Thursday, 26 September 2013

Shower like a submariner

There is much talk that we should conserve water and energy to save the planet. Usually, this involves sacrifice. Let’s face it, apart from masochists, most of us do not like sacrifice. But there are some great energy saving ideas that allow us to conserve with no sacrifice.

A simple idea is to shower like a submariner. We are all told we should shower instead of taking of a bath to save water. This saves some water. But occasionally when I have stayed in a hotel with a shower in a bath I have put in the stopper to see how much water I used. Often my shower will more than half fill the bath. There is a water saving for showering relative to filling the bath but it is not absolutely massive.

But when showering on a submarine or other naval vessels you have to conserve water. Fresh water is scarce on any sea vessel especially submarines. On ‘Das Boot’ and other WWII submarines there were no showers and sailors shared bunks sleeping in 3 shifts, but modern nuclear submarines are not so cramped. But they can be underwater for weeks on end without surfacing so they do need to conserve fresh water.

So how do they shower? Turn on the water and wet their bodies. Turn off the water and shampoo and lather up. Turn on the shower again to rinse and that’s it. There is a major water saving because the water is not left running while lathering. There is the added benefit that half the soap isn’t rinsed away before it has a chance to soak in properly.

I have started to use a variation of this technique and am saving lots of water, and more importantly, the energy used to heat it. In high summer my solar panels produce enough hot water to waste but now after the autumnal equinox, I have to supplement the solar energy with expensive oil water heating. I wet myself, turn off the water, shampoo and lather, rinse my hair and face only, turn off the water, add conditioner to my hair and rub it in, turn on the water slowly to rinse my face and off again, rub shaving oil on my face, turn on the water slowly to rinse again and shave. Finally, I turn up the water full blast and rinse the conditioner from my hair and the soap from my body.
By learning to use the on off knob in the shower I am saving lots of hot water and it is no sacrifice! Save water and energy. Shower like you’re in a submarine!

The Emperor's New Clothes and IPCC AR5 Report

This week's meeting of the IPCC (Intergovernmental panel on climate change) to agree the summary of AR5, the fifth climate change report, reminds me of the problem with the story of the Emperor's New Clothes. I often felt like the little boy and wondered why few others could see the naked emperor. Then I realised that the Hans Christian Anderson story is a fairy tale and fairy tales always have happy endings, unlike real life.

In the story the emperor loved fancy clothes. A pair of chancers exploited this weakness by selling the emperor clothes spun form the lightest, most delicate fabric available - so fine only the most sophisticated people could see it. The emperor and his advisors did not want to be thought of as uncouth so they all 'saw' the clothes. The story of these wonderful new clothes that the emperor was having made went out through the empire. The chancers continues to 'spin' the fabric and 'weave' the clothes and were very well paid for their clothes. On the day the emperor paraded in his new clothes everyone cheered at this fantastic new clothes. Except for one little boy at the back who had been away when the story of the new clothes was going out in the land. He could not understand why the emperor was buck naked and everyone was cheering his new clothes. He said the emperor is naked and then everyone saw it.

This is the fairy tale part.  In real life he would definitely be told by everyone he was unsophisticated and uncouth for not seeing the marvellous clothes. If he persisted he would be ostracised. In a violent country place he might even be lynched.

But the part of the story about the great and powerful seeing invisible clothes, that is not incredible. We only have to look at the global warming crisis, aka climate change, and its associated 'new clothes' like windmills, electric cars, bio fuels, carbon capture, even huge mirrors in space. Many chancers are selling a lot of invisible clothes. And anyone who questions the need to spend money on these 'new clothes' is pilloried and compared with holocaust deniers or others.

David Bellamy is a good example of what can happen to someone who points out the transparency of the issues. For many years David was a prominent nature correspondent on BBC and popular with viewers. But in 2004 he dared to question the climate change crisis. He lost all his work with the BBC and other organisations and was pilloried in pejorative terms by politicians and media. I remember having a discussion with a former classmate a few years later who criticised a radio programme host for interviewing Bellamy as if he were some sort of pariah who had no right to be heard. I scoffed and stated that climate change was BS and expected my classmate, also an engineer to have a similar view. But he asked me what my religion was - was I someone who believed that the Earth was a constant giver! I was shocked that an engineer would respond to the issue in religious terms, but he is employed as a lecturer in a technical college and is involved in Engineering society politics. These areas are ones where belief in this issue is more important.

