November 30, 2010
Your Opportunity To Question Chris Huhne
Live web chat: Chris Huhne on the Cancún climate talks | Environment | guardian.co.uk
To chat about the UN climate talks and global efforts to tackle climate change, he'll be joining us here tomorrow (Tuesday 30 November) from 11.45am-12.30pm.
Please post your questions for Huhne below.
Note that questions not about the climate talks will be marked off-topic.
I guess that means mine won't get through. If you have any that he might not answer please post them here...
The Truth About Going Bearback
Polar bears spotted swimming with cubs on back - Telegraph
It is thought the practice is new and the result of the bears having to swim longer distance in the sea because of reductions in the Arctic ice in the summer....
The story - or rather WWF press release - is a bit short of detail. As far as I can tell the "new" behaviour was actually spotted on 21 July 2006 by Mrs Angela Plumb, a tourist from the UK, who was aboard a ship in the mouth of a fjord in the Svalbard archipelago.
Not so new and urgent, more recycled.
The BBC did quite a good article about it, pointing out that:
"Cubs are known to ride their mother's back when moving through deep snow as they leave their den areas.
Cubs of other bear species such as the sloth bear also ride on their parents.
However, the the extent to which polar bear cubs hitch a ride on swimming adults in open water is unknown."
File under green hype, I wonder why none of the reporters covering this today reveal the source of the story?
Louise Gray on Steve McIntyre
A shadowy figure who is almost unknown outside the blogosphere, Mr McIntyre has nonetheless been behind much of the recent controversies behind climate change science. His website Climate Audit was one of the first to post up the stolen emails from the University of East Anglia that led to the 'climategate' scandal. Before that he questioned the infamous 'hockeystick graph' showing a rise in temperature as carbon dioxide levels rose. He continues to question climate science and drives much of the sceptical debate on the internet.
Louise, you forgot to mention the white cat he strokes as he sits in his underground lair.
November 29, 2010
God Save The Duke
WikiLeaks cables: 'Rude' Prince Andrew shocks US ambassador | UK news | guardian.co.uk
Prince Andrew launched a scathing attack on British anti-corruption investigators, journalists and the French during an "astonishingly candid" performance at an official engagement that shocked a US diplomat.
Tatiana Gfoeller, Washington's ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, recorded in a secret cable that Andrew spoke "cockily" at the brunch with British and Canadian business people, leading a discussion that "verged on the rude".
During the two-hour engagement in 2008 at a hotel in the capital, Bishkek, Andrew, who travels the globe as a special UK trade representative, attacked Britain's corruption investigators in the Serious Fraud Office for what he called "idiocy".
He went on to denounce Guardian reporters investigating bribery as "those [expletive] journalists … who poke their noses everywhere".
I have been giving the wikileaks a good ignoring but a make an exception for this one. I think I owe the Duke an apology, it sounds as though he actually doing a decent job of promoting Britain whereas I thought he was just flying around on freebies. He certainly is better value than the lowlife scum he castigates and Miss Prissy Tatiana.
And the forecast is?
Some forecasters predict that it will be cold all winter, while others say that it will turn out mild
Now that this winter has arrived so early, how long is the bitter cold going to last? This is a frustrating question, especially now that the Met Office no longer makes its seasonal forecasts public. Other forecasters are saying that it will be cold, some say that it will turn out mild, but overall there is a good deal of uncertainty over the outlook for the entire winter....trying to predict what it will do beyond the next two weeks or so is very difficult.
Three weeks time, no idea, but a hundred years time....
They may not have got an idea but I've got 2000 litres of oil in the tank, half a ton of coal in the shed and twenty tons of firewood in the barn...
The Battle of Cable Street
The shuttered grocer’s shop at 375 Cable Street sits between an off-licence and a housing estate in East London. On the face of it, this is an unlikely front line for the Government’s drive to make the nation healthier. Yet, as Andrew Lansley puts the finishing touches to a White Paper, which he promises will bring a “radical new approach to public health”, this empty shop is the sort of place the Health Secretary will have to consider.
Plans to be announced tomorrow will transfer responsibility for public health from the local NHS to councils. For parents, it comes down to something as concrete as this: will the planning authorities let a fast-food takeaway open outside the gates of your child’s school?
For the experts, nudging people might not be enough. Sometimes they need a shove, such as banning junkfood adverts on television before the watershed. “Any one thing isn’t going to do the job,” Professor Davies said. “Regulation is not your first port of call, but it does need to be there when you need it.” Supermarkets and off-licences will be banned from selling cut-price alcohol. The Home Office is to announce plans under which the minimum price for a litre bottle of spirits would be £10.50 and for a 20 pack of beer £8.50.
