# If Journalists Could Do The Numbers, They Wouldn’t Have Been Journalism Majors

One thing is clear; the British public does need educating about this: even one of The Independent’s most intelligent commentators wrote here last week that "The mini-windmill on David Cameron’s new house is an economical way for an individual household to generate electricity, even contribute to the national grid". Well, that’s if you consider it economical to spend thousands of pounds on a roof-top turbine that produces – even according to its supporters – no more than 1 megawatt hour per year, worth £40 unsubsidised on the wholesale electricity market. As a contribution to reducing CO2 emissions it’s about as cost-effective and meaningful as cycling to the House of Commons while having your chauffeur-driven car follow you with your briefcase, suit and black lace-up shoes.

• “As a contribution to reducing CO2 emissions it’s about as cost-effective and meaningful as cycling to the House of Commons while having your chauffeur-driven car follow you with your briefcase, suit and black lace-up shoes.”

Bears repeating.

• Scientist

Dominic Lawson is also a journalist. How about we check this out for ourselves and do some simple maths? I did a google search for ‘rooftop turbine power output’ and the first result was this one. One of these units costs £4,000. It will generate up to 2000 kWh of electricity annually, and it will last for 20 years. So that’s a total of 40 MWh over its lifetime.

Now, the average cost of electricity in the UK is 11.61p/kWh. So, if you install a wind turbine like this, you will save £232 annually, and over its lifetime you will save £4644. That’s a net saving of £644.

The average amount of CO2 emitted per kWh of electricity is 0.47kg. Therefore, using this device will reduce CO2 emissions from a household by 0.94 tonnes. The average UK household uses 3300 kWh of electricity annually, therefore emitting 1.55 tonnes of CO2. So the device can reduce power-related CO2 emissions by 60%.

This simple analysis ignores the rising price of electricity, the falling price of wind technology, the existence of far cheaper devices, and far more efficient devices. But you can see that the facts tell a different story to the third hand rubbish from random bloggers.

Now I wonder why you didn’t think to check the numbers out yourself?

• morganovich

“scientist”-

you miss a very important aspect of the power figures you cite:

“up to” 2000 kwh does not mean you’ll get that much power out. “up to 2000kwh” is called “rated power”. that implies optimal wind all the time. the real figure will be something less. sometimes, it will not be windy. sometimes, the wind will blow but not be sufficient to drive the turbine efficiently. sometimes, wind will be too strong and furling will be needed to drop power and spare the turbine.

in no place on earth is wind always just right for a turbine. so output is never as high as rated power. the window of “optimal wind speeds” is quite narrow and narrower on small turbines than the 100m commercial windmills.

wind farms which are well sited produce a capacity factor of 25-35%, which is to say they have historically produced 25-25% of rated capacity.

so your actual production (assuming you do this well at your home, which you won’t) is
500-700 kwh/year or 10-14 Mwh lifetime.

so, using your cost for power: you save 58-81 pounds a year, or 1160 to 1620 over the lifetime of the turbine and lose 60-70% of your initial investment not counting install costs.

i rate a 60% loss on investment to be pretty crap. how about you?

• TinyCO2

Scientist,

The advert says ‘Up to 2000kWh generated annually when well sited’ but what do they generate on average? I have heard that the figures given are from tests in a wind tunnel under perfect conditions and in reality the output is about a third of the rated capacity.

It also says ’20 year, maintenance free life’ but as far as I can tell, it doesn’t offer an insurance backed guarantee of that. Very few things last 20 years fault free, especially when subjected to UK weather.

You have to apply for planning permission, this is not free, it’s about £150. This fee is also non refundable, even in the likely event your application is refused. Planning authorities don’t like wind turbines. If you’ve paid for the site evaluation, you’d also lose this fee.

The price is dependant on a grant, the full value is by no means guaranteed. ‘You must undertake a number of energy efficiency measures before you are eligible to apply for a Low Carbon Buildings Grant to demonstrate you are minimising your energy requirements. These include loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, low energy light bulbs and basic controls for the heating system.’ AND ‘Householders: Grants are possible for a maximum £1,000 per kW installed, up to a maximum of £5,000 subject to an overall 30% limit of the installed cost exclusive of VAT.’

