Category Archives: Uncategorized

A High Schooler’s Take on the Climate Crisis

Open Mind

From The Deseret News in Utah:

By Cash Mendenhall

On July 17, Salt Lake City met the record for the highest summer temperature in recorded history, and by the time you read this that record may very well be broken.

We’re heading into the depth of a scorching summer with a worrying lack of clarity: Today, 99% of Utah is under either extreme or severe drought levels, with eight of the last 10 years being classified as drought years. We’ve become so desensitized to statistics like these in Utah and the West that heat waves and droughts barely register as policy issues, slipping under the radar of a rapidly metastasizing climate disaster. Eastern Utah has reported a temperature change over the last century triple that of the global temperature increase.

As a high school student, my generation is facing a steep collapse in livability.

The uniquely gorgeous landscape that…

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The Truth about Sea Level Rise

Open Mind

It’s easy to see that sea level rise has not been steady. It has accelerated.

In fact it has accelerated a lot, especially recently. For most of the 20th century, it rose sometimes faster, sometimes slower, but for the last few decades its rise has picked up speed. The clearest demonstration is the change in global mean sea level. There are several different estimates of that based on historical data from tide gauges around the world, which differ on how much and how fast sea level has risen, but they all show — without a doubt — that the rise has not been steady.

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COVID-19: Hockey Sticks

Read this, Boris/Dominic.

Open Mind

Hey! Ron DeSantis!! WE TOLD YOU SO.

Yes, we told you before you did it that this would be the result. By “we” I mean the worldwide community of scientists, especially the experts in the fields of epidemiology and medicine, especially the ones who work in the field at places like CDC and Johns Hopkins, especially the nation’s leaders (like Anthony Fauci) and the people who work for your own state’s department of health.

We told you so, you ignored the warnings, went ahead with your re-opening plans, and the result was this:

It vaguely resembles a “hockey stick.”

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Message to Ron Destantis and Greg Abbott: Do Not Remove the Control Rods from a Nuclear Reactor

Open minds: excellent again.

Johnson/Cummings do note this.

Open Mind

I shouldn’t have to say it. But I do.

Nuclear reactors can use “control rods” to control the reaction. Push them in all the way, they’ll slow the reaction so much it will quickly die out. Pull them all the way out, the reaction grows so fast it goes critical — but before it can “go nuke” it melts. Still a disaster.

The “basic” epidemiological model (the SIR model) makes some very basic assumptions, and treats the spread of a disease like COVID-19 in a straightforward manner. It gives rise to the “bell-shaped” curve (the one everyone wants to flatten) we’ve seen in so many news stories.

Of course it’s not “right” — there are too many unaccounted-for factors to believe that. But they also encompass certain purely logical ideas which are known to be correct. Added bonus: the equations are not unlike what you see when you study…

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Winter is Here

The OpenMind blog gives some support to the idea that Arctic weather is escaping to bother us with dangerous colds spells. Looks like Jennifer Francis is right. See Why Climate Change is Bringing the Polar Vortex South

Open Mind

The arrival of December marks the beginning of climatological winter (astronomical/calendrical winter begins Deceber 21st this year). We in the USA have seen some cold winters recently, especially in the northern midsection of the country.

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“Gagging climate change experts from speaking in the middle of a bushfire disaster is a new low from this government.”

Open Mind

So said Australian Member of Parliament David Shoebridge after bureaucrats attending a climate planning and adaptation conference had been advised not to discuss the relationship between climate change and Australia’s bushfire crisis, the Guardian reports.

Yes, there’s more news of wildfires on the rampage, bringing fear and destruction, made worse by many things including climate change. But the latest isn’t from California; it’s happening in Australia and especially hard hit is the territory of New South Wales. Yes, a lot of things are making wildfire/bushfire worse in California/Australia. Nobody denies that. One of those things is climate change. Those who deny that, are climate deniers.

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A survey for research at Cambridge and Wageningen Universities.

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The survey is developed by researchers of Cambridge and Wageningen University.

How bad is beef for the climate?

This is my comment on an interesting post by Tara Garnet on her FRCN blog, Has veganism become a dirty word? There are different views on the effects of methane on climate.

Comment on ‘Has veganism become a dirty word?’ by Geoff Beacon

Actually, methane’s not the problem we thought it was; methane’s temporary, actually methane’s natural.

Tara, this seems to be the view of Myles Allen and Richard Millar  of your Oxford Martin School. As I understand it, their picture is this:

Emissions of methane heat the Earth’s surface for a decade or so before decaying. The rise in the Earth’s temperature causes net heat emissions to space. The long term effect on temperature is small. If keeping Earth’s temperature below a certain threshold is a target, then unless the target is likely in the next decade or so the temporary rise in surface temperature is not important.

There are others that disagree. Continue reading How bad is beef for the climate?

York Plotlands Association (From 2016)

(York Plotlands Association is now defunct)


There are few (if any) examples of lifestyles in Britain which are sustainable. For example, at the new ‘sustainable’ development at Derwenthorpe, York, the carbon footprints of the residents are several times greater than the footprint necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. The York Plotlands Association  promotes action and research into achieving lifestyles that are more sustainable.

Continue reading York Plotlands Association (From 2016)

£20K housing – a lifestyle revolution (From 2016)

(York Plotlands Association is now defunct.)

“Home buyers are forced into unaffordable, car based lifestyles.”

A plot of land big enough for a house costs roughly £500 at agricultural prices. In the York area, for example, a plot’s value becomes £50,000 once the planners’ give building the go ahead. There is no difference in the land: just its name on a certificate in a council office. This is an unearned bonus to the land owner, which starts the process of building expensive dwellings designed for unsustainable lifestyles.

More often than not, new houses are built with little regard to public transport links or cycle routes to town and with little in the way of local facilities, such as corner shops or local greengrocers, home buyers are forced into un-affordable, car based lifestyles.

A new low-impact affordable economy

Continue reading £20K housing – a lifestyle revolution (From 2016)

UK Carbon Emissions, GDP and Emissions Intensity


UK Carbon Emissions

Figure 1

Dr Anne Owen and Professor John Barratt calculate the UK’s carbon footprint for the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) every year. The latest figure is for 2016 : There is a lag because of data collection and modelling issues. They have an interesting article on Carbon Brief, The UK’s carbon footprint is at its lowest level for 20 years . Continue reading UK Carbon Emissions, GDP and Emissions Intensity

Rejected by

It’s not very mature of me but I get irritated when my comments are rejected by moderators, particularly when I have put more than 5mins effort in. So rather than waste the effort I am posting my comment to Myles Allen’s article The Green New Deal: One climate scientist’s view, from the other side of the Atlantic here.

OK, a high carbon price but cars must go.

Continue reading Rejected by

Time is Short for the Carbon Budget

Open Mind

The “carbon budget” is an estimate of how much CO2 we can still emit, but still have a good chance to keep global warming from going over the 1.5°C limit into “dangerous” territory. The budget has recently been revised (upward, thank goodness) to about 420 GtCO2 (420 billion tons of carbon dioxide).

Staying within the 1.5°C limit doesn’t make us “safe” — there are still consequences of climate change, dangerous and costly, and we’re already paying the price despite not having hit 1.5°C yet. But going above 1.5°C takes us into what is best described as: nobody wants to go there.

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Questions for

I watched this a few month ago. Took up the offer of sending in questions.  No answer yet.

Q1: What is a reasonable remaining carbon budget (in CO2e) to keep within 1.5°C (or 2°C)?

On a per capita basis, how does it compare with average world yearly emissions?

How much more than this are average European emissions?

Q2: What’s the current thinking on the radiative forcing index for aircraft emissions?

Is there a Hansen’s Faustian bargain with aircraft emissions because in the first few decades air flights cool the Earth?

CF: Unger Attribution of climate forcing to economic sectors

Q3: Can the global carbon intensity of production be reduced fast enough to save the climate and avoid de-growth?

If GDP needs to be constrained there is full employment, labour productivity must be constrained. This means wages are constrained. How can the incomes of the low poor be supported?

Q4: In reference to BECCS (and more generally), has anyndetailed work been done on the albedo effect of biomass planting?

CF. Bala et al. Combined climate and carbon-cycle effects of large-scale deforestation

e.g. Has there been work to find crops with “good” albedo?

Q5: What do the panel think of solving fuel poverty by taking from the rich to give to the poor?

Has anybody considered that to heat houses requires heating hundreds of cubic metres of space to warm people that occupy a few metres each?

Q6: Would the panel demand high profile governmental campaigns to tell the public the effects of their everyday actions?

Would a more detailed version of How bad are bananas? by Mike Berners-Lee help?

Q7: Is mass car ownership compatible with saving the climate?

Q8: In assessing green house gas emissions what is the appropriate weighting for methane compared to CO2?



“Carbon emissions down nearly two-fifths since 1990.” – or not.


A recent article by Carbon Brief  Analysis: Why the UK’s CO2 emissions have fallen 38% since 1990 has generated headlines:

Energy Voice: Carbon emissions down nearly two-fifths since 1990
Business Green:  UK carbon emissions down 38 per cent since 1990
Engineering and Tech: UK’s carbon emissions dropped by 30 per cent since 1990

Continue reading “Carbon emissions down nearly two-fifths since 1990.” – or not.

Rejected comments

Occasionally I have a comment on another blog rejected. This will be a list of those I want to follow up.

London Economic 11th January 2019

Working people shouldn’t pay price for political failures of Conservative politicians

My comment:

To save the climate degrowth is needed.
(Kaya identity & etc.)

Subsidise the wages of the low paid.

Take from the rich to give to the poor.
(It’s the right thing to do.)

The rich most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.
(So fine them and give to the poor.)

Question: does London Economic reject

1. Degrowth

2. Labour subsidies

3. Robbing the rich

4. Tax rich polluters

Or did I overdo the links to one of my own blogs?

I’m keen to find out – I rather like London Economic.

Global Warming Comes to Your Town

Open Mind

Like most people, I live on land, not at sea. I even live in the northern hemisphere.

Global warming isn’t the same everywhere. In particular, it’s happening faster on land areas than over the oceans. While the globe as a whole is warming at a rate of around 1.7 to 1.8 °C/century over the last several decades, the land areas alone have been warming up more than 50% faster, at about 2.8 °C/century. And of course, not all land areas are warming at the same rate either. On the whole, the northern hemisphere land is warming faster than southern hemisphere land; here in the north we’re heating up at around 3.2 °C/century (for land areas, I like to use the data from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project).

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Heat Wave 2040

Open Mind

Some things deserve repeating.

One of those things, which happened to come up in conversation recently, is that climate change has its most profound effect on extreme events. Climate change is a change in the probability function (the odds for each possible outcome) of weather, and when you look at probability functions you find that if they change in the way we expect them to, it can increase (or decrease) the chance of extremes by a surprising amount.

