Latest Posts

Visualising the gap between political and scientific reality.

Keep an eye on the Climate Scoreboard during the next two weeks… Note the dark blue curve in the graphic, this is the probability distribution, it shows the full range of temperature rise the current national emissions proposals would likely give rise to. Currently it’s 2-6 degrees with 3.8 degrees is the most likely outcome (according to their analysis, climate sensitivity etc.).

With my risk managers hat on, it’s hard not to notice that we could go way above 3.8 degrees… it looks like there’s a 5-10% of going over 5 degrees… the sting’s in the tail as they say!

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CRUde Swifthack

For those of you not following the detail of ‘ClimateGate’ here’s a nice video explaining the meaning of the two most cited “conspiracy-proving” emails. Peter Sinclair also wades in with a short video covering the affair.

While this sort of accurate rebuttal is important, it reminds me of something Randy Olson argues in Don’t be such a scientist – that scientists often obsess too much about substance and accuracy, in every sphere they operate in. Olson even suggests that a scientist’s natural response to being called a bastard would be to present their birth certificate as counter evidence! Read more

TINA rides again… geoengineering vs. mitigation?

A recent report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) ((http://www.imeche.org/about/keythemes/environment/Climate Change/MAG)) boldly declared that the UK had already failed in its quest to prevent dangerous climate change:

“With only four decades to go, the UK is already losing the climate change mitigation battle. The greenhouse gas emission targets set by the Government require a rate of reduction that has never been achieved by even the most progressive nations in the world. If the UK is realistically going to reach an outcome equivalent to a reduction of 80% by 2050, we need to start mapping out an alternative solution using all engineering methods possible and not only relying on mitigation.”

Can you see where this is going yet? Read more

Keeping denial alive at the BBC: the falsehoods of Paul Hudson 3

Given the Telegraph’s position as one of the foremost bastions of spurious climate change coverage, it’s hardly surprising that the paper was quick to seize on a recent piece of misguided misreporting from the BBC – a repackaged blog post by local weather reporter (and now, apparently, the BBC’s “climate correspondent”) Paul Hudson entitled “Whatever happened to global warming?”. According to the Telegraph’s blogs editor, Damian Thompson, Hudson’s article “represents a clear departure from the BBC’s fanatical espousal of climate change orthodoxy”. “BBC executives”, he tells us, “have swung the might of the corporation behind that orthodoxy, often producing what amounts to propaganda.” Read more

Internship Opportunity #1

Energy Intern

We are looking for a budding, confident and enthusiastic Energy Intern to join our small and dynamic team based in Wales.

The successful candidate will work over a six-month period promoting research that demonstrates why a transition to a renewable-rich energy system in the UK is not only necessary, but also technically feasible, cost-effective and good for the economy.

Projects will include synthesising and promoting research which shows how the challenge of variability can be overcome; supporting our work on the value of Britain’s offshore renewable resource; and contributing to an analysis of the energy discourse in the UK.

The role will also involve:

  • Opportunities to present material in meetings and seminars;
  • Participation in project development sessions;
  • Opportunities to liaise with policymakers and NGOs;
  • Collective duties and some administrative work.

Requirements:

  • Great organisational skills;
  • Self-motivated & hard-working;
  • Environmentally conscious;
  • Ability to work individually & in a small team;
  • Experience of copywriting an advantage;
  • IT skills essential (Word, Excel,Email etc.. )

In return we offer a chance to make a significant contribution to our work; to gain in-depth knowledge of UK energy policy and the potential of renewable energy; experience of working for a small charity on environmental issues, and the supervision and support of our staff.

You would need to be based in mid-Wales for the duration of the placement. Within certain limits, PIRC will cover accommodation, travel and lunch expenses for volunteers.

About PIRC

PIRC is an independent charity integrating key research on climate, energy & economics – widening its audience and increasing its impact. Our most recent work includes “Climate Safety“, a report synthesising the latest climate science and its implications on policymaking and campaigning (publicinterest.org.uk); “Coal in the UK“, an interactive map and website exposing and monitoring the proposed expansion of the UK coal industry (coalintheuk.org) and in 2007, “Zero Carbon Britain” a collaboration with the Centre for Alternative Technology on an ambitious 20 year decarbonisation plan for the UK (zerocarbonbritain.org).

PIRC has three permanent staff members, and a working model that minimises hierarchy, with all staff members sharing administrative tasks, as well as more interesting work!

Availability

6-month placement starting January
4th (some flexibility).

Interviews will take place on the 1st-2nd December.

Included

PIRC can cover accommodation, travel
and lunch expenses, within certain limits.

To Apply

Send a CV supported by a covering letter
that shows how your experience and skillset suits the position, to arrive
by 9am, Monday 23rd November, to:

Richard Hawkins
PIRC
Y Plas
Machynlleth
Powys
SY20 8ER

01654 702277
rich@pirc.info

Internship Opportunity #2

Climate Intern

We are looking for a budding, confident and enthusiastic Climate Intern to join our small and dynamic team based in Wales.

