Blowout week 8

UK Floods: UK and EU parliaments blamed
UK Energy: chaos because policies are founded on non-science
Climate Change: opinion in chaos because it is founded on non-science
World: Venezuela may be joining Libya and Iraq in chaos. Ukraine that lacks indigenous energy resources is joining in.

Everyone should read Booker’s assessment of flooding the Somerset Levels which I feel is close to the truth.

UK: Booker: Somerset floods – a very European disaster

The project put climate change centre-stage, developed “to help manage deep and prolonged flooding, which is likely to become more frequent with climate change”. With the catchphrase, “A future when it rains”, one of its objectives was to review “the feasibility of spreading floodwater across the Somerset moors”.

World: 19F – The Night Venezuela Finally Imploded

Tonight, Venezuela is seeing a spasm of violence that’s unlike anything the country has experienced since 1989. Information is fragmented, since an almost complete media black-out is in place, but you don’t need the media to hear your neighbor’s screams.

UK: Nearly a third less electricity used to light homes than in 1997

Energy prices may be rising in the UK, but there is a small light on the horizon as people use nearly a third less electricity to light their homes than they did 16 years ago”.

World: Events and highlights on the progress related to recovery operations at Fukushima Daiichi NPS

An update on the state of recovery at Fukushima reactor complex

UK: UK floods: Damage ‘could have been prevented’

Some of the damage caused by the recent floods could have been prevented if the correct water management techniques had been used, says a group of leading environmental and planning experts.

UK: Barrage over climate change link to floods

Listen to some environmental campaigners and you might think that there is total certainty that global warming led to the recent rain; listen to some climate sceptics and there is absolutely no connection at all.

Viewers have berated me either for failing to explicitly blame climate change in my reporting of the floods – or for suggesting that the rain may conceivably have been made more likely by the rising presence of manmade greenhouse gases.

World: Wavier jet stream ‘may drive weather shift’

The main system that helps determine the weather over Northern Europe and North America may be changing, research suggests.

The study shows that the so-called jet stream has increasingly taken a longer, meandering path.

World: Why Is It So Cold? The Polar Vortex, Explained

“Polar vortex” has taken an uncontested lead in the competition for buzzword of 2014. It’s brought Arctic chill to the continental United States, disrupted industries and cities, and most, curiously, turned Donald Trump into a climate realist. Sort of.

World: Scientists: Don’t make “extreme cold” centerpiece of global warming argument

It’s an intriguing theory – that recently has gotten legs: the melting Arctic – spurred by global warming – is causing the weather’s steering flow, the jet stream, to become more extreme. This extreme jet stream – rather than zipping around the world in a straight circle (right below) – is more frequently meandering off course (left below) and getting stuck in place, sending bitter, prolonged blasts of cold southward and conversely, see-sawing strong heat domes northward. It’s a fascinating paradox: global warming as the culprit for bone-chilling cold.

World: Global Warming, Winter Weather and the Olympics – Leading Climate Scientists Weigh In

There’s a noteworthy letter in today’s edition of the journal Science, titled “Global Warming and This Winter’s Cold Weather,” that aims to cut through the flood of overwrought assertions about recent Northern Hemisphere winter weather in the context of global warming.

It’s written by five leading climate scientists, all of whom have long been reliable guides to a complicated and consequential body of science — John M. Wallace at the University of Washington, Isaac M. Held at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, David W. J. Thompson at Colorado State University, Kevin E. Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and John E. Walsh at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

UK: Centrica scaremongering over price freeze, says Labour

The company that owns British Gas is “scaremongering” over Labour’s plans to introduce an energy price freeze, the party has said.

The chairman of Centrica warned last week that a proposed 20-month freeze after the 2015 election would create “uncertainty” and hamper investment.

But shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint told the BBC it would not “contribute to the lights going out”.

UK: North Sea costs blow investment abroad

New rules on offshore helicopter flights, announced today, are a reminder of the risky business of bringing hydrocarbons ashore.

And while the measures should make those offshore flights safer, financially, the business looks like it’s getting riskier.

UK: Wind farms paid £30m to shut down during high winds

Onshore wind farms are being paid £30 million a year to sit idle during the windiest weather.
The payments are made because the cables which transmit power from the turbines to the National Grid cannot cope with the amount of electricity they produce during stormy conditions.

UK: Winter wettest on record – Met Office

With a week still to go in the winter, the UK’s rainfall record for the season has already been broken.

The incessant storms and rainfall over the past two months have made this the wettest winter since records began in 1910.

