Lewandowsky fails his own low standards

Prof Stephen Lewandowsky keeps on digging a deeper hole for himself, and anybody associated with him. At “Shaping Tomorrow’s World” he has posted his personal values statement. Ben Pile has given it a pretty good frisking. A part of these beliefs is that opinions should only be expressed and debated in the peer-reviewed literature. This is interesting given that many of Lewandowsky’s arguments are outside the peer-reviewed literature. In a comment, I gave a recent example that undermines his claims:-

A major argument of Lewandowsky, is that critics of climate change are a bunch of conspiracy theory-loving nutters. At “The Conversation”, a taxpayer-funded blog for Australian and British academics to sound off, Prof. Lewandowsky stated

While consistency is a hallmark of science, conspiracy theorists often subscribe to contradictory beliefs at the same time – for example, that MI6 killed Princess Diana, and that she also faked her own death.

This was from a peer-reviewed study, that stated

In Study 1(n= 137), the more participants believed that Princess Diana faked her own death, the more they believed that she was murdered.

Steve McIntyre, with some difficulty, obtained the data. There was a reason for the author being a bit circumspect. McIntyre said

Within the Wood dataset, only two (!) respondents purported to believe that Diana faked her own death. Neither of these two respondents also purported to believe that MI6 killed Princess Diana. The subpopulation of people that believed that Diana staged her own death and that MI6 killed her was precisely zero.

The reason that the authors, the peer-reviewers and Prof. Lewandowsky failed to pick up on this is that they failed to do basic check on the data, using pivot tables. Instead, they rely on sophisticated statistical tests that Lewandowsky himself has used in his hoax paper. (The reason for the failure was succinctly expressed by Brandon Shallonberger in the comments) Ben Pile also used simple pivot tables, and eloquent language to completely demolish Lewandowsky’s 2012 hoax paper.

This example demonstrates three things

1. Lewandowsky does not stick to his own peer-reviewed rules.

2. Peer review can fail spectacularly.

3. Alternative opinions of data are possible, and the best analysis does not necessarily come from the most sophisticated techniques on the whizziest computers.

3. Lewandowsky swallowed misinformation because it accorded with his beliefs and lack of expertise in interpreting statistics. As a psychology professor studying misinformation, who is also “an award-winning teacher of statistics“, this is far less excusable than any trivial mistakes by the people he attacks.

Ed Miliband fails to link to New Year Message

At 2.05pm on 30/12/13 I got a New Year message from Ed Milliband


Manic Beancounter,

Later today, my New Year’s message for 2014 will be released. I want you to see it first.

Across the country this year, people often asked me if I understand the severity of the cost-of-living crisis, and what a Labour government could do differently to tackle it. It’s a good and fair question.

Here’s the answer I’ve been giving to the members, supporters and voters who ask — and which I also want to share with you:


Watch my New Year’s message

We’ve achieved an amazing amount together over the last twelve months: we’ve built our campaign across the country and — because of the generosity of supporters like you — we now have an organiser lined up for each one of our key seats.

If we work hard, listen to people, and make our case right, this will be the last full year of this Tory-led government.

With my very best wishes for 2014; I know we’re going to achieve more great things together.

Ed


 

 
 

Problem is, when I click on this message I get

Oops! Google Chrome could not find a_ction.labour.org.uk

Did you mean: labour.org.uk

We all make mistakes, but Labour seem to be making a habit of it. On the flagship “Freeze that Bill” policy

  1. No link to the policy content on the Labour Party website.

Go to http://www.labour.org.uk/home and you will still find


This still takes me to this page.


There is still no way you can link to Ed’s Energy Plan, as announced on 29th November, from the Labour Party Website. For those interested it can be found here.

2. On the video there is still a faulty link. 

At 1.22 to 1.26 Labour put up a websitehttp://www.labour.org.uk/freezethatbill

    When it should be

        http://www.labour.org.uk/freeze-that-bill


3. On Ed’s message is a bogus link

At http://www.labour.org.uk/freezethatbill there is a link to freezethatbill.com. This actually links in to

Labour are meant to be the party of slick presentation and spin. Clearly they are missing Peter Mandelson and Alistair Campbell.

Kevin Marshall

Notes Labour’s Analysis of the Energy Market

Labour’s Green Paper on Energy has been found by Alex Cull (comment at Dec 2, 2013 at 1:03 PM) at the site “Your Britain“, in the Agenda 2015 section. Having read it, I can see why the Labour Party are not keen for the electorate to find the document. Some quick observations, that I believe are sufficient to show that Labour have not bottomed out the only, let alone the best, explanation of why retail prices have risen so fast in last few years. What this clearly shows is that Labour’s proposed policy freeze is not just misplaced; it is positively harmful to Britain having future low-cost and secure energy supplies.

