Blowout week 9

Ukraine: Russia occupies Crimea without firing a shot; Ukraine looking for alternative supplies of gas; Russia cuts oil exports to country

Utilities: €billion write downs on legacy infrastructure; reduced subsidies hit wind producers; EU interfering; CCS gets Green light at Peterhead

Climate: Volcanoes and fragrant pines are implicated

OPEC: Iraq and Libya continue slide towards the abyss

World: Ukraine crisis: Russia vows troops will stay

Russia has vowed its troops will remain in Ukraine to protect Russian interests and citizens until the political situation has been “normalised”.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was defending human rights against “ultra-nationalist threats”.

28 stories in this bumper issue of Blowout.
World: Npower’s owner set for £4bn hit

THE German owner of Npower is set to write off hundreds of millions of pounds on the value of its British power plants in the latest sign of a deepening crisis among the big six energy suppliers.

RWE, one of Europe’s largest power companies, will reveal the British loss as part of an expected €4.8bn (£4bn) writedown of the value of its fleet of power stations.

World: Shell Sees Stable Oil Price for 20 Years With Volatility Bursts

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.

World: Smell of forest pine can limit climate change – researchers

New research suggests a strong link between the powerful smell of pine trees and climate change.

Scientists say they’ve found a mechanism by which these scented vapours turn into aerosols above boreal forests.

Climate: Can Economies Develop Without Warming the Globe?

Can the world promote economic development while still halting climate change?

It’s a complicated question, but a new study suggests that so far, humanity isn’t doing so well at meeting both goals at the same time.

UK: Drop in power stations emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions from Scotland’s power stations have fallen by more than a third in five years, figures have revealed.

Climate: Global warming slowdown ‘does not invalidate climate change’

The slowdown in rising global surface temperatures is not a sign that climate change is no longer happening, the national science academies of the US and the UK have said.

UK: Wind farm plans in tatters after subsidy rethink

Developers are abandoning plans for new wind farms in Britain because they are “no longer financially viable”.
The decision to scrap the wind farms is the first evidence that the spread of turbines across the country is being halted. It follows a radical overhaul by the Government of the consumer subsidy, worth more than £1 billion a year to wind farm owners.

UK: Wind farm earnings hit by plans to freeze carbon tax

Wind farm owners across Britain will earn tens of millions of pounds less than expected because of plans by the Government to freeze the carbon tax.
Solar farm, biomass and nuclear plant owners will also see future earnings cut by the change, widely expected to be announced in the Budget later this month.

UK: Nuclear power is largest generator of electrical energy in Scotland

While the focus of the UK nuclear sector is on the new-build programme, recent results from EDF remind us that existing nuclear capacity is still a major player in the UK energy scene.

Their nuclear fleet is now delivering more electrical energy than at any time during the past eight years, resulting in a boost for operating profits.

World: Dismantling Fukushima: The World’s Toughest Demolition Project

A radiation-proof superhero could make sense of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in an afternoon. Our champion would pick through the rubble to reactor 1, slosh through the pooled water inside the building, lift the massive steel dome of the protective containment vessel, and peek into the pressure vessel that holds the nuclear fuel.

UK: Iberdrola urges Nick Clegg not to jeopardise £10bn investment

The government must maintain a stable regulatory environment to continue to attract investment, Iberdrola bosses told Nick Clegg on Wednesday.

UK: Brussels probes UK state aid for Drax power station project

Brussels has started a preliminary investigation into whether the UK breached state aid rules when it guaranteed a £75m loan to Britain’s largest coal-fired power station to help it burn wood pellets instead of coal, the Financial Times has learnt.

UK: Energy firms told to trade fairly with smaller rivals

The “big six” energy firms are being told to trade with small energy suppliers fairly, or face heavy fines.

Regulator Ofgem says its plan will make it easier for new suppliers to enter the market, and will improve the transparency of the firms’ accounts.