The pricing is based on a formula whereby shops will be unable to sell alcohol below the cost of duty on the drink plus VAT. Ministers are also considering imposing higher taxes on super-strength beers.
Nanny is back but speaking in a posher voice....
The Business of Climate Change
DuPont, Zurich Chase $135 Billion Climate Markets - Bloomberg
“Climate change presents a direct threat to our business,” Jim Hanna, director of environmental impact for Seattle-based Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee chain, said in an interview.
Is a couple of degrees of warming worth it to rid us of Starbucks?
Making the argument to spend millions of dollars today to deal with effects that may not be seen for decades is difficult, said Ruben Kraiem, a partner with the law firm Covington & Burling LLP in New York and an adviser to the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, a New York-based group that works to preserve tropical forests.
“When people are hurting as many people are, it’s extremely difficult to make that case,” Kraiem said. “How much does it make sense to pay for a more robust piece of infrastructure today to protect against potential damage in 30 or 40 years?”
Um, are you sure you meant to say that?
November 28, 2010
Miliband rejects the sour juice from the wizened teat of socialism
Any surprise that the baby prefers commercial to what is on offer at home?
Boo to the old Coll...
A billion people will lose their homes due to climate change, says report | Environment | The Observer.... a climate expert at Oxford University,......
When I was up amongst the dreaming perspires such tosh would have had short shrift in the science department, but to be fair such expertise would have been at home in the philosophy park. Maybe that is where such nonsense has its home.
Hurrah for the old skool!
A product of my old alma mater, bugger, when I was there the computer lessons consisted of punching holes in number cards and posting them off to be processed I think it took a whole term to get to "Hello World". I was convinced this computing lark would never catch on and concentrated on pottery.....
November 26, 2010
Friday Night is Music Night (Dead End Edition)
Energy Tractor Stats
Apocalypse Soon « the Air Vent
I have been reading a book which is crucially interesting and which sadly bode ill for the future, particularly for our children and our childrenâ's children.
"Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air" by Professor David J C Mackay, see: http://www.withouthotair.com/, the entire book or subchapters can be downloaded free on the internet. And, also see a recent review in the Economist at http://www.economist.com/books/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13437900
Look at this diagram from the Economist and be very worried particularly for the UK. Much of Europe will have similar profile except for France with 85% nuclear electricity generation and still building:
Predicted electricity demand and generation capacity after forecast closures
You really think windmills are going to fill that gap between demand and production capacity?
euro Tractor Stats
The Iberian countries of Spain and Portugal had been most analysts' favourites to be next to seek financial aid, however Belgium's crisis-hit political system and threats of separation by the Flemish part of the country have made it even more vulnerable.
The divisions have been made worse by the two groups' views on how to deal with the economy.
The majority of Flems want austerity measures similar to the UK, but the more socialist-inclined Walloons have managed to block major government cuts.
In the past, comparisons have been drawn with a push for separatism for Scotland, but unlike the UK the split in Belgium has destabilised the country's government.
Yesterday the caretaker Belgian government denied that it was in trouble, arguing that, unlike Greece, Ireland and Portugal, most of its debt is owned by Belgians. The Belgian government also said it was in a better position than the UK.
Germans are thought to be getting nervous about the way they are being asked to pay up loans for weak European economies because they are all part of the same currency.
"I'm more confident than this spring that the European Union will emerge strengthened from the current challenges," Ms Merkel told business leaders in Berlin.
Was she speaking from a bunker about the glorious victory which is just round the corner, and insisting the noise outside is just thunder...
Happy Tractor Stats
Using similar methodology to that which will form the basis of Mr Cameron's new scheme, Professor David Bell of Stirling University discovered that over the past ten years Scots have overtaken the English and Welsh when it comes to well-being.
Historically, measurements of happiness have suggested that Scots are by nature more pessimistic than those living in England and Wales.
But during the devolution decade, Scots have become more upbeat and are now surging ahead in terms of happiness.
Professor Bell's work involved surveying 2,500 Scots and comparing their answers with those from the rest of the UK. His results showed that in 1998, Scotland recorded 4.57 on the happiness scale, just behind Wales (4.58) and some way behind England, which recorded 4.7.
The year 2003 saw a gloomier outlook, with Scotland falling to 3.98 but by 2008 Scotland had overtaken its rivals climbing to 4.85 compared with 4.72 for England and 4.81 for Wales.
And we need to spend £2 million to learn next year's results.