You point out the wind turbine costs £4000 but you don’t include how much interest this would accrue in a savings account, if you didn’t spend it on a wind turbine. It would be even worse if you bought the thing on credit.

By all means, let us check out the numbers ourselves.

• Stevo

Actually, it’s about £5700, but the tax-payer chips in about 30% in government grant. (I would be surprised if there weren’t a few other hidden subsidies in there as well.) And what with the taxpayer being you and me, that means it still costs us on average about £1000 more than it produces (if it does – you’ll note that critical advertiser’s caveat “up to”), except that most people are made to pay for it whether they can reap the benefit or not, whether they believe in it or not.
And the chances are that most people living in towns aren’t the ideal open, windy sites that yield that maximum 40MWh – I’d be a lot more interested in the average, or even better, the precise distribution. Could it be, as our “random blogger” suggests, half that amount?

But even supposing there was a £644 return on your £4000 investment over 20 years. If you invested that at a measly 1% over inflation, you would make about £900. And considering there are savers accounts offering something like 6% nowadays, and the stock market has traditionally delivered 10%+, that’s a significant opportunity cost.

As a final note, I’d like to point out that “the falling price of wind technology” does not help someone who has already stumped up the £4000. When it does fall, it might make sense to buy one. But for all those poor suckers who rushed to get them early it’s too late.

It’s useful not to stop reading as soon as one finds a glossy sales brochure they think supports one’s pre-conceived viewpoint. One really has to be careful about believing everything you read in advertising brochures. The ‘facts’ you find in them are not always quite what they seem. 😉

• Discount rate. Dumbass. Search wikipedia for NPV.

• Scientist

Stevo – you have an entrenched view but don’t expect everyone else to share your inadequacies. I picked the very first search result, just to test the numbers. While the original article, slavishly endorsed by weak-minded fools, tries to contrast ‘thousands’ with ‘£40’, the reality is obviously very different. There are turbines way cheaper than the one I am using as an example, and more efficient. You may find that hard to believe – I know you don’t like to actually check data but it’s easy to verify.

Could it be, as our “random blogger” suggests, half that amount? – well how about you look for some evidence of that? Don’t just waste your time insinuating. Until there is any actual evidence that wind turbines cannot generate 2 MWh/year, let’s do some more numbers based on what I provided above. Electricity prices will not stay constant so let’s make the model more realistic. If electricity prices, rather than remaining constant, rise by 2% per year, then a wind turbine generating 2 MWh a year will save £5982 over a 20 year period. In the UK, prices are rising much faster than that – 10-30% annually for the last three years. If we take the lower end of that, the total saving over 20 years from this wind turbine would be £14,848

• Dealing with trolls like the “scientist”.

Don’t argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

• Keith

I actually agree with Scientist’s calculations — damn, did I just say that 🙂 — except for the already commented upon needing to take NPV into account. What’s interesting is how badly people in the UK are getting soaked for electricity. I just paid my electric bill, and I’m only paying about 5.7p/kWh (based on current exchange rates), including all taxes and fees. The other difference is that I use about 15,000 kW of electricity per year, so I’d have to buy seven or eight of these babies if I actually cared about reducing my carbon footprint.

• Mesa Econoguy

I just drove by the San Gorgonio wind monstrosity (north Palm Springs), which I had never seen before, and I got curious about the viability of wind power.

(incidentally, this information took considerable time to download – apparently CA is using turbines to power the .pdf servers for this, as they don’t want the taxpaying public to know how truly inefficient it is)

Just for kicks, let’s run some numbers. CA makes this claim:

In the year 2004, wind energy in California produced 4,258 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, about 1.5 percent of the state’s total electricity. That’s more than enough to light a city the size of San Francisco.

Wow, 1.5%. Um, how long?

San Francisco & surrounding counties total consumption, 2005 (kWh):
37,394,000,000

That’s about 45 days, being very optimistic (assuming 10% annual growth rate in wind energy production).

