By Paul Homewood
As mentioned earlier, from the BBC:
Approval for fracking in North Yorkshire has raised the prospect of the controversial technique being allowed at other sites and restarted an intense debate.
Councillors in North Yorkshire on Monday voted to allow fracking near the village of Kirby Misperton.
The decision, greeted by jeers, has been called a "victory for pragmatism" by those in favour.
It is the first application approved since 2011.
Fracking is a way of extracting oil or gas from rocks by pumping liquid into them at high pressure.
New licences for the technique, seen by the government as crucial for future energy needs, had been stalled since 2011 after tests on the Fylde coast, in Lancashire, were found to have been the probable cause of minor earthquakes in the area.
Two applications to frack at Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton in Lancashire were rejected by councillors and are now the subject of appeals.
The county council rejected both planning applications last year on the grounds of noise and traffic impact.
Other areas of concern for those opposed include fears that the technique can contaminate the water supply.
The application to drill was granted to the UK firm Third Energy to frack for shale gas at an existing drilling site using an existing two-mile deep well – called KM8 – drilled in 2013.
Chief executive Rasik Valand said the company now had a "huge responsibility" to deliver on its commitment "to undertake this operation safely and without impacting on the local environment."
The council’s planning committee voted seven to four in favour. Anti-fracking campaigners are now considering a possible legal challenge.
A number of objections from people opposed to the plans were heard over the course of two days prior to the decision.
Supporters including landowners, farmers and Third Energy employees also had their say.
Campaign group Frack Off has warned the plans could pave the way for thousands of fracking wells to spread across Yorkshire and many other parts of the country.
Industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas said it was an important first step for frackers, an industry which attracts fierce local opposition whenever a site is chosen for fracking but which has strong government backing.
The government has said it is going "all out for shale" to boost energy security and the economy.
Professor Paul Ekins, professor of resources and environmental policy at University College London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the decision was a "political watershed".
He said there were still planning conditions that the company would have to comply with, so fracking at the site would not start immediately.
Opponents are exploring whether or not the move can be blocked.
Friends of the Earth called the decision a "travesty" and will see if the move can be challenged.
Greenpeace accused the government of having a "pro-fracking bias", which they said made the outcome inevitable.
Craig Bennett chief executive of Friends of the Earth told the Today programme: "In 2016 we should not be building new oil and gas structures, we should be moving away from oil and gas as fast as possible."
Ken Cronin chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas said it was the right thing to move towards renewable energy but it could not happen overnight. He also said that whatever the type of energy the country attempted to produce there were local planning objectors: "The situation is that in the UK we have a problem whether it’s wind or shale. Getting through the planning system involves a number of objectors."
Note that the disgraceful BBC are still showing this grossly misleading graphic, giving the impression that the shale is only a few feet below the water table:
Craig Bennett of Friends of the Earth let the cat out of the bag, when he said "In 2016 we should not be building new oil and gas structures, we should be moving away from oil and gas as fast as possible."
The BBC’s Look North news programme paid an inordinate amount of time to the handful of protestors outside the council offices. North Yorkshire has a population over over 600,000, so why anybody should pay the slightest attention to a small ragbag of protestors. (Far from the “hundreds” mentioned, Look North reporters on site reckoned only 200).
Of course locals will be up in arms about any development, but, as Professor Ian Fells pointed out, at any inquiry the antis tend to be the most vocal, whereas those in broad agreement don’t turn up.
As the BBC could not be bothered to give the proper scientific background to fracking, here is what Professor Robert Mair, Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cambridge University had to say in 2013. Professor Mair was appointed in 2012 to chair a joint committee, set up by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, to analyse the environmental, health and safety risks associated with shale gas exploration in Britain.
In recent weeks, the Sussex village of Balcombe has found itself at the centre of the argument around hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. This debate has become heavily polarised, and there has been much speculation around the environmental risks of shale-gas extraction, concerning water contamination and earth tremors.
There are many factors that policy-makers and local people must consider before deciding whether or not they are in favour of fracking – but I believe that the scientific and engineering evidence should play a key part in that decision. Everyone deserves to know the evidence, as it currently stands.
Over the past 30 years, more than 2,000 onshore wells have been drilled in Britain, approximately 200 of which have used techniques similar to fracking to enhance the recovery of oil or gas. Chief among these is Wytch Farm in Dorset – Europe’s largest onshore oil field, located in one of England’s most famous regions of outstanding natural beauty and special scientific interest, and therefore an area where the aesthetic and environmental impact of drilling are highly sensitive issues.
