Friday, 18 October 2013

Dark energy - is it green and renewable?

The Financial Times reports about the race to solve the mysteries of the universe/universes:

Rolf Heuer, head of Cern, the world’s biggest physics lab, has declared his next research target after triumphantly achieving the first objective: finding the Higgs particle. “We have now completed the Standard Model,” he says. “It is high time for us to go on to the dark universe.”
His words will resonate with an army of scientists currently working on experiments in space, on Earth and in labs deep underground to create what they call “new physics”. Their hunt will go far beyond the Standard Model, which has been built up over the past 50 years to provide an internally consistent but incomplete description of the fabric of reality.
The dark universe is a double problem for new physics. Scientists do not know what makes up the “dark matter” that dominates all the ordinary stuff known to astronomers in galaxies, stars, planets, dust, quasars, black holes and so on. And “dark energy”, a repulsive antigravity force driving the universe apart at an accelerating pace, is even more mysterious.--

Here is a list of the main unknowns:

Dark energy
An unknown property of empty space which contributes 68 per cent of the mass-energy of the universe and counteracts gravity to drive cosmic expansion.
Dark matter
Particles that do not interact with ordinary matter and make up 27 per cent of the universe – identity unknown.
Matter made from the oppositely charged versions of familiar subatomic particles – positrons and antiprotons instead of electrons and protons.
The unproven idea that our universe is just one of a potentially infinite collection of universes – probably with different laws of physics.

Well, good luck to all of you who are members of the army of scientists. It may take a while before all the mysteries are solved.

Global warming alarmists will of course demand that dark energy is green and renewable. If not, then it is a case for the IPCC ...

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Matt Ridley on the benefits of climate change

Matt Ridley's article in the Spectator on the benefits of climate change is a must read.

The good news (that alarmists do not want to be known):

Climate change has done more good than harm so far and is likely to continue doing so for most of this century. This is not some barmy, right-wing fantasy; it is the consensus of expert opinion. --

There are many likely effects of climate change: positive and negative, economic and ecological, humanitarian and financial. And if you aggregate them all, the overall effect is positive today — and likely to stay positive until around 2080. That was the conclusion of Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University after he reviewed 14 different studies of the effects of future climate trends.
To be precise, Prof Tol calculated that climate change would be beneficial up to 2.2˚C of warming from 2009 (when he wrote his paper). This means approximately 3˚C from pre-industrial levels, since about 0.8˚C of warming has happened in the last 150 years. The latest estimates of climate sensitivity suggest that such temperatures may not be reached till the end of the century — if at all. --

The chief benefits of global warming include: fewer winter deaths; lower energy costs; better agricultural yields; probably fewer droughts; maybe richer biodiversity. It is a little-known fact that winter deaths exceed summer deaths — not just in countries like Britain but also those with very warm summers, including Greece. Both Britain and Greece see mortality rates rise by 18 per cent each winter. Especially cold winters cause a rise in heart failures far greater than the rise in deaths during heatwaves. --

The greatest benefit from climate change comes not from temperature change but from carbon dioxide itself. It is not pollution, but the raw material from which plants make carbohydrates and thence proteins and fats. As it is an extremely rare trace gas in the air — less than 0.04 per cent of the air on average — plants struggle to absorb enough of it. On a windless, sunny day, a field of corn can suck half the carbon dioxide out of the air. Commercial greenhouse operators therefore pump carbon dioxide into their greenhouses to raise plant growth rates.--

The bad news (that alarmists do not want to be known):

