Skip to content

Scientists Lose The Plot

November 26, 2014

By Paul Homewood 





It’s at times like this that I am ashamed to be British.


The Telegraph report:


Radical, untested techniques to tackle global warming by reflecting the sun’s rays could have "terrifying" consequences, yet may ultimately be needed to prevent catastrophic climate change, scientists have said.

Three Government-funded research projects released on Wednesday assessed the potential of controversial processes known as “geoengineering” – deliberately interfering with the earth’s climate to reverse global warming.

The two main types involve limiting solar radiation to cool the planet, or sucking carbon dioxide – one of the biggest causes of global warming – back out of the atmosphere.

Dr Matthew Watson of the University of Bristol, one of the scientists behind the research, said that techniques that reflect solar radiation to cool the earth could have “profoundly terrifying” negative consequences by shifting extreme drought and rainfall weather patterns to different regions – for example shifting the arid Saharan desert conditions south over populated areas of Africa.

Some of the techniques could also damage the ozone layer, leaving people at risk of skin cancer, or potentially trigger conflicts amid tensions between those affected by their deployment, the scientists said.

Research by Professor Piers Forster of the University of Leeds found that six mooted techniques for managing solar radiation could all leave billions of people with worse rainfall patterns – whether rainfall or drought – than before.

Yet Dr Watson argued that if the world keeps on its current trajectory toward “catastrophic” global warming by burning fossil fuels, then the techniques may nevertheless need to be used within decades to avert even greater disaster. “There is a point at which not deploying some technologies would be unethical,” he said.


Ok, they say they won’t do anything yet, but to even consider messing with the climate and harming billions of people in the name of a theoretical problem that has totally failed to materialise is, in my opinion, immoral. As for the “current trajectory toward catastrophic warming”, where has this prat been for the last eighteen years?

Climate Catastrophe In The 17thC – Geoffrey Parker In Review

November 26, 2014

By Paul Homewood




I have already reviewed Brian Fagan’s excellent history of the Littler Ice Age, but Don B alerts me to a book published last year by another historian, Geoffrey Parker, Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century.

As the name suggests, this concentrates on the period when the Little Ice Age was at arguably its nadir, the 17thC, and describes how it affected not just Europe, but many other parts of the world.


Amazon’s blurb sets the scene: 


Revolutions, droughts, famines, invasions, wars, regicides – the calamities of the mid-seventeenth century were not only unprecedented, they were agonisingly widespread.  A global crisis extended from England to Japan, and from the Russian Empire to sub-Saharan Africa. North and South America, too, suffered turbulence. The distinguished historian Geoffrey Parker examines first-hand accounts of men and women throughout the world describing what they saw and suffered during a sequence of political, economic and social crises that stretched from 1618 to the 1680s. Parker also deploys scientific evidence concerning climate conditions of the period, and his use of ‘natural’ as well as ‘human’ archives transforms our understanding of the World Crisis. Changes in the prevailing weather patterns during the 1640s and 1650s – longer and harsher winters, and cooler and wetter summers – disrupted growing seasons, causing dearth, malnutrition, and disease, along with more deaths and fewer births. Some contemporaries estimated that one-third of the world died, and much of the surviving historical evidence supports their pessimism.



Amongst these catastrophic events, Parker lists:  


Read more…

CO2 Emissions Rocketing In Oil Sheikdoms

November 25, 2014

By Paul Homewood




When we discuss CO2 emissions, we invariably gravitate to China and India, simply because they are such large emitters, and growing emissions rapidly.

But what about the Arab world?


Many of the Middle Eastern oil producing states are amongst the richest countries on earth, on a per capita basis. Qatar ranks 3rd richest on the IMF list, while others such as Saudi, Kuwait and the UAE are not far behind.

Yet, incredibly, none of these states were given binding targets under the Kyoto Protocol, being lumped together with poor third world countries in Africa and elsewhere as developing nations.




In the absence of targets, CO2 emissions across the region have rocketed since the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997. Bear in mind, these figures have nothing to do with the production of oil, but simply reflect consumption of energy.


Read more…

Why Does Obama Want To Kill The African Dream?

November 24, 2014

By Paul Homewood   


A reader left this comment on my article China’s New Energy Plan Forecasts Big Rise In CO2 Emissions, which was reposted at WUWT.




Recently, Obama made his grandstanding-Obama/China deal, effectively allowing China to keep emitting enormous amounts of CO2 in its quest to develop, which is also what India is doing.

Well, here is the $64,000 question everyone should be asking, every day.

The African dream is to develop, and to do so requires cheap reliable fossil fuel energy. But Obama’s policies have put grave restrictions on funding projects in Africa that are linked to fossil fuel energy, insisting such poor countries use expensive unaffordable inefficient renewable energy. So why is Obama quite happy to allow China (and India) to develop, yet at the same time he is happy to kill the African dream?



I really can’t add anything to that.