And if Dave is worried his happiness score won't show an increase I have a few lengths of well oiled hempen and a list which will get the population cheering.
Smokin' Tractor Stats
BBC News - Passive smoking 'kills 600,000' worldwide
The first global study into the effects of passive smoking has found it causes 600,000 deaths every year.
"This helps us understand the real toll of tobacco," said Armando Peruga, of the WHO's Tobacco-Free Initiative, who led the study.
The "first study"?
9 December 2009
BBC News - Passive smoking a 'global threat', WHO warns
Almost 95% of the world's population is not protected by laws banning smoking, the World Heath Organisation says.
In its second major report on the "tobacco epidemic", the UN agency said second-hand or passive smoking killed nearly 600,000 people each year.
So is this a new study which comes up with the same number as last year's study, even though this is "the first study" and last year's "the second"?
The 2009 report calling for more legislation references:
Öberg M et al. Global estimate of the burden of
disease from second-hand smoke. (unpublished)
Which now seems to have been published: http://www.who.int/quantifying_ehimpacts/publications/SHS.pdf
And after churning the numbers it makes the following four recommendations:
Recommendation 1: 100% smoke-free environments, not ventilation
Ventilation and smoking areas, whether separately ventilated from non-smoking areas or not, do not reduce exposure to a safe level of risk and are not recommended.
Second-hand tobacco smoke causes serious and fatal diseases in adults and children. There is no safe level of exposure to SHS.
Recommendation 2: Universal protection by law
Enact legislation requiring all indoor workplaces and public places to be 100% smoke-free environment.
The critical principle bearing on universal application of smoke-free legislation is the protection of human rights.
Recommendation 3: Proper implementation and adequate enforcement of the law
Investment in tobacco control is an explicit obligation under Article 26 of the WHO FCTC.
Costs for implementing smoke-free laws may include promotional campaigns to build support for the law, commissioning public opinion polls, educational materials on implementation, compliance monitoring systems, staffing a phone number to respond to public complaints and a temporary increase in the number of inspectors assigned to monitor initial implementation.
Recommendation 4: Public education to reduce SHS exposure in the home
Smoke-free workplaces result in lower levels of tobacco consumption among smokers and are associated with a greater likelihood of workers implementing smoke-free policies in their homes
Doesn't that make you want to just light up a big one and blow rings in their faces.
Hot Tractor Stats
"It's a sign that we've got man-made global warming," said Dr Vicky Pope, head of climate science advice at the Met Office.
The last decade was the hottest on record, and Dr Pope warns it will turn out to have been even hotter by about 0.03C when corrections are made to data taken from buoys at sea.
The buoys take temperature measurements a metre below the surface, where it is slightly cooler than on the surface itself. Measurements were previously taken mainly by ships.
"A lot of the heat could be distributed to the deep oceans and we don't know what's going on there”
Climate sceptics say that until now, warming has plateaued over the last decade. The Met Office agrees that the rate of warming has slowed - but it maintains that is due to natural variability, not because man-made warming has stopped.
They think factors in the slower warming may have been - a natural downturn in solar radiation; a small reduction in water vapour in the stratosphere; a possible increase in aerosol emissions from Asia; and the fact that strong warming in the Arctic is poorly represented in the way data is collected.
Dr Pope says the slowdown in temperature rise is consistent with projections from climate models. She also says she expects warming to increase in the next few years.
Once we have finished correcting the data our forecasts will be correct especially in the Arctic where we haven't got any data from, but I have got a red crayon to fill the map in....
November 25, 2010
No Snow Blast From The Past
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past - Environment - The Independent
By Charles Onians
Monday, 20 March 2000
Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.
Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters - which scientists are attributing to global climate change - produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.
Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community. Average temperatures in Britain were nearly 0.6Â°C higher in the Nineties than in 1960-90, and it is estimated that they will increase by 0.2C every decade over the coming century. Eight of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the Nineties.
However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".
"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.
David Parker, at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Berkshire, says ultimately, British children could have only virtual experience of snow. Via the internet, they might wonder at polar scenes - or eventually "feel" virtual cold.
Heavy snow will return occasionally, says Dr Viner, but when it does we will be unprepared. "We're really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time," he said.
The chances are certainly now stacked against the sort of heavy snowfall in cities that inspired Impressionist painters, such as Sisley, and the 19th century poet laureate Robert Bridges, who wrote in "London Snow" of it, "stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying".
Not any more, it seems.
Funny that this ten year old story is one of the top reads on The Independent website today.
They made their beds
The euro plunged further into crisis yesterday as investors sold off Spanish, Portuguese and Belgian government bonds in record numbers on renewed fears that those nations would follow Greece and Ireland into the financial emergency ward, undermining confidence in the single currency.