I’m assuming San Francisco includes the major power-consuming surrounding counties: Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara. This figure does not include any of the LA-San Diego metroplex.

Now, these turbines take up a giant amount of space – they’re visible for damn near 50 miles any direction.

So if you wish to make the argument that we should fill up extra space with these things, you’re in for one nasty NIMBY fight (not to mention diminishing productivity the closer you place them, non-uniform wind patterns, etc.). And that argument is nearly as stupid as the “imagine we paved over the entire country” global warming blah blah blah bullshit.

It would take a massive increase in the price of nat gas and other energy sources, along with huge consumer efficiency improvements, before wind power becomes a viable option.

• Neilg

One small thing everyone has overlooked is the fact that none of your neighbours will talk to you because of the noise of operation and ugliness of these things. Also since in most council areas pool filter operation is restricted to daylight hours to avoid noise disturbance and they are substantially quieter than wind generators. So re-do your calculations on maybe 8hrs per day with a load factor of 30%. And finally as a electrical system engineer in an earlier life I can tell you that sadly wind power cannot be used effectively in a power system. The base generation has to be there anyway.It is only ever installed as a sop to the environmental lobby who have been proved so cruelly wrong on the bio-fuel/food question.

• Stevo

Yes, I’m sure there are turbines more efficient, but efficiency isn’t the limiting factor here – it’s the energy available in the wind.

This argument has been going on for a couple of years with the wind energy enthusiasts. But they all come down to the same answer. The energy industry monitors alternative sources closely, and nobody thinks wind energy is cost-effective without subsidies. That’s why we don’t already use it. If even giant turbines on windy moors struggle to make money, toy turbines on people’s roofs are definitely not going to compete.

On the whole, I’m much more in favour of windmills in towns than wrecking the countryside, and apart from the government subsidies component I’m very much in favour of selling them to gullible greenies – nothing teaches the folly of believing environmental activists like losing money. And for those who genuinely believe in AGW, reducing emissions is on its own a reasonable justification. But they really ought to leave it at that, and not try to tell people the cleansing of their carbon sins isn’t going to cost them.

If electricity prices continue to go up at the rate they have for the last three years for the next 20 years, then it would of course be worth it. (And many other investments even more so.) But again, you’re taking noisy autocorrelated data and extrapolating linearly from short term variations. Markets don’t behave like that.

By the way, I’m jolly impressed by your new tactic of saying that if people were to ‘check the data’ or ‘read the literature’ that they would find evidence for whatever it is you claim. That goes beyond Appeal to Authority, into a sort of ‘Appeal to The Invisible’. Unidentified or over-broad references, or an assertion that there are references, … somewhere. It’s unspecific enough that nobody can challenge your claims in detail any more, and it would require a lot of work to falsify. The ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ twist of saying it’s a sign that you’re stupid if you can’t see them is an extra special icing on the cake. Bravo!

• Scientist

Well, Stevo, as you may be aware the number of papers published in credible journals over the last few years which dispute the ‘consensus’ view on global warming is zero, or very close to zero. Wherever you are getting your beliefs from, it’s not from the science. Therefore, any reading you do at all of the actual body of work on which our knowledge of the climate system rests will be helpful to you, if are able and willing to understand it. Your apparent tactic of denying that reading papers is essential is not going to get you very far at all.

• Stevo

Ah, “credible journals”. And of course, your definition of “credible journals” is journals that follow your AGW religion – thus, by definition, it is totally impossible for there to be any sceptical papers published! The instant one is published, the journal ceases to be credible. A tour de force of warmenist logic! Well done!

If reading papers was essential, how did the papers get written in the first place, before anyone had read them to know what to write? Reading papers can be useful, but you have to do other things as well. Like thinking about whether it makes sense. Our knowledge of the climate system does not rest on any body of documents. It can only rest on observation and physical evidence. You continually seem to confuse authority for evidence.

