373 - Year-end snippets | Scoins.net | DJS

373 - Year-end snippets

Future of transport

Given the opinions expressed at COP26 with respect to transport and its effect on anthropogenic pollution levels, it seems to me that we have several scenarios:

(i) we clean up the transport we use. That means very much cleaner shipping, and a huge shift away from fossil fuel for transportation. The push to swap your ICE for an EV has some positives but at the same time benefits a restricted segment of the population, the alreadywell-off, otherwise recognised as a Tory voter (even if not the case).

(ii) substitution of one transport mode for another. Taking a lot more public transport instead of personal transport; walking and cycling instead of taking the car, using the train. Included here is a change in attitude to shopping by doing that online and having a delivery, where the assumption is that economies of scale make a delivery less polluting than going shopping. Here we should include new forms of individual personal transport, but simultaneously must recognise the problems associated with the equivalents to parking, within which I include having public access to such services, such as the pilot schemes for hiring e-bikes across several cities.

(iii) Changing our approach to travel altogether, so that a lot of travel simply doesn't occur and long-distance travel becomes relatively rare. That implies a challenge to any and every use of transport – do I need to do this, what would be the most climate-responsible way to do this prospective thing. That would have a serious change to approaches to leisure. It also incudes all suggestion that we continue with WfH, working from home.  

We require transport for a fairly limited set of reasons: going to work, delivering goods, leisure travel, local travel.

Going to work can be reduced by WfH, by switching to public transport, by living closer to work. Nudges for this include subsidies for public transport and additional costs for private transport. WfH, in my world, should be encouraged anyway.

Deliveries could be made so they demonstrably are more efficient (and by a list of measures) in terms of pollution because of scale. Haulage lends itself to forms of automation and the last link in delivery might provide a success for drones. At the same time, where humans are used in the delivery chain, they need to be better supported.

Leisure travel might very well reduce dramatically. That will hit a large proportion of the hotel and hospitality industry. I'd like to see overseas holidays become the exception rather than the norm. You want permanent sunshine, emigrate.

Local travel is a sizeable problem. This is the shopping run, the school run, all those I'm-just-popping trips, many of which could be eliminated with a little preparatory thought. I've never done a school run; three generations of family have not. I walked to all schools. My kids had a school bus for secondary. About a third of the day kids were delivered (to schools I taught at) by parents. A lot of local travel is also within the leisure category, of course. I wonder at the future of high-cost activities like playing in the band, which includes the added costs of there being events at which to play. The role of the out-of-town shopping centre stays much as it is already; you commit to doing a load of shopping collected into a single trip. A trip to the High Street is much the same, but only if the transport service to and from deals well with the added weight to be carried. Perhaps both of these are replaced by shopping online and using a delivery service. I confess to turning a shopping 'need' into an extended trip I'd just as accurately call leisure and we could cut out all the eating out and replace it with staying at home. Such a change has fairly heavy economic consequences if we all do it.

Within the leisure change I include, for example, the proposals connected to the use of national parks: the argument is that the parks are open to those with cars but not those without, and so the parks are not serving the people. The argument then runs towards banning cars and parking of cars so as to push visitors onto public transport for access to the countryside. I think that this is more likely to result in even fewer people using the parks as wild country, though I suspect that the arguments are fed by those who, when the think of 'park' mean sales opportunity, not being in the wild outdoors.

DJS 20211118 which is not yet December. Perhaps this page should be called "year end snippets"?

Yesterday, Grant Schapps told us what had expected to hear, that HS2 in the North will be modified to be cheaper and sooner. Which continues to miss the point of the project. Or, at least to miss what the electorate heard. The whole pint of a new line was to have extra capacity, moving the long-distance stuff onto the new track and leaving the local and freight on the old. Capacity is the problem. The eternal deceit from government is doing the work down south (again, London to Birmingham) and not doing the work in the North, where it is needed. Thus we have unlikely stats such as transport spend per capita in London being five times higher than Yorks and Humber and twice what is spent in Greater Manchester. [Source, table 7, p8, inset]. I added the conclusion, whose reference to HS2 is now shown to be utterly fatuous.

