About Roger Andrews

I was born in Somerset, where the cider apples grow, in 1941. In 1963 I emerged into a depressed UK job market with a BSc in geology (Aberystwyth), an MSc in applied geophysics (Birmingham), a wife (still with me) and a baby son (now a senior executive with Deutschebank) and finally found work processing North Sea seismic records with a geophysical contracting company in London. But the pay wasn’t the best, and when a year later a better-paying job opportunity presented itself in Australia I took it. I spent the next six years in and around Australia doing engineering geophysics, including surveys for dam sites in Hong Kong and for undersea oil pipelines in the Gippsland Shelf (where I once got marooned for a week on Glomar II, Glomar Explorer’s sister ship, when Esso took my boat away).

In 1970 I joined Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City (later based in Tucson, Arizona and for a couple of years in Santiago, Chile) and have worked mostly in mining ever since. For some years in the 1980s, however, I was involved in a geothermal project at the Salton Sea, California, that I initiated and which gave me a grounding in the ins and outs of the electric power industry. And I am pleased to report that 30 years later a 50MW geothermal power plant (Hudson Ranch 1) is finally in operation on the land I leased.

In 1990 I left Kennecott, threw away my suit and necktie, grew a beard and became a consultant with Independent Mining Consultants of Tucson, Arizona, where I specialized in drillhole data base verification and resource estimation (kriging and all that). This was excellent training for analyzing climate data bases, which are in many ways analogous to assay data bases (grade = temperature, precipitation etc., depth = time, XY coordinates the same). The basic principles are of course applicable to the analysis of energy data too.

In 2006 I semi-retired to the town of Ajijic, just south of Guadalajara in Mexico, where I live with my wife at an agreeable elevation of a mile above sea level in a resplendent mansion (with a solar PV system on the roof, incidentally) that has a market value below that of the average London semi-detached. I say semi-retired because I still do consulting work from time to time.

In my career I have worked on hundreds of projects all over the world, although of course I didn’t visit all of them. Some of the projects were a little off the beaten track too, One of the most challenging was being given six months to figure out how to quench an active plus-200C geothermal system on Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea, so that the gold deposit there could safely be mined. Somewhat to my surprise, the plan worked.

On specific energy and climate issues I’m guided by what the data tell me, not by claims made in the scientific literature. This is why you will find me disagreeing with most of the “consensus” views on climate change but not all of them. My main concern for the future of my three grandchildren isn’t climate change, but that the misguided efforts of the people who want to save the world from it will leave them freezing in the dark.

 

25 Responses to About Roger Andrews

  1. Dennis Coyne says:

    Hi Roger,

    It would seem that geophysics that making sense of data requires an underlying physical model to test. Curve fitting without any scientific model is likely to result in spurious results. A variety of curves could be fit to any data set, which might be correct requires physics.

  2. edhoskins says:

    Hi Roger

    We may well be on the similar pages

    You may like my wordpress entries at http://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/about/

    It contains 11 short illustrated and referenced essays on the following topics;

    The temperature context
    The significance of carbon dioxide co2
    The record of recent man made co2 emissions 1965 2013
    The diminishing influence of increasing carbon dioxide co2 on temperature
    De carbonisation outcomes
    Growth of renewable energy installation in the USA Germany UK
    Renewable energy, solar and wind power, compared with gas fired generation USA Germany UK
    Charting the worlds developmental deficit
    Charting the worlds energy sources

    Please let me know if they strike a chord.

    A bit of explanation, I qualified long ago both as a dentists and as an architect. I then founded one of the earliest spin – off companies from the University of Cambridge UK specialising in Computer Aided Design and Geographic Information Systems. I sold it 30 years ago.

    More recently I have been appalled at the lack of engineering understanding pervading green decision making in the Western world and would be glad to see some common sense brought to bear.

    So I would be pleased if you and your colleague Euan wanted to use or reference this material. The wider audience it has the better.

    regards Ed Hoskins

    edhoskins@mac.com

  3. Hans Erren says:

    Hi Roger, from your resume i see that we were almost colleagues. I joined RTZ in Newbury in 1992 as gravmag geophysicist. I discovered the climate debate in 2002, i looked at the Arrhenius calculations and was a skeptic ever since.

    • Hi Hans; I left RTZ a couple of years before you joined but did have contacts with the Rio Tinto people in Bristol before I left (don’t remember any names, though).

