Peter Taylor’s CHILL: a Reassessment of Global Warming Theory is really two books in one. The first part covers the science of climate change in exhaustive detail and provides an alternative to the orthodox view. Taylor, who has impeccable green credentials, describes “the technocratic and communalist approach” in a masterly analysis of how we arrived at this point through “a combination of zealotry which somehow has managed to portray the science as unequivocal when it’s not”. The second part covers policy, politics and remedies.

A main theme of the first part of the book is that we take too linear a view of
climate-trend projections, without recognising past patterns and cycles
which could include future cooling. I am comfortable with that notion, as any observer of history is provided with clear evidence that climate oscillates in numerous
cycles of warm and cold periods.

Readers who believe Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, and who consider the IPCC
climate assessments are factual, unbiased and objective, will not like this
book. As Taylor says: “It is clear to me that IPCC has made such a forthright commitment to the standard (Co2 ) policy model, that it has a biased attitude to new data that does not conform to that model.” And:

“It is striking that a small group of men working behind computer screens created a virtual reality in which the future climate became the enemy of mankind. That original cabal was likely innocent of any underhand motivation and genuinely believed mankind faced a threat and that they would sound the alert and potentially stave off disaster. But sociologists will go a little bit further and look at the social environment that pawned the very concepts of the climate game, many of which we take entirely for granted. For example the notion that humanity itself can be under threat or that the planet might need to be saved. These are very recent notions, at least from a societal perspective, and do not bear closer scientific scrutiny. “

This book is a breath of fresh air in pointing out the numerous contradictions in the orthodox climate science camps that believe themselves uniquely exempt to the notion that they should actually prove their scientific hypotheses – that by altering the climate and doubling Co2 emissions, mankind will cause a rise in temperatures of up to 6 degrees C.
The author clinically examines areas of uncertainty, plain misunderstandings, and assertions in the existing ‘consensus’ by reviewing numerous high quality ‘contrarian’ papers that rarely receive much coverage in the science and popular media, which is obsessed with the notion of anthropogenic global warming. Climate science is a very small world with authors frequently peer reviewing each other’s papers, some of which might be based on their own work in the first place (Google US Congress hearing by Wegman). Also, they often pronounce on subjects of which they have little
knowledge. When talking of Solanki – a leading solar scientist – Taylor comments:

“This is another classic example of senior scientists publishing in the peer
reviewed literature and commenting on issues entirely outside of their field,
such as carbon dioxide and atmospheric physics, without reference to other
entire fields of relevant climatology, seriously compromised by
compartmented approach or political correctness in the face of
‘controversial’ science.”

That Taylor – and many other commentators –  believes that even the IPCC’s
lowest Co2/temperature rise scenario exaggerates its case by at least a
factor of three is amply illustrated, and as the author demonstrates, sea
levels and temperatures have obviously not read the IPCC’s script.

Having demolished what currently passes for peer reviewed and settled
science, Taylor moves on to remedies and the consequences of the politics in
the second part of his book. He argues that we are not doing enough to adapt to
inevitable changes, and that in particular we are vulnerable to the climate
cooling, for which there is no ‘Plan B’ whatsoever. The author believes many
of the actions for mitigating the supposed impacts of warming are counter
productive. He stresses the need to create ‘resilient systems’ to cope with
all eventualities. As the author says in examining the ‘collusion of
interests’ he has identified; “I can see how it works to everyone’s interest
to believe in the scary climate story.”

This excellent but lengthy book deals with a difficult subject and therefore
its structure is especially important to ensure accessibility and achieve
the influence it deserves, but in this there are problems. For example,
omitting the chapter number at the head of each page yet referring to
chapter numbers in the text was irritating, as wer the constant references to
papers placed on the author’s web site. As much of the science is complex
and multi-layered, it cannot be read like a novel at one go, so it would be
useful to provide a chapter summary. Also I felt it was missing a chapter on
the IPCC’s politics, rationale and peer review processes, that would
illustrate how they became part of the ‘collusion of interests’ intent on scaring
everyone to death when really we have far more important things to worry
about. Nevertheless, the book remains essential and provocative reading.