... climate policy is already doing harm. Building wind turbines, growing biofuels and substituting wood for coal in power stations — all policies designed explicitly to fight climate change — have had negligible effects on carbon dioxide emissions. But they have driven people into fuel poverty, made industries uncompetitive, driven up food prices, accelerated the destruction of forests, killed rare birds of prey, and divided communities. To name just some of the effects. Mr Goklany estimates that globally nearly 200,000 people are dying every year, because we are turning 5 per cent of the world’s grain crop into motor fuel instead of food: that pushes people into malnutrition and death. In this country, 65 people a day are dying because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly, according to Christine Liddell of the University of Ulster, yet the government is planning to double the cost of electricity to consumers by 2030.
As Bjorn Lomborg has pointed out, the European Union will pay £165 billion for its current climate policies each and every year for the next 87 years. Britain’s climate policies — subsidising windmills, wood-burners, anaerobic digesters, electric vehicles and all the rest — is due to cost us £1.8 trillion over the course of this century. In exchange for that Brobdingnagian sum, we hope to lower the air temperature by about 0.005˚C — which will be undetectable by normal thermometers. The accepted consensus among economists is that every £100 spent fighting climate change brings £3 of benefit.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Professor Frank Furedi on how conservatism came to be treated as a mental deficiency

Paul Krugman: "In recent months, the GOP seems to have transitioned from being the stupid party to being the crazy party."

Senator Mark Warner: "Enough is enough. Sequestration is stupid. Shutting down the government is stupidity on steroids."

Ben Bernanke: Stop Being the Stupid Party

Arizone Republic Editorial Board: Why are 'tea-party' Republicans being so stupid?

Foreign Policy: The Walking Dumb

You’re right-wing? You must be stupid. University of Kent sociology professor Frank Furedi on how conservatism came to be treated as a mental deficiency:

It is worth noting that, historically, the manipulation of science to discredit political opponents – from nineteenth-century craniology to twentieth-century Stalinist and Nazi theories – was strongly criticised by the intellectual community. Today, by contrast, it is self-styled intellectuals, especially the ones who refer to themselves as ‘liberal’, who use such pseudo-scientific tactics to pathologise their opponents as a mentally and intellectually inferior political species. And there is barely any dissent from this view.--

Since the 1940s, intelligence has been turned into a cultural weapon that is used by individuals and groups to validate their status and authority. Inevitably, this weapon is most effectively used by those claiming the status of an intellectual. As Mark F Proudman has written: ‘The imputation of intelligence and of its associated characteristics of enlightenment, broad-mindedness, knowledge and sophistication to some ideologies and not to others is itself therefore a powerful tool of ideological advocacy.’ (3)
Making fun of the parochial and folksy ways of right-wing politicians and exposing their grammatical errors to ridicule is one way that intellectuals assume moral superiority these days. Those who have something of a monopoly over modern-day intellectual capital can thus present themselves as the possessors of moral authority, too. --

It is of course quite legitimate to argue that the ideas held by conservatives are stupid. But the tactic of devaluing the mental capacity of conservatives calls into question the validity of open debate and free speech. Why take seriously or discuss the views of those who are intellectually inferior? In the past, such arguments were used by anti-democratic theorists to put the case against popular sovereignty, against mass engagement, against allowing the allegedly ignorant public to get involved in politics. Today, such arguments are used by those who pose as knowledge-rich experts as a way of suggesting that the rest of us – the ignorant – should defer to them.
Genuine intellectuals who are devoted to the pursuit of ideas and who understand the transformative potential of debate should reject the politics of insult. Instead of sneeringly declaring ‘they don’t get it’, a real intellectual should develop ideas in a way that would allow ‘them’ to get it. Indeed, it is the conviction that most human beings have the potential to grasp the issues facing their communities that underpins the ideals of democratic politics and popular sovereignty. The real problem today is not stupid conservatives, but people with multiple university degrees who ‘don’t get’ what it truly means to be an intellectual.

Read the entire article here

How right you are, professor!

