Bird brains

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a charity in the UK that aims to protect birds.

Or, maybe not. A huge wind turbine is to be installed just a half mile away from a RSPB center in East Yorkshire, and while local residents are opposed to the 150ft turbine, the RSPB has no objection:

The RSPB insists there is no evidence that there will be an impact on seabirds or birds in surrounding farmland. Ian Kendall, site manager at Bempton, said there was no evidence that turbines would impact on seabirds or farmbirds.

Mr Kendall said: “As a scientific organisation which we largely are, we can only state facts; the facts are that it is not going to affect the seabird colony at all because they don’t feed on the fields, they feed on the sea. “We have eight species of seabirds here and they are completely and utterly oceanic. Guillemots, razorbills and puffins are hardly capable of walking on the land; these birds have developed over the millennia to be completely and utterly dependent on the sea. “Pink-footed geese pass down the coast and they can quite easily see turbines.

“The fact is birds avoid turbines in the same way that they avoid buildings.”

Uh oh. The American Bird Conservancy has news for the RSPB:

…estimates from various studies show that up to one billion birds may be killed each year in collisions with buildings; another billion may die due to predation by outdoor cats; up to 50 million may die in collisions with communication towers; perhaps 15 million die annually due to pesticide poisoning and there is growing concern about bird mortality caused by the burgeoning wind industry.

The RSPB’s position on wind power is ‘long-term’:

Climate change poses the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife, and the RSPB recognises the essential role of renewable energy in addressing this problem.

In other words, it’s better to blend birds with giant shredders today than have them deal with slightly milder weather down the road.

Another UK organization, the National Trust has just declared itself ‘deeply skeptical’ of wind power:

For years the conservation charity has been a supporter of renewable energy, including wind, to reduce carbon emissions and help fight global warming. But in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Sir Simon Jenkins warned that wind was the “least efficient” form of green power, and risked blighting the British landscape.

He said “not a week goes by” without the charity having to fight plans for wind farms that threaten the more than 700 miles of coastline, 28,500 acres of countryside and more than 500 properties owned by the Trust. “Broadly speaking the National Trust is deeply sceptical of this form of renewable energy,” he said.

If you’re in the giving to charity mood, the National Trust may be a better choice than the RSPB.

Huhne Undone

Chris Huhne, the UK’s Secretary of Energy and Climate Change, has resigned.

it's a fair cop

He was brought down not because of his ludicrous love of giant bird shredders, or for the soaring cost of energy, but because he tried to duck a speeding ticket. Which is further proof that anyone cloaking themselves in green automatically assume that rules are for little people.

Nervous avians across the scepter’d isle are celebrating, and that maniacal laughter you can hear is Delingpole, who’s having entirely too much fun at Huhne’s expense.

Don’t panic about global warming, buy a hat

Warmists are having a tough time of things these days.

First the Wall Street Journal published an Op-Ed that said there’s no need to panic about global warming, signed by 16 scientists. They had the temerity to point out that CO2 isn’t a rampaging, Gaia-stomping, vengeful gas, but just plant food:

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere’s life cycle.

As if that wasn’t bad enough news for hippies, pesky journalists noticed the UK’s own Met. Office data suggests a nasty cold snap is far more likely than a warmer phase:

According to a paper issued last week by the Met Office, there is a  92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830. In this period, named after the meteorologist John Dalton, average temperatures in parts of Europe fell by 2C.

However, it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as the ‘Maunder minimum’ (after astronomer Edward Maunder), between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid.

Cold weather is more dangerous to mankind than warming, so we need to harness all the energy we can, from whatever sources are available to us. That includes fossil fuels and alternative energy.

With that latter category in mind, does anyone have an idea how to capture the unstable but massive energy potential of Joe Romm head explosions? As more people jump off the warming bandwagon, and as the planet steadfastly refuses to follow sloppy computer models but do its own thing, Rommplosions are likely to be more frequent. Seems like a shame to waste them.

