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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Scotsman Letter on Warming/Peak Oil Scares & Shetland News One on Tunnels

  This letter, the 3rd of 3 doubting catastrophic warming, is up in the Scotsman today.
In pushing global warming Dr Moreton did previously say that the Oregon Petition (easily the largest expression of scientists' opinion on warming) contained “film celebrities” rather than scientists and that “many” were “funded by the oil industry”. Both claims are serious slurs.
In fact, the overwhelming balance of funding – by tens of billions – has gone into government funding of alarmism. No single scientist anywhere who supports catastrophic warming and does not ultimately get paid by the state has been verified.
Now Dr Moreton has moved on to claim that “oil and gas are running out” (Letters, 24 July). If that were true it would disprove his entire alarmist thesis that burning these will produce catastrophe.
Shale gas has greatly reduced US electricity prices and thus brought them out of recession.
Worst, from the point of view of alarmists, this has has also reduced CO2 output because it has a better energy-to-carbon ratio than coal, possibly better, over the whole cycle, than even windmills.
In the same way, improving technology has allowed Canadian tar sands to be developed so that oil reserves also are greater than at any time. This contrasts with the “environmentalists’” “peak oil in a couple of years” scare stories repeated regularly since the 1960s.
  There has been a too and frowing for some days now between Moreton and another alarmist and several sceptics here and yesterday. One day it will be all the alarmists, next sceptics and so on. so I suspect Moreton will answer tomorrow.

  I was the only one to mention the way he had switched the debate from CAGW, having in my opinion lost on his original argument, to the "peak oil and gas" one which is more than equally wrong. Also the claims that we are going to suffer a catastrophe by burning and that we are going to suffer a catastrophe by not having fuel to burn are clearly mutually incompatible as well as both wrong. It is not unusual for ecofascists to make several assertions and them all to be wrong. It is quite unusual to have them tell 2 mutually incompatible scare stories in the same paragraph.

  This is the 3rd time I had replied here (each answer being partly a repetition of the previous so I will not bother putting them all up) and yesterday got an email from the Scotsman letter editor saying I needed to be 200-250 words, which I made it. I have also added a wordcounter for future use.


I also have this letter, concerning the Shetland Island's Council's opposition to tunnel,  in the online Shetland News. It, in turn has attracted an answer, though not from the council, which I will, in turn reply to.

SHETLAND Island Council are once again choosing ferries for both Whalsay and Yell rather than following the spectacularly successful tunnel programmes of Norway and the Faeroes.

This is unfortunate for the majority of people of those islands since being able to drive, for free, at any time, in a few minutes on roads with a virtually unlimited carrying capacity would obviously be far preferable to having to wait for slow, intermittent and expensive ferries.

It is also unfortunate for everybody in Shetland who has to pay for it.

When the issue of the first ferry came up the council received a quote for £22 million. This is realistic, indeed somewhat above the normal Norwegian costs. In some unexplained manner this metamorphosed into £35 million - possibly the extra £13 million is simply the cost of the council watching it be done. This just happened to be slightly above the price then given for a new ferry.

After the ferry contract was signed a whole range of necessary but unnoticed costs appeared. Between 2001/02 and 2004/05, the net costs of providing the ferry services rose from £6.9m to £12.2m, an increase of 77 per cent over three years.

Over this period the principal cost increases were as follows:

•Wages and salaries grew by 33 per cent to £6.687m;

•Direct finance costs grew by 71 per cent to £1.846m;

•Operating leases on new ships (SIC code 1209) increased from zero in 2001/02 to £1.5m in 2004/05.

The new Whalsay ferry is now priced at £53 million and again they have produced a tunnel cost slightly above that, but without bothering to get a firm quote this time.

If one includes all the costs from when the first tunnel proposal was made to 2032 it seems very unlikely the ratepayers are going to get away with as little as £300 million.

My interest in this is that I have studied the Norwegian and Faeroes 700 km tunnel programmes and proposed a much less ambitions programme for all of Scotland. proposed a scheme of easy road access to most islands off Scotland, including Man, Ireland, Islay, the Hebrides, Orkney and others - easily within the capability Norway has shown. Shetland, 100km from Orkney would currently be a tunnel too far.

This was published by the Scotsman and put before our MSPs who may express an opinion some century soon.

The Norwegian tunnelling programme has been immensely successful, cutting tunnels at an average of under £5million per km (under half the cost the council's £53million Whalsay estimate was based on). For example, the Laerdelstunnelen, at 24.5 km the world's longest road tunnel, cost £119 million. This programme has been a significant factor in making Norway the 2nd richest sizeable country in the world (after Singapore).

By comparison total underwater distances between Mainland, Whalsay, Yell, Unst, Bressay and Fetlar are about 16km. I suspect that if asked to quote for the full range there would be economies of scale.

It is said that when there is a will to fail difficulties can always be found and this seems to have been shown when John Swinney assured Holyrood that a 3 km tunnel under the Forth, as an alternative to a bridge, would cost £6.6 billion, making it the most expensive in the world and 55 times more than the Laerdelstunnelen.

It is possible that there are some in Holyrood who have suggested to the SIC not to embarrass them with a tunnel success. This would explain the preference for the less effective and more expensive ferries.

I hope some reader of Shetland News will bring this to the attention of council employees so that they will be given the chance to explain any errors they believe I have made, or to say what geological or political differences between Shetland and Norway and the Faeroes, would massively change the costs.

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