UK: North Sea ‘Paradox’ Highlighted by New Survey

Trade body Oil & Gas UK’s said Tuesday that its latest Activity Survey highlights the contradictions currently at play in the UK offshore oil and gas sector. The organization said that while its survey showed that capital spending on the UK Continental Shelf remains high and that production on the UKCS last year was better than expected, the industry is facing its greatest challenge in 50 years when it comes to exploration.

UK: Deputy Prime Minister announces Clean Energy Deal

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey announced a ground-breaking deal with Shell today which could generate enough clean energy to power half a million homes, and capture 1 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

Climate: Volcanic eruptions causing global warming slowdown, study says

Small volcanic eruptions help explain a hiatus in global warming this century by dimming sunlight and offsetting a rise in emissions of heat-trapping gases to record highs, a study showed on Sunday.

Eruptions of at least 17 volcanoes since 2000, including Nabro in Eritrea, Kasatochi in Alaska and Merapi in Indonesia, ejected sulphur whose sun-blocking effect had been largely ignored until now by climate scientists, it said.

UK: North Sea still has vital role in keeping the lights on

In 1965, an exploration rig called Sea Gem made the first discovery of gas in the freezing cold waters of the British North Sea. Since then 42 billion barrels of oil and gas have been extracted from the UK continental shelf.
Offshore oil and gas has proven to be a vital strategic resource for the United Kingdom. Not only has it contributed to Britain’s energy security over decades, but it has supported hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country and contributed hundreds of billions of pounds in taxes to the economy.

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.

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: Funding boost for Shell and SSE’s gas carbon capture plan

Plans to capture carbon dioxide emissions from a gas-fired power station in Aberdeenshire and bury them beneath the North Sea have won tens of millions of pounds in government funding.
Ed Davey, the energy secretary, on Monday announces the funding for Royal Dutch Shell and SSE’s Peterhead carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, which would be the first commercial-scale gas-fired CCS plant.

My selection of stories posted by Luis de Sousa At The Edge of Time. Luis’ focus this week is on Ukraine but he is also keeping a wary eye on OPEC members Iraq and Libya.

World: Vladimir Putin can inflict a costly revenge on Ukraine

President Putin’s latest war games do not mean Russia is planning a military intervention, but the Kremlin has plenty of other options

World: Ukraine’s Naftogaz slashes Russian gas imports in February

Ukraine’s state oil and gas company, Naftogaz, has slashed gas imports from Russia’s Gazprom to 28 million cubic meters per day as of February 24 from 147 million, two Russian industry sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

They said Naftogaz had gradually reduced its imports from 147 million cubic meters as of February 1, but did not offer a reason for the cuts.

World: Ukraine’s oil and gas company reports offices attacked, documents stolen

Ukraine’s national oil and gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy said on Wednesday, February 26, that its offices had been attacked and safes with documents stolen.

World: Gas spat raises tensions in Ukraine

Ukraine’s state oil and gas company Naftogaz has announced that it will be reducing gas imports from Russia by 80% in February. This is happening as Russia is attempting to exert influence upon the former Soviet state. Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of Russia, signaled earlier that the Kremlin may raise prices on Ukrainians as it had in 2006 and 2009. Instead of being subject of the whim of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Naftogaz will loosen its ties with the Russian gas conglomerate Gazprom and look for other ways to import natural gas.

World: Russia’s LUKOIL stops oil supplies to Odessa refinery

Russia’s oil company LUKOIL has stopped oil supplies to the Odessa refinery in Ukraine.
“The last tanker was sent on December 29,” a company official said on Wednesday, February 26.

World: Militants shoot down Iraqi helicopter and occupy northern town

Militants shot down a helicopter on Saturday and briefly occupied a town, in an escalating turf war with Iraq’s government that has killed at least 25 people in two days, police said.

All four crew members were killed when their helicopter was downed during a reconnaissance flight over the town of Karma in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, where the army is engaged in a standoff with anti-government fighters.

