Friday, December 19, 2008
The reason the Conservatives have fallen so far in the polls is because they have spent a couple of years rebranding themselves as nice, green, multi-ethnic, modern & cuddly rather than interested in the economy - and suddenly people are very interested in the economy which, incompetent though Brown may be, he certainly is too.
Having put their colours so firmly on the global warming horse how can they get off without looking both cynical & stupid?
My answer is one I have suggested before. A debate.
The party as an organisation or a number of its senior statesmen & think tanks should sponsor a series of public formal debates (I suggest 3) on whether catastrophic global warming is a major problem, together with a TV team to record them. A formal 1 hour debate, with 3 speakers is a well established format & should be even cheaper to produce than the relatively popular Any Questions format & with no more editing. With places in the audience reserved for the shadow cabinet & senior members of other parties. Preferably hold them just before the spring conference.
They would be able to attract the very top people on both sides. Gore, who has after all accepted an invitation to lecture to Cameron's cabinet, should certainly be invited to speak. Since he has always refused to debate in public before my guess is he would refuse but it is important to make such offers so there could be no accusation of fixing the list. I would not wish to see the debate fixed in any way & do not fear free discussion.
The BBC, ITN, C4, C5 & SKY should be invited to broadcast it - it being clear that this is not a party political broadcast but involves people from all over the spectrum. Though they have all refused to do such a debate themselves I do not think they could all refuse with the sort of political tonnage involved here. If they did they would merely show an anti-Conservative & closed minded attitude.
If following all 3 debates (I suggest 1 for politicians, one for writers/journalists & one for scientists either in that order or the reverse) it became clear that the sceptics had successfully made their case it would be possible for the party to endorse an unambiguously progressive pro-growth policy while looking like moderate open minded people open to reason rather than slippery politicians changing policy for purely electoral reasons.
My Fantasy Football teams would be:
Lord Lawson-----V----Al Gore
Vaclav Klaus---------David Miliband
Christopher Monckton-------Zac Goldsmith
Jeremy Clarkson--V---George Monbiot
Martin Durkin--------David Attenborough
Peter Hitchens-------Polly Tonybee
Fred Singer------V---James Hansen
Bjorn Lomberg--------IPCC nominee
Jerry Pournelle------Michael Mann
I think that would be a fight worth seeing.
I also think that such debates would make our "democracy" much healthier.
Right since the 1950s money has been taken by the government to put into a fund for decommissioning. I cannot find how much it was in the early days. The failure of government to publish how much they got may be an unfortunate oversight but prevents an actuarial account of how much it should have been by 1989. The official 1989 figure was £3.8bn:
"Electricity consumers have already paid for the decommissioning of the Magnox plants. In the 1989 pre-privatisation accounts of the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) and the South of Scotland Electricity Board (SSEB), £3.8bn of assets was set against the decommissioning liability. Taking account of inflation and allowing, say, 3% annual real rate of return, this sum should have about doubled by now. This notional amount was simply absorbed by government when the industry was privatised and was used to subsidise government spending.
There was also the Fossil Fuel Levy, which was a sum paid by electricity consumers (10% of their electricity bills) from 1990-98, to which electricity consumers contributed about £8bn. Michael Heseltine told Parliament this was ‘to decommission old unsafe stations’. In fact, it was used for almost anything but that, and paid for a new nuclear power plant (Sizewell B) and was unrestricted cash income for Nuclear Electric to pay for its losses. Despite its best efforts, Nuclear Electric, the nationally owned company that inherited all the CEGB’s nuclear assets, did not manage to spend it all and £2.7bn remained unspent when the nuclear industry was reorganised in 1996. A small amount went to British Energy’s (the privatised company that inherited the more modern nuclear plants) segregated decommissioning fund and the rest went to BNFL, who inherited the Magnox plants. There, it was placed in the Nuclear Liabilities Investment Portfolio (NLIP), a fund that was separately identified in BNFL’s accounts, but not strictly segregated. So if BNFL had faced bills it could not otherwise have paid, it would have to have drawn this fund down. The NLIP, with inflation and some capital growth now stands at about £4bn.