Note 03/12/13: This post will be added to over the coming days.

Update 04/12/13: Note on declining investment in “clean energy”

Billions not Millions

The Executive Summary states

Lack of competition in the retail market has resulted in consumers paying £3.6m more than they need to each year.

Caption to Table 1 on page 7 states

Lack of competition in the retail market has resulted in consumers paying £3.6 billion more than they need to

Error in Calculation

The source of the £3.6bn is from Which?

The consumer group Which? found that 75 per cent of customers are on the most expensive tariffs offered by suppliers – their standard tariff – and are not getting the cheapest deal in the market. They estimate that since 2011, families across the country have paid £3.6 billion a year more than they need to as a result. That means that households are on average paying £136 each year because the retail market is not working in the way that a competitive market should. If this market was genuinely competitive, energy companies would face stronger incentives to drive their costs down and pass savings to consumers through lower prices and cheaper tariffs; but this is not happening.

That implies that

  1. In a perfectly competitive market, the single price would be the very cheapest rate available.
  2. As a consequence the big six energy companies are pocketing the difference.

So, there is a monopoly profit of greater than £3.6bn. Ofgem monitors the big six energy firms. The BBC reported on 25th November that

Overall, profits in generation and supply across the half-dozen firms fell from £3.9bn in 2011 to £3.7bn in 2012.

So the competitive market profit fell from £0.3bn to £0.1bn? I don’t think so. The price differential is due to competition working, not due to its’ failure. Like in many areas, if you shop around you can get a better deal than those who do not, as sellers will discount to win your business. If you do not shop around, you will get a bad deal. Look at insurance, hotel rooms, flights or even consumer goods. Reducing competition will cause profits will rise, and the savvy consumer will lose out. Regulate enough and even those who never haggle will not get a good deal.

Decline in those switching suppliers

…. a confusing system of 900 tariffs makes it hard for consumers to actively engage in this market. Since 2008, the number of people switching energy supplier has fallen by over 50 per cent, and switching levels are now at the lowest level on record. Low levels of switching means that the big energy companies have a ‘captured market’ which reduces the incentives to keep prices competitive.

Fig 1 shows a decline in number of people transferring between suppliers between year to year. This shows a decline from around … to …. Is this evidence of a decline?

All other things being equal, then it is evidence of declining competitiveness. But all other things are not equal. A supplier can take action to retain the business. There is passive action and non-passive action.

Passive action is when the customer tries to move away, or threatens to. They are can offered a better deal to retain the business.

Proactive action is to offer the customer a better deal. For instance, I moved supplier in 2012 on a 12 month contract. In July, just before the end of the deal, the supplier offered me their best deal. This I accepted, after a quick check.

A decline in transfers could therefore be due to suppliers taking action to retain custom. This saves on their costs, and consumer’s inconvenience, whilst keeping the market competitive. As the cost to energy companies is less, this can keep overall costs down.

A test of this is to look at the differential between the standard tariff and the competitive tariffs over time for each supplier. If that has widened over time in line with the decrease in those switching then the Labour Party are correct. If it has widened, I would be surprised given the increasing number and sophistication of the price comparison websites. It would be a failure both of government policy over many years and the market to respond to those incentives.

Differential between wholesale and retail prices

Figure 2 on page 11 is meant illustrate for the electricity and gas markets how the wholesale prices have stayed roughly the same, but the retail prices have widened. The graphic for the electricity market is shown below.

The explanation is as follows.

Wholesale energy prices have been relatively stable since the winter of 2011, rising by an average of 1 per cent a year. However, the large energy companies have increased energy prices by an average of 10.4 per cent a year over this period (Figure 3). This has led to a growing gap between wholesale and retail prices that cannot be explained by the growth in network costs or policy costs which account for 20 per cent and nine per cent of the bill respectively.

So the explanation is derived from the following logic

  1. Prices have risen by over 30% in the last 3 years.
  2. Wholesale prices form the biggest part of the cost to the consumer and have not moved very much.
  3. Other costs have grown, but now only account for 29% of the bill.
  4. By implication, the profits of the energy companies have increased at the expense of the consumer.

Let us first assume that the scales are comparable. The left hand scale is the wholesale cost in £/MWh. The right hand scale in the average annual retail cost per household. In 2010 the average household was paying about £430 for their electricity, compared with £550 in Jan-2013. The wholesale price component rose from around £280 to £310. So “other costs” rose by around £90. This is a huge increase in costs. With around 26 million households, this is around £2.4bn – well on the way to accounting for the £3.6bn claimed above. There is gas as well remember, so there could be an argument.

But what are the other costs?