World: The road ahead for Libya: The making of a failed state

A neatly packaged TV report was aired on the BBC on February 20, showing cheerful Libyans lining up to elect a 60-member assembly that will be entrusted to draft the country’s constitution. But the reality on the ground shows that such an endeavour is doomed to fail. Libya’s state institutions are crumbling and violence is spreading. Another vote in an unpopular election will change little on the ground.

This entry was posted in Blowout and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Blowout week 9

  1. Joe Public says:

    Slightly off-topic, but affects your realm of expertise:-

  2. burnsider says:

    A useful insight into the contributions of coal, oil, biomass, wind, nuclear, etc to the total UK electricity generated can be had at

  3. Roger Andrews says:

    Ten of the 28 articles in this Bumper Blowout are directly or indirectly climate change-related. I’ve divided them into three categories:

    Category 1: People will say anything to keep the global warming bandwagon rolling:

    * Global warming slowdown ‘does not invalidate climate change’
    * Volcanic eruptions causing global warming slowdown, study says
    * Smell of forest pine can limit climate change – researchers

    Category 2: Efforts to cut CO2 emissions aren’t working:

    * Can Economies Develop Without Warming the Globe?
    * Npower’s owner set for £4bn hit
    * Wind farm plans in tatters after subsidy rethink
    * Wind farm earnings hit by plans to freeze carbon tax
    * North Sea still has vital role in keeping the lights on
    * Wind farms paid £30m to shut down during high winds

    Category 3: Any CO2 reduction, no matter how insignificant, counts as a victory:

    * Drop in power stations emissions (the numbers given are wrong, incidentally)

    Food for thought.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Roger, thanks for the compilation. It was in last weeks blowout I referred to chaos and non-science. One side of the house is getting away with making up any kind of drivel on energy and climate leaving those looking for a solid scientific grounding feeling lost and confused 🙁

  4. Roger Andrews says:
  5. burnsider says:

    You could equally well say that Category 1 is the scientific method at work, improving the understanding of the world climate system (whether it leads to a warming or cooling conclusion). An analogy is ‘classical’ physics and quantum mechanics or Newtonian and Einsteinian gravity. The earlier models weren’t invalidated, only developed and improved upon. Classical physics is at the back of energy balance etc calculations and Newtonian calculations took Voyagers 1 and 2 to the outer reaches of the Solar System.

    Regarding ‘global warming causes more ice’, I would say that is also the scientific method at work. To quote the article:-

    “According to researchers from Canada’s McGill University, satellite images of Antarctica during the polar winter in the mid-1970s revealed the ice-free region, or polynya, which stayed open for three full winters before it closed. Scientists said that the opening was maintained as relatively warm waters churned upward from miles below the ocean’s surface, releasing heat from the ocean’s deepest reaches. But, the polynya has not reappeared in the nearly 40 years since it closed due to the effects of climate change on ocean salinity, researchers said in a study published in Nature Climate Change.

    “Deep ocean waters only mix directly to the surface in a few small regions of the global ocean, so this has effectively shut one of the main conduits for deep ocean heat to escape,” Casimir de Lavergne, the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

    The researchers analyzed tens of thousands of measurements made by ships and robotic floats in the ocean around Antarctica over a period of 60 years, and concluded that the ocean’s surface has been gradually getting less salty since the 1950s. This lid of fresh water on top of the ocean prevents mixing with the warm waters underneath, trapping ocean heat in the depths of the ocean.”

    Given that the conclusion was based on analysis of thousands of measurements over 60 years, I would say the conclusion is fair enough

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Burnsider, your comment seems fair enough if only it were true.

      But, the polynya has not reappeared in the nearly 40 years since it closed due to the effects of climate change on ocean salinity, researchers said in a study published in Nature Climate Change.

      They may have observations on salinity, that need to be analysed alongside temperature since both variables determine density, but how do they make the link to Climate Change, by which we have to presume they mean global warming.

