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Messages - silkman

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Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: May 26, 2017, 09:47:48 PM »
The beautiful early summer weather we're enjoying here in the UK right now has resulted in a new record for solar generation - 8.7GW and 25% of demand at 1pm.

I'm currently involved with a Charity-funded study of the impact of behind the meter battery storage in social housing with solar arrays and tenants in fuel poverty. I had a text from one of my "clients" this evening "2.4 units (KWh) (purchased from the Grid) in a week of heavy usage. How can I not enjoy the sun?"

Add the potential revenue streams from provision of grid balancing services and it starts to look really interesting in terms of ROI for the social housing providers as well as their tenants.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: May 18, 2017, 09:32:38 AM »
In the UK solar farms and agriculture get along pretty well and the income from renewable energy can be a real boost to farm income:

Sheep farming is a good fit and the impact on wildlife and biodiversity is positive. I have personal experience with a small array the was installed in Cornwall very early in the solar industry development phase that works very well in this way.

Sheep are used to keep undergrowth under control in some wineries in Western Australia and also generate an additional return. More photogenic than a solar array certainly but the principle is the same.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: May 13, 2017, 03:10:39 PM »
Hi Etienne

Good compost needs self-generated heat and if you spread it it won't work so well.

Onions are hungry little beasts. Yours look perfectly healthy to me - no sign of rust which is a real problem here - but if the compost isn't providing the nutrients they'll need a feed. The easy way is to give them a dose of a general purpose fertiliser but if you want to be totally green, liquid manure made from something like comfrey ( would do the trick.

Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: What's new in Greenland?
« on: May 11, 2017, 09:32:34 AM »
Surface melt up and running in the SW:

Science / Re: 2017 Mauna Loa CO2
« on: April 20, 2017, 08:58:13 AM »
Having now checked back in earlier Mauna Loa threads the 400ppm theshhold was passed on May 10th 2013, less than four years ago. I find that very frightening:

Science / Re: 2017 Mauna Loa CO2
« on: April 20, 2017, 08:46:10 AM »
Up, up and away!

The Keeling curve breaches 410ppm.

The rest / Re: UK Snap General Election Poll
« on: April 19, 2017, 09:20:24 AM »
My Tory MP has a 15000 majority and does what he's told by the party. I know him well and I'll be pleased to let him know I'll be voting Green!

If I were in a constituency where the local Lib Dem had half a chance I'd nod in that direction.

The Tory right wingers scare me but it's the total loss of any focus on anything other than short term political interests that's more concerning. Any possibility of the UK being a positive force in addressing AGW right now is off the table which is a massive shame.

I was in North Wales yesterday looking at the now impressive wind farms off shore. The way the wind is blowing now it will be fracking of shale beneath Cheshire that will be top of the Brexit agenda in this part of the world.

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2017 melting season
« on: April 11, 2017, 09:37:02 AM »
I don't know but it's been like this for a few weeks:

It was my first port of call over breakfast. Much missed if it's not restored.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: April 06, 2017, 05:12:08 PM »
Call me old-fashioned but I planted first early potatoes today in a trench accompanied by some well rotted farmyard manure  - exactly the way my Dad taught me to in the late 50's.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: April 06, 2017, 04:47:20 PM »

That sounds pretty good to me. One simple trick we use for thirsty crops like pumpkins squashes and courgettes (zucchini) is to cut the bottom off a 2 liter plastic water bottle, embed the neck in the soil near the roots and use it as a reservoir to water the plants. Examples here for courgettes:

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: April 04, 2017, 06:08:36 PM »
Looking good Etienne!

I'll look forward to seeing the fruits of your labours later in the season.

Best wishes


Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: April 01, 2017, 10:22:26 AM »
..... but I need the exercise  :)

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: March 31, 2017, 05:17:05 PM »

Potatoes are a great idea when opening up a new piece of garden - partly because you have to dig to plant them😊

Good luck with it all.


Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: March 31, 2017, 01:30:11 PM »

I built the raised beds from standard decking boards that are 12cm/5in wide. It's a cheap way to do it but using wider wood to raise the beds a bit higher wouldn't hurt. The bases are at the original ground level. I put a 5/5cm square post into the prepared ground at each corner, making sure they were squared up to the direction of the sides and screwed the boards to them. Once it's all joined up it's very stable. You can lift the surface of the bed by adding compost, manure or additional top soil but it tends to grow as you cultivate over 2 or 3 years.

The jury is out on whether they should be dug annually. The current view says not to disturb the structure of the bed but I'm old fashioned. I dig.

As for the paths, we do weed in Spring but suppress further growth with wood chip from a local tree surgeon, trying to avoid too much conifer which is a bit acidic.

Paths and beds I think improve yields and I like the more structured look of the plot.

Good luck. We're 150 meters above sea level on the edge of the Peak District, just south of Manchester. I suspect your growing season will be much longer than ours.

Policy and solutions / Re: James Hansen loves nuclear power
« on: March 30, 2017, 11:46:54 PM »
Westinghouse Electric's AP1000 has been given the seal of approval by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales - the three bodies which carry out generic design assessments of designs.

They are satisfied that the reactor meets expectations on safety, security and environmental protection at this stage of the regulatory process.

It comes after Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the USA - where it is based - leading parent company Toshiba to say supplying the three required for the proposed new power plant at Moorside, near Sellafield, was "uncertain"   

But only in the UK could the Regulator choose the day after the reactor supplier is declared bankrupt to announce its approval of the design after years of analysis. You really couldn't make it up!

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: March 30, 2017, 10:18:55 PM »
Thanks for the kind comments guys!

I have to admit to the fact that it's Mrs Silkman who is the brains behind the allotment* - I'm the unpaid labour!

There's not too much science to the design but the individual raised beds are roughly 2 meters by 1 but flexed a little to fit the space. These obviously can be  tended easily from the paths which as Dr T says should be sufficiently wide for a wheel barrow - most of them are. We also have two bigger beds that are several meters in each direction. The key to success is plenty of organic manure in the right places and rotation plus the battle to keep the pests at bay, organically mostly but not religiously. Our aim is never to leave the garden without at least something fresh for the table.

*Allotments are publicly owned land, divided into parcels and rented very cheaply to local residents. Our Allotment Society is very active and provides cooperative support with facilities, materials in bulk (farm manure, wood chippings, etc). We have an annual show - veg, flowers, jam, chutney - all very British. The boss at work-

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: March 27, 2017, 09:55:45 PM »

I can honestly say that in many years of vegetable gardening I've never knowingly killed a bird with a net. The only species interested in getting at my brassicas are Wood Pigeons and they are big enough to look after themselves. I use cheap plastic nets to keep them at bay. The truth is that, without the nets, there are no sprouts for Sunday lunch.

As you rightly say, soft fruit bushes are more of a challenge as they do attract lots of interest from a range of smaller birds. So to protect our precious currants and berries I use much more expensive soft woven nets that don't seem to cause any problems. I do on occasion have to rescue the odd well fed finch that has found its way in but can't get out again though!

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: March 20, 2017, 09:44:49 PM »

Policy and solutions / Re: James Hansen loves nuclear power
« on: February 15, 2017, 09:26:51 AM »
And as a result the UK's plans for a nuclear renaissance face another major threat to add to the problems at EDF's Hinkley Point.
  Unions are urging the government to take back control of its nuclear strategy after Toshiba’s deepening financial crisis cast fresh doubt about its involvement in the planned Moorside power station in Cumbria.

Justin Bowden, GMB’s national secretary for energy, described the situation as a “fiasco” after Japan’s Toshiba, the lead party behind Moorside, revealed a $6.3bn writedown in its US Westinghouse business and confirmed it was scaling back investment in new overseas nuclear projects.