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Capture CO2 under your new house


An idea for capturing CO2 & storing
heat under your new house

Question: “Is it a good idea or barmy?”

A heat store to capture CO2

P1. Store 50+ tonnes of rock that absorbs CO2 under (or near) a new house.

The mineral olivine is taken as the example for this note. It absorbs CO2 slowly at ambient temperature (25°C) but much faster at a temperature of 186°C. Continue reading Capture CO2 under your new house

An idea for storing renewable energy (2012)


‘An idea for storing renewable energy’
was first posted on, 25th March 2012

Question “Is it a good idea or barmy?”


1. There are times when renewable energy cannot be used. Sources tell me that 20% or more of wind energy is grounded (i.e. thrown away) because sometimes the generated energy cannot be used. Other renewable sources (solar, wave power) are also intermittent. Biomass is an exception. Continue reading An idea for storing renewable energy (2012)

Ideas for sustainable living: Butlin’s Holidays

This was an appendix to Garden Cities and Green Evolutionary Settlements but that’s buried too deep to casually reference. It is reproduced here to show that lifestyles can be affected by a different structure of local finances. I look forward to the Butlins designing Green Evolutionary Settlements to begin the transformation towards more sustainable ways of living.

Appendix 5: An example: Butlin’s holiday camps.

Continue reading Ideas for sustainable living: Butlin’s Holidays

Inconvenient information: Page not found

Post-war, Inter-war posters, 1947 (catalogue reference: NSC 5/243)

Inconvenient information: Page not found

Have you found that interesting page on a UK government website is missing? Do you suspect that it contained information inconvenient to present government?

Looking up a previous post on the effect of climate change on the safety of coastal nuclear power stations, I found :

Missing climate feedbacks

The report relies on the HadRM3 Regional Climate Model. This may underestimate or omit the effects of certain climate feedbacks which are mentioned on the NERC website:

– reduced sea ice cover – reflecting less of the sun’s heat back out to space, changing ocean circulation patterns
– less carbon dioxide absorption by the oceans
– increased soil respiration
– more forest fires
– melting permafrost
– increased decomposition of wetlands

I thought I might refresh my memory but the NERC link gives Continue reading Inconvenient information: Page not found

Auntie Jayne solves your poem


Auntie Jayne solves your poem started in the magazine Mapping Awareness in 1994. Auntie Jane is an agony aunt who responds to poetic enquiries. Some will be published here.

Spot the Iambic hexameter.

A Poem
B. Carter Smith

Dear Lord

Make us

Eat our beef to melt the Arctic ice caps
Heat our homes to wipe the mid west farmers off the map

Give us

Cash fly to Spain and torch the Russian forests
… gas to fill our cars to shop at Tescos
… bricks and steel to conjure new tornadoes

Help us

Drown as many Bangladeshis as we can

Auntie Jayne writes: Continue reading Auntie Jayne solves your poem

Is this called journalism?

16th September 2018: At Last…

Another journalist has discovered some bad news about Universal Credit, that the MSM ignored years ago: Universal credit ‘costs the self-employed thousands of pounds a year’

I read about this in 2015 on Making Workers Pay.

30th August 2018: Nonsense on Land Values

The Guardian and the Telegraph misunderstood ONS figures on land values.  The New Statesman was much better.

3rh August 2018: Population is a planet emergency but the MSM get it wrong.

The Independent, The Guardian and The Telegraph all miss the point that it is the children of the affluent that are the problem. Even then they get it wrong. See  Population is a planet emergency but …

Continuing to be shocked by the poor quality of the Main Stream Media, I’m starting this page. I will update it from time to time.

Global Warming: How Long Do We Have Left?

My thoughts on this…Just read it.

Open Mind

It’s already bad. But when will things get so bad that it is obviously — obviously — the worst problem in the world? How long until we go over the cliff? That depends on how much we’ve heated up already, and how fast we’re getting hotter.

We have already reached dangerous levels. The heat waves throughout the northern hemisphere this summer have cost plenty, to the economy, in human suffering, ill health, even lives lost. The wildfires in California this year were much worse than they would have been without global warming. Just last year we set a new record for the total cost (adjusted for inflation) of billion-dollar climate-related disasters. They cost the U.S. over $300 billion.

As bad as it is already, extremely bad is yet to come. Some say it’ll be when total warming since pre-industrial times reaches 2°C, others say — and I agree with…

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From an Agitating Cyclist. Pollution outside York Station.

I’ve missed the boat again. The consultation period for the new design for the front of York Station has passed. However, I looked at this video when I was in York Council’s West Offices:

A 3D virtual tour of proposals for
York Railway Station

This video made me remember the Agitating Cyclist twitter account. Sadly. No. Very, very sadly, Victoria Buckley has died.  She ran Agitating Cyclist. She also ran a brilliant twitter account, @DaintyBallerina, with well over six thousand followers. Continue reading From an Agitating Cyclist. Pollution outside York Station.

California Wildfires

Open Mind

With the devastating wildfires terrorizing California, climate deniers are doing everything they can to try to persuade people that it’s no big deal, and even the big deals have nothing to do with man-made climate change. To believe them, you have to believe some ridiculous things — like the notions that hotter temperatures and more drought have nothing to do with wildfires.

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Global Warming and Tick-Borne Diseases in MAINE

Brilliant analysis.

Open Mind

In response to the last post we got a super-insightful comment from “Jeff”:

“The level of Lyme disease diagnosis is more than anything, proportional to the publicity and near hysteria generated by shows like Dr Oz and Oprah.”

I know Oprah is powerful, but does she really have mind control over Maine’s physicians and the CDC? How did she muster the “publicity and near hysteria” for other tick-borne diseases like anaplasmosis and babesiosis?

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Take a Knee

Open Mind

Note: this post has nothing to do with climate change.

You might know George Takei as Lt. Sulu on the original “Star Trek.” He’s an American of Japanese descent — born here, raised here, every bit as American as any other citizen. But during World War II he and his family were put in an internment camp, for no other reason than being of Japanese ancestry.

While there, American citizens locked up with no charges filed, no due process, no constitutional rights, they were forced every day to face the flag and pledge allegiance. From behind a barbed-wire fence.

Forced allegiance isn’t patriotism. It’s fascism.

The NFL (National Football League) announced yesterday that all personell must stand during the national anthem. Those who wish not to, must remain in the locker room until it’s over. The NFL policy is forced allegiance. It’s not patriotism; it’s fascism.

This country was founded…

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Housing – part 18: A NEW Ministry of Works

A NEW Ministry of Works

The previous post argued for a new Ministry of Works to create new settlements that are cheap, green and friendly. The aim is to find ways of life that are pleasant and won’t screw the world up. For these settlements, my first suggestion is for estates of car-free, wooden prefabs with inbuilt market gardens, which also have more localised economies and are built around transport hubs. I arrived at this solution by a process of eliminating alternatives. There will be others. Continue reading Housing – part 18: A NEW Ministry of Works

Housing – part 17: New economies for new estates

New economies for new estates

Car-free estates of prefabs with market gardens

Written for a housing policy forum – part 17

Improve these prefabs with modern cross-ply timber…

and add market gardens.

The previous post showed that estates of wooden prefabs with inbuilt market gardens, could provide cheap, green and neighbourly housing. Continue reading Housing – part 17: New economies for new estates

Housing – part 16: Cheap, neighbourly and doesn’t screw the world up

Cheap, neighbourly and doesn’t screw the world up
Wooden prefabs with market gardens

Written for a housing policy forum – part 16

We need housing that is cheap, neighbourly and doesn’t screw the world up. (Taking a suggestion from the word ‘green’ will be used in place of “doesn’t screw the world up”.) Here is a summary of housing-related issues from earlier posts:

Issue 1. No high buildings.

Continue reading Housing – part 16: Cheap, neighbourly and doesn’t screw the world up

Housing – part 15: Five planning policies

Five planning policies

Written for a housing policy forum

Video of Corbusier’s vision for downtown Paris…

Mark Tuttle, the video’s author, says:

Made this for an architecture class I took in
college using SketchUp. Corbusier wanted to
gut downtown Paris and put in giant cruciform
towers. This is how he saw the future.

This post examines five planning policies:

Continue reading Housing – part 15: Five planning policies

Housing – part 12: Friends, neighbours and architectural determinism

Housing – part 12: Friends, neighbours and architectural determinism

Written for a housing policy forum

Brutalist housing disasters

Brutalist buildings are typically massive sculptures, fortress-like, using exposed concrete construction – like the imposing and inpenetrable building of the National Theatre on London’s South Bank:

Continue reading Housing – part 12: Friends, neighbours and architectural determinism

A Sunshine Act for Scotland

Hole Ousia

On Thursday 22 March 2018 I will be making a peaceful protest outside the Scottish Parliament, two years to the day that my petition for a Sunshine Act for Scotland was closed.

But what is a "Sunshine Act"? And what is the story behind it?

In September 2013 I submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament urging the Scottish Government to introduce a Sunshine Act for Scotland.

I have worked as a doctor for NHS Scotland for over 25 years and it was his concern that marketing by commercial sector (pharmaceutical industry, device makers, imaging technologies) was routinely part of continuing medical education. Research has conclusively demonstrated that competing financial “conflict of interest” can affect the treatment decisions doctors recommend and that exposure to industry promotional activity can lead to doctors recommending worse treatments for patients.

In the early stages of the petition, when evidence was being gathered, the…

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Housing – part 11: No cars in the city

Housing – part 11: No cars in the city

Written for a housing forum

The Carbon Budget Morality Index

In the following sections, I assume a rule of thumb that a decent, morally justified lifestyle must keep with a total budget of 100 tonnes CO2e for the next 50 years. This is the basis for the Carbon Budget Morality Index (CBMI) discussed in Are you evil or very, evil?. The 100 tonnes 50 year budget is classed by the CBMI  as ‘shameful’ but at least it’s morality index is below the CBMI  ‘evil’ level. In this post the ‘shameful’ level will be referred to as CMBI-s level.

Mass car ownership cannot be sustainable or fair

Continue reading Housing – part 11: No cars in the city

Housing – part 10: A reprise.

Housing – part 10: A reprise.

Written for a housing forum

Previous parts can be grouped into three sections:

Section 1. The biggest global issue – climate change

1: Embodied carbon and climate
The way we build and the materials used damage the climate.

2: Food and the remaining carbon budget
Modern agriculture and our consumption damage the environment.

3: Carbon budgets and transport
Our travel patterns and means of transport are unsustainable.

Section 2. Planning policies burden the poor

4: We are not short of land
A very small portion of the UK is built-up.

5: Construction costs
Modern methods are reducing construction costs.

9: Greenbelts
Greenbelts protect privilege – at the expense of the majority.

Section 3. Public health & public safety

6: Pollution in the countryside
The countryside is being polluted.

7: Pollution in towns
Towns are being polluted.

8: Density and disease
Good public health allows denser settlements.

Continue reading Housing – part 10: A reprise.