Two of the Magnox stations were primarily built for military purposes to produce plutonium for bombs and therefore arguably not the responsibility of electricity consumers, leaving nine civil plants. If we assume that a Magnox plant costs about £1.1bn to decommission, it seems clear that consumers have already paid more than enough to discharge their responsibility under the polluter pays principle, and that government took most of that money for its own purposes. All that remains of the Magnox provisions is the £4bn in the NLIP. This would not be enough to pay for Magnox decommissioning but would be sufficient on projected levels of spending at the NDA and with a little interest on investment to fund about 20 years worth of work decommissioning them."
Taking a more reasonable rate of return of 6% (since 3% barely covers inflation) that £3.8 billion rises to about £14 billion. Add the £8 billion collected under the fossil fuel levy from 1990-98, lets just double that for interest & inflation because it was a shorter time. Then if £8bn was raised from 1990-98 we can add, at least, the same again for current figures.
The government's receipts come to £14 + £16 + £8 bn = £38 billion.
We have seen some figures for decommissioning up to £70 bn which leaves us with 2 options. We can note that the decommissioning of the first nuclear reactor at Shippinport cost $98m (£65m). With 44 reactors in Britain at 18 sites that would equate to £2.8 billion. Even working on the 13 fold increase in public works for public works we have seen earlier that only comes to £37 billion so clearly there is a degree of padding & greengraft going on unusual even in the British government. The other alternative is not to decommission at all (ignoring the fact that some decommissioning has already happened) but to build new reactors on the old 18 sites & leave these reactors sealed up for 50 years till the short half life radioactive materials have become safe to handle.
In which case we have almost £38 billion free.
This is from Jerry Pournelle's blog yesterday.
One hundred 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plants should cost about $150 billion (£100 billion) (the first two might cost $25 billion each, but the hundredth will be less than a billion)(£650 million).
This obviously includes a manufacturing capacity able to keep churning them out at, I would guess, at least 25 a year & I would also guess, quite a lot less than £1 billion as the marginal price & with a world shortage of them & market prices starting at $1 billion.
So lets set up a conglomerate owned 50% by government & the rest between Ariva, Westinghouse & so on who now have the expertise since the Labour government closed down most of our native technical expertise. That means an extra £12 billion of new government investment beyond what they owe to get up to the £50bn. For that we get 100 gigawatts of new power, about 50% more than the total of all our power with no other production costs than the relatively minor running costs of nuclear. That means electricity prices at a fraction of their present ones & since the correlation between energy cost & availability is well known, a fast growing economy & that usage would go way up. On top of that we can later export at least 25 generators a year meaning not less than £15 billion extra exports.
Beats borrowing £500 billion & blowing it on a 2.5% VAT cut & lots of useless civil service regulators doesn't it?
PS Must admit I have said something similar before here but the numbers stack up even better than I thought.
PPS Jerry also used a link from me last week about the tizzy thrown by the Barclay Bros when Sark refused to vote for their candidates.
Barclay Brothers snarky about Sark
Re your mention of this on Thursday voters in Sark overwhelmingly voted for candidates the Barclay Bros didn't want & they have taken a huff & their money & left. Considering that this means a high proportion of the locals losing their employment I have a lot of respect for such people not being willing to be bullied.
The Barclays Bros own the Telegraph which is, unfortunately, one of the few papers which will print articles skeptical to the warming scam. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/
Everything is connected to everything else....
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Now this would not be surprising if Barry was a teenager running his blog from his mother's back room but in fact Professor Barry Brook holds the Foundation Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change and is Director of the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability at the University of Adelaide & most of his pals seem similarly prominent. My previous experience on Deltoid also involved senior people such as the former editor of Nature Jeff Harvey, who mistook what I quoted Sir David King as saying for what he thought I had said & in error but truthfully referred to the author as infantile.
These people & presumably many of their readers are pretty much the top class scientists in the "global warming" community & yet they are completely incapable of seriously discussing the theory which they claim to believe in without moving the debate to ad hominum attacks & when that fails, censorship. Note also that where there are a couple of dozen posters on these sites none of the presumably hundreds of alarmist experts came on to point out factual errors. I did get a couple of supporting comments from people who inclined to scepticism. Now in any real science it isn't supposed to matter which side you are on (in theory there are no sides in science but human beings rarely achieve that) & errors are pointed out freely & without rancour.