Rommplosion energy. It's the future, or something

Report: Wind power too expensive, increases CO2 emissions

UK Think Tank Civitas applied its thinky parts to wind power, and the results are not pretty:

…a new report by the Civitas think tank which warns that Britain is in danger of producing more carbon dioxide (CO2) than necessary if the grid relies too much on wind.

Wind turbines only produce energy around 30 per cent of the time. When the wind is not blowing – or even blowing too fast as in the recent storms – other sources of electricity have to be used, mostly gas and coal. However it takes a surge of electricity to power up the fossil fuel stations every time they are needed, meaning more carbon emissions are released.

“You keep having to switch these gas fired power stations on and off, whereas if you just have highly efficient modern gas turbines and let it run all the time, it will use less gas,” said Ruth Lea, an economic adviser to Arbuthnot Banking Group and the author of the Civitas report.

The report provides more proof of the stunningly obvious truth that if wind needs back-up power, it is more efficient to just skip the wind turbine.The Telegraph piece contains a rebuttal from a wind advocate:

“It is surprising that a think tank such as Civitas has published a report based on the work of anti-wind cranks, repeating the same discredited assertions. The UK’s energy policy over the next ten years will play a critical part in our economic success – offshore wind in particular has the potential to revitalise our manufacturing sector, with the promise of over 70,000 jobs,” he said. “This report, based on outdated and inaccurate information, does nothing to advance the debate.”

Or, SHUT UP, he explained. Chris Huhne was nowhere to be seen.

In times of economic trouble, there are only so many times the electorate will put up with stories of operators being paid to generate nothing, or the dangers of wind farms. Over Christmas, Britain paid wind turbine operators £1 million to turn off their wind farms because the wind was too strong:

The gales battering Britain have been so strong that many turbines have had to be shut down for safety reasons and the National Grid forced to increase output from gas and coal fired power stations to make up the shortfall.

At one site, near Huddersfield, in Yorkshire, 110mph winds were so strong that 15ft blades were blown off three turbines.

No matter how many words are written about the costly and mostly useless idea of wind power, Josh encapsulated the essence of fail in a simple cartoon:

Mr Cameron, tear down these bird shredders.

Countdown to calamity

We made it safely into 2012 without losing 64% of the global population to the methane clathrate menace.

Which is a relief, frankly. But it also means the sidebar countdown clocks need a new alarmist prediction to look forward to.

Prince Charles provides the required mix of fear and comedy with this claim he made back in March 2009:

 “The best projections tell us that we have less than 100 months to alter our behaviour before we risk catastrophic climate change.”

The Prince of Wails said we have less than 100 months, but we’ve given him the benefit of the doubt and the full amount of months for his dire prediction to come true. It’s only fair, the ‘science’ of predicting global catastrophe isn’t exact. Or science, actually.
Charles was not specific about how his global catastrophe will make itself manifest, but based on familiar warmist claims, New Yorkers may discover an iceberg and/or flood water in their high-rise apartments, while folks living low-lying areas may be inconvenienced by sudden death.

Don’t worry about being left out of the apocalypse even if you live in a nice neighborhood and recycle, because global warming has a number of ways to get you, too. Mark your calendar for July 2017 and keep a weather eye open for signs of flooding, drought, fire, wind, earthquakes, tornadoes, mutant sharks and, of course, displaced polar bears with a grudge.

It’s a cruel world, let’s be careful out there.

Corbyn vs. The Met

It’s a battle of the boffins, a veritable thriller in vanilla, a forecast free-for-all featuring fearsome, er, forecasters.

The crack team at the UK’s Meteorological Office has entered a forecast accuracy contest against a couple of well-known climate skeptics.

Others to have agreed to participate include Joe Bastardi, a well-known sceptic about man made climate change and WeatherAction, run by Piers Corbyn, who correctly predicted the ferocity of last year’s winter.

