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The truths they don't want you to read....

Friday, April 27, 2007

Voting

Council elections - Angus Campbell got my first vote, for the dedication, time and effort he has put in to delivering the best to the Western Isles. He has quickly become an elder statesman of the Comhairle, and has a huge degree of respect from his colleagues.

List - I was going to vote SNP, but the current crude attempts to gag meScottish green Party (and the persistent attempts by senior members of the local party to smear me) have persuaded me not to support any SNP candidates.

Having reviewed all the manifestos, I've decided to vote Green as they support independence and have sensible joined-up policies on the environment and renewables.

I hope that they are successful both locally and nationally, as it is vital that their input into the Climate Change debate is heard.

Constituency - I knew that I wasn't voting SNP for their lack of a sensible policy on renewable energy and their willingness to give away our potential to develop offshore wave and wind without asking anything in return. However, the following quote for Alex Salmond gave me pause for thought:

"The construction of a series of tidal, wave and wind energy projects which, we believe, will put the Western Isles in the forefront of European efforts to develop renewable energy resources of the kind we have in more abundance here than in practically any other region on earth."

Excellent idea, allied to a clear commitment. Pity that was what he said on 3 March 1992. Compare that to the current manifesto:

"In government the SNP will make the creation of an EU wide green energy research centre a focus of our external affairs efforts in the EU. The centre, which we propose should be based in Aberdeen, would allow us to build on decades of offshore energy expertise and the proximity to some of the world’s most promising renewable energy locations - from Peterhead and the North Sea for carbon capture and storage to the Pentland Firth, described as the Saudi Arabia of tidal power."

There you have it: the past 15 years of Tory and Labour Governments have systematically deprived us of the best conditions to develop offshore power. Alternatively, the vehement opposition of (some of) the local SNP to on-shore wind power has lead to us losing the opportunities for wave and tidal. Exactly, what I feared would happen.

Compare another promise from 1992: "We will be introducing Road Equivalent Tarriffs on island ferries..." with the manifesto "... we will undertake a pilot project on RET to the Western Isles ..." Anyone who deals with the public sector in any context will recognise the wriggle room in the latter promise. 'Pilot projects' have a limited lifespan, and with no promise of early introduction (merely an early study!) this has been kicked into the long grass until just before the next election.

For the first time ever, my vote has gone elsewhere, to someone who lives in the islands and mentions the need for economic development of the Western Isles in their election materials.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Surely not. Surely you cannot favor the Greens. After all, they want to protect (from their Manifesto) environmentally sensitive areas, eg peatlands (sound familiar)? You quite clearly are willing to sacrifice peatlands to gain money--lots and lots of money 'for the community', even if the community doesn't want the money at that price.

They also believe in giving communities authority over projects which would affect the region; your record shows that you don't give tuppence about the community's sentiment, preferring to consult your own views on, say, wind power no matter how many oppose it. The Greens' stance must appall you.

They also want to limit the influence 'outside interests' (hello, AMEC!) have on decision-making. That's rather contrary to the Comhairle philosophy of "the shop's open, offer enough money for 'community development' and we'll approve your project!"

Add to that the Greens' general scientific illiteracy...but wait; you yourself are apparently little more literate than they, so I an at least see why you want Scotland powered by 'renewables' (will never happen).

It remains to be seen whether you support the Greens' anti-business proposals. Indeed, their manifesto is a wonderful guide to 'what to do if you wish to drive a nation into the ground'.

Anonymous said...

Your a bastard for leaving the SNP. We'll never forgive you and will not forget. Watch you back forever.

Anonymous said...

"Watch you back forever?" ... do we get the feeling some parties aren't worth staying in...? :-/

Aside from which, a claim that powering Scotland by 'renewables' "will never happen" does not exactly demonstrate scientific literacy. A reasonable statement (albeit a brief summary) might for example run: "will require an unfeasable amount of generating plant to sustain existing levels of energy usage".

Like the rest of humanity, Scotland has two long-term options - a) use renewable energy or eventually, b) no energy at all. The second option may happen one day, but only if Scotland ceases to exist.

(These are of course extremes, and the reality will lie in between - for a time at least. A long-term intermediate state would require fossil fuels to be used at the same slow rate as their replacement by normal geological processes - that is, if they became an insignificant part of the energy mix, and amounting to option a).)

Meanwhile, ongoing research (geological , technological *and economic*) research is required to determine at what point non-renewable fuels will run out. Enough has already been done to be clear that of the existing sources, only coal is likely to remain available, if present rates of use continue (or grow) for more than a few decades. [1]

After that (for some centuries perhaps) we use clean-burn processes for coal (*if* they work - support for investigation of these is in the Green manifestos [2]) or renewable generation (both microrenewables and large scale options are supported by the Greens on a case-by case basis), or do nothing to halt global warming, in which case there is a high risk that the Lewis Peatlands (along with others) will shrink dramatically, releasing carbon and exacerbating the effect. This has not been fully demonstrated as it is not capable of repeated experiment (within a reasonable timeframe). But it is a strong enough possibility to warrant application of the precautionary principle (another major element of Green thinking).