Meanwhile the UK Government remains in nuclear La La Land:

.   Greg Clark, the business and energy secretary, sought to reassure that the UK project would go ahead. “I have spoken to Toshiba and NuGen today. I welcome the continued commitment of the NuGen consortium to the Moorside project,” he said.   

The chance of replacing the ageing coal fleet with new nuclear is zero and the investment in sensible alternatives such as the Smart grid, local generation and storage grossly sub-optimal. There seems to be little chance that post-Brexit UK will hit its Paris targets

I hesitate to say it but this appears to be a really "cool" idea. This is from the linked Economist article:

  That cooling effect, 93 watts per square metre in direct sunlight, and more at night, is potent. The team estimates that 20 square metres of their film, placed atop an average American house, would be enough to keep the internal temperature at 20°C on a day when it was 37°C outside.

To regulate the amount of cooling, any practical system involving the film would probably need water pipes to carry heat to it from the building’s interior. Manipulating the flow rate through these pipes as the outside temperature varied would keep the building’s temperature steady. Unlike the cooling system itself, these pumps would need power to operate. But not much of it. Other than that, all the work is done by the huge temperature difference, about 290°C, between the surface of the Earth and that of outer space.   

Can those more expert than me spot a flaw? There has to be one...... Surely....

Science / Re: ClimateGate 2
« on: February 06, 2017, 10:21:04 AM »
Predictably, Matt Ridley is all over this story in The Times this morning:

The sad fact is that in our "post truth" world any open and rational responses to the story will have little influence on, not just the denier community, but on the mass of folk who are not sufficiently engaged to take an informed view.

It seems to me that we may be making a rod for our own backs by putting this highly sophisticated and complex data set supporting the warming of the planet front and centre of the Climate Change debate.

We all know that the insidious increase in heat being retained by our planet as a result of anthropogenic impacts on the atmosphere are real and essentially irreversible. And most dramatic is the one that this Community is dedicated to.

Perhaps our best response to attempts to undermine confidence in the data we have on the temperature of our warming planet is to continue to showcase the impact of all that excess heat on the Arctic ice.

The ice cubes cooling our global gin and tonic are rapidly disappearing and the implications are clear.

Surely this is the counter argument that says it all:

Antarctica / Re: Rift in Larsen C
« on: January 07, 2017, 09:02:48 AM »
As Hans pointed out in an earlier post, the bookies are now on to this story.

Paddy Power is offering 6 to 1 on the calving to take place in January but February and March are joint favourites at 7 to 2.

Remember, the bookmakers are seldom wrong :)

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: January 04, 2017, 05:20:59 PM »

We find leeks are pretty easy to grow and they're very hardy when standing over winter. Slugs are a challenge when they're young but we've never suffered from leek moth. Maybe we're too far North for that. Rust is a bigger challenge for the onions and shallots too. There's not a lot you can do about it.

The secret is to grow lots of different things. Every year some do well and some struggle.

Our objective is to be able to eat at least something home grown 52 weeks a year. This is the most challenging time - there's a limit to how many Jerusalem artichokes you can eat!

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: January 03, 2017, 11:41:36 PM »

The secret is keeping those darned slugs under control :)

Enjoy your well-earned sabbatical!

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: January 01, 2017, 01:41:20 AM »
Here in NW England its chilly, currently 8C, but the vegetable plot keeps on giving. Today we harvested sprouts, leeks, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes and a swede. Downhill now to the early rhubarb. Fresh air and exercise to boot - what's not to like?

Happy New Year!

Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2 2016 Thread
« on: November 08, 2016, 06:11:52 PM »
.....and August 29th 2016 was almost certainly the last single day with a Mauna Loa CO2 reading below 400ppm for an extremely long time. If one ever needed evidence that mankind was capable of geoengineering the planet then this, surely, is it. And still the GOP is in denial. Everything crossed over here in the UK for a Hillary victory today.