      This agrees with the observations, and fits with a well-accepted principle that a warming planet will see dryer regions become dryer and wetter regions become wetter

      🙂 I thought the edges of the climate belts moved. And so we should expect to see tropics (very wet) encroach on deserts, deserts (very dry) encroach on Mediterranean and Mediterranean encroach on temperate. I’m afraid the authors of this piece appear to be living on a different planet.

      Every year I go down to Aberdeen beach looking for palm trees, I’m always disappointed. Aberdeen seems stuck in the bastard northern edge of the temperate belt / bordering on Arctic. There has not been much change that I would recognise in my 57 years.

      I bet you in the polynya reappears that will be blamed on climate change (ie GW) too.

      • burnsider says:

        The article said, just below the quote about dry and wet regions:-

        “True to form, the polar Southern Ocean – as a wet place – has indeed become wetter. And in response to the surface ocean freshening, the polynyas simulated by the models also disappeared.”

        To take this a bit further, another wet region, the Atlantic Ocean, certainly became wetter earlier this year and encroached somewhat on a drier region (the UK) due to increased moisture in the atmosphere… 🙂

        There is a danger in conflating weather and climate as the former refers to localities while the latter refers to the whole system. The weather in Caithness is as up and down as ever, although I would say, based on my own experiences, that we get less snow and ice in winter than we used to (wet and windy feels just as cold, though).

        By application of the scientific method and steady improvement in understanding, the truth about climate change will be teased out. It is in the nature of scientific developments that theories are proposed, tested and if found wanting, either discarded or modified (Newton and Einstein theories a good example of the latter). the classic example relates to swans. Up to the mid 18th century, a very good theory was that ‘All swans are white’, based on abundant observational evidence. Then Europeans got to Western Australia and the theory was toast.

        A chemists example (sorry!!) is Phlogiston Theory ( which held sway for about 150 years but was completely refuted by experimental evidence. It was plain wrong, but not all bad because

        “Phlogiston theory permitted chemists to bring clarification of apparently different phenomena into a coherent structure: combustion, metabolism, and configuration of rust. The recognition of the relation between combustion and metabolism was a forerunner of the recognition that the metabolism of living organisms and combustion can be understood in terms of fundamentally related chemical processes.”

        The scientific method again and advanced by a theory being put forward and properly tested

    • Roger Andrews says:


      As an example of the level of “science” you’re dealing with, consider the “Volcanic eruptions causing global warming slowdown, study says” article, which claims that eruptions from 17 volcanoes that “dimmed sunlight” made a measurable contribution to the lack of warming since 2000.

      Here’s a plot of global aerosol optical depth since 1850, which is a measure of the amount of sunlight that gets dimmed by volcanic activity:

      The major eruptions all come booming through, as do a number of smaller ones. But where are the 17 eruptions since 2000 that dimmed sunlight? They aren’t there.

      • burnsider says:

        Given that the plot is a representation of the actual data (some directly measured and some, I suspect, proxy data like ice core measurements, etc) I would conclude that the volcanoes since Pinatubo did not inject a great deal of sulphate aerosol into the stratosphere (the cause of increased aerosol depth from eruptions). The article cited states:-

        “The study suggested that volcanoes accounted for up to 15% of the difference between predicted and observed warming this century. All things being equal, temperatures should rise because greenhouse gas emissions have hit repeated highs.

        “Volcanoes give us only a temporary respite from the relentless warming pressure of continued increases in carbon dioxide,” said Piers Forster, Professor of Climate Change at the University of Leeds.”

        Also optical depth is a logarithmic quantity ( :-

        I/I(sub)0 = exp (-Tau) where Tau is the optical depth, I = observed intensity and I(sub)0 = source intensity.