These include

  1. Standing charges. The costs of operating the National Grid, and replacing meters in homes, along with subsidies for the poor.
  2. Renewables Obligations (RO) and Feed-in-tariffs (FIT). That is the subsidies that the owners of wind turbines and solar panels get over and above the wholesale price of electricity. For instance, operators of offshore wind turbines will get a similar amount in RO as from the market price.
  3. The small, but growing STOR scheme.
  4. The fixed costs of the retail operation. That is the staff to produce the bills, operate the call centres, along with the cost of a sales force to get you to switch.
  5. The net is the retail margin.

Let us assume that “network costs or policy costs” and policy costs doubled in three years as a proportion of the total electricity bill. That is from 14.5% to 29%. That would be £97 of the £90 increase in margin. This hypothetical example needs to be tested with actual data. However, the lack of the rise in profits is corroborated by OFGEM figures for the Big 6 Energy Companies, as I summarized out last week.

The margins on “supply” have not increased, and are still at the level of a discount supermarket. The margins on “generation” derive from selling at wholesale and the proceeds of the subsidies. Unless Labour are implying that the “Big 6″ are guilty of false reporting to OFGEM, the vast majority of the increase in differential between wholesale cost and selling price is accounted for by factors other than profits to the energy companies. Labour are implying the vast majority of the increase in differential between wholesale cost and selling price is accounted for by the profits to the energy companies, and therefore misleading the electorate.

Interpretation of clean energy investment figures

Figure 4 is the following chart

The fall in investment, at a time when it should be accelerating, is a result of the policy environment and protracted decision-making by Government. The Government has been widely blamed for failing to provide the policy certainty needed to de-risk investment.

There is an alternative way to interpret this data. Labour lost the general election in May 2010. What might be more significant is the passage of the Climate Change Act 2008. In the next year investment was nearly 3 times higher, then falling each year since. The Climate Change Act 2008 greatly enhanced the incentives for “clean energy” investment, hence the leap. There are only a finite number of opportunities, so the investment is reducing year-on-year. This being despite the biggest source of revenue coming from index-linked subsidies loaded onto electricity bills. Another reason is that many in the industry saw problems with the technology, that are only now coming to light. In particular the lifespan of the turbines might be shorter than previously thought. Further, the opposition to the wind turbines (where most of the investment is concentrated) is increasing, such as against the proposed Atlantic Array that would have blighted the Bristol Channel. Campaigners are also increasingly concerned about noise pollution.

Therefore, I propose that declining investment is not due to Government spin doctors failing to sweet-talk big business, but due to the reality of “clean energy” turning out to fall far short of the sales patter.

NB First time comments are moderated. The comments can be used as a point of contact.

Kevin Marshall

Ed Milibands claims to have published an “energy green paper” untrue

Update 20.00

I owe the Ed Miliband and the Labour Party an apology with reservations. They did publish an “energy green paper” on Friday. The reservations are

  1. It was published at http://www.yourbritain.org.uk/agenda-2015/policy-review/policy-review/energy-green-paper. (Alexa, has no country data for the site)
  2. My mistake was to use the key words “Labour Energy Green Paper” in my bing search. There is (7pm) no reference to this in the first 50 hits, but there are references to the Labour Party website. Even the Chelmsford Weekly News article (No Alexa country data for this site) makes 20.
  3. The Labour Party Website (UK Alexa rank 9,080) still does not reference the document.
  4. The website referred to on the video (http://www.labour.org.uk/freezethatbill) is inaccurate. It should read http://www.labour.org.uk/freeze-that-bill. Even here you will not find a link to the energy green paper.

My mistake, in accusing Ed Miliband of not publishing the paper when he had, was due to a misconception. I assumed that Labour Party spin doctors would be super-efficient, and so the failure to publish would be due to simple, but embarrassing, clerical errors. Having now read the paper, it would seem to go a bit deeper than that.

 

Labour’s claim to have published a green paper on energy is untrue. There is no link on the internet to any document, whether freely available, or to purchase.

BishopHill reported on Friday 29th November that Labour Party leader Ed Miliband had launched a “Green paper on energy”, proposing a freeze in energy price is Labour wins power in 2015. At the BBC there is a video of Ed Miliband saying

…and what Britain needs is Labour’s strong and credible plan, that we are publishing today, to freeze energy prices until 2017 and reform a broken energy market so it properly works for business and families.

As I always like to read the original source material, I went to look for it.

Tried at http://www.labour.org.uk/news, which announces:-

The Energy Green Paper sets out the steps a One Nation Labour government will take while we reset the market during the 20 month price freeze to ensure energy is affordable and available…

But no link on the site to a pdf, neither a link to a shop where I might procure a paper copy of the green paper.

It gets worse. In the home page, the lower part for the last couple of days has this:-


It says

Read Ed Miliband’s energy plan

The link is to http://action.labour.org.uk/page/s/energy-calculator/.


No details of the plan. No details of the links to a plan. But there is a link to a video of 1.26 minutes long.