The number of little boys questioning climate change is growing and many in the media are now questioning. But the emperor and advisors - world governments and EU commissioners still see the fine fabric. They are meeting in Stockholm this week to hammer out the AR5 summary for policymakers without mentioning the fact that temperatures have not risen as predicted by models. This fact undermines the whole thesis that we have to worry about CO2 emissions, that we have to accept windmills on the landscape, that we have to subsidise electric cars, that we have to burn food instead of feeding it to the hungry, that we have to come up with fantastic machines to trap CO2 or radiate sunlight into space.

The emperor will soon look very naked and the advisors very stupid. It is no wonder they are fighting hard to produce a document to perpetuate the story when it is becoming obvious to all that climate change and CO2 emissions are nothing to worry about. But maybe sometime there will be a happy ending.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Wind energy – the future or a blot on the landscape, Wexford Soapbox 8th November, 2010

Tomorrow I travel to Brussels with Monica as a guest of Nessa Childers MEP to visit the European Parliament. This is a prize for placing second in Wexford Soapbox 3 years ago. This was my speech. The content is still relevant.

Windmills are great machines – for decapitating migrating swans and transferring money from electricity customers to investors and land owners.  But, ladies and gentlemen, they are bad machines for generating electricity.  A recent study showed that the UK installed wind capacity of 4 gigawatts generated on average just 368 MW in 2009, or 9.2%.  And this power is only generated when the wind blows at the right speed.  So in addition to the 4GW of wind capacity you also have to have 4GW of conventional power stations that can be turned on on demand when the wind does not blow.  These power stations are much more costly and inefficient than conventional base power stations that generate 24/7.  So you may actually use MORE fossil fuel if you have a large amount of wind generating capacity than if you had only fossil fuel stations.  Large scale wind generation will not be feasible until cost effective electricity storage is developed.

We embarked on this foolish path to build windmills without electricity storage because of a belief in anthropomorphic (man made) global warming or climate change.  This belief, held with a religious fervour by environmentalists, many NGO’s, and some scientists, is that carbon dioxide, a plant fertiliser emitted to the atmosphere when we breath or burn coal is going to cause catastrophic warming of the Earth.  This belief is then exploited by other scientists and politicians to harvest research money and carbon taxes.  Like the Lisbon treaty nearly 100% of politicians unquestioningly support this belief while many of the public are sceptical.  The Dáil committee on climate change never hears the other side.  Climate change is supported as fervently by Simon ‘only electric cars in 2020’ Coveney and Liz ‘Wear a coat indoors if you’re cold’ McManus as it is by the government parties. 

However, it is now clear that climate change is not the big bogey sold by alarmists.  The release of emails last November know as climategate, errors in reports from the UN panel on climate change, a cold winter and a steady stream of sceptical evidence has caused a major decline in public concern.  But it will leave a costly legacy – carbon taxes and alternative energy subsidies will not be quickly reversed by politicians who will not wish to show how gullible they were. And Windmills on the hill tops - giant revolving 3 pronged crosses will remain on the hills for years as monuments to the folly of warmism, with bird sacrifices to the green Earth god littered at their feet.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Global Warming. Is the glass half full or half empty?

New video.  Full text below.

The vast majority of climate scientists and educated observers, perhaps 97-98%, agree that CO2 in the atmosphere warms the globe. The science is clear and well understood. Bonds in the carbon dioxide molecules absorb radiated hear and warm up. This warms the atmosphere and hence the Earth’s surface. The amount of warming directly attributable to this absorption of infrared radiation is 1C for a doubling of CO2 levels from 290 ppm. This is generally agreed by both climate scientists who are support Kyoto and by sceptical climate scientists.

It is well accepted that 1°C warming is good. Plants grow better in the warmer conditions. Increased CO2 in the atmosphere also improves plant growth. Some farmers artificially increase CO2 concentrations in their greenhouses. The Sahel region on the edge of the Sahara is becoming greener as a result of increased CO2 in the atmosphere.

