climate change

Gorbal Worming


More than two dozen cargo vessels are stuck in Russia’s Arctic ice, waiting for ice-breakers to come to their rescue, after an inaccurate forecast from the country’s Met Office.

Maritime traffic in the Northern Sea Route has been on the rise in recent years as rapidly warming winters reduce ice cover, and Russia invests in its Arctic ports in preparation for a further boom.

But this year several segments of the Northern Sea Route froze up about a fortnight earlier than usual, catching many ships unawares.

I once met a bloke who’d rowed that route.

Still, no doubt this can usefully be explained by “climate change” now that we no longer call it global warming.

I do think this is the way aviation is going to go

RAF tests green fuel made of ‘air and water’ to power the planes of tomorrow
Success in first flight running on synthetic fuel, created with renewable energy and which could save up to 90pc of carbon per journey


UL91 is made by Zero Petroleum and manufactured by extracting hydrogen from water and carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide. Using energy generated from renewable sources such as wind or solar, these are combined to create the synthetic fuel.

Electrolyse the water, you’ve green H2. From which you can build whatever complex hydrocarbons you want.

Yes, might well be expensive at present. But get solar power cheap enough – and this is an area where intermittency isn’t a problem, nor Hz on the grid, etc – and it works economically. Because we do value the ability to fly. So, we’ll pay handsomely for the ability to do that. At least in any sensible application a ‘plane powered by this sorta stuff (this is avgas, not jet fuel, but if you can make one then you can the other) won’t pay APD so that’ll cover at least some of any extra cost.

All the Puritans horrified at the ability of the proles to get a week on a sunny beach are going to be most disappointed of course but that just adds to the fun of watching it.

Me, I predict an absolute surge in synthetic fuels this next decade.

Erm, Andy, Laddie?

How can Britain cut emissions when the Tory party fetishises travel?
Andy Beckett
Whether it’s by car or plane, we need to do less. Yet the government thinks of mobility as a freedom for it to champion

It’s us, the folk out here, who like to travel.

We also voted into power a political party that defends what we like to do. That democracy thing?

Maybe Spud should read the Stern Review

The central calculation in the Stern Review – also in Nordhaus etc – is that climate change imposes costs. So does avoiding climate change impose costs. So, how much cost avoiding should we bear in order to avoid the costs of?

This is a very simple economic idea. The details are of course monstrous, but the logical answer is that we should not bear more costs to avoid than the costs we are avoiding by doing so.

This means that if the costs of avoiding climate change are higher then we should do less avoiding of climate change.

This is entirely standard and simple economics of climate change.

Of course, that means that the task may simply be bigger than we have thought. What this alternative message implies is that we must reallocate capital from those unable to adapt to those willing to innovate to find the solutions that we need.

No, the answer is that if this is true, the task is larger, then we should be doing less of it.

I love this, just love it

Corky Stewart, a retired geologist, and his wife live in a rural subdivision in New Mexico’s Grant county, about a mile north of the sprawling Tyrone copper mine.

“We’ve been here three years and we’ve heard four blasts,” Stewart said of the mine, one of four on an expanse of land partitioned into dozens of four-acre lots. From his perspective, the blasts don’t seem unreasonable, given that a mining company owns the property and has the right to do what it wants.

But he didn’t know when he bought the property that the company would propose a new pit called the Emma B just a half-mile from the wells he and his wife depend on for drinking water. “If they were to somehow tap into our aquifer and drain our water supply, then our houses become valueless,” he said.

“We’re not making any effort to prevent the pit from being built,” he said. “All we’re really asking is for them to give us some commitment that they will fix whatever they do to our water supply.” But the mine, owned by the company Freeport-McMoRan, refuses to give them this assurance, he said. Freeport-McMoRan did not respond to multiple requests for comment by New Mexico In Depth and the Guardian.

Mr. Stewart is being entirely reasonable. It’s that this is the intro to a long piece in The Guardian. On the one side we’ve the planet will boil, Flipper will broil and the seas rise so that women will be worst hit – they’re shorter, d’ye see?