Finally, to extract from the major review of the science in the first part
of the book is not easy, given the volume of material covered. But here is a
dip into the section on ocean cycles (page 131), which illustrates the tone
of the message:

“The oceans play a crucial role in the absorption and dissipation of heat
over decadal and millennial timescales and with distinct cyclic patterns.
These patterns are poorly understood and not replicated in global warming
models, and any conclusions drawn with respect to those models being able to
isolate an anthropogenic global warming signal must be regarded as unproven
and unlikely”.

These are brave words from a career environmentalist who has managed to keep his head when all around him are losing theirs.

CHILL: a Reassessment of Global Warming Theory
Peter Taylor
Clairview Books, 2009, 404 pages
£14.99 Pbk  ISBN  978 1 905570 19 5

[or try  –  TonyN]

For a profile of Peter Taylor follow the link;

421 Responses to “Peter Taylor’s CHILL: an environmentalist’s very cool look at global warming”

  1. Peter Martin

    Mind your manners, as TonyN has advised you. Being surly and aggressive only makes you look [snip – sorry, but that doesn’t help]

  2. Abuse doesn’t win arguments

    Nor does posting graphics that take five minutes to download and need rescaling to be legible!

  3. TonyN,

    For a start I should apologise for posting such a big graph. I totally misjudged how it would look.
    Maybe you could delete it and I’ll give this link instead.

    But I’m not making any apologies about lack of graphs and lack of scientific references in Peter Taylor’s contribution.

    It is understandable when non scientists make unsubstantiated statements but not when the author claims to be scientifically trained. Prof Ian Plimer is the master of this sort of thing of course. Even Max has to admit that his book his full of errors. These would be so easily avoided if it was an absolute requirement that assertions should be referenced. Either by their own published work or by others.

    And if they can’t be, it should be freely admitted that what is being suggested is just a personal opinion.

    TonyN: Just add WIDTH = “540” to the image tag (note the quotation marks) like this:

    mg src="" alt="" WIDTH="540"/

    See your previous comment now:

    Also see blog rule number 4. It is irrelevant whether anyone who contributes to this blog went to Oxford. Only what they say matters, and any evidence that you may have to contest it.

  4. Peter Martin

    The NSIDC record confirms Dr. Taylor’s statement that “[in 2008] the September low was 9% above the record in 2007”

    End-September Arctic sea ice extent in millions of km^2
    2007: 4.28
    2008: 4.67 = 9% above 2007

    Your graph (end-August data) shows:

    End-August Arctic sea ice extent in millions of km^2
    2007: 5.32
    2008: 6.03 = 13% above 2007
    2009: 6.26 = 18% above 2007

    You should really check out the data before you accuse an author of “trying to mislead” the readers of his book. The statement by Peter Taylor is 100% correct, as the NSIDC data show (and your graph confirms).

    Grow up, Peter.


    PS I will revert in a separate post to the totally separate and irrelevant topic of Plimer’s book.
    TonyN: on the NS thread please, not here

  5. I want to keep this thread strictly focused on Peter Taylor’s book. If you want to discuss Plimer, then the NS thread is the place and you can always link to any comments here that are relevant. Just right click on a comment number then copy and paste the link location.

  6. Peter Martin

    You commented to Peter Taylor:

    it is understandable when non scientists make unsubstantiated statements but not when the author claims to be scientifically trained. Prof Ian Plimer is the master of this sort of thing of course. Even Max has to admit that his book his full of errors.

    The first part of this statement was apparently aimed at Dr. Taylor. I have read his book, found it to be very informative and not at all full of “unsubstantiated statements” as you apparently claim. Making an unsubstantiated blanket accusation is falling into your own trap, Peter.

    [TonyN: Max, I’ve moved this paragraph to the NS thread here, for the reasons given in #30 which I posted only moments ahead of yours]

    My advice to you: stick with facts, Peter, rather than slipping into hyperbole.


  7. TonyN

    Sorry. The second pat of my post should have been aired on the other thread, but it was posted before I saw your post.

    I agree that the two topics are totally unrelated (although Peter Martin seems to have difficulty grasping this).