The spreading contagion suggests that the markets now view the break-up of the euro as a realistic possibility, and that "shock and awe" efforts to shore up individual economies with huge bailouts have not succeeded in insulating their neighbours from infection. Spain, in particular, is regarded as being "too big to save". Should Spain eventually need assistance it would also imply a much larger UK bilateral loan than the £8bn offered to Ireland â perhaps £20bn or £30bn.
Am I being xenophobic to suggest we just tell them all to just fuck off. The crash will hurt us enough already without having to bail out the stupid and greedy as well.
Gray Ice Science
By Louise Gray,
The Science Museum is the first institution in the world to put an ‘ice core’ on display.
The three foot high block of ice was drilled from beneath the Antarctic in 1989 by the British Antarctic Survey. The core was taken from almost 200ft beneath the top of the ice, where the snow was laid down in layers hundreds of years ago, trapping the air.
Scientists are able to analyse the air trapped in the ice to find out the temperature at the time and how much carbon dioxide was in the air.
The method has enabled scientists to work out that during an ice age carbon dioxide levels are relatively low, whereas in the warm periods there is more carbon in the atmosphere.
This suggests that carbon dioxide causes global warming, prompting concern that the unprecedented growth in carbon since the industrial revolution could cause catastrophic climate change.
"cause" - so the rise in which precedes the rise in the other? Funny she doesn't seem to mention that.
November 24, 2010
More Thoughts From An Irish Farmer
A week may be a long time in politics, but it seems to be even longer in euro-economics. At least the long-standing debate here about how we should celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising is now resolved. All we need do is raise the EU flag over the GPO. This has been a bit of a standing joke since we were sent back to the polls to get our views 'correct' on Nice and Lisbon, but yesterday it became reality when Ollie Rehn told us we could not hold an election before passing the budget. In other words, we cannot elect leaders untill the EU has set the program which those leaders will adopt. Brian Cowen was willing to comply because it gives him a chance of postponing the inevitable election till march by which time some of the blind rage against him and his party may have abated- not to the point of saving his position, but possibly sufficient to save Fianna Fail from literal extinction. The Donegal by-election tomorrow will show exactly why Fianna Fail prefer surrender to the EU over surrender to their electorate.
So what next? Debate here in Ireland seems to revolve around two issues. Firstly, is the bail-out big enough? Opinion among those who have been proven right so far says no- it needs to be nearer double the 85bn being suggested. Opinion among those who have been consistently wrong so far (such as the government) says yes, it is big enough. Secondly, can we afford it? If the figures being bandied around at the moment are in the ball-park, our ongoing interest obligations are going to be around 10bn a year. Our current tax take is about 30bn. I think that clears up that one.
Portugal may be under fire at the moment, but I don't think the ECB will allow 2 economies to fall in quite such quick succession. They will buy every single portuguese bond
in the market if they have to. So what next is that Ireland will publish it's 4 year plan and it's budget, and will elect new puppet leaders in the new year. The ECB will see off the speculators at any cost. But some time next year, when the fact that the Irish can't live within the terms of their bail-out resurfaces, and the fact that Portugal is still in trouble resurfaces, the speculators will be back. I guess George Soros will be among them this time, and those of us who were around in 1993 know what that means. The Germans will keep their strong currency policy and the weaker economies will default by devaluation and inflation. It is worth observing that all the current expertise in the euro hierarchy has no experience of managing a currency union through a second decade, because no currency union (in the absence of political union) has ever lasted that long. Between them they have no experience at all of managing the break-up of a currency union, so that will be a pretty rudderless ship when it finally slips it's anchor.
My conclusion is that we will only survive these turbulent times if we remember to keep eating. Enjoy your lunch, and don't forget to plant next year's spuds in the the spring, because you can't be sure anyone else will plant them for you.
A Pill A Day
Is that with or without a hang-over?
Prof Rothwell said that he thought it would be “sensible” for people to start taking aspirin at about 45, when the chance of developing bowel and other cancers began to rise. “The risk of cancer goes up substantially between the age of 40 and 55,” he said.
As aspirin had a preventive effect, it was advisable to start taking it daily towards the beginning of that period, he explained. However, he said it was ultimately up to individuals to decide whether to take the drug, “rather than us making definitive statements”.
Prof Peter Rothwell, the Oxford neurologist who led the bowel cancer study and was part of yesterday’s panel, has started taking a daily dose of aspirin himself.
A doctor suggesting it is up to people to make up their own minds and that doctors shouldn't be making definitive statements - I like the sound of him.
