The Times – Nuclear energy

Sir,
Paul Spence from EDF energy claims that his company have “never called for public subsidies to fund its plans ” (Letters July 19). Well maybe not publicly but the incestuous relationship that the utility companies have with Whitehall ensures that they can lobby perfectly well in private.
New plants are being underwritten by the tax-payer as HMG is guaranteeing the nuclear industry a minimum price going forward to 2030: This is effectively a massive PFI scheme. Add to that the cost of disposing of Britain’s current stock-pile of nuclear waste, which officially is over 100 billion pounds , and factor in that 80% of DECC’s budget now goes on decommissioning, and one begins to understand the extent to which the nuclear industry has been kept afloat by the tax-payer. The final insult is that HMG have acceded to the demand by EDF/Centrica that the Government underwrite the medical costs in the event of a nuclear accident in the UK. By all means let’s have a debate about nuclear as one possible solution to climate change, but with all the subsidies included.
Yours Sincerely

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath

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Climate Scientists are Losing the Debate on Global Warming – Telegraph 8.04.12

Climate scientists are losing the public debate on global warming

By , Science Correspondent, Telegraph

08 Apr 2012

Green campaigners and climate scientists are losing the public debate over global warming, one of the movement’s leading proponents has admitted.

Dr James Hansen, director of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who first made warnings about climate change in the 1980s, said that public scepticism about the threat of man-made climate change has increased despite the growing scientific consensus.

Speaking ahead of a public lecture in Edinburgh this week, he admitted that without public support it will be impossible to make the changes he and his colleagues believe need to occur to protect future generations from the effects of climate change.

He blamed sceptics who are opposed to major social and economic changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for employing “tremendous resources” to undermine the scientific evidence.

Dr Hansen, who will receive the Edinburgh Medal at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, pointed to a number of controversies involving climate scientists, such as the leaked University of East Anglia emails, as being partly responsible for the shift in public opinion.

Critics, however, insist the public have become desensitised by decades of dire warnings by climate scientists.

Dr Hansen, who served as an adviser to Al Gore on his controversial documentary The Inconvenient Truth, said: “There is remarkable inconsistency between the scientific story and public story.

“The science has become stronger and stronger over the past five years while the public perception is has gone in completely the other direction. That is not an accident.

“There is a very concerted effort by people who would prefer to see business to continue as usual. They have been winning the public debate with the help of tremendous resources. Who knows how the East Anglia email fiasco came about?

“There is a huge gap between the public’s understanding of the situation and the scientific understanding. If the public doesn’t understand, it is not going to happen. Political leaders are not independent of public opinion.”

His comments come as recent surveys have revealed that public support for tackling climate change has declined dramatically in recent years. The British Social Attitudes survey published last year revealed that just 22 per cent said they are now in favour of green taxes compared to 31 per cent in 2000. Over a third said many claims about environmental threats were “exaggerated” compared to 24 per cent in 2000.

A recent BBC poll found that 25% of British adults did not think global warming was happening.

Environmental campaigners suffered a major blow in 2009 when emails stolen from computers at the University of East Anglia were leaked and were hailed by critics as evidence of scientists attempting to suppress evidence that contradicted the idea of man-made climate change.

An inquiry into the scandal failed to find any evidence of malpractice by the scientists and a review of the science also found it to be sound, although the findings were met with claims of bias from sceptics.

Dr Hansen, who has published hundreds of papers on climate change and has become a high-profile activist in recent years, now fears that without a dramatic change in public opinion, future generations will inherit a world where global warming is out of control.

In a lecture he is due to deliver after receiving the Edinburgh Medal, he will claim that today’s adults have a moral obligation to cut fossil fuel use to secure the world for their children and grandchildren.

He said: “We know that the planet is out of balance – more energy is going in than going out. That is one of the findings that has become clear in the past five years.

“If we wanted to restore the energy balance this century, we would need to reduce emissions by six per cent a year, starting this year. If you wait another 10 years you would have to reduce emissions by 15% a year. That would be almost impossible.

“Our parents honestly did not know what the consequences of continued development and reliance on fossil fuels as an energy source. We can no longer claim that as the science is now clear. We can only pretend we don’t know.”