Monday, 14 October 2013

David Cameron's legacy: "Green vandalism driven by greed"

If there is anything David Cameron's government will be remembered for, it's the destruction of the traditional landscape in vast areas of Britain. The village of Orston in Nottinghamshire  is just one example:

The village of Orston used to be the sort of place where nothing ever happened. People liked it that way.
The most notable thing about this quiet, leafy settlement in Nottinghamshire was that the parish church had a drum from the Battle of Waterloo.
But suddenly the 450 villagers have been pitched into a battle of their own, against green energy developers.
Four industrial-scale projects including a pair of huge wind turbines are proposed for fields on the edge of Orston, just outside the village conservation area.
This is green vandalism driven by greed,” says one local, unfolding a map in the pub, The Durham Ox. --

The battle is being fought not just in this village but across the whole of Britain. There has been a surge in such projects in recent times as companies rush to take advantage of lucrative consumer subsidies, as the Government strives to ensure that 15 per cent of Britain’s energy needs are met from renewable sources by 2020.
Last year, wind turbine owners received help amounting to £1.2 billion. That was effectively £100,000 per job in the wind farm industry, paid for by a supplement on electricity bills. The total subsidy is expected to rise to £6 billion by 2020.
Over the last few days, energy companies have warned the Prime Minister that bills will continue to rise if they have to keep paying for green subsidies and environmental taxes.
Mr Morris, 64, the former renewable energy consultant, says: “The wind turbine situation is absolutely diabolical. Anybody with a business background can look at the economics of it and see that without the subsidies it would be an absolute no-goer.

Read the entire article here

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Little Ice Age - Real evidence of what happens when the sunspots begin to disappear

The frozen Thames in 1677.

"It's clear to me that humans had no part in the little ice age of the 17th century"
Geoffrey Parker
Andreas Dorpalen Professor of History, Ohio State University

Future generations will most likely look at the IPCC-led global warming alarmism as a great - and expensive - mistake created by a number environmental fundamentalists masquerading as scientists.

There are clear signs that the world should be preparing for global cooling instead of warming. While all the disasters predicted by the global warming alarmists are based on flawed computer models, there is real evidence about what happens when the climate cools.

In a book recently published by Yale University Press, the distinguished professor of history Geoffrey Parker gives authoritative account of the global cooling in the 17th century:

 What was the nature of the climate change that century?
Cooling. There is overwhelming evidence of an episode of global cooling that begins around 1618, just as the sunspots begin to disappear, and it lasts for almost a century. Sunspots are hot spots and the absence of hot spots clearly reduces the energy emanating from the sun. The sun is weaker, and the impact of that is greater in the northern hemisphere, which is where the majority of the human population lives. --

What caused global cooling during that century?
A combination of three factors: First was the sunspots. The second was more volcanic eruptions. And third, there were twice as many episodes of El Niño—the powerful climate system that works its way across the Pacific. Normally, the winds blow from America to Australia, so they drop the monsoon. But sometimes they go the other way, and cause enormous flooding in South America and the Caribbean, and drought in East Asia and Australia.
What were the long-term consequences of this crisis?
The first and more gruesome statistic is that it seems to have killed about a third of the human population. There clearly was a catastrophic mortality in most parts of Europe and the whole of China, which is, then as now, about a quarter of the human population. There may have been communities that escaped it, but there are also communities that just disappeared.
Second, a number of states ceased to exist—the most spectacular was Ming China. The entire dynasty, the rulers of the most populous state in the world, just disappeared, murdered by the Manchus. You saw the collapse of the Stuart monarchy in the civil wars in England, Ireland, and Scotland—there were three separate civil wars—and, of course, in the colonies in America. Spain ceased to be a great power. Russia came very, very close. Poland disappeared; it was re-created but never entirely recovered from the mid–17th century. The Ottoman empire was fatally wounded by two regicides—one in 1622 and one in 1648—and never regained its power.
The third consequence is more positive: A number of intellectuals began to think that there must be something that we can do about this. The most famous example was in England, where you had the birth of the Royal Society, dedicated to trying to find ways out of the crisis. You find the same sort of movement in other European countries, in India in the 1650s, and in Japan and China.

Read the entire interview here