Renewable energy, while it is the only truly long-term option we have, cannot be generated in sufficient quantities to match our current lifestyles without either a) some unknown technical development which improves efficiency rates to implausible levels [3], or b) sufficient generating plant to make even the unamended AMEC proposal seem a minor issue.

Either way, it might as well be science fiction for the present generation. Our grandchildren may just decide that another thousand wind, wave and tidal generators on and around the Islands are worth having; after all, the ecological impacts may still be substantially less than those of the oil era. Meantime, "on your bike" has another possible meaning than the one we grew up with.

And incidentally, like the "right windfarms in the right place", the Greens support the right businesses in the right place. Simply being pro- or anti- things in general is what I would call scientifically, economically and politically illiterate.

n

[1] This is very imprecise, but no-one with any real degree of scientific literacy could expect otherwise. Too many factors, including how people respond to the current estimates.
[2] SGP 12 Steps to a Low-Carbon Scottish Economy, 2007.
[3] Even 100% efficiency from generation to use may not be sufficent to keep things small-scale ... anyone for cold fusion?

Anonymous said...

Niall and Angus:

Let me clarify that I'm the first 'anonymous' poster in this thread; the second (who made what sounds very much like a threat) isn't me. One of the perils of the 'anonymous publishing' feature, I suppose, is that all such posts appear to come from the same person.

I have no patience with those who threaten physical harm to others, which is what this 'watch you back' statement sounds like; indeed, I suggest Angus contact the coppers about this case, if he has the IP of the clown who made the 'watch your back' comment.

Watch you back forever?" ... do we get the feeling some parties aren't worth staying in...? :-/

Sure sounds like it; there are a lot of nutters out there, eh? One reason I use the 'anonymous' feature is because I myself was once threatened with an 'ultimate penalty' by a nutcase in London, who threatened to come up to Scotland to inflict it. God knows you get some very odd people on the 'Net. Also, 'watch you back forever' isn't grammatically correct, which is very nearly as offensive as the remark itself :)

Aside from which, a claim that powering Scotland by 'renewables' "will never happen" does not exactly demonstrate scientific literacy.

Okay, this comment IS mine, and I am in fact technically literate--my training and my job demand it.

I merely asserted that Scotland will never be able to supply its energy requirements solely from renewables--I'll go a step further and specify that not even a majority of its needs will ever be so supplied. Every 'renewables' technology suffers from the same core problem: low energy return on energy invested compared to 'fossil fuels' or 'nuclear'.

A reasonable statement (albeit a brief summary) might for example run: "will require an unfeasable amount of generating plant to sustain existing levels of energy usage".

A more reasonable statement would be 'it is physically impossible to supply Scotland's needs via renewables'.

Wind (on- and offshore) requires constant backup by spinning reserve; therefore it is not truly a 'stand alone' power source'. The best that it can offer is a very small reduction in fossil fuel usage, since the standby) spinning reserve need only operate at approximately 80% of full load. Leaving aside the outright lies told by developers and promoters about the supposed CO2 savings, wind is simply too unreliable and prone to destabilizing the national grid, and unable to actually replace any conventional generation, to be a contender. It is a Potemkin Village, nothing more.

Like the rest of humanity, Scotland has two long-term options - a) use renewable energy or eventually, b) no energy at all.

Leaving aside your misuse of the phrase 'renewable energy' (there is actually no such thing; cf the Laws of Thermodynamics), there is but one form of energy reserve which is not only infinite in practical terms (ie, over the lifetime of the planet) but clean as well: fusion. And fusion can be accomplished not just with hydrogen isotopes, but with boron (cf Bussard's work--I can supply source material should you wish).

The second option may happen one day, but only if Scotland ceases to exist.

Well, Scotland WILL cease to exist at some point, as will all nations. Sic transit gloria mundi.



Meanwhile, ongoing research (geological , technological *and economic*) research is required to determine at what point non-renewable fuels will run out.

I can give you some reasonable estimates for 'peak', based up current usage rates of increase and proven reserves:

Oil (aggregate of all forms: heavy, conventional, deep-water, arctic, et. al): somewhere between 2005-2020;

Coal (all sources): circa 2030-2040 (using US coal reserve estimats, since that nation possesses the largest reserves; consumption and production rates in other Western countries are roughly similar to the US profile);

Natural gas (going from memory here, so I may be off a bit): roughly 2020.

Mind, 'peak' merely implies that an absolute production high will have been reached, not that the resource has 'run out'. Still, decreasing energy inputs into an economic model which requires endless growth is not a pleasant prospect.



After that (for some centuries perhaps) we use clean-burn processes for coal (*if* they work - support for investigation of these is in the Green manifestos [2])

Unfortunately, 'coal' will be in absolute decline by mid century, and 'coal' is not used merely for fuel--the resource is in demand for a wide spectrum of applications. I wouldn't pin a lot of hope on 'coal', especially as conventional oil begins to decline. Indeed, the US and other nations are already looking at coal liquifaction programs to obtain oil--and if implemented (as it will be by necessity) that will consume coal at a far greater rate than it is today.