        Since the satellite(s) and other monitoring devices picked up Pinatubo in 1991 clearly and assuming that nobody is lying, concealing data or a member of a global conspiracy I can’t see where the problem is with the data. If there is another dataset somewhere that refutes the one shown, then someone is going to publish a peer-reviewed paper drawing attention to this and putting forward a revised interpretation. The scientific method, in a nutshell

        For info, the Nature Geoscience abstract said:-

        “Despite continued growth in atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, global mean surface and tropospheric temperatures have shown slower warming since 1998 than previously1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Possible explanations for the slow-down include internal climate variability3, 4, 6, 7, external cooling influences1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11 and observational errors12, 13. Several recent modelling studies have examined the contribution of early twenty-first-century volcanic eruptions1, 2, 4, 8 to the muted surface warming. Here we present a detailed analysis of the impact of recent volcanic forcing on tropospheric temperature, based on observations as well as climate model simulations. We identify statistically significant correlations between observations of stratospheric aerosol optical depth and satellite-based estimates of both tropospheric temperature and short-wave fluxes at the top of the atmosphere. We show that climate model simulations without the effects of early twenty-first-century volcanic eruptions overestimate the tropospheric warming observed since 1998. In two simulations with more realistic volcanic influences following the 1991 Pinatubo eruption, differences between simulated and observed tropospheric temperature trends over the period 1998 to 2012 are up to 15% smaller, with large uncertainties in the magnitude of the effect. To reduce these uncertainties, better observations of eruption-specific properties of volcanic aerosols are needed, as well as improved representation of these eruption-specific properties in climate model simulations.” (

        The diagrams are a bit difficult to read, unfortunately

        • Euan Mearns says:

          If there is another dataset somewhere that refutes the one shown, then someone is going to publish a peer-reviewed paper drawing attention to this and putting forward a revised interpretation. The scientific method, in a nutshell

          Burnsider I hope you enjoyed your extended vacation on IO 😉 The Team Game at the moment is to try and explain The Pause and accumulating Ocean Heat. Any paper espousing any old drivel that helps here gets published. Anything “unhelpful”, not. In the olden days, i.e. 2 or 3 years ago it was only the VEI 6 volcanoes that were deemed powerful enough to eject sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere and impact climate. Now any wee fart in the Pacific seems to be able to do the job.

          “Volcanoes give us only a temporary respite from the relentless warming pressure of continued increases in carbon dioxide,”


          Well what about the Chinese smogs? I thought they were the cause of cooling! And what about the European smogs that maybe caused cooling 60 years ago and clearing them caused global warming today (well actually a couple of decades ago).

          “Despite continued growth in atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, global mean surface and tropospheric temperatures have shown slower warming since 1998 than previously1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Possible explanations for the slow-down include…..

          They forget to mention the possibility that Climate Science may be totally wrong. So much data has been ignored, manipulated, miss interpreted all in the unscientific method of trying to prove themselves right – which has now gone into overdrive.

          Let’s start with volcanoes. A known temporary not aggregative negative feed back – why are they not in the models? The Sun – set to zero. Ocean currents that change course over time. Cloud cover that changes with time. Positive feedbacks that are totally theoretical and unproven. The question should not be to find out why the models are wrong but to ask why anyone thought they ever had any chance of being correct.

          I empathise with your views on The Scientific Method and am aware that disagreements are common place. But rarely do they place the welfare of society in peril.

          AR5 set equilibrium climate sensitivity in the huge range 1.5 to 4.5˚C. This means that Climate Scientists haven’t a faintest clue what is going on and apparently 97% of them agree with this 😉

          • burnsider says:

            I had to check out the definition of VEI6 (me just a chemist 🙂 ):- (from Wikipedia

            “[VEI6] means Volcanic Explosivity index. Such eruptions release a volume of at least 10 cubic kilometers with profound longterm effects on the surrounding area and noticeable shortterm effects on global climate.”

            Pinatubo seems to have been the last VEI6 eruption, with the more recent ones VEI5 (” immediate exceptionall effects on the surrounding area.”) or less. This is consistent with the graph of NASA data posted earlier (, with mainly ‘wee farts in the Pacific’ since then. The 1980 St Helens eruption (a decent bang by any standards!) was, rather to my surprise, only a 5, so local effects only in the main. The Nature Geoscience paper states:-

            “In two simulations with more realistic volcanic influences following the 1991 Pinatubo eruption, differences between simulated and observed tropospheric temperature trends over the period 1998 to 2012 are up to 15% smaller, with large uncertainties in the magnitude of the effect.”

            so the effects of the smaller eruptions were up to 15% with large uncertainties, ie fairly minor.

