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This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.

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Re: Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air

Use of pumped water storage in wind energy systems is becoming popular for obvious reasons. There's an interesting one on El Hierro island, part of the Canarias islands. See here:
http://insula.org/islandsonline/ElHierroeng.pdf

Re: Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air

Another comment I could make on the book is that if you look at the UK 'Green establishment' definition of terms like sustainable, sustainability and sustainable development, then the title of the book doesn't make sense. Hot air is intrinsic to the official definition of what is sustainable.

If you take a look at Jonathan Porritt's Sustainable Development Commission website, this webpage gives the five supposed principles of sustainable development:

http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/pages/our-principles.html

The principles are:

"Living within environmental limits

Respecting the limits of the planet's environment, resources and boidiversity - to improve our environment and ensure that the natural resources needed for life are unimpaired and remain so for future generations.

Ensuring a strong, healthy and just society

Meeting the diverse needs of all people in existing and future communities, promoting personal wellbeing, social cohesion and inclusion, and creating equal opportunity.

Achieving a sustainable economy

Building a strong, stable and sustainable economy which provides prosperity and opportunities for all, and in which environmental costs fall on those who impose them (polluter pays), and efficient resource use is incentivised.

Using sound science responsibly

Ensuring policy is developed and implemented on the basis of strong scientific evidence, whilst taking into account scientific uncertainty (through the precautionary principle) as well as public attitudes and values.

Promoting good governance

Actively promoting effective participative systems of governance in all levels of society - engaging people's creativity, energy and diversity."


Using the mish mash of criteria above almost anything could be interpreted as being sustainable or unsustainable.

Re: Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air

This book may have had some influence on government policy already. I noticed this article by Richard Pike, head of the Royal Society of Chemistry, attacking the idea of a £5000 subsidy for electric cars announced last month by the Department for Transport (DfT).

http://www.rsc.org/images/ResearchFortnight_tcm18-152803.pdf

According to Pike the DfT reference three principal reports to justify their subsidy-based strategy, one by the Green NGO WWF, one by 'an academic' and the other by a ''well known consulting company'. The academic isn't identified in the article, but the report is said to be written in 'an almost conversational style' which suggests to me that it is probably MacKay's book.