The UK governments’ obsession with AGW had actually been until now a bit of a puzzle really, as it covers the entire spectrum of Westminster’s opinions, apart from a few lonely voices. A bunch of fools they might be alright, but carefully selected to be in the same place at the same time, that’s unlikely.
Then I read a passage from Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World“, and everything became clear:
The last scientifically literate President may have been Thomas Jefferson…Britain had such a Prime Minister in Margaret Thatcher. Her early studies in chemistry, in part under the tutelage of Nobel Laureate Dorothy Hodgkins, were key to the U.K.’s strong and successful advocacy that ozone-depleting CFCs be banned worldwide.
Never mind if promising to achieve an impossible target by spending an incredible amount of money makes sense or doesn’t. What matters for successive British governments really _is_ to be able to “show leadership”, i.e. be at the head of the bandwagon. Just like Mrs Thatcher was able to do: a great surrogate for a lost empire, if you ask me.
In other news: when will Mrs Thatcher or one of her scientifically-illiterate male clones finally stop being the UK Prime Minister?
Roger Pielke Jr is skeptical about the absurd task the UK has given itself regarding a “34% target for emissions reductions below a 1990 baseline by 2020“. He’s obviously not knowledgeable enough about the ways of the British governments re:targets. Let me explain.
Many years ago somebody had the bright idea to declare a target for UK train punctuality by a certain date. Scrambling for a solution in the face of certain failure, shortly before the deadline the rail companies agreed on artificially lengthening their schedules, thereby guaranteeing they could reach the target even if in practice they had done nothing of the sort.
Then it was Mr Blair’s government’s turn to declare a target on waiting list at the NHS by a certain date. Scrambling for a solution in the face of certain failure, shortly before the deadline the NHS structures decided to operate a double waiting list system, with the “official” one designed to consistently reach the target, and the “unofficial” one a parking area for patients that were simply not counted by the target system. Everybody had therefore guaranteed they could reach the target even if in practice they had done nothing of the sort.
This practice, i.e. an extension of “creative accounting“, has permeated the whole public system in the country. Even during the Dec 31, 1999 celebrations in London, the expected “river of fire” with 60ft+ tall flames was declared a success despite having been mostly invisible to the crowds, by redefining the meaning of “river of fire“.
And yes!, this may all sound familiar to people that have read about attempts to “redefine what the peer reviewed literature is“. Of course.
Please do not be surprised therefore if, come 2020, we will be talked into believing that the “34% target for emissions reductions below a 1990 baseline by 2020” will have been achieved, regardless of what the true figures will tell.
As one of the signatories of the epetition on “CRU Source codes” I just received the following message:
—– Forwarded Message —-
From: 10 Downing Street
To: e-petition signatories
Sent: Tue, November 10, 2009 4:18:55 PM
Subject: Government response to petition ‘CRUSourceCodes’
You signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to “Force the Climate Research Unit, or other publicly funded organisations to release the source codes used in their computer models.”
The Prime Minister’s Office has responded to that petition and you can view it here:
Prime Minister’s Office
Petition information – http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/CRUSourceCodes/
And this is the text from that page 21266 (my emphasis):
The Government is strongly committed to the principles of freedom of information, and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 specifically implement our international obligations over access to environmental information. The Met Office’s commitment to openness and transparency in the conduct of their operations and to the sharing of information is set out clearly on their website (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/legal/foi.html).
Simple and transparent licences are in place to facilitate the re-use of the Met Office’s meteorological and climate data, and large quantities are freely available for academic and personal use, for example through the UK Climate Impacts Programme and the British Atmospheric Data Centre.
The Met Office’s climate models are configurations based on the Unified Model (UM), the numerical modelling system developed and used by the Met Office to produce all their weather forecasts and climate predictions.
You may be interested to know that the UM, including source code, is available for external use under licence. For general research, the licence is free; the Met Office just asks individuals to submit an abstract describing the research to be undertaken, and to provide an annual report describing the work undertaken, the results achieved and future work plans.
To improve access to their climate models, the Met Office has worked with Reading and Bristol Universities and NERC to develop a low-resolution version which can be run on a PC and is available to all UM licence holders.
Further Information on how to apply for a research licence can be found on the Met Office website.
The UK Government has been at the forefront of AGW for a long time now. All in good intent and fully based on scientific evidence, of course.
Anybody needing any further “proof” of that, look no further than the sacking today of Professor David Nutt, the UK’s chief drugs adviser and utterer yesterday of confidence-losing advice (basically, expert opinion the Government didn’t want to hear).
(*) best joke of 2009
From Nature’s Climate Feedback: “Shock climate change verdict acquits Hansen’s heroes”
Criminal damage in the name of climate change is not a criminal offence, according to a shock ruling from a British court…Eco-warriors’ UK paper of choice The Independent says the verdict “will have shocked ministers and energy companies”. In the Guardian, veteran environment correspondent Jon Videl says it will “embarrass the government and lead to more direct action protests against energy companies”.
From Greenpeace’s website (via Anthony Watt’s blog):
The Nasa scientist who first drew attention to global warming 20 years ago appeared in a British court yesterday as a key witness in support of climate change activists charged with damaging a power station…Yesterday, Prof Hansen…said Britain had a responsibility to take a lead on limiting climate change because it was responsible – owing to its long industrial past – for much of the CO2 already in the atmosphere. Phasing out coal-burning power stations was crucial in tackling global warming, he told the court. “Somebody needs to stand up and take a leadership role,” Prof Hansen said. […]
The so-called “Kingsnorth case” was a trial-by-jury. Given the verdict, it means that Hansen and the defence team in general have convinced the jury that it is a bad idea to build coal-based power stations: bad enough for a certain class of criminal damages to be considered necessary.