[Well actually records began in 1766 providing an additional 144 years of data. Not David Shukman’s fault but he should try hold the Met Office to account]

UK: Offshore Wind Industry Slowed by Birds, Bombs, Sharks

Birds, sharks and unexploded bombs from World War II are being blamed for holding up offshore wind farms, raising doubts about the costs of the technology.

UK: Energy chief: political wrangling raises UK blackout risk

Centrica, the owner of British Gas, has warned that the intense political debate over gas and electricity prices has put Britain at risk of blackouts as soon as next year.

Rick Haythornthwaite, Centrica’s new chairman, said threats to impose price caps or break up Britain’s biggest energy supplier was raising the real possibility of “the lights going out in Britain”.

UK: Energy: Power down

Cheap US coal has made gas-fired electricity uneconomic and accelerated a capacity shortfall in the UK

UK: DECC chief gives his views on offshore wind, with Grimsby at the helm of half the current UK construction projects

The UK is the world leader for offshore wind: we have more wind turbines in the sea, generating more electricity than any country in the world and the biggest pipeline to 2020. Offshore wind currently makes up around 3 per cent of the UK’s total generating capacity and it is already an essential part of our energy mix alongside other technologies, renewable and otherwise. And that’s not just because it helps reduce carbon emissions; we also know that offshore wind has huge potential as a scaleable renewable technology, with scope for significant deployment as well as cost reductions and benefits for businesses and UK PLC.

UK: UK factories shut down to avoid high power costs

Cripplingly high power costs are forcing some of Britain’s heavy manufacturers to shut down their entire operation at peak times, with furnaces cooling and workers shivering in cold, darkened offices.
Executives say this “third world” scenario is becoming more frequent, as companies try to avoid using energy at peak times, when costs can rise 300 fold under the unusual rules of Britain’s power market.

World: Chevron apologizes for fracking well explosion with coupons for free pizza

The best way to get through these trying times is to remember that’s there an upside to everything. To take just one example: yes, global warming is destroying the planet, but the melting glaciers are also revealing the preserved corpses of WWI soldiers, which is pretty cool. And if, say, a fracking well explodes in your community, causing a fire that raged for five days and leaving one person presumed dead, you might get a free pizza out of it!

World: California drought: Why farmers are ‘exporting water’ to China

While historic winter storms have battered much of the US, California is suffering its worst drought on record. So why is America’s most valuable farming state using billions of gallons of water to grow hay – specifically alfalfa – which is then shipped to China?

UK: Offshore wind farm scrapped due to fears over birds

Plans to extend the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, the London Array in the Thames estuary, have been scrapped due to fears it would harm seabirds, in the latest blow to the government’s hopes for the industry.

UK: Compensate us if you freeze the carbon tax, says power giant Drax

Power giant says freezing the carbon tax will help keep the lights on and cut bills, but says it should be compensated after investing in biomass in the belief the tax would rise

UK: Energy bills to rise to help Scottish wind farms, report warns

Consumers face higher energy bills under Ofgem changes designed to help encourage wind farms in Scotland, experts have warned.
The planned overhaul of network charges will slash costs for Scottish wind farm developers by £1.3m a year but increase costs for southern power plants.

UK: UK storms: Hammond says climate change ‘clearly a factor’

Climate change is “clearly a factor” in the period of stormy weather the UK has been experiencing, the defence secretary has said.

Philip Hammond told the Andrew Marr Show the storms and flooding had caused “quite serious damage” to the country’s infrastructure.

[I’m afraid the Met Office agglomeration of over paid pseudo experts disagree. Hammond should fall on his sword and Cameron should clip the wings of the Met Office in a way that makes them more scientific and less political.]

UK: Revealed: how green ideology turned a deluge into a flood

It has taken six long weeks to uncover the real hidden reasons why, from the West Country to the Thames Valley, the flooding caused by the wettest January on record has led to such an immense national disaster. Only now have the two ‘smoking guns’ finally come to light which show just how and why all this chaos and misery has resulted directly from a massive system failure in the curious way our country is governed.

UK: How Somerset Levels river flooded after it was not dredged for decades

This historic photograph reveals how a lack of dredging has halved the width of a key river on the Somerset Levels.
The picture taken in the 1960s shows a wide expanse of water passing through Burrowbridge with plenty of room for water levels to rise.

My selection of stories posted by Luis de Sousa At The Edge of Time.