Dr Hansen will argue that by placing a global levy on all fossil fuels, including coal and gas, it would encourage a move towards alternative forms of energy.

In a paper due to be published last this year with other leading environmental scientists and economists, he will argue that there needs to be a rapid transition to clean energy combined with widespread reforestation to restore the planet’s energy balance.

He will also condemn governments for “ineffectual” policies on climate change.

Dr Benny Peiser, director of sceptical think tank The Global Warming Policy Foundation, said governments and the public had “more urgent problems to deal with” than tackling climate change.

He said: “People have become bored by some of the rhetoric from the green movement as they have other things to worry about.

“In reality the backlash against climate change has very little to do with the sceptics. We will take credit for instilling some debate but it is mainly an economic issue. Climate change is not seen as being urgent any more.

“James Hensen has been making predictions about climate change since the 1980s. When people are comparing what is happening now to those predictions, they can see they fail to match up.”

 

LETTER TO THE GUARDIAN 17.05.12

CARBON REVOLUTION

Carbon capture has a lot to offer provided it is retro-fitted first to existing coal-fired power stations (Report, 10 May). Last week Help Rescue the Planet organised an international conference on climate change at the Royal Institute of British Architects next to the BBC on Portland Place. Among the 50 or so presentations was a revolutionary method of carbon capture from a company in Finland that requires no storage as the products are all usable. The raw ingredients for their process are feldspar (abundant in the earth’s mantle), water (even seawater) and CO2. The reaction produces useful heat, plus rare valuable minerals, aluminium, quartz sand and water with dissolved bicarbonate. The latter can be used for irrigation (bicarbonate also has a fertilising effect), processed to produce solid calcium carbonate (for use in construction), or filtered to produce drinkable water, so the process can also work as a desalination plant. Pity that none of the 50 or so journalists that were invited bothered to turn up.
Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Conference organiser, HRTP

Guardian Letter – 26 January 2012

Citizens concerned about climate change are right to demand clarity about Nigel Lawson’s funding. Lawson established his shadowy organisation back in 2009 following the Climategate fiasco, when the emails of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia were hacked. There have been five inquiries into Climategate, three in the UK and two in the US, and they have unanimously exonerated the East Anglian scientists of any scientific wrongdoing. If the rationale for Lawson establishing GWPF was Climategate, why has he not now closed it down? One suspects the answer lies in the recent report from GWPF on the new fossil fuel source, tar sand and shale gas, which states: “Shale gas is not only abundant but relatively cheap and therefore promises to take market share from nuclear, coal and renewable energy and to replace oil in some transport and industrial uses, over coming decades.”
Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Chair, Planetary SOS

Letter to Sunday Telegraph (15 April 2012)

Sir
Amongst all the heat and furore generated by the climate change contrarians, one fact stands out like a beacon: Christopher Booker is no scientist (In the eyes of “Nature”, warming can’t be natural).  His article states “When the Earth was emerging from the last ice-age, 15,000 years ago, it was temperatures that rose first, later followed by rises in CO2”. This is the exact opposite of the article published in Nature whose title reads: “Global warming preceded by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations during the last deglaciation”.  I’m not sure if Mr Booker has a scientific credential to his name, but if he failed his physics O-level, then it is not hard to see why.

Yours Sincerely
Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath
Chair Planetary SOS
Atholl House
Church Lane
Stoke Poges
Bucks SL2 4NZ

FRACKING – Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Independent 26 March, 2012

Published with only slight modification on 17 April, 2012.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/letters/letters-fracking–only-a-ban-will-do-7654717.html

Lord Browne, the former head of BP and now head of Cuadrilla, has joined a  list of powerful but scientifically illiterate individuals who have been persuaded by the fossil fuel lobby that Shale Gas is the answer to the world’s future energy needs.  (“Fracking could bring UK 50.000 jobs”, says Browne 26 March.)  In his State of the Union address in January this year, President Obama stated : “We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.”

Osborne followed suit in his budget statement last week: “Gas is cheap, has much less carbon than coal and will be the largest single source of our electricity in the coming years”.