So if 1°C of warming is good and doubling CO2 will warm the Earth by 1°C, why do so many tell us we have to cut our carbon emissions? It depends on how you see your glass – is it half full or half empty. Look at this glass, it contains 50% of its maximum capacity. It is both half full and half empty. How you choose to see it is your choice.

For some the glass is half full. Some people see carbon emissions as a good thing. Carbon that has been trapped under the ground for millions of years is being released. Plant photosynthetic processes evolved when CO2 levels were perhaps 10 times higher than they are today. As we release this carbon to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels we are benefitting both from increased plant productivity at absorbing the sun’s energy and the economic benefit that comes from using the energy that we get by burning carbon. Burning fossil fuels is a win-win situation.

But many people choose to see the glass as half empty. They see this increased CO2 concentration and the associated warming as a problem. They tell us that the small amount of warming caused by CO2 absorption of radiated heat will be amplified by other effects. These effects may cause catastrophic runaway global warming of more than 2 degrees, maybe 3, 4 or 5°C. But the mechanisms that are supposed to cause this warming are speculative. The models are not supported by fact. Global temperatures have not risen for 17 years despite increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. It is clear that runaway warming is not occurring. They now call it climate change and blame it for every adverse weather event. They ignore the facts that the climate has always changed and there were adverse weather events before we started to emit CO2. 

To counter this warming threat they are telling us that we have to cut our fossil fuel usage. We have to use expensive and unreliable alternative energy. We have to cover our hills and seashores with windmills. We have to clear cut old forests and jungles to burn the wood and grow oil palms. We have to burn food and drink as biofuel. We have to pay carbon taxes on coal, oil and natural gas to heat our houses in winter. We have to make sacrifices. We have to make sacrifices to limit the amount of plant fertiliser we put into the air.

So how do you see the world? Is your glass half full or half empty? Should we enjoy the benefit of reliable carbon based fuel which increases the amount of plant fertiliser in the atmosphere and helps prevent a return of an ice age? Or should we sacrifice our economy to prevent a non-problem from occurring?  Me? … My glass is half full … or rather it was. Cheers and enjoy life. Burn carbon without guilt.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

A simple explanation of global warming and why it is good and why the alarmists are wrong

I found a great summary of Climate Change issue on a blog response by Mike Haseler. It says the same as I do only in other words.

If you want to understand global warming here it is in a nutshell:

CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The scientific consensus is that doubling its level as is expected over the next century will cause about 1C of warming. Most people accept that 1C warming will be BENEFICIAL because CO2 is a plant food and all plants benefit from high levels of CO2 and warming is generally beneficial particularly in northern areas like Britain (why on earth do we have green houses if not to benefit from the added warmth?)

This is the science. This is what the "consensus" is about. It is about a 1C of warming which is beneficial. The big lie is that this dispute is not about the greenhouse effect of CO2. It is about the massive scaling up of this effect by untried untested theories. These theories about added warming are introduced because the CO2 greenhouse effect cannot explain all the changes we saw in the 20th century.

The alarmist side say "it must somehow be due to CO2". This is bogus science! If anyone did it in any other subject those involved would get kicked out of the subject for talking such nonsense. But not climate "science". Here they create models which are little more than taking the recent rise (1970-2000), drawing a line through the trend and projecting it forward a hundred years and proclaiming the end of the world. But as we all know this approach crashed and burnt as it stopped warming around the turn of the century.

On the sceptic side we say: "the 1970-2000 increase could be due to natural climate variation". And we know this because before the measured increase in CO2 we saw the same rise in temperature over the same three decade period from 1910 to 1940 as we saw during the period of concern (1970-2000). So if the first period was due to natural climate variation then this natural variation is more than large enough to explain the change from 1970 to 2000.

So on the one side with have bogus science being pushed by the alarmists. On the other we have people asking that we base our predictions on the real science of the CO2 greenhouse effect which suggests beneficial warming of about 1C over the next century.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Climate Change: Is it real science or a doomsday cult with powerful members? Slides and video links

On May 13th I made a speech to a meeting of Enniscorthy Toastmasters. It was a project from an advanced speech manual on technical presentations. The objective was to enhance a technical talk with the internet. This was by sending information on the talk in advance to the meeting attendees by email.

