Laird, who was recorded by undercover reporters apparently agreeing to lobby Ministers in return for money, organised the House of Lords event to promote the Sustainable Growth Group.

Its founder and chairman, British businessman Gregg Fryett, is in prison in Cambodia after being arrested by anti-corruption police.

The Ulster Unionist peer, who resigned the party whip earlier this month in the wake of the ‘cash-for-questions’ sting by the BBC’s Panorama, delivered a speech to more than 100 guests at the four-course dinner in 2011. The party later assembled on the House of Commons Terrace to sip champagne.

 Mr Fryett, founder and chairman of Sustainable Growth Group, is now in prison in Cambodia after being arrested by anti-corruption police

Praising Mr Fryett in extravagant language, Lord Laird said his vision of a world less dependent on harmful sources of energy was truly exciting.

‘We’re on the cusp of a sustainable evolution greater than the industrial revolution of the 19th Century and the digital revolution of the 20th Century,’ he told assembled guests.

However, a Mail on Sunday investigation, has discovered that the reality was shockingly different for up to 1,200 private individuals, many of whom were persuaded by independent financial advisers to unlock their pensions and move the money into eco-energy schemes run by Mr Fryett in South-East Asia.

Mr Fryett, 47, who is originally from Torquay, has lived in Thailand for several years. He was arrested in March by Cambodian investigators as he tried to resolve problems over land ownership rights. He has since been held in the tough Prey Sar Prison  on the outskirts of the capital Phnom Penh

Solicitor Gareth Fatchett, who represents about 900 investors who fear they may have lost their savings, said: ‘These were ordinary people who were sold a dream of making a modest profit while saving the planet.’

The sums invested range from £30,000 to £400,000, according to Mr Fatchett. Total losses could be as high as £32million.

Another of Mr Fryett’s companies, Sustainable Wealth Investments UK, which marketed ecological investment schemes, invited Lord Laird to chair its oversight committee, which was responsible for ensuring ‘the highest standards of governance and professionalism’ in the firm’s dealings with the public.

Mr Fryett said yesterday that Lord Laird had sought a retainer of £3,000 a month to take on the role.

Speaking yesterday in the Cambodian jail where he has been held for the past three months, Mr Fryett said he fell out with Lord Laird when the peer allegedly asked Sustainable Growth Group to lend £100,000 to Christopher Knight, an American business associate who earlier this year was revealed to be a registered sex offender in Florida.

The invitation to chair the committee was withdrawn because of a disagreement over the decision to lend money to Mr Knight and the retainer was never paid.

At the heart of the investment opportunity endorsed by Lord Laird at the House of Lords lunch was an obscure plant called jatropha.

It was initially hailed by environmentalists as a source of a revolutionary bio-fuel and Virgin Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson once suggested that jatropha could make the high-polluting aviation industry more eco-friendly.

However, it is now seen as having limited potential.  Enthusiasm for it dimmed when the respected New Scientist journal calculated that an area twice the size of France would be needed to grow enough of the shrub to power the world’s airline fleet.

The Sustainable Growth Group went into liquidation in February 2012 and the 15,000-acre site in Cambodia set aside for jatropha cultivation was abandoned.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday at the jail yesterday, the divorced father of two, who insists he is an innocent victim of corruption, said his company hired Lord Laird to organise the parliamentary reception.  ‘His role was to facilitate the use of the House of Lords,’ said Mr Fryett, who is suffering from suspected tuberculosis and has lost about 2.5st in prison, where he shares a 19ft long cell with more than 20 other inmates.

‘Lord Laird was paid as a speaker. I don’t know how much money he got because my colleagues organised that side of things.’

‘When we started getting issues with Christopher Knight we stood that down [the invitation to Lord Laird to chair the oversight committee]. We had agreed a fee with Lord Laird but I am not sure if we paid him anything.’

Since his arrest Mr Fryett has had no communication with the peer.

Mr Fryett accused the SFO of being overzealous in its investigation and claimed his business would have made a healthy profit if it had been given time to grow. ‘We would have been on the US Stock Exchange. If I was corrupt, I would be on a yacht in the Bahamas rather than in jail after coming back here to Cambodia to fight for the investors.’

This newspaper has also established that Lord Laird collaborated with Mr Fryett in a proposed scheme that involved trading carbon credits with indigenous communities in the Philippines.

The peer wrote on official House of Lords notepaper to the queen of the Manobo tribe two years ago.

Under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol on environmental protection, developing countries can ‘earn’ carbon credits and then trade them with Western companies.  A carbon credit is defined as a certificate representing the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide.

The forests of the Philippines soak up vast quantities of CO2. This gives the Manobo tribe a valuable ‘bank’ of carbon credits.

Mr Fryett and Lord Laird are understood to have sought to acquire the right to sell some of these credits to overseas investors.

In return, the tribe would be given a proportion of the profits. Tribal leaders withdrew from negotiations, concluding that a deal would not be in their interests.

A Serious Fraud Office spokesman said this week: ‘Our investigation is ongoing. No one has been charged.’

Mr Whale, who now works as an environmental consultant, confirmed that Lord Laird had been the intermediary in arranging the loan to Mr Knight, which he said had been approved by Mr Fryett.

