Saturday, August 24, 2019

GWPF Newsletter - NASA: Amazon Fires Slightly Below Average Rates

Michael Mann Loses Lawsuit Against Climate Sceptic Tim Ball

In this newsletter:

1) NASA: Amazon Fires Slightly Below Average Rates
Robert Walker, Science 2.0, 21 August 2019 

2) Michael Mann Loses Lawsuit Against Climate Sceptic Tim Ball
Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That, 22 August 2019 

3) John Constable: Telling The Story Of A Blackout
Dr John Constable, GWPF Energy Editor, 21 August 2019

4) Sir James Spooner (1932-2019)
5) Sanjeev Sabhlok: Looking Behind The Science Of The Well-Orchestrated Climate Hysteria
Times of India, 22 August 2019  

6) And Finally: Pipe Down, Elton, You Eco-Snob
Brendan O'Neill, Spiked, 20 August 2019

Full details:

1) NASA: Amazon Fires Slightly Below Average Rates
Robert Walker, Science 2.0, 21 August 2019

“As of August 16, 2019, satellite observations indicated that total fire activity in the Amazon basin was slightly below average in comparison to the past 15 years.”

NASA’s caption: “As of August 16, 2019, satellite observations indicated that total fire activity in the Amazon basin was slightly below average in comparison to the past 15 years. Though activity has been above average in Amazonas and to a lesser extent in Rondônia, it has been below average in Mato Grosso and Pará, according to the Global Fire Emissions Database”

Fires in Brazil

Short summary: we have had wild fires for many years now in the Amazon, even in the tropical rainforest – mainly started by humans for forest clearing and ranching. It is not enough to impact significantly on the Paris agreement pledges yet, though it is important in the long term if this continues for decades. This image is being shared even in usually reputable media with captions such as National Geographic’s “The Amazon is burning at record rates – and deforestation is to blame”. Similarly, the BBC is reporting it as a “record”.

But is it? You would not guess from these headlines that NASA’s description for the original photo says that it is burning at less than average rates. Bit of a big difference there. They mention this in the details of the stories but a fair bit down the page.

The image shows smoke from fires in the Amazon region on 13th August 2019. These are not necessarily all forest fires. Some of these will be fires in pasture to stimulate new growth for the cattle.

So, go to the Global Fire Emissions Database. and this is what you see in the “Totals” section:

The green line for 2019 there is a bit hard to make out, so here is a zoom in, as you can see it is way below the top line which is for 2005, with only a few data points, and is also below the 2003 line.

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2) Michael Mann Loses Lawsuit Against Climate Sceptic Tim Ball
Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That, 22 August 2019

Readers surely recall that the easily offended Dr. Michael Mann launched a court case for defamation against climate skeptic Dr. Tim Ball of Canada.

In Feburary 2018 there was a complete dismissal in the lawsuit brought against Dr. Ball by Andrew Weaver of Canada, also for “defamation”.

The Weaver defamation case involved an article Ball wrote saying that the IPCC had diverted almost all climate research funding and scientific investigation to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). This meant that there was virtually no advance in the wider understanding of climate and climate change. Ball referenced an interview with Weaver and attempts by a student to arrange a debate. Ball made some comments that were not fully substantiated, so they became the base of the defamation lawsuit.

That case was completely dismissed, you can read more here.

Now in the Mann case, which goes back to 2011, there’s also a complete dismissal. Ball wrote to me less than an hour ago, asking me to announce it here.

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3) John Constable: Telling The Story Of A Blackout
Dr John Constable, GWPF Energy Editor, 21 August 2019

There can be no doubt now that the UK’s electricity system is increasingly fragile. Will the consumer accept the extremely high costs of addressing renewable energy problems in order to secure this fragile electricity system? Or would they prefer a major policy rethink?

Figure 1. Annotated frequency trace describing events during the UK blackout on the 9th of August 2018. Source: National Grid ESO, Interim Report into the Low Frequency Demand Disconnection (LFDD) following Generator Trips and Frequency Excursion on 9 Aug 2019.

