Half-buried factoids

It can be a quiz. It can just be you showing off. Or, of course, both. Not limited to climate but bonus points if any climate factoid is deemed interesting by 97% of assembled Cliscep experts.

All complaints please to DFHunter

@all – since all the pubs are closed can we have a climate/general quizz night online?

found this site for a starter for 5 – https://www.funtrivia.com/quizzes/

and Jit


Since you got Warnocked, here’s my humble reply to your suggestion.

A thread for climate-related trivia would be of use I think because the every one of the crew and passengers of this boat must have a treasury of factoids that would otherwise not have a reason to be brought forth. But that of course would be up to one of the crew to arrange.

I am presently half-buried in factoids myself, but don’t want to derail the thread by quizzing you or other interested folk about them!

Should be fun.


34 thoughts on “Half-buried factoids

  1. @Richard ta.

    Folks probably know the following stats ballpark, but for anyone who doesn’t, have a stab without looking it up.

    1. What mass of wood pellets does Drax biomass conversion burn per year?
    2. How much money did billpayers send to Drax in 2019 for this service?

    Further Drax questions up sleeve, depending on interest.


  2. Hm, well, in the absence of any guesses (either no-one knows, everyone knows, or no-one much cares), here are the answers in case anyone is still tuned to this channel.

    1. Quantity of wood pellets burnt: Four of Drax’s 6 generating units now burn wood pellets. Its website says it receives 130,000 tonnes of pellets a week, which scaling up by 52 weeks gives 6,760,000 tonnes per year.

    Drax owns 3 pelleting plants in the US, 2 in Louisiana and 1 in Mississippi (or is it the other way around?). Between them they have an output of 1,500,000 tonnes, about 22% of Drax’s needs, if all their product went to Selby. From the pelleting plants, trucks take the fuel to (I seem to remember) Baton Rouge, & from there it’s onto a cargo vessel for the 10,000 km voyage to Immingham. A train covers the remaining distance.

    The reason I began to look into Drax was because someone on the internet somewhere claimed that Drax burnt wood at a faster rate than all of UK forestry could supply it. At the time I looked this up, and found the assertion to be true. However, my numbers were faulty. Deliveries of green wood in the UK in 2018 were 11,600,000 tonnes. Allowing for the difference between green and seasoned wood, that means the wood delivered could have been converted into 8,630,000 tonnes of pellets, more than enough to supply Drax. Of course, we don’t use much of our wood for that, and the UK imports 8,000,000 tonnes of pellets per year, most of which goes to feed our hungry friend at Drax.

    2. Subsidies: As well as getting paid for the electricity it makes, Drax gets Renewable Obligation Certificates for three units, with the fourth selling its electricity at a premium via a Contract for Difference. For ROCs, suppliers have to purchase these from eligible generators at a rate of 0.468 per MWh or pay the buy out cost (2018-9: £47.22 each). This cost could in theory reach £0 if renewable generation and conventional generation costs became similar.

    Drax’s annual report indicates that it earnt £528,000,000 in 2019 from these ROCs.

    The fourth unit is enrolled in a CfD, and the annual report indicates earnings of £261,700,000 from this.

    Of course not all of this is directly put on the electricity part of comsumers’ bills, but wholesale buyers will inevitably feed through this increased cost downstream.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JIT
    More please. And similar. Like how many counties would have to be covered in solar panels to get us independent of fossil fuels? How many gigawatt hours could you store if you concreted over all the glens of Scotland for hydro? I know the facts are all out there (mostly at Paul Homewood’s) but they need assembling into one big album – the Greta Funbook of Last Requests.


  4. Here’s an interesting little factoid. Remember just a few days ago, lots of people were saying that the numbers of UK deaths was tracking those in Italy two weeks ago, and that therefore we’d have several hundred dying every day and the NHS collapsing in a couple of weeks? Well, here’s the latest comparison:

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Geoff, re solar panels. You could (amazingly) ask the BBC:

    “Climate change: Green energy plant threat to wilderness areas
    By Matt McGrath
    Environment correspondent”


    “…Green energy facilities are often much larger than fossil fuel power plants, with wind and solar needing areas of land up to 10 times greater than coal or gas to produce the same amount of energy….”

    The whole article is worth a read. Do you think the BBC is catching up with us?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. @ Geoff
    I don’t have the answer to that, as there isn’t an answer, but I have some bits of the jigsaw that I will put together and present as a new factoid tomorrow.

    @ Paul
    This thought occurred to me while washing up: what if an entirely benign infection (BENVID-20) spread through a population? At what point would *everyone* dying be dying “with” BENVID-20?