...or renewable generation (both microrenewables and large scale options are supported by the Greens on a case-by case basis)

I have yet to see the slightest indication that 'microrenewables' are anything but an expensive fad. Return on investment for a typical 'household' turbine runs to decades--no household is going to waste its money on something which acts as an economic detriment to family finances.

or do nothing to halt global warming, in which case there is a high risk that the Lewis Peatlands (along with others) will shrink dramatically, releasing carbon and exacerbating the effect.

Several unproven assertions here:

1) that global warming can be 'stopped';

2) That humans play any significant role in 'climate' change;

3) that global warming 'should' be stopped.

None of the three have been proven, though this latest mass hysteria alleges that all three are 'true', and even goes so far as to threaten those who dare to disagree.

Sure signs of a the 'madness and delusions' of crowds:

Statements such as 'it's proven', 'everybody knows', 'anyone who dissents must be punished', 'silence the opposition', 'time is short, if we don't act now we'll all be doomed!'

We've seen this same sorry pattern over and over: witchhunts, ethnic cleansing, South Seas bubbles, tulip crazes, by-to-let manias, fears of Popery, etc, etc.

Get some people together with a simple, compelling thesis; establish an adversary who can be demonized without penalty; blame that adversary for all the world's supposed problems; offer salvation to those who 'act the right way'; and threaten eternal hellfire to those who dissent.

Yep; it's a religious mania, folks, and formerly sane people have come to believe impossible things before breakfast: 'renewables will save us!'; 'we must stop climate change!' (which would be quite a feat; what's next? Halting the planet's rotation?); 'we're solely responsible for global warming!'.

This has not been fully demonstrated as it is not capable of repeated experiment (within a reasonable timeframe). But it is a strong enough possibility to warrant application of the precautionary principle (another major element of Green thinking).

No. Were the Greens using the precautionary principle they'd be fleeing from unsustainable nonsense such as 'wind'; in simple truth, they're not thinking much at all. The truly prudent citizens are thinking 'what sort of technology is truly sustainable and can supply us with copious amounts of assured production?' Anything less is criminally negligent.

Renewable energy, while it is the only truly long-term option we have, cannot be generated in sufficient quantities to match our current lifestyles without either a) some unknown technical development which improves efficiency rates to implausible levels [3], or b) sufficient generating plant to make even the unamended AMEC proposal seem a minor issue.



And incidentally, like the "right windfarms in the right place", the Greens support the right businesses in the right place.

How so? Who decides what 'the right businessses' are?

Simply being pro- or anti- things in general is what I would call scientifically, economically and politically illiterate.

No; the illiteracy lies with those who freely admit that windfarms aren't useful, yet insist on building them anyway. Or perhaps it's a form of insanity. Or mere 'fanaticism'.

You can take your choice: build windfarms which don't actually make any positive contribution, but require conventional reserve to run at near full capacity regardless--and will require MORE conventional plants to be built to backstop them as more wind farms are built (as is already happening elsewhere); that way you can feel good by thinking 'gee, green electricity' even though it actually isn't.

Or you can opt to throttle back your energy consumption--but you still need assured baseload from conventional stations whose fossil fuel sources will diminish steadily over the next fifty years.

Or you can opt to use nuclear energy, the most efficient of all, and invest heavily in ongoing fusion research--precisely what the Greens oppose.

The Green manifesto regarding energy sources is wickedly irresponsible combination of fatuousness, technical naivete, and rank superstition.

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of when the Gazette put a limit of 700 words on letters contributed. Dunno why.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1
"but wait; you yourself are apparently little more literate than they"

And I have not patience for people who throw derogatory comments about. Almost as bad as those who threaten wouldn't you say?

Anonymous said...

Almost as bad as those who threaten wouldn't you say?

Did you actually write that with a straight face? If you cannot understand the difference between 'spirited, even harsh differences of opinion', on one hand, and 'threatening somebody with harm', on the other, then God help you to open your eyes, for I certainly cannot.

Farewell, now; and if you are the one who threatened Mr. Nicolson, be assured that I'm solidly in HIS corner when it comes to anybody threatening him or his.

Angus said...

I voted Green as I believe that the environmental issues need to be to the fore in the next Executive, and with the Scottish Green Party they will be lost in the general noise. More prosaically, the Greens were the only pro-independence party I could consider supporting.

Next elections? Another lots of manifestos and I may have different priorities.

AIF said...

Or you can opt to use nuclear energy, the most efficient of all

What makes you think that uranium won't go the same way as oil/coal/gas if we scale up nuclear whilst the rest of the industrialised world contemplates the same move?

invest heavily in ongoing fusion research--precisely what the Greens oppose.

Why is that a good play when it is apparent from your post that you don't believe the lessons we can learn from implementing wind, wave, tidal and other non-depleting energy resources will bring improvements in these technologies which will make them more competitive and reliable?

I am fairly sure that any combination of the options available to us won't make up for the decline in conventional oil and gas, certainly not with 6.5 bn people to feed. However, I don't feel that poo-pooing renewables in favour of one alternative is a smart way to approach the challenges we will face. Surely we should be looking at developing an understanding of all of the options to make sure we don't make the wrong choices?