Author Archives: trustyetverify

Solar and wind replace nuclear?

A small interruption from my 6-years-of-blogging series. This blog documented several meaningless (or even wrong) remarks from our (now former) Flemish Minister of Energy. I was a bit sad when I heard that he chose to be mayor of Ostend in stead of Minister of Energy, but apparently he doesn’t have to be Minister to utter such remarks. On a congress organized by his party (OpenVLD) he made following claim (translated from Dutch):

Today, offshore wind turbines provide 1.2 GW of energy production.

That is not even remotely true. Belgian offshore wind provides much less than that. The 1.2 GW is the capacity. The real production will vary, but will be on average a fraction of that number.

He obviously is confusing capacity with production. Why am I not surprised? Strange however is that the error is still not corrected yet at the time I published this post (now more than a week later). Didn’t they notice it? Or do all the energy experts of that political party stand behind this number?

Then comes the interesting part that leads to the subject of this post (translated from Dutch, my emphasis):

“By 2026 we will increase this to 4GW without subsidies. From then on, the offshore wind farms will provide 20% of the total electricity requirement. This is just as much as the total electricity consumption of all Belgian families, “says Bart Tommelein.

This claim reminded me of the new energy pact made by the Flemish Green party, published a few days before the congress. It has a similar claim (translated from Dutch, my emphasis):

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Who am I to say?

When I started this blog back in 2013, I had several questions. The most prominent was how I, as an interested member of the public, could assess who is right and who is wrong. At that time, I also was looking for information on how laymen/interested members of the public could figure this out.

Initially, I played with the idea to tackle this question by using logic. I abandoned the idea rather quickly. Formal fallacies could surely distinguish between who is right or wrong, but these are not exactly the fallacies that one can readily find in the debate.

I also found some information that layman/interested members of the public had other ways of evaluating a subject, but I didn’t find much details back then. So now and then during the last six years of blogging, I contemplated on these two questions, but until recently these stayed unanswered.

Until I got this comment on a post dissecting the claim that there had been a “sudden rapid growth” of the number of registered all-electric cars in Flanders:

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Recovering my senses

In the beginning of October 2008, I was just a simple green person, minding his own business, voting for the Flemish green party since my early twenties, believing that there was an agreement between scientists that global warming is bad, that we are responsible and that we should do something about it. That seemed perfectly logical back then. Although I also had the impression that the scientists were exaggerating their case, I was convinced that they were basically right.

The issue of global warming surely interested me, but other things in life had priority and I never had a closer look at it. I felt strengthened by the fact that the scientists claimed that they had it all figured out. Heck, I was at the “right” side of the debate and that was a very comfortable position to be in. There was nothing left for me to do, just to trust.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2009 and I suddenly found myself deeply in the skeptical camp…

That is at the, gulp, “wrong” side of the debate.

How on Earth did someone like me get over there?

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Six candles to blow!

six birthday candles

This blog turns six!

When I started it back then in 2013, I couldn’t imagine that this blog would still be active for so long and that I would write more than 400 posts in the meanwhile.

There certainly was no shortage of inspiration. On the contrary, there were several posts that I started, but were not finished (because of a lack of time or something else came along or the topic became irrelevant in the meanwhile).

I still like the writing process, the researching and the figuring out of how things work, so I will continue doing that.

There are however some limitations that I ran into. Individual posts move out of sight when new ones are published. This can make it difficult to find back individual posts, but also it is easy to loose overview of posts detailing one specific topic. For example, there are many posts dealing with the consensus and they all have one piece of information. It would be nice to group all those thoughts together in one page per paper.

The same is true for the several posts I wrote on the Alice-in-Wonderland paper. Back then, I started to create an interactive version of that paper, in such a way that all issues are visible on one page. I abandoned the project and then forgot about it. This is a project that I might revive again.

This revealed another limitation: I start to miss the possibility of using scripts or the strength of a database. Some things could get presented in a clearer way using for example interactive graphs or other interactive elements like I started to do with the Alice-in-Wonderland project.

Not sure how to tackle all these things. If I can miss scripting/database ability, then I could smarten up my categories and tags or just make an index page. I could also make use of static pages, summarizing one specific topic in some more detail. If I want to make use of scripting and databases, then I could go for a self-hosted WordPress site or just create a webpage with supplementary materials for this blog. So many options.

Something that I also want to do is writing some posts in Dutch (my mother tongue). Not sure how to do that in practice, maybe a new blog dealing specifically with things related to Flanders/Belgium, keeping the more international/general topics to this blog. Or maybe centralize it together with the supplementary materials site. It is currently not very clear, so I think this could be for the (far) future.

When it comes to the closer future, I will walk down memory lane and write some posts on why I changed from believer to skeptic, what changed exactly and what I learned from it. I already started writing one of those posts and have ideas for some others, so these might arrive soon.

I am glad to see an increase in views recently. Including the number of views from Belgium. These were very low until a couple months ago, so apparently more Belgians seem to find their way to this blog.

Finally a very big thank you for those who liked my posts, shared them on social media or wrote comments. I really appreciate it.

Feed the debate with (some) facts (and loads of assumptions)

Belgian scientists wrote an open letter in which they ask for better climate policies. This open letter is a reaction to the several climate marches that were organized in the last weeks by schoolchildren skipping school.

In a newspaper article (Dutch ahead), one of the organizers claimed that they want to feed the “climate debate with facts”. The word “fact” was mentioned six times throughout the article, so she wanted to emphasize that.

A debate based on facts. I surely like the sound of that!

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Belgian offshore wind produces as much as four nuclear plants

Last Monday, our Prime Minister gave a speech on the occasion of the Belgian Diplomatic Days (Dutch ahead). In his speech, he claimed that a lot has been achieved by the current Government and, as an example, he made the remarkable claim that the Belgian wind farms in the North Sea produce the same as four nuclear power plants! He raised four fingers and said “four” twice, so he apparently wanted to make a point with this specific claim.

Screenshot VRT news of January 28, 2019

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Cook: the 97% consensus on “climate change is bad”

It has been a long time that I read something of John Cook. I recently came across the National Center for Science Education blog post in which he was interviewed. The post is titled Got Climate Change Misconceptions? John Cook Can Help and dates from the beginning of this year. This “help” seems to be learning students how to combat climate change misconceptions.

I am not going to make a long post, so I will come to the point immediately. This is what caught my eye at first read (my emphasis):

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