Sunday, 21 September 2008

BBC series stitches up sceptics in counter-attack over climate change

As informed questioning of the global warming orthodoxy rises on all sides, the BBC's three-part series Climate Wars, ending tonight, bears all the marks of a carefully planned counter-attack.
BBC science producers were apoplectic at the attention given last year to Martin Durkin's Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, featuring a galaxy of the world's more sceptical climate scientists. This is their riposte.
Last week, against a range of far-flung locations from Greenland to California, the presenter, Dr Iain Stewart, tackled three of the main arguments of Durkin's film.
In each case the technique was the same. After caricaturing the sceptics' point, with soundbite clips that did not allow them to develop their scientific argument, he then asserted that they had somehow been discredited.
For example, doubts had been raised over the reliability of satellite temperature records which do not show the same degree of warming as surface readings. Dr Roy Spencer, who designed Nasa's satellite system for measuring temperatures, was allowed to admit that a flaw had been found in the system.
But his interview ended before he could explain that, when the flaw was discovered in 1998, it was immediately corrected (although it made little difference to the results).
Likewise, there is a growing case for a correlation between global temperatures and solar activity. Dr Stewart accused Durkin's programme of cutting off a graph which illustrated this at a point when the data failed to support the thesis. Then he did exactly the same himself, not extending his own graph to 2008 in a way that would reinforce the thesis.
Most hilarious of all, however, was a long sequence in which Stewart defended the notorious "hockey stick" graph, which purports to show that temperatures have recently shot up to their highest level on record.
The BBC had a huge blow-up of this "iconic" graph carted triumphantly round London, from Big Ben to Buckingham Palace, as if it were proof that the warming alarmists are right.
There was no hint that the "hockey stick" is among the most completely discredited artefacts in the history of science, not least thanks to the devastating critique by Steve McIntyre, which showed that the graph's creators had an algorithm in their programme which could produce a hockey-stick shape whatever data were fed into it.
There was scarcely a frame of this clever exercise which did not distort or obscure some vital fact. Yet the "impartial" BBC is sending out this farrago of convenient untruths to schools, ensuring that the "march of the lie" continues.

Lehman misses out on carbon credit scam

By Christopher Booker
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 21/09/2008

What is the connection between the bankrupt Lehman Brothers and the likelihood that in four years' time our electricity bills will jump another 25 per cent (on top of the rises likely from soaring coal and gas prices)?
The answer is that, before its collapse, Lehman was pitching to become the leader in the vast trade created by the new worldwide regulatory system to "fight climate change" by curbing emissions of carbon dioxide.
The biggest money-spinners will be the schemes whereby industry will pay for permits to emit CO2 at so much a ton, either directly to governments or by buying them on an international market.

This market, soon to be worth trillions of pounds, was where Lehman hoped to be "the prime brokerage for emissions permits", as it set out in two hefty reports on "The Business of Climate Change".
Advised by some of the world's leading global warming activists, such as Dr James Hansen and Al Gore (a close friend of the firm's erstwhile managing director Theodore Roosevelt IV), Lehman bought their message wholesale. GIM, the company set up by Gore to sell "carbon offsets" in return for planting trees, was a prized Lehman client.
The particular market that Lehman hoped to dominate is centred on the buying and selling of carbon permits, through the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) set up in 2005, the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the "cap and trade" system proposed for the US by both McCain and Obama.
Read more by Christopher Booker
This may still seem abstract but it will affect all our lives, because ultimately we will all be paying for it, through the colossal costs it will impose on industry, not least electricity.
The EU scheme already adds more than a billion pounds a year to our electricity bills. In four years' time it will become much more obvious when, under phase two of the ETS, permits will be auctioned, at a projected initial figure of £35 per ton of CO2.
On the basis of current wholesale prices, the annual cost of electricity used in the UK alone is around £32 billion. Adding £35 for every ton of CO2 emitted in producing it will mean that our electricity supply companies will have to pay £8 billion for their permits, adding 25 per cent to the total cost. Under EU rules, this must be passed on to all of us in our bills.
The idea is that, to reduce carbon emissions by an eventual 60 per cent, the number of permits auctioned will reduce year by year, leaving an ever larger shortfall which firms will have to account for either by reducing emissions or by buying additional permits - not least from the developing world under the UN's CDM.
Everything about this grandiose scheme betokens the economics of the madhouse.
The new costs it will impose are so colossal that whole industries, including aluminium, steel and Germany's chemical companies, threaten to move their operations outside the EU unless they are given free allocations. It has not even been agreed who - whether national governments or the EU itself - will run the auctions or keep the hundreds of billions of euros a year the scheme will raise.
China, by virtue of having built giant dams to produce electricity, will be a net "carbon creditor", able to sell permits to the EU worth billions more, despite continuing to build a new coal-fired power station every four days.
So will Russia, thanks to it having closed down so much of its polluting industry after the fall of Communism. There is not the slightest indication that the scheme itself will result in any lowering of global CO2 emissions.
What is certain is that it will pile astronomic costs onto everyone in the EU, inevitably impacting most severely on poorer householders that will face bills they cannot afford. The only other certainty - perhaps a consolation - is that those sharing in this bonanza will not include Lehman Brothers, now excluded from cashing in on what threatens to become the maddest scam the world has ever seen.