Scientific papers are not the revealed truth, but a work in progress. Papers are published so that others can check them, try to repeat the experiments and independently reproduce the results, test it in new ways, extend the thinking or find the flaws and errors. They give an insight into the thinking of researchers, but when a topic is in such flux much of what is published at any one instant is wrong. That’s part of the process: they publish it precisely so they can find out which bits are wrong. Anyone thinking you can read this stuff and merely by doing so learn the truth has misunderstood fundamentally.

I don’t know where you’ve got this idea that I don’t read the papers from, though. You seem to have extrapolated from a sample size of 1. I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of papers you haven’t read either, including many of those the IPCC reports cite. But your attitude seems to be that you only need this total knowledge of the literature if you disagree with the AGW theory, those that agree can be as ignorant of it as they please. With such double standards on show, is there any wonder you’re not believed?

• Scientist

your AGW religion – it really mystifies me, how you can hate a simple scientific discipline so. Evidently you refuse to believe a single shred of anything that is known to climate science, and your reasons for doing so are not rational. You make no bones about not really caring about what science has been done. The religious approach is yours only.

One definition of ‘credible journal’ is one which is recognised as an academic journal in the Journal Citation Reports. Energy and Environment is a journal in which many wild claims by denialists are published. Guess whether it’s recognised as an academic journal or not. You could set up your own journal, if you wanted, and publish all the rubbish you like. Call it Stevo’s merry world of data-hating nonsense. It would be as valuable as E&E.

If you don’t like to read papers and don’t understand that even if you do read papers, you need to be able to assess the quality of what you’re reading, it’s no wonder you’re a bit challenged on this subject. How do I know you don’t read the literature? Well, how on earth can you when you consider paying for papers to be bad value for money? Very few papers are given away for free. You are choosing to blinker yourself and so you really shouldn’t be surprised that you’re misunderstanding basic things.

• morganovich

“scientist”

in the same comments stream you:

CITE A MARKETING BROCHURE AS DATA

AND

ACCUSE OTHER OF USING POOR SOURCES?

hahahahahahahaha.

gee, i wonder why no one takes you seriously…

• Scientist

You idiot. Do you think they publish the price of wind turbines in scientific journals?

• Mesa Econoguy

I think my numbers were off. Running them again, I got answers between 13 and 20 days, which is even worse.

The fact that the data are presented in such a discombobulated fashion as they are (along with ambiguous and misleading statements like “It could easily power a city the size of San Francisco”) is a giant red flag – this is nowhere near economically viable, and those with vested interests (government, wind turbine producers) don’t want you to know that.

I was unable to find useful cost figures for how much has been dumped into these CA projects so far, but suffice it to say, it’s a very large amount of (taxpayer) money.

• Stevo

Ha! You’re generalising again. I don’t have any great problem with a lot of climate science, it’s only the AGW bit that has turned into a religion that it is a sin to doubt. I only have a problem with paying for journal articles that I no reason to think have anything interesting to tell me. I get many subscriptions handled by my employers, but I need a reason to justify accessing a lot outside my specialisation. I’m not going to waste what leeway I have on your rubbish.

I have little hope of it going in, but I’ll explain anyway. When a scientist dips briefly into another field and the matter isn’t too vital, their initial approach will be to first consider the reputation of the whole field, but subject to that to take the established results of the specialists on trust. It’s not science, it’s a shortcut based on social conventions. But the moment that any such result is seriously challenged, the scientist immediately suspends belief and investigates. Where does the result come from? How is it derived? How good is the evidence? They may be quickly satisfied. It might be a standard derivation in textbooks. A specialist should be able to quickly cite the observational basis, a sketch of the derivation, and be able to go into as much detail as necessary. Sometimes you’ll come across some gap in the argument where the specialist goes “Hmmm…” and joins you in the search. Usually you bottom out fairly quickly, having either proved it or come to a clear understanding of the uncertainty – either way, having broadened your own knowledge is a profit.