  8. TonyB

    You asked Peter Martin (24):

    why he thinks a thirty year satellite record (which starts from a high point for ice) is indicative of very long term trends in arctic ice cover

    To your point about the arbitrary start of the current record on Arctic sea ice, there are several studies showing that Arctic climate has gone through earlier warming/cooling cycles, and that the current situation is not unusual.

    I will cite two of these studies, which show (a) a warm period during the 1930s and 1940s with temperatures as high as those of today and (b) reduced sea ice extent during this period, which only later returned to the high levels measured at the start of the latest retreating cycle in 1979 (when satellite measurements started), i.e. your point.

    Finally, the temperature record at Illulisaat, Greenland (near the outlet of the much discussed Jakobshavn Glacier) shows that both the summer and winter temperatures over the 20-year periods 1928-1947 were considerably higher than those over the most recent period 1986-2005:

    -11.8C winter
    +6.6C summer

    -15.5C winter
    +5.7C summer

    A look at the longer-term record of average annual temperature at Illulisaat shows a sharp warming trend in the early 20th century with the warmest period occurring in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by a cooling trend until the 1970s, which was followed by the current warming trend. The first half of the century showed warming, the second half showed cooling, and the overall trend over the entire period showed very slight cooling. Interestingly, the current temperatures have not yet reached the maximum values recorded in the 1940s (see graph).

    So yes, you are right that starting the Arctic sea ice record with 1979 gives a distorted picture of the long-term picture.

    It is part of the same tactic used by IPCC to “prove” AGW (starting the measurement of the latest global warming trend in 1976, while essentially ignoring the early 20th century global warming and the mid-century cooling)?

    Would you call this “cherry-picking”? Or is it simply working with fortuitously selected data?


  9. Firstly – apologies for not providing scientific references – I had not wanted to overload the blog and most of what I can give are not that readily accessible. I am also not familiar with blogging protocols on uploading graphics – so if the moderator can help there, I will be able to provide more support. I also have very limited time – just typing one reference takes a few minutes! I appreciate that some commentators like to be rather sharp in their tone – I don’t take it personally! I shall also not shy away from a personal opinion based on my professional experience – which is not academic (I did not stay on at Oxford for a doctorate, as i left half way through to found my own institute – whose personnel had several doctoral level members)- thus, most of my own references on nuclear risks are to material that is published and available but generally only in copyright depository libraries.


    On the safety of nuclear power: my primary expertise was in the assessment techniques and how they could be biased – my article in Nature (see list below) outlines how this can happen, and my review of comparative risks to coal production (for the National Union of Coalminers) and more generally, (for the UK Sizewell Inquiry) points out to the clients how the nuclear industry conflates values and indices – for example, by converting all types of accident damage to health to ‘working days lost’ or ‘life shortenings’ even when as a consequence of a low probability-high consequence event (amount of damage (e.g. lives lost) divided by number of years (e.g. 10,000 for a 1:10,000 year assessed event) and thus comparing leukaemia deaths in children or other radiation impacts to the general public with accidents and illness to coal miners using the same index. The problems in this approach should be obvious. By selective use of indices, a major disaster expected to occur once in 10,000 years can be compared to the daily impact of coal-burning (offsite health impacts) or to damage and accidents to miners. Of course, the probabilities of an accident are not proven in the same way as daily statistics and there are all manner of uncertainties in assessing the health impacts of coal burning. I haven’t the time now to check out the Canadian reference you give – but there is a considerable literature on comparative risk assessment (I last reviewed it over 20 years ago) and one thing is clear – it depends on who is making the assessment and on whose behalf as to what answer you get. That’s why I have committed time to Public Inquiries and parliamentary commissions where assumptions can be tested by cross examination. From this experience I have concluded that nuclear power poses unique risks in type and scale, both to life, sense of well-being and economy – and that is an opinion, of course!

    In the references you will find some detail on the large consequence accidents – my group was one of the first to document these risks, having been given access to normally restricted studies – much of which was not public knowledge when siting and licensing criteria were agreed. The same applies to studies of nuclear waste storage and disposal.