In an earlier post, this blog has noted the evident concern of National Grid ESO (Electricity System Operator) at the prospect of falling short-circuit levels in the grid. I took this as evidence of generally “Increasing Electricity System Fragility in the UK”. Low short-circuit levels were not, as far as we know, involved in the blackouts in the UK on the late afternoon of Friday, 9th of August, but there can be no doubt now that the UK system is indeed increasingly fragile. These blackouts disconnected 1.1 million customers, including several major railways and Newcastle Airport, and, because of its own internal protection systems, Ipswich Hospital. Roughly 5 per cent of the electrical load was lost, and while supplies for some customers were restored after fifteen minutes, others were without electricity for nearly an hour. The consequences continued for the rest of the day.

This was the most serious blackout in the UK for some time, and it was the first of any magnitude to occur since the advent of almost universal use of social media, meaning that the effects were reported with visual images and commentary in real time by those most affected, and quite independently of the news media. So long as their mobile phones were working those affected were no longer compelled to suffer in silence. This novel presentation led to a public perception of crisis that was to a degree not evident to National Grid ESO itself; and the company’s Director of Operations, Duncan Burt, will long be remembered for observing in his interview that the “systems worked really well”. He was, of course, patting himself on the back for avoiding a country-wide black system, but this was “mind-blind” tactlessness of the first rank. To smugly offer as corporate defence and general consolation the fact that the blackout could have been worse was bound to infuriate a public that had made it quite clear that they thought it shouldn’t have happened at all.

There are now three separate inquiries into the event, by National Grid, by the regulator, Ofgem, and also by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which has activated its Energy Emergencies Executive Committee (E3C) to undertake a review, which will report within twelve weeks.

The first of these, by National Grid itself, is to be composed of two parts, an interim report, and a detailed study. National Grid delivered the first instalment, Interim Report into the Low Frequency Demand Disconnection (LFDD) following Generator Trips and Frequency Excursion on 9 Aug 2019 to the regulator on the 16th of August, and Ofgem published this text on the 20th. The second, more detailed study is due on the 6th of September. While recognising that blackouts happen in milliseconds but need days of hard work to understand, this timetable does seem needlessly generous to National Grid and the generators involved. The public deserves prompt answers.

Furthermore, since much of the relevant data is held only by National Grid, it has been extremely difficult for external analysts to get a firm purchase on the matter; and this has allowed the interested parties, such as National Grid, the opportunity to control the discussion: an opportunity which they have exploited to maximum advantage, generally by dribbling information out, with the result that its impact has been diffused, and specifically by leading the public to conclude that the event was the result of highly unlikely coincidences, and thus by implication that there is nothing fundamentally or systematically at fault with the UK electricity network. The evidence suggests that neither of these is true.

But even with the meagre public data available from the Balancing Mechanism it was clear to some that National Grid ESO’s version of the events was not entirely persuasive. Readers of the Operational Forum reports, for example, would have been aware that the system has been experiencing what are known within the industry as “difficult days”, and Friday the 9th looked suspiciously like a difficult day that didn’t end happily. The system frequency trace, in particular, did not seem to be quite consistent with the narrative that the company was implying, a narrative that was in significant part driven by the clear desire to excuse wind power in general and the Hornsea Offshore wind farm in particular, from any significant blame in the event.

National Grid encouraged the view that the blackouts were the result of a simultaneous and highly unlikely fault at two power stations, Hornsea for one, and the other a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) at Little Barford on the border between Cambridge and Bedfordshire.

Doubts about the corporate story began to become public when the Guardian reported, on the 12th, that there had been “three blackout ‘near-misses’ in as many months before Friday’s major outage”. This information emerged as part of the ongoing sales campaign by Steve Shine of the battery storage company Anesco to persuade government to secure the system in the wake of the blackout by building more of his company’s equipment. Nonetheless, the information was correct.
National Grid had already submitted its report to Ofgem, but it had not yet been made public. In that hiatus it appears that National Grid leaked some of the key findings to both the Times and the Financial Times.

