A quick heads up that the Royal Society of New Zealand’s panel discussion series on the theme of The Age Of Resilience starts tonight at the Auckland Museum at 6pm. French and NZ experts will consider the “economic conundrum” of transitioning to a low-carbon economy and at the same time deliver a “high and sustainable level of human well-being”. On the panel are Pierre Ducret (see the NZ Herald today), Dr Suzi Kerr, Professor Catherine Larrère and Fraser Whinerary. Kim Hill will be in the chair, and the evening is being recorded by Radio New Zealand for broadcast next month. More details at the RSNZ web site, and you can download a flyer here.
Two further sessions are being held in Wellington and Christchurch: in Wellington tomorrow night on Climate in-justice? and Christchurch next Tuesday on The Anthropocene Challenge. Details and flyers from the RSNZ here. An interesting series — and if you can’t make the live recordings, all three will be on Radio NZ National in September and October as part of the Talking Heads strand.
Kathryn Ryan’s interview earlier this week with Michael Eckhart, Managing Director and Global Head of Environmental Finance and Sustainability at the giant investment bank Citigroup was arresting. He was in New Zealand as a keynote speaker at the Wind Energy Conference and Ryan asked him about a recent report from Citi, Energy Darwinism: The Evolution of the Energy Industry, which claimed the world is entering the age of renewable energy and explored the consequences for generators, utilities, consumers and fossil fuel exporters. There’s a good exposition of the report on this blog post.
Eckhart explained the three big costs in producing electricity – the fuel, paying off the loan for the plant, and operational maintenance. In the case of coal and natural gas generation all three costs are involved and there’s no way of knowing what the cost of the fuel will be in the future. With wind and other renewables “there is no fuel cost at all: none”. Once the loan for the plant is paid off there are no further costs other than operational.
Ryan asked why investment in renewables is dropping as the costs are coming down. Eckhart in reply spoke of an anomaly:
“We had a very successful industry emerging coming out of the United States, Europe … manufacturing these solar cells, these solar panels, and along came China, and China just produces things at a lower cost and China made a priority – this became a priority industry under the government of China … and they came out with panels costing half as much.”
Continue reading “Citibanker: the age of renewables is here”
Chris Laidlaw interviewed the new Director of the British Antarctic Survey, Professor Jane Francis, in his Sunday Morning programme on National Radio in the weekend. I thought the discussion worth drawing attention to as an exemplar of the kind of thoughtful interviewing climate science deserves but only occasionally receives. The listening public also deserves such interviews from the media if it is to understand the weight of the scientific consensus on climate change. Respect is due to Laidlaw’s understanding of the basic thrust of climate change and its implications, making him well equipped to elicit from Professor Francis a very clear account of her work on Antarctic forest fossils and more generally on the threatened sea level rise from melting in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
Francis has a fascinating story to tell of her work on fossil plants in the Antarctic and the evidence from the fossils that the continent some 100 million years ago was forested in a period when the globe was in a warm period sufficient to melt polar ice. She discussed with Laidlaw the ways in which trees probably coped with the months of cold but not freezing darkness each year by moving into a kind of dormancy.
Continue reading “Sunday morning Antarctica, and the future of transport”
On Sunday morning, Radio NZ National’s Chris Laidlaw interviewed the PM’s science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman regarding his recent report on the likely future impacts of climate change on New Zealand. In an intelligent interview it was good to hear the report being given more prolonged and thoughtful attention than the initial news items about it afforded. It’s not my purpose to comment on the report other than to welcome it and hope it carries weight with the government. But in the course of the interview Gluckman made a couple of comments which I want to challenge. I’ve transcribed, I hope accurately enough, the section of the interview in which they occurred.
Continue reading “Gluckman gets it wrong: being alarmed is not alarmist”
Last night Radio New Zealand’s Nights programme — a show with a long-standing commitment to excellent coverage of science and scientists — for some strange reason decided to broadcast an interview with Christopher, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. Quite why they bothered to give him a platform remains to be seen, but as you might expect, the discount Viscount gave a peerless performance — a veritable Gish gallop of untruths, misdirections, and straightforward misrepresentations of climate science and economics. At various points you could hear presenter Bryan Crump struggling with his disbelief at what Monckton was asserting — but Monckton is such a polished performer that he was able to brazen his way through even the most arrant nonsense.
Here’s the RNZ podcast of the interview (which can also be downloaded here):
I’ve gone through the interview with a fine tooth comb (so you don’t have to), and some of the more egregious errors, misdirections and deceptions are outlined below.
Continue reading “Monckton misfires on Radio New Zealand: a baker’s dozen of errors and deception”