Here are some factual nonsenses which these "scientists" maintained.
Ist BNG thread
#51 On the non-existence of a real scientific debate "In fact it is the whole essence of the debate… real science being contradicted by loud noisy and ill-informed opinion designed to confuse the issue and muddy the waters."
#62 "as for anyone looking for “an excuse for the globe failing to warm”, all I can say is that you are as wrong about the motivations behind comments posted here as you are about the facts of climate change, which in itself is an impressive achievement" - wordy but a direct & unlimited assertion that the globe has not failed to warm since 1998
#69 "the surface temperature record is rising ... despite all of the assertions to the contrary of the various industry shills, crackpots and useful idiots"
#82 "And if Gore has made any errors in his film productions" My reply was IF?
88# "You are simply regurgitating myths e.g.[that] the Michael Mann Hockey stick graph, ... have been comprehensively debunked" to deny that the Hockey stick was not debunked is something that nobody honest could ever claim
#103 "the tone of discourse here is mild compared with the Denialist side of matters....And if you “have never seen sceptical blogs engaging in personal attacks ..... Marohasy’s blog, or Andrew Bolt’s, or Graeme Bird’s, or any of countless others where the level of rabid conservative hysteria and name-calling defies description"
Barry's other thread
#4 On my pointing out that Gore had lied when he said in his film that rising sea levels had already forced the evacuation of some south sea islands"It was not said in An Inconvenient Truth"to be fair a few days later, after I had proven it was & asked him to acknowledge it a few times Barry did acknowledge that not all of them had left yet. In fact sea levels are falling in much of the area & no such evacuation has taken place or is needed.
#6 "Most scientists agree that the last IPCC report (quoted above) is conservative and is already behind the present situation"
#11 “The 31,000 scientists say” blah blah blah - is another of your recycled denialist myths" so allegedly the Oregon Petition of 31,000 sceptical scientists does not exist "As to those of the scientific fraternity who back the science - 90% - over 600,000 - are in consensus" despite repeated requests he never produced any support for that figure or withdrew it
#16 "Ed: Neil, stop trolling. You’re hereby on moderation. All you need to do is post something that is even vaguely sensible" as you will see his banning me turned on a post which purely presented facts which could have been disputed were they not clearly true
#31 "i did kindly ask you, to quote me on saying that there are no subsidies on biofuels"
#50 "it seems that just about all of the 'Peak Oil' denialists have suddenly become very quiet, what with the recent increases in the price of oil." not so much a point of fact, though it is factually untrue, but amusing in that the peak oil alarmists are suddenly no longer using the price of oil as evidence
#119 "Neil, as usual, hashes up the science when he writes, "plants grow better in increased CO2 (something thoroughly proven)". NOT. Not even close (please enlighten me as to your research in this field, Neil HAHAHAHAHAHA" moron - this was Jeff Harvey the ex-editor of Nature again not a Scooby Doo villain
All of theses are clearly untrue, not fudged or open to interpretation but completely & absolutely untrue & yet with the exception of half of 1 of them they were & still are all maintained & even supported by censoring the person who disputed them. This is not among Sun readers but among hundreds of the top climate "scientists" of the alarmist movement. What we see is not like the Pope's persecution of Galileo, where the Pope was merely using force to decide a legitimate scientific debate (on the wrong side but the idea that the Sun went round the Earth was at least defensible at the time). What we are seeing is the equivalent of Lysenkoism, but on a much grander & more destructive scale, where the Presidium merely asserted that they had a "consensus" on a view for which there was no scientific evidence & which only charlatans & the fearful supported. It is clear that all the alarmist scientists on these sites & therefore as a statistical certainty at least 99% of all alarmist scientists are prepared to actively or passively support any lie no matter how obvious to keep their budgets.
The final post on BNG's first thread which Barry censored on the grounds that it was not "vaguely sensible" was entirely limited to putting up factual answers to (linked)previous points:
"David 105 - Yes. Can you produce links from that site showing mass ad hominem attacks on an alarmist who has made a scientific point. I do not ask for the "name calling [that] defied description" that Bernie claims to have found merely the equivalent of "kooks" & "tin hat wearer" that Bernie finds proper.