World: ‘Big oil’ getting smaller as production keeps falling

The biggest western oil companies are continuing to see their oil output decline, despite record investment in recent years spurred by sustained crude prices in excess of $100/barrel, according to data released by the companies.

Furthermore, with total world oil output continuing to rise every year, the western majors are seeing their share of the global market fall even faster, with new volumes coming largely from their rivals in places like Russia and a host of smaller companies at the heart of the shale oil boom in the US.

World: UPDATE 1-Libya oil output falls to 375,000 bpd, protest affects El Sharara pipeline

Libya’s oil output was down at 375,000 barrels per day (bpd) on Tuesday with protests continuing to affect a pipeline from the major El Sharara field, a National Oil Corporation (NOC) spokesman said.

Protesters last week had obstructed two pipelines coming from the Al Wafa field, which usually supplies around 30,000 bpd of light oil condensate, and also partially blocked a pipeline from the 340,000-bpd El Sharara field.

World: Army loses more ground to Sunni militants in northern Iraq

Gunmen seized part of Sulaiman Bek town and nearby villages in northern Iraq on Thursday, local officials said, the latest instance of authorities losing ground to militants.

Sulaiman Bek has been previously targeted by Sunni militants, who last year executed 14 Shiite truck drivers on a nearby highway and also temporarily held territory.

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16 Responses to Blowout week 8

  1. Kit P says:

    “use nearly a third less electricity to light their homes ”
    Really! Did people just learn to use the light switch in the UK?
    Conservation is an ethic and does not require understanding of rocket science. Idiot journalists think nothing of overpriced food and coffee. The ethical challenged worry about how others use energy.
    Speaking of idiots, Donald Trump is old enough to remember the last time we had a very cold winter. Yes the idiots of the time were predicting an ice age just as they predict global warming when it is warmer that they remember.
    In the face of life on the planet getting better and better, there are those who predict gloom and doom.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Kit, the saving of electricity is a triumph for technology and the energy policy of the EU. We are now obliged to use “compact fluorescent” energy saving light bulbs. It is no longer possible to buy incandescent bulbs. The added advantage is that the new bulbs cost about 5 times as much as the old and only give out about half the light. At my latitude, the “waste heat” from the incandescent bulbs heated my house in winter.

      Your optimism about the future is great. But not shared by those in Venezuela, Brazil, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Syria and now Ukraine.

      • Roger Andrews says:

        As far as I know light bulb usage isn’t separately metered, so I’m wondering where the “third less” number came from. Computer models, perhaps? 😉

        Our house is 100% fluorescent bulbs too, but I don’t think they give out only a fifth as much light as incandescents. I would put the number closer to a tenth. But they do save us money while we go blind.

  2. Kit P says:

    “energy policy of the EU ” Oh you Euan are good, that was sarcasm. Got me! I have used CFL for more than 20 years where I leave the light on all the time. Also good point about leaving the lights on in winter and turn them off on bright sunny days when the heat pump has to remove heat load.
    I work in the power industry and are job is to provide energy to improve our customers. The same skills are used to provide clean drinking water. My optimism is based on living places where the rule of law allows us to do that. We can do that because of the rule of law which is a vestige of the British Empire. While there may always be evil in the world along with misdirected liberals, all we have to know is that we can solve a problem and provide a path for others to follow.

    • Roger Andrews says:

      Miliband is worse yet:

      “Mr Miliband pressed the Prime Minister on why he was happy to have “climate change deniers” in his Cabinet, echoing the call from the Green Party earlier this month to have purge of disbelievers at the top of Government.”

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I spent ages a few months ago making a mail list of all Mp’s (650 rounded up) and first time I used it Google bounced it on spam principles – fair enough. Yesterday I managed to split it into two and mailed the whole House of Commons with links to Benny Peiser’s excellent vid and a couple of my recent posts on the cause of flooding and Met Office analysis. This generates a cascade of emails coming back – currently standing at 2307 unread. I realise that very few MPs will read this, but none of them can stand up in future and say “we didn’t know” since information was sent and receipt of information acknowledged. What more can you do?

      The MSM could be doing a lot more since they have greater access and are armed with the information to ask the pressing questions. My MSM mail list is about 180 journalists.

      Cameron is making a HUGE mistake. His only chance at the next election is to turn pro-science and anti-green sh*t.

      I have sent an email to Met Office requesting a line of communication, preferably with Prof Slingo, request acknowledged, awaiting action. I think its worth noting here that when David MacKay is openly challenged he shows up on blogs and defends his opinions vigorously. I very much respect him for doing that. It’s time for the Met Office to follow suit. They should be able to produce references to support their assertions on sea levels and why this warranted elevation to the summary of their “Final Analysis” report on the floods. My current understanding and opinion is their data was fabricated and the impact of “sea level” on the coastal flooding all burt zero.