Mr Fryett’s UK lawyer has said his client went to Cambodia after receiving assurances from authorities that he would be treated as a victim of land fraud, not a suspect.

Panorama reporters, posing as lobbyists for a fake company, recorded Lord Laird apparently setting out ways he could press for new laws on behalf of a South Korean solar power firm.

He has denied wrong-doing and his conduct is now being investigated by the parliamentary standards watchdog.


True cost of Britain's wind farm industry revealed

Every job in Britain’s wind farm industry is effectively subsidised to the extent of £100,000 per year

A new analysis of government and industry figures shows that wind turbine owners received £1.2billion in the form of a consumer subsidy, paid by a supplement on electricity bills last year. They employed 12,000 people, to produce an effective £100,000 subsidy on each job.

The disclosure is potentially embarrassing for the wind industry, which claims it is an economically dynamic sector that creates jobs. It was described by critics as proof the sector was not economically viable, with one calling it evidence of “soft jobs” that depended on the taxpayer.

The subsidy was disclosed in a new analysis of official figures, which showed that:

* The level of support from subsidies in some cases is so high that jobs are effectively supported to the extent of £1.3million each;

* In Scotland, which has 203 onshore wind farms — more than anywhere else in the UK — just 2,235 people are directly employed to work on them despite an annual subsidy of £344million. That works out at £154,000 per job;

* Even if the maximum number of jobs that have been forecast are created, by 2020 the effective subsidy on them would be £80,000 a year.

One source, who owns several wind farms, and did not wish to be named, said: “Anybody trying to justify subsidies on the basis of jobs created is talking nonsense. Wind farms are not labour intensive.”

There has been mounting controversy about the value of both onshore and offshore wind farms, with discontent among back-bench Conservative MPs.

The industry’s trade body, Renewable UK, has campaigned to promote the method of electricity generation as a way to create jobs. It states on its website that: “We aim to create thousands of jobs across a wide range of business sectors.”

It says the industry currently employs 12,000 people and “is set to employ up to 90,000 people by 2020”.

The promise of future jobs is dependent on the building of large-scale wind farms at sea and the construction of factories in Britain to manufacture the turbines, which are currently almost all built abroad.

Industry figures show that for the 12 months to the end of February, the latest period for which figures are available, slightly more than £1.2billion was paid through the consumer subsidy — known as the Renewables Obligation.

It was introduced by Labour to encourage investment and is added to all energy bills, meaning that besides households, industry and employers also pay, adding to the cost of all goods and services.

According to the Renewable Energy Foundation, a think tank that has criticised the cost of wind farms, it currently adds about £47 to the average household’s cost of living.

They say the total subsidy is likely to rise to £6billion by 2020 if the Government meets its target of providing 15 per cent of energy needs from renewable energy.

The industry’s projection is that by 2020 it will create up to 75,000 jobs — an effective subsidy of £80,000 a year — but failing to reach that figure will raise the effective subsidy.

The foundation claims that the subsidy will actually cost jobs because businesses will relocate abroad — or close — to save on energy bills.

Households will also have less disposable income because more money will go to pay fuel bills.

Among the examples of extremely high subsidies effectively for job creation is Greater Gabbard, a scheme of 140 turbines 12 miles off the Suffolk coast.

It received £129million in consumer subsidy in the 12 months to the end of February, double the £65million it received for the electricity it produced. It employs 100 people at its headquarters in Lowestoft, receiving, in effect, £1.3million for every member of staff.

Iwan Tukalo, general manager of Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Limited, which is co-owned by SSE and RWE, said building the farm was a £1.5billion investment in British infrastructure.

He added that “as well as supporting significant local employment during the four-year construction period”, 95 per cent of its permanent employees were local people.

The London Array, Britain’s biggest wind farm, with 175 turbines, employs 90 people at its base in Ramsgate, Kent. The array, which is 12 miles offshore, became fully operational in the spring. The foundation predicts its Renewables Obligation subsidy in its first year of full operation will be £160million — effectively £1.77million per job.

In Scotland, Fergus Ewing, the devolved government’s energy minister, published figures earlier this year showing that 2,235 jobs were “connected directly to onshore wind”. There are 203 wind farms across Scotland, and the scale of Renewables Obligation support means each post is underwritten by £154,000.

Wind farms are controversial not only because of the cost, but also because of claims that the turbines, which can be more than 400ft high, are ruining the countryside. Campaigners have said the planning system remains loaded in favour of developers and that too little of the countryside is protected from their spread.

Earlier this month David Cameron signalled that local people would have more say over wind farms in their areas. Developers would have to offer much greater compensation for building them, and planners will be compelled to take into account their visual impact and the views of locals.

But energy firms will be able to offer incentives, including lower power bills for local people, in return for planning permission, which critics say amount to “bribes”.

Campaigners also warn that turbines do not generate power when the wind is too low or too high, and cannot store it, meaning conventional generation is needed as a backup.