What's on the boards today.... - Mindful Money
Everyone is talking about Ireland:
And no one knows what will happen, but it looks ugly. And it is never going to be business as usual for the euro ever again.
Climate Change - The Science is Settled, It Is Just Politics Now
Climate change scepticism is about more than just science | Adam Corner | Environment | guardian.co.uk
....climate change scepticism is only superficially about science.
The basic question of human impact on the climate is no longer seriously debated in the scientific literature. Science being science, there will always be uncertainties. But if the credibility of a scientific conclusion can be judged from the weight of evidence that supports it, then climate change is a fact. The problem is that seemingly objective facts are surprisingly malleable – especially when they are perceived to have implications for policy or behaviour.
As Mike Hulme showed in his book Why We Disagree About Climate Change, many of the arguments that rage around climate science are not really about climate change at all: they are disputes about personal values, regulation, economic growth or the acceptable level of government intervention in our lives. Climate change just happens to cut to the heart of these red hot issues – and so it is used as a vehicle for thrashing out ancient disputes.
If you are a sceptic you are probably a well paid holder of anachronistic views who isn't interested in the science at all. Or do I mean a if you are a warmist activist....
November 23, 2010
Guido Forcefully Split From Gay Partner
Gays protest | The Times (£)
Members of Germany’s gay community are outraged after a homosexual couple were forcibly parted and made to mate with females.
Guido and Detlef have become the poster boys for protests against intolerance, even though they are both predatory males.
Guido, transferred 650km (400 miles) east to a zoo in Ostrava, in the Czech Republic, is also reportedly not too enamoured with the heterosexual lifestyle that is being forced upon him.
...the Roman Catholic Church in the arch conservative area of Münsterland is jubilant. There has been one protest near the zoo gates by a small group of homosexuals standing beneath a rainbow flag, while the German blogosphere is buzzing. “This is like in the Dark Middle Ages, forcibly making a creature sexually reorient itself by tearing its partner from its side,” wrote one campaigner.
The griffon vultures, Gyps fulvus, showed no interest in female company. They were happy in their own world, grooming one another with tender sweeps of their savage beaks between rearranging the sticks that made up their nest.
"Live and let live" obviously hasn't fully caught on yet in The Fatherland
November 22, 2010
Sooper Secret Sceptic Slasher Site Launchess
The fight is on. After a year of attacks, climate scientists in America today launch a new website http://www.climaterapidresponse.org aimed at closing the gap between scientific knowledge and public understanding of global warming.
The website offers an online form where journalists can put in a request for climate scientists. The three founders will then locate someone from their list of 50 volunteers with the right expertise. So far, they are getting about five media requests a day
It is a pity they don't seem to be putting the questions and answers up online - maybe they will in the future so we can all learn from them.
British Eurosceptics have rushed to ascribe Ireland’s crisis to the euro, and to see in it impending disaster for the single European currency. In truth, this is just wishful thinking, blended with schadenfreude.
The euro had nothing to do with Ireland’s property boom and bust, which is what has brought its banks and economy so low: membership in 1999 did lower Irish borrowing costs, but it also did so for plenty of others who didn’t have housing bubbles and who, unlike the Irish Government, took the trouble to regulate their banks properly. Iceland’s similar banking crisis in 2008-09 shows that Ireland would have been in just as much difficulty outside the euro, except that a currency crash would have made it bankrupt even sooner, and the IMF would still then have been called in.
Nor is it at all obvious why Ireland’s current troubles should put the euro in danger of collapse. As long as governments in the eurozone have the political will to stage financial rescues when other member states get into difficulty, the currency will survive. They showed in May, when they assembled a huge financial rescue facility, in that case for Greece, that the will is there.
Another danger point would come if countries appeared to be tempted to leave the euro and reintroduce drachmas or punts, for then speculation would begin as to who would be next. But there has been no sign of that, given that the costs of withdrawal would be very high.
It wasn't the drink that made him drunk, Officer, he just ate a dodgy kebab. A touch more of the whiskey will settle his stomach, purely medicinal.
Bono and Windmills to save Ireland
Our panel of economists share their insights into how Ireland might resurrect its stricken economy
Head of policy at Dublin thinktank TASC
Ireland has huge capacity in terms of renewable energy, particularly in wind and wave. Because of our location on the periphery of Europe, we're the first land to be hit by those winds off the Atlantic. We could be a net exporter of energy. But instead, we're one of the countries in the European Union, most reliant on non-renewable energy. There's some investment in sustainable energy. But it's nothing like sufficient. There needs to be multiples of what's happening now for us to be a significant player.
