Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Turbines keep us alive"

Millour windfarm
With these words a primary school child at an Ayrshire school summed up his knowledge of the community benefits of wind turbines in a video presented at a RenewableUK seminar earlier this week.

With its pathetic highlighting of the indoctrination of our children, these words marked the low point in the presentation.  The onshore wind seminar was one of a number of presentations throughout the UK by RenewableUK, 'The voice of wind and marine energy'.

Surprisingly, RenewableUK chose to focus their pitch (to a mixed audience - planners, local residents, tourism representatives, councillors, wind farm objectors, manufacturers) on the creation of jobs as the 'main benefit' of wind energy.  Green jobs.

There was time for questions and one guest gently asked about the contradiction with recent reports of each green job replacing more than one in the wider economy. Spain was mentioned.  Adam from RenewableUK dismissed the Verso report alluded to, with a comment about there being other problems in the Spanish economy.

I thought it was time to refer to the Hughes reports, The Myth of Green Jobs, and Why is Wind so Expensive? Adam was quick to point out that Hughes (Professor of Environmental Economics at Edinburgh University) had his reports published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, 'and they have an agenda'.  Um, what about you, Adam?

It seems Hughes was  using 'out of date data' and Adam later explained that the newer more efficient combined cycle gas plants were now much more efficient at plugging the gaps of intermittent wind.  In any case the 'first report depended on the calculations in the second'. I'm still trying to understand why that was the killer argument intended.

Questions covering a wide range of issues were raised.  The flicker, health and low frequency noise effects were all reported on by attendees who had knowledge or experience of them.  Some contributions were passionate.

Then a lady from the tourism industry, concerned about the negative tone, berated us for disrupting the purpose of the seminar which she said was 'to learn about the wider economic benefits critical to the economy'. 

Time to point out that some of us consider there are a few disbenefits of wind power to the economy and that her purpose was presumptious and narrow on behalf of many of those in attendance.  Not least amongst the economic disbenefits were the very substantial subsidies.

The chair responded by pointing to the significant subsidies to fossil fuels* and questioned why I had not factored other 'externalities' as benefits.  She referred to reduced pollution.  Guessing that this reference might be to reduced CO2 emissions and the mitigation of climate change I ventured that increased CO2 might not be so dangerous as some claimed and that the assumption of dangerous climate change was hardly well based in science.

The chair's air of courtesy shifted to one of contempt.  We were not to waste time with such outlandish rubbish.

But someone also raised the issue of a survey of public opinion on wind farms which had inexplicably discounted the views of respondents over 64.  Ah, responded Adam, that was a Mori poll not a RenewableUK poll.  If I heard him correctly he declaimed that it had anything to do with renewableUK.  As this was getting tiresome I pointed out that RenewableUK had made use of the poll quoting the results which excluded a significant portion of respondents.  I now note from the BBC report that the poll was indeed commissioned by our hosts.

Now, how do we go about removing the 'fact pollution' from that unnamed Ayrshire child in the video.  And his head teacher.

NB * A discussion about subsidies can be seen here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lovelock: "Sustainable Development" is meaningless drivel

Inscription for award of Edinburgh Medal 2006
James Lovelock, the well known environmentalist who formulated the Gaia theory, at 92 is still causing ripples with his views.  A few weeks ago he was quoted as admitting that his predictions about global warming had been 'alarmist' and 'extrapolating too far'.

Now, he has described 'Sustainable Development' as 'meaningless drivel'

Edinburgh University, an organisation with a growing reputation for hosting cheerleaders of alarmism about global warming, is one of those places where you can get a degree course in 'Sustainable Development'.   Here, from the course description, is a sample of what Lovelock was alluding to:
"Our accelerating consumption of natural resources is damaging the ecosystems on which all life depends, posing fundamental challenges to modern assumptions about economic progress, democracy and social relations. Sustainable Development refers to the challenges of reducing global inequity and poverty, and improving well-being, while reducing threats to the earth's life support systems from industrial production and consumption. Effective environmental care and management in relation to climate stability, other species and natural resources requires the examination of how humans relate to each other and to their surroundings. The critical analysis from diverse perspectives that this degree provides will be essential to understand these challenges, and to evaluate the proposed responses."
That seems to me to be pre-programmed to engender doom and alarm with little acknowledgement of positive effects of development and progress.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Edinburgh's new bank

Lord Smith of Kelvin
After the failures of two big banks (both with Scotland in the the title: Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland), Edinburgh is to host the fledgling Green Investment Bank.  Currently looking to seal a deal on premises in the centre of Edinburgh the Green Investment Bank is due to be up and running by the end of the year.

Lord Smith of Kelvin has given a roadmap of how the bank will invest its £3bn.  Out are carbon capture (CCS), wave and tidal technologies.  
Wave and tidal technology and carbon capture and storage are quite far away from becoming commercially viable.  That is real venture capital stuff. That would be a step too far for us.”
In are five priority areas:
  • Offshore wind
  • Industrial waste recycling
  • Energy from waste
  • Non-domestic energy efficiency schemes and
  • Green Deal projects.  (Green Deal is the government’s plan to improve the nation’s draughty homes at no upfront cost to the consumer).  In fact the
Lord Smith notes that the loans will be expected to give a return of around 3.5%.

Here is more information.