Yes, the intended spend is a big number, but it is a far smaller number than was pushed at us as persuasion to support this government (not that I voted for them). Yes, the modified plan will be delivered sooner, but that is because far less is being spent. Yes, some of the changes are good ones, but even these have been promised for decades, e.g. the tram system in Leeds. Even before HS2 was leapt upon by Cabinet enthusiasts as a flag-waver, the North was saying that the principal problem was transit across the North (specifically not access to the capital). Thus the modified plans do nothing for the north-east from Newcastle to Hull, and very little to Leeds and Sheffield.

Mind, I would be quite happily persuaded that what we need instead is very local improvement, huge support to working from home and for those homes to be thoroughly insulated. With mostly the same money as was promised for HS2.


A review of growth modelling dragged me back to looking at Peak Oil, to find that the whole idea is in some state of discredit. My thought conclusion back in 2012 (though I first spoke about this in 2003) was that sensble planning in the Gulf would prepare for a peak and its aftermath, which may have already occurred. As coal becomes considered bad, so that same taint will steadily be applied to oil and then to gas. With so much of the economies of the Gulf states tied to oil production, a dash towards gas is understandable, as is continued preparation for when the supply is gone or the demand dramtically reduced. 

Yet as the graph shows, supply has continued to expand, though we might argue that this is because the very large market for oil makes new techniques economically viable. The very idea of hitting any sort of peak may be redundant if we take climate action seriously and decide that the oil ought to stay where it is, or that it should (only) be used for things that do not include combustion. Much of what I have read in a-e demonstartes that the authors have twisted the understanding of what peak oil is, into what they think it ought to be about, mainly the reduction in available oil resource. But Hubbert himself in 1956 was not claiming that his model had to be right, only that he was putting forward a model. My instant reaction on first finding this was 'why is this symmetric?', which I still feel a valid response. The evidence is that, with sufficient demand, oil can be found. By implication, we coudl find more coal and gas, too. What is changing is the attitude to the product. In the context of climate change, I feel that wherever the product is pure (enough, probably), then the chemistry allows us to process the fossil fuel such that we are able to keep emissions below the demands set. Being cycnical of all political promises, I expect that all such promises have a built-in delay of about a human generation, swapping 'we do this' for 'we can do it' and then 'we will do it (eventually)' and, like the biomass burning, fudge what it is that we have been promised so that many of us accept that the needed progress is being made. If the position can be muddled to advantage, it will be. What I do not understand is how people persuade themselves to act so dishonestly and then live with the consequences.

[a]  https://agsiw.org/what-bps-claim-of-an-end-to-peak-oil-demand-means-for-gulf-producers/

Published 20200720  The viability of such visions relies on three key pillars. 

First is the growing competitiveness of low-carbon energy. Solar and wind are already the cheapest form of new electricity in many regions. Battery costs are coming down, while electric vehicles are approaching cost parity. Affordable “green” hydrogen made using renewable energy is also likely to be readily available sooner than many expect. But replacing or recycling fossil-based plastics, fuelling long-distance ships and airplanes, and driving high-temperature and ore-reduction processes in heavy industry, such as steel and cement, remains technically and commercially much harder.

Second is stricter climate policy around the world. The European Union continues to tighten its emissions targets and introduce plans to decarbonise sectors beyond electricity. The United States’ position depends crucially on the November presidential election [2020]. Other developed countries, such as Australia, Canada, and Japan, have pursued tepid or inconsistent policies. Most countries are so far falling short of their Paris Agreement pledges on addressing climate change. On the other hand, financial institutions and cities are increasingly pursuing climate action themselves. The success of global action will hinge on the directions chosen by China and India, as giant, fast-growing, and, so far, coal-dependent economies.

Third is the ability of the oil majors to compete in this new world. Hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and biofuels are obvious fits with their core hydrocarbon skills. Offshore wind can play to engineering expertise, as with Equinor’s floating wind technology.