            The Chinese smogs probably do cause cooling over China, as you state, and the magnitude may be similar to any effect over Europe in the past (the land areas are probably similar). China is burning more and more coal as their economy has expanded during the nineties and noughties and the amount is likely to be similar to that burnt in Europe in the past. I don’t know if Chinese smog is factored into climate models, nor, indeed, if it it should be.

            I think it is a bit of a stretch of the imagination to say that climate science, uniquely among all branches of science, is or could be ‘totally wrong’ as the same methods employed in other branches of science are employed. That is not to say that it is ‘totally correct’ either, but, given the forward progress over time of all the branches of chemistry, physics and maths which contribute to climate science, I would say that the only way is forward with climate science too.

            It is worth noting that the AR5 estimate of 1.5 to 4.5C for the range of equilibrium climate sensitivity is PLUS 1.5 to 4.5C, rather than a rather more inconclusive result like -1.5 to + 1.5C. +1.5C is not going to be good for the welfare of society by most estimates, +4.5C is going to be pretty bad. Arrhenius (another chemist – sorry) in 1908 said:-

            “any doubling of the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air would raise the temperature of the earth’s surface by 4°” (

            based on a fairly simple energy balance model of the global climate. The fact that 100 years of research have not moved the estimate very much suggests that the fundamentals are pretty much on the mark and also emphasises that models often only have to be complex enough rather than 100% exact to give a pretty good description.

  6. Euan Mearns says:

    Burnsider, I hope to find time to respond to this more fully, in a day or two perhaps. But here’s my opening shot. The graphic is from IPCC AR5 and summarises their view of factors that influence the climate system. Note the only natural forcing taken into account is a tiny forcing attributed to The Sun. In other words, the IPCC does not believe in natural climate variability, a core belief embedded in the Hokey Stick. But even then they now talk about “internal variability” of the climate system – which is their euphemism for natural climate change, and yet, they do not include variables in their models of these well know natural drivers. Including natural drivers would mean having to admit that some (maybe more than half) of the warming 1980 to 2000 was down to natural causes and this has the effect of de-leveraging their scary estimates for climate sensitivity. I don’t see much evidence of scientific method here. Natural factors that are excluded include:

    dOcean currents
    dConvection rate
    dSolar spectral output
    dSolar magnetic field

    All known about and systematically excluded from consideration because including them results in their models crumbling. Of relevance today is this post on Bishop Hill linking to a report on GWPF

    IPCC hides the good news

    • Roger Andrews says:

      I think you’re flogging a dead horse here Euan, but I’ll put my ten cents’ worth in anyway.

      Burnsider is incorrect in claiming that Arrhenius estimated a climate sensitivity of 4C in 1908. He made this estimate in 1896. Then in 1906 he adjusted it downwards to 1.6 – 2.1C. (This information is also in the Wikipedia article on Arrhenius that Burnsider links to, but he seems to have missed it.)

      Burnsider is also incorrect in claiming that “+1.5C (of warming) is not going to be good for the welfare of society by most estimates”. “Most estimates” in fact suggest that up to ~2.5C of global warming will have positive impacts on the welfare of society. See Figure 1 in:

      (Arrhenius also believed that a few degrees of global warming would be “genial”. Anyone in Arrhenius’ time who predicted that it would be bad for the welfare of society would have been regarded as a crackpot.)

      • burnsider says:

        Alas, economic theory is not something I know a lot about (just a chemist), but as far as I can make out, the paper referenced draws strongly on the Equilibrium Model and the assumption of optimal markets. Having seen how well modern economic theory performed in the lead-up to the 2007 economic crisis, in terms of accurately representing reality and making useful predictions, I am to say the least suspicious when economists start getting their oar in around climate science. Nevertheless, some sensible (to me at any rate) observations appear in the summary:-

        “Carbon dioxide emissions are probably a negative externality, and should therefore be taxed”
        “I reasoned from the perspective of a global planner. Greenhouse gas emission reduction is, of course, a public good.”