      Another flooding post tomorrow.


  3. Joe Public says:

    Hi Euan. I don’t know whether you’ve covered this Bloomberg report by Mikael Holter Feb 13, 2014 2:59 PM GMT:-

    The headline is:- “Shell Sees Stable Oil Price for 20 Years With Volatility Bursts”

    The opening sentence is:- “Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) Plc., Europe’s biggest oil company, said crude prices would on average probably remain at current levels or rise steadily for the next two decades, with periods of volatility.”

    Surely, the only conclusion can be “Shell Sees No Decline in Oil Price for 20 Years With Volatility Bursts”?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Joe, you know my background is peak oil and resource scarcity. So this does not surprise me. At $80 / bbl the North Sea dies. At $110 it is limping along – the boom is an investment facade concealing lacks of return on that investment. At $150 its party time for the oil industry, pain for the consumer. The pain for the consumer comes in the form of sufficient supplies of more expensive energy as opposed to energy shortages and real hardship.

      I prepared a post a while back trying to separate climate scepticism / climate concern from resource abundance and resource scarcity. Maybe I need to post it. I’m keen to educate and I’m not that interested in preaching a cause.

      In the energy debate no one knows the right answer, but is possible to identify the wrong ones. At the end of the day you end up with a choice between the least bad solutions. I suspect that energy prices will continue to rise for the rest of our lives, and that economic growth will suffer prolonged stagnation as a result.

      The link goes into next weeks Blowout.

  4. Kit P says:

    “Surely, the only conclusion can be “Shell ”
    Of course there are many conclusions that can be drawn from the data. One is there are too many rich people with communicating with a computer that have never had a real job. Fifty years ago I worked Saturday nights a Charlie Knox Shell pumping gas. What a great way of meeting girls who do not have a boyfriend. “would you like me to check your oil?”
    What wonderful times we live in when AGW is something people worry about. Using energy is bad so therefore our paternal politicians must protect us from ourselves by taxing the hell out of energy. Send then to a malaria infested energy infrastructure deficient back water to learn how to wash cloths by hand.

  5. Andrew Dodds says:

    Speaking as a Somerset Resident..

    The obvious question is, is the ongoing cost of dredging (and building/operating pumping stations, etc) actually worth it in terms of the number of people who live there? The vast majority of the area flooded is uninhabited on grounds of it being at or below sea level and hence extremely flood-prone; I’m not sure we should be basing flood defence policy on ‘whatever makes the national news’.

    Bear in mind that many of the farmers you see complaining are getting payments to keep their fields wet under these programs.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Andrew, this is the tricky discussion that is not taking place. Thus far the government has made no effort to separate the weather, from climate change and flood management cost and strategy. I am inclined to blame the flooding on inclement weather and flood management strategy whilst the government seems intent on balming it on climate change.

      If it were decided to abandon The Levels then this must surely take place in the context of a public debate and compensation for those affected. The Thames / Jubilee River system is equally complex. Perhaps the engineering there saved thousands of homes from being flooded and may make good sense but at the cost of increasing the flood levels in the areas that were flooded. I don’t know how you manage that situation. I’m kind of against compensating victims since if folks make a decision to live on the flood plain beside a big river that floods regularly then they must expect to be flooded every now and then.

  6. Kit P says:

    “I suspect that energy prices will continue to rise for the rest of our lives, ”
    Food and energy are dirt cheap commodities. There is only one direction they can go but because they these important commodities are regulated keeping those of us who produce them from charging what the value is to rich cry babies with computers. What happens when society has cheap food and energy? Think hard shallow people. You become incredible productive and cheap commodities become a smaller and smaller part of your budget. The problems is not on the production side of the equation. On one hand I can make a long list of how we produce more at lower cost with less environmental impact. On the other hand I can provide a list of hidden taxes and regulations without benefit costing the consumer. This a trend that can not be solved by engineers.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Kit, maybe in USA but not in Europe and many other places. The EU has a system of subsidies designed to line the pockets of farmers making the food surplus we produce very expensive food that poor countries cannot afford to buy. EU used to export food to Egypt (maybe still do) where the government subsidised the costs. I think the withdrawal of the subsidies had something to do with the revolution in that country. Egypt used to export oil and gas which helped them pay for food. This year they will export neither.

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