Housing – part 9: Greenbelts



Written for a housing policy forum. Part 9

Also see: Housing – part 4: We are not short of land

City of York ‘greenbelt’

Traditionally green belts were seen to stop urban sprawl and were the ‘green lungs’ of the city. This emphasised public health issues such as slum clearance. The policy is seen as a major instrument in terms of protecting the environment against environmental damage as a result of overdevelopment. It is a policy which is believed will to ‘protect the countryside’.

Continue reading Housing – part 9: Greenbelts

Housing – part 7: Pollution in towns

Pollution in Towns

In the old days coal pollution killed

I grew up in Kent some 30 miles from the great London Smog of 1952, which killed 4,000 Londoners in less than a week and, eventually contributed to 100,000 deaths. When we came to York in 1970, pollution from coal fires was still a problem – I clearly remember walking through the Groves and seeing sooty particles land on the bright yellow baby suit of our year-old daughter.

With coal pollution receding, York’s air improved and so did the look of the inner city terraced houses. Since the 1970s they have gradually lightened in colour and their value has risen. Houses that 1948 Plan for York described as “worn out houses” costing a thousand or so pounds in 1970, now sell for over £200,000. That’s a 20 fold increase in real terms.

Now traffic pollution kills

Continue reading Housing – part 7: Pollution in towns

Housing – part 6: Pollution in the countryside


Written for a housing policy forum. Part 6

We pollute  the countryside

The countryside is not as clean and green as it seems. In part 2, I noted the large carbon footprint of modern non-organic agriculture, particularly the methane emitted by ruminants (cows, sheep, goats &etc.) and the use of nitrogen compounds derived from the energy intensive Harber Bosh process. I also discussed the carbon footprint of “modern”, non-organic, food production but there are other unwelcome impacts. Three of these:

  • Loss of soil fertility
  • Insectageddon
  • The nitrate time bomb
Soil fertility

Continue reading Housing – part 6: Pollution in the countryside

Housing – part 5: Construction and prefabrication

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 5

Construction is a fraction of the cost

The cost of building a traditional house is a modest part of the cost of a new home: In York it is less than the cost of the land when it has planning permission. Not long ago it has been possible to build an individual 3 bed roomed house for about £50,000. I know someone had one built for £50,000 – on land they already owned.

Bricks and mortar houses built in the conventional style

Regional prices for new houses

Continue reading Housing – part 5: Construction and prefabrication

Housing – part 4: We are not short of land

A note for a housing policy forum. Part 4


We are not short of land

Key point: Planning permission adds enormous value to land

A plot of land big enough for a house costs less than £1,000 at agricultural prices.

In places like York, that becomes £50,000, sometimes much more, once the planners give building the go ahead. Planning permission makes no immediate difference to the land: but its name on a certificate in a council office gives an enormous unearned bonus to the land owner. Continue reading Housing – part 4: We are not short of land

Sea Level Acceleration

Open Mind

Sea level isn’t just rising, it is accelerating. It did so during the 20th century, and has done so even more quite recently. ABC news reported the story, based on just-published research (Nerem et al. 2018), that the latest satellite data now show it plainly. The authors of the new study conclude:

When taken with a rate of sea-level rise of 2.9 ± 0.4 mm/y (epoch 2005.0), the extrapolation of the quadratic gives 654 ± 119 mm of sea-level rise by 2100 relative to 2005, which is similar to the processed-based model projections of sea level for representative concentration pathways 8.5 in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Stated alternatively, the observed acceleration will more than double the amount of sea-level rise by 2100 compared with the current rate of sea-level rise continuing unchanged.

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Just a reminder: Productivity destroys the climate

More planet destroying stuff is produced if we have full employment and greater productivity

stuff =workers * productivity

We must cut planet destroying stuff.  A top planet destroyer is the car. As Car-free cities pointed out, a city without cars is pleasant and much cheaper. So stop the polluting production lines and have more local market gardens

Starting the misery of the Automotive Nightmare

Then… Continue reading Just a reminder: Productivity destroys the climate

Is CO2 Still Accelerating?

“In recent years, CO 2 emissions have been almost flat despite continued economic growth” GCP CarbonBudget 2017 HOWEVER …

Open Mind

Not only is the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere on the rise, the rise itself has been getting faster — so CO2 concentration has been accelerating. A reader recently asked whether or not there’s any sign of its increase flattening out, or even stopping its acceleration.

Here’s the CO2 data from Mauna Loa:

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Car-free cities: The Ripa di Meana study

“the car-free city costs between two and five times less”


An excerpt from a press release from the European Commission in 1992:

   Based   on  these  observations,  Carlo RIPA  di  MEANA,   the   European
   Environment Commissioner, has had a study carried out on car-free  cities
   in  an  attempt  to find the answer to  the  following  question:  Is  it
   possible,  and  if so to what extent, to conceive of a  city  which  will
   operate  more  efficiently than the type of cities we  have  at  present,
   using alternative means of transport to the private car?

   The  answer provided by the study is positive, even in  purely  financial
   terms:  the  car-free  city costs between two and five  times  less  (the
   costs  varying  depending on the population density  of  the  city). 

Anybody know what happened to the study ?

P.S. See also Mixed communities, car-free cities and pedestrian apartheid

Postscript: I now have the study – In French.

Anyone willing to translate?

Housing – part 3: Carbon budgets and transport

Carbon budgets, housing and transport

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 3

Some readers may have heard about a recent scientific paper
Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

This paper estimated the remaining carbon budget to keep below a 1.5°C
temperature rise since pre-industrial times. It’s estimate is much larger than
that outlined in the IPCCs fifth report (AR5). Fact checks about this paper on
Carbon Brief and RealClimate show it should not be taken seriously.

UK Carbon budgets

The Climate Change Act of 2008 aimed to cut UK greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 in relation to emissions in 1990. Thes are measured in Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e), which also takes account of non-CO2 greenhouse gasses, such as methane. The  starting figure in 1990 was 799 million tonnes CO2e. Roughly 12 tonnes CO2e per person per year. This gives the target for 2050 as 2.5 tonnes CO2e per person.

According to 2016 UK GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS, PROVISIONAL FIGURES from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, emissions for UK  in 2016 had fallen to 466 million tonnes of CO2e or 7.28 tonnes per person.

The  Carbon Budget 2016  from the Global Carbon Project gave the remaining carbon budget to keep the global temperature below 2°C as 816 billion tonnes of CO2. Adjustments and accounting for non-CO2 gasses means that averaged over the world’s population the budget is roughly 120 tonnes CO2e per person.

MORE… Continue reading Housing – part 3: Carbon budgets and transport

What can climate modellers tell us about flying and eating beef?

Representative consumption pathways needed

Representative concentration pathways (RCPs) are hypothetical emissions of greenhouse gasses and other climate pollutants.  They are actually specified as atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gasses but have been converted into tables of emissions by The Potsdam Institute.

The RCPs specify individual climate pollutants, such as CO2, CH4, N2O and black carbon for each year from 2000 until 2100. The RCPs were introduced in IPCC Assessment Report Five (AR5) in 2014. After a selection process four of these pathways – tables of numbers specifying the yearly emissions of each pollutant were chosen as representatives of possible future climate forcing over the century.

Four RCP’s were chosen as standard: RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP 6 and RCP8.5.  RCP2.6 specifies the lowest concentrations of climate pollutants was specified in RCP2.6.  According to climate models, RCP2.6 is the only RCP that keeps the rise in global average temperature since pre-industrial to below 2°C.  The others have worse outcomes i.e. higher average global temperatures.

Different climate pollutants have different warming and cooling effects on the Earth but the effects of different pollutants are often combined into a figure that would equal the effect of carbon dioxide alone. This measure is called carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e. Combining the effects of the pollutants for the RCPs give this graph

Continue reading What can climate modellers tell us about flying and eating beef?

Housing – part 2: Food and the remaining carbon budget

Housing 2: Food and the
remaining carbon budget

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 2

To recap on the topic carbon budgets mentioned in the first note:

“The fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5 – in 2013) was the first to include an assessment of a “remaining carbon budget” – a finite amount of carbon that can be burnt before it becomes unlikely we can avoid more than 2°C of global warming. Later they issued a budget for 1.5°C, which Carbon Brief updated in Six years worth of current emissions would blow the carbon budget for 1.5 degrees. – according to these calculations this is now five years.” Continue reading Housing – part 2: Food and the remaining carbon budget

Housing – part 1: embodied carbon and climate

Housing: embodied carbon and climate

Written for a housing policy forum. Part 1


Bricks and mortar have high embodied carbon


There are many ways for looking at housing: climate change, local environmental impact, community spirit, security, affordability, asset values &etc. However, finding a political narrative to address these issues is difficult because public awareness is low – I blame the ‘don’t inform and educate just entertain‘ BBC for that. The topic is also biased by self-interest, creating beliefs that cannot easily be shifted by facts. One of the most difficult issues is climate change, which is not given the importance it demands, in particular the greenhouse gases emitted as a result of construction – the embodied carbon – is rarely mentioned. This first note is about embodied carbon.


Climate change

Continue reading Housing – part 1: embodied carbon and climate

Interest in green, inclusive and de-growth

Green growth, inclusive growth and de-growth

The OECD say green growth is

“… economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which  our well-being relies.”

One corollary of this must be that world economic activity should increase but the consequent greenhouse gas emissions do not cause dangerous climate change. This means emissions should remain within certain limits until greenhouse gasses can be extracted from the atmosphere. This extraction is thought to become possible in the second half of this century. Some rough calculations are presented below to explore the meaning of ‘green growth’.

The OECD say inclusive growth is

“… economic growth that creates opportunity for all segments of the population and distributes the dividends of increased prosperity, both in monetary and non-monetary terms, fairly across society.”

Continue reading Interest in green, inclusive and de-growth

The racket in housing

A note for LBC radio’s James O’Brien

Council house building stopped by Thatcher

On LBC radio this morning, James O’Brien discussed the housing crisis. He had a “penny drop” moment:

In 1971, Maggie Thatcher banned councils from borrowing to build houses. This has meant that private landlords have taken over much of the rental market and are making a killing through rents, many of which are paid through housing benefit. Private landlords are being paid increasing amounts from government expenditure

Subsequent governments haven’t changed the restrictions on councils – even the Labour governments of Blair and Brown.

Rents rise as house prices rise

Continue reading The racket in housing

Cancelling the New York Times, because truth is now more important than ever

Open Mind

To the executive editor

The New York Times

27 April 2017, via email

Dear editor,

I am a climate researcher, professor for physics of the oceans and have worked for eight years as advisor to the German government on global change issues. I regret to have to tell you that hereby I cancel my subscription to the New York Times in the wake of you hiring columnist Bret Stephens. Let me explain my reasons.

