I’d wondered previously how much “cherry picking” goes on among those who report on climate change, in particular those unique individuals who do not believe that climate change is a real thing and no we really shouldn’t do anything about it.
The “windmills don’t stop coal being burnt” report doing the rounds this week has been an astonishing example. Here’s my take on it from last week.
The centre of the story is Hamish Cummings, retired engineer, who made some phone calls and used some AEMO dispatch data to conclude, fairly ambitiously, that when the windmills come on the coal plants don’t turn down, so the windmills aren’t doing anything. This showed conclusively, using “real data” that the windmills weren’t contributing. It was seized upon enthusiastically by Jo Nova, Independent Australia, Andrew Bolt (whose comment moderators deleted my link to the post where I strongly disagreed), Australian Climate Madness, and of course The Australian.
All of these outlets thought a story on the carbon intensity of the grid and whether or not windmills influenced it was worthy of a story.
No doubt then all of these people will be happy to know there is an index of carbon intensity, published monthly by Pitt and Sherry, who like Hamish, are engineers.
It shows pretty clearly that in about 2009 emissions stopped following the pattern of demand and started decreasing. It also shows a corresponding decline in black coal and an increase in renewables. Brown coal is probably not the first to go in the bidding order because it is the cheapest. The recent carbon price will have an impact on that though.
So a retired engineer releases a report, based on phone calls, letters and publicly available network data (read very low resolution) completely disagrees with an index which has been published monthly for years, and they publish the retired engineer. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.
Tristan over at Climate Spectator has a good post on this as well.