The problem with shale gas is that fracking results in atmospheric releases of methane twice that encountered with conventional gas. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 70 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame. In order for shale gas to be environmentally friendlier than other fossil fuels, it is necessary to keep methane emissions from fracking below 2%.  Current operations release around 10% and in the US the fossil fuel industry is strenuously resisting methane control legislation by the EPA.  It appears that they have the key politicians on their side.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath

Friends of the Earth Advert

Letter to the Independent, 15.04.12

Sir,

It is testimony to how far climate change has sunk down the political agenda that an environmental pressure group feels it necessary to pay for a full-page ad in the Independent in order to rebut the nonsense being propagated by the Daily Telegraph (Advert by Friends of the Earth, 14 May). The truth is that the climate change contrarians, led by Nigel Lawson and his shadowy think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, have outfought, outwitted and out-manouvered  scientists world-wide and the NGO’s in this country.  Now even the BBC seems scared to touch the climate change issue, or if it does it seems to think that a balanced debate is the best approach. So the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and all of the reputable scientific journals in the world say that two plus two makes four. Then along comes Lawson and says “no it’s not. The answer is five”.   And the BBC behaves as if the answer is four and a half.  As the editors of the British Medical Journal and Lancet wrote on 24 January (Guardian Letters): “Denying the link between greenhouse gas emissions and  man-made climate change  is akin to denying the link between HIV/Aids and unprotected sex, smoking and lung cancer, or alcohol consumption and liver disease. In each of these cases, well-funded deniers have had to be exposed and confronted before appropriate health-promoting legislation was put in place”.

Yours sincerely

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath

Chair Planetary SOS

Christopher Booker

Letter to the Telegraph, 15.04.12 (not published)

Sir,

Amongst all the heat and furore generated by the climate change contrarians, one fact stands out like a beacon: Christopher Booker is no scientist (In the Eyes of “Nature”, Warming Can’t Be Natural).   His article states, “When the Earth was emerging from the last ice-age, 15,000 years ago, it was temperatures that rose first, later followed by rises in CO2“. This is the exact opposite of the article published in Nature whose title reads :  “Global warming preceded by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations during the last deglaciation”.   I’m not sure if Mr Booker has a scientific credential to his name, but if he failed his physics O-level, then it is not hard to see why.

Yours sincerely

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath

Chair Planetary SOS

NUCLEAR AND SHALE GAS

Letter to the Times, 15.04.12

Sir,

It is pretty obvious that big business prefers Shale Gas and Nuclear rather than Energy Conservation and renewables as an answer to the world’s future energy requirements.(The Nuclear Option, April 10 and American Fears Over Fracking Make Weir Group Investors Tremble, April 14).  However, it is not just earthquakes that render Shale Gas unacceptable.  The problem with fracking is that it results in atmospheric releases of methane twice that encountered with conventional gas. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 70 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. In order for shale gas to be environmentally friendlier than other fossil fuels, it is necessary to keep methane emissions from fracking below 2%. Current operations release around 10% and in the US the fossil fuel industry is strenuously resisting methane control legislation by the EPA.

As for nuclear, it is prohibitively expensive to the tax-payer. Official figures put the cost of disposing of our current nuclear waste in the UK in excess of 100 billion pounds. In addition, HMG has recently agreed to underwrite the costs of medical claims arising from a nuclear accident in the UK.  In any other business that is called a subsidy.

Yours Sincerely

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath

Chair Planetary SOS

Final letter to PCC – 9.04.12

Press Complaints Commission

Halton House

20/23 Holborn

London EC1N 2JD

 

Dear Ms Cobbe                                                                                           April 9 2012

Your reference:  115482

I am now responding in detail to your letter dated February 29 in relation to my complaint against The Times and The Financial Times (previous letters from me dated 11 November  2011, 21 December 2011 and 30 January 2012 plus accompanying documents).

I am going to address in more detail the mistakes contained in the two articles by Matt Ridley published in The Times  on 31 August 2010 (This Discredited Science Body Must Be Purged) and 1 November 2011 (Seven Billion People Is Nothing To Be Scared Of). Continue reading