At 1.22 there is a link to “labour.org.uk/freezethatbill”.


This takes me straight back to http://action.labour.org.uk/page/s/energy-calculator. The details do not exist.

Further, there is no link at the BBC, The Mirror, The Guardian, at Sky News, nor a number of other websites that have run the story.

The Labour Spin Doctors have been so concerned to get out the media message, they forgot the substance.

Kevin Marshall

 

 

Stephan Lewandowsky – a self-confessed danger to democracy

Australian Climate Madness takes a swipe at Stephan Lewandowsky’s latest taxpayer-funded polemic. This is an extended version of my comment.

Lewandowsky’s sneaky request “to mention only my assistant’s name, Charles Hanich, on the online survey” has particular relevance to what followed. Before Joanne Nova published her “Lewandowsky show skeptics are nutters… post, she contacted a number of skeptic bloggers to search their inbox for Lewandowsky’s survey. There was no mention of his research assistant in the paper, so naturally all the resultant searches drew a blank. On this basis I wrote on 03.09.12:-

The claim in the paper that they contacted five sceptical blogs to improve the spread of views is highly suspect.

It turns out that my suspicions were correct. Stephen Lewandowsky had not contacted any of the skeptic sites, and deliberately kept people in the dark as to this fact.

Lewandowsky posted on 10.09.12 at Shaping Tomorrow’s World

1. When will an apology be forthcoming for the accusations launched against me? And how many individuals should now be issuing a public apology?

To explore the magnitude of this question we must take stock of public statements that have been made about my research. For example, one blogger considered it “highly suspect” whether I had contacted any “skeptic” sites. (emphasis mine)

Linking to my comment, Prof. Lewandowsky, knowing my suspicions to be true, brazenly demands that I apologize for daring to suspect him.

He digs himself a deeper hole by saying later

we now know that the presumed lack of evidence was actually evidence for a measure of carelessness or shoddy record keeping among the individuals contacted.

It gets worse. Prof Lewandowsky co-wrote with John Cook a short pamphlet called The Debunking Handbook.

It’s self-evident that democratic societies should base their decisions on accurate information. On many issues, however, misinformation can become entrenched in parts of the community, particularly when vested interests are involved. Reducing the influence of misinformation is a difficult and complex challenge.

What Lewandowsky engaged in was misinformation. He asked to keep secret his identity, gave obscure (or non-existent) clues to emails and then claimed bloggers “amnesia” when they failed to find emails sent to them by unidentified individual. He did this whilst believing that such misinformation would work to the advantage of himself and his unsupported beliefs, whilst undermining democracy.

He later went onto attack my simple analysis using pivot tables. Yet such analysis revealed much the LOG12 paper omitted. For example

- how few skeptic responses there were (c.15%)

- how few supported many of the conspiracy theories (e.g. Moon landing hoax = 10/1145, AIDS created by US Govt = 9/1145)

- That key to the higher proportion of skeptics supporting conspiracy theories were two rogue responses.

The whole paper is misinformation, aimed at getting an alleged majority to discriminate against those who have alternative points of view. Lack of any counter-balance is the major factor that makes people vulnerable to misinformation. Further research on belief in conspiracy theories would reveal that they are more predominant in communities where there are strong belief systems with enforced dominance.

Kevin Marshall

Anyone who wishes to contact me can do so through the comments. I will not publish any such request made in a non-threatening fashion. I will publish counter-arguments, so that others might compare and contrast for themselves.

Head of the IPCC Rajendra Pachauri misleads on pause in Global Warming

Prof Rajendra Pachauri made a number of misleading statements (or was misquoted) in an interview with BBC Environment analyst Roger Harrabin, This includes:-.

He also dismissed suggestions of a slowdown in global warming.

“There’s definitely an increase in our belief that climate change is taking place and that human beings are responsible,” he told me.

“I don’t think there is a slowdown (in the rate of temperature increase). I would like to draw your attention to the World Meteorological Organization which clearly stated on the basis of observations that the first decade of this century has been the warmest in recorded history.

The first sentence is wrong. It is contradicted by another BBC article “Global warming pause ‘central’ to IPCC climate report.

The second sentence is a statement about beliefs. It is hearsay at best, the antithesis of stronger evidence.

I showed why the third and fourth sentences are a dodge around the warming pause last month. In a stylized form temperatures were flat to 1975, rose through to 1998 and have stalled since.


From this, you can show that there has been five decades of rising temperatures. It is misleading to say that global warming is still happening when it has paused.


Maybe the leader of the IPCC is, at least in part, a victim of the zealous support of climate alarmism that the BBC shows, in betrayal of its’ charter.

I doubt if there will be a falling out of the head of the UNIPCC with the BBC. After all the caption beneath the photograph is a falsehood that Pachauri has been peddling for a few years now.