And why so bad? Because burning coal is linked to global warming and unimaginable future disasters.
The verdict also means that the prosecution was unable to convince the jury otherwise. But wait! What could have the prosecution done?
Could they have dared to demonstrate that burning coal is not linked to global warming?
Had that happened, the entire “Anthropogenic Global Warming is real” construct of successive UK Governments would have collapsed. No more Kyoto, no more dreams of “carbon taxes” and “carbon allowances”. Instead now, since the “phasing out” of “coal-burning power stations” has been shown as “crucial” in a court of law, either lights will starting going off in the Sceptred Isle _or_ nuclear power will be given a very high priority.
And so in hindsight one can rest assured that under no circumstance could the UK Government afford to win the “Kingsnorth case”. And as a matter of fact, it lost it. After all, this is a crucial year for the future of Britain’s power supply. Look at another note from the Greenpeace’s article:
Before travelling to Kent, Prof Hansen met the David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, who is thought to be unhappy about the plan for Kingsnorth, which is being promoted by John Hutton, the Business Secretary. Mr Brown will have the final say later this year.
Greenpeace 1 – Coal power 0? More like Miliband 1 – Hutton 0…
ps It was a silly trial anyway…couldn’t they leave the giant “Gordon” written on the chimneys? And what energy company sees £15,000 as more than a grain of dust?
There is something supremely odd about the results published on the E-Day website.
The Energy Saving Day (E-Day) has been a UK-based “experiment” running between 6PM GMT on Feb 27 to 6PM GMT on Feb 28, “to show how even small energy saving measures can be made to add up, and potentially play a part in tackling climate change.”
Fact is that nothing has added up, and consumption has been higher than expected all through the day. At 4:21GMT it was showing “current savings” of -4.8% and “total savings” of -1.6%.
That is, the UK was actually “wasting” energy, compared to the predicted values according to National Grid.
At 13:42GMT, “current savings” was -1.6%, and “total savings” -0.8%. No sign of any “total savings of money, energy and carbon associated with E-Day” that were supposed to be “calculated and made available in time of the evening news bulletins“.
On the website it is also displayed a chart of ongoing energy consumption, with a green line for the actual values and a red line for the predicted ones.
Having followed that on and off for most of the day, I only noticed around 4pm finally, for the first time since the beginning of the E-Day the green curve dipping just a little bit below the red one.
For the rest of the day, the green line was consistently and evidently above the red line: that means, the UK has kept consuming more energy than usual, thereby nullifying the whole point of the E-Day.
Imagine my surprise then checking the site at 6PM today (officially the closing time of the e-day) to see “current savings” of -1.5% and
(a) “total savings” of -0.1%
(b) green and red lines almost exactly superimposed, with the red one slightly higher above the other in two points, and the green one shooting up only at the very end
The above is simply not possible…the only way for savings to go from -0.8% at 1342GMT to -0.1% at 1800GMT would have been for actual consumption to be significantly below the predicted one.
And the graph does not show at all the giant 4:21GMT wastage of 4.8%.
The only explanation is that the E-Day organizers have retroactively moved the “predicted” red line up just enough to show a negligible difference with the actual “consumed” green line.
Fudge or fraud? Let’s see what they report:
E-Day did not succeed in cutting the UK’s electricity demand. The drop in temperature between Wed 27 Feb and Thurs 28 Feb days probably caused this, as a result of more lights and heating being left on than were originally predicted. The National Grid refined their assessments, based on actual weather data, during Thursday afternoon but I am afraid that E-Day did not achieve the scale of public awareness or participation needed to have a measurable effect. I will do my best to learn the relevant lessons for next time. Thank you to everyone who helped me or left something off specially as their contribution to E-Day, and this Leave It Off experiment. Please enjoy E-Day’s solution, video and science sections which all worked well. Warmest regards, Matt
So they admit they have changed the rules on-the-fly. But blaming the temperatures doesn’t appear a smart move. How are they supposed to demonstrate “how even small energy saving measures can be made to add up” if all it takes is a minor “drop in temperature” (if one indeed has happened!) to nullify every effort?
The organizers have said they were hoping for +3% savings. National Grid must have “refined their assessments” by around 2%, and the almost absolute coincidence between the final green and red lines looks very very suspicious.
I am not even sure the UK experienced as a whole a “drop in temperature” (London definitely did not). And how come nobody thought nor said beforehand a thing about possible variations due to temperature changes?
Let’s leave aside the “solution, video and science sections which all worked well” shall we. Is that some kind of a joke?
Obviously a lot of work has gone into organising the E-Day: if it has been an abysmal failure on all fronts (and it has), that should be a major learning point (nobody cares? switch-offs are less important than thought?).
Otherwise, it’s all a touchy-feely web equivalent of snake oil.
As of 4:21GMT
Current savings: -4.8%
Total savings: -1.6%
(ie: no savings at all. Energy Saving Day, that started 10 hours ago, at 18:00 GMT, has so far meant a net waste of energy)
Consumption on the e-day has actually been consistently larger than usual since the beginning. They are running now some 6000 MWh behind schedule.
Perhaps it’s due to people checking out how the e-day is going?
And with e-days like these…who needs a SUV???