Last year, I chaired a joint committee set up by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering to analyse the environmental, health and safety risks associated with shale gas exploration in Britain. We came up with a set of recommendations for the Government to make it as safe as possible, if they decided to go ahead. The report concluded that these risks could be managed effectively as long as operational best practices were implemented, and enforced through regulation. The Government has accepted all the report’s recommendations.
Fracking in Britain would take place at depths of many hundreds of metres or several kilometres. So far the only shale gas fracking in this country has been at depths of 1.06 miles (1.7km) and 1.93 miles (3.1km), equivalent to the height of many London Shards placed on top of each other. It would be highly unlikely for water contamination to occur by means of fractures extending upwards from these deep shales and intercepting an aquifer, since the two are separated by a vast cover of rock. Even if it were possible, pressure conditions mean that the fracking water would not flow that far upwards.
If there is water contamination, it is much more likely to be due to poorly constructed and regulated wells. These are lined with a steel casing, which is sealed into the ground by cement: ensuring the well’s integrity is very important if the risk of contamination is to be kept to an absolute minimum. Here in Britain, we have a long history of world-class oil and gas industry regulation, plus a unique examination scheme to ensure that the design, construction and abandonment of wells is reviewed by independent, specialist experts.
The other main potential cause of environmental contamination is poor site construction at the surface. However, any risks can again be minimised by best practice and good regulation, which Britain has a good track record of upholding. For example, every company must disclose the contents of the fracturing fluid they use, which is not mandatory in America.
There has also been concern about fracking causing earth tremors – but the evidence indicates that this will not be a big issue in Britain. Coal operations have been causing barely noticeable levels of seismicity for many years, and we expect that those caused by fracking will be at an even lower level, no more severe at the surface than the passing of a truck.
Another allegation against fracking in America is that it can result in methane leakage. We must therefore start to monitor methane emissions and groundwater composition at potential sites now, before any fracking takes place (as well as during and after such operations). This baseline monitoring is vital, since methane can be present in groundwater naturally. Such data will be the only way of keeping close track of the environmental impacts of fracking in situ, and should be submitted to regulators to inform local planning processes and address wider concerns.
Shale gas companies must also play their part in building public confidence. It should be mandatory for operators to conduct Environmental Risk Assessments. Local communities should be involved and informed from the very start. People need have a say in the planning process and to feel their concerns are being addressed.
In our report, we did not assess the climate risks associated with shale gas exploration, although we recommended that the Government should do so. The chief scientific adviser to the Department for Energy and Climate Change is currently leading a study on the potential for methane and other greenhouse gas leakages during extraction. The results will help form a clearer idea of the overall carbon footprint associated with shale gas.
Difficult decisions lie ahead for the Government. Opinions on all sides of the debate must be heard and considered, and uncertainties explored. However, at the heart of any judgment should be evidence-based science and engineering, which will help to ensure that the best decisions are made, unswayed by preconceived notions of risk or benefit.
By Paul Homewood
Fracking got the go yesterday from North Yorkshire County Council, on which more later.
But you really must watch this gem from Look North, the BBC regional news programme, last night. Energy expert, Professor Ian Fells is interviewed at 5 minutes in.
Watch the po-faced interviewer get her cumuppance!
I bet they don’t invite him back on any time soon!
By Paul Homewood
Bob Ward has responded to news, that MPs are calling for decarbonisation targets for 2028-32 postponed, with a typically misleading reply.
Let’s ignore the fact that the Committee on Climate Change is neither independent or expert. They are no more than a bunch of committed alarmists, and any pronouncements from them needs to be viewed in that light.
Let’s instead start by looking at what the CCC actually say in the Fifth Carbon Budget:
By Paul Homewood
Last week, I ran a post about the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, showing how more than two thirds of their revenue came from ROC subsidies.
Booker takes this as a starting point for a hard hitting piece on wind power in today’s Telegraph:
Eleven miles off the Norfolk coast 88 giant wind turbines rise 446 feet above the sea, taller than the spire of Salisbury Cathedral. This is the Sheringham Shoal windfarm, built at a cost of £1 billion by the Norwegian state, which has just published its accounts for 2015.