When I ask about something like Rossby waves, they can give me equations, show how barotropic vorticity is approximately conserved, explain the approximations, quote measurements about observed air velocities and divergences, cite the exceptions. Most of it can ultimately be based on an understanding of Coriolis forces, and the conservation of mass and momentum in fluids, but it also only works outside the tropics on weather systems with small divergences (not amplifying or shrinking rapidly) because of those approximations. It all checks out, as far down as I’ve gone. Nobody minds answering questions, nobody gets defensive or evasive, and it’s all based on firm foundations of Newtonian kinematics for which there is ample experimental evidence.

But when you ask about AGW, the response is different. You will at first get the primary school version of CO2 acting like a blanket, and everyone is bright and calm. But as you press for technical details, you start finding more and more approximations with weak justifications, more and more guesses, more and more confident extrapolations taken from highly uncertain data. Definitions of apparently basic terms turn out to be complex or non-intuitive. There is significant confusion about fundamental principles. The data keeps changing.

Now that’s not unreasonable for science in its infancy, and if it was treated with the degree of uncertainty due, I would have no problem. But it isn’t. It’s being presented as rock solid, settled science. It’s being presented as the sort of quality data on which you ought to feel comfortable making multi-trillion dollar decisions. The future of the free world is being steered by some crufty code hacked together by a handful of academics, full of GOTOs and fudge factors and “adjustments”. Seriously. I’ve seen it.

And then there’s a few bits have popped up that are not just perfectly respectable scientific uncertainty, but are quite clear examples of scientific incompetence and fraud. The Hockeystick saga. The unpublicised appalling state of the measurement stations. The shenanigans with undocumented adjustments, the refusal to share data, the refusal to reveal methods and algorithms, the statistical incompetence. The over-reliance on computer models. The reported bias in acceptance for publication, for funding, for tenure. And worst of all, the use of political advocacy groups, media campaigns, and the smearing of anyone with the temerity to express doubt.

Such danger signs cannot be ignored. There’s good science and there’s bad science, and it is vital for people to be able to tell the difference. The theory of AGW is currently bad science.

And when someone comes along claiming to be a scientist, but clearly even less of a climatologist than I am, with fundamental misunderstandings of how the scientific method works, logically fallacious arguments, firm preconceptions, a foul-mouthed contempt for anyone who disagrees, and who expresses a total arrogant self-confidence in their own superiority, then even people with little understanding of the details of climatology can be quickly convinced that there’s something fishy about AGW and its most vocal adherents, that it should only be defended by the likes of you.

We have better arguments, but you are our most convincing argument. If you are the best that AGW advocacy can come up with, if they think you are at all typical of its believers, people are much more willing to take scepticism seriously. I presume that isn’t your intention, but sometimes you’re so bad it’s hard to tell.

• Scientist

It’s hard to tell from your incoherent post what you’re trying to prove. The figures from here, here and here, the wind power generated in California (4,258 million kWh annually) is three times San Francisco County’s domestic power consumption, and about two thirds of the total consumption in the county. It’s also enough to power all the street lights in California 2.5 times over.

Curious that you say they take up a lot of space and then justify this by claiming they are visible from 50 miles away. To be visible from 50 miles away in any direction they would have to be 500 metres tall if they were situated on flat ground, and obviously the area something is visible from bears no relation whatsoever to the amount of space it takes up.

• Scientist

My previous post referred to ‘Mesa Econoguy’.

Stevo: a very typical denialist post, full of unbacked assertions, misunderstandings and sheer, bloody, breathtaking stupidity.

approximations with weak justifications – such as?
more and more guesses – such as?
more and more confident extrapolations taken from highly uncertain data – such as?
Definitions of apparently basic terms turn out to be complex or non-intuitive. – such as?
There is significant confusion about fundamental principles. – such as?
The data keeps changing. – such as?
The future of the free world is being steered by some crufty code hacked together by a handful of academics – I don’t think so.
Seriously. I’ve seen it. – obviously you haven’t.
clearly even less of a climatologist than I am – that would be impossible.
a foul-mouthed contempt for anyone who disagrees – no, just for people who are abusive to me. Fair enough don’t you think?
we have better arguments – such as?

• Mesa Econoguy

Okay, last bit on this:

According to those numbers, San Francisco County power consumption (2005) was 6243 million kWh, and the 2004 total generation figure was 4258 million kWh, which is about 70% of SF county’s total power consumption (assuming some growth in production from the 2004 figure).