[b]  https://www.csis.org/analysis/gulf-states-managing-oil-crash

[c]  https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaellynch/2018/06/29/what-ever-happened-to-peak-oil/?sh=3a3ad907731a  "The oil industry has always been in a tug-of-war between depletion and knowledge"

[d]  https://www.dailysabah.com/opinion/op-ed/are-gulf-states-ready-for-post-oil-future reference to rentier economy as discussed in 258 - the resource curse

[e] https://gulfnews.com/business/energy/is-the-next-peak-oil-going-to-be-its-final-one-too-1.1621234651075


This article [11] shows that someone has woken up to what I've been banging on about, the dangers of long-covid and its related CFS illnesses. The relevant current ONS report, [13], contains these points:-

  • An estimated 1.2 million people living in private households in the UK (1.9% of the population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID (symptoms persisting for more than four weeks after the first suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) infection that were not explained by something else) as of 2 October 2021; this is up from 1.1 million (1.7%) as of 5 September 2021, reflecting sustained increased COVID-19 infection rates in August 2021.
  • The proportion of people with self-reported long COVID who reported that it reduced their ability to carry out daily activities remained stable compared with previous months; symptoms adversely affected the day-to-day activities of 780,000 people (65% of those with self-reported long COVID), with 233,000 (19%) reporting that their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities had been "limited a lot".
  • Fatigue continued to be the most common symptom reported as part of individuals' experience of long COVID (55% of those with self-reported long COVID), followed by shortness of breath (39%), loss of smell (33%), and difficulty concentrating (30%).
  • As a proportion of the UK population, prevalence of self-reported long COVID remained greatest in people aged 35 to 69 years, females, people living in more deprived areas, those working in health or social care, and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability; compared with the previous month, prevalence of self-reported long COVID was notably higher among people aged 12 to 16 years or 17 to 24 years, with the latter now comparable to people aged 35 to 69 years.

I think we should assume that recovery from covid is not a binary state, okay / not okay, but a spectrum. Significant points on such a spectrum are where people find their habits are interrupted and / or that there is continued loss of function such as the ability to taste food (not included above). Such self-referencing measures obviously depend on how active people are, so we might assume that the 12-24 group is generally more active that the 35-69 so that, if asked, the younger folk might well report more noticed loss of function. 

Personally it is shortness of breath that scares, since I presume upon my upper limit so often when running. At the moment I say I'm 5-10% off, 3-6 minutes per hour slower than the month before catching covid. This is at week 6.

[11] https://theconversation.com/long-covid-my-work-with-sufferers-reveals-that-western-medicine-has-reached-a-crisis-point-167417?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2019%202021%20-%202120820991&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2019%202021%20-%202120820991+CID_2818282556aaee892e721c5347ed16fb&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=rethink%20what%20causes%20illness

...an estimated 2.3% of COVID patients having symptoms beyond 12 weeks...

[12]    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/sajid-javid-long-covid-nhs-b1934861.html     This (limited access) article includes:-  The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week revealed more than 1.1 million people were now reporting lasting symptoms from a Covid-19 infection, with 405,000 suffering its effects for more than a year.  The ONS found 211,000 people had reported their ability to carry out daily activities was being significantly affected by the condition. [....] The meeting was told  [referring, one assumes, to long covid]   that around 6,000 referrals were being made in each four-week period, with 4,000 specialist assessments and 5,000 follow-up appointments a month. 

[13]    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/prevalenceofongoingsymptomsfollowingcoronaviruscovid19infectionintheuk/4november2021


Renewable electricity is often a disingenuous label. Disingenuous being less strong than blatantly untrue.  SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon claimed that “just short of 100% of all the electricity [Scotland uses] is from renewable sources.” But this isn’t correct.

From FullFact this morning:  SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon claimed that “just short of 100% of all the electricity [Scotland uses] is from renewable sources.” But this isn’t correct. Estimates suggest Scotland produced 32,000 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity in 2020, equivalent to around 97% of its entire electricity consumption. But it exports a lot of this, relying on non-renewable electricity sources to make up the difference. The Scottish government estimates that last year 56% of the electricity consumed in Scotland came from renewable sources, 30% from nuclear and 13% from fossil fuels. Renewables account for far more of Scotland’s electricity consumption than in England and Wales - but to suggest it's almost 100% is misleading. A spokesperson from the Scottish Government told us that the First Minister was referring to Scotland’s gross electricity consumption and it was not her intention to suggest otherwise.