On the other side we’ve these vast costs that must be considered, that half a dozen rural yokels (to be unreasonable about Mr. Stewart) might need to have their water trucked in.

Abolish capitalism immediately, eh?

Not sure this works

Of course, it’ll be market prices that allow us to work out whether it will or not:

Jet engines for passenger planes that can run on environmentally friendly ammonia rather than fossil fuels are being developed in a new venture involving an Oxford-based company and a government agency.

Ammonia produces harmless water vapour hydrogen and nitrogen as by-products rather than carbon dioxide and could help Britain reach its clean air travel aims years ahead of schedule.

The joint venture is being set up by Reaction Engines with FTSE 250 investor IP Group and the state-backed Science and Technology Facilities Council. A spokesman declined to comment on the amount of start-up funding available.

My initial thought is that if you can get to ammonia – presumably via green hydrogen, otherwise what’s the point? – then you can get to jet fuel through chemistry. I don’t know this and am not competent to try to work it out, perhaps someone here knows? But that would be my initial thought.

Put all the effort into the chemistry at the front end rather than try to change the infrastructure of all those thousands of ‘planes and fuel tanks and everything.

How is this possible?

The director-general of the BBC has said the science of climate change is “no longer politically controversial” and a pledge to increase coverage of the topic would not affect the broadcaster’s impartiality.

There aren’t enough hours in the day, surely, to increase coverage?

Invented for war and having the effect of preventing it

Abstract: This paper provides evidence of the long-run effects of
a permanent increase in agricultural productivity on conflict. We
construct a newly digitized and geo-referenced dataset of battles in
Europe, the Near East, and North Africa from 1400–1900 ce and
examine variation in agricultural productivity due to the introduction
of potatoes from the Americas to the Old World after the Columbian
Exchange. We find that the introduction of potatoes led to a sizeable
and permanent reduction in conflict.

As with a long uttered view of both myself and Tim Almond.

Going to war to gain land is only necessary when land is the limitation upon food supply. Thus the Haber Process led to may folks being blown up by making nitrogen fixing to make armaments possible. But longer term nitrogen fixing makes war less likely as land is no longer the limitation upon food supply.

It also makes Hitler’s concerns over lebensraum 40 years out of date. As well as the obvious corollary, that organic farming will make war more likely.

Yep, a carbon tax.

Creating an international price for carbon emissions could reduce global greenhouse gases by 12% at a cost of less than 1% of global GDP, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) and PwC.

The report found that if global governments agreed together to set a price for pollution to help cut carbon emissions the cost would be less than the economic losses triggered by the fallout of a runaway climate crisis.

The scientists on this issue – the economists- have only been saying this for 30 years now…..

Arguable, but still

Cost of inaction ‘far greater’ than that of averting climate disaster, warns Prince Charles

That’s not actually the useful question. Instead, it’s which actions will have the lowest costs?

It is, for example, possible that government doing nothing is still the lowest cost solution. Given what government proposes to do in fact it’s likely this is so.

It might also be that a carbon tax – yes, I know – would be the lowest cost option. Government does the one thing, simple enough even for government to do, then everyone else acts under that incentive.

But rather more important than either of those possibilities is that the current argument is wrong. Because what is being said is that dealing with climate change will be cheaper than ignoring it. OK, that might be true. But the leap is then made to dealing with it means following my plan. That ain’t so – the plan still needs examination for whether that’s the best thing to be doing.

We must do something. This is something so we must do this thing is not sound logic.

The problem is these numbers are wrong

To have a hope of achieving net zero, we need to make the 21st century the new golden age of the railways. Let’s call it the Great Train Recovery.

Our daily journeys account for a huge chunk of the nation’s CO2 emissions: 27 per cent in 2019. Among the non-bike options of trains, planes and cars, trains are by far the greenest. The European Environment Agency suggests that rail travel creates 14 grams of CO2 emissions per passenger mile, compared with 158 grams by car and 285 grams by plane.

The train numbers are assuming an entirely full train. The car ones are not assuming a full car. Further, the train numbers don’t include – in the normal calcs at least – the emissions of getting the empty trains back to starting points.