The Times published first, on the Friday (“Lightning strike and wind farm fault triggered blackout chaos”) in a story that disclosed for the first time to the public that the event was triggered by lightning, and supported the position earlier implied by National Grid that “The gas plant and wind farm failed within seconds of each other”, adding, however, that the strike was a an event “which both should have been able to withstand”.

But not everything was going quite to plan. Simultaneously with the Times article on the 16th it was reported on the front page of the Daily Telegraph that on the night of Saturday and Sunday after the blackout there had been another system disturbance, with frequency dropping to just below the operational limits observed by National Grid, and that in response to this problem the Control Room had constrained Hornsea Offshore wind to reduce output, paying it £100,000 to do so, while at the same time requiring conventional generation to increase output. Far from being a one off, the problems appeared to be persisting, and it seemed likely that Hornsea was part of that problem, otherwise they would not have been paid handsomely to reduce output.

The Financial Times report on the 17th, “National Grid electricity blackout report points to failure at wind farm”, was explicitly based on a National Grid briefing and confirmed the lightning strike and added the additional information that a considerable quantity of “embedded generation”, that is to say generation connected to the low voltage distribution network and thus invisible to the Control Room, had tripped as a result of the lightning. The report also observed that the blackout was “caused by the world’s largest offshore wind farm accidentally going offline”, though Orsted, the owners of Hornsea were quoted as declining to confirm that they had tripped before Little Barford. If the mist was thinning in one quarter of the horizon it was becoming still thicker in another.

National Grid would have been reasonably content with the situation; the impact of the blackout story was being weakened by incomplete delivery, and there was much confused and incomplete comment from all sides, undermining public confidence in any particular conclusion offered. Faced with the inability to dominate public discussion, National Grid’s slow release policy had succeeded in making that discussion incoherent and of low credibility.

But things were not going forward entirely smoothly. On Sunday it was reported, again in the Telegraph, that Colin Gibson, a former Power Networks Director at National Grid, a main board position at that time with personal responsibility for keeping the lights on, had, with his former colleague Dr Capell Aris, raised concerns that National Grid’s had permitted hazardous decline in system inertia resulting from high levels of asynchronous generation, and pointed to this as the underlying cause of the weaknesses leading to the blackout (“Former National Grid director says ministers should impose limits new wind and solar farms to help avoid power cuts”). Gibson and Aris added that government would need to call a halt to further installation of both and wind and solar. Both are well known in the power networks field. This was not convenient for National Grid, and a company spokesman responded with the extraordinary remark that “There is no evidence at this stage that the power cut is related to wind or other renewables”, an observation scarcely compatible with the information in the FT’s report of the previous day.

On Monday the 19th, the so far helpful Times published a piece if anything still more awkward than Gibson and Aris’ criticism. This article reported that National Grid was actively limiting the utilisation of interconnectors with the continental networks in order to reduce the amount of asynchronous input and maintain inertia: “Blackout fears over National Grid cables from the Continent Company limiting use to guard against failure”.

The information in this article was attributed to a “senior National Grid source”, but may not have been part of the corporate public relations approach since it clearly tended to confirm the Gibson/Aris diagnosis of problematically low system inertia, and put into a more robust context the  fact of constraint payments to Hornsea on the night of the 10th and morning of the 11th, as well as the “near misses” reported by the Guardian. One suspects a whistleblower, or an inadvertent disclosure.

On Tuesday the 20th, over a week after the blackout itself, Ofgem released National Grid’s own analysis into this noisy and confused discussion. The study, a key figure from which is reproduced above, is entirely consistent with the tactical approach taken in the preceding week, in that it adds new information but raises as many questions as it answers. Needless to add, this is only an interim statement that does not permit conclusive analysis. We are kept guessing.

