Wednesday, February 21, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: Jeremy Corbyn Promises To Nationalise Britain’s Energy Companies To Prevent ‘Climate Catastrophe’

Russian Spies’ Role In The Great Green Hoax

In this newsletter:

1) Jeremy Corbyn Promises To Nationalise Britain’s Energy Companies To Prevent ‘Climate Catastrophe’
Business Insider, 10 February 2018 
2) Matt Ridley: Russian Spies’ Role In The Great Green Hoax
The Times, 19 February 2018

3) Benny Peiser: What Is Climate Realism?
Global Warming Policy Foundation, 19 February 2018 
4) Nils-Axel Mörner: “These Researchers Have A Political Agenda”
Basler Zeitung, 1 February 2018
5) John Constable: Labour’s Energy Nationalisation Plans
GWPF Energy, 18 February 2018

Full details:

1) Jeremy Corbyn Promises To Nationalise Britain’s Energy Companies To Prevent ‘Climate Catastrophe’
Business Insider, 10 February 2018 

LONDON — Jeremy Corbyn will nationalise all of Britain’s energy companies in order to avoid the “climate catastrophe” threatened by global warming, the Labour leader said today.

Corbyn used his appearance at his party’s “alternative models of ownership” conference in central London, to promise that he will buy up Britain’s entire energy network.

“The challenge of climate change requires us to radically shift the way we organise our economy,” he said.

“In 1945, elected to govern a country ravaged by six years of war, the great Attlee Labour Government knew that the only way to rebuild our economy was through a decisive turn to collective action. Necessary action to help avert climate catastrophe requires us to be at least as radical.”

The Labour leader said his government would be part of a “wave of change” in favour of nationalising public utilities across the world.

“We can put Britain at the forefront of the wave of change across the world in favour of public, democratic ownership and control of our services and utilities,” Corbyn said.

“From India to Canada, countries across the world are waking up to the fact that privatisation has failed, and taking back control of their public services.

The Labour leader raised the possibility of local communities being told to produce their own energy, which would then be hooked up to the national grid.

“The greenest energy is usually the most local,” he said.

“But people have been queuing up for years to connect renewable energy to the national grid. With the national grid in public hands, we can put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system. To go green, we must take control of our energy.”

Corbyn’s announcement follows his similar calls to nationalise the railway network and other utilities.

Recent polling has found high support for Labour’s agenda. A Populus poll, commissioned by the Legatum Institute last October, found that 83% of the public supported nationalising water providers, while 77% supported nationalising the electricity and gas networks and 76% supported nationalising the railway network.

However, business leaders today dismissed Corbyn’s announcement as “missing the point.”

“Labour’s calls for nationalisation continue to miss the point,” Neil Carberry, CBI Managing Director for People and Infrastructure, said,

“At a time when the UK must be seen more than ever as a great place to invest and create jobs, these proposals would simply wind the clock back on our economy.

“If Labour turns its back on good collaboration between the government and the private sector, public services, infrastructure and taxpayers will ultimately pay the price.”

Full post

2) Matt Ridley: Russian Spies’ Role In The Great Green Hoax
The Times, 19 February 2018

A new book argues that nuclear winter, one of the great environmental scares of the 1980s, was fabricated by Moscow

So, Russia does appear to interfere in western politics. The FBI has charged 13 Russians with trying to influence the last American presidential election, including the whimsical detail that one of them was to build a cage to hold an actor in prison clothes pretending to be Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, it emerges that the Czech secret service, under KGB direction, near the end of the Cold War had a codename (“COB”) for a Labour MP they had met and hoped to influence — presumably under the bizarre delusion that he might one day be in reach of power.

There is no evidence that Jeremy Corbyn was a spy, or of collusion by Trump campaign operatives with the Russians who are charged. Yet the alleged Russian operation in America was anti-Clinton and pro-Trump. It was also pro-Bernie Sanders and pro-Jill Stein, the Green candidate — who shares with Vladimir Putin a strong dislike of fracking.

The Keystone Cops aspects of these stories should not reassure. The interference by Russian agents in western politics during the Cold War was real and dangerous. A startling example from the history of science has recently been discussed in an important book about the origins of the environmental movement, Green Tyranny by Rupert Darwall.

In June 1982, the same month as demonstrations against the Nato build-up of cruise and Pershing missiles reached fever pitch in the West, a paper appeared in AMBIO, a journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, authored by the Dutchman Paul Crutzen and the American John Birks. Crutzen would later share a Nobel prize for work on the ozone layer. The 1982 paper, entitled The Atmosphere after a Nuclear War: Twilight at Noon, argued that, should there be an exchange of nuclear weapons between Nato and the Soviet Union, forests and oil fields would ignite and the smoke of vast fires would cause bitter cold and mass famine: “The screening of sunlight by the fire-produced aerosol over extended periods during the growing season would eliminate much of the food production in the Northern Hemisphere.”