Barry 106 - Cooling http://climate-skeptic.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/06/23/hansencheck.gif
Perps 107 - You could equally have put up a link to the expanding ice in Antarctica.
Bernie 103 - If you say I shouldn't count 1998 could you name any alarmist who, at the time, said it shouldn't count as evidence for warming. If not who is cherry picking?
In any case you are wrong to say that 1998 was "the warmest year ever recorded". Stephen McIntyre forced NASA/GISS to acknowledge that, at least in the US were records are most extensive, 1933 was the warmest year.
This happened a year & a half ago so obviously the alarmist press haven't reported it yet..
He replaced it with "Ed: Sorry Neil, but the amount of mangled disinformation and recycled claptrap that was packed into that last post was the last straw" Well Barry clearly any alarmist "scientist" who is not a cheap charlatan but will either be able to point out how everything I said there was untrue or will denounce this as censorship by a lying parasitic charlatan.
[The last post censored on the other thread without acknowledging it had been done]
Perps 24 says "further research (not Neil’s forte) is needed to track down and calculate the numbers of scientisits worldwide"
Since you have previously claimed to know for a fact that 600,000 out of the world's 666,666 scientists supported alarmism & you now claim "research" is needed you seem to have caught yourself out in a lie.
Good luck on your attempt to prove Gore was not a liar & the alarmist community complicit when he said Tuvalu had been evacuated by finding enough people currently living there & willing to say they have been evacuated. I have no doubt you will find many alarmists willing to testify to that.
This is not merely a minor online spat. These people represent pretty much the cream of Global Warming/Climate Change science. If they are ignorant charlatans whose case depends on propaganda & censorship then this is indeed a bigger fraud than Lysenkoism
That the University of Adelaide provide a Professorship to such an ignorant fool who feels unable to profess anything without censoring scientific debate shows they have less respect for philosophical truth than the University of Wooloomooloo.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Even better would be if our government would notice that, based on the costs of the Norwegians, who have been cutting tunnels for decades, [& the engineers who cut the tunnels at the Glendoe power station,*] we could produce a Forth tunnel for tens of millions.
I will report if anybody authoritative answers it. Experience shows those in charge tend to answer impertinent questions from ordinary people about how they are wasting billions of £s by ignoring them.
* Unfortunately edited
Monday, December 15, 2008
My proposal is more modest. Simply take the O'Neil Cylinders discussed previously here & here & string them together with a beam which will be enough to prevent orbital drift pulling them together. If they are all placed in the same orbit they would tend to drift together & if they got too close would ultimately exert a miniscule gravitational attracting. However we are talking about billionths of a G so even the largest cylinders could be held in place by a small beam. Such a beam could also be used for monorail communication. Since a mag-lev system has no friction there is no wear on the beam, very high speeds & little energy use - not much use for going half way round but useful for meeting the neighbours.
All you need is to keep stringing them till they have gone right round the Sun & heh presto - a Ringworld, or perhaps more grammatically a ring of worlds.
So how long is that?
Well working with a cylinder 30 km deep & assuming the mirrors are of a similar size you would need about 60 km separation. I can think of a couple ways to cut it but space is not a problem so lets be cautious. The circumference of Earth's orbit is about 480,000,000 km. That gives us 8 million cylinders. Not quite up with the Galactic Empire of Asimov's Foundation series which had 25 million worlds but it will do for the time being. At 560 square km per cylinder we get 4480 million km (Earth is 67 million) & because it is all designed for us (no ocean, desert, icecaps or unfriendly lifeforms except where we choose) would be much more habitable.
That comes out at about 1 world for every 1,000 people now alive - 80 for all the South Ossetians, or 6 worlds reserved for the Apache & 200 for the Krajina Serbs (Krajina means borderland which fits). Or some for polar bears or tigers, even for every subspecies of tiger.
The real shocker is the timescale.
On my previous post on mass producing cylinders I said that if production only expanded 10% a year by 2096 we could be producing 64 a year. To keep expanding at this rate would probably require production to take place not just on the Moon but also in the asteroid belt & the rings of the outer planets but there is no theoretical reason why such expansion cannot continue.
So doubling every 7 years (10% annual growth) gets us up to half a million a year in 91 years (doubling 13 times) & would have exceeded the 8 million in 8 more years.