[21] https://fullfact.org/environment/scotland-renewable-energy/ 
Scotland produces renewable electricity equivalent to its annual consumption, but some of this is exported, meaning it uses significant amounts of non-renewable electricity as well. In 2020, 56% of the electricity consumed in Scotland came from renewable sources. I think I excuse the politicians on this one; if the renwables generated equate to consumption, then the issue of who is using what generation is a quite different problem to resolve. How anyone says who used which bit of the generation confuses me utterly.

The Scottish Government estimates that in 2020, Scotland produced 32,063 gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable electricity, equivalent to around 97% of its entire electricity consumption. Scotland actually produces more electricity than it uses, including a substantial amount from fossil fuels and nuclear energy. In 2019, renewables accounted for 61% of electricity generated in Scotland, nuclear 25%, and gas and oil 13%.   ..the Scottish Government estimates that, in 2020, 56% of the electricity consumed in Scotland came from renewable sources, 30%from nuclear and 13% from fossil fuels.

[22] wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_Scotland

[23] https://scotland.shinyapps.io/sg-scottish-energy-statistics/?Section=RenLowCarbon&Subsection=RenElec&Chart=ElecGen

Blue (nuclear) and to the right is non-renewables in this bar graph. It is Scottish wind that makes the difference. 

Finding numbers from different source that are mutiually consistent is difficult. Note though that the UK generated 135 TWh in 2020 of which 32 TWh was generated in Scotland. So, ignoring Northern ireland completely,  that bar chart would be a better one if the bar lengths were in the proportion 32:102. Looking at wind in particular, the 2020 figures are 23TWh Scotland and 75Twh for the UK as a whole, which does not tally at all with the bar chart, which uses 2019 figures. I found the 2018 Scottish wind figure to be 40TWh (2sf). Again, this disagrees with the 2020 figures, suggesting our total energy production went down, which it did, by 27% (link).  If the barchart was consistent with 2020 TWh totals (not particularly likely),....


I see a confusion between capacity, generation and consumption of electricity. Capacity is the upper limit of what could be generated. Generation is what is or was produced. Consumption ought to be the same as generation, but there are losses, electrical system energy losses (energy conversion and other losses associated with the generation, transmission, and distribution of purchased electricity) and other energy losses.  Source  [32] 

The load factor is generation/capacity; UCLFs or “load factor on an unchanged configuration basis” describes the amount of electricity generated from schemes that have been operating throughout the whole of the calendar year with the same installed capacity. [31]  A typical figure for solar is around 10%, for wind 30% onshore and 40% offshore, 40% for hydro and around 70% for biomass/waste. A word in use is curtailment, where there is capacity but low demand (supply exceeds demand) and we do not yet have much storage capacity for energy. That needs to change. the last page od [31] illustrates some of the difficulties with this sort of data, listing the corrections made to the 2018 and 2019 data as all sorts of certificates were issued. For example, the export of electricity to grid from my house was unrecorded throughout 2019 and 20 and only in 2021 will any records begin; no it is not much, but it is one of very many such situations.

I wonder if there is politics at play when there is a decision which capacity to accept or deny. I can see that in general one must accept solar, since it seems to be unable to be denied; that other renewables will be accepted up to capacity and that, wherever possible, the fossil fule sources are left idle, within practical limits such as winding up and down. But, within the possible wind sources, there just might be politics at play when some sources are to be denied, and therefore not paid. 