After the speech I now post the slides on this blog and make the powerpoint file available to whomever wants it.
The link to the presentation (20MB) is

Ad! Ubuntoone gives all subscribers free storage of 5 GB for sending links to large files so you don't have to attach them to emails - you can subscribe by clicking link

 I also post a recording of my speech on my Youtube channel. Only the first 12 minutes recorded. Link here

I recorded 8 more minutes commentary to the last few slides and it is available here.

A video of the slides without commentary is available here.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Climate Change: Is it real science or a doomsday cult with powerful members?

On May 13th I will make a speech to a meeting of Enniscorthy Toastmasters. It is a project from an advanced speech manual on technical presentations. The objective is to enhance a technical talk with the internet. This is by sending information on the talk in advance to the meeting attendees by email. I will also post the information - a brief outline on this blog.

After the speech I will post the slides on this blog and will make the powerpoint file available to whomever wants it. I will also post a recording of my speech on my Youtube channel - .

Outline of talk "Climate Change: Is it real science or a doomsday cult with powerful members?"

On May 1st the Irish Government added €1.20 carbon tax per 40 kg bag of coal. The carbon tax will double next year to €2.40 or 20% the price. The tax was also added to the price of peat briquetttes. Tax set at €20 per tonne CO2 emitted also applied to oil and gas.

Is this tax necessary to save the planet or a regressive tax on those who heat their homes with coal? Coal is often bought by less well off people who buy fuel as they go on.

The Debate

Nearly every government, scientific organisation and many people accept the consensus that Earth's climate system is warming, that humans are causing most of the warming  through activities that increase concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as burning fossil fuels, and that we are approaching disaster as a result.

Many are sceptical that the Earth is really warming that much, that humans are causing all the warming by burning fossil fuels or that it is such a bad thing.

And contrary to what many in the first camp say this is a sizable group of people. A recent study by Lefsrud and Meyer found that only 30% of scientists and engineers accepted the consensus as presented by the IPCC. The other 70% were sceptical of the cause or the danger.

Undisputed Facts

The Earth warmed ~0.7°C in 20th Century. CO2 concentration rose from 290 ppm to 370 ppm in the same time much from burning of fossil fuel. CO2 absorbs Infrared energy – radiated heat – and so has the potential to store extra heat in the Earth’s atmosphere – the so-called greenhouse effect.


Models predicting catastrophic warming assume the only cause of the temperature rise is greenhouse gas emission. The Kyoto objective is to limit temperature rises to 2C by 2100. Extrapolating the temperature rise vs CO2 rise will predict this to occur in the late 21st century. Therefore we have to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to comply.

But just because CO2 is a ‘greenhouse gas’, and [CO2] is increasing and temperature is increasing does not prove cause and effect. It could be coincidence. 370 ppm is 0.000370 parts of atmosphere, much less than 1-5% that is water vapour, the main greenhouse gas over which we have little control. This is very small and unlikely to have a big effect. Indeed, anlalsysis of the science suggest that atmospheric heating from doubling [CO2] from 290 ppm to 580 ppm will cause less than 1°C increase.

Climate scientists explain the difference between absorption of heat by CO2 and their catastrophic predictions by Forcings. These are further increases in warming caused by increases in water vapour, cloud effects, and methane from arctic tundra that are released when atmosphere heats a little. Sceptics doubt these effects and think feedbacks are more likely to be neutral or negative.

There are other possible explanations for  the temperature rise in 1975-1998 that has not been included in the climate scientists' models. Solar output was highest in the late 20th century. There are 35 year and 70 year ocean temperature cycles that have not been included. Some temperature records have been affected by expanding urban areas. These other causes of temperature rise have not been included in models. When they are included a much less dramatic picture emerges. In the last 15 years there has been no temperature rise despite CO2 levels reaching 400 ppm. This suggests the effect of CO2 is negligible.


Why are so many governments and scientific organisations pushing this theory? Why do they say the debate is over when it clearly isn't? Why to they persecute and insult scientists who to not share their catastrophic world view? $300 billion a year on mitigation schemes may have something to do with. I will explore the motivations further in my talk on 13 May that will be posted on Youtube and in later blog posts.