Also, San Francisco is a tiny portion of the bay area, which consumes far more power. You’d need a hell of a lot more of these things to even get to 20% generation state wide, and that ain’t gonna happen.

Curious that you say they take up a lot of space and then justify this by claiming they are visible from 50 miles away.

Huh? Judging by your previous misstatements, you are that dense. That’s the point – you can’t put these anywhere, they have to be sited correctly to take advantage of wind conditions, and they must be spaced properly as well.

They are very clearly visible, especially in the north Palm Springs desert, which is far from flat (and is in fact why they placed them there, given the favorable topography and resulting wind patterns), so that is most definitely part of this conversation. Just ask Ted Kennedy, who nixed the idea on Martha’s Vineyard.

So unless you intend to fill up much of the remaining space of AZ and NV with windmills, I suggest you shove this idea straight up your ass.

This technology is still largely useless. It is an unbelievably expensive supplement, at best, to far more efficient power generation technology already in place.

• Mesa Econoguy

Don’t know why that tag didn’t close.

• morganovich

scientist, you are either deliberately being snarky and evasive, or you really are not keeping up with the conversation.

your estimate of price is not what i am taking issue with.

what i know to be false are your claims about power output. there is no way that the 2mwh/year number is true in anything other than a wind tunnel.

even full scale wind farms with huge vestas or gamesa windmills using 100 meter diameter blades that are sited in very windy areas only get a capacity factor of 25-35%. you will get significantly less that that with a small turbine.

i used to work at an energy and alt energy oriented hedge fund. i have seen loads of business plans and cash flow statements for wind farms. none are viable absent large subsidies. wind is just too variable an input.

also: even if you are going to get your 2mwh/year, you are assuming it will line up with just when you need the power. it won’t. wind is generally highest around sunrise and sunset. that does not line up with peak power usage. it’s been a consistent problem for those integrating wind farms into the grid. you will lose easily half of what you produce unless you either store the electricity or push it back to the grid.

so how are you going to store it? do you have any idea what batteries that size would cost and how few charge/discharge cycles they would take before they degraded? you’d be looking at another \$10,000 easily and likely replacement every 3 years. ask a prius owner. or look at the batteries used in the tesla roadster. (over \$20,000 and good for about 100 charges)

the only other option is to sell power back to the grid. but is your transformer set up to take it? your wiring? your utility provider? your power meter? what do you think all those upgrades would cost?

it will be easy to tell when one of these technologies becomes commercially viable because it will spread like wildfire. people figure this stuff out pretty quickly one it works.

at present wind is still 3-5 times the cost of fossil fuels for generating electricity. the only reason it’s being used in government subsidies. it’s not even close to ready to stand on its own.

• Stevo

“Stevo: a very typical denialist post, full of unbacked assertions, misunderstandings and sheer, bloody, breathtaking stupidity.”

Annoying isn’t it? Perhaps now you understand why it’s so annoying when you do it.

I’m not going to go through all your questions in detail – I suggest you go read the literature. I think you’ll find everything I say is confirmed there. (Or do you think that isn’t a very good argument? 😉 )

Let’s see…
“approximations with weak justifications – such as?” Relative humidity being constant. One dimensional radiative models. Constant tropopause height. Grid resolution.
“more and more guesses – such as?” The guess that the unaccounted for heat was going into the oceans.
“more and more confident extrapolations taken from highly uncertain data – such as?” Paleoclimatology. GCM outputs.
“Definitions of apparently basic terms turn out to be complex or non-intuitive. – such as?” Temperature anomaly. Mean surface temperature.
“There is significant confusion about fundamental principles. – such as?” How the greenhouse effect actually works – it’s strong dependence on lapse rate, for example.
“The data keeps changing. – such as?” Temperature series such as GISTEMP are subject to continually varying adjustments. Various tree ring series exist in multiple versions. You told me yourself that the Minschwaner/Dessler data had changed since publication.
“The future of the free world is being steered by some crufty code hacked together by a handful of academics – I don’t think so.” I am, of course, referring to the code used by Hansen to generate GISTEMP, the temperature series you quoted above.
“Seriously. I’ve seen it. – obviously you haven’t.” That’s a pretty bold assertion. Care to back it up?