Dr John Constable, director of Renewable Energy Foundation, said: “Subsidies can create some soft jobs in the wind power industry but will destroy real jobs and reduce wages in other sectors, in the UK’s case because the subsidies cause higher electricity prices for industrial and commercial consumers. The extravagant subsidy cost per wind power job is an indication of the scale of that problem.”

He added: “Truly productive energy industries — gas, coal, oil, for example — create jobs indirectly by providing cheap energy that allows other businesses to prosper, but the subsidy-dependent renewables sector is a long way from this goal; it’s still much too expensive.”

There is even doubt within the wind industry that job creation projections can be met. Last week, Renewable UK issued a 64-page report urging the Government to “agree a long-term vision” for offshore wind or see jobs created on the Continent.

An Energy Bill, currently before Parliament, is the subject of wrangling over prices for renewable energy for the next 20 years. The wind industry says that without price and subsidy guarantees, a “green collar” jobs boom will not materialise.

Manufacturers are warning that some planned wind turbine factories are under threat without the price guarantees.

Gamesa, a Spanish company which had promised to open a factory in Leith in Scotland, said a lack of certainty was hampering its plans, while Siemens said it needed pricing guarantees before building a turbine factory in Hull.

Robert Norris, Renewable UK’s spokesman, said: “Parents are wondering where their children will find work in the future; the answer is in the renewable energy sector.

“Our studies show that by 2021, more than 76,000 people will be working in the British wind industry in full-time, well-paid green-collar jobs.

“In the last financial year we attracted private investment of £2.5billion, proving that the wind industry is an engine for growth at a time when other sectors are struggling.”


Radical Environmentalists Should Mind Their Own Business

Typically environmental organizations target consumers with overwrought warnings of how some everyday product or activity is destroying the world and threatening their health. Yet now, activists are turning their targets toward major retailers. These companies should reject these scare tactics, which will harm not only their businesses, but consumers too.

The “Mind the Store” campaign, the latest initiative of a radical environmental organization, pressures the nation’s top ten largest retailers to remove products from store shelves that contain, in any amount, a list of one hundred chemicals the organization deems hazardous. Following the alarmism playbook, the organization claims these chemicals are linked to a variety of frightening health problems like hormone disruption, cancer, and birth defects despite the overwhelming body of scientific evidence to the contrary.

Alarmism about chemicals is nothing new. Environmental groups have long disseminated their exaggerated claims through the media to consumers in the hopes that Americans would be scared into altering their purchasing habits and would start demanding chemical-free products.

This strategy had some success. Bisphenol-A, a chemical used to make plastics more durable and to prevent bacterial contamination in canned food, is no longer used in certain products. Why? Not because BPA is unsafe—it has been used in products for over 60 years and has been declared safe by every major international health agency—but because faced with myriad looming state and local bans and restrictions on the chemical, manufacturers actually asked the FDA to ban its use in certain baby products. From the manufacturers’ standpoint, it’s far easier to face one outright ban of even this useful, perfectly safe and reliable chemical, than to try to comply with thousands of regulations.

Yet, in this sluggish economy, environmental groups have found that fear mongering is less effective than it once was. Americans appear less willing to pay more for products based on flimsy science. Consequently, these groups turned their attention to the retailers--demanding retailers stop offering certain products. The logic goes: if we can’t scare consumers into behaving, we’ll take away their choices.

Americans who assume such groups are harmless distractions might be shocked to learn what compliance with the “Mind the Store” campaign actually means. Thousands of common items would be removed from store shelves and would become hard to find. In their place will be higher priced alternatives which at best don’t work as well and spoil easily, and at worst cause an uptick in food borne illnesses, skin irritations, and other infections as food and many other products are left vulnerable to dangerous bacteria.

Sure, ultimately alternative, chemical-free products might improve in price and quality as they compete for market-share, but it’s worth asking: will manufacturers be interested in developing new products when they might be targeted by similar campaigns in the future? And how long will this overhaul take? Likely years, considering the hoops through which manufacturers have to jump to bring new products to market. Meanwhile, people will be forced to pay more to use inferior products.

That’s a fact often lost in the conversation about chemicals. Organizations vilify them, and suggest that their benefits are negligible and use is unnecessary. Yet these chemicals actually make products better, safer, more durable, longer lasting, and a lot more affordable—which is why they became so widespread in the first place.

For instance, among the chemicals the campaign wants removed are phthalates, formaldehyde, and certain flame retardants. While the anti-chemical activists will tell you those hard-to-pronounce words are just harmful additives, the truth is phthalates are added to plastics to make toys less breakable, and therefore, less harmful to children. That’s important to parents who worry their children could choke on shards of a broken plastic toy. Flame retardants, which are now common in furniture and building materials, are largely responsible for the sharp decline in household fires since the 1970s. Formaldehyde, which is used in personal care products, helps prevent bacterial growth.

Consumers who want to purchase products free of certain chemicals are able to do so since there is no shortage of alternative products already in the marketplace. Yet, consumers deserve other options too: the option to make use of the most-advanced new technologies and substances, which have typically been subject to aggressive government oversight and testing.

Consumers may not be the direct targets of the “Mind the Store” campaign, but they have a lot at stake. They should encourage stores to reject the radical environmentalists’ strong arm tactics and tell those groups to mind their own business.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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