When Stephens was hired I wrote to you in protest about his spreading of untruths about climate change, saying “I enjoy reading different opinions from my own, but this is not a matter of different opinions.” I did not cancel then but decided to wait and see. However, the subsequent public defense by the New York Times of the hiring of Stephens has convinced me that the problem at the Times goes much deeper than a…

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Let’s think of a plan for Labour to split

It’s time to work out organisation and electoral algorithms to make an electoral pact work if the Labour Party splits.

I’ve been a Labour Party member since 1964. Never liked “the Party” much but have liked many fellow members. I still pay my dues because the alternatives are worse.

What abut a split?

Then both sides won’t be so dogged by the sins of the past. Like …

  • Blair’s academy schools

  • Browns PFI’s

  • Milliband’s failure to oppose Universal Credit that is impoverishing section of the poor. (Labour Party Lord: ” They knew. As useful as chocolate teapots”)

  • Limp action on climate change. (Blair sacked Michael Meacher remember.)

Apart from ‘that war’ the Labour Party’s record is still the best and that leads many party members to want the Corbynites to hand over to the old Blairites – without Blair of course – in order to regain power and relieve so some of the pressure on the poor and the environment. Continue reading Let’s think of a plan for Labour to split

The Baby Boomers housing bonanza

The Baby Boomers housing bonanza

Baby boomers cash in
Baby boomers cash in

House price inflation has loaded enormous costs on the poor and the young and has been a bonanza for the affluent and the old. This realisation has had increasing coverage in the posh media. The coverage has greater emphasis on intergenerational effects rather than the effects on rich and poor because even the affluent classes are worried about housing for their children, who don’t want their children to rely on their parents.

In order to get some idea of the different effects of the housing market on the affluent and the poor, I downloaded, house price data from the Land Registry for the years 2000 and 2010. I then looked at the changes in house prices for the most affluent areas compared to the least affluent areas. (I used the P2 People and Places Demographic Classification for this exercise).

Adjusting for inflation between 2000 and 2010, I found that property of the most affluent areas increased by just over eight times the average income in 2010. Property prices in the least affluent are rose by a factor of two. However, according to the 2011 census, only 20% of households in the least affluent areas own their homes. In the most affluent areas this rises to 90%.

Summary: House price inflation has given most households in the most affluent areas large increases in their net wealth, at the same time most households in the least affluent areas will have paid increased rents.

from Brussels Blog: Will the government restart plotlands?

Labour’s Industrial Strategy. A wrong place to start.

To the Labour Party’s Policy Commission on Economy, Business and Trade who asks “How do we create the high-skill, high-wage, secure jobs of the future?”.

My submission : “Don’t try. That’s the wrong place to start. Before a living strategy we should have a strategy about how we should live.”

There are three limits to higher wages

1. The AI Revolution and machine learning
2. Competition from workers on the other side of the world
3. Climate change and limits to growth

We must create a vision of a society able which can show the world how to live in a way that does not ruin our world and share wealth fairly. The evidence points to a way of living that does not use much steel, glass, concrete, planes or cars, with lower waged, less-productive jobs, supplemented by a basic income.

The macroeconomic lever to achieve this could be a very high carbon tax (e.g £1,000 per tonne CO2e) using the proceeds for a universal income. Industrial strategy should consider how to shut down the redundant industries in an orderly fashion.

Lifestyle planning strategy should be to design ways of living on the local neighbourhood scale which are truly sustainable. (In the UK we have nothing close.)


From The TED Talk, “The wonderful and terrifying implications of computers that can learn”, by Jeremy Howard. Note: “What doesn’t work – better education, more incentives”


Which Satellite Data?

“among the satellite data sets, there’s one which shows far less warming: UAH TMT. [The deniers] make a habit of showing the one satellite data set which shows the least warming and correlates least with balloon data.”

Open Mind

There are five data sets of global average temperature in the troposphere (the part of the atmosphere where our weather occurs) based on satellite data, from the two main providers, RSS (Remote Sensing Systems) and UAH (University of Alabama at Huntsville). UAH provides two of them: TLT (temperature in the lower troposphere) and TMT (temperature in the mid-troposphere); while RSS provides three: TLT, TMT, and TTT (temperature in the total troposphere). They’re all different, and each has gone through a number of revisions since the satellites began collecting data in 1979.

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WIldfires increasing and not in the climate models


More forest fires

A post from Neven’s Arctic Forum by contributor AbruptSLR says

The linked Scribbler article is entitled: ‘“Surreal” U.S. Wildfires Should Not be Burning in Mid-November’.

Extract: “In Dallas, on November 16, the thermometer hit 88 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking a 95 year old record. In Ada, Oklahoma the mercury struck 85 degrees F. Further north in high-elevation Denver, temperatures soared to 78 F — punching through a 75 year old record.

Meanwhile, strange, out-of-season wildfires continued to burn from the U.S. South to North Dakota and New England. In Atlanta, smoke streaming out of nearby wildfires blanketed the city. Red-eyed residents were increasingly forced to don protective masks beneath the choking late-fall pallor. In Chattanooga, over 200 residents were hospitalized from smoke inhalation and shortness of breath.

Wildfires are missing from the climate models

Just before they were abolished the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change said

the [climate] models  used vary in what they include, and some feedbacks are absent as the understanding and modelling of these is not yet advanced enough to include. From those you raise, this applies to melting permafrost emissions, forest fires and wetlands decomposition.

Thawing permafrost isn’t in the models either

Scientific American warns about thawing permafrost



Sea Ice Update

More statistics that only fools would deny.

Open Mind

This year witnessed a September minimum of Arctic sea ice which was only the 2nd-lowest on record. But the year’s minimum isn’t the surprising thing about this year’s sea ice. That would be the surprising lows observed during May and part of June, and now, it seems, during the most recent few days of October. Here’s the data, with 2016 in red:


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It’s the Ice, Stupid

Open Mind

Earlier this month the WUWT blog treated us to a bizarre post about how this year didn’t set a new record for lowest Arctic sea ice extent (it only came in 2nd-lowest), in spite of “two very strong storms.” Doubling down, they offer another post trumpeting “record Arctic sea ice growth in September.” Which makes me wonder: are those guys trying to make themselves look like idiots?

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1.5 Degrees: Meeting the challenges of the Paris Agreement

This is my comment on an article by Carbon Brief
Highlights: Day one at the 1.5C conference on climate change in Oxford

The website related to the conference can be found at “1.5 degrees

My comment on Carbon Brief:

Thanks to Carbon Brief and Rosamund Pearce for an excellent report.

There are a few points I will make.

[1] In the embedded  video, Professor Corrinne Le Quere says

“[to keep within 1.5°C] it is necessary to be “completely de-carbonising the economy in just a few decades.”

Earlier this year Carbon Brief said

Analysis: Only five years left before 1.5C carbon budget is blown”.

There is a big difference between “a few decades” and five years.

[2] Corrine also says “Global emissions have stalled in the past few years”. Apart from the fact that “stalled” is nowhere good enough to keep within 1.5°C , this reduction is not yet seen in the increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Continue reading 1.5 Degrees: Meeting the challenges of the Paris Agreement

Brian Cox’s Denier Takedown: a High Point for Climate Journalism

The BBC should let Brian Cox give the same treatment to Lord Nigel Lawson and the sceptics of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. The BBC have been reprimanded for giving Lawson too much credence in the past.

Open Mind

Many have enjoyed the smackdown which Brian Cox delivered to Malcom Rogers on Australian TV’s program “Q&A”. Myself included. Cox is a scientist, and one of the most popular science communicators in Britain (perhaps England’s answer to Neil deGrasse Tyson?). Roberts is a politician, a senator no less, in Australia. He’s also a climate denier.

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Watch out for melting permafrost … It isn’t in the IPCC models

Not much to say except…

Don’t drive cars & Don’t eat beef because…

In simulations of future warming we find that the permafrost carbon feedback increases global mean temperature by 10–40% relative to simulations without this feedback, with the magnitude of the increase dependent on the evolution of anthropogenic carbon emissions.

From Anthony et al. Methane emissions proportional to permafrost carbon thawed in Arctic lakes since the 1950s. And these feedbacks aren’t in the IPCC climate models. Conformation: A last message from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Will the new government department sideline climate warnings?

I expect it will.

Degrowth: My megaphone comment on LinkedIn

What upset Jeff Selingo (@jselingo) ?

Yesterday morning I made a comment to a posting on LinkedIn. The posting was “What Happens When Millions of Jobs Are Lost Because of Automation?” by Jeff Selingo author of the bestseller, “There Is Life After College”.

My comment referenced my other blog. Yesterday this several more hits than usual. However, the comment has disappeared from LinkedIn in normal viewing mode – although I can find it through this “deeplink“. The deeplink address contains “hb_ntf_MEGAPHONE_LIKE_TOP_LEVEL_COMMENT”. The comment had 19 “likes”.

I don’t use LinkedIn very often but I have just learned two things. (1) LinkedIn has a larger reach than I knew and (2) comments can be deleted on slim grounds. (A friend tells me that authors can delete comments they don’t like.)  If Jeff Selingo did delete the comment, I would like to know what he didn’t like.  I do wonder if there were any comments, other than

Geoff Beacon I have not see such a moronic conversation since the democratic convention. De-growth… I think there is a cup of Kool-Aid with your name on it and it’s empty.

My comment?

As we stand at the present, enough market generated jobs can only happen if we have economic growth that will destroy the planet. (“The job apocalypse and climate change”, ) In the short to medium term we need degrowth, lower productivity, nicer jobs, less consumption and a universal basic income.

That doesn’t sound very “megaphone” to me. In fact it’s rather boring for such an important topic.

Hansen’s predictions right so far but will 300 mph storms happen?

Hansen’s predictions were right in 1981. Will his prediction for 300 mph storms happen?

Open Mind

In 1981 James Hansen and colleagues published research in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Science titled “Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.” They discussed the result of basic physics, that carbon dioxide in the air inhibits Earth cooling off, thus heating the planet. They also reported the results of computer simulations of Earth’s climate in a world with ever-increasing CO2.


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Operationalism was stupid. Economists are still operationalists. It follows that …

Nearly a century ago economist Lionel Robbins read Percy Bridgman. Neither understood science.


Bridgman thought anything that could not be directly measured was not scientific.
That would have meant “electron” was unscientific as philosophers of science soon realised.

Operationalism, however, has continued to seduce psychology  more than half a century after it was repudiated by philosophers of science, including the very Logical Positivists who had first taken it seriously.

Operationalism still seduces economics. Continue reading Operationalism was stupid. Economists are still operationalists. It follows that …

SDP2: Can the Labour party start afresh?

The Social Democratic Party was founded in March 1981 by four senior Labour Party ‘moderates’, Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams.

Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams and David Owen

They were joined by 20 or so Labour MPs. Wikipedia says

“The four left the Labour Party as a result of the January 1981 Wembley  conference which committed the party to unilateral nuclear disarmament  and withdrawal from the European Economic Community. They also believed  that Labour had become too left-wing, and had been infiltrated at  constituency party level by Trotskyist factions whose views and behaviour  they considered to be at odds with the Parliamentary Labour Party and  Labour voters.”