They will be judged on how accurately they predict rain, wind and temperature in an project lasting several years.

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s not really a fair fight. In the blue corner, Corbyn is scary accurate with his Sun-cycle based predict-o-matic and fearless head of hair. His tag-team buddy Joe Bastardi is no slouch when it comes to working out, or even working out the weather. He’s also built like a strip mall.

In the green corner, the Met has a terrible record of predictions, an ancient a two-year old supercomputer and an outstanding request for a brand new £33 million supercomputer. That and a fuzzy math valuation of its own worth. They resemble a paunchy, punch-drunk patsy from the undercard.

"whaddaya mean the Met said it'd be sunny?"

The forecasting competition will be judged by the Royal Meteorological Society and Royal Statistical Society and was devised by the BBC.

Popcorn futures are up.

10 million gone with the wind

Wind turbine owners in the UK were paid £10 million in 2011 to turn off their units when the wind blew too hard:

Official figures disclosed that 17 operators were paid almost £7?million for shutting down their farms on almost 40 ­occasions between January and mid-September. Continuing to make payments at that rate would lead to householders paying out £9.9?million in 2011 for operators to disconnect their turbines from the National Grid.

The scale of the payments triggered a review of the rules on so-called constraint payments. The payments are made when too much electricity floods the grid, with the network unable to absorb any excess power generated. The money is ultimately added on to household bills and paid for by consumers.

At least some politicians seem to be figuring out that the only things the giant fans are good for is shredding birds:

“Onshore wind generation requires a 100 per cent back-up of carbon-burning technology or nuclear energy, should the wind not blow, and in addition to the devastation of the visual environment there are the problems of noise and flicker. They are the wrong renewables choice.”

Britain is suffering from a crime wave by metal thieves who take anything made of metal that can be melted down and sold for scrap. Has anyone thought to point out to these public menaces that wind turbines are made of metal?

jackpot!

Just saying.

10 million gone with the wind

Wind turbine owners in the UK were paid £10 million in 2011 to turn off their units when the wind blew too hard:

Official figures disclosed that 17 operators were paid almost £7?million for shutting down their farms on almost 40 ­occasions between January and mid-September. Continuing to make payments at that rate would lead to householders paying out £9.9?million in 2011 for operators to disconnect their turbines from the National Grid.

The scale of the payments triggered a review of the rules on so-called constraint payments. The payments are made when too much electricity floods the grid, with the network unable to absorb any excess power generated. The money is ultimately added on to household bills and paid for by consumers.

At least some politicians seem to be figuring out that the only things the giant fans are good for is shredding birds:

“Onshore wind generation requires a 100 per cent back-up of carbon-burning technology or nuclear energy, should the wind not blow, and in addition to the devastation of the visual environment there are the problems of noise and flicker. They are the wrong renewables choice.”

Britain is suffering from a crime wave by metal thieves who take anything made of metal that can be melted down and sold for scrap. Has anyone thought to point out to these public menaces that wind turbines are made of metal?

jackpot!

Just saying.

Fundraising: UPDATED

**UPDATE**:

The ‘man’ behind the libel against Tallbloke has caved, given-in, surrendered and otherwise thrown himself on the large dude’s mercy:

I’ve decided to update this blog entry (20 Dec 2011) because it occurs to me that certain things could be misinterpreted, in no small part because of the common language that separates us across various national borders, and differences in the way debate and concepts of free speech operate in different lands.

Funny. I was raised in the UK and have lived both sides of the Atlantic. Yet all this time I never realized that calling someone a ‘thief’ could be misinterpreted as ‘hail and well met, jolly fellow with whom I may, allegedly, disagree.’ I guess should get out more.

According to Laden, Tallbloke has accepted an offer to post in lieu of suing:

I am offering Mr. Tattersall to publish a blog post on this site (Greg Laden’s Blog) expressing his opinion on the matter, and he has agreed to to so, through his solicitor, instead of pursuing legal action that was previously suggested. I look forward to receiving the text for this post and, again in the spirit of open and public debate about these important issues, I will post it prominently and place it on the select feed for Scienceblog.com to give it maximum exposure.