To stop a recession, if such things have not been abolished, they might wish to add extra rings, which would require stronger beams because the microgravitational effects would start rising to millionths of a G. More likely would be another Ringworld, say a million miles further out & on a different orbit. However I don't really think we have to go there.
When I started the Big Engineering articles in September I said I was going to do at least 30 of them. This is not the end & I will produce more in future but less regularly. However this seems to be a high water mark since I can't think of anything bigger than a ring of worlds, without developing faster than light travel & have no useful advice on how to do that. I've probably done enough of the Greening ones though some of the same principles could be used in those parts of the world I didn't touch. Looking over them there seem to be no show stoppers, certainly nobody has found any & no question that taken together, or indeed separately, they could make humanity wealthy literally beyond the dreams of previous ages. There are no limits to what humanity can do except the ones we impose on ourselves.
"in 1958 the 652,000 workers in the industrial sector earned an average per capita income of $169, ranging from a high of $285 in the finance and insurance fields to a low of $104 for an agricultural worker"
Per Capita GNI at Current Market Prices
Year 1960 Singapore $ 1,330 US $ 434
Very roughly, bearing in mind that the figures are 2 years apart Singapore looks like it was about twice as well off as Rhodesia.
Current figures are easier to find
8 Singapore $ 49,900 2007 est
229 Zimbabwe $ 200 2007 est.
(By comparison the USA is in 10th place & the UK at 29th - though the US will have fallen since & we seem to be in free fall - Norway is the only "large" country in the top 7)
So the average Singaporean is now 250 times better off than the average Zimbabwean, also freer, safer & with a more trustworthy government & lives much longer etc.
In one way this should not be surprising. 10% growth over 50 years does come out at just over 125 times increase. On the other hand seeing the practice is not the same as understanding the theory.
50 years ago Singapore was a small, poor, overcrowded 3rd world country without resources other than an intelligent & industrious people & government committed to growth. In physical resources Rhodesia was & is far richer. This proves that sustainable long term growth is not only possible but relatively easy. That those countries trying it will far outpace those who put tribal or Luddite interests first. It also proves that all those who spend years predicting that growth in successful economies (Ireland's imminent failure has been predicted for a decade) or that growth is undesirable are doomed to be bypassed by history. It also proves that there is no god given, or even particularly likely, reason for the rich countries to stay richer. There is no reason to think China will not be able to do what Singapore has done, or indeed that Singapore will not be able to do the space based projects that I have proposed which promise unlimited wealth. Certainly the Singapore example shows that resource depletion is completely unimportant compared to what human technological ingenuity is capable of. That and the technological projects I have proposed show that growth is going to continue at, at least, present rates. Indeed the long term rate of growth has been rising suggesting we are still at the lower end of an S curve.
Comparing China & the US's per capita incomes
10 United States $ 45,800 2007 est
132 China $ 5,400 2007 est.
The US is 8.4 times better off.
Which means China's economy will have to double 3 times to match it. At 10% growth doubling takes place in 7 years. There is, as we can see, no reason whatsoever why China cannot do this. That means in just over 21 years from then assuming the US (& European) economy is in as bad a state & as under the thumb of those dedicated to preventing "continuous economic expansion" as they seem to be. That means in 2028 the average income in China will match the US now, though of course China will still have 4 times the population
Mind you Ireland, already surpassing the US, will be nearly 6 times better off than us & Russia only double us but Serbia will only be 1/3rd better off (but possibly still in a position to help decide whether the immigrant majority in London or Texas have a right to secede).
All this is, of course, easily avoidable. If we were to have non-parasitic governments with a commitment to progress or even a commitment to not getting in the way & preventing progress we could have growth matching that of Singapore or China. Zimbabwe provides a clear example of the alternative we are currently choosing.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
There is no world recession though you pretty much have to go to China to see this reported in the MSM (the link will want you to install a language module but can be persuaded not to).
Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- The world financial crisis has dimmed short-term prospects for the whole world and recession in developed countries and sharp slowdown in developing countries inevitable, according to a report released by the World Bank on Tuesday.