The UK Clean Air Act & Black Smoke

November 24, 2014

By Paul Homewood




While we’re on the topic of power station smokestacks, it is worth noting that the UK has a Clean Air Act, originally introduced in 1956.


The latest version, the Clean Air Act 1993, contains this provision:





Read more…

Rainfall Patterns In The South West

November 23, 2014

By Paul Homewood



Whenever wet weather hits England, as often as not it is the South West which bears the brunt of it, as Somerset discovered last winter. But is it actually getting wetter in that part of the country, or is rainfall becoming more extreme?


The Met Office maintain a regional precipitation series, which includes a set for SW England & S Wales, as per this map.


Region definitions for EWP


Using this data, let’s first look at annual trends.




Figure 1


The record annual total of 1395mm was set in 2012, but this was only 3mm more than in 1960. Meanwhile, nothing much seems to be happening to the trend.

The wettest group of years were between 1874 and 1883, when every single year was above 1000mm.


Are we seeing any trends in extreme rainfall patterns though? Let’s first take a look at the wettest months.


Read more…

Smokestacks & Water Vapour

November 23, 2014

By Paul Homewood  






Readers will recall the image of Eggborough power station used by the BBC (top), and a more conventional photo (bottom). But, regardless whether it is black or white, what is that stuff coming out of the smokestack? Surely it must be something nasty?


Well, not really actually. According to Wiki:


Flue-gas emissions from fossil-fuel combustion refers to the combustion-product gas resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.[1] Most fossil fuels are combusted with ambient air (as differentiated from combustion with pure oxygen). Since ambient air contains about 79 volume percent gaseous nitrogen (N2),[2] which is essentially non-combustible, the largest part of the flue gas from most fossil-fuel combustion is uncombusted nitrogen. Carbon dioxide (CO2), the next largest part of flue gas, can be as much as 10−25 volume percent or more of the flue gas. This is closely followed in volume by water vapor (H2O) created by the combustion of the hydrogen in the fuel with atmospheric oxygen. Much of the ‘smoke’ seen pouring from flue gas stacks is this water vapor forming a cloud as it contacts cool air.

A typical flue gas from the combustion of fossil fuels contains very small amounts of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter.[1] The nitrogen oxides are derived from the nitrogen in the ambient air as well as from any nitrogen-containing compounds in the fossil fuel. The sulfur dioxide is derived from any sulfur-containing compounds in the fuels. The particulate matter is composed of very small particles of solid materials and very small liquid droplets which give flue gases their smoky appearance.


It is of interest to note that the total amount of flue gas generated by coal combustion is only 10 percent higher than the flue gas generated by natural-gas combustion.


Bearing in mind that the Large Combustion Plant Directive already puts strict limits on the amount of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and dust particulates that can be emitted, that stuff you see coming out of the chimney is little more than water vapour.

New Study Finds Little Ice Age Was Global

November 22, 2014

By Paul Homewood 


A new study has found that the Little Ice Age was global, rather than just affecting parts of the Northern Hemisphere.


UK researchers show Little Ice Age was global, with implications for current Global Warming

18 November 2014 Gloucestershire, University of


A team of UK researchers has shed new light on the climate of the Little Ice Age, and rekindled debate over the role of the sun in climate change. The new study, which involved detailed scientific examination of a peat bog in southern South America, indicates that the most extreme climate episodes of the Little Ice Age were felt not just in Europe and North America, which is well known, but apparently globally. The research has implications for current concerns over ‘Global Warming’.
Climate sceptics and believers of Global Warming have long argued about whether the Little Ice Age (from c. early 15th to 19th Centuries) was global, its causes, and how much influence the sun has had on global climate, both during the Little Ice Age and in recent decades. This new study helps clarify those debates.
The team of researchers, from the Universities of Gloucestershire, Aberdeen and Plymouth, conducted studies on past climate through detailed laboratory examination of peat from a bog near Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego. They used exactly the same laboratory methods as have been developed for peat bogs in Europe. Two principal techniques were used to reconstruct past climates over the past 3000 years: at close intervals throughout a vertical column of peat, the researchers investigated the degree of peat decomposition, which is directly related to climate, and also examined the peat matrix to reveal the changing amounts of different plants that previously grew on the bog.
The data show that the most extreme cold phases of the Little Ice Age—in the mid-15th and then again in the early 18th centuries—were synchronous in Europe and South America. There is one stark difference: while in continental north-west Europe, bogs became wetter, in Tierra del Fuego, the bog became drier—in both cases probably a result of a dramatic equator-ward shift of moisture-bearing winds.
These extreme times coincide with periods when it is known that the sun was unusually quiet. In the late 17th to mid-18th centuries it had very few sunspots—fewer even than during the run of recent cold winters in Europe, which other UK scientists have linked to a relatively quiet sun.
Professor Frank Chambers, Head of the University of Gloucestershire’s Centre for Environmental Change and Quaternary Research, who led the writing of the Fast-Track Research Report, said:
“Both sceptics and adherents of Global Warming might draw succour from this work. Our study is significant because, while there are various different estimates for the start and end of the Little Ice Age in different regions of the world, our data show that the most extreme phases occurred at the same time in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. These extreme episodes were abrupt global events. They were probably related to sudden, equator-ward shifts of the Westerlies in the Southern Hemisphere, and the Atlantic depression tracks in the Northern Hemisphere. The same shifts seem to have happened abruptly before, such as c. 2800 years ago, when the same synchronous but opposite response is shown in bogs in Northwest Europe compared with southern South America.
“It seems that the sun’s quiescence was responsible for the most extreme phases of the Little Ice Age, implying that solar variability sometimes plays a significant role in climate change. A change in solar activity may also, for example, have contributed to the post Little Ice Age rise in global temperatures in the first half of the 20th Century. However, solar variability alone cannot explain the post-1970 global temperature trends, especially the global temperature rise in the last three decades of the 20th Century, which has been attributed by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
Professor Chambers concluded: “I must stress that our research findings are only interpretable for the period from 3000 years ago to the end of the Little Ice Age. That is the period upon which our research is focused. However, in light of our substantiation of the effects of ‘grand solar minima’ upon past global climates, it could be speculated that the current pausing of ‘Global Warming’, which is frequently referenced by those sceptical of climate projections by the IPCC, might relate at least in part to a countervailing effect of reduced solar activity, as shown in the recent sunspot cycle.”