Carl Sagan, astronomer turned television star, then convened a conference on the “nuclear winter” hypothesis in October 1983, supported by leading environmental and anti-war pressure groups from Friends of the Earth to the Audubon Society, Planned Parenthood to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Curiously, three Soviet officials joined the conference’s board and a satellite link from the Kremlin was provided.

In December 1983, two papers appeared in the prestigious journal Science, one on the physics that became known as TTAPS after the surnames of its authors, S being for Sagan; the other on the biology, whose authors included the famous biologists Paul Ehrlich and Stephen Jay Gould as well as Sagan. The conclusion of the second paper was extreme: “Global environmental changes sufficient to cause the extinction of a major fraction of the plant and animal species on Earth are likely. In that event, the possibility of the extinction of Homo sapiens cannot be excluded.”

Who started the scare and why? One possibility is that it was fake news from the beginning. When the high-ranking Russian spy Sergei Tretyakov defected in 2000, he said that the KGB was especially proud of the fact “it created the myth of nuclear winter”. He based this on what colleagues told him and on research he did at the Red Banner Institute, the Russian spy school.

The Kremlin was certainly spooked by Nato’s threat to deploy medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe if the Warsaw Pact refused to limit its deployment of such missiles. In Darwall’s version, based on Tretyakov, Yuri Andropov, head of the KGB, “ordered the Soviet Academy of Sciences to produce a doomsday report to incite more demonstrations in West Germany”. They applied some older work by a scientist named Kirill Kondratyev on the cooling effect of dust storms in the Karakum Desert to the impact of a nuclear exchange in Germany.

Tretyakov said: “I was told the Soviet scientists knew this theory was completely ridiculous. There were no legitimate facts to support it. But it was exactly what Andropov needed to cause terror in the West.” Andropov then supposedly ordered it to be fed to contacts in the western peace and green movement.

It certainly helped Soviet propaganda. From the Pope to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament to the non-aligned nations, calls for Nato’s nuclear strategy to be rethought because of the nuclear winter theory came thick and fast. A Russian newspaper used the nuclear winter to inveigh against “inhuman aspirations of the US imperialists, who are pushing the world towards nuclear catastrophe”. The award of the Nobel peace prize in 1985 to the prominent Russian doctor Evgeny Chazov specifically mentioned his support for the nuclear winter theory.

“Propagators of the nuclear winter thus acted as dupes in a disinformation exercise scripted by the KGB”, concludes Darwall. We can never be entirely certain of this because Tretyakov’s KGB colleagues may have been exaggerating their role and he is now dead. But that the KGB did its best to fan the flames is not in doubt.

It soon became apparent that the nuclear winter hypothesis was plain wrong. As the geophysicist Russell Seitz pointed out, “soot in the TTAPS simulation is not up there as an observed consequence of nuclear explosions but because the authors told a programmer to put it there”. He added: “The model dealt with such complications as geography, winds, sunrise, sunset and patchy clouds in a stunningly elegant manner — they were ignored.” The physicist Steven Schneider concluded that “the global apocalyptic conclusions of the initial nuclear winter hypothesis can now be relegated to a vanishingly low level of probability”.

The physicists Freeman Dyson and Fred Singer, who would end up on the opposite side of the global-warming debate from Schneider and Seitz, calculated that any effects would be patchy and short-lived, and that while dry soot could generate cooling, any kind of dampness risked turning a nuclear smog into a warming factor and a short-lived one at that.

By 1986 the theory was effectively dead, and so it has remained. A nuclear war would have devastating consequences, but the impact on the climate would be the least of our worries.

The stakes were higher in the Cold War than today. The Soviet peace offensive secured the support of many western intellectuals and much of the media, and very nearly prevailed.

3) Benny Peiser: What Is Climate Realism?
Global Warming Policy Foundation, 19 February 2018 

Understanding Agreement & Disagreement in Climate Science


What is Climate Realism?

There are many scientific agreements and disagreements in climate science. While there is general agreement about the modern global warming trend (since 1850), scientific controversies increase as climate research moves further back in time, and predictions move further into the future. Climate realism acknowledges the significant difference between verifiable and replicable knowledge, and hypothetical knowledge based on indirect evidence.