But the additional information provided is important and when combined with the perspectives that have emerged from quarters other than National Grid during the last week, a clearer picture does in fact emerge, and on the basis of the chart above, and the crucial timeline on pages 11 and 12, can be summarised as follows:

Overall ‘interim’ conclusion:

* The blackout was the result of a single phenomenon, not a rare coincidence of uncorrelated problems, as National Grid had intimated throughout the week. The single phenomenon consisted of a lightning strike on a grid line, which affected voltage and caused 500 MW of embedded generation and the Hornsea Offshore wind farm to trip because they could not ride through the fault. Little Barford CCGT subsequently tripped, probably as a result of the combined effects of the preceding events.

Further details

* The lightning strike precipitated the tripping of some 500 MW of embedded generation, which National Grid’s interim report identifies as solar and small diesel. This is likely to be an error, since there is a great deal of embedded wind, particularly in the relevant geographical area, and it seems extremely likely that there was a substantial perhaps preponderant wind energy component in the embedded capacity that disconnected. The exact timing of the embedded generation trip is not at present clear from the reports, and this is a matter that may become clearer in the detailed technical study. The trip of so large a total capacity of embedded generation suggests that the fault ride through settings on embedded generation are insufficient and must be tightened.

* It is probable though not yet certain that Hornsea and the embedded generation tripped together, and both in response to the lightning strike.

* It is now certain that Hornsea tripped at (hrs, min. seconds, milliseconds), and 165 milliseconds before the Little Barford CCGT began to trip.
* Hornsea “deloaded” very rapidly, in effect instantaneously, with output falling from 800 MW to 62 MW in 197 milliseconds. This trip suggests that the fault ride-through capability at this windfarm was not sufficient.

* Little Barford tripped in three stages: Stage One: At 16.52.34, the Steam Turbine element of the CCGT tripped, an instantaneous loss of 244 MW, a trip that made it inevitable that the two gas turbines would also now have to trip. Stage Two: At 16.53.31, the first gas turbine tripped, a loss of 210 MW. Stage Three: At 16.53.58 the second gas turbine tripped, a loss of 187 MW.

* It is not yet quite clear why Little Barford’s steam turbine tripped, and doubtless this will become clearer in the technical report.

So some progress in understanding has been made, but the interim report still leaves a good deal of mystery around the overall event, for example regarding National Grid’s preparation for frequency excursions of this kind. Was there sufficient frequency response? Was the recovery slow, or satisfactorily prompt in the circumstances. What was the system inertia at the time of the lightning strike and during the fault? Was the scale of the load shedding involved proportional to the problem, or was it excessive? Was the load shedding correctly targeted? Is there a general fault ride through problem with embedded generation, and with large scale renewables such as Hornsea offshore wind in the UK? What was the composition of the embedded generation that tripped. Why did the Little Barford steam turbine disconnect?

But over all these doubts hangs the larger and now strongly indicated problem of general system fragility as a direct consequence of renewable energy policies. Applying sticking plasters, some of Mr Shine’s batteries for example, will be very expensive, further degrading the productivity of the electricity supply industry. Will the consumer accept the extremely high costs of addressing the problems attendant on renewables so as to deliver a secure system? Or would they prefer a major policy rethink?

John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor
4) Sir James Spooner (1932-2019)
Peerage News & GWPF, 21 August 2019

Sir James Spooner, who died 8 August, 2019, aged 87, was Honorary Treasurer of the Global Warming Policy Foundation; and a former chairman of Barclays Bank PLC and the supermarket Sainsbury’s.

He was also is a former Director of John Swire & Sons, former Deputy Chairman and subsequently Chairman of the Royal Opera. He was a former Non executive director of St. Andrew’s Healthcare; and was a patron of the Longford Trust. He was also Chairman of the Prince’s Trust.

Born 11 July, 1932, he was educated at Eton.

The funeral takes place at the Parish Church of All Saints’, Pytchley, 9 September, 2019.