 This study backs up plenty of other evidence from glaciers in South America, which came to similar conclusions.

If even only part of 20thC warming is due to a natural rebound from the Little Ice Age, this creates huge problems for catastrophic warming theorists. Although Prof Chambers believes solar variability on its own cannot explain post 1970 warming, the weak sun cannot fully explain the Little Ice Age, as cooling began as early as the 13thC, long before the Dalton and Maunder minimums. The bottom line is that there is still a huge gap in scientists’ understanding of why the earth goes through these warm and cold phases.

UK Leads The World – (In Offshore Wind Subsidies!)

November 22, 2014

By Paul Homewood 


h/t Paul2




According to Ed Davey,

This unique collaboration between UKTI, The Green Investment Bank, The Crown Estate, RUK and the Offshore Wind Programme Board, sets out why the UK is the best place in the world for doing business in offshore wind.

With a stable and predictable policy regime, with more installed capacity than any other country in the world, with operating capacity set to double by 2020 and with a growing supply chain capability, the UK represents a fantastic investment opportunity.


A fantastic investment opportunity? You can bet your bottom dollar it is. When you can get a guaranteed price of more than £160/MWh (£155 @ 2012 prices), against the £50/MWh you would get in the market, who would not want to invest.

It is claimed that the country is on track to have 10GW of offshore capacity by 2020. At an average subsidy of, say, £100/MWh, this will hand the operators an annual subsidy of more than £3 billion, all funded by bill payers and in addition to the market price received.

Instead of claiming the UK is a “world leader in offshore wind”, Davey should perhaps be asking himself why there are so few being built elsewhere.

China’s New Energy Plan Forecasts Big Rise In CO2 Emissions

November 21, 2014

By Paul Homewood  


News from Enerdata that China has published a new Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014-2020), presumably following on from the US-China agreement last week.


The State Council of China has unveiled a new Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014-2020) focusing on the development of renewables and capping primary energy consumption at 4.8 Gtce/year until 2020, i.e. limiting the primary energy consumption growth rate to 3.5%/year until 2020. China aims to limit coal consumption to 4.2 Gt/year until 2020, a 16% increase over the 2013 consumption level of 3.6 Gt. China will also target a reduction of coal in the primary energy mix to under 62% by 2020, to the advantage of non-fossil fuels (15% by 2020 and 20% by 2030, from about 10% in 2013) and gas (10% by 2020). By 2020, the installed nuclear power capacity is expected to reach 58 GW, with an additional 30 GW under construction; inland nuclear power projects will be studied, while the construction of nuclear reactors on coastal areas will begin "at a proper time". China targets an installed hydropower capacity of 350 GW by 2020, with wind and solar capacities reaching 200 GW and 100 GW respectively. Shale gas and coalbed methane production should reach 30 bcm by 2020 and the energy self-sufficiency rate will be boosted to about 85%.


A number of things stand out here:


1) Capping primary energy consumption at 4.8 Gtce/year until 2020

This refers to “Gigatonnes Carbon Equivalent”. Provisional figures for 2013, from CDIAC, give carbon emissions as 2.7Gtce, so China are allowing themselves a substantial amount of headroom to continue growing emissions. (See Update)

There should be no surprise here. As I pointed out a year ago, China’s promise to reduce CO2 emissions per unit of GDP were actually likely to lead to a doubling of emissions, dependent on economic growth.

As their commitment is to peak emissions by 2030, we can expect the figure of 4.8Gtce to continue to rise through the 2020’s.


Read more…