Responsibilities of Senators

Tony Dean is an unaffiliated senator from Ontario and a member of the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (the Committee). He set out the responsibilities of Senators in these terms: “The only thing asked of us by the PM (Trudeau) was that we should bring an independent perspective to our work … Read more

“Cherry Picking at its finest!”

Christopher Booker, one of the founders of “Private Eye”, is a frequent contributor to the Telegraph, a UK newspaper.  He has written numerous controversial columns for the Telegraph since 1990, many of which dispute the conclusions of the IPCC on climate change. This activity has gained him recognition as one of the leading Denialists in … Read more

Media Re-actions to Extreme Weather

December 2015 was the hottest in the UK since temperature records began.  And it deserved that record by a wide margin:  the December average temperature for England was more than double the long-term average and more than 2 degrees warmer than the previous high set in 1934. UK scientists don’t have to draw graphs, analyse … Read more

Dependence on Oil: Alberta and Scotland

In our blog of January 21st last we commented on the inconsistency between governments encouraging exploitation of fossil fuels and their endorsement of a 2 °C limit on global warming. This inconsistency arises in part because governments risk rejection by voters if their policies don’t benefit fossil fuels companies. The UK has had a relatively good … Read more

The New Economy

There are countries whose existing industry interests create problems for adoption of renewable energy.   Australia and Canada have very large investments in fossil fuels.  Australia has enormous coal reserves, and Canada has its tar sands.  The US has large investments in coal, gas and oil.

The US also has perhaps the world’s largest investment in new technology. Technology heavyweights such as Apple and Google have committed to expand use of renewable energy. So the current political struggle pits the fossil fuel industry (coal mining states) against the technology sector (California, New England states).

Many countries leading the transition to renewable energy do not have to overcome opposition from local fossil fuel interests. Germany, a manufacturing powerhouse, is shutting down its remaining coal mines by 2018.  So . . .  without a large fossil fuel industry, Germany has had an easier task in developing both the infrastructure for renewable energy and investment in renewable installations.

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Sleepwalking to Catastrophe – Again!

Over the past five plus years governments everywhere have been belt-tightening to counter the effects of the 2008-2009 recession. The result was less money for infrastructure to combat climate change.

In England, the Environmental Agency, a state organization independent of the Government of the day, has the responsibility to develop defences against flooding.  It published its first national assessment of flood risk for England in 2009. The foreword included these assurances:

“While celebrating the advances that this report provides, it is important to remember that the technology and   skills available to map and measure risk are still developing. Rising sea levels and increasingly severe and frequent rainstorms caused by climate change mean that the risk of flooding will increase. This assessment is one step in an ongoing journey that we must take to ensure that our understanding of the risks keeps pace with these changes. It will be regularly updated, improved and published to keep you informed and to help us work together to manage floods.”

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Record Rainfalls, High Winds and Waves, Extensive Flooding

January 2014 rains in the UK set numerous records. According to the U.K. Met Office, the south of England experienced one of the most exceptional periods of winter rainfall since at least 1766, the year weather records were first kept.

The magnitude of the downpour lead to a record number of warnings issued by the U.K. Environment Agency: eight severe flood warnings for locations along the Thames (down from 14 the same day) advising of a threat to life and property, and nearly 400 less serious flood warnings and alerts for other areas.

Dame Julia Slingo, the Chief Scientist at the UK Weather Office, described the link between the extreme rainfall and climate change as almost certain, although there was not “definite proof”. She also warned that the country should prepare itself for more similar events in future.

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