    In all these areas our primary objectives were a) to change the law and better protect the pubic, and b) to affect future energy policy decisions – and on both counts, we were effective. I wish I had written books about it or published more accessibly – but nobody paid us to do that. On the one occasion that I wrote a full length scientific review – published in marine pollution bulletin (and off topic as it dealt with toxic waste policy) – it took a full year and cost £20,000 at 1993 prices, precisely because as you appreciate so well, everything needed to be fully referenced. Incidentally, that paper critiqued the UN panel on marine pollution prevention and many of the lessons from their errors inform my critique of IPCC in the book (all fully referenced to my UN work – so please do read it).

    On CO2 and doubling:

    One of the most interesting recent papers that has sparked much expert debate is:

    Miskolczi (2007) ‘greenhouse effect in semi-transparent planetary atmospheres’ Quaterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service, 111 (1) Jan-March 2007, 1-40.

    I believe he is ex-NASA, and he breaks with the orthodox views regarding the water-vapour amplifier.

    For an overall view of the fall off of effectivity with addtional concentration:

    Barratt J (2005) ‘Greenhouse molecules, their spectra and function in the atmosphere’ Energy & Environment, 16, 6, 1040-1046

    and there is Monckton’s challenge to the orthodox models in:

    Monckton C (2008) ‘Climate sensitivity reconsidered’ Forum for Physics and Society, American Physical Society, July 2008.

    Now – I have to assume that the orthodox models have in some way allowed for the logarithmic relationship – but in my three years, i could not find a single reference that explained it, nor how the radiative forcing was calculated – other than in Monckton’s paper where he highlighted James Hansen’s assumptions of a 300% water vapour gain factor in what appears to be a very simplistic equation. But then, though I have over 30 years experience as a science policy analyst, I must have missed the references – perhaps you could help?

    In lieu of finding them,I referred to Richard Lindzen’s original critique (as a member of the IPCC) urging caution to his fellow panelists (and hence not being part of any ‘consensus):

    Lindzen RS (1991)’Some uncertainties with respect to water vapour’s role in climate sensitivity’ Proceedings of NASA workshop ont he role of water vapour in climate processes’ October, 1990.

    Lindzen, though often villified for his criticism of IPCC (despite being a senior panel member and also a member of the US National Academy of Sciences panel on climate change) as well as professor of meteorology at MIT, has never ceased to point out that the water-vapour amplifier, without which carbon dioxide has very little power to heat the atmosphere, remains theoretical and unproven – he argues, that if the vapour condenses to cloud, it reverses the feedback.

    If you want to take this further, contact Takmen Wong at NASA’s Langley Research centre and talk to him about his conclusion in 2008 – in agreement with my own analysis – a) that thinning cloud between 1980-2000 can account for the whole of the post-1950 global warming signal (short-wave radiation to the ocean and land surface)- noting that from 1945-1980 there was no warming and that this is not now thought due to sulphur pollution but to natural cycles (IPCC 2007 report – a bit buried!), b) NASA can’t decide whether the CO2 effect warmed the oceans and the warming surface then thinned the clouds, or whether the cloud thinning is primary and this warmed the oceans (

    Incidently – this also relates to your other concern about the ice-melt because I argue in my book that the recent change – which i predicted, tends to support the latter theory.

    On ice-melt:

    I try to check out regularly several sources as NSIDC can be somewhat biased. They were predicting that 2008 and 2009 would be lower than 2007. I thought that there simply was not enough heat (cloud and warm water)coming in from the Pacific to maintain the melt. I was right. Try also JAXA/International Arctic Research Centre.

    There is not much debate about the extent of ice-loss as 2007 was a record in the data sets and the two recent years are up on that – and as you point out – there are small upswings in the record – and the ‘trend’ since 1979 is downward. If you extrapolate that trend, then very soon, there is no summer ice left.

    BUT – even the MetOffice (this week’s New Scientist) agrees (at last) that the summer ice melt is NOT driven by CO2 and air temperatures – rather by incursions of warm water underneath the ice, radiation from clouds and changing wind patterns. This is why the models predicted ice-free conditions in 2080, not 2015!