Prof Pachauri shared the 2007 Nobel peace prize for his work

This is what you will find at the Nobel Prize Website

The Nobel Peace Prize 2007


Intergovernmental Panel Photo: Ken Opprann

on Climate Change (IPCC) Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr.

Pachauri collected the Nobel Peace Prize as head of the IPCC. He did not share the prize. The inaccuracy is the same as that shown in reporting the lack of warming. It shows something more significant than what is there. At least the BBC puts that it is a Peace Prize.


UK Energy Research Centre (UKREC) doubly misleads

Yesterday the GWPF and Joanne Nova point to an article in Thursday’s Daily Express which declared

A report from the UK Energy Research Centre also shows the number of those who resolutely do not believe in climate change has more than quadrupled since 2005.

There are two fundamental issues with the press release. First the research shows a much bigger divergence in public opinion from climate orthodoxy than the press release by the QUANGO shows. Second, the opinion poll conducted in England, Scotland and Wales by psychologists had two fundamental errors that fail to connect with the real world situations that people are facing and will face in the renewable energy future.

Public Opinion on Climate Change

The Government funded report shows 19 per cent of people are climate change disbelievers – up from just four per cent in 2005 – while nine per cent did not know.

The Daily Express article only looks at the press release and then speaks to UK Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, who says, who says

Of course, however, the 72 per cent of the public who acknowledge the climate is changing are backed overwhelmingly by the scientific evidence.

If they had clicked on the second link on point 3 (of 5) in the “Notes to the Editors” (below where it says - Ends -) labelled “national survey“, they would have opened up the 62 page “SURVEY FINAL.pdf”. If they had then gone to Appendix B, they would have found the full results of all 72 survey questions. The following is relevant

Q3. How concerned, if at all, are you about climate change, sometimes referred to as ‘global warming’?

“Very” or “Fairly” concerned         74%

“Not very”, or “Not at all” concerned      26%

Don’t know                 1%

However, this should be more relevant.

Q5. Thinking about the causes of climate change, which, if any, of the following best describes your opinion?

CC is entirely or mainly caused by natural processes                 16%

CC is partly caused by natural processes and partly caused by human activity     48%

CC is entirely or mainly caused by human activity                 32%

The survey shows that two-thirds of the public disagree with the “scientists”, and thus disagree with a necessary condition to justify policy – that climate change is a non-trivial problem. The press release hides the real story in obscure places that no journalist has time to find.

The opinion poll failing to address real world situations

The questionnaire started with questions on attitudes to climate change. However, the vast majority of the questions, and the purpose of the survey, was upon the “Public Values, Attitudes and Acceptability” of pursuing the UK’s transformation to “green” energy. As this questionnaire was conducted by the School of Psychology at the University of Cardiff, there are two things one could reasonably expect.

  1. Empathy with the people impacted.
  2. Addressing the costs that people are most likely to face.

In both there is a depersonalisation of the impacts.

One of the most controversial areas of renewables is wind turbines. An innocuous question is

Q22. To what extent would you support or oppose the building of a new wind farm in your area? (By ‘area’ we mean up to approximately 5 miles from your home)?

The distance is relevant. Like the vast majority of people I live in a built-up area. If the world’s tallest building was located five miles from my house, I would likely not be able to see it from the ground floor in any direction. Five miles distant there is an airport with 20 million passengers and 170,000 flight movements a year. I rarely hear an aircraft, as I do not under the usual flight paths. To personalize it, you need to ask people if, when purchasing a house, having a wind turbine located at less than a mile from a house, clearly visible, would affect the decision to buy it.

This depersonalisation of the impacts also includes the benefits. In a remote rural area a nuclear power plant would bring a huge influx of jobs and prosperity, more than thousands of wind farms. There is a relevant example. In the 1960s Caithness boomed as a result of the building Dounreay nuclear research plant. The county is currently being overrun by wind turbines, which do little to replace the jobs lost as the nuclear facility is decommissioned.

Empathizing with the plight of a minority who are adversely affected by renewables is something that should be appreciated. However, for most people, it is the direct impact of renewables that will concern them most. For the vast majority, it is costs that are important. UKERC fully realize that switching from fossil fuels to renewables means receiving power solely in the form of electricity. Therefore, there are questions about switching from gas to electric for heating and cooking, and about the public perceptions of electric cars.

Q23. How positive or negative do you feel about heating with electricity?

Q24. Please indicate how willing you would be, if at all, to use electric heating in your home in the future.

Q25. …what if your friends, family and neighbours used electric heating? How willing would you be, if at all, to use electric heating in the future if this was the case?

Q26. …what if the performance of electric heating was no different to central gas heating systems? How willing would you be, if at all, to use electric heating in the future if this was the case?

Q27. …what if electric heating was significantly cheaper than heating with gas? How willing would you be, if at all, to use electric heating in the future if this was the case?