        Part of the problem when economists consider the impact adverse happenings such as the recent extreme weather is that the cost of sandbags, deploying the military, flood protection, etc is treated as economic activity and aggregated with the GDP. I found a page of economist jokes (, one of which makes the point nicely (slightly edited for family audiences):-

        “Experienced economist and not so experienced economist are walking down the road. They get across [something nasty] lying on the asphalt.
        Experienced economist: “If you eat it I’ll give you $20,000!”
        Not so experienced economist runs his optimization problem and figures out he’s better off eating it so he does and collects money.
        Continuing along the same road they almost step into yet another [something nasty]
        Not so experienced economist: “Now, if YOU eat this [something nasty] I’ll give YOU $20,000.”
        After evaluating the proposal experienced economist eats [something nasty] getting the money.
        They go on. Not so experienced economist starts thinking: “Listen, we both have the same amount of money we had before, but we both ate [something nasty]. I don’t see us being better off.”
        Experienced economist: “Well, that’s true, but you overlooked the fact that we’ve been just involved in $40,000 of trade.” ”

        A good critique of modern economic theory is available at from where I abstracted these quotes:-

        “Markets and profits are crucial to increase economic welfare, but the pure free market model is deeply flawed. Criticisms of the relevance of the equilibrium model to the real world have been made for many years. Indeed, there appear to be so many violations of the conditions under which competitive equilibrium exists that is it hard to see why the concept survives, except for the vested interests of the economics profession and the link between prevailing right wing political ideology and the justifications equilibrium theory provides. The orthodoxy of economics, trapped in an idealized, mechanistic view of the world, is powerless to assist in resolving the world’s economic problems and crises.”
        Paul Ormerod,
        The Death of Economics, 1994

        “Reputable or, as it is often called, mainstream economics has for some centuries given grace and acceptability to convenient belief – to what the socially and economically favored most wish or need to have believed. This economics, to repeat, is wholly reputable; it permeates and even dominates professional discussion and writing, the textbooks and classroom instruction.”
        John Kenneth Galbraith,
        The Culture of Contentment, 1992

        “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”
        Arthur Schopenhauer

        While climate science may or may not be in a position at this immediate point in time to say whether 2.5C rise in global mean temperature or a rise in carbon dioxide to 625ppm or whatever would be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for the welfare of society, I would contend that based on their recent performance, economists are sigularly poorly qualified to come up with any alternative opinion

    • burnsider says:

      I raised my eyebrows a just a little regarding the source material for the “IPCC hides the good news” comment above. The blog source is a paper from the Global Warming Policy Foundation (, which appears to be to objective assessment of the impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide what the ‘Daily Mail’ is to objective reporting on immigration. ;(

      Mea culpa regarding the Arrhenius error. It was late at night and I spotted the later (1908) estimate a little later, but didn’t think that the thrust of my argument was changed, so I didn’t delete and change the post .

      • Roger Andrews says:

        “I raised my eyebrows a just a little regarding the source material for the “IPCC hides the good news” comment above. The blog source is a paper from the Global Warming Policy Foundation (, which appears to be to objective assessment of the impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide what the ‘Daily Mail’ is to objective reporting on immigration.”

        There are many who believe, not without reason, that Wikipedia is to the objective assessment of the impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide as the Taliban are to freedom of religion.

        The GWPF paper you dismiss so lightly, which I doubt you even read, was written by two IPCC AR5 expert reviewers. The foreword was written by Judith Curry, a highly-qualified climate scientist who testifies before Congress. The GWPF Academic Advisory Council includes Richard Lindzen, arguably the world’s most eminent climate scientist, and Freeman Dyson, arguably the world’s most eminent scientist, period. So forgive me when I say that I don’t think your personal biases carry much weight here.

