Latest Posts

“AmazonGate”: how the denial lobby and a dishonest journalist created a fake scandal 22

Anyone following the recent string of articles in the mainstream press attacking the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) may have entertained a sneaking suspicion that the hidden hand of the climate denial lobby was at work behind many of them. That suspicion, it turns out, is exactly right – the fingerprints of the deniers are all over several of the key stories.

This latest feeding frenzy kicked off when one erroneous claim – that Himalayan glaciers were “very likely” to disappear by 2035 – was found to have slipped through the net, the IPCC’s extensive review process having failed to weed it out prior to publication. The claim was included on page 493 of the IPCC’s second 1000-page Working Group report on “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” (WGII). The reference given was to a WWF report – part of the non-peer-reviewed “grey literature” that makes up a periphery of the material in the second Working Group’s report.

Marginal as it may have been, for the media this isolated error appears to have opened the floodgates. A hysterical flurry of activity followed, as the denial lobby began trawling through the IPCC report for anything else that might look bad – particularly anything referencing the grey literature. The results of this search were then fed to elements of the press, who eagerly snatched them up – uncritically repeating many of their claims in the process.

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World commits to 3.5 degrees 1

A majority of the world’s nations yesterday signed up to the Copenhagen Accord and filed plans for emissions reductions, scraping over the UN deadline of 31st January for doing so. But the pledged actions fall far short of action needed to prevent global temperatures rising by 2 degrees C – the target adopted in the text of the Accord itself.

Instead, existing actions set the world on course for a 3.5 degrees Celsius temperature rise, according to earlier analysis of pledges carried out by consultancy Ecofys. PriceWaterhouseCoopers calculate that on current projections the world will burn up its allocated carbon budget for the first half of the century by 2034 – 16 years ahead of schedule.

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The Carsonian Revolution

This year, the modern environmental movement turns 40. Earth Day in 1970 marked the first mass environmental protest, and whilst some ecological ideas have a much older pedigree, it is only during the past four decades that they have attracted mainstream attention. As the disappointment of the Copenhagen climate talks sinks in, it is easy to be pessimistic about the future of environmentalism. But I would argue that, taking the longer-term perspective, it is still very much in the ascendant.

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Glaciergate in perspective

The “Glaciergate” story is about a claim in the 2007 IPCC report that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035. It turns out that the evidence for this claim was from a speculative comment made by a not-very-prominent glaciologist in New Scientist in 1999. The Times and The Express have gone to town with this story claiming that it undermines the whole of the IPCC.

So, what does it really mean? Read more

Do you believe in climate change? 2

It is an increasingly familiar formula – a climate poll is released, the results are interpreted and analysed, and both sides claim victory. The initial analyses are inevitably the ones that scream ‘controversy’, while more considered accounts emerge at a later date. But while the polls may tell us something about public opinion, what do they tell us about climate change? Read more

ClimateGate & public opinion 5

Following the UEA email hack, it’s become part of the media narrative that opinion is turning against man-made global warming. It’s usually worth checking any such media claim about changes in public opinion that have supposedly occurred following a series of news stories, particularly ‘dramatic revelations’. Read more

ClimateGate: A Briefer 8

In the wake of the “Climategate” affair – the illegal hacking and publication of a huge number of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit – I’ve been trying to put together some “points to remember” on the episode, along with some of the key points of evidence. Below is what I’ve managed to come up with. Owing to the story’s media profile, the volume of material out there is now pretty enormous and somewhat unwieldy. Nevertheless, I hope this at least begins to cover most the bases, and will generally be of some use. Read more

Copenhagen: the post-mortem 2

Following the announcement of the Copenhagen Accord, John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, declared Copenhagen “a crime scene”, with the world leaders who brokered the deal “guilty men and women.” Every crime scene demands a post-mortem, and in this entry, I”ll attempt to file a first report. I”ll warn you now: some scenes may disturb. Read more

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