Research professor, Economic and Social Research Institute
Our cultural exports, bands like U2, are probably not trivial. People have heard of Ireland and are more inclined to do business here because they know something about Ireland, or at least they think they do.
I think keeping corporation tax low has more chance, but then I don't believe in leprechaun and Blarney stones.
Rarely Pure Never Simple
Heroin shortage in UK is 'putting lives at risk' | Society | The Guardian
Hospitals are treating a growing number of drug users who have overdosed on heroin mixed with other substances by dealers because of a huge shortage of the opiate across the UK.
The shortage has been linked not to seizures of the drug by law enforcement agencies but to a fungus that has blighted this year's poppy crop in Afghanistan, reducing it by half.
Among heroin users commenting in online forums about the drought, one long-term user said: "I've never known anything like it in 30 years."
There is one simple answer to such problems. And then there is what our leaders do.
November 21, 2010
10:10 Peer Review
Worthington is currently director of the carbon trading thinktank and campaign group Sandbag, which she founded, as well as a board member of the 10:10 campaign. Prior to this she was a policy adviser to Scottish and Southern Electricity and its CEO Ian Marchant. It is not a coincidence that SSE is the most enlightened on green issues of the big six power utilities. While at SSE, she was seconded to government to take part in writing the climate change bill, which is now law and binds the UK to cutting its carbon emissions. The idea of national carbon budgets, now in law, was hers. Her earlier career was as an environmental campaigner, heading Friends of the Earth's climate change campaign. She studied English literature: "very useful," she jokes.
"A breath of fresh air"?
Yet another professional campaigner, what real job could she ever get if she wasn't stoking up scares?
Guardian Job of The Day
To play a key role in delivery of the Welsh Government's Climate Change Strategy and support for community action on climate change:
We we sure there is no more room for cuts....
Today I'm Mainly Preparing The Mincemeat
200g Beef Suet
400g Mixed Fruit with peel
100g of Beef steak (raw minced)
200g of diced cooking apple
bit of nutmeg, squeeze of lemon, some lemon zest.
A large splash of brandy.
Mix them all together, squeeze into a sealable jar and leave for at least a couple of weeks; make it now for Christmas and you will be mouthing my name in thanks as you eat the best Mince Pies ever, and cursing as you will never be able to face a shop bought one ever again.
November 19, 2010
Friday Night is Music Night (Dirty Old Town Edition)
There is many a beggar in Dublin singing this tonight.
Stern Warning that USA Must Tax More
US faces boycott for ‘dirty’ carbon habit | The Times
The United States will be banned from selling goods to many countries if it continues to shirk its promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to the world’s leading climate change economist.
In an interview with The Times, Lord Stern of Brentford said that nations that were taking strong action on emissions could start imposing restrictions on “dirty” US exports by 2020.
Lord Stern said that a complete ban on some goods was also possible. He said the American people should overcome their historical antipathy to taxation and accept that emissions needed to be controlled either through a tax or a trading scheme.
“It’s a country that is very sensitive to big government and taxation for understandable historical reasons,” he said, adding that it was a “conceptual mistake” to see charging for emissions as a tax.
Welcome to the Tea Party Nicky. I think your call for more regulation and, excuse my conceptual mistake, taxes is going to go down like a bucket of cold sick in the US, and as for it being boycotted, that is really going to worry them in Des Moines.
Green is the Colour of Money
Arnold Schwarzenegger: my future as a green activist | Environment | The Guardian
Schwarzenegger is the "founding father" of the new venture, a self-appointed global champion in the war against climate change.
The vehicle for this next stage of his life is the new R20 group of city and state leaders, which Schwarzenegger conjured into being at his climate summit this week.
he will see where the R20 takes him.
"It could very well be that this would be the main thing," he said of his new career, but just as immediately mentioned some alternatives. "It could also be that it would be one of five things that I would do. It could be showbusiness. It could be business in general."
Schwarzenegger said he could see a place for himself mobilising world opinion – and investment capital – "This is where the action is. Right here,"
Kerr-ching! Smart career move.
November 18, 2010
National Ammo Day
National Ammo Day
The Ammo Day website is no longer active, but the Ammo Day mission continues: Buy 100 rounds of Ammo (or equivalent in reloading supplies) every November 19 (or the week surrounding it).
I tried, I went into a large gun shop in Salisbury waving my ticket;
"I want a couple of boxes of .38..."
"Anything in .357?"
"No, we haven't sold either of those for ages, no call for them, we
might be able to get some in for you....."