The lecture will attempt to address which knowledge claims are more reliable and trustworthy, and which are less so. What do we really know about terrestrial climate change, and what are our main knowledge gaps? Why do we accept certain scientific claims about climate change but are doubtful about others?

This lecture is not about who is right and who is wrong.
The key questions of my talk:

Which knowledge claims are reliable and trustworthy and which are less so?

What do we really know about terrestrial climate change?

Why do we accept certain scientific claims about climate change but are doubtful about others?

What do we reliably know about terrestrial climate change?

RECENT & PRESENT: more robust knowledge based on empirical observations and verifiable temperature measurements

PAST: ambiguous knowledge based on circumstantial evidence and estimates of paleoclimate proxy data

FUTURE: Climate is a highly complex, chaotic and non-linear system; affected by numerous known & unknown factors, dynamics and feedback loops, i.e. long-term future climate cannot be predicted reliably.

Empirical vs theoretical knowledge

Empirical evidence – verifiable data and replicable methods.

Reliable data and reliable estimates & predictions diminish the further one moves back or forward in time.

Modern warming trend (since ~1850) generally agreed because observational data is fairly robust and based on verifiable measurements.

Controversy increases as climate research moves further back in time and further into the future.

Climate realism acknowledges significant difference between verifiable knowledge and hypothetical knowledge based on indirect evidence.

Full lecture

4) Nils-Axel Mörner: “These Researchers Have A Political Agenda”
Basler Zeitung, 1 February 2018

The oceanographer Nils-Axel Mörner challenges the IPCC and warnings about sinking islands

Mr. Mörner, you have recently visited the Fiji islands in South Pacific several times in order to research changes on the coasts and sea levels. Why Fiji?

Nils-Axel Mörner: I knew there would be a science conference in New York in June 2017 that focused on sea level changes in Fiji. In addition, it was known that the island nation would chair the 23rd World Climate Conference, which took place last November in Bonn. Thus, Fiji moved into the focus of interest. It was said that the rising sea level had done a lot of damage there. I wanted to check with my own eyes if that is true.

What made you sceptical?

I have been researching sea-level changes my entire life, traveling to 59 countries. Hardly any other researcher has so much experience in this field. However, the IPCC has always misrepresented the facts on this topic. It exaggerates the risks of a sea level rise enormously. The IPCC relies in particular on questionable computer models rather than field research. However, I always want to know what is going on. That is why I went to Fiji.

However, according to ProClim, the Swiss climate research platform, there are a series of measurements in Fiji that show a sharp rise in sea level in recent decades. Specifically, the sea level has increased by 5.4 millimeters annually since 1990, which is twice as much as the global average.

Yes, I know these measurements. These are two series of tide heights, that is, water levels at low tide and high tide. We checked these data – with the result that they are of very poor quality. One series has been influenced by the fact that port facilities were built on loose sediment soil near the measuring station, which could have changed tidal heights. For the other series, the measuring station was even moved. The researchers who rely on such data are office workers. They are not specialized in coastal dynamics processes and sea level changes. Many of them have no idea of ​​the real conditions.

How did you go about getting better data?

On the one hand, we have been following the given examples, where sea level rise is said to have led to coastal erosion. The result was that erosion has been caused by human intervention – such as new coastal structures altering water currents or increased harvests of sea cucumbers, which could have destabilized the seabed. To prove sea level changes over the past 500 years, we have dated sand deposits to see when they came into being. In addition, we have researched the spread of coral in recent centuries. Typically, coral reefs grow in height when sea levels rise and in width when they remain constant. If the level drops, corals die off. Corals do not lie; they are a reliable indicator – much more reliable than tidal measurements.

What was the result?

We were able to prove that the sea level in Fiji from 1550 to about 1700 was about seventy centimeters higher than it is today. Then it sank and was about fifty centimeters lower in the 18th century than it is today. Then it rose to about the current level. In the last 200 years, the level has not changed significantly. For the past 50 to 70 years, it has been stable.

Were you surprised?

Not really. It was not the first time that the claims of the IPCC turned out to be wrong.

Fiji is only a single archipelago. Maybe the situation is different in other places.

There are also data from many other places in the world. These by no means confirm the picture that the IPCC draws. In some places, the sea level is indeed rising, but in other places, it is stable, and elsewhere it is even dropping. For example, sea levels are constant in the Indian Ocean and on the Atlantic coast of South America. On South Pacific islands such as Tuvalu and Kiribati measurements do not confirm the constant warnings about the sinking of these archipelagos. The sea certainly erodes the shores here and there, but islands grow elsewhere as well. It has always been like this.

