Talking about Climate Change and “Fixing it”

March 12, 2016

I was at a conference earlier this week, the topic being power generation. The focus of most speakers (and many of the attendees that I was able to chat with) was about how all these alternative methods of generating electrical power are proposed on the basis of our “reduced carbon [sic] future”.

At the break I asked one of the speakers how life would be different in, say 2030, when we transform everything to a world where we get power from “carbon free” methods? He was unable to say other than to agree with me that he would “feel good.”.

I then explored with him the idea of scrapping the goal of conflating power generation with carbon reduction, and I did get an earful about how the ice caps are melting, that the root cause of the “Arab Spring” could be attributed to “climate change”, and that the flooding and record high temperatures are “proof” and we *must* do something. “All scientists in the world think it’s a problem!”, he said.

This guy had the podium at a major conference on power production, hosted by the power industry, and attended by many so-called “informed” professionals! Sigh. Big Sigh.

Another person, a person who was previously a speaker on a topic of importance, was defending to me the grave need to “tackle climate change.” I asked him to please define what he meant by “climate change” so that we could then agree what we are talking about. He told me that he could not really define that as it’s much to complicated to define, “but we gotta tackle it!”. Sigh.

I seemed to be the only one wondering what the heck is going on?


Flooding in York

December 29, 2015

This was a man-made disaster. It was not “unforeseen” as it’s happened before–more than once, in fact. The cause has nothing to do with “climate change” (whatever that means!).

In this instance, the UK Environmental Agency in York noticed that “water was entering the building” (the building holding pumps which were to operate to mitigate the effects of fooding), and they decided that this electrical equipment was “at risk”. So, they lifted a flood barrier thus deliberately flooding a large residential area.

See Martin Brumby discuss this story, as an insider, at http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2015/12/27/the-eus-role-in-the-floods.html#comments, Dec 29 9:23 a.m. where he asks the pertinent questions:

So, were the pumps working and, if not, why not?

Were the electrics maintained and sited above flood levels? (Think:- Fukushima!) If not, why not?

Who made the decision to open the barrier and make the £8M (1982 prices) installation an irrelevance? Who was consulted?

How many of those responsible will be sacked?


NY Times a Hypocrite

December 13, 2015

In the front page of today’s NY Times web site, I see links to the following two articles next to each other.

One implies doing something “green” will “keep the sea from rising” and the other applauds winter skiing and all that goes with it (mountains deforestation, outdoor heating, long-distance travel by air and car, etc.) which I can’t help but think, if you believe such things, could cause the seas to rise.

Jeez.

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Engineers and Ethical Responsibilities

February 27, 2015

I occasionally make comments about “engineers” vs. “scientists” and their inherent skills, expertise, and value. I believe that society (as sadly presented by media and government) puts too much faith in what they say, how they say it, and their capabilities. Too many people base their own thinking, and defend it to others, on “scientists say” appeal to authority. I sort of understand the political pressures which cause this.

Regardless of whether the “scientists” are correct or incorrect, wise or devious, few if any scientists are obligated to act under an special or legal ethical obligation. Engineers in most countries are “licensed” as an important and “learned” professional, whereas “scientists” are not. Engineers have well-defined professional societies with ethical policies.

Dr. Drang has posted an excellent summary of this related to computer programmers calling themselves “software engineers”. To me the same issue applies with other jobs, e.g. “scientists”.

He reminds me of the “six fundamental canons” of of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)

  1. Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.
  2. Perform services only in areas of their competence.
  3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
  4. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
  5. Avoid deceptive acts.
  6. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession.

– See more at: http://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics

I can see where the absence of such ethical behaviour can get society into difficulty.


What do I think about The Oil Price Plunge?

January 14, 2015

The topic of low oil prices has come up a few times. Always an interesting, but probably impossible to really understand.

My personal view (and if I knew everything I would work in City/Wall Street) and I’ll try not to exaggerate.

  • It’s happened before … more than once.
  • It proves that forecasting, especially about the future, is difficult. “Economists didn’t see this coming”. Humm.
  • It proves that when politicians try to drive a market, they will fail.
    Thank goodness that the “price freeze” advocated by some did not go into
    force. We’d be stuck with those high and frozen government-mandated
    prices.
  • It shows the fallacy and illogicalness of some governments’ policies
    for energy and power, e.g. in Scotland we are abandoning low-cost energy
    and power and adopting (permanently) high cost energy and power …
    which is likely to significantly increase poverty, unemployment, and
    death (cold homes kills).
  • It probably accelerates the decline of the North Sea and oil and gas jobs in
    Scotland/UK will disappear soon, and probably permanent. Quite a lot of valuable
    oil and gas known to exist under the North Sea will be stranded as the
    cost to produce is just too much.
  • The economy might be positively stimulated by the money it frees up to consumers
    and industry … but government might quickly fill that void by
    increasing tax as there is now a significant tax shortfall caused by
    reduced oil prices and production. Jury is out.
  • There is increasing pressure on businesses to now reduce their prices
    since customers know that business costs ought to be lower, hence business
    are “expected” to ignore economics and free enterprise and charge based
    on costs and not charge based on market price. That’s a theme I see
    expressed by some politicians. (which is better? dunno. I guess from
    point 1 above, to do anything other than market price is risk, but what
    do I know)? If prices then are forced down by whatever reason, it
    increases the risk of deflation–which nobody wants.
  • “fat” companies will fail and the best performers will get leaner and
    perform better (saw this happen in mid 1980’s when same thing happened)
  • I notice stock markets in City and Wall Street are uncertain if low
    oil prices are good or bad (note the recent volatility). I don’t know
    either.
  • I suspect development of alternative energy and power methods are at risk.

The world now seems to be at a funny place.


Scotland Gagging on Wind Power

January 12, 2015

Terrific article by Euan Mearns Scotland Gagging on Wind Power. Read the whole thing. He focuses on “the vast electricity surplus that Scotland will produce on windy days in the years ahead. That surplus has to be paid for. Where will it go and how will it be used?”

“It seems likely that Scotland’s beautiful landscape is being wrecked in pursuit of an ideological, empty dream.”

All it takes is simple arithmetic, a bit of understanding of energy and power to see where this is heading. Not good.


Scotland’s first Climate Change Adaptation Plan published. Makes Me Feel Much Better.

May 30, 2014

Scotland’s first Climate Change Adaptation Plan published:

Scotland’s first ever statutory Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme has been published. The aim of the document is to increase the resilience of Scotland’s people, environment and economy to the impacts of a changing climate.

(Via Scottish Energy News)