We have an easier method of calculation. Prices. As long as those prices are including all externalities then price is the only thing we need to look at to see resource use. And four folks getting in a car is cheaper than four getting the train. Thus cars use fewer resources. QED.

BTW, yes, petrol externalities are included in UK prices.

How Cool!

It’s easy to feel pessimistic about the climate. But we’ve got two big things on our side
Bill McKibben
One is the astonishing fall in the cost of renewable energy. The other is the huge growth in the citizens’ movements demanding action

So the action being demanded has already happened and we’re done!

So that’s what Mark Lynas has been up to is it?

I wondered where he’d been. For there was that wailin’ of a decade back that ohmygodwereallgonnadie and then the reverse ferret of actuallyyouknowitsnotgoingtobequiteasbadasthat.

So, what’s the next thing? Can’t be writing books and articles about climate change without some contrarian point to make after all. So, what’s going to be the girtbigclaim to be made in a shocking and powerful book that keeps the grants and commissions rolling in? Why would poor island nations turn for advice to an advisor who wasn’t being radical?

So here we have the pitch on that next girtbigclaim:

Forget net zero – let’s have a ‘fossil freedom day’
Mark Lynas

Let’s just pick a day, somewhere off into the future, where we say we’ll never use fossil fuels beyond this point.

No, forget all we know about humans and politics and government. That this requires armed wardens guarding the Forest of Dean to ensure that no commoners scrape out a few hundred pounds of that surface coal. That some international source of control will be necessary. For what if some place decided not to and didn’t have to retreat to being medieval peasants as a result? Who is going to take on China which produces the germanium that makes fibreoptics work, the Ge gained by burning coal?

No, no, let’s just go for it!

My suggestion is extremely simple: we set a date for the worldwide exit from fossil fuels, a sort of independence day from carbon. Like all ideas that eventually become mainstream, at first sight this looks preposterous. You mean, we actually have to stop burning oil? No more petrol? No more LNG tankers plying the world’s oceans? No more giant coal machines scraping up carboniferous forests from underneath medieval villages in eastern Germany?

Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. A fossil fuels exit date forces us to confront what net zero doesn’t – that we have to actually entirely stop combusting carbon.

Gosh, what bravery, such iconoclasm!

I propose 2047,

Oh, why?

Fittingly, 2047 is also exactly a century on from the year of Indian independence in 1947,

Twattery of the highest order.

We should time a change in the energy system of the world to mark the ascent to political power of Edwina Mountbatten’s lover ?

Well, that’s certainly radical. Twattish, but radical. And it’ll provide at least a decade’s worth of opportunities to campaign, write, be commissioned, talk show appearances and book readings before the inevitable reverse ferret.

It also entirely ignores everything that we know about climate change. What the IPCC, Stern Review, Bill Nordhaus and his Nobel, every damn economist on the planet actually, has been saying. Which is that old saw, prices matter.

What’s the price of stopping the use of fossil fuels on that orgasmic (well, we suppose it was for Edwina, she did go back often enough) date? What’s the benefit of doing so?

What those actual numbers are doesn’t matter for the logic here. Pick any set you like but you do have to do the calculation.

For as all those economists keep trying to point out the aim isn’t to have no climate change. We’ve already sold that pass by agreeing that we’re not going to stop the use of fossil fuels at 3 pm Tuesday afternoon next week. For we’ve all also agreed that 1 or 3 or 5 billion dead folk is a rather high, a too high, price to pay for not having 1.5 oC of gorbal worming. We think that wouldn’t be a maximisation of human utility over time – which is, as the economists keep insisting, the actual goal.

The actual aim is to have the right amount of gorbal worming. That right amount being the quantity of it, balanced against the not having it, which over the centuries best promotes the greatest interests of the greatest number.

Which is prices. The price of not having gorbal worming is somenumberofsmilingkiddiesnotenjoyingtheworldbecause economicresourceswerespentonidiotclimateschemes. The price of having gorbal worming is somenumberofsmilingkiddiesnotenjoyingtheworldbecauseeconomicresourceswerenotspentonclimateschemes.