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: September 19, 2016, 10:10:24 AM »
Unbelievable levels of smoke showing over Western Siberia on this morning's MODIS. Swipe to the left to see more.

Signs of significant action too in Indonesia. When will they learn?

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2016 melting season
« on: August 28, 2016, 09:54:11 AM »
Those waves in that location are probably giving S&S some sleepless nights.
This seems to be the kind of weather they warned of, which could release lots of CH4 from the not so deeps off the Arctic coast of Siberia.
With weather like this is it even likely that anyone would be around to notice? Would the storm dissipate any Methane plumes that might even now be spewing, well before they had been spotted by satellite?

I don't know about Shakhova et al but those waves are certainly causing the Northabout crew a sleepless night or two according to the blog young Ros is writing:

"Chukchi Sea UTC 22:15 27 Aug

The Chukchi Sea is wild and we are wet, tired and hungry.

We are into the second day of 25 to 30 knot winds, throwing the boat around and everything in it. Many people are feeling queasy and not managing to eat very much. We are being thrown around in the saloon whenever we try to do anything, such as make a cup of tea or cook dinner. I for one feel ill, weak (through not eating enough), and slightly sick all of the time. All of our kit is soaked from being washed over when we are on watch. We can’t light the stove to dry things out or warm up because it doesn’t work when we’re heeled over. As Barbara put it, it’s all she can do to get onto her watch. Her sleeping bag is soaked because the waves have been leaking through the forward hatch – so is Ben’s, and Denis’ whole bunk is wet. Nikolay has himself strapped into his bunk with bungees to sleep. David is not sleeping because his ley cloth is not keeping him in his bunk properly. Apart from that we are having a wild ride."

Consequences / Re: cruising the Northwest Passage, anyone?
« on: August 23, 2016, 12:28:45 AM »
Crystal Serenity has just passed through the Bering Strait and into the Chukchi.

Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: Greenland 2016 Melt Season
« on: July 22, 2016, 08:51:36 AM »
Melt extent, as forecast, went above 40% on July 20.

Arctic sea ice / Re: Arctic Image of the Day
« on: July 14, 2016, 03:15:16 PM »
Are the folk caught gathering on the beach by the Barrow webcam looking at a polar bear.... or is it just an ice floe.... or, looking closely, could it be two bears?

This year's Healy mission has recently reached the edge of the ice after passing through the Bering Strait. Links to its position and webcam here:

UK assigns climate skeptic to head climate change committee

UKIP to chair assembly climate change committee despite scepticism
Wales Green Party leader Alice Hooker-Stroud said putting a UKIP politician in charge of a climate change committee was "absolutely ridiculous".

"It makes a complete mockery of Welsh politics and today I am ashamed to be governed by a group that could make this decision," she said.

Sigmetnow, this story fortunately relates to the Welsh Assembly, not Westminster.

That said, anything is possible should the increasingly odious Andrea Leadsom become our next Prime Minister with the support of the climate sceptic right wing of the Tory party!

Wales, of course, is a country the size of, well, Wales😊. However, they did unlike England, get to the semi-finals of the EURO 2016 football tournament, just edging out the mighty Iceland in the process.

Good things sometimes come in small parcels, it seems.

In the post Brexit gloom here, just 35 miles from the Welsh border, we could do with some good things right now.

The rest / Re: Europe - Collapse dynamics
« on: June 26, 2016, 01:30:00 AM »
  So managing the decline is the better path perhaps than going all in on BAU.

Therein lies the rub.

If I felt that the success of the Leave campaign and the consequent destabilisation of the structure of the U.K. and of Europe had anything to do with the concept of a transition to a new order that recognised the unsustainability of BAU (Green or otherwise) I'd be cheering from the roof tops.

The sad fact is that the driving force behind this outcome is an attempt to shore up the UK's position in the old world driven by exponential growth. It's all about "controlling our borders". We don't need a wall, except in Ireland, but the basic thought process is identical to Trump's solution.