Full post
5) Sanjeev Sabhlok: Looking Behind The Science Of The Well-Orchestrated Climate Hysteria
Times of India, 22 August 2019 

There is a powerful network of people determined to use climate alarm and anti-GM propaganda as instruments to curb agricultural productivity and choke energy use by developing countries.

We know there is simply no basis for climate alarm. All “scientific” predictions have failed, life has survived happily with much higher CO2 in the past, the medieval warming period a thousand years ago was much warmer than today, the small temperature variations of the 20th century are easily explained by natural causes, and the IPCC reports confirm that there is no increase in extreme weather events and no economic harm from CO2.

And yet the hysteria is increasing by the day. The “remedies” being suggested are becoming more extreme: it is no longer just about making energy so expensive that the poor can’t afford it, it is now about removing meat from their diet as well.

So how is such an irrational project going so strong? Because it is a clever way to disguise the deep hatred so many of the elites have of the poor. After the Hitler debacle talking about eugenics is no longer welcome in polite company. Climate alarm provides a perfect cloak. It achieves the same goal while signalling virtue. Climate hysteria is driven by an amalgamation of the ideologies of Malthus, Marx, Hitler and social Darwinism.

That this is not about the environment becomes clear when we note that these people do not care about market-based remedies to save wildlife, remove waste and reduce chemical pollution. These people also viciously attack nuclear energy. If they cared about CO2 they would be desperate for nuclear energy, but their goals are obviously quite different.

Stephen Schneider, a key “scientist” in the climate alarm bandwagon explained how their “goals” are to be achieved. In a 1989 interview he said that “to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change” scientists “need to … capture the public’s imagination” by “getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have”. Straight from the Goebbels copybook.

Malthus is the father of this anti-poor ideology. Over 200 years ago he attacked the poor even though the world’s population was a tiny fraction of what it is today. After Hitler’s eugenic project left a permanent stink, the Club of Rome revived the idea under the guise of “optimal population”. Its goal: to cut the world’s population at least by two-third. A related 1980 “Global 2000 Report” wanted US population to be reduced by 100 million by 2050.

This has never been about reducing just any population. It has a specific goal to protect first the “white” rich and then a few of the other rich, while eliminating the poor, blacks and Indians.

Margaret Sanger’s goal was to “stop the multiplication of the unfit … the most important … step towards race betterment” (note the focus on “race”). She wanted the “bloodstream of the (white) race” to be as pure as possible. She was involved in a ‘Negro Project’ to limit, if not eliminate, black births. She also detested Indians, considering India’s population (then only 300 million) a “curse”.

Nothing would have pleased her more than the total wipe-out of all Indians. When she learnt that Nehru had agreed to her persistent proposal to start a birth control program in India, she was delighted: “I cannot imagine anything more blessed happening on earth”. In the minds of such monsters, it will be truly “blessed” when all of us Indians are wiped out.

Rachel Carson was the next prominent Malthusian. Her book, Silent Spring (1962) actively fought technologies that could improve the lives of the poor. She lied through her teeth about DDT and tried to stop it from being used to fight malaria which kills millions of poor Indians and Africans.

Next came Paul Ehrlich with his 1968 book, The Population Bomb. His hatred for humanity was revealed in the title itself. Not chastened by the total failure of all his predictions, he gloated in an interview in 2014 about the prospect that things could go so bad that humans will become cannibals. Nothing would please him more than the poor eating each other.

The specific issue of climate alarm originated as part of the Club of Rome of 1968 and its 1973 Limits of Growth report. One of the Club of Rome associates was a wealthy businessman, Maurice Strong who played a particularly insidious role in drumming up a range of anti-poor hysterias.

The Club of Rome’s influence led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Program which elected Michael Strong as its head. Even though major climate scientists of the time were squealing about an impending Ice Age, he picked CO2 warming as his vehicle. After all, the best way to crush the poor is to choke their fossil fuel use.