....It projects that world GDP growth will be 2.5 percent in 2008 and 0.9 percent for 2009. Developing countries will likely grow by4.5 percent next year, down from 7.9 percent in 2007, while growth in high-income countries will turn negative.
..."People in the developing world have had to deal with two major external shocks -- the upward spiral in food and fuel prices followed by the financial crisis, which has eased tensions in commodity markets but is testing banking systems and threatening job losses around the world," said Justin Lin, World Bank chief economist and senior vice president.
The collapse in global growth has reversed the surge in commodity prices that characterized the first half of the year, with prices of virtually all commodities falling sharply since July, said the report.
While real food and fuel prices in developing countries have dropped considerably, they remain high relative to the 1990s and the social turmoil and human crises they triggered are still reverberating.
2.5% growth, while down from the 5.2% previously, is a very long way from recession. Indeed it is what we have been having over the last decade, which all the big parties, not just Labour, regularly described as a "boom".
Looking at the World Bank statement it seems that the developing world, being more dependent on commodities, should be doing worse than the developed. There is also a history of growth being faster in the richer countries than the poorer, which is why before the industrial revolution people in the wealthiest country (Britain) had something, but not that much left after buying food while those in the poorer ones had nothing. Now the disparity is up to 438 times.
The "world recession" is merely a European & North American recession though they are exporting a slowdown to the rest.
So why is what might be called the western countries doing so badly. Well here is a clue from the Independent of all places:
"Philippe Varin, the chief executive of Corus [the remains of what used to be British Steel], is threatening to shift the steelmaker's European operations to China unless regulations governing carbon emissions are overhauled.
Corus employs around 25,000 workers in the UK and is in negotiations with unions over pay in an effort to curb large redundancies.
"If we are forced to buy CO2 credits on the market without a system to improve our production process, then we will not produce steel in Europe," said Mr Varin, who is also chairman of the World Steel Association's Climate Change Policy Group. "To cut carbon emissions of steel production, we need breakthrough technology, but this is extremely expensive, costing €200m to €300m to upgrade a one million ton production plant."
Varin, who spoke exclusively to the 'IoS' at the UN Climate Change conference in Poznan, said: "There is no way for us to fund this and pay penalties for our CO2 emissions. This would wipe out all of our profits and put us at a competitive disadvantage with manufacturers in nations which are not subject to carbon caps."
Our government is deliberately destroying Britain's steel production which used to be, along with coal, how you defined economic strength. We come to the post industrial economy. There is no intrinsic reason why we cannot compete with China in steel production or indeed most of the industry we have exported. Mr Varin is to good at the brown-nosing required of big businesses in a crony capitalist society to say that "global warming" & government eco-fascism generally are what are destroying our economies - instead he asks for government subsidy to ameliorate the government added costs, which may help his industry but only by moving the costs to everybody else.
The fact is that most of the world could be growing at China's 10%. The only reason it isn't is because, in an attempt to increase government power, our leaders have embraced eco-fascism. We know electricity could cost 1/4 of what it does now; we know houses could cost 1/4; we know half the economy is government spending, most of it unproductive & much of it of negative value; we know we are driving out new industries such as GM to the likes of Singapore; we know that major building projects cost 13 times what they could purely because of bureaucracy; we know H&S regulation costs the equivalent of 4 million manyears annually; we know further EU regulations cost the continent £405 billion annually. We also know know there are no real limits to what we could achieve were it not for those in government preventing us.
The US has different but similar restraints in their EPA, overlawyering & Luddite reaction to nuclear power & other hi-tech options.
It is undeniable that the government are lying to us about the "world recession" & how we have previously had a decade of "success" (ie the 2.5% growth which in the rest of the world is now called recession). It is equally undeniable that the opposition have refused to mention this same truth & this is probably the, well deserved, reason why Cameron is not seen as much of an alternative. The censors of the BBC & the rest of the MSM are lying about it too. Of course if our media were to mention that there is no world recession it would stimulate the obvious question of why we have one & whether it would be a good idea not to.
To the MSM "the world" appears to mean the US & old EU countries with occasional walk ons from the rest to play villains or victims. Meanwhile the rest of the world is fast becoming the industrial world & we are becoming the hidebound superstitious peasants. We could get back on the track of progress tomorrow & any politician who says we can't is lying.