Q28. How positive or negative do you feel about cooking only with electricity?

Q29. Please indicate how willing you would be, if at all, to cook only with electricity in the future.

Q30. …what if your friends, family and neighbours cooked only with electricity? How willing would you be, if at all, to cook with electricity in the future if this was the case?

Q31. …what if the performance of an electric hob was no different to a gas hob (e.g. it heats up in the same time)? How willing would you be, if at all, to use an electric hob in the future if this was the case?

Q32. …what if cooking with electricity was significantly cheaper than cooking with gas? How willing would you be, if at all, to cook with electricity in the future if this was the case?

Q33. How positive or negative do you feel about driving an electric car?

Q34. Please indicate how willing you would be, if at all, to drive an electric car in the future.

Q35. …what if your friends, family and neighbours drove electric cars? How willing would you be, if at all, to drive an electric car in the future if this was the case?

Q36. …what if the performance of an electric car was the same as a petrol car (e.g. speed, range, availability of charging points)? How willing would you be to drive an electric car in the future if this was the case?

Q37. …what if the cost of buying and running an electric car was significantly less than the cost of a petrol car? How willing would you be, if at all, to drive an electric car in the future if this was the case?

UKREC could say they have dealt with costs in Q27, Q32 and Q37. But this only deals with the scenario if the electric alternative is cheaper. Currently the electric alternative is far more expensive. Maybe twice the cost for heating by electric than gas, and an electric car is around twice the cost (or more) of an equivalent size of diesel car. Will the reality change? There are four reasons why not, which need to be compared with the current domestic price (after distribution costs, reseller costs and reseller margin) of 10p Kwh.

First, is that renewables cost more, in total, per unit of electricity than fossil-fuelled power stations. When I last checked it was 4.1p for onshore turbines and 8.3p Kwh for offshore. This is on top of the wholesale market rate. In addition, there is the STOR energy scheme where the marginal cost per Kwh is over 20p-30p Kwh, and the average cost per Kwh could be 50p or more. Then there are the payments not to shut the things off when the wind blows too strongly.

Second, is that fossil fuels are likely to come down in price than go up. In particular in Britain the shale gas revolution will guarantee supplies for a generation and are more likely to see gas prices fall in real terms, than rise.

Third, is that if we switch energy from gas and petrol/diesel to electric, the amount of electric power generation capacity required will go through the roof. The first point applies even more strongly.

Fourth is that current technologies are developing rapidly as well. For an electric car to become competitive on running costs, it needs to overtake the next generation of diesel cars. For instance, last week I drove one of the current Volkswagen Golf diesels, a 1.6TDI. The fuel consumption of just over 60mpg(1), was at least 25% better than a 2007 Vauxhall (General Motors) Astra 1.7TDI, and 100% better than my first car – the much smaller 1978 Honda Civic 1.2 petrol.

Conclusion

The press release fails to show how far out of line the consensus of climate scientists are with mainstream public opinion. More importantly, a questionnaire commissioned by a QUANGO for renewable energy research and conducted by academic psychologists, fails to address the likely real situations people will face under a renewable future.

Kevin Marshall

  1. For Australians and Europeans, 60 miles per gallon is 4.7 litres per 100km. For those in the United States it is about 50 miles per US gallon.

Showing Warming when it has Stopped

There has been no statistically significant warming for at least 15 years. Yet some people, like commentator “Michael the Realist”, who is currently trolling Joanne Nova’s blog, are claiming otherwise. For instance

Again look at the following graph.

Now let me explain it to the nth degree.
# The long term trend over the whole period is obviously up.
# The long term trend has pauses and dips due to natural variations but the trend is unchanged.
# The current period is at the top of the trend.
# 2001 to 2010 is the hottest decade on the record despite a preponderance of natural cooling trends. (globally, ocean, land and both hemispheres)
# Hotter than the previous decade of 1991 to 2000 with its preponderance of natural warming events.
# Every decade bar one has been hotter than the previous decade since 1901.

Please explain why the above is true if not AGW with proof.

State of the climate 2012
http://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/state-climate-2012-highlights

The three highlighted comments are the ones that this posting addresses.

Using decadal average temperature changes to cover up the standstill.

The latest way to avoid the truth that warming has stopped for 15 years or more is by decadal averages. This can be illustrated by using an approximate model of the data. Assume constant average temperatures from 1960 to 1975, a linear warming of 0.6oC from 1976 to 1998, followed by a further standstill.


The decadal averages are


So, instead of 24 years of warming, it is 4 consecutive decades, that are each warmer than the last. The 2000s are warmer than the 1990s simply because there was warming the 1990s. It is political spin, relying on an ignorance of basic statistics, that is needed to make such claims.