Sorry Kim, I tried, I guess you don't have the same problem in Texas.
It would be a tragic legacy for the government if it marked this year by starting to sell off large parts of our public forests. We hold these magnificent green spaces in trust for our children. Once they've gone we will not get them back.
Those bastard capitalist will bundle them up and ship them China. One day a forest, next day a big blank on the map....
Though my local forest expert is worried by the sell off for a different reason. At the moment the Forestry Commission does a good job of balancing the green demands and actually producing wood. He fears that single issue environmentalists will buy woods and manage them exclusively for their pet subject. Here for bats, there for deer etc and the diversity and usefulness will disappear.
But as we already have huge areas of forest privately owned, and in fine form, I think such worries are a minor problem.
The £200 Billion Cost of Huhnatic Policies
Britain's electricity market is braced for its biggest shake-up since privatisation as the Government prepares to unveil a package of measures designed to shore up £200 billion worth of investment in greener sources of energy over the next decade.
Mr Huhne claimed yesterday that the reforms would represent a seismic shift in energy policy.
They are expected to include a carbon floor price designed to penalise investment in fossil fuel power stations and boost the attractiveness of lowcarbon energy. This is expected to rise steeply every year to force energy companies to invest in lower-carbon sources of power, such as wind parks and nuclear reactors. One official said that the rate of increase could be as high as 5 per cent to 6 per cent a year.
This will be accompanied by a mechanism aimed at reducing revenue uncertainty for low-carbon electricity generators by establishing a full system of feed-in tariffs,....
An Emissions Performance Standard will be introduced for fossil fuel power stations that will stop new coal stations being built unless they are equipped with CCS technology to strip out and store carbon emissions.
The measures are intended to ensure that Britain secures sufficient investment to allow it to meet its EU target of generating one third of its electricity from renewables by 2020 — a programme that is expected to cost nearly £200 billion.
Thank goodness the Government has plenty of money to splash about on wonderful green schemes, and we don't really need the lights on in 2020 do we?
Winter Draws On
Now experts have forecast the early onset of freezing weather in mid-November could be the start of a long, cold winter at least as severe as last year's.
Last winter, Scotland's coldest since 1963, the severe weather largely kicked in around the middle of December.
Forecaster Brian Gaze said: "A cold spell lasting a week or longer starts on Sunday, pushing south with an increasing risk of frost and snow. Overnight frosts are likely to be widespread, with lows of -10C possible where snow lies."
He added: "The pattern is similar to the one which brought wintry weather last December.
"This is a sharp spell of wintry weather for November. I've analysed Numerical Weather Prediction models - the basis for medium-range forecasts - since 1994 and have never seen anything like this in any previous November."
November 17, 2010
Climate Change Causes Sharks in the Med
How one wrong turn 450,000 years ago brought us great white sharks in the Med - Scotsman.com News
Scottish scientists reveal the presence of the great whites in the Mediterranean was probably caused by a navigational error made during a time of significant global climate change, which led to a small group of "confused"Australian sharks - probably a handful of pregnant females - heading north up the coast of Africa, following a strong ocean current, instead of heading east towards the Antipodes.
Nearly half a million years ago - I think my 4x4 is in the clear...
They want government action to limit families to just two children and propose a crackdown on immigration to slash Scotland's population by a quarter.
But radical green group the Optimum Population Trust - branded "eco-fascist" by opponents - has now won the backing of some MSPs and will today stage a major conference at the Scottish Parliament.
Prominent supporters of the OPT include its patron, BBC naturalist Sir David Attenborough and scientist Dr James Lovelock, whose "Gaia" hypothesis suggests that the Earth is a single organism and humanity is destined to be wiped out unless it reduces environmental damage.
Government green adviser Sir Jonathon Porritt, who also briefs Prince Charles on environmental issues, is another top OPT figure.
...the OPT believes Scotland and Britain must do their part to stabilise the world's population, which could rise to more than nine billion within 40 years. They want the UK population to fall to as low as 30 million, with Scotland playing its part in the reduction.
On immigration, the OPT believes there should be a zero cap on net immigration, meaning numbers would be strictly limited to replace those leaving the country to live elsewhere.
Leading environmentalist George Monbiot is among the OPT's fiercest critics, claiming that global population increase "pales into insignificance when compared with the effect of increased consumption".
A recent paper by the OPT claimed that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family's carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.
One extra child causes a CO2 output of nearly equivalent to a return flight to New York everyday?