Why do many climate researchers warn then about sinking islands?

Because they have a political agenda. They are biased towards the interpretation that man is causing climate change, and that it is a threat. The IPCC was founded with the purpose of prove man-made climate change and to warn against it. His goal was thus fixed from the beginning. It sticks to it like a dogma – no matter what the facts are. As a specialist in sea level developments, I have consistently found in recent years that the IPCC team does not include a single expert on this issue.

Is there no problem with the rise of the sea level at all?


No danger that islands could sink?

The doomsday scenarios usually refer to the year 2100. I estimate that the sea level will then rise by five centimeters on average, with an uncertainty of 15 centimeters. The change might go from plus 20 centimeters to minus 10 centimeters. This is not a threat. Anyone who claims that there will be a threat of an increase of one meter or so has no idea of ​​physics.

However, a lot of meltwater from glaciers and ice shields flows into the sea.

Much less than you think. In Antarctica, no ice melts in total. When ice melts in the Arctic, it does not change the sea level – because floating ice does not affect the water level when melting according to the laws of physics. In essence, only melting ice on Greenland contributes to a level increase. However, this amount is small.

Seawater heats up and expands, increasing sea level.

That is true, but only by a few centimeters, not by decimeters or even meters. There are much more important influences, which affect the sea level, especially solar activity. There are also significant horizontal water shifts, from one ocean to another. Like the data in Fiji, those of the Maldives also show that levels were clearly higher in the 17th century than they are today. Significantly, this was the time when it was cold on the northern hemisphere; this period is called the Little Ice Age. At that time solar activity was lower than today. It was the big solar minimum. It seems that low solar activity is associated with high sea levels in the tropics – and vice versa. The sea levels seem to depend mainly on the oscillation of solar cycles and hardly on melting ice.

You are among the most distinguished critics of the IPCC. Why have you distanced yourself from the warnings of manmade climate change?

In 1991, I gave a scientific presentation at a conference on sea level changes in the U.S. The representative of the IPCC present there responded with great anger to my point of view. This reaction surprised me. Because in science circles, it is usual that you listen to each other and debate about different points of view. Later, I noticed more and more that the IPCC was disseminating false information and adhered to obvious mistakes. I then published a paper on the influence of the sun on the sea level, which was supported by 19 recognized experts. However, the IPCC attacked the paper with outrageous claims and caused the scientific journal, in which it was published, to be discontinued.

So do they want to stop you?

They cannot stop me. I have published about 650 scientific papers to date. However, young colleagues, who think critically, have no chance given these kind of manipulations. In principle, most editors of science magazines no longer accept papers that are contrary to the IPCC’s claims, regardless of the quality of the papers.

Full interview

5) John Constable: Labour’s Energy Nationalisation Plans
GWPF Energy, 18 February 2018

Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, has set out his vision for nationalising the UK energy sector. Rather than returning to Attlee’s centrally controlled system he seems determined to steer energy provision, particularly the electricity industry, back towards a form of distributed generation and Municipal Trading that would in practice be an even more complex and intrusive form of administration than that undertaken during the post-war era. This is a hazardous undertaking.

In his closing speech to a Labour Party conference on Alternative Models of Ownership (10.02.18), Jeremy Corbyn renewed his commitment to bring “energy, rail, water and mail” into public ownership. In doing so he explicitly rejected the view that this was a “return to the 20th century model of nationalisation”, and insisted that, on the contrary, his plans were “a catapult into 21st century public ownership.”

The proposals are certainly unlike the Attlee nationalisations, but, on the other hand, they certainly aren’t novel in character; for on closer examination the nature of public ownership proposed turns out to have a close resemblance to the enthusiasm for Municipal Trading in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods.

The fundamental justification for taking what Mr Corbyn describes as “vital public services” back into public ownership is simple: “where there are natural monopolies, markets fail”. Some will wonder whether “energy, rail, water, and mail” are unquestionably both “public services” and “natural monopolies”. The carriage of letters and parcels never was so, and telecommunications, which haven’t been associated with mail for some decades, ceased to be a natural monopoly with the advent of wireless transmission. Rail other hand, seems a clearer case, but whether it is a “vital public service”, rather than a valuable private one, is at least questionable.

For many people, however, energy and water fall more straightforwardly into Mr Corbyn’s categories, and some will agree, forgetting damaging state coercions, that both sectors where markets have certainly failed. Indeed, Mr Corbyn, rather predictably, supports his views on energy by referring to Lord Stern’s opinion that climate change is the “the greatest market failure the world has seen”.