Einstein fridge design can help global cooling

Scientists relaunch a 1930 invention that uses no electricity and would reduce greenhouse gases
Alok Jha, green technology correspondent
The Observer,
Sunday September 21 2008

An early invention by Albert Einstein has been rebuilt by scientists at Oxford University who are trying to develop an environmentally friendly refrigerator that runs without electricity.
Modern fridges are notoriously damaging to the environment. They work by compressing and expanding man-made greenhouse gases called freons - far more damaging that carbon dioxide - and are being manufactured in increasing numbers. Sales of fridges around the world are rising as demand increases in developing countries.
Now Malcolm McCulloch, an electrical engineer at Oxford who works on green technologies, is leading a three-year project to develop more robust appliances that can be used in places without electricity.
His team has completed a prototype of a type of fridge patented in 1930 by Einstein and his colleague, the Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard. It had no moving parts and used only pressurised gases to keep things cold. The design was partly used in the first domestic refrigerators, but the technology was abandoned when more efficient compressors became popular in the 1950s. That meant a switch to using freons.
Einstein and Szilard's idea avoids the need for freons. It uses ammonia, butane and water and takes advantage of the fact that liquids boil at lower temperatures when the air pressure around them is lower. 'If you go to the top of Mount Everest, water boils at a much lower temperature than it does when you're at sea level and that's because the pressure is much lower up there,' said McCulloch.
At one side is the evaporator, a flask that contains butane. 'If you introduce a new vapour above the butane, the liquid boiling temperature decreases and, as it boils off, it takes energy from the surroundings to do so,' says McCulloch. 'That's what makes it cold.'
Pressurised gas fridges based around Einstein's design were replaced by freon-compressor fridges partly because Einstein and Szilard's design was not very efficient. But McCulloch thinks that by tweaking the design and replacing the types of gases used it will be possible to quadruple the efficiency. He also wants to take the idea further. The only energy input needed into the fridge is to heat a pump, and McCulloch has been working on powering this with solar energy.
'No moving parts is a real benefit because it can carry on going without maintenance. This could have real applications in rural areas,' he said.
McCulloch's is not the only technology to improve the environmental credentials of fridges. Engineers working at a Cambridge-based start-up company, Camfridge, are using magnetic fields to cool things. 'Our fridge works, from a conceptual point of view, in a similar way [to gas compressor fridges] but instead of using a gas we use a magnetic field and a special metal alloy,' said managing director Neil Wilson.
'When the magnetic field is next to the alloy, it's like compressing the gas, and when the magnetic field leaves, it's like expanding the gas.' He added: 'This effect can be seen in rubber bands - when you stretch the band it gets hot, and when you let the band contract it gets cold.'
Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, said creating greener fridges was hugely important. 'If you look at developing countries, if they're aspiring to the lifestyles that we lead, they're going to require more cooling - whether that's air conditioning, food cooling or freezing. Putting in place the technologies that are both low greenhouse-gas refrigerants and low energy use is critical.'
McCulloch's fridge is still in its early stages. 'It's very much a prototype; this is nowhere near commercialised,' he said. 'Give us another month and we'll have it working.'

EDF swoops on British Energy ... but gives back plants

French group poised for £12bnBritish Energy takeoverEnergy with plans for improved offer

FRANCE’s EDF is this week poised to clinch a £12 billion takeover of British Energy (BE), the nuclear power company, and will immediately signal that it is prepared to hand back two key nuclear sites to the government for auction.
BE’s holdings at Dungeness, on the Kent coast, and Bradwell, in Essex, are expected to be carved out and included in a separate package of sites for new nuclear stations.
The package will be auctioned later this year. Power companies will be invited to tender for some or all of the sites, with Germany’s RWE and Eon, Spain’s Iberdrola and Sweden’s Vattenfall expected to make bids.
As well as Dungeness and Bradwell, the sites to be auctioned include some that have old nuclear stations that have been shut down.

They are currently owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (NDA), the government body responsible for cleaning up the waste from Britain’s first generation of atomic power plants.
Ministers and officials hope the auction will create one or more competitors to EDF, and speed up the construction of new reactors, with multiple sites under development at the same time.
EDF’s planned takeover of BE ran into trouble last month when two of the British group’s largest shareholders, Invesco and M&G, rejected its bid.
As revealed by the The Sunday Times a fortnight ago, the board of the French utility group is this week expected to approve a new offer, up from 765p a share to 774p a share, valuing BE at about £12 billion.
The increased offer — and indications that Invesco will accept it — are expected to be enough to allow the BE board to recommend the deal.
The government holds an interest of 35% in BE, and has already indicated that it will accept the EDF offer.
If the takeover of BE is successful, EDF is expected to press ahead with the construction of reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk. Industry experts think it will build two reactors at each site.
Meanwhile, Westinghouse, the Japanese-owned nuclear reactor group, will this week say that the construction of its plants could bring a £30 billion boost to the British economy.
A study it has commissioned on the economic impact of new stations using its reactor design will be unveiled at the Labour party conference in Manchester tomorrow.
John Hutton, the business secretary, who will attend tomorrow’s launch, said: “This report illustrates why I am so determined to press all the buttons to get nuclear facilities built in this country at the earliest opportunity.”
Britain’s nuclear regulators are in the process of examining designs for new power stations. Westinghouse and Areva (the French group that will supply EDF) have submitted plans, but last week General Electric and Hitachi, which have a joint design, withdrew from the process. The pair are expected to resubmit their proprosals next year.