Wind Farms again…

So Will Self has weighed into the debate I touched on previously. It’s a nice article via the BBC Point of View programme. I won’t say anymore but use the link below to read it (and vote on the poll below too).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15295769

Wind Farm Controversy Resurfaces

The natural resource of wind powers these 5MW ...

Image via Wikipedia

So I’ve been watching the BBC series Wind Farm Wars which was recommended to me by good friend James Hughes who is rather knowledgeable about meteorological phenomenon himself. My lasting impression will be the contrasting views of wind power and its place in today’s society. I won’t spoil the programme for you because you can watch the latest episode yourself here.

There are entrenched views on the subject with high profile detractors, none more famous than Prince Charles himself who views wind farms as a  “horrendous blot on the landscape”, it is worth noting he supports them at sea however. There are alternative methods of producing renewable energy but the government is keen to increase the contribution of wind as it seeks to achieve it’s carbon emission targets.

There are actually more wind farms already operational in the UK than you might think. There are 299 sites comprising of 3,246 turbines producing enough energy to fuel 2,987,586 homes and reduce carbon consumption by 6,037,911 tonnes.  You can check out where wind farms exist/being built via RenewableUK and read a lot of other useful information. You can also see where the proposed sites are:

http://www.bwea.com/ukwed/google.asp

My opinion that wind energy is a good option for the UK we are well placed to capitalise on our climatic conditions. As for whether they should be onshore or offshore, I don’t really mind. I find the white turbines strangely beautiful and don’t ruin the natural landscape anywhere near as much as agriculture. People seem to forget that the majority of our country is intensively managed so I don’t see why we shouldn’t add another resource to it.  We don’t have the climate to make solar power a viable alternative… yet. So until nuclear fusion is a reality we should do the best we can to prepare for life without fossil fuels.

So wind farms are a valuable and probably necessary in the efforts to achieve carbon reduction target… but the debate about where to place them rages on.

I leave you with a quote from Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England….

” …it would be easier to come to the right decisions about onshore wind if people on both sides of the argument were less obsessive. There is a serious debate to be had about how to reconcile conflicting environmental “goods” – protecting the landscape, for instance, versus mitigating climate change.”

Climate Change and Extreme Precipitation Definitely Linked

New research shows that the UK is more likely to experience with climate change

Been saying this for years so this post is just to brag about how I’m right.  My university research says this and now others that people actually listen to have proved it too.

Now while individual weather events cannot be attributed to climate change, the frequency/likelihood of these events can be predicted for a warming world.

While the climate system and therefore weather is a complex and chaotic system, and therefore very little can be said with complete certainty, definate trends occur and can be statistically analysed. One of those is the link with rising greenhouse gas emissions and the intensification of heavy rainfall events. This has been shown over the northern hemisphere and others are attempting to show this all over the world. A quick search in a scientific database will give lots of examples.

Another part of my research has been linking the intensification of rainfall to flooding in the UK.  The latest paper shows that man-made global warming is very likely to have increased the probability of severe flooding in England and Wales, and could well have been behind the extreme events in 2000. By running thousands of simulations of the weather conditions in Autumn 2000,  with and without the temperature rises caused by man-made global warming, they found in 9 out of 10 cases that man-made greenhouse gases increased the risks of flooding. Other research is also being carried out on which river basins will be most susceptible  to intensification heavy precipitation here in the UK.

So to summarise conceptually in a simplified way:

Increased greenhouse emissions –> rise in temperature –> increased carrying capacity of water in atmosphere –> intensification of rainfall –> increased flooding risk

Science’s Credibility: Science under attack

'Climategate' had an impact on the credibility of science

This blog also points readers in the direction of other material that may be of interest

The BBC’s Horizon series turns to the integrity of science and why public trust in scientific theories has been eroded. Watch for yourself (UK users only).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/y4yql/

The section when ‘climategate’  story breaker James Delingpole is interviewed is interesting and rather exposes the way that political views have infiltrated the media reporting science. James Delingpole has since complained of being ”intellectually raped” on Horizon during the interview with Nobel prize-winner Sir Paul Nurse.

The refusal to acknowledge that climate change is still agreed upon by scientific consensus, and in any other field that would be enough, highlights the entrenched views of sceptics who themselves aren’t entirely honest (Climate sceptic ‘misled Congress over funding from oil industry‘), and political motivation. The Telegraph, the paper that broke the story, is a strictly conservative paper and therefore having views similar to those of republicans in the USA (Why Republicans Deny Climate Change).

It is the public that suffers from this bias reporting that is normally reserved for political opinion and not scientific work.

Science must improve its relationship with the media to become more transparent to gain the confidence of the public and ensure that only facts are published and not interpretations of facts which invariably become muddled.

Reflection on 2010: The climate stories

So now its the new year and resolutions have already fallen by the wayside it seems like a good time to look back at what has happened over the last year.

It began with the coldest winter (Dec-Feb) here in the UK since 1978-79, while there were record high temperatures in Russia as Moscow sweltered in 38.2C heat, the warmest for 91 years, causing drought and the warmest summer on record. The year ended with floods in Queensland, Australia that are currently submerging much of the city of Brisbane.

NOAA’s map of significant events for last year (click image for large view)

Continue reading

What to say to sceptics… list of responses

I stumbled across an article at climateprogress.org that put a smile on my face. It listed all the common misconceptions and general rubbish that the ill-informed regurgitate after hearing it in the popular press and the simple responses.

The original post is available here. This post gives simple explanations of common sceptic arguments but for more information I would recommend looking at the sites in my links section or SkepticalScience.com.

Sceptic Ripostes

Sceptic Argument One Liner Paragraph
1 “It’s the sun” In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions In the last 35 years of global warming, the sun has shown a slight cooling trend. Sun and climate have been going in opposite directions. Continue reading