    The question then is – what drives the unusual ocean and cloud conditions (14% increase since 1980, but clearing recently)? The answer is the peaking of several long term cycles. I refer you to my chapter ‘Poles Apart’ in Chill, which goes into some detail – and when I learn how to upload a graph, i will provide you with evidence that between 1920-1940 there was a major heat wave in the Arctic – with only 2 stations out of 32 registering higher temperatures by 2004. When 19 stations are collated – there are two peaks – in 1940 and 2007 – this is a roughly 70 year Arctic cycle – and it comes on top of a longer 400/800 year cycle – the last peak of which saw the Vikings growing crops and grazing cattle in Greenland – but of course, we didn’t have ice-monitoring then!

    I certainly did not mean to mislead, anymore than you do when you show a graph only from 1979 and talk of a trend – lets discuss this when I can upload the Arctic temperature data!

    Here’s the references:

    (First academic paper on the extent of land contamination following a major aerial release)

    1988 Land-use implications of radioactive contamination. Land Use Policy, Vol.5 No1 pp62-70.

    (how to assess different risks-

    1988 Environmental Issues in Nuclear Risk Assessment.
    Nuclear Technology International, 1988, pp219-223.

    1988 Large Consequence Low Probability Accidents
    Standing Conference on Health & Safety in the Nuclear Age,
    CEC, Radiation Protection, Report EUR 11608 EN

    (first trans-frontier consequence analysis- do not know if this work was placed in the public domain-

    (1999) The impact upon Ireland of aerial and marine radioactive releases from potential catastrophic accidents at the Sellafield nuclear fuels reprocessing plant. McGill & Co., (for the Irish government) Dublin.

    (commissioned by 12 metropolitan city councils:

    (1994) Consequence Analysis of a Catastrophic Failure of Highly Active Liquid Waste Tanks Serving the THORP and Magnox Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Plants at Sellafield Manchester: Nuclear Policy and Information Unit, Manchester Town Hall.

    (as a result of UK government/greenpeace interational advisory work:

    (1985) The disposal of nuclear waste to the deep ocean PERG RR-15, Political Ecology Research Group, Oxford.

    (on behalf of the NUM – and published independently by PERG, as we did for all our consultancy work – which is unprecedented, and deposited with British Library:

    (1983) The health risks of nuclear and coal-fired electricity generation PERG RR-13 (with RJ Kayes), Political Ecology Research Group, Oxford.

    (for public service unions – eg police, ambulance, fire brigades:

    (1983) The effects of a severe reactor accident at the proposed Sizewell B station upon agriculture and fisheries in the UK and neighbouring countries. PERG RR-11. Political Ecology Research Group, Oxford.

    (1983) A critical review of emergency planning for nuclear accidents in the UK PERG RR-12 (with RJ Kayes) Political Ecology Research Group, Oxford.

    (1982) The impact of nuclear waste disposals to the marine environment PERG RR-8 Political Ecology Research Group, Oxford.

    (1980) The Nuclear Controversy (with Martin Stott) Town and Country Planning Association, London.

    (1980) The assessment and assumptions of risk in The Fast Breeder Reactor, ed. Sweet, Macmillan, London

    1979 Nuclear Energy: how the odds are stacked against the opponents
    Nature Vol 277 pp594-595.

    1977 Nuclear Power in Central Europe,
    The Ecologist Vol 7 No 6 pp216-222.
    (Also used as a text for the Open University ‘Control of Technology Course’.

    Max Anacker:

    On nucleat fusion – I learned a great deal from Dr Gordon Thompson – who left Culham – the premier European research centre into fusion, to join my research group in Oxford and work on renewable energy strategies and also nuclear assessments – I spent some time advising EU joint seminars – on the nature of the raw materials required for containment and their environmental costs (never mind the $). It is true there is less waste and much lower accident risk – but the technology requires great expenditure, centralised structures and is not adapted to a future of decentalised grids, or relevant to developing countries – better to put the money and brains to alternatives that we know will work (as Gordon did check out his Inst for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, MASS).

  10. TonyN: Just add WIDTH = “540? to the image tag

    Sound advice, but it’s still a 1.3MB download! I recommend Irfanview ( to view and rescale pictures before they are sent up the wire – it’s free and effective, and can do a lot more besides, although I guess it won’t make the data any more relevant…

  11. Max

    Thanks for those interesting links which I have saved for future use. Of course to those can be added that absolutely briiliant article which shows an even earlier part of this oscillation…

    I think we know why Peter Martin prefers his post 1979 section of the oscillation rather than the earlier well documented warmer parts of it. I am sure he is relieved though at the arctic ice recovery, although whether we are at the upswing of the entire oscillation yet is difficult to judge.