Last year it earned its owners £140 million, all paid for through our electricity bills. But more than two thirds of this – nearly £100 million – came through subsidies. In return for which we got, intermittently, only a comparatively tiny amount of power, averaging just 113 megawatts. This is barely a 20th of the 2,000MW available whenever needed, at less than a third of the price, from the German-owned gas-fired power station in Pembroke, Wales, which cost the same money to build four years ago.
So much tax does the Government now wish to impose on gas-fired electricity, because it comes from fossil-fuels, that we are unlikely to get any more Pembrokes. Offshore wind, in which we “lead the world”, is now the absolute centrepiece of the Government’s energy policy. The 26 offshore windfarms already built are almost all foreign-owned, led by the Norwegians and the Danes, so that virtually all their profits end up abroad.
The companies making fortunes from the world’s most generous “low carbon” subsidies may largely be foreign-owned. But at least some of the crumbs from that lavishly spread table are staying in good old British hands.
But a few Britons are doing well out of this multi-billion-pound bonanza – led by four former ministers of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) who helped to shape this policy. No sooner, for instance, had Charles Hendry stepped down as minister of state for energy and climate change in 2012 than he became chairman of Forewind, another largely Norwegian-owned firm, given permission by the DECC last year to build the world’s largest offshore windfarm over hundreds of square miles of the Dogger Bank.
Hendry succeeded Lord Deben (aka John Gummer), who had to stand down when David Cameron appointed him to chair the supposedly “independent” Climate Change Committee, the group of climate alarmists which advises the Government on its energy policy.
Because Hendry was then still an MP, bound to declare his financial interests, we can see that in 2014, as chairman of Forewind, he was paid £3,300 a day for one day’s work a month, totalling £48,000. In addition he received £18,000 for 36 hours advising another company, Atlantic Superconnection, which, under a deal arranged while Hendry was still in office, plans to bring electricity made from the heat of Icelandic volcanoes 650 miles to Britain. Hendry also that year earned £35,000 for 47 hours as consultant to another energy company, Vitol.
Since he left Parliament, we no longer know what Mr Hendry earns from his renewable energy interests, any more than we do what our former Lib Dem energy secretaries Chris Huhne and Ed Davey receive for their services to various “low carbon” energy firms which benefit from policies adopted while they were at the DECC – or that other former minister, Greg (now Lord) Barker, now busy on behalf of the solar energy industry which benefits from a policy he championed while in office.
The companies making fortunes from the world’s most generous “low carbon” subsidies may largely be foreign-owned. But at least some of the crumbs from that lavishly spread table are staying in good old British hands. Isn’t it odd how rarely we hear any MPs questioning this?
By Paul Homewood
Leo DiCaprio picked up an environmental award in NYC this week — but hypocritically expanded his carbon footprint by 8,000 miles when he obtained the honor, by taking a private jet from Cannes, then flying straight back to France on another jet for a model-packed fund-raiser a night later.
DiCaprio was at the Cannes Film Festival this week, and was spotted there partying at club Gotha on Monday with model Georgia Fowler, then jetted back to New York for the Riverkeeper Fishermen’s Ball at Chelsea Piers on Wednesday, where he was honored by the clean-water advocacy group and Robert De Niro.
Just 24 hours later, DiCaprio reappeared back in France for amfAR’s glitzy Cinema Against AIDS gala, where he gave a speech.
By Paul Homewood
Oldbrew reminds me that China unveiled their energy strategy and targets for 2020 back in November 2014. These help to give a fill some of the gaps of our understanding of their 2030 plans.
This was how Xinhuanet reported it:
By Paul Homewood
Today I want to take a slightly different look at current ENSO conditions, and concentrate on subsurface temperature anomalies along the equator:
This is the latest situation:
Despite positive, albeit weakening, anomalies on the surface, below the surface a huge pool of cold water has been building up in the last three months.
How does this compare to previous El Nino events? Unfortunately NOAA have no archived data for the 1998 event, but we can look at 2010, which was a much weaker one, but still the biggest since 1998 until the current El Nino.
By Paul Homewood
There was a guest post on WUWT by Larry Kummer a couple of days ago, “Britain joins the shift from coal, taking us away from the climate nightmare”, which appeared to be announcing the early death of King Coal.
It was triggered by the continuing decline of coal power in the UK, but was really based around recent news that coal consumption in China has stalled in the last couple of years. I have already discussed this issue here, here and here.
