James Lovelock, now 92 years of age, is the father of Gaia theory, the idea that Mother Earth is a sort of sentient, self-regulating organism. So it was noteworthy a few weeks back when he walked back some of his predictions of our planet's impending doom from Global Warming.
In an interview with the Guardian, Lovelock embraces fracking for natural gas, scorns renewables and castigates the Germans for shutting down their nukes in favor of lignite, a low-grade coal, for electricity generation. (H/T wattsupwiththat.com.)
Gas is almost a give-away in the US at the moment. They've gone for fracking in a big way. This is what makes me very cross with the greens for trying to knock it: the amount of CO2 produced by burning gas in a good turbine gives you 60% efficiency. In a coal-fired power station, it is 30% per unit of fuel. So you get a two-to-one gain there straight away. The next two-to-one gain you get is that methane has only got half its energy in the carbon, the other half is in the hydrogen, so there's a four-to-one gain in CO2 output from the same amount of electricity by burning methane. Let's be pragmatic and sensible and get Britain to switch everything to methane.
We rushed into renewable energy without any thought. The schemes are largely hopelessly inefficient and unpleasant. I personally can't stand windmills at any price. Hydro, biomass, solar, etc, have all got great promise, but they're not available tomorrow, or even in 10 years.
Germany is a great country and has always been a natural leader of Europe, and so many great ideas, music, art, etc, come out of it, but they have this fatal flaw that they always fall for an ideologue and Europe has suffered intensely from the last two episodes of that. And it looks to me as if the green ideas they have picked up now could be just as damaging. They are burning lignite now to try and make up for switching off nuclear. They call themselves green, but to me this is utter madness.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):
I think the most outrageous example of climate scientists getting it wrong and not admitting it was the 2007 IPPC report. They happily accepted the Nobel prize, but their sea-level rise estimates ... were 100% wrong. They didn't really answer this other than say it's a very complicated business and we've only just started. The IPCC is too politicised and too internalised. Whenever the UN puts its finger in it seems to become a mess.
Cross-posted at Maley's Energy Blog.