Unit confusion: the US measures large amounts of energy in quads, quadrillion Btu. 1 quad = 10¹⁵ Btu= 293.071 TWh (14sf available). One Btu is the heat to raise one pound of water ny 1º F at (unit) atmospheric pressure. A therm is 10⁵ Btu.  One Btu is 1054 - 1060 J (depending on the definition) = 0.293 Wh. Helpfully, wikipedia says one Btu is about the heat from a kitchen match. I quad is close to an exajoule (1.055x10¹⁸ J)

[31] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1021786/Regional_renewable_electricity_2020.pdf

[32] https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/us-energy-facts/

[33] https://www.ref.org.uk/attachments/article/280/ref.hughes.19.12.12.pdf


When in the car, you may not use your mobile, unless it is in a cradle. On one side, that may mean you may not take any such gadget, satnav included, from its cradle while driving; the issue is whether you are in control or not. It appears to mean that you may soert through a playlist while driving (I'd dispute that this is more in control than slapping the satnav back into its cradle after one's passenger has sorted out the input). Again, the cticial element is whether you have control. However, being stationary in traffic is deeemed different from being parked, and any use of a hand-held is about to be declared illegal. I don't do any of these, but if i did I'd go practise how to use the phone and sat-nav as hands-free devices. Which seems to be the point, though none of the media entries I read looked for good practice, only at what was to be banned. Is this further evidence that bad news sells?

“Our research suggests that more than one-in-10 younger drivers admit to taking a photo or video while driving, while 6% say they have played a game.   From here, quoting Simon Williams of the RAC. Tryng the Independent, but I really dislike their online presentation.


Article that I must write about seen in the weekend Times [31, more detail], that a family with ten kids (one assumes Catholic Americans) did home schooling, concentrating on English and Maths with the target of reaching the US college minimum. which all ten did by the age of 13; this is a message in itself. The kids then joined any number of college programmes (I think largely as online courses, but that's part of the investigation to do) and showed very quickly that they belonged at this level and so progressed in disgustingly successful fashion. Then they signed up for 'real' post-grad courses and attended physically. I think this has echoes in your foundation course and I think it says a heap about the largely time-serving nature of the education system. If one has learned to learn, then content hardly matters, except in that one (actually, a nation-sized 'we') would like there to be a lot of common content. But we're not sure what, or why that is.

I cannot tell whether they attended live college; maybe the US has ways of permitting the very young to attend safely. I reckon here we mostly refuse to accept applications. Here's a silly question though: perhaps, since a foundation course accepts the elderly, it would also accept the very young? So might the OU?

Just what are these minimum U.S. college requirements? [32] says English. which might be TOEFL, SAT and ACT (made up of multiple-choice questions covering four areas: English, Mathematics; Reading; Scientific reasoning).  There is no legal lower age requirement for US college. [33] says The average age for students enrolled full-time in undergraduate programs is 21.8 years old; the average age of part-time students is 27.2 years. 49% of all undergraduate and postgraduate students were 20-21 years old. 2.8% of college students are under 18. 0.2% of college students are aged 55 and older.

[31]   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-10216505/Homeschooling-efficient-say-parents-10-kids-started-university-13.html

[32]  https://www.studential.com/applying/studying-abroad/USA/entry-requirements

[33] https://www.google.com/search?q=What+proportion+of+college+freshmen+are+under+18%3F&newwindow=1&client=safari&rls=en&ei=COqcYf_mI4ifgQb0qIPwCw&ved=0ahUKEwj_isaQya70AhWIT8AKHXTUAL4Q4dUDCA0&uact=5&oq=What+proportion+of+college+freshmen+are+under+18%3F&gs_lcp=Cgdnd3Mtd2l6EAMyCAghEBYQHRAeOgUIABCRAjoLCAAQgAQQsQMQgwE6CgguEMcBEKMCEEM6DgguEIAEELEDEMcBEKMCOgsILhCABBDHARDRAzoFCAAQgAQ6CAgAEIAEELEDOggIABCABBDJAzoFCAAQkgM6CggAELEDEIMBEEM6BQguEIAEOgsILhCABBCxAxCDAToICAAQsQMQgwE6BggAEBYQHkoECEEYAFAAWK5RYPFWaABwAngBgAHEAYgBlB2SAQQ0NS40mAEAoAEBwAEB&sclient=gws-wiz

[34] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_attainment_in_the_United_States#General_attainment_of_degrees%2Fdiplomas  ..and see the table on educational attainment. 