It is with good timing then that the latest report from the World Nuclear Association has just appeared, with a summary of the up to date energy situation in China. Naturally it concentrates on nuclear power, and is well worth a read for those interested in that – the full report is here.
However, it starts with a summary of the overall energy position in China, which offers a much more realistic assessment:
By Paul Homewood
More nonsense from Seth Borenstein:
With clay soil and tabletop-flat terrain, Houston has endured flooding for generations. Its 1,700 miles of man-made channels struggle to dispatch storm runoff to the Gulf of Mexico.
Now the nation’s fourth-largest city is being overwhelmed with more frequent and more destructive floods. The latest calamity occurred April 18, killing eight people and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage. The worsening floods aren’t simple acts of nature or just costly local concerns. Federal taxpayers get soaked too.
Extreme downpours have doubled in frequency over the past three decades, climatologists say, in part because of global warming. The other main culprit is unrestrained development in the only major U.S. city without zoning rules. That combination means more pavement and deeper floodwaters. Critics blame cozy relations between developers and local leaders for inadequate flood-protection measures.
The nearest USHCN station to Houston is Liberty, 40 miles away. Below is the whisker plot for daily rainfall there.
There is clearly no evidence of any rising trend in extreme rainfall. By far the wettest day came way back in 1994, when 18.5 inches fell on 18th October.
The next two nearest USHCN stations are Brenham and Danevang, and we see the same picture there.
But if your name is Seth Borenstein, why worry about facts?
By Paul Homewood
An interesting study from Pat Michaels and David Wojick:
Computer modeling plays an important role in all of the sciences, but there can be too much of a good thing. A simple semantic analysis indicates that climate science has become dominated by modeling. This is a bad thing.
What we did
We found two pairs of surprising statistics. To do this we first searched the entire literature of science for the last ten years, using Google Scholar, looking for modeling. There are roughly 900,000 peer reviewed journal articles that use at least one of the words model, modeled or modeling. This shows that there is indeed a widespread use of models in science. No surprise in this.
However, when we filter these results to only include items that also use the term climate change, something strange happens. The number of articles is only reduced to roughly 55% of the total.
In other words it looks like climate change science accounts for fully 55% of the modeling done in all of science. This is a tremendous concentration, because climate change science is just a tiny fraction of the whole of science. In the U.S. Federal research budget climate science is just 4% of the whole and not all climate science is about climate change.
In short it looks like less than 4% of the science, the climate change part, is doing about 55% of the modeling done in the whole of science. Again, this is a tremendous concentration, unlike anything else in science.
We next find that when we search just on the term climate change, there are very few more articles than we found before. In fact the number of climate change articles that include one of the three modeling terms is 97% of those that just include climate change. This is further evidence that modeling completely dominates climate change research.
To summarize, it looks like something like 55% of the modeling done in all of science is done in climate change science, even though it is a tiny fraction of the whole of science. Moreover, within climate change science almost all the research (97%) refers to modeling in some way.
This simple analysis could be greatly refined, but given the hugely lopsided magnitude of the results it is unlikely that they would change much.
What it means
Climate science appears to be obsessively focused on modeling. Modeling can be a useful tool, a way of playing with hypotheses to explore their implications or test them against observations. That is how modeling is used in most sciences.
But in climate change science modeling appears to have become an end in itself. In fact it seems to have become virtually the sole point of the research. The modelers’ oft stated goal is to do climate forecasting, along the lines of weather forecasting, at local and regional scales.
Here the problem is that the scientific understanding of climate processes is far from adequate to support any kind of meaningful forecasting. Climate change research should be focused on improving our understanding, not modeling from ignorance. This is especially true when it comes to recent long term natural variability, the attribution problem, which the modelers generally ignore. It seems that the modeling cart has gotten far ahead of the scientific horse.
Climate modeling is not climate science. Moreover, the climate science research that is done appears to be largely focused on improving the models. In doing this it assumes that the models are basically correct, that the basic science is settled. This is far from true.
The models basically assume the hypothesis of human-caused climate change. Natural variability only comes in as a short term influence that is negligible in the long run. But there is abundant evidence that long term natural variability plays a major role climate change. We seem to recall that we have only very recently emerged from the latest Pleistocene glaciation, around 11,000 years ago.
Billions of research dollars are being spent in this single minded process. In the meantime the central scientific question – the proper attribution of climate change to natural versus human factors – is largely being ignored.