  12. Peter Taylor

    “BUT – even the MetOffice (this week’s New Scientist) agrees (at last) that the summer ice melt is NOT driven by CO2 and air temperatures – rather by incursions of warm water underneath the ice, radiation from clouds and changing wind patterns. This is why the models predicted ice-free conditions in 2080, not 2015!”

    Some months ago I posted here and elsewhere, extracts from an 1820 book that recognised that arctic ice melting was primarily driven by the warmer currents. The book quoted the temperatures found at various levels and surmised about its changing position. I subsequently had discussions on this with various of the international ice agencies who seemed to find this a completely novel concept, so we have not learnt much in nearly 200 years.

    The references can be found in my #36 above.

    At the end of the article are some extracts from modern studies by individuals who have also recently recognised the importance of warm currents.

    That the currents came from the west indies was surmised in 1820 when coconuts were found drifting in the water.


  13. These earlier oscillations open the mind to move away from the myopic fixation on human CO2 as the primary driver of climate.


  14. Peter Taylor

    Thank you for you excellent replies. You have just given us an excellent example of how to watch out for “lies, damned lies and statistics”. Your comments on Nuclear power are very thought provoking and no doubt a number of us will bear them in mind when giving our own opinions on nuclear power.

    However it’s your comments about CO2 that most interest me. It seems extraordinary that so many people ignore the fact that no one is able to demonstrate the feedback principle, and that it still remains an unproven theory. All the more extraordinary is the fact that very often the alternate reasons put forward for the variations in our climate, be they global or regional are very often far more plausible, very often obvious when examined and importantly something we can measure and quantify. What is it about human’s that causes those who lack the knowledge to gravitate to reasoning that can not be proven?

    Interestingly for me your lengthy posts here do not portray any Political bias and this makes what your write all the more informative. I will now order your book

  15. Peter Taylor

    Thanks for your assessment of the future of nuclear fusion as a source of electrical power. It appears that this is not as simple as some people believe.

    Yes, I have seen studies pointing to decentralized power generation as a more viable long-term alternate than multi-gigawatt plants tied together with a giant grid.

    These decentralized plants are often based on local in-situ generation together with waste heat recovery, often using natural gas. This definitely makes sense (I have personal experience along this line).

    Coal fired power plants are being built in China at a record pace, and this makes sense for them, since they have a lot of coal reserves, provided they clean up the flue gas to remove the many harmful pollutants that now make many Chinese cities uninhabitable for asthma sufferers, etc.

    The USA also has large coal reserves, but is importing record amounts of foreign oil. The current US proposals to stop all new coal-fired plant construction after 2010 and shut down half of the existing coal-fired plants by 2050 are exercises in futility. Even if one believes in a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3.2C (as promoted by IPCC), this will only result in a “mitigation” of 0.05C warming by 2050, at an estimated cost of $1 trillion (to replace the coal-fired plants with nuclear plants).

    Replacing coal-fired plants with solar or wind power might cover a small fraction of the power demand, but could never cover the total and would be even more expensive unless major breakthroughs can be made in these technologies to overcome their inherent low on-line factor.

    So I firmly believe that once we can get our politicians to abandon the myopic fixation on CO2 as the cause of potentially dangerous future warming, we can do what makes sense.

    And who knows what new technologies will be around 50 or 100 years from now?


  16. Max #40

    I have written a peer reviewed study on wave energy which should be published shortly.

    Disappointingly, it is evident that power from this source (and tide and barrage power)is in its infancy and it will take an Apollo type effort if they are to make any significant contribution to our energy needs in the next twenty years.

    Similarly, wind is a useful ‘top up’ (and is the most advanced renewable) but is by no means capable of providing the base supply needed and has its own environmental problems. You don’t save the environment by trashing the countryside.

    I had always thought that nuclear power-in some form-was an obvious candidate but after reading Peter Taylors comments have had second thoughts. Which realistically leaves us with few options as a supplier of base power.