He therefore drove the Action Plan for the Human Environment at Stockholm and Agenda 21 at Rio. This included the infamous Rio precautionary principle which underpins all anti-poor policy.

He had a revulsion for people. In his 2000 autobiography he dreamt of the day when two-thirds of the world’s population might be wiped out. A committed socialist, he outlined the plot for novel in a 1992 interview in which: “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”.

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6) And Finally: Pipe Down, Elton, You Eco-Snob
Brendan O'Neill, Spiked, 20 August 2019

Poor Elton John. He’s ‘deeply distressed’. What’s happened to the filthy-rich national treasure? Well, some people were mean about his posh, rich mates using his private jet to fly to his swanky pad in the South of France.

Can you believe the indignities celebrities have to endure? Us plebs with our once-a-year jaunts on Ryanair could never understand the awfulness of being mocked for swanning about on an airplane swilling with champagne.

This is the news that Elton John, the Queen Mum of pop, has been made upset by the little people’s criticisms of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for using a private jet to get to France. Elton, being made of money, paid for the jet. They’re staying in his house in the South of France, and you can imagine what that’s like. People have called Harry and Meghan massive, ridiculous hypocrites because just a couple of weeks ago they were lecturing the masses from the pulpit of Vogue magazineabout the need to cut carbon and save the planet and yet now they’re farting out more CO2 than most of us do in a year by jetting back and forth across the south of Europe. Elton, like an obsequious courtier protecting his princes from the barbs of the dumb masses, says these criticisms are ‘distorted’, ‘malicious’, ‘relentless’ and ‘untrue’.

To which the only reasonable reply is: fuck off, Reg. Can these people hear themselves? You’re rolling in money, in the case of Harry and Meghan you are members of the most privileged and archaic institution in the Western world, and yet here you are playing the victim. Just stop. Deep distress is an understandable response to losing one’s job or struggling to get enough money together for the mortgage. But to a few well-deserved slights from ordinary people who are sick of being eco-lectured by rich, woke, hypocritical greens? No.

Perhaps the most telling part of Elton’s obtuse, self-awareness-free intervention into the Harry and Meghan discussion was his insistence that their private-jet journeys aren’t in fact eco-unfriendly because Elton himself offset the carbon spouted by the flights by ‘making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint’. Which is presumably some tree-planting outfit that absolves the rich of their guilt by throwing a few seeds in the ground every time they fly, much like the wealthy used to buy Indulgences from the Catholic Church to wash away their sins.

Elton’s boast that he neutralised the pollution of the royals’ luxury trip by making an ‘appropriate contribution’ makes him sound even more pompous. What he is effectively saying is that he is so goddamn rich, so up to his neck in cash, that not only can he afford to put his posh friends on a private jet but he can also pay to ensure their flights don’t harm the planet. He is wealthy and therefore he is less sinful than the rest of us who fly to Alicante but never chuck a few quid to Carbon Footprint – because, er, we can’t afford it. In the world of green virtue-signalling, the rich are more pure than the poor.

Elton’s conspicuous compassion echoes professional irritant Emma Thompson’s recent eco-hypocrisy. Clearly angling for a starring role in the satire on the ridiculousness of the eco-rich that I hope someone will one day write, Ms Thompson took a first-class flight from LA to London to partake in… an Extinction Rebellion protest! Yes, she committed the sin of flying in order to lecture us plebs about how sinful it is to fly. Asked by a reporter if she at least flew second-class, which is apparently more green, Thompson scoffed, ‘I bloody don’t, no!’, clearly horrified at the prospect of being stuck in coach with people like you and me. She offset her first-class flight by planting trees, she said. And there it was again, the clear and obnoxious implication that the richer you are, the more right you have to fly, because you can afford an Indulgence that absolves you of your carbon sins.

In the green world, it is clear that it is the poor, given they lack the means to pay for their eco-sins, who have more chance of getting through the eye of a needle than getting into the heaven of eco-aware self-congratulation.

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