Claiming a similarity with Attlee’s post-war reconstruction through “collective action”, Mr Corbyn expresses his view that the effort to “avert climate catastrophe requires us to be at least as radical.” But the concrete proposals offered, in the energy sector at least, do not resemble those of the Attlee governments. There is no suggestion of resuming state ownership of the coal industry, for example, perhaps because miners are no longer a significant part of the Labour movement. Instead, it appears to be Mr Corbyn’s ambition to replace coal with a state owned, high employing, low labour productivity, renewable energy sector that will be equally politically powerful.

Mr Corbyn is well aware that renewables require state support, and indeed lambasts the present government for its moratorium on new subsidies to renewables. This might seem inconsistent with his attack elsewhere in the speech on “corporate featherbedding” at the consumer’s expense, but it rapidly becomes apparent that Mr Corbyn believes this circle can be squared by public ownership of renewable energy generation assets. Of course, from the consumer’s point of view nothing would change. A rigged system run for the benefit for the renewables investors would now be run for the benefit of its employees.

This muddle is hardly surprising since Mr Corbyn is very confused about subsidies in general. He reproves the present government for “massively subsidising” fossil fuels. No details are given, so we can only speculate as to the grounds here, but it seems likely that Mr Corbyn’s researchers are thinking of the findings of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), discussed in this blog last year (Subsidies to Fossil Fuels). In summary, the ODI absurdly claimed subsidies of about $6.5bn to fossil fuels in the UK in 2013 and 2014. The figure in fact consists of $1bn of tax relief, mostly for the decommissioning of oil rigs, and $5.5 bn of public finance for overseas development of fossil fuel related projects, in other words development aid to extend energy access to the world’s poor. Neither of these are subsidies.

Mr Corbyn would, perhaps, cite tax expenditures relating to 5% not 20% VAT on domestic energy, but these are consumer subsidies at the expense of taxpayers. In other words, they are subsidies of the kind of which he presumably broadly approves in, for example, Venezuela. Of course, lower consumption taxes are also, technically, a subsidy to the energy industry, since they make energy more attractive as a purchase compared to other goods or services. Even so, it seems very unlikely that a Corbyn government, however purist, would remove this “subsidy” by applying the full 20% VAT rate on domestic electricity and gas bills.

It is also just possible that Mr Corbyn was thinking about the uncertain, and endlessly debatable, externalities of fossil fuels, but if so it is strange that he did not explain that fact, justifying, for example, his preferred value for the Social Cost of Carbon, which would have to be high to support his view.

There is, then, really no strong ground at all for claiming that fossil fuels are “massively subsidised” in the United Kingdom. Indeed, by comparison with other countries subsidies to fossil fuel producers in the UK are almost non-existent.

This careless attitude towards the facts is confirmed in Mr Corbyn’s headline commitments, which restate his earlier manifesto promises

to ban fracking, insulate four million homes, invest in rail and bus networks to reduce traffic on our roads, invest in tidal and wind, and deliver 60% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Putting aside the gesture politics, the promise to provide 60% of the UK’s energy from renewables by 2030 is quite remarkable. Such a level represents a fourfold increase on the already wildly unaffordable 15% target for 2020 required of the United Kingdom under the European Union’s Renewables Directive (2009). A target of 60% of Final Energy Consumption in the UK would come to about 1,000 TWh, just under four times the national total of Final Electricity Consumption. That is a vast, and utterly unachievable target, and the British economy would die in the attempt.

But in any case the policy measures proposed by Mr Corbyn are unsuited to deliver the goal. Lest I be accused of selective quotation, here is the vision for the electricity sector in its entirety:

A green energy system will look radically different to the one we have today. The past is a centralised system with a few large plants. The future is decentralised, flexible and diverse with new sources of energy large and small, from tidal to solar.

Smart technologies will optimise usage so that instead of keeping gas plants running just in case there is a lull in renewable generation the system fulfils needs by identifying the greenest, most local energy source.
There will be much more use of local, micro grids and of batteries to store and balance fluctuating renewable energy.

We will still need a grid to match energy supply with demand and import and export renewable energy abroad because the wind won’t always blow where energy is needed.

But it will be a smart grid, radically transformed.
Transforming the grid will require investment and planning on a scale that is simply not happening under the current system.

It is clear from this sketch that Mr Corbyn has no clear understanding of the magnitude and difficulty of what he is suggesting, or of the inadequacy of micro-grids and distributed and local generation. And when he observes that the “greenest energy is usually the most local” he betrays an historical and a technological naivety that is simply astonishing. The Labour Party used to be full of engineers; no longer.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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