We want to take the actions which maximise the numberofsmilingkiddiesenjoyingtheworld. We do not want to take the actions which maximise the numberofsmilingkiddiesnotenjoyingtheworld. That means we want to take those actions which cost less, in the reduction in number of smiling kiddies now but maximise the future number, and not take the ones that cost more.

Prices matter, d’ye see?

The general answer from all those tens of thousands of economists who have worked on this problem specifically, the further tens of thousands who have worked on the base problem of externalities over the past century and a bit, is that you don’t set the target and you don’t then manage and plan to gain the target. Instead you set up the mechanism, with prices. Then leave society and the economy to chew through that information – prices being information, d’ye see? – and we get to that maxima. Where we’ve balanced that future damage against damage now, where we’ve reduced future costs to the minimum consistent with not making humans, over time, worse off overall.

All of this being explained rather well by Bill Nordhaus – Nobel and all that? – by Artie Pigou that century back and the Stern Review is a 1200 page exegesis on the point. This is the collective human wisdom on the subject. Stick the $80 per tonne CO2-e on it and don’t, for God’s Sake, try to plan shit.

But Mark Lynas wants to propose something different. Because, well, got the publisher lined up yet Mark? Book tour booked? Script for the TED Talk ready?

Just a little reminder, it’s not self interest, it’s enlightened self interest.

Not so much actually

From a review of a book about climate change:

The biggest value of Stott’s account is in giving the lie to the denialists’ accusation that climate scientists are (for reasons they never make clear) conjuring alarmist narratives from error-prone computer models and shoddy data.

That at least some folks are using shoddy data is easy enough to prove.

Just read through the usual run of papers insisting that climate change will cause this, create that, rains of blood, dogs lying down with cats.

In near all such papers they say “using a business as normal” estimate of emissions. Which, with some checking, we’ll find out means RCP 8.5. Which is an emission path that is not a continuation of what is happening. Not in the slightest – in fact, of the four major models it’s the only one that we’re, damn near, absolutely certain *won’t* happen.

But you know, evidence and religion….

But why can’t they borrow?

Doesn’t make sense:

One of the biggest issues at Cop26 is climate finance, the funding that is supposed to be provided by the rich world to developing countries to help us cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impact of the climate crisis.

What is worse, a lot of the money is coming in the form of loans, not grants

But why not loans? The activities being financed should themselves be profitable. If not, there’s no point doing them anyway. And if they are then they can repay.

Here’s another idea: developed countries could agree debt-for-adaptation swaps. So instead of developed countries insisting that we repay our current loans in hard currency, which is difficult for us, those repayments could be converted into local currency and spent locally on adaptation.

That’s just a way of defaulting upon past loans……

Dear God I detest these lying bastards

Sport the bastard lie logical error here:

Shipping must live up to the Paris Agreement and commit now to zero emissions by 2050, before it is too late.

Shipping has traditionally not received the attention it deserves when it comes to reducing global emissions. This is despite the fact that around 80% of global trade is transported across oceans on cargo vessels – currently powered by fossil fuels such as heavy fuel oil.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations agency in charge of regulating maritime transportation, estimates that shipping accounts for about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. But given the current growth rates and a lack of substantial efforts to decarbonise the sector, researchers warn that shipping could well represent up to 10% of all global emissions by 2050.

The rise in shipping emissions as a percentage of total emissions is because other emissions fall substantially.

And if other emissions fall substantially then the emissions from any one remnant sector of the economy are less important to reduce, not more, aren’t they?


And who didn’t see this coming?

Energy prices have spiked to a record high in Britain after calm weather shut down the country’s wind turbines amid a global shortage of natural gas.

Wholesale power costs surged to more than four times their normal level, forcing officials to fire up coal-based plants to handle demand.

What we should actually hope for is a nice, nice, high pressure system to park itself over the UK for a couple of weeks this winter.

Solar doesn’t really work this far north in winter. High pressure systems mean very little to no wind. There would be rolling power cuts. Which would bring home the technological vulnerability being built in. At which point someone – well, we can hope at least – will wake up. Allow fracking and we can get on with having the necessary back up power supply.