Unquestionably the EU has a massive democratic deficit but it has to date played a positive role in nurturing fledgling democracies across the continent. I happen to think that is a platform to build on and not to disparage and destroy.

I'm also of the view that the UK as a mature parliamentary democracy, despite or maybe even because of its colonial history, should be playing a key role in addressing the obvious challenges created by the Brussels plutocracy.

We desperately need to start moving towards a new order that recognises that it's in the best interests of everyone to abandon the economics of exponential growth and to work towards the more equitable distribution of wealth that is needed to inhibit both conflict and migration.

This maybe pie in the sky and a collapse of society may be inevitable but I fail to see why I should do anything other than to try to realise that dream.

With that in mind it terrifies me that the victorious Brexiters have no clue as to what they intend to do next but one thing is for sure - "managing the decline" is not on their agenda.

The rest / Re: Europe - Collapse dynamics
« on: June 25, 2016, 11:46:40 AM »

I couldn’t agree more.

I’m still in shock following Thursday’s result and I’m struggling to get my head around what we’ve just done to the future of my six grandchildren.

The referendum campaign was a travesty, fought on both sides with soundbites, untruths and xenophobia stirred up by the popular press and was ultimately decided on a single issue that became totally conflated with EU membership – immigration.

In reality it became a plebiscite on the effectiveness of our self-interested, metropolitan political class and the decision was an understandable urge to wish a plague all their houses – Corbyn as well as Cameron.

But we now have to live with the consequences and the challenges are substantial. Just like the ice in the Arctic the resultant storm is creating cracks and fissures everywhere. Whoever picks up the poisoned chalice of Government (and even that’s unclear!) will have to face Scottish devolution, renewed pressures for a united Ireland, disputes over Gibraltar and a myriad of other challenges as well as addressing the issue of EU exit and the resultant need for new trade deals.

Climate change I’m afraid won’t get a look in though the resultant recession may seem to solve the problem for a while.

And what’s really most frightening is we have no “Brexit” government in waiting. We don’t even seem to have a plan:

I think one of Roger McGough’s poems sums it up well:

I wanna be the leader
I wanna be the leader
Can I be the leader?
Can I? I can?
Promise? Promise?
Yippee I'm the leader
I'm the leader

OK what shall we do? 

Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: The Nares Strait thread
« on: June 06, 2016, 09:24:39 AM »
Big changes at the Western end of the Nares Strait this weekend. The polynya closest to the Strait is joining the main stream. Collapse of the current arch imminent?

Policy and solutions / Re: Revolution
« on: May 30, 2016, 12:08:26 PM »
I once sat next to Ken Livingstone (left wing ex-London mayor with good climate change credentials) at a Climate Change Conference Dinner in Cambridge.

When asked who he thought were best placed to sort out the climate he nominated the Chinese. When asked why, he responded "Because they're not constrained by democracy"

He had a point.

As a follow up someone asked him if he would therefore like to see a dictatorship in the UK.

"Yes - as long as I could be the Dictator" was his reply.

I think he was joking........

Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: April 08, 2016, 12:40:11 AM »
New record at Mauna Loa with a month or so to go to the expected peak. A single daily reading means little but seems to be increasingly unlikely that this year's trough will be south of 400 ppm.

With 410 ppm already on the horizon the chance of limiting the increase to <450 has to be extremely small.

Walking the walk / Re: Gardening
« on: March 26, 2016, 12:10:56 AM »
10kg from four redcurrant bushes, Neven?

No problem!

See reply #228 on page 5 above for our 2014 crop

Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: February 23, 2016, 09:14:34 AM »
Keeling Curve kicks on up.......

Policy and solutions / Re: Global economics and finances - impacts
« on: January 07, 2016, 12:07:15 AM »
The result of "underwhelming" 2.9% per annum growth is a doubling of the global economy in 24 years - by 2040, the same timeframe that COP 21 sees as critical to the achievement of their almost certainly underpowered 2C target.