Lewandowsky’s Recursive Corruption of Science

Wattsupwiththat have a guest post by Brandon Shollenberger on “Stephan Lewandowsky and John Cook – making things up“. It details how the Recursive Fury paper elements that are fabricated. This is a comment just posted.

The “Recursive fury” paper fails to consider an alternative hypothesis. If psychology expert L came along and said that you should not be listened to about subject A, which you believe strongly about, because:-

(a) Nearly all the “experts” disagree with you.

(b) Some fellow believers allegedly have political beliefs that the person L does not like.

(c) A higher proportion of your fellow believers than L’s group allegedly hold other beliefs that most people view as being “nutty

Then you would be somewhat upset – a normal, human, reaction. If you later found out that the claims about the experts were not true, the questions were biased and the statistical conclusions were contradicted by basic statistical analysis, you would be justifiably furious.

Like with people who attribute every extreme weather event to global warming, Lewandowsky bases his case for ignoring sceptical opinions on a distorted opinion of corrupted evidence. When it gets a very predictable response, he interprets this with a distorted opinion of corrupted evidence. The only recursive bit is in the methods Lewandowsky employs in corrupting science.

The Calculus of Climate Change morality

A couple of days ago Jo Nova highlighted another example of an environmentalist, Jonathan Moylan, who thought that to save the planet they were morally justified in committing criminal acts. My posting is on one journalist’s opinion that Moylan should be applauded, not prosecuted.

Katherine Wilson in the Age opinion says

Moylan’s hoax asks us to consider a broader category of victims: the world’s citizens and environments who are facing the real consequence of big polluters such as coal companies.

When asked by the Newcastle Herald whether his actions were justified, Moylan said

 My intention was to get ANZ Bank to expose themselves as the backers of the Maules Creek project. Some media organisations have used the word ”justify” – this is not my word. My prime concern is the local community, which has been feeling very despondent – the forest, our health and our water.

That is Moylan does not think he is saving the planet from catastrophic climate change. Or at least he claiming not to do have done so after the event. Let us, however, assume that Katherine Wilson is correct in assuming Moylan’s actions were more to do global climate change than local environmental issues.

The moral case is that the harms caused in the necessary publicizing of an issue are insignificant compared to beside larger damage occurring. It we were able to go back in a time machine to April 20th 1889, and strangle the newly born son of Klara and Alois Hitler, would we be justified in doing so. One death could have saved the life of millions, as without a charismatic leader the extremist nationalist elements in Weimar Germany would never have come to the fore. But what if the communists had come to power in Germany instead? They were certainly the main opposition that the Nazis staged street battles with in the 1920s. Suppose that they joined with the Soviets to invade Poland and then the rest of Europe? With the many millions of people that died in the Gulags, along with the tens of millions that had died in the collectivisation of agriculture, could the death of an infant conceivably have caused even greater misery?

I use this example, not to ponder nor the morality of killing infants (or later killing the Adolf Hitler once he became the charismatic leader of the Nazi party). It is to consider whether, for climate change, such a calculus of causing a small harm will lead to the prevention of a larger harm. With respect to climate change, this depends on three factors. First, the likely harm from future unimpeded climate change will have catastrophic consequences. Second, the likely harm of the action to highlight awareness of the issue is trivial compared to the impending climate catastrophe. Third, that will be significant success in getting the issue recognised.

If climate change is vastly exaggerated then there is a risk that Moylan is campaigning for policies that are not justified. The treatment is more harmful than the ailment. If the harm caused by the action is vastly greater than anticipated, or the full extent is not recognised post the event (“you’ve got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette” mentality), then there is an element of recklessness. If there are already policies in place to optimally tackle the issue, and the media is already on the side of the consensus opinion, then aggressive action to further highlight the cause is that is already more than fully recognised is positively harmful to society. It could lead to policies not justified by the scientific evidence, however construed.

Consider the following from Katherine Wilson’s argument.

At the parliamentary level, Greens senator Christine Milne has applauded his actions as being ”part of a long and proud history of civil disobedience, potentially breaking the law, to highlight something wrong”.

Read more: 
http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-hoax-we-had-to-have-20130110-2cix8.html#ixzz2HrZL2qbJ

Like the Nazis smashing up the shops of Jews, or beating up communists to highlight that their great nation is being over-run? Most people will now accept that the racist laws that existed in America’s Deep South in the 1950s, or the denial of universal suffrage for all adults in Britain prior to 1918 were immoral, and therefore at least some of the protests were justified. But most sane people will accept that the cause of the Nazis was evil, so any sort of illegal actions to promote their ideas is wrong. Wilson and Milne are assuming they stand on the moral high ground. Whilst not considering them as bad as the Nazis, I do believe them morally to be nearer to that position than of Martin Luther King, or Emmeline Pankhurst, as the points below will demonstrate.