      Which Arrhenius calculation did you look at? The 1896 one or the 1906 one?

  4. Hans Erren says:

    Hi Roger, indeed a small world, you must know Frank Arnott then?

    I looked at Arrhenius 1896:

    http://members.casema.nl/errenwijlens/co2/langleyrevdraft2.htm

    My photocopy of Arrhenius 1906 was used for the new english translation by FoS:

    http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/Arrhenius%201906,%20final.pdf

  5. Chris Schoneveld says:

    Hi Roger,

    I tried to leave a reply at your blog post about Hadcrut4 but I didn’t see a “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom. So I leave it here instead.

    I had a question about how Hadmat is applied over the polar areas where Hadcrut uses the SST of -1.8C being the water temperature in the vast areas covered by sea ice . At least that is what I gathered from this paper by Shea and Trenberth (see: http://icoads.noaa.gov/Boulder/Boulder.Shea.pdf ).

    The air temperature may vary greatly over areas with sea ice, yet SST stays fixed at -1.8C. One could argue that if air temperatures are rising this will be reflected in a lesser extent of the sea ice, hence a higher average SST. However, the extent of sea ice is not just influenced by temperature (currents and wind play a role as well). So there may be a trend in the air T anomalies above the sea ice that is by defintion not detectable in SST data which is fixed at -1.8C.

    By the way I find your post most revealing and educational.

    • Hi Chris. Thank you for your kind words.

      On the specific points you raise:

      * HadCRUT4 is a ~30/70 weighted average of CRUTEM4 (air temperatures over land) and HadSST3 (sea surface temperatures). HadSST3 has only a limited number of readings in the Arctic Ocean but what readings there are seem to be genuine SSTs, not ice temperatures.

      * The purpose of the Shea & Trenberth study was to develop a set of global SST values that could be plugged into climate models. I don’t think they were used in any time series analysis. The study looks pretty old anyway (maybe 20 years?) so it would probably have been superseded by now.

      * As far as I know the only time HadMAT gets “applied” to anything is when it’s used as a basis for adjusting SSTs for real or imagined bias effects. It doesn’t figure in to the calculation of HadCRUT4.

  6. Chris Schoneveld says:

    Roger, Thanks for your reply

    I remain puzzled as to how one can compare satellite measuments of global T (UAH and RSS) and HadCRUT4. They seem to measure different physical entities above the oceans. The trends derived from satellite measurements are purely atmospheric (TLT) even above sea ice areas (although their coverage in limited to -85/+85 latitudes). From what I gather from your reply is that HadCRUT only uses open sea water temperatures, not where there is sea ice. And I suppose they don’t have measuring stations on top of the sea ice measuring the change in air temperatures, which are of course more drastic and variable than the underlying water which has a constant T of -1.8C.

    And why is HadMAT only used to adjust for bias effects. Why not use air temperatures rather than water temperatures? Isn’t HadMAT more representative of the atmosphere? On he continents we do not put our thermometers in rivers and lakes to measure the change in temperatures, do we?

    Sorry for appearing so ignorant but I am only a geologist with a PhD in hard rock geotectonics.

    • Not ignoring you Chris. I only just picked up on your comment.

      HadCRUT4, which combines air temperatures measure five feet above the land surface and sea water temperatures measured at depths of up to 50 feet below the ocean surface (the average HadCRUT4 reading was taken maybe a foot below the ocean surface in a medium consisting of 70% sea water and 30% air bubbles) is in my opinion a meaningless metric. The only way you can properly analyze the behavior of the Earth’s temperature is by considering air temperatures and SSTs separately. And the behavior of SST is arguably more important because something like 99.9% of the heat in the atmosphere and the oceans is in the oceans.

      Why not use HadMAT or some other marine air temperature data set to characterize air temperatures over the oceans? Why not indeed. If you combined marine air temperatures measured on ships with air temperatures measured on islands and coastlines you could probably come up with pretty good ocean air temperature coverage.

      There’s actually a good match between surface air temperatures and lower troposphere temperatures. The UAH and RSS TLT series are probably the best temperature data sets we have, but they only go back to 1978.

      • Chris Schoneveld says:

        Roger, Thanks for your reply.

        I disagree with you that, as you say:”the behavior of SST is arguably more important because something like 99.9% of the heat in the atmosphere and the oceans is in the oceans.”