    @ Mark
    Yes, that was not a slant I expected the BBC to cover. As to whether there is a hint of scepticism creeping in, we can but hope.


  7. @Richard – thanks for the mention 🙂
    since the post header is “Half-buried factoids”

    one thing I’ve wondered since the “fracking will cause damage due to earthquakes/tremors” worries stopped it.
    can anybody point me to a map/survey showing how many earthquakes/tremors & magnitude we have in the UK since monitoring began?

    I found this https://ukogl.org.uk/uk-onshore-seismic-release/ – but can’t work out how to use it!!!

    thanks in advance quizzer’s (5 bonus points to most helpful)


  8. Here’s an easy question that I asked Andy West on 2nd March:

    Of course, someone who speaks perfect sense on climate may have got the health dangers of indoor cigarette smoke wrong. (Know which sceptic I’m thinking of there?)

    Once I get the correct answer well, I could do anything.


  9. question – which Canadian blogger had a Trip to England in 2010

    tip – Mosher Posted Jul 6, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    “A climate scientist’s view of hate mail:
    “How can you justify ClimateGate? You silly wanker.”
    provided by the guardian as an example of hate mail. yes, there are stronger statements in the pile. I’d say most of them are right up there with some of the comments you see on blogs. from both sides.
    Are warministas really shocked that people they call denialists return the favor by calling them Nazi’s
    And yes there are some really nasty death threats, like i hope an earthquake swallows your home.”


  10. This might be a bit nerdy – the question is “Why do we have winter heating?”

    I have provided the answer below, which is given in a textbook I used at school in the 1970s called “Higher Physics” by E. Nightingale.

    “The importance of entropy in heating rooms.

    In Nature of 21 May, 1938, p. 908, there appeared an interesting letter by R. Emden of Zurich on the subject “Why do we have winter heating?” Is it make the room warmer or to import the lacking inner thermal energy? The author points out that the pressures inside and outside the room are equal. Also the inner thermal energy per unit mass is given by u = Cv T where T is the absolute temperature.

    Thus the energy content per unit volume is given by U1 = u rho = Cv rho T where rho is the density.

    But if P is the pressure, P/(rho T) = r, therefore rho = P/(r T)

    Therefore U1 = Cv P/r where r is the gas constant for unit mass of air.

    The interesting fact thus appears that the energy content of the room is independent of the temperature and is determined solely by the state of the barometer.

    If this be so, why then do we require heating at all?

    This must be for the same reason that for life on the earth solar radiation is necessary. We require temperature and for the maintenance of temperature we require not the addition of energy but of entropy.* The writer concudes “The Principle of Entropy is the manager of the Universe, the Principle of Energy does the book-keeping.”

    * Mr. K. D. Barritt, of Ewell County Technical College, points out that this should be subtraction of entropy, for let S1 and S2 be entropy levels at absolute temperatures T1 and T2 and let Q be the energy content, which is independent of temperature. Then S2-S1 = Q((1/T2)-(1/T1)) = Q (T1-T2)/(T1T2) and if T2<T1 then S2-S1 is positive. Hence to maintain temperature there must be a fall in entropy. This applies to the human body, which virtually "feeds" on negative entropy."

    The 1938 letter by Robert Emden to 'Nature' is behind a pay-wall, but I managed to find a free-to-view PDF version of the letter:



  11. DFHunter: Correct answer, of course. Like so many things, I have no idea about second-hand smoke. But Andy’s point was a good one and it’s been borne out by the varied reactions of climate sceptics (science and policy) to Covid-19 scepticism (science and policy). That’s to be expected. At least I always did. (On Twitter I think I saw Clisceprs Ben Pile and Barry Woods disagreeing on it. As I say, to be expected.)

    On climate, though, Richard Lindzen towers over almost all. IM ever HO of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. @billbedford 27 Mar 20 at 8:08 am

    thanks for the map link Bill.

    still playing with it to find the tremor/Seismic info, any pointers?


  13. @Bill

    may have found the best website for this info – http://www.earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk/index.html

    with this link the most useful so far – http://www.earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk/earthquakes/UKsignificant/index.html

    the guardian ran this story – https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/05/fracking-uk-protest-gas

    reporting “In August, after a fracking-triggered 2.9-magnitude earthquake, work was stopped at the industry’s flagship site in Blackpool”

    in the 2nd bgs link above all are above 4.0 mag, although the oldest is dated
    1382/05/21 at 15:00:00 mag 5.8 in the DOVER STRAITS !!!
    looks like we started leaving Europe earlier than I thought 🙂

    also note the recent Earthquakes around the British Isles in the last 50 days are NORTH SEA.