The current situation is not a direct parallel. The Labour Party’s  membership and MPs are pro Europe and the party is not infiltrated by  Trotskyist factions. However, the current leader, Jeremy Corbyn, does support nuclear disarmament but it is not party policy. Continue reading SDP2: Can the Labour party start afresh?

From the Arctic to Africa to the Amazon, More Troubling Signs of Earth Carbon Store Instability


The time for debate is over. The time for rapid response is now. The Earth System just can’t take our fossil-fueled insults to her any longer.


Arctic Wildfires

(These Arctic and Siberian wildfires just keep getting worse and worse, but what’s really concerning is they’re burning a big hole through one of the Earth’s largest carbon sinks, and as they do it, they’re belching out huge plumes of greenhouse gasses. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

Carbon Spikes over the Arctic, Africa, and the Amazon

Today, climate change-enhanced wildfires in Siberia and Africa are belching out two hellaciously huge smoke clouds (see images below). They’re also spewing large plumes of methane and carbon dioxide, plainly visible in the global atmospheric monitors. Surface methane readings in these zones exceed 2,000 parts per billion, well above the global atmospheric average.

Even as the fires rage, bubbles of methane and carbon dioxide are reportedly seeping…

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State of the Climate: Earth’s Temperature

#oldBBC won’t “Inform and Educate”.
We need #newBBC that will tell us the full story.

Open Mind

“Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

That now-famous saying is often attributed to Mark Twain, but in reality he only popularized it when, in a public lecture, he quoted its originator: his friend and sometime co-author Charles Dudley Warner.

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Brexit with ignorance

A public institution to inform and educate ?

Over the past week or so there have been events and talks at the York Festival of Ideas. Two of the speakers presented interesting graphs. László Andor, who was he was Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion in the European Commission showed the sources of immigration into the UK. His graph showed that the actual figures on immigration were completely different to what the (cliché alert) “Great British Public” had be led to believe by the mainstream media.

It’s obvious that we, the Great British Public, are ill-informed and ill-educated. This was emphasised further by a second graph presented in a “Chatham House rules” session, in which we are asked not to attribute any views expressed. This fingered the Daily Mail, The Daily Express and the Sun as major sources of mis-information and although they have falling circulation, they set the agendas for the “mainstream media”, with much emphasis on the dangers of refugees.

Then someone, who under the rules cannot be named, came up with an idea I rather like. Why don’t we have a public media institution with the responsibility to inform and educate us so that we can resist this deluge of misinformation. An institution that could check the “facts” and challenge the mis-informers directly with, say, daily news slots like “Daily X has published incorrect facts today. The correct ones are…”

Just think of it: a publicly funded media organisation that we could fund to present the truth with the mission to

1) Inform

2) Educate

3) Anything else?

The legislation should set performance targets. Testing their knowledge of basic information. Ipos Mori might help…

POSTSCRIPT: British Ignorance Measured

Continue reading Brexit with ignorance

Not Even Wrong

Have the BBC dropped Bjorn Lomborg yet? A nice cartoon here showing his technique…

Open Mind

WUWT has stepped up their ongoing campaign to downplay the threat of sea level rise. This includes a recent post by Larry Hamblin which indulges in a just-plain-wrong method for pushing the the “no acceleration” meme, and a post by someone calling himself “Giordano Bruno” which disputes the increased sea level rise in the northeast U.S. “hotspot” based on — put your coffee down, please — the “trend” over a whopping five whole years.

What most strikes me about the “Bruno” post is that the terminology is far too reminiscent of Albert “Making Up Stuff” Parker. He’s the fellow who sometimes goes by the name Albert Parker, sometimes Alberto Boretti, and once even submitted two comments on the same paper to a peer-reviewed journal, one under each name. Perhaps now he isn’t satisfied with either name, instead fashioning himself after the famous Italian. Is the post really from…

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Record global warming, or warming slowdown?

Open Mind

Guest post by Stefan Rahmstorf, Grant Foster, and Niamh Cahill

A look at the global surface temperature evolution makes one thing very clear: claims that global warming has “stopped” or “slowed” are not exactly supported by the recent data. Last month was not just the warmest April on record, it also beat the previous April record by the largest margin since the beginning of record-keeping in the year 1880. (April 2016 was 0.24 °C warmer than the previous record April 2010; this margin was three times larger than the previously largest margin of 0.08 °C.) In fact, February was also the warmest February, by the largest margin on record. And January was the warmest January on record. Yes, by the largest margin. The running 12-month average global temperature (Fig. 1) is reaching new unprecedented heights every month.


Figure 1:12-month running means of global temperature anomaly from NASA’s Goddard Institute…

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Save electricity. Bath with a friend.

My very low electric bill

In three years with Co-operative Energy, I have never read the electric meter – or even bothered to look at their on-line bills.

This isn’t a complaint about Co-operative Energy but they want to increase my standing order because they think I am in arrears by £1,161. Now thatI have read the meter, I find I have used 1179 kilowatt-hours of electricity. This should cost about £140.

After deducting standing charges, the Co-operative Energy estimate for my electricity is roughly £1800. That is just about the average electricity cost for the time they have supplied me.

I have used less than one tenth of the average household electricity use. How did this happen?

Bath with a friend Continue reading Save electricity. Bath with a friend.


Open Mind

John Church is probably the world’s leading expert on sea level change. The most trusted global sea level history based on tide gauge data is that of Church & White, yes that Church. For over 30 years he has headed the division which studies that subject for the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia.

In their continuing campaign to gut government-funded climate science, the Australian government is eliminating most if not all climate research at CSIRO. They recently fired John Church. They were so callous about it, they fired him while he was on a sea voyage studying important ocean properties.

You can read more about it here.

This blog is made possible by readers like you; join others by donating at Peaseblossom’s Closet.

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Lower productivity for the sake of the climate

Higher labour productivity means higher production. Higher production means higher consumption, which almost certainly means more greenhouse gas emissions, which will bring on climate disaster. To support the poor redistribution is needed – from the polluters (the affluent) to those that pollute less (the poor).
More detail…

Continue reading Lower productivity for the sake of the climate

The Wall Street Journal, Climate Change Denial, and the Galileo Gambit

In the UK, the owner of the WSJ, Rupert Murdoch, owns a large proportion of the media. Apparently, George Osborne met Rupert Murdoch twice before imposing BBC cuts .

But I haven’t trusted the BBC on climate since they cancelled Planet Relief in 2007. One complaint, BBC promotes growth & ignores climate dangers.

Open Mind

Here’s an editorial at the Huffington Post which I think is worth reading. Well worth reading. In fact, it’s worthwhile getting others to read it.

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Correcting for more than just el Niño

Tamino’s Open Minds (reblogged below) shows below shows that even without el Niño 2015 was the hottest year on record – but first the Inernational Energy Agency:  IEA Confirms Decoupling Of Global Emissions & Economic Growth



They say:

For many years it was assumed that global emissions and economic growth were tied together in an unbreakable knot, however, recent years have seen signs indicating this may not necessarily be the case. According to analysis of preliminary data for 2015 released this week by the International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy related carbon dioxide emissions stayed flat for the second year in a row, while economic growth continues.

However, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported an unprecedented spike in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in 2015.

co2_trend_mloThe IEA reports emissions down, NOAA reports CO2 concentrations are up. Strange.

Climate Central gives an explanation from Michael Mann, one of the best known climate scientists:

“This spike is almost certainly due in substantial part to the ongoing El Niño event, which is a fleeting effect that increases carbon dioxide concentrations temporarily,” Mann said. “Carbon dioxide concentrations are a lagging indicator, and they don’t accurately reflect recent trends in the more important variable — our actual carbon emissions.”

But why are CO2 concentrations a lagging indicator?

Is it because of  temperature/CO2 feedback or some other effect? If it’s temperature driven feedback what are the mechanisms? Are they feedback mechanisms that are accounted for by the climate models?

How accurate are the IEA’s emission figures?

Note:  There will be a postscript – possibly with some answers

But here is another excellent piece from Tamino …

Open Mind

I recently showed a version of “el Niño-Corrected” temperature from Gavin Schmidt at NASA. My own calculation suggested that el Niño caused about the same contribution to 2015’s heat as Gavin’s estimate. However, there are some pronounced differences between our calculations.

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Sadiq’s housing policies

Sadiq Khan’s housing policies may be strong
but they are not strong enough.

This piece follows a very moving article on Left Foot Forward…


The article is excellent but below is a response to this sentence …

“Thankfully, Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan is tackling this issue head on with a whole suite of policies to enable the u-turn on housing that is needed, so that ordinary Londoners, vulnerable Londoners, every Londoner can access the basics: food, water, shelter.”

My response…

Are Sadiq’s policies radical enough? Isn’t it true that

1) It is possible to create homes for about £20,000 if the land is provided just a bit more than agricultural prices (i.e. £1,000 per housing plot). Then cheap a starter homes can be delivered to the plots. (See ) Unlike Sadiq’s policies, a properly planned plotland development could happen very quickly.

2) We are facing a real climate disaster. Traditional bricks and mortar houses (as shown in Sadiq’s “Homes for Londoners”) have such large embodied carbon that they swamp personal carbon budgets and help screw the climate. (See )

P.S. The affluent cause much more carbon pollution than the poor. We should be taxing the affluent, the polluters, and giving to the poor, who pollute less.

P.P.S Why do most on the left push economic growth, which the climate can’t afford ( ) rather than redistribution. We don’t need to ruin the Earth just to give to the poor.

London Housing Commission misses bigger pictures

The London Housing Commission have just produced a report Building a new deal for London. They should be supported in its aim “to identify sufficient land to deliver at least 50,000 homes per year for the next decade”. This 500,000 homes may be a reasonable target.

The commission also identifies problems with planning permission: “There are too few new planning permissions” and speed of delivery could be increased on sites where planning permission has been granted. Their suggestion to allow the boroughs to levy developers who have failed to meet agreed building targets may be helpful.  However, they may be missing bigger pictures.

First, at 51.3 people per hectare, London is over ten times as dense as the rest of the South East Region. There is plenty of land outside London with served by railway lines. Room for a population the size of London by taking only 10% of land in the South East Region. Continue reading London Housing Commission misses bigger pictures

Don’t nuke Brazil

This is a reply to Dan Miller’s comment on

Dan Miller #50


Your comments are excellent and your TEDx talk is very excellent.  I shall do my best to get others to watch it.

However (as Mona Lisa Vito said in My cousin Vinny), you are too optimistic to claim that “Fee and Dividend” alone can “fix climate change”. I guess that your talk was fashioned for the political scene in the USA and you may be restrained by political reality. These constraints should not hold in discussions here.