Here’s an extract:
DO 90 IN=1,INM
REWIND 30+IN
MF=INFO(1)
IF(ITRIM.GT.0) ML=INFO(8+ITRIM)
50 IF(MF.GE.LAST) GO TO 90

[…]

ELSE
ISU=ISU+1
IF(ISU.GT.NSTAM) STOP ‘ERROR: NSTAM TOO SMALL’
MFSU(ISU)=MFCUR
I1SU(ISU)=I1Snow
ILSU(ISU)=I1Snow+LENGTH-1
CSLATU(ISU)=COS(XLAT*PI180)
SNLATU(ISU)=SIN(XLAT*PI180)
CSLONU(ISU)=COS(XLON*PI180)
SNLONU(ISU)=SIN(XLON*PI180)
IDU(ISU)=ITRL(3)
CC(ISU)=NAME(34:36)
END IF
I1Snow=I1Snow+LENGTH
GO TO 50
90 CONTINUE
NSTAu=ISU ! total number of bright/urban or dim/sm.town stations
NSTAr=ISR ! total number of dark/rural stations
LDTOT=I1Snow-1 ! total length of IDATA used
write(*,*) ‘number of rural/urban stations’,NSTAr,NSTAu
C**** Convert data to real numbers (ann avgs were multiplied by 10)
DO 115 N=1,LDTOT
ELSE
RDATA(N)=.1*IDATA(N) ! .01C to .1C
END IF
115 CONTINUE

Good, isn’t it?

Now, how do you figure you can make a statement like “obviously you haven’t” when it’s clear that you haven’t seen the code? Are you just making it up as you go, or did you really think you knew what the code looked like?

Since you tell me that in order to have an understanding you have to have read the literature, and since you claim to understand yourself – quoting GISTEMP as an authority – you must have seen this before, right? You did know that this is how it was calculated, right? And you understand how this code compares to normal standards in current software engineering practice? So why did you think I hadn’t seen it?

“clearly even less of a climatologist than I am – that would be impossible.” Then how come you know less than I do about it, make elementary mistakes like thinking the oceans were cooler because water has a high heat capacity or that positive feedback can cancel out a cooling effect, can’t quote from the papers you cite, etc.?
“a foul-mouthed contempt for anyone who disagrees – no, just for people who are abusive to me. Fair enough don’t you think?” I think it’s untrue. You’ve been abusive several times simply because people won’t accept what you say. But I’m not going to get into that.
“we have better arguments – such as?” Such as any of our science-based arguments. You really ought to pay more attention.

• Mesa Econoguy

Let’s try again. Posting from Firefox 2.0 this time (used the beta before – it’s been hanging and doing weird things lately).

• Mesa Econoguy

That didn’t work. I’m stumped. Apologies.

Just to elaborate on some of Morganovich’s excellent points above, the economic comparison of wind power to everything else is very warped. Wind power is subsidized by the federal government, state governments, is given favorable depreciation and tax treatment, and green mandates spread cost of wind power transmission to other traditional power generation sources.

Also, as observed above, wind farms average output is less than 30% of their theoretical capacity, compared to 85-95% for gas-fired plants. The Betz Limit caps maximum turbine efficiency at 59.3%.

Further,

“Wind power requires about 11 square feet of land to generate 4 watts of electricity–the amount needed to turn on a light bulb. To generate that same 4 watts of electricity, a natural gas plant requires 30 to 200 times less space.”

Current wind power generation capacity has come about through a combination of corporate welfare and mandate/decree, two of the worst ways of achieving economic efficiencies.

• Stevo

Mesa,

I think it was something to do with closing with another opening tag. With two tags open, you have to close twice as well. It will probably take the blog owner’s edit to fix properly. Don’t worry about it.

• Mesa Econoguy

I think we fixed it!