    @Alan – I need a geography person to put this into perspective!!!


  14. DFHunter. There are few places in the UK where one could predict an earthquake occurring in the next century. Yet, on the other hand there is virtually nowhere where an earthquake couldn’t occur. The strongest recorded earthquake was in Colchester for goodness sake, seemingly far from any tectonic activity. Yet on most detailed geological maps (the old inch to a mile maps) there will be many lines of the map that separate rocks of different age. These are traces of geological faults – surfaces where rocks have moved relative to their neighbours. This movement will have involved multiple small movements each associated with an earthquake or several earthquakes. What this all means is this the ubiquity of mapped faults over the entirety of the UK indicates that earthquakes have been generated, over geological time (millions of years) all across the UK. The land of the UK has experienced very many millions of earthquakes. But then that land has been assembled from multiple bits of crust that have wandered over the Earth’s surface and collided with each other in extreme slow motion at multiple times.
    The only place I can recall where minor earthquakes have been frequent in recent geological times is in Cheshire where beds of salt are dissolving underground in groundwaters, causing the collapse of overlying strata (this has been exacerbated by human salt mining).
    Hope this helps. If you wish me to be more specific…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Forgot to add my guess that the number of earthquakes may well decrease into the future. Many of the Holocene earthquakes will have resulted as a result of unloading when the last ice sheet melted. The stresses caused by this slow rock bending is partially relieved by small adjustments along existing faults. These adjustments should slowly diminish into the future.


  16. @ Geoff and anyone still monitoring this frequency.

    What area of solar panels would power the UK?

    A few assumptions:
    Max electricity demand in the UK in 2020 = 59 GW
    Average capacity factor of solar panel = 10%
    Area of 250 W panel = 1.6 sq m
    Tilt = 45 degrees
    Land use = 2 x panel plan area (pers. obs.) = 2.27 sq m/ 250 W

    The existing installed capacity of solar PV is 13276 MW, which by this estimate covers 120.5 sq km.

    Allow daytime efficiency of the panels to be 20% on average (0% at night…)

    To provide an average power of 59 GW would require 2.27 x 4000000 x 59 x 5 sq m or
    2.27 x 4 x 59 x 5 sq km = 2655 sq km.

    In terms of counties, this is one medium county (Derbyshire is 2625 sq km, and would no doubt benefit by being turned into a solar wasteland…)

    That covers you on average during the day. Of course this won’t do on dark days… or at night. You’ll have way too much power at noon in June, and none at Christmas. To cover night time, on average, would require a store of 708 GWh, which in terms of the much-vaunted Hornsdale battery… would be 5,500 Hornsdales. We’d also have to double the area of solar panels to divert half the energy to charging the battery… now Norfolk (5372 sq km) is the target.

    I came across this ludicrous quote on the wiki solar panel article: “The price of solar electrical power has continued to fall so that in many countries it has become cheaper than ordinary fossil fuel electricity from the electricity grid since 2012, a phenomenon known as grid parity.”

    And this, regarding Hornsdale: “During two days in January 2018 when the wholesale spot price for electricity in South Australia rose due to hot weather, the battery made its owners an estimated A$1,000,000 (US$800,000) as they sold power from the battery to the grid for a price of around A$14,000/MWh.”

    Oh, the cost of the battery would be about £250 billion, but when there are power crunches, the owners can sell us a few electrons at a gazillion quid each, so it’s defo a worthwhile investment.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. In response to DFHunter, it looks to me like you’re mainly interested in man-made earthquakes (or anthropogenic earthquakes or induced earthquakes) in the UK, rather than UK earthquakes in general, so your starting point would be a paper like this:


    Various factoids that can be gleaned from that paper include:

    a) For UK earthquakes detected in the period 1970 to 2012, 21% were definitely of anthropogenic origin, 40% were definitely naturally occurring, and the remaining 39% could be natural or anthropogenic.

    b) Most anthropogenic earthquakes in the UK in the past few decades have been connected with coal mining. At least a third of UK earthquakes in 1985 were due to coal mining. The number of coal mining related earthquakes is however dropping off due to the industry shrinking in size over the years – 46 events in 1991, reducing to only 4 in 2012.

    c) The earliest known man-made earthquake in the UK occurred in 1755, caused by a collapse of lead mine workings in Derbyshire.