Your timescale for cutting emissions is too slow. Let us assume a new US government will introduce a Fee&Dividend like you describe by the autumn of 2017 and CO2 emissions are initially charged at 1¢ per Kg and rising to 10¢ per Kg in ten years. Can this cut emissions fast enough?

Carbon Brief did their calculation “Six years worth of current emissions would blow the carbon budget for 1.5 degrees” in autumn 2014. By now it will be “Three years current emissions”. To keep below 2°C there seems to be 20 years or so but with the “lack of feedbacks” – that you mention – means it is difficult to get reliable estimates. Continue reading Don’t nuke Brazil

Green belts and corporate land banks

In his papers, “The Homes London Needs: Part 1 & Part 2“, Chris Walker of Policy Exchange assumes that building on the green belt is politically impossible. I think that in the public mind “green belt” may mean any land within 100 miles of Central London. This leaves brownfield development and densification as the only solutions.


Brownfield sites are more expensive to develop both in money and environmental terms. They would better be converted into green urban parks such as happened at St Nicholas Fields in York. The Barker Review of Housing Supply (2004), reported that urban parks were valued 60 times as much as urban fringe green belt by the public. (Table 2.1: Benefits from different land use)


If densification means higher buildings then embodied carbon should be considered. This measures the greenhouse gasses due to construction. High buildings usually have enormous embodied carbon pushing climate further to the danger zone.


Continue reading Green belts and corporate land banks

Prototype sustainable neighbourhoods

Low cost,  sustainable housing in California

A comment on
A multi-dimensional approach to affordable housing policy:
Learning from climate change policy

by Professor Karen Chapple

See also Berkeley zero net energy cottage deserves study

A sustainable backyard cottage

This article gives me a glimmer of hope. It shows that low-cost, environmentally sustainable homes might be built and get through zoning regulation. (Is “zoning regulation” the correct term for what we call planning permission in the UK?). I like the look of Professor Chapple’s backyard cottage but hope the $98,000 could be reduced production volumes were higher – there was a piece in the UK press reporting a family in Arkansas moving into a $20,000 “shotgun shack” with satisfactory results.

What price level could actually be achieved for a tiny home with a very low carbon footprint?

Embodied carbon

Measurement of the carbon emissions from the buildings, when in use, is not the only consideration: Measurement should also include embodied carbon – based on the greenhouse emissions from constructing the buildings (including the embodied carbon in solar panels & etc.) Embodied carbon is usually ignored. Continue reading Prototype sustainable neighbourhoods

Tax credits tame the self employed

No warning for the claimants

HMRC Targets for low paid self employed are very worrying as the tests are likely toeliminate many self employed Tax Credit claimants, whose earnings are below the Minimum Income Floor of £12000. Over a third of self employed claimants’ earnings are below this level and will be subject to demands for information from the HMRC which is intrusive and unnecessary.

There was little consultation before the legislation was passed.

Alison Ward of the Association of Tax Technicians (ATT) says some concerns were raised about this when HMRC held a teleconference with members of the Benefits & Credits Consultation Group (BCCG) last March. See : Strengthening the self-employment test for working tax credit in Tax Adviser Magazine.  Alison Ward says

In summary, our concerns were as follows:

The lack of publicity surrounding the change to forewarn claimants;

The very short timescale in which to make the finalised guidance available;

The lack of time in which to appropriately train HMRC Tax Credits staff who are going to be taking on the role of key decision makers when reviewing whether an individual is trading commercially, with a view to realising a profit;

The number of claimants who will not have the necessary evidence, such as business plans, with which to prove to HMRC that they are trading commercially; and Continue reading Tax credits tame the self employed


scottish unemployed workers' network

There are some businesses that thrive on poverty, and Poundstretcher is one of them. Poor people shop there because it is cheap – and one reason it can be so cheap is that people are forced to work there for free or lose their benefits, under the DWP’s Mandatory Work Activity scheme: probably some of the same people who they rely on as customers.


Last week one of our SUWN activists was told to report to Poundstretcher in Dundee this morning, along with a group of around 8 other people on JSA. He was not happy, and yesterday he delivered a letter to Learndirect who arranged the placement. This made clear that it was not reasonable, even in their own terms, to expect a skilled IT engineer who had been unemployed only 9 weeks to do a placement designed to ‘develop disciplines associated with employment’. It also pointed out that…

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How The Joseph Rowntree Foundation Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Tory Party

the void

war-on-the-poorYesterday the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who claim to be an anti-poverty think tank, held their annual lecture.  Coming at a time of soaring homelessness, brutal benefit sanctions and more cuts on the way you might have expected this event to discuss how to best resist, or at least mitigate the impact of what is to come.

You might have expected that.  What happened instead was a speech by the leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Ruth Davidson during which she set her stall out as a Tory who pretends to care about the poor in advance of the Scottish parliament elections in May.  She was warmly received by the small gathering of poverty professionals who bothered to turn out for the lecture.  She should have been fucking lynched.

Davidson began her speech with a frank description of how most in the Conservative Party view the poor – in…

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Can we keep under 2°C without reducing consumption? And 1.5°C?


I took Carbon Brief’s “Six years worth of current emissions would blow the carbon budget for 1.5 degrees” seriously and used it in “Is Green Growth a Fantasy”. This estimates the rate of decarbonisation of world GDP necessary to keep within 2 degrees.

The argument relies on reducing and restricting carbon emissions until the time when the world can balances carbon emissions with carbon sequestration.

According to quite straightforward (but rather optimistic) calculations, the world can reach 2050, without exceeding the 2°C limit by cutting the carbon intensity of production by 3.7% a year. This is assuming the average world citizen’s consumption remains the same. See “Optimism and pessimism on climate”.

However, the 3.7% decarbonisation in 2015 seems a fluke maximum (as Carbon Brief reported in “Decrease in China’s coal use sees global emissions fall in 2015”). The average decarbonisation for the past 25 years has been 1.3%.

Worryingly, Carbon Brief’s has a video of Michael Jacobs. He says 2080 is the date for BECCS to work. That’s long after the 2050 date I had assumed. That would mean global GWP per person must fall – even if it were possible to keep up the improbable rate of decarbonisation of 3.7% . Will this be politically possible?

Is it really possible to keep temperature to below 2°C without falling consumption?

And the COP21 aim of 1.5°C. Is that just fantasy,  just like “Green Growth”?

The Committee on Climate Change should tell the whole truth.

Lord Deben, Chair of the CCC” by mintyboy on Flickr.
Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has just published its proposal under the climate change Act for the UK carbon budget for 2028 to 2032. It is 175 million tonnes CO2e for the 2028 to 2032.

Last year following a piece by Carbon Brief, I took the IPCC’s remaining carbon budget for a 2°C rise in global temperature. (We are just passing the 1°C mark.) I divided this remaining budget by the number of people in the world to get a world budget per person. This gave 115 tonnes of CO2e per world citizen.

The CCC’s budgets from 2015 to 2032 amount to 7,650 million tonnes of CO2e. That is 118 tonnes CO2e per UK citizen. This exceeds the world personal budget of 115 tonnes already.

HOWEVER (as Mona Lisa Vito says in My Cousin Vinny), our government budgets are false budgets because the UK carbon budget is measured on a production basis (i.e. They only count CO2 emissions from what is produced in the UK). The budget does not include the embodied carbon in imports. This leads to the nonsense that closing UK steelworks lowers UK emissions, while actually increasing our real emissions. We should probably double the figure for official emissions for this reason and some others like the underestimation of methane’s power. Worse still, the IPCC budgets are too liberal because their models had missing feedbacks.

Perhaps the rest of the world will help us out and stop driving cars, eating beef and building with steel and concrete.

The Committee on Climate Change should really tell the whole truth – and loudly.

But, as I have heard their Lord Deben say, there are political limits to what can be achieved

– and the Friends of the Earth described him as “the best Environment Secretary we’ve ever had”.

Working Full Time And Think You’re Safe From The Jobcentre? Not If The DWP Get Their Way.

“[DWP study] is about manufacturing evidence, not any real attempt to find out if this is something people actually want or need”
“Instead the Tories imagine a UK PLC – some kind of giant version of The Apprentice, full of selfish grasping wankers, ruthlessly fucking each other over until the second we retire – if we get to retire at all. “

the void

When I click my fingers you will wake up, and all your benefits will have been stopped. Are you striving hard enough? The nudge unit is watching you.

A study released by the DWP today shows that tens of thousands of Tax Credits claimants  – some of them with full time jobs – have received letters and texts encouraging them to contact government busy-bodies for advice on how to increase their earnings by finding a new job or gaining promotion.

This startling fact is contained in an evaluation of the ‘In-work progression advice trial’ quietly carried out in 2014.  This pilot scheme, run by the DWP in conjunction with the shadowy Nudge Unit, involved 75,000 Tax Credit claimants receiving a letter encouraging them to contact the National Careers Service for advice on how to progress in work.  Around half of participants also recieved a text message.

Claimants were chosen largely at random from those earning a monthly income of £330–£960, so those working full-time at the then…

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Did Angus Robertson svengali Mhairi Black’s maiden speech?


At the Fabian conference on Saturday, I heard Jeremy Corbyn say we must reach out to left wing parties in Europe. I wondered if that included the Scottish Nationalists because in one Labour committee room I visited on election day last year, four out of four of us said we would have voted for the SNP, had we been in Scotland. We might not have actually gone that far but we were obviously affected by the reputation of the SNP becoming a caring left-wing party while Scottish Labour had a Blairite reputation (Should that be Mandelite?)

Since then, like many others, I have seen Mhairi Black’s maiden speech as an MP. Emotionally brilliant with some home truths for Labour.

“I like many SNP members come from a traditional socialist Labour family and I have never been quiet in my assertion that I feel that it is the Labour party that left me, not the other way about.

The SNP did not triumph on a wave of nationalism; in fact nationalism has nothing to do with what’s happened in Scotland. We triumphed on a wave of hope, hope that there was something different, something better to the Thatcherite neo-liberal policies that are produced from this chamber. Hope that representatives genuinely could give a voice to those who don’t have one.”

Later I met someone from the Scottish Labour and asked if Mhairi could be the next leader of the Labour Party. Continue reading Did Angus Robertson svengali Mhairi Black’s maiden speech?

Capitalists are not all nice but…

I’ve given up on “Capitalism can cure climate change”
on Brussels Blog. This post includes some bits from that piece.

I know the gist of what I want to say: We must control capitalism and use its power to save the world from climate disaster. For those that care about people, that means giving everybody a share of the rewards from capital assets. I have written about this in Stop growth, redistribute wealth and try to save the planet and Amartya Sen on growth and climate.

Are capitalist psychopaths? Are big companies dangerous?

Interviewed by Forbes Magazine about his book, “The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry”, Jon Ronson said

I think my book offers really good evidence that the way that capitalism is structured really is a physical manifestation of the brain anomaly known as psychopathy. However, I wouldn’t say every Fortune 500 chief is a psychopath. That would turn me into an ideologue and I abhor ideologues.

