The IPCC – over salting the dish, in parts

The Inter Academy Council (IAC) has published its review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s work. The review has found that most of the IPCC’s work is of a very high standard (although this has somehow translated into “Climate Fraud” headlines by a news hungry August press) but that more rigorous review is required in publishing some data and some projections. The IPCC is not a curate’s egg, bad in parts, but more of a wholesome meal with too much salt added to some parts of the dish, which while it does not spoil the un-over-salted parts, it does leave a lingering taste in the mouth. Continue reading

The sun has got his hat on

The activity of the sun, after a long period of low activity, is getting higher. This means that the planet upon which we leave is subjected to more solar irradiance than normal. Solar irradiance is changing both as an overall amount and of ultraviolet irradiance. Our planet will receive more solar energetic particles and fewer cosmic rays. These cyclical changes are normal and some think that there is an eleven year cycle of a calm sun followed by eleven years of a more aggressive sun. We are now getting into the more aggressive phase of the sun.

These changes will inevitably affect our climate; more particularly they affect the climate in the lower part of the atmosphere where humans live. I shall explain how each part of the changing process affects our climate in later posts, but for now the simple thing to bear in mind is that the more solar irradiance there is, the greater the climate forcing of the sun is, warming the seas a little and affecting the water cycle. The greater solar ultraviolet radiation then there is more heating of the upper and middle atmosphere, which has a knock on effect. Solar energetic particles and galactic cosmic rays affect ionisations of the upper and middle atmosphere and the ionisation of the lower atmosphere respectively.

We understand more about climate change now than we did twenty years ago when the sun activity was higher. Scientists will be measuring and observing the changes in the sun now in more detail and with greater precision than ever. They may not establish exactly how much of our changing climate is due to solar activity changes but I expect within a few years we shall know much more about this than we do now.

The importance of this is that in a few years scientists should be able to explain with greater accuracy the causal link between human greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. A lack of a provable causal link is what is holding back universal acceptance of anthropogenic climate change and lack of universal acceptance of climate change is preventing the humans from changing their behaviour and carrying out measures to limit green house gas emissions with any significance.

It may be that we will never have an irrefutable causal link, or that when we do have one it will be too late.

Will Clarence House feed the grid?

The British Royal family will be installing photovoltaic panels at Clarence House, in London. Clarence House is one of the many large palaces maintained for the Royal family and its size and nature means that its maintenance must require a great deal of energy. The Prince of Wales lives there with his wife, in the heart of London.

Most of the energy “used” by Clarence House must be heat energy, and its greatest emissions inevitably come from heating the place, There can be no cavity wall insulation, doubly glazing and probably precious little roof insulation in a building built in 1825. In buildings of this nature the emissions from heating the building and hot water are usually three times the emissions from electricity use.

For some reason (probably just fashion rather than common sense) the Prince has opted to install PV panels. The electricity generated, when it is not being used by the building, will be fed into the grid, which may or may not need it. Continue reading

Brazil’s proposed dam at Belo Monte

Brazil has been thinking of building a dam across a northern tributary of the Amazon on the Xingu River, close to a place called Belo Monte and also close to where the Jurinia people of Paquicamba live. There has been a tortuous legal process which has been followed in Brazil but now the appeals have resulted in permission for building the dam to be given. It will be the third largest dam in the world and may be no more successful than any other dam. Continue reading

Taking the wrong path

Whichever way you look at the problem of global warming you have to conclude that the human influence is significant and substantial. It is perfectly possible that there are many influences that are making the climate warmer – I have written about virtually all of them on these pages and the list has ranged from sun activity to magnetic polar shifting. However as humans, as powerful as we think we are, we cannot change the sun or influence the earth’s magnetic polarity. The only element that we have the means to control is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that we create. Continue reading

A modern mask of anarchy

I like poetry, but I am not particularly fond of the Romantic Poets or of one of their most famous people Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelly lived for only thirty years, dying fashionably young. He wrote one poem called the Mask of Anarchy about the Peterloo Massacre, in Manchester. The poem speaks against those that Shelly thought were responsible for the deaths of people in a very fledging trade union movement, who were mistakenly and unnecessarily killed by soldiers.

These days we have progressed; we can kill far more people than we could two hundred years ago, more efficiently and with greater carelessness. That set me wondering whether I could adapt Shelley’s work for the modern era. Continue reading

Summer has almost gone

It is late August and this is usually a quiet time for people in Europe. This is the season for holidays, including public holidays. Most politicians are on holiday and those left behind to mind the shop are enjoying a quiet life. The newspapers seem weary and even the radio and television journalists have lost their bite.

Most years late summer is a time for regrouping, unwinding and preparing for the times to come. Some years – 1914 and 1939 in particular- late summer was a time when there was no peace or relaxation, but a time for frenzied activity as a precursor to war.

The environment has been largely ignored in this time of economic crisis. It is as though the people of the world had decided that they must regroup, get wealthy, increase economic activity so that they can spoil the environment more effectively, then they will start worrying about it. Perhaps this will happen when summer eventually ends. Summer may end with cooler weather in a a warmer climate.

The words of the poet run through my head:

Summer’s almost gone
Summer’s almost gone
Almost gone
Yeah, it’s almost gone
Where will we be
When the summer’s gone?

(James Douglas Morrison)