Tom Greatrex (Platform, 24 July) states that “investors need an evidence-based approach” about renewables and investment in a low-carbon economy.
An evidence-based approach is exactly what is needed about renewables and emissions saving. Wind and tides are free but everything else costs and the exploitation is neither renewable nor sustainable.
Current turbines require rare earth metals in their construction; most of that currently comes from China.
It isn’t cheap and, like all such resources, there is only a limited amount to be mined. Even if an alternative is found, iron ore to make steel is limited too. Even with the best recycling possible some is always lost.
How much unrecoverable iron is there on the bottom of the ocean as boats continue to sink, for example. Wind energy is only regarded as renewable because we use a small amount of it.
A recent analysis published in the Royal Society London Proceedings indicated that if the 17 terrawatts of energy the human race currently uses were given over to wind generation, the effects on the world climate would be far more damaging than the worst predictions of climate change. No doubt the first humans to use coal could have regarded it as renewable, given the few fires they would make and the billions of tonnes of coal then present.
Mr Greatrex wants a low-carbon economy. He might be better examining whether wind turbines actually save emissions.
Careful evidence-based analyses I have seen suggest that there is little, down to none, emissions saving from current wind energy use.
Self-evidently, emissions reduction targets will not be met by continuing investment in a technology that doesn’t live up to its claims.
(Prof) Tony Trewavas FRS FRSE
Scientific Alliance Scotland
North St David Street
I have crossed turbine blades with Dr Moreton on numerous occasions and this latest letter (24 July) is no different since he resorts to insults.
He is quick to say: “So what?” to research that sea water chemistry is a key clause to climate change.
Another report says that Northern Europe has been generally cooling for 2,000 years. Will Dr Moreton say: “So what?” to that, and all the other reports he finds unpalatable?
He states that we are running out of fossil fuels.
Economist and professor of energy policy Dieter Helm recently said: “The Earth’s crust is riddled with fossil fuels and there is enough oil and gas (and coal too) to fry the planet several times over.”
The world economy needs cheap, abundant and accessible energy. It is there in the form of shale gas and the UK has its share. American natural gas prices are now half of what they were three years ago, lowering electricity prices, stabilising manufacturing costs and attracting foreign investment.
I await the predicable reply from Dr Moreton about ground water contamination and earthquakes and have my response already drafted.
In pushing global warming Dr Moreton did previously say that the Oregon Petition (easily the largest expression of scientists' opinion on warming) contained “film celebrities” rather than scientists and that “many” were “funded by the oil industry”. Both claims are serious slurs.
In fact, the overwhelming balance of funding – by tens of billions – has gone into government funding of alarmism. No single scientist anywhere who supports catastrophic warming and does not ultimately get paid by the state has been verified.
Now Dr Moreton has moved on to claim that “oil and gas are running out” (Letters, 24 July). If that were true it would disprove his entire alarmist thesis that burning these will produce catastrophe.
Shale gas has greatly reduced US electricity prices and thus brought them out of recession.
Worst, from the point of view of alarmists, this gas has also reduced CO2 output because it has a better energy-to-carbon ratio than coal, possibly better, over the whole cycle, than even windmills.
In the same way, improving technology has allowed Canadian tar sands to be developed so that oil reserves also are greater than at any time. This contrasts with the “environmentalists’” “peak oil in a couple of years” scare stories repeated regularly since the 1960s.