The minor capitalist and academic sitting next to me has just said “The bigger the capitalist, the worse they are”. Well, capitalist guru, Adam Smith, agreed.  His ideas may have been captured by apologists for crony capitalism but he disliked the power and influence of large international companies.

Such companies, in Smith’s view, had corrupted and captured many European and non-European governments and undermined their societies’ ability to engage in peaceful transnational affairs and equitable self-rule.


Is capitalism innovative?

The New York Times have an interesting article,  Why Can’t America Be Sweden?, on the work of Acemoglu, Robinson and Verdier.  This says

Asked for examples of America’s leading role in innovative enterprise, Acemoglu listed: “Software (Google and Amazon), hardware and design (Apple), social networking (Facebook and Twitter), biotech, pharmaceuticals, robotics, nanotechnology, entertainment and retail (Wal-Mart).”

Like many others, I’m not very impressed – particularly on innovation in software. Many of the best known like Facebook, Skype and Visicalc (the first spreadsheet) were written by one or two people as a challenge – because they could do it. Innovative software rarely starts with big teams.

The success of America’s “innovative enterprise” is pushed along by the lawyers building war chests of patents and other intellectual property for corporations. It also helps to be in a large market with good access to capital and have corporations with marketing muscle and be in a country that can change the law on intellectual property to tax the whole world.

Big corporations must be put to work

Large scale capitalism may be run by psychopaths. Corporations may corrupt and capture governments as Adam Smith described. They may not be as good at innovation as they claim but now is not the time to  destroy them – even if we could.  Given the current climate crisis, governments may need root out corruption and undue influence but the top priority is to set the conditions for a transition to a low-carbon existence.

That means prototyping low-carbon lifestyles that the people of the world can accept.  See A market in prototype neighbourhoods.

Big corporations have the power  and scope, which would enable them to do this.

The obvious mechanism to incentivise these corporations is a very large carbon tax.

And if they require some innovation, they can give me a call.

Green growth and the limp left

Green growth and the limp left

Watching the sunset

Our modern, developed lifestyles pollute the planet. We fly planes, drive cars, eat beef and build with bricks, steel, concrete and tarmac. We are driving the planet to the end of life on Earth as we know it.

But what will happen if we cut consumption? (Note: Consumption is stuff we pay for. Watching a sunset out of the window isn’t consumption. Watching it in a cinema is.)

Consumption and jobs

Consumption is key to limp-left economics. It creates demand for production and production creates jobs. Cutting consumption, cuts production and destroys jobs. What do the limp left suggest for the poor, the wage-slaves, who depend on jobs for their income?

The limp left still argue for growth (mainly for jobs) and claim consumption can be decarbonised. They call their growth “green growth”. Unfortunately, we do not have time to replace polluting consumption by their green consumption. For now, green growth is a fantasy.

So what to do about jobs?

Tax, subsidise and redistribute

If we hold onto the idea that jobs are good for us as a society, we can subsidise them directly or we can subsidise incomes – as with in-work tax credits. If the subsidies are large enough as many jobs as necessary can be created, either by direct subsidy to the employer or by allowing workers to accept lower wages. Both policies support the standard of living of the poor.

How should subsidies be financed?

Tax the affluent polluters.

Message to the limp left: Get real! Stop growth and redistribute.

Message to the affluent: You are screwing the planet. Pay up.


Continue reading Green growth and the limp left

BBC’s silence on climate


“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”


The BBC are still dragging their feet on climate. On Monday morning the BBC World Service Newsday 6.06 GMT had a piece “Weather Wreaks Havoc in US and Britain”. Oddly the presenter says its 8.15 GMT at 8.30 into the recording then continues:

“Now there’s a number of extreme weather stories from right around the world some scientists are talking of the effect of the climate phenomenon known as El Nino where heated water unusually heated water in the pacific ocean ends up causing extreme weather patterns around the globe

In the southern United States more than 40 people are known to have died to the severe weather..

…parts of Latin America are seeing tremendous droughts and parts are seeing the worst flooding seen in 50 years.More than 150,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes…In the UK

…highest river levels ever recorded in parts of Yorkshire…”

No mention of climate change.

Later Monday

Continue reading BBC’s silence on climate

The BBC, Kevin Anderson and missing climate feedbacks


Increased forest fires are missing from climate models.

I have just posted this here on Neven’s Arctic Forum…

I’m pleased that the most outspoken (=willing to tell the truth?) climate scientist in the UK, Kevin Andersen, has had some airtime on the BBC e.g. R4’s Today.

My first thought: Is the BBC changing from being a bunch of climate delayers?

Answer: Not sure: The Best of Today podcasts don’t include the item

— Speaking on the programme is … Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at Manchester University.

but they do include

— Will the US abolish the Confederate flag?
— Gay priest reacts to church ban
— ‘Huge rise’ in newborns taken into care
— Monday’s business with Simon Jack

Anyway says

The Paris Agreement: 10/10 for presentation; 4/10 for content. Shows promise …

The Paris Agreement is a fitting testament to how years of diligent and meticulous science has ultimately weathered relentless and well-funded attempts to undermine its legitimacy. Building on this science base and under the inspiring auspices of the French people, the global community has come together as never before to tackle what is arguably the first truly globalised and self-induced challenge to humanity.

However, whilst the 2°C and 1.5°C aspirations of the Paris Agreement are to be wholeheartedly welcomed, the thirty-one page edifice is premised on future technologies removing huge quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere many decades from today. If such highly speculative ‘negative emission technologies’ prove to be unsuccessful then the 1.5°C target is simply not achievable. Moreover, there is only a slim chance of maintaining the global temperature rise to below 2°C.

Missing work on missing climate feedbacks

The increas in forest fires is a missing feedback

Continue reading The BBC, Kevin Anderson and missing climate feedbacks

Optimism and pessimism on climate

A little optimism on climate

The recent publication in Nature, Reaching peak emissions, by Jackson et. al., has been echoed by hopeful messages in the media. Carbon Brief is more measured. Their piece Decrease in China’s coal use sees global emissions fall in 2015 starts optimistically:

The rapid growth in global carbon dioxide emissions over the last decade appears to have stalled, a new study says. Early estimates suggest that global emissions will decrease by 0.6% this year, following a small increase of 0.6% in 2014.

But Carbon Brief also reports

The break in the emissions trend is mainly down to a drop in coal use in China, the study says, which drives a projected decrease in Chinese emissions of around 4% compared to 2014.

However, this is unlikely to signal a peak in global emissions just yet, the researchers say.

But I’m more pessimistic on climate

Continue reading Optimism and pessimism on climate

Brazil’s Great Amazon Rainforest Burns

Source: Brazil’s Great Amazon Rainforest Burns as Parched Megacities Fall Under Existential Threat

Note: Wildfires in the Amazon cause a climate feedback that is not accounted for in the computer models used for the IPCC’s predictions of climate change. The feedback from wildfires is only one of  several missing feedbacks. Most of these reinforce climate change.

This means climate change in the real world will actually be worse than IPCC predictions.

Strangely, more feedbacks makes methane emissions from cows even worse. Do any policy makers that know this? Hilary Benn might. See Chatham House: Reduce meat and dairy to save climate

Reduce meat & dairy to the save climate

Robert McSweeny has written an excellent piece for Carbon Brief, Reducing meat and dairy a ‘win-win’ for climate and health. It concerns a recent report by Chatham House that makes these points:

  • Reducing global meat consumption will be critical to keeping
    global warming below the ‘danger level’ of two degrees Celsius.
  • Public awareness of the link between diet and climate change
    is very low.

Carbon Brief quotes one of the authors, Laura Wellesley:

“The assumption that interventions like this are too politically sensitive and too practically difficult to implement is unjustified. Our focus groups pointed to a public that expect governments to lead, that expect governments to take action on issues that are in the public interest.”

But what will it take to get politicians to take the risk and act – or at least not deny? In the past, I have confronted politicians on this issue, with no response. When Hilary Benn was DEFRAs Secretary of State for DEFRA, I emailed him after meeting him

Is DEFRA considering any policies that might make substantial reductions in the impact of sheep and cows? And should the the government inform and consult public on this issue?

(See also Can DEFRA be trusted with the climate?)

My comment on Carbon Brief’s article (Key point: Even Chatham House underestimates the impact of meat and dairy.) …

This article is excellent stuff. Congratulations to Carbon Brief and Chatham House.


“Globally, the livestock sector accounts for 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions – that’s equivalent to all exhaust emissions from every vehicle on the planet.” The source of the “15%” is Tackling Climate Change through Livestock by the FAO.

Without actually saying so, the FAO hint that the Global Warming Potential for methane used in their estimate was measured over 100 years. But we must eke out the remaining carbon budget until we can extract CO2 from the atmosphere.(See Is Green Growth a Fantasy?). The IPCC target for large scale carbon extraction is the second half of the century – 30 to 40 years from now).

Such a time frame means that the hundred years is an inappropriate measure for methane’s potency – a shorter time should be chosen. One of the standard ones is 20 years.  This makes the impact of methane three to five times worse (depending on whose figures are chosen). Consequently, beef and lamb production are significantly worse.

There are estimates of the emissions from livestock from different sources:  e.g. the Times, the FAO and the World Watch Institute. The WWI estimates are in “Livestock and Climate Change”, written by employees of the World Bank.

These are compared in “How long is livestock’s shadow?” which concludes…

“ …the Times says 9%, the UN FAO says 18% and the World Bank people say 51%.”

Yes, the WWI report does say the total greenhouse gas emissions attributable to livestock products are greater than 51% of the Annual emissions worldwide.

The WWI 51% uses the (more realistic?) 20 year period for estimating the Global Warming Potential of methane.

I would be interested to know why the World Bank did not publish their employees work. Is it because as you say …

“Governments have shied away from promoting sustainable diets in fear of a backlash from the public and food industry, while the lack of action means public awareness of the climate impact of meat and dairy is low.”

Cars: A waste of space

This was from the website (now retired)

A waste of space

21st September, 2009 – 3 Comments

Climate change is the most urgent reason for drastically reducing motoring but there are many others. Top of the list is the space they waste. Here’s a blast from 1973:

The problem is that of designing an environment for people, who occupy a few square feet and need tens of square feet to move, which can also accommodate a large number of motor cars, which occupy hundreds of square feet and need thousands of square feet to move. This has consequences for housing design and for urban form. There are also other characteristics of motor cars which damage the local environment so that a large number of them in an urban setting has the effect of encouraging people to spread out spatially in trying to avoid the nuisances of heavy traffic.

Put simply, the choice is between compact no-car Venice and sprawling all-car Los Angeles.

Which do you choose?


James, January 5th, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Thats easy, I choose Venice

luke, May 23rd, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I’m more of an LA man myself

Geoff Beacon, March 14th, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Excellent video on Car Free Venice:

Courage in Congress

My first reblog.

