A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Unspinning 'global warming' realities.....

During the next month, it is vital that the British public is told the round, unvarnished truth about the so-called effects of current energy policies on 'global warming'. The idea that a few wind farms and increased energy efficiency in the UK will have a significant impact on climate change is so ludicrous that it must be possible to undermine the appalling political spin being put on this issue. To do so, it is not even necessary to question the science of 'global warming'. Simple world energy statistics - those nasty little 'factoids' loathed by journalists like Polly Toynbee - should be enough.

Currently, the UK accounts for c.2.4 per cent of primary world energy consumption (and this does not include the developing world’s use of traditional biomass fuels). This proportion is, however, declining, and it will do so markedly over the next fifteen years through an exponential growth in demand for primary energy in the developing world, especially in countries such as China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil.

Wind power presently supplies a minuscule 0.4% of Britain's energy, i.e., - just note the figure - 0.0096 per cent of primary world energy demand, and, even with the fairest of political winds, this is unlikely to rise to more than a genuine 0.044%.

If we allow for a suitable proportional reduction in the UK in relation to expanding primary world energy demand to around 1.5 per cent, coupled with a rise in the contribution of wind power to a realistic 7 per cent of this, then wind power in the UK might just seem to be able to contribute a miserly 0.11% per cent of primary world energy demand.

But this does not constitute the whole sorry tale, because wind power is neither carbon nor energy neutral. Wind is intermittent (c. 25%-45%) in its energy generation and wind accordingly requires a conventional back-up from fossil fuels. Thus, the true contribution of UK wind energy to world energy demand will, in reality, be considerably less than the paltry 0.11% per cent estimated above, and it is likely to be around 0.044 per cent.

Donner und Blitzen all round!

Need one say more! The political sleight of hand over this is breathtaking. What we do in the UK will have no direct predictable effect on climate change whatsoever (and this applies whether you believe in 'global warming', or not).

And just think of the political energy currently being wasted in the UK over the daft idea that British wind power will 'Save the Planet'! It beggars belief.

The sooner the British public are advised of this, the better. The sooner we stop destroying our last wilderness in the name of such crassness, the better.

Philip, time for a lot of such little factoids, methinks. Coffee.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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