[35] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_the_United_Kingdom Of course, there is no international standard for recording these things, so an equivalent to the US position is not easily discovered. The wiki site says (about the UK) 88% have a secondary diploma and 45.7% a post-secondary diploma. Looking just at England at 19 year olds: 87.4% reached Level 2 (any 'good' GCSEs) and 60.3% reached Level 3 (any A-levels) (and for the 19-64 population that's 81.0% and 62.6%) while level 4 and above is 41% (19-64 in 2014). Level 4 is anything beyond A-level, such as a foundation course; Level 6 is a first degree; 7 is a post-grad something, 8 is a doctorate. Equivalents apply, obviously.

I've often wondered about trades; Levels 2-4 NVQ Plumbing; Levels 2-4 Electrician; Levels 2-3 Bricklaying. Generally Level 4 is pushing one to site supervision, construction management. Auto mechanic level 1-4.  The courses beyond level 3 are hard to find, but try this and this


I had a question for Oxbridge candidates, possibly for the political subjects (what is HSPS? PPE and PPP are bad enough) to distinguish between war, terrorism and reprisal. It turned into a long page of its own. Essay 374 - War, terrorism, reprisal.  

HSPS - Human Social and Political Sciences. I guess this is a Cambridge catch-all like Natural Science. Sorry, multidisciplinary degree. Three cores: Politics and international relations, social anthropology, sociology. Detail.

I am not a fan of PPE, the Oxford variant, but that is largely because of when I was there (close to the criticisms of 1968) and who has been through that course and subsequently judged 'successful'. See.


[41]  https://theconversation.com/drivers-and-hand-held-mobile-phones-extending-the-ban-wont-solve-the-problem-heres-why-172327?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2025%202021%20-%202126821054&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2025%202021%20-%202126821054+CID_3752c5303927a3a7f2640fedb8f6918b&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=Hands-free%20devices%20are%20no%20less%20distracting

 One survey found that more than a quarter of drivers admitted to hand-held mobile phone use, at least occasionally. 

Research consistently shows that most drivers consider themselves to be above average at driving. Statistically speaking, of course, this is highly unlikely. But this “self-enhancement bias” gives drivers a rationale for believing their mobile phone use is safe, while condemning others for doing the same thing.

Phone-using drivers justify their behaviour by claiming they are able to modify their mobile phone use dependent on the driving situation, such as limiting use on busy roads. They believe they are able to multitask and mitigate the risk in a way that other drivers cannot. 

Drivers with self-enhancement bias also often demonstrate “crash risk optimism” – judging themselves to be at lower risk of a crash compared to other drivers.  In a sense, every journey a self-perceived above-average driver successfully completes while using a mobile phone appears to confirm to them that their behaviour is appropriate, and the law is aimed at other drivers. This helps to explain why strong support for a tightened law in this area can coexist with high rates of offending.    For these over-confident drivers, perhaps the only deterrent would be the threat of enforcement. But in recent years, numbers of dedicated roads-policing officers in the UK have declined, and the public has, apparently, noticed. In one survey, 54% of respondents felt they were unlikely to be caught or punished for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

In-vehicle distractions, such as interactive screens on the dashboard and digital assistants like Alexa, are developing more quickly than the law can keep up with.   If we want to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured each year by drivers using their mobile phones, we have to persuade drivers not to do it regardless of whether or not they’ll get caught.

We need to challenge the narratives that drivers regularly deploy to justify their behaviour, and address driver biases head-on by providing education, based on psychological evidence, that’s harder for drivers to resist or deny. Interactive education, which allows drivers to experience their own distraction, rather than hearing about the failures of others, would be a good place to start.

Oh dear, 'perceptions of risk' issues writ large. One of which is the perception that, if not caught, this is accepted and acceptable behaviour. Seen at school every day, on the streets on every occasion – but not in Scandinavian countries, we're told. What do we have to do to have laws that we agree with enough to follow? This may be a government problem or only a social one – or even both, if the perception of 'what applies to me' is dependent upon believing that the government is genuinely representative.

why?  Email: David@Scoins.net      © David Scoins 2021