        We are not living in the sea, so its importance is limited to maybe understanding where the “missing heat” (if any) is going and to predict the behavior of ocean currents (ENSO, AMO etc).

  7. Chris Schoneveld says:

    Just checked the average surface of the oceans that is covered with sea ice: 24 million km2 or some 7% of the ocean’s surface.

  8. Chris Schoneveld says:

    This is relevant. See Christy et al paper on differential SST and MAT: http://tinyurl.com/lamzzxl

  9. Dana Gardiner says:

    Roger,

    Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the narrator on a show called Cosmos, available on Netflix. It is a redo of the older Carl Sagan series. In the new show Tyson makes a number of C02 claims that seemed pretty convincing to me. I would be very interested in your opinion on that show, and on his evidence, as you appear to be pretty skeptical of the whole Global Warming C02 argument.

  10. Mark Miller says:

    Roger,

    In case you ever want to trace transmission lines to distribution lines for the big three CA service providers you can now do it on-line. It was kind of nice to confirm my supposition that the distribution line feeding my transformer has lots of capacity.

    I was able to confirm that my distribution line is interconnected via two substations. I guess this explains why we are almost never without power, for long, even in the worst of storms. I was able to use the PG&E web link in the attached Navigant post to trace the project 184 hydro facility to the substations that feed my distribution line . I wasn’t able to find the other small hydro facility just downstream that also feeds into the substations that feed my transformer-I was able to find the lines……..

    I need to head up to Camino to see if the old Michigan Cal substation, that is identified at CASIO’s substation web site, is still in place (or if someone barrowed, removed, the hardware…), as it would be nice to know if this station could still feed the transmission and distribution lines that were put in place to power up the old lumber mill. The mill has been closed for a few years now.

    http://www.navigantresearch.com/blog/ca-utilities-unveil-distribution-resource-plans?utm_

    Thought you might enjoy tracing the wires from the geothermal facility you worked on way back when.

    It looks like I am going to have some data crunching to do shortly in regards to what it’s going to cost me for a kWh from PG&E as my rate schedule is being eliminated- and I haven’t been able to find a reference to the proposed rate schedule I am going to be assigned
    .
    http://us4.campaign-archive1.com/?u=a0487692bb2e2f280211c4298&id=55610028c1&e=04cc615b4a

    • Thanks Mark. But how do I bring up a map showing the wires around my geothermal plant? (The power from the plant actually gets sold to the Salt River Project in Arizona. I guess California didn’t want it.)

      • Mark Miller says:

        Roger,

        Sorry about that. I forgot a small detail.

        One needs to know a physical address close to the assets location you want to map. I am not sure if SCE or PG&E is the local owner of the distribution system near the geothermal facility you worked on. I used PG&E’s data base (I clicked though the Navigant web link to gain access to PG&E home page for their distribution database). I used my existing account log in information with them to access the database for a street address near my house- long story but the numbering system for our place is a bit out of order compared to my neighbors.

        The PG&E distribution database is rather flexible in that you can move around (north, south, etc, . and zoom in and out) in the database to find/identify various physical assets. I used the flexibility in the database to locate the distribution lines, transmission lines, some generation facilities, and the various substations that tie everything together.

        Hope I was able to explain how the system works (for PG&E anyway).

        Mark

        PS- I am beginning to wish that I had put my PV panels on the ground rather than on my roof. It’s getting to be a pain in the leg, literally, trimming a few fig trees that have been stealing the sunlight!

  11. Kirk Gothier says:

    Hi Roger,

    I enjoyed reading your Summary of Findings on renewables today, and have passed it along to all of my contacts, promoting clean energy technologies and the nascent Ecomodernism conversation: (http://www.ecomodernism.org).

    Like you and Euan, I no longer work 9-5 and am now following my passions 24/7, including serving as President of the Ferndale Museum (in our quaint Victorian Village), writing poetry in our local Northcoast Journal, and supporting the efforts of several challenging engineers/physicists/ecomodernists: (i.e. Kirk Sorensen of Flibe Energy, Michael Shellenberger at the Breakthrough Institute, and Gene Nelson of Californians for Green Nuclear Power).

    My hugely limited value to these folks is my intimate knowledge of NIMBY, and how to get a development permit: (based on over 4 decades working in community development, drafting thousands of pages of planning policy and land use regulations).