[I promise not to use italics tags for a while…]

• Chris Christner

“And then there’s a few bits have popped up that are not just perfectly respectable scientific uncertainty, but are quite clear examples of scientific incompetence and fraud. The Hockeystick saga. The unpublicised appalling state of the measurement stations. The shenanigans with undocumented adjustments, the refusal to share data, the refusal to reveal methods and algorithms, the statistical incompetence. The over-reliance on computer models. The reported bias in acceptance for publication, for funding, for tenure. And worst of all, the use of political advocacy groups, media campaigns, and the smearing of anyone with the temerity to express doubt.”

Nice synopsis, Stevo.

• Scientist

If you find the definition of temperature anomaly complex or non-intuitive, Stevo, that tells me plenty about your level of understanding.

any of our science-based arguments – a literature search reveals that you don’t have any science-based arguments.

• Kriek Jooste

Even though Scientist is a troll, I do appreciate him being here. It makes the discussion lively and at this point I believe he has the capacity to contribute to actual knowledge, but it’s obviously hard to extract these gems between all the trolling.

I suggest we apply the approach suggested by Paul Graham at http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html to classify what Scientist say. Then only respond to anything DH4 and above.

• Stevo

Kriek,

What an iteresting site! My thanks.

“The statements that make people mad are the ones they worry might be believed. I suspect the statements that make people maddest are those they worry might be true.”

It’s missing some classifications. Like arguing with points that were never made – i/e, the strawman attack. Or blitzkrieg attacks, which are common with him – an endless series of shallow, weak arguments which he doesn’t even bother defending. (Nor does he even drop them from his arguments the next time, as we’ve seen with every argument about alternative energy sources.)

So let’s add some classifications. SM1-6 are straw man arguments of the varying calibers – I can’t see personal attacks being classifiable into a straw man attack, but an ad hominem attack might be dependent upon the opposition.

And BK1-6, to indicate it’s an argument we’ve seen before that he’s unwilling or unable to support once challenged, but brings up regularly anyways.

We should keep the numerics so we communicate that we understand the caliber of the argument – i/e, it might be a good argument, if the straw man case were true – but that we’re ignoring it for other reasons.

• TDK

Report on Wind Energy here.

It draws attention to a number of problems including

• requirement for backup sources, which must be run concurrently in order to step in when the wind drops.
• destabilising the grid.

I think wind has a limited number of good applications. Denmark uses its excess capacity to pump water into reservoirs for later use in Hydro Electric schemes. This avoids the matching and storage problems that would otherwise occur. It works for Denmark but other countries will have less scope to achieve this balance. They will have to run conventional power systems on standby to switch in as needed. Thus the putative saving in CO2 achieved by using wind is offset by running conventional in standby mode.

• Kriek Jooste

Even Denmark with their high use of wind power imports about as much energy (mostly nuclear) from other countries as they produce from wind. However, when the wind is working it’s very cost efficient and they get to export the excess. I can see how it makes sense at such a small scale.

• I assume strawman arguments are strawman arguments and ignore them.

[Or really just insults. Anyway, they aren’t always invalid. Just because someone might not be wrong doesn’t mean they’re worth listening to.]

• Industry Insider

Stevo,

Kudos to you for this post. A nice summary and well-written. I saved a copy for posterity. Keep up the good work.

-Industry Insider

“Ha! You’re generalising again. I don’t have any great problem with a lot of climate science, it’s only the AGW bit that has turned into a religion that it is a sin to doubt. I only have a problem with paying for journal articles that I no reason to think have anything interesting to tell me. I get many subscriptions handled by my employers, but I need a reason to justify accessing a lot outside my specialisation. I’m not going to waste what leeway I have on your rubbish.

I have little hope of it going in, but I’ll explain anyway. When a scientist dips briefly into another field and the matter isn’t too vital…”

• Kriek Jooste

Just a note, Paul Graham is the guy who originally proposed Bayesian filtering to deal with spam, which currently still forms the largest part of most effective spam filters. Unfortunately I don’t think there will be anything like automated troll filtering though.