The successful candidate will work over a six-month period researching and communicating the latest climate science in order to influence policymakers and campaigners. Output will include writing briefing papers and reports, blogposts for our website Climate Safety, and preparing presentations.

The role will also involve:

  • Opportunities to present material in meetings and seminars;
  • Participation in project development sessions;
  • Opportunities to liaise with scientists and NGOs;
  • Collective duties and some administrative work.

Requirements:

  • Great organisational skills;
  • Self-motivated & hard-working;
  • Environmentally conscious;
  • Ability to work individually & in a small team;
  • Experience of copywriting an advantage;
  • IT skills essential (Word, Excel,Email etc.. )

In return we offer a chance to make a significant contribution to our work; to gain in-depth knowledge of climate science, UK climate policy; the experience of working for a small charity on environmental issues, and the supervision and support of our staff.

You would need to be based in mid-Wales for the duration of the placement. Within certain limits, PIRC will cover accommodation, travel and lunch expenses for volunteers.

About PIRC

PIRC is an independent charity integrating key research on climate, energy & economics – widening its audience and increasing its impact. Our most recent work includes “Climate Safety“, a report synthesising the latest climate science and its implications on policymaking and campaigning (publicinterest.org.uk); “Coal in the UK“, an interactive map and website exposing and monitoring the proposed expansion of the UK coal industry (coalintheuk.org) and
in 2007, “Zero Carbon Britain” a collaboration with the Centre for Alternative Technology on an ambitious 20 year decarbonisation plan for the UK (zerocarbonbritain.org).

PIRC has three permanent staff members, and a working model that minimises hierarchy, with all staff members sharing administrative tasks, as well as more interesting work!

Availability

6-month placement starting January
4th (some flexibility).

Interviews will take place on the 1st-2nd December.

Included

PIRC can cover accommodation, travel and lunch expenses, within certain limits.

To Apply

Send a CV supported by a covering letter
that shows how your experience and skillset suits the position, to arrive
by 9am, Monday 23rd November, to:

Richard Hawkins
PIRC
Y Plas
Machynlleth
Powys
SY20 8ER

01654 702277
rich@pirc.info

Money, money, money?

A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) asked what it would take for action on climate change to be ‘mainstreamed’[1]. The IPPR conducted research with ‘Now’ people – perceived as leaders of public opinion and a supposed barometer for the acceptability of behavioural norms. A key conclusion was that for these trend-setters to change their behaviour, there would have to be something in it for them. That something, according to the IPPR, was the promise of financial gain for their adventures in sustainability.

On these pages, Tim Holmes has already questioned some of the methodological assumptions of the study, and the predictable media response to it[2]. But there is a further problem with the logic of the report that raises a serious communication challenge for environmental campaigners: Using money as a motivator of sustainable behaviour simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

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Cuts? Sure, if you mean emissions cuts 1

Cuts! Cuts! Cuts! The knives are out at Westminster as all three major parties vie to outdo each other in their commitment to reining in the public debt and slashing government spending. With the Lib Dems retreating from their promise to abolish tuition fees, and the Tories looking to cut defence budgets by a quarter, it seems that few policy areas are off-limits. How, then, might spending on the environment fare in a time of retrenchment? Read more

Melting compost heaps and the permafrost precautionary principle 1

Thawing permafrost could inject enough carbon into the atmosphere to cook the planet. But nobody’s quite sure how fast it’s going to happen.

Permafrost is a giant cold-storage compost heap, stuffed full of frozen carbon. Just like you chucked out last night’s potato peelings, the planet has chucked out billions of tonnes of dead plants, trees, mammoths and, yes, polar bears, all of which is now happily interred under the Arctic wastes.

The difference is that while your compost heap ticks over at a nice warm temperature, breaking down the potato peelings into compost, the frozen ground which makes up permafrost stops that organic stew of Arctic flora and fauna from decomposing, safely locking up the carbon stored in it.

I say ‘safely locking up’ because from the point of view of creating human civilisation, permafrost has been pretty handy. While the permafrost has been permanently frozen, we’ve been busy ekeing out human life, discovering fire, developing agriculture, growing our population. While we’ve been busy nurturing the capabilities that ultimately allow the lucky few to participate in Britain’s Got Talent, the planet’s been watching our backs by keeping this massive store of carbon locked up under the frozen parts of the planet’s surface. Read more

Melanie Philips uses careful scientific investigation to debunk climate change

spectator*Yawn* Another week, another howler from the Spectator, rapidly pulling ahead in the ‘single least informed source on climate science’ awards, or maybe just the ‘most credulous rag’ category.

So Melanie Philips announces on her Spectator blog…

Yet another scientific scandal has come to light which knocks another whopping crater in the already shattered theory of anthropogenic global warming. Eight peer-reviewed studies, which for years have played a significant supporting role behind the IPPC’s claims of AGW, have been shown to be fraudulent.

Oh good, we can all pack up and go home – I can get on with writing that book about water polo I’ve been putting off. Just to make sure, let’s have a quick check on RealClimate, just in case… Read more