This would make an stirring speech.

Can it be recorded – with background images?

Open Mind

It’s hard to believe. But it can happen.

And it did happen. Not from Lamar Smith, who is on a rabid witch-hunt against scientists from NOAA. The courage came from another Texan, congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who has stood up to Lamar Smith and his smear tactics.

You really ought to read the letter she wrote. And we should all thank her.

View original post

Climate and the Maharaja Mac

Can we capture the emissions from India’s coal burning?

In Why I think we’re wasting billions on global warming, Myles Allen is reported as saying

“There’s been a lot of talk about ‘unburnable carbon’ – the carbon we shouldn’t burn if we are to keep global temperature rises below 2C. A catchy phrase, but can we really tell the citizens of India of 2080 not to touch their coal?”

The answer Myles gives is let’s bury the CO2 problem:

“Anyone who extracts or imports fossil fuels should be required to sequester a steadily increasing fraction of their carbon. The maths could not be simpler: we need to increase the fraction of carbon we sequester by, on average, 1% for every 10bn tonnes of carbon dumped in the atmosphere.”

Others see this reliance on extracting carbon from the atmosphere as risky. The abstract to The Role of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage for Climate Policy says

“… it is questionable whether the necessary scale can be achieved in time and many other uncertainties remain ranging from technological issues and feedstock potentials to socioeconomic challenges and lack of certainty about the mechanisms in the climate system.”

Can we pay India to curb carbon emissions?

Coal India Limited is the Indian state-controlled coal mining company so coal reserves in India could be called “their coal” but the carbon emissions it produces pollutes “our atmosphere”.

The simple answer to Indian coal emissions, is that we (the more polluting nations) pay the less polluting nations not to pollute. On current performance the UK, the USA & etc will be paying less polluting India.

Most countries have elites with high emissions

Within individual nations the affluent (who have high emissions) should pay those with lower emissions not to pollute. Hansen’s Carbon Fee with Dividend has this effect.

However, a big problem is that most (or all) nations are ruled by affluent elites who have large carbon emissions: There cause political limits to action but if these limits cannot be overcome the world is in trouble.

To highlight the issues of developing nation’s emissions to find ways of preventing them following our destructive path, I have suggested a World Wide Carbon Fee and Dividend, a generalisation of Hansen’s scheme. This recognises that the rich and affluent in India are just as polluting as those elsewhere. It because the pollution from emissions are a global problem, we have an interest in seeing climate justice within nations as well as between nations. After all, we are very concerned that nations should be “democratic” and on occasions go to war to spread democracy.

Back to Myles Allen.

Is he worried about the economic progress of India as a“developing” nation with it’s increasing numbers of billionaires.

Or is his concern for the poor in India who cannot afford the Indian version of a Big Mac, the Maharaja Mac?

Or is he concerned with the property rights that the Indian people have over Indian assets?

Must a Green City have Tall Buildings?

The construction of tall buildings causes large emissions of carbon dioxide. This is called embodied carbon. In “Tipping the scales”, Roxane McMeeken reports

“A project’s embodied carbon also depends on the type of building it is, adds Sean Lockie … ‘The higher you build, the more steel and concrete you need, and the more foundations you have,’.

Based on calculations that exclude maintenance and regulated and unregulated loads, Lockie says that high-rise buildings produce an average of 1,300kg of CO2e/m2 , while residential buildings come in at 500kg CO2e/m2.”

If tall buildings cannot be built, because of embodied carbon, can human settlements be dense enough to be called cities? The Government now stipulates a target range for new building densities up to 50 dwellings per hectare. The average household size in the UK is 2.4 people so that is 120 people per hectare.

Portsmouth is nowhere near a green city yet but it is one of the densest cities in the UK at 52 people per hectare. It still has considerable open space: Milton Common, Port Solent and Alexander Park & etc. Most of Portsmouth’s dwellings are two story houses. Portsmouth is a dense but low rise city.

(For those that are worried about “this crowded island” the rest of the South East Region has a density of 4.5 people per hectare and to the north of Portsmouth in the Upper Weald there are extensive areas of farm land hundreds of times the area of Portsmouth.)

Almost by definition, a green city has few cars and less space is required for roads. It also has few tall buildings unless embodied carbon is discounted. Portsmouth is not my model city (See The Green Settlement Handbook) but it shows that city densities can be attained without tall buildings.

Over to you Architects. Stop designing tall buildings until you can cut their embodied carbon and stop pretending you are designing the green city of the future.

The Met Office doubts the IPCC

I attended a joint presentation by the Met Office and the Committee on Climate Change this week. Julia Slingo, Chief Scientist at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, gave an illuminating presentation, highlighting the fact that we have reached the global temperature which is halfway to “dangerous climate change”. For those that could understand its implications, it was a frightening presentation. Sadly, I suspect many did not want to understand.

Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, gave an inspiring talk about UK involvement in international climate negotiations, especially the successful negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol. However, his talk omitted one significant issue: the carbon emissions from UK consumption. Although the Government is proud that carbon emissions from UK production (e.g. steel making) have decreased substantially since 1990, it downplays the fact that carbon emissions from UK consumption (e.g. imported steel) have risen.  (See Spin:UK footprint)

To Lord Deben’s credit, the CCC has published a report on detailing consumption emissions but this measure may not be welcome to all and  Lord Deben knows that “only so much [is] politically possible“.

Julia Slingo mentioned the current wildfires in Indonesia as additional climate feedback that would cut the remaining climate budget.  Carbon Brief explains the remaining carbon budget like this

“The concept of a ‘carbon budget’ first appeared in the IPCC’s report on the physical basis of climate change, released last September. [2104]

The IPCC calculated how much carbon we can emit and still have a good chance of limiting global warming to below two degrees above pre-industrial levels. Two degrees is the UNFCCC internationally-accepted point beyond which the risks become unacceptably high.”

Before I left, I picked up a Met Office handout which says “There is also a number of additional Earth system feedbacks that could affect the future budget, including the nitrogen cycle contraints on the carbon cycle, and emissions of greenhouse gasses from permafrost and methane hydrates. These are expected to place further limitations on the total global carbon budget.” (These feedbacks are also mentioned in Parliamentary POSTnote 454,”Risks from Climate Feedbacks”, January 2014),

“These are expected to place further limitations on the total global carbon budget.” Is that a polite way of saying  the IPCC have been too optimistic and have overestimated the remaining budget?

… and the IPCC doesn’t count the emissions from wildfires yet. (See “IPCC carbon budget: Missing feedbacks ignored“.)

Labour should read the Daily Mail

Very cheap housing – why not?

The Daily Mail has published a few stories over the past few years on couples finding very cheap ways to live. The latest is That’s one way to get on the property ladder! Couple build tiny cabin from SCRAP for just £1,000 so they can save for a deposit.  This one reports

“With its stylish living room and stunning countryside views, this glass-fronted property looks like it would be out of reach for most first-time buyers.

But the two-storey cabin was built for just £1,000 by a resourceful young couple who were frustrated with paying rent and soaring house prices.

Using recycled materials and their own skills, Christian Montez, 29, and Kyra Powell, 28, constructed the rural retreat on the outskirts of Hereford”

As with similar stories, the best rated comments are mostly positive. I like this one by  reader, Raven Mad,

“I think this cabin style of temporary accommodation may be the way ahead for those who would otherwise be faced with paying extortionate rent. Perhaps land should be set aside for these self build cabin projects. Of course, planning permission and regulations would have to be adhered to and some council tax payable. I’d consider selling up, doing it myself and let my kids have the money.”

That’s just what we should be looking at. There is an increasing demand for informal accomodation like park homes and caravans. We should allow lots of them to built to take the pressure off the housing market before the bubble inflates to a point where a burst would ruin the economy.

Labour’s Lyons Review of Housing Continue reading Labour should read the Daily Mail

Lord Stern speaks

Growth trumps the environment

A month or so ago I attended a conference Economics of Innovation, Diffusion, Growth and the Environment, organised by the Grantham Research Institute. At the panel session I asked Lord Stern if we must cut production to reduce carbon emissions because de-carbonisation cannot be achieved quickly enough. His answer surprised me by it’s frankness: If it’s a race between growth and the environment, growth will always win.

At other meetings I’ve attended, I have asked similar question of the great and good who worry about climate change. The answers have been consistently pro growth. However, a few calculations using the IPCC’s remaining carbon budget leads to the conclusion that decarbonisation cannot happen fast enough to avoid dangerous climate change without cutting world production: De-growth is necessary. Why do so few say this?

Is it because the political resistance from those representing the affluent is too great? I believe Lord Stern blunted the message in the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change to make it more politically palatable but I admire his challenge on the climate effect of the consumption of meat.

Will he be brave enough to tell the affluent (and the major companies that support our universities) to cut the pollution based on consumption even more?

Or can he show that Green Growth is possible?

Appendix: The de-growth movement Continue reading Lord Stern speaks

Car filth kills

Car filth kills


YouGov, whom I rather like, had a blog posting Londoners support a monthly car-free day Sadly, this comment did not get through their moderation.

(1) Cars kill the planet:
4 tonnes CO2 per year and 5 tonnes to make one. The UK Climate bill aims to get us to average 2 tonnes a year.

(2) Car filth kills:
Air pollution to blame for 60,000 early deaths per year, Government to be warned

(3) We need Green Ghettos with hardly any cars to save the world and avoid the filth. See The parable of the smoking carriages

Postscript: York polluted by traffic – This kills

York has a pleasant city centre but some of it badly polluted by traffic fumes and York Council has been accused of hiding the problem. Following a Freedom of Information request by former councillor Dave Merrett, York Press reported

[Dave Merrett] said the authority’s own air quality team said in an email to sustainable transport officers: “We not only need all six P&R routes to be fully electric, but most of the other regular bus routes as well, if we are to stand any chance of meeting the air quality objectives in the near future.”

York Press also reported an estimate of 100 deaths a year

An estimated 100 people a year die in York because of air pollution, and councillors and campaigners spoke this week about the damage that could be done if low emission buses are not brought in.

See also


Spin: UK footprint

Spin: UK footprint

Last week, The Telegraph reported Britain shows that world can cut carbon emissions and still get richer. They could not have expected the extra bonus of the cut back on jobs in steel production.  Today, The Guardian comments As British steel industry goes into meltdown, government faces some burning questions.

As M Thatcher, who did care about the climate, once said “Rejoice, Rejoice!”. This will help us meet our climate committments and blame the Chinese. They will be making the steel to build our nice tall buildings in London to house the bankers.

For the boring technical stuff on carbon footprints see UK’s rising carbon footprint in “Greenwash from Stern?”

For the boring technical stuff on jobs and climate change see The job apocalypse and climate change.

One answer if anyone cares – Stop growth, redistribute wealth and try to save the planet.

Postscript 12 November 2015

Continue reading Spin: UK footprint