That Tallbloke has apparently accepted the offer proves he’s not just vertically endowed, but truly the larger man in this whole sordid affair.

**END UPDATE**

Original Post:

Skeptic blogger Tallbloke had computers taken from his house last week by police looking into the Climategate leak.

That’s bad enough, but then the over-sized fella was libeled. The post has been edited since in an attempt to memory-hole it, but the Internet never forgets and the original post is where the author can’t get to it.

Tallbloke is to sue for libel, but lawyers cost cash, so he’s formed a legal fund.

If you can spare a little cash to help a big man teach a mental midget a lesson about what’s fair comment and what’s not, Tallbloke has a donate button all ready for you.

It’s a bad time of year to raise cash, but if you can spare Tallbloke even a little, it’ll help.

Thanks.

The BBC’s bad news bears

The BBC is facing criticism for having misled viewers in the already controversial, series ‘Frozen Planet’.

The problem shot shows the nursing of polar bear cubs as Attenborough narrates as if the scene is a seamless segue from the external views. But the cubs were in a Dutch zoo, and the footage slipped in to make it appear the BBC was once more being clever with wildlife cameras.

The Telegraph describes the scene:

A polar bear was filmed walking across the Arctic landscape during a blizzard. The camera then cut to a close-up of a female bear with her newborn cubs. “On these slopes beneath the snow, new lives are beginning. The cubs are born blind and tiny,” the voiceover said. “In two more months polar bear families will emerge on the snowy slopes all around the Arctic… but for now they lie protected within their icy cocoons.”

The BBC already knew the series was controversial, so to air this and leave themselves open to charges of fakery demonstrates the tin ear to public opinion at the top of the Corporation. Here’s the BBC’s defense of the scene (emphasis mine):

The BBC said the script was not misleading because it was not referring to the specific cubs shown in the footage, but to cubs in general.

You see, it was only a clever play on words, not at all designed to be misleading. Wait, what?

doh!

The BBC broke its viewers trust. BBC wildlife shows have long been admired for bringing the natural world into our homes. But with revelations of the use of clever editing and set-up filming, the brand is tarnished. David Attenborough tried to help the BBC, but only made things worse when he admitted they do it all the time:

Sir David, 85, said: “The question is, during the middle of this scene when you are trying to paint what it is like in the middle of winter at the pole, to say ‘Oh, by the way, this was filmed in a zoo’. “It ruins the atmosphere, and destroys the pleasure of the viewers and destroys the atmosphere you are trying to create. “It’s not a falsehood and we don’t keep it secret either. But to say actually in the middle of that sequence, I mean how far do you take this? “Do you say this is a penguin, but actually it was a different penguin colony than this one and this one is a different one? Come on, we were making movies.”

Another BBC series ‘Human Planet’ has just been outed for faking scenes featuring giant spiders (arachnophobes should not click the link, I’m still standing on the desk.)

What the BBC should have done is included the polar bear cub scene in their ‘look how clever we were to get this shot’ segment at the end of the episode. But they didn’t, and the head of the BBC, Mark Thompson shot the messenger rather than utter a mea culpa:

Mr Thompson questioned whether condemnation of misleading footage of polar bears in its Frozen Planet show had been influenced by the BBC’s comprehensive reporting of the Leveson inquiry into press standards.“I do rather wonder whether this is really about polar bears or about Lord Leveson and other matters,” he told MPs.

Thompson would rather believe the UK media has an axe to grind with the BBC than admit the truth. His corporation has a deep love for the green message, and the fakery on display in their wildlife series furthers that agenda nicely.

Following Climategate 2 revelations of BBC personnel’s close relationship with ‘scientists’ at the University of East Anglia, the public has had enough of being played for suckers.