    I am currently focusing my efforts on convincing environmental organizations, like the Sierra Club, to engage in the conversation initiated by the Ecomodernism Scientists and Breakthrough Institute: (http://www.thebreakthrough.org). Please consider engaging in that conversation, and helping promote the use of all clean, safe energy producing technologies.

    Having grown up in the 1950’s, when adults terrified their kids with “duck and cover” and
    “eat your vegetables, kids are staring in China” rants, I have never been more optimistic about our species. For the first time in history, clean air and water, sustainable communities and global prosperity are possible.

    Thanks for your efforts to inform the public, and Go Viral with our hopeful message about a prosperous future for all our children!

    Kirk

  12. Peter Lang says:

    Roger,

    A very impressive career. I find it very interesting having also started in engineering geology and engineering geophysics extensively.

    You mentioned your role in Lihir gold mine, New Guinea. Just out of interest, I wonder how well you knew of Ross Garnaut Chairman of Lihir Gold and of the controversies over payment of dividends to shareholders. [For other readers, this is the same Ross Garnaut who was senior economic adviser in the office of Minister Bob Hawke, later became the primary architect of the Australian “Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme”, and is in the same camp as Al Gore, Nicholas Stern, Rajendra Pachaurii, etc]. But, I am just surmising, no need to answer, unless you want to.

  13. Emilio Hernández says:

    Hi Robert

    I found this website through article of El Hierro (http://euanmearns.com/el-hierro-renewable-energy-project-end-2015-performance-review-and-summary/), my name is Emilio Hernández , I am a journalist from El Hierro (www.lacernidera.com), and I would like to contact you to ask some questions about Gorona´s proyect,

  14. Jose Veza says:

    Dear Roger, I arrived at you blog when browsing the Internet. Very much interested in the Gorona del Viento, El Hierro project. I live in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, professor at the university, energy and environmental engineering. I see that you have closed comments, because of new information and complications arising. No wonder, the project development and performanece results are all but transparent. I have also asked for official reports or detailed information, with no luck at all. I will be following the blog to learn any new developments. Regards, Jose

  15. Roger Wiggin says:

    Hi Roger –

    The “keep-it-in-the-ground” folk appear to be making headway in the US – it’s the backdrop of a Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign pledge after all. As the anti-frac’ing sentiment expands, it has become apparent that these efforts to ban/limit frac’ing are simply about keeping global-warming GHGs out of the atmosphere – not noise, not groundwater contamination, not property values, etc. – but it’s these issues that generate more immediate, media attracting emotion than rising sea levels around some remote Pacific island.

    My questions: If anthropogenic derived CO2 remains in the atmosphere for 10 to 15 years (or is it 30…100?), how much lower than the 405ppm would today’s atmospheric CO2 level be if the world had only burned natural gas and no coal or oil? How would atmospheric CO2 levels respond if we (and perhaps limit ‘we’ to Europe, the US, and China) only burned natural gas starting today? Finally, how does one rectify that global energy consumption appears to have increased 2.3% annually since 2000 but CO2 levels only increase an average 0.55% (and these annual increases appear to reflect a downward trend year-over-year over these last 15 years)? My data from https://yearbook.enerdata.net/ and http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/index.html?

    Thanks,

    Roger

  16. Roger Wiggin says:

    …or rather the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 above the interglacial baseline of 275ppm is about 1.9%/year – and still with a downward trend yr/yr.

    Based on my back-of-the-envelope calculations, the world placed ~35,000 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each of the last three years. If it were possible to replace all the less efficient fuels (lignite, subbituminous coal, bunker marine fuel, etc) with methane (at 55 MJ/kg), my calculations suggest a reduction of global CO2 emissions by 33% (~23,250 million metric tons/year).

    I realize the hypothetical nature of the question, but if we were to replace all combustible fuels with CH4, would atmospheric levels still increase at an arithmetically reduced rate of ~1.2%/year (1.9% * 67%) or – given the disconnect between annual total fuel combustion rise vs atmospheric CO2 level rise, could we possibly see atmospheric CO2 increase at a rate lower than 1.2% – if not actually start reversing the upward trend?

  17. Jan Ebenholtz says:

    Hi.
    The BNR-800 is using liquid sodium. I wonder if they have come up with a good solution to handle this very reactive substance? Maybe a good topic to discuss because this reactor is very promissing?

Leave a Reply