    I favour coal in the UK’s circumstances as we have three hundred years supply of it, albeit we need to fit appropriate devices to reduce pollution. Gasification of coal is another possibilty as is continued use of oil and natural gas.

    These latter are a very finite resource in Western Europe and one of the benefits of using our own coal is that it is under ‘our’ control.

    Security of supply as well as availability of supply have to be the watch words if we are to retain our poltical and economic independence-it is very hard to criticise the action of another nation if they have their hands round our energy wind pipe.

    I think there is a lot to be said for ‘micro generation’ but that is also in its infancy


  17. Peter Taylor

    To your comment about smaller local power generation plants, Switzerland has a lot of forests, and is using smaller (up to 2 MW) decentralized wood (or biomass) fired plants to generate both electrical power for local consumption as well as waste heat for domestic or commercial heating. The estimated total generation by next year is stated to be around 300 million kWh per year (35 MW). I do not have any estimates on the kWh cost, but this depends on how the waste heat is valued. This is obviously just a “drop in the bucket”, but fits into your statement that small, local power plants could have a more important future role than large centralized plants.

    But I would agree with the comment by TonyB that those nations that have coal reserves would do well to use these to cover the bulk of their power needs rather than relying on imported oil or natural gas.


  18. Max

    We have some friends who live at Thusis which I suspect is not far from you. They have access to very cheap geo thermal energy. Absolutely sensible to use that and to use wood, willow and whatever else is appropriate in a locality.

    As I look out of my window the waves are crashing on to the beach releasing huge amounts of (untapped) energy. All the UK is within 70 miles of the coast and this is a sadly unused resource as we have concentrated on wind power.

    I think work on heat pumps is also sadly neglected.

    However for much of the industrialised world these methods are at present tinkering at the edges and we need base power. Perhaps we will conveniently ignore the safety issues with nuclear as other realistic options such as coal are frowned on.


  19. Max et al

    This may interest


  20. this is a sadly unused resource as we have concentrated on wind power

    Indeed. You may remember the Salter Duck, which was very (too) promising, and was sabotaged by the unholy alliance of Thatcher’s Dept. of Energy and the Atomic Energy Authority. More here:

  21. Jasper Gee

    Very interesting article.The IFR supposedly would deliver “safe nuclear power unlimited by fuel supplies”.

    “Mini-nukes” sound interesting, as well, and I guess the safety / environmental aspects have been considered.

    Is the fear of nuclear reactors real? Peter Taylor seems to have an aversion to this source, based on his past experience, but I am not in a position to judge this.

    The French have an excellent safety record with nuclear power generation, but the spent fuel problem must also be considered.

    I do believe, however, that coal-fired plants present no hazard to our planet whatsoever, provided the harmful pollutants are removed from the flue gas. This does not include CO2, which is a natural trace component of our atmosphere and an essential “plant food”.

    Higher atmospheric levels will very likely increase crop yields, which could become important if our planet continues the current cooling cycle for any length of time, as Taylor fears and several solar scientists predict.

    James Hansen (who is cited in the report) disagrees. He has stated that coal trains can be compared to the “death trains” of Nazi Germany, and that the “dangerous level” of atmospheric CO2 is 450 ppmv, beyond which we will see irreversible “tipping points” in our climate that will eventually lead to disastrous warming, flooding of coastal cities and mass extinctions of species.

    I think Hansen’s predictions are crazy. They are based on computer model “outputs” (which are based on flawed assumptions fed into the computers). There are no empirical data supporting the climate sensitivity estimates of these computer models, which essentially triple or quadruple the theoretical greenhouse warming impact of CO2.

    Peter Taylor’s book points this out very clearly, at the same time providing compelling evidence for much more logical natural reasons for changes in our planet’s climate, which not only apply for the last two and a half decades of the 20th century, but for all of our planet’s history.

    Every US Senator should get a copy of Peter Taylor’s book before the Senate votes on “cap ‘n tax” there. It should also be given to the governmental authorities in India and translated into Mandarin for the Chinese. I am afraid that the current UK government is beyond reading this book, since the AGW belief has become part of its political fiber. But I do believe that all the delegates to the upcoming Copenhagen conference should also get a copy to read before the meeting starts.