    Another factoid I can throw in about BGS, the organisation that provides geological services to the UK government including earthquake monitoring, is that it was reputedly temporarily killed off by John Major in the late 1980s before he became Prime Minister. Major was looking at a list of government-funded organisations and noticed there was one called British Geological Survey. Major wondered what this organisation was, and nobody he asked seemed to know, so he decided to get rid of it as part of a ‘bonfire of the quangos’. A few days later some civil servant noticed Major’s blunder and BGS got reinstated.


  18. Associated factoid: the purpose of the British Geological Survey was to produce a geological map of the entire British Isles. Although areas get remapped, this task was essentially completed before I read geology at university in the early 1960’s. All but a very small area in the Scottish Highlands, kept deliberately unmapped so that the BGS’s prime task remained incomplete.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. @Dave Gardner 30 Mar 20 at 11:42 am

    thanks for the link & factoids, liked –
    “and noticed there was one called British Geological Survey. Major wondered what this organisation was, and nobody he asked seemed to know,”

    @Alan – crafty, is it where Nessy lurks?

    the main reason I was/am interested in UK tremors was the media reporting the “public hysteria/concern” over fracking causing tremors.

    this has caused the suspension of any onshore fracking AFAIK.

    in the present situation (and climate change) where we all must listen to the science/facts to guide our actions, I found it odd that nobody from BGS was on the media (may have missed it) explaining if this was really nessecary.

    ps – recall 1 commentator on NW today news saying something like “the tremor is like a lorry passing your house or a bag of cement dropped on your drive” didn’t say from what height the bag was dropped from thou!!!


  20. Having been impressed by Didier Raoult citing the Hippocratic Oath as to why he couldn’t have a ‘control group’ for his use of Chloroquine, which Greek god is Hippocrates said to have worshipped? What still-potent symbol is associated with this deity? What’s the mysterious connection with one of most famous passages of the New Testament, chapter 3 of the gospel of John?


  21. Dave Gardner. There are several reasons why earthquakes are newsworthy in the UK, especially those induced by fracking. First, they were unexpected. Most fracking in the USA does not induce earthquakes and so they were not expected in the relative earthquake-free UK. Second, when they began it was realized that the implied mechanism (lubrication of previously unknown fault surfaces allowing movement along them) could induce deeper, and potentially more damaging earthquakes – leading to local demands for moratoria (very newsworthy). Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, in the essentially aseismic UK, any earthquake that can be felt and, especially if it causes even the slightest of damage, is highly unusual and will be reported ad nauseam in the media. In other countries such events and the minor damage caused would not deserve mention. (During three years living in California, I experienced two sharp quakes, one sufficient to make my office block in San Francisco sway and most residents to evacuate the building. We in the know going up the stairs met them going down them. Neither quake was featured in the local TV news nor mentioned in the newspapers).

    Question: why did we climb the stairs, when San Francisco had reserved road areas for fleeing office workers to congregate in the event of a major earthquake (so expecting most people to descend to street level)?


  22. My earthquake factoid:

    Prior to modern science’s explanations for the cause of earthquakes, Aristotle’s theory was enough to satisfy most people’s curiosity: Earthquakes were subterranean farts bursting out of underground tunnels. The tighter did Mother Earth clench her bum cheeks, the more rasping and damaging would be the resulting flatulence. As Shakespeare put it, earthquakes were, “a kind of colic pinched and vexed by the imprisoning of unruly wind.” Even as late as 1755 Immanuel Kant was proposing the fart theory for the cause of the recent Lisbon earthquake.

    Nowadays the fart theory has been replaced by some rubbish about fault lines.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. A fart hypothesis might have been given credence in volcanic areas like the Phlegraean Fields where gases rich in hydrogen sulphide are emitted just before, during, or shortly after large earthquakes. In fact, one of the methods used today to predict earthquakes is analysis of gases emitted from the ground.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. No, let’s get back to the farting earth, he says mischievously.

    I’m sure Alan is right about the initial inspiration (expiration?) behind the idea but, as I understand it, the idea quickly gained traction throughout the Mediterranean region. I’ve already mentioned the application of the theory to the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, but to that I could add the Ferrara earthquakes of 1570-1571 and the series of earthquakes of 1721 in the Persian city of Tabriz. All were put down to the hidden menace of subsurface air pockets. I think stories of the earth opening and swallowing up gave credence to the idea that there were huge complexes of subterranean caves, fart laden and just waiting for the hapless to drop in.

    What with being farted on by the underworld, shat on by volcanoes and pissed on by the sky, is it any wonder that we won’t let Mother Earth up on the settee?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.