For those citizens who have not given up on the conviction that taking action is ”the greatest moral, economic and environmental challenge of our generation”, there is little choice but to pull off hoaxes of this kind.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-hoax-we-had-to-have-20130110-2cix8.html#ixzz2HrZbJTY9

Again, others may disagree. Al Qaeda sees the greatest challenge as spreading Islam. For millions in Southern Europe finding a job, or being paid for their work, is far more important. Dr Indur Goklany. looking at the consensus projections of climate impacts thinks that in the next few decades there are far more important issues facing humanity.

Moylan’s hoax asks us to consider a broader category of victims: the world’s citizens and environments who are facing the real consequence of big polluters such as coal companies.

Read more: 
http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-hoax-we-had-to-have-20130110-2cix8.html#ixzz2HreCE8d7

For more than two billion people in Asia, any environmental problems of rapid development may seem trivial to the huge benefits of being able to eat better, or having access to ever-increasing levels of healthcare and education.

For all the ”free market of ideas” posturing, the media and finance marketplace that Moylan sought to disrupt is not some equal playing field operating under rules of fair play. As countless journalism academics have documented, news agendas are set by public servants, PR agents, politicians and business leaders.

Read more: 
http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-hoax-we-had-to-have-20130110-2cix8.html#ixzz2HrZwtWaP

It would be nice to know where Moylan’s views are under-represented. I know that I live on the other side of the planet here so I may have the wrong perspective. Did the Gillard Government enact a carbon tax last July to look tackle the problem of climate change? Was this policy one of the most stringent in the world? Does the “Age” publish the opinions environmentalists? Does the “Age” give fair coverage of both sides, or does it give voice to those deliberately misrepresent the sceptic position? Does the major TV network give impartial coverage, deliberately misrepresent one side? For example, when Jo Nova was interviewed for a “debate” on climate.

This is why Moylan orchestrated his hoax at a time when the Australian Securities Exchange is operating at a fraction of normal levels.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-hoax-we-had-to-have-20130110-2cix8.html#ixzz2Hra4WJ6L

Wilson is implying that Moylan planned the attacked to minimize the potential damage. But Jonathan Moylan has said

“.. it has had a much bigger impact than I expected.”

It looks like Katherine Wilson is trying to make Moylan out as somebody who understood the cost-benefit calculus of minimal damage for maximum effect, whereas Moylan is claiming the opposite.

True, his action may have affected the sort of ”ordinary” people who have blind faith that finance markets are based on trust and immutable laws. But are the people who gamble their spare funds in coal industry investments really the victims here?

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-hoax-we-had-to-have-20130110-2cix8.html#ixzz2Hre6ea2i

Wilson in effect condemns Moylan. Finance markets are based on trust. If the hoax has consequences for undermining peoples trust in making contracts, then the consequential costs are far greater than the short-term losses. She would have to show that she has in place an alternative system where trust is not important. I can think of some, but these are inferior to a market-based system, both morally (based on rule by fear) and economically. Wilson then makes an assumption about the investors. It might be people’s pensions that are at stake here. It might be from people who do not share environmentalist’s morality, or who simply think that the Labor Government is doing sufficient from the carbon tax.

To charge Moylan on the basis of fraud would also be disingenuous. As Fairfax journalist Eric Johnston reported on Tuesday, the ASX is subject to frequent hoaxes. How many rogue traders have used false takeover bids or issued statements to profit illegally from movements in the market? How many finance journalists and PR agents were complicit in deceiving finance markets in the lead-up to the global financial crisis?

Read more: 
http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-hoax-we-had-to-have-20130110-2cix8.html#ixzz2HrerI3p2

My reading of the law is that Moylan should be charged just the same as those who hoax for personal gain, or simply to cause damage for non-ideological reasons. The motives should be taken into account in deciding the severity of the charge, and if found guilty, the severity of the punishment. It could be argued that his hoax should be treated far more seriously than a fraud for personal gain, as it could viewed as an act of economic sabotage. In fact Wilson in effect condemns him For instance, burning down an empty building to instil fear should be viewed far more seriously than an arsonist who has a fixation with seeing buildings burn. In the first case, it undermines the rule of law, along with the other causes

In summary, none of the three conditions to say that there is a moral benefit in breaking the law are met. First. the climate change issue is likely to be grossly exaggerated. Second. the hoax may have had huge harm. Third, climate change policies have already been enacted and the media presence is considerable. For a journalist to claim otherwise is the sign of a blinkered extremist.

Kevin Marshall

My opinions are my own. If they are in error, then I will consider reasoned replies. If anyone would like a right of reply, I would be happy to publish it, so that people can compare the arguments. I reserve the right to publish a counter argument. If you wish to contact me, please do so through the comments. I will not publish any approach for debate, but reserve the right to publish any approach that uses threats to shut-off my counter-arguments, despite due warning.

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