    The irrational AGW fear will undoubtedly disappear some day (especially if cooling continues). Ordinary people (i.e. voters in the democratic societies) will see that this is all a big hoax and will apply pressure on their politicians to abandon the “mitigation” proposals. Let’s just hope that not too much nonsense will have been done in the meantime based on this false fear.


  22. Just to say (belatedly) very good review by TonyB and I’m looking forward to obtaining and reading this book soon.

    Also, I have a question for Peter Taylor. If we are entering a cool cycle and one that may last for several decades, I think it is possible that we in the UK will have some harsh winters similar to those experienced in 1948 and 1962/63. It is also very possible that we will be facing an “energy crunch” during the next decade, as quite a few older power stations fired by coal, oil and nuclear fuel will be shut down, without enough newer power stations being built to replace them.

    Reading about the harder winters, for example 1948, it becomes clear that the country’s infrastructure is put under tremendous strain at these times. In 1948 we were very reliant on coal, for example, and there were massive problems, as the railway lines transporting coal to the power stations were blocked by deep drifts of snow. Now we have a road and rail system that I think would be equally vulnerable to a very cold, very snowy winter such as we had then. And we are reliant on a steady supply of electricity as never before in our history.

    Given the loss of older power stations, given the unlikelihood of renewables to fill the gap any time soon, also given the problems you foresee with nuclear power and given the reluctance of our government to go whole-heartedly for coal, what energy source(s) do you think might be the best investment in the short term, in order to keep a country like the UK functioning during the cold times?

  23. JamesP #45

    whilst writing my article on wave power I actually spoke to Prof Salter who is now at Edinburgh University.

    I am afraid the actual reason for its demise is rather more prosaic than the article suggests. In real world conditions (rather than the Tomorrows world studio water tank where I fondly remember it) the duck had a tendancy to be damaged-it just wasn’t robust enough. The output it could achieve was theoretical not realised.

    Robustness is still a problem to this day on virtually every wave device system-a recent test installation was destroyed in a moderate storm. Wind power for all its problems is able to cope with most scenarios by using a brake system that turns it off. Unfortunately ducks (and their succesors) havent yet learnt to waddle out of the sea when things get rough.

    Whatever the ins and outs it is certainly true that the research budget for renewables- other than wind- is very tiny and the wave hub project in Cornwall is one of the few schemes we are likely to learn anything from in the near future.


  24. Max

    Thanks for your response.

    I thought that Peter Taylor’s aversion to nuclear power might possibly predate the IFR project or that he might be unaware of the development because of the (reported) gag on those who worked on it.

    I was also interested to learn that Hansen himself is now a latterday enthusiast for the project.

    Again, I am quite pleasantly surprised that the ultra-green Prof Barry Brook is another proselyte.

    In my view Einstein’s famous equation must point the way forward for the world’s energy needs.


  25. Peter Taylor,

    It is is quite easy to give a reference on the internet. You just find the article then copy and paste the link. No typing involved at all.

    Lets look at you statement:
    “BUT – even the MetOffice (this week’s New Scientist) agrees (at last) that the summer ice melt is NOT driven by CO2 and air temperatures – rather by incursions of warm water underneath the ice, radiation from clouds and changing wind patterns. This is why the models predicted ice-free conditions in 2080, not 2015!”

    and compare it with what the New Scientist actually wrote:

    Is your comment a fair summary of Met Office is saying? I don’t think so. They are saying that there is a natural warming trend in the Arctic, but that in some years, for example in 2007, the melt is greater than would be expected from a simple linear regression, and in some years, it is less. So why not give the link to the New Scientist so that we can all see for ourselves if your commnents are accurate?

    It should be noted that the 2009 figure , on the graph than TonyN rescaled, (comment #22) isn’t even above the linear projection but just about exactly on it. There is just about nothing out of the ordinary in it at all.

    The sceptics, with their campaign of disinformation, are naturally reluctant to post any sort of graph at all. They’ll manipulate the data to create a false impression, in exactly the same way you did by choosing the low point of 2007 and then working out the % increase in the the following years.

    Its just ‘noise’ on the graph. You know that, or should do. So why the spin? Why try to create a false impression?

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