        • burnsider says:

          I did read the paper as it happens, not every word, but a reasonable skim. I did not intend to impugn the reputations of the authors of the paper, but I remain suspicious of non peer-reviewed papers commissioned by organisations which have a definite political agenda. If the report (which GWPF said was peer reviewed) had been published in something like Nature GeoScience, it would carry a lot more weight. As I have already stated, I am a firm believer in the scientific method and I have no doubt that this report will be taken on board according to its merit and will become part of the referenced literature. At the end of the day, good science trumps politics and the truth regarding the trajectory of any change(s) caused by increasing carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere will ultimately become apparent to everyone’s satisfaction.

          I can’t comment on the veracity of Wikipedia in respect of the assessment of the impact of increasing carbon dioxide (I assume we all agree that it is increasing…) as I use the site to point me to more direct references if possible rather than as a primary source in most cases. I had a feeling that the GWPF website wouldn’t give the full story, hence the Wikipedia link. Commendably, the GWPF say that they take no money from energy companies, but they appear to be just a *little* coy about where their funding does come from ( – sorry, a newspaper reference but in the absence of a primary reference…). Google ‘GWPF funding’ for the general flavour. The organisation comes over a bit like such worthy US organisations as the Cato Institute and the Heartland Institute which work hard to promote a very specific political agenda.

          Richard Lindzen is indeed an eminent climate scientist, but his Wikipedia entry makes interesting reading. He has obviously been frozen out by a conspiracy of ‘mainstream’ and undoubtedly deluded fellow climate scientists.

          I agree that Freeman Dyson is an eminent, if not pre-eminent scientist, but I came across an interesting critique of some of his thinking on climate science ( His specialty is theoretical and nuclear physics, rather than atmospheric physics/meteorology/climatology.

          ‘Arguably’ indeed.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Burnsider, I’m afraid that when you dismiss something based on where it is published or who wrote it without actually reading the material and reaching an objective and scientific judgement of its merits, then you have already lost the argument.

        Benny Peiser at the GWPF does a great job of bringing alternative, well argued and grounded information to the climate debate. He has published a couple of my articles, which on the basis of your standard operating procedure (SOP) are no longer worth reading or considering.

        This is Table 1 from the report that both Roger and I suspect you did not bother reading. If this data is correct then it suggests that Climate Science has not advanced understanding for 35 years – are you not both astonished and appalled by that given the $billions spent? And does it not raise some concerns / questions about the SOP deployed by climate scientists?

        • Roger Andrews says:

          Euan: Note that despite all the claims of “improved levels of understanding” the IPCC’s ECS range is wider in the AR5 than it was in the AR4.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Roger, I am convinced that 7 billion people on the planet + all their animals, land use changes, hoovering stuff out of the oceans and burning FF is bound to have an impact on climate. I don’t know how large, I suspect very s,mall. I’m guessing that evaporating the Colorado River over golf courses in Arizona impacts surface temperatures and thermometers. And that hoovering krill out of the Antarctic Ocean impacts the CO2 biological pump. We should by now know the answers to all these questions. But instead we are left with piles of BS and non-science.

            Does anyone seriously believe that 560 ppm CO2 will lead to a 4.5˚C increase in global lower troposphere average temperature? If they do believe this, then they also believe that 1120 ppm (0.11%V) will lead to 9˚C warming. Where is the physical evidence for anything like this happening?

            As mentioned earlier, 97% of climate scientists agree they haven’t got a clue what is going on.

          • Roger Andrews says:

            Euan; Up to the time when a thief did me the favor of stealing my clubs (I was a lousy golfer) I played on a number of Arizona courses, but none of them were watered with Colorado River water. Instead they used well water that had been recycled through human beings, and the impact was to convert the climate from hot, dry and fragrant to hot, humid and smelly.

            There’s a lot I could add on climate sensitivity and the human impacts but I think this maybe isn’t the place.

Comments are closed.