This old and sometimes politically incorrect video of Albert Bartlett's explanation of the exponential function has been posted on this site before:

It's long and there are shorter versions to be found on YouTube but if you haven't watched it it's worth finding the time.

It illustrates brilliantly exactly why economists' views of "sustainable" growth are undefendable in the context of a finite planet.

The simple message is that if "business as usual" can only be achieved through exponential growth it will lead to failure. The only variable is how long it will take.

Policy and solutions / Re: James Hansen loves nuclear power
« on: January 04, 2016, 01:02:14 PM »

I totally agree that the Plan was visionary, pointed us very much in the right direction and had the potential to allow us to take a leadership role as the world (hopefully) starts to recognise the existential nature of the threat.

I'm sorry to say that, as ever, short term political expediency has pushed the long term agenda onto the back burner.

We'll miss our 2020 targets, let alone later ones. Sorry to be so negative!

Policy and solutions / Re: James Hansen loves nuclear power
« on: January 04, 2016, 09:40:47 AM »

I fervently wish that your faith in the previous UK Coalition Government's Carbon Plan was well placed.

Yes, it was both ground breaking and legally binding when driven through by the Conservative's Liberal Democrat partners as a price for their support but has it has any real impact? The simple answer is no.

Cameron moved rapidly from his commitment to be the "greenest government ever" to "getting rid of this green crap" and through obfuscation, neglect and budget cuts has quietly canned the Plan.

Here's just a few examples:

Electricity generation - reduction in renewable support through feed in tariffs,  continued subsidies for Carbon industries, a massive push for fracking and cancellation of CCS investment.

Housing - cancellation of the Green Deal and abandonment of plans to tighten Building Regulations

Transport - commitment to a new runway at Heathrow

The list goes on.

I don't think you can look to the current UK government for leadership right now, I'm afraid.

Science / Re: Mauna Loa CO2
« on: December 31, 2015, 01:16:15 AM »

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2015/2016 freezing season
« on: December 31, 2015, 12:38:35 AM »
About a week according to ECMWF:

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2015/2016 freezing season
« on: December 30, 2015, 02:17:43 PM »
The webcam at the Isfjord Radio Hotel on Svalbard is clearly showing the effects of the rain and the high temperature on the lying snow. Amazing - unprecedented in December?

Consequences / Re: Weird Weather and anecdotal stories about climate change
« on: December 29, 2015, 06:09:45 PM »
Current temperature at Longyearbyen Airport as reported by Weather Underground is 6C:

"Longyear Airport
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
                          Actual       Average   Record
Mean Temperature   3 °C      
Max Temperature   6 °C         -9 °C         3 °C (2004)
Min Temperature   0 °C"

Consequences / Re: Weird Weather and anecdotal stories about climate change
« on: December 22, 2015, 08:33:31 AM »

I've mowed that lawn since 1983 and until recently the last cut was end Oct and the first in late March.

Not much sign of change in the medium term forecast either if the ECMWF is to be believed. Here's New Year's Eve. More rain in the Lakes and no snow in the Alps. A snowless Davos in January might help the Economic Forum get the message.

Consequences / Re: Weird Weather and anecdotal stories about climate change
« on: December 21, 2015, 08:14:53 PM »
Here in NW England, I mowed mine yesterday. Not sure if it was the last cut of Autumn or the first cut of Spring!

Happy Holidays!

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: December 16, 2015, 12:14:15 AM »
The head of Europe’s coal lobby has said that his industry will be “hated and vilified in the same way that slave-traders were once hated and vilified” as a result of the Paris climate deal, in an extraordinary diatribe sent to his members and press outlets.

“The world is being sold a lie, yet most people seem to accept the lie, even if they do not believe it,” Ricketts warned. “The UN has successfully brainwashed most of the world’s population such that scientific evidence, rational analysis, enlightened thinking and common sense no longer matter.”

Desperate times call for desperate messages.

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