One source of figures suggests ; Individual CO2 emissions - 1 person per year in UK - 10000 kg C02
Return flight London - New York - 6886 miles - 3856 kg C02
But the claim was made in The Times May 6th 2007
Having large families ‘is an eco-crime’ - Times Online..according to a report to be published tomorrow by a green think tank.
The paper by the Optimum Population Trust (OPT) will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family’s carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.
The OPT briefing actually says:
A non-existent person has no environmental footprint: the emissions “saving” is instant and total. Given an 80-year ifespan and annual per capita emissions (2006) of 9.3 tonnes of CO2 (Defra, 2007, provisional), each Briton “foregone” – each addition to the population that does not take place – saves 744 tonnes of CO2, equivalent in emissions to 620 return flights from London to New York (1.2 tonnes of CO2 each). The Stern report estimates the social cost of CO2 at $85 per tonne: each foregone Briton therefore saves society $63,240 (c £30,000).
So the OPT may be silly, but not as silly as a Scotsman journalist who cut and pasted from a silly Times journalist.
Silly Asses To Run Eeyore Forecasts
From today, anyone with a computer and internet access can be part of a huge, pioneering climate change experiment, The weatherathome.net project, probing the controversial question of whether extreme weather events will become more or less common as the world warms.
By running advanced climate models while their PCs are idle, participants will estimate how often heatwaves, floods and hurricanes will strike in the next few decades. The initiative will also indicate how much of the blame for these events can be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans
To tackle the question of how much human activities are to blame, the weatherathome.net project will process data from the past 50 years. The initial conditions in the models are modified to reflect what they would have been like if industrial activities had not produced vast amounts of greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions. The difference between these simulations and the real weather will provide a way to asses (sic) the human contribution to recent weather trends. The question of attribution is likely to be key to the legal action already being taken by some groups against polluters
Why do I get a feeling it would be more useful in the fight against climate change if people saved power and turned off their computers rather than have them on churning this data. I think any defence lawyer would welcome a prosecution based on its printouts.
November 16, 2010
An Irish Farmer Writes
Hello Mr Englishman
I trust your eurosceptic disposition is feeling well and truly tickled at the moment. I'm finding it hard not to break into a chorus of 'Here we go,here we go, here we go'...
But the funniest thing of all is that after being told for years that the Irish crisis has been caused by irresponsible bankers pushing unaffordable loans onto financially illiterate and incontinent borrowers, we now witness the bizarre spectacle of the EU trying to force the mother and father of all loans onto Ireland! Mmmmm.......
Meanwhile, we have a government with a majority of 2. This arithmetic depends on the green party, who don't have a lot to contribute in the way of sound financial management (!) and 2 independents. One of these independents has told the Government that he will only support the budget (December 7th) if it includes MORE money for Kerry, while overall it must cut total public spending by more than 10%. There's a by-election next thursday, which the government will lose. They know this, which is why they delayed holding it for 17 months and were eventually forced to by a legal action brought to the courts by that well known champion of democracy, Sinn Fein. There are 3 more by-elections which are also long overdue for the same reason, and despite the judgement about the first one, the government is using the delays inherent in the court process to delay holding these three till after the budget. The boss, Brian Cowen, has an opinion poll rating of just 11% and a track record as finance minister 2002-2007.
Which reminds me that I once compared the Irish situation to a banana republic where the banana crop had just failed. I read yesterday that the banana crop has actually not failed, but Ireland is in fact the world's largest exporter of bananas (the real fruit ones, that is- not just the proverbial fruitcake sort). How can this be? Is it climate change providing new opportunties to our farmers? Not a bit of it. Under Euro rules, a banana is correctly described as Irish if we do something to it when it gets here. It turns out a lot of bananas get ripened in Ireland and re-exported. Quite a few foreign nationals have been ripened here these last few years as well, and most of these are now being re-exported. Sadly I think we would be better off exporting genuinely Irish articles in both cases. We have a good cheese industry too, and exporting the biggest of these would certainly help.
What an Irony that the Brits used all their money 70 years ago to change the face of Europe. It seems now that the Irish, just 1% of the eurozone economy, are going to bring down Europe by hijacking the money from the Germans et al. I think the Shinners may have learnt a thing or two from Al Quaeda and passed on the wisdom.
Well that was a great rant, wasn't it. Perhaps the Englishman's fan club would be amused, if not greatly enlightened, by some of it. Now that's off my chest I can go and clean some sheeps arses, in the knowledge that I'm in good company.
An Irish Farmer
Better Off Out
Let Europe collapse, I'm off out with a trusty English gun, some chums and a flask of Damson Gin for some sport today here.
November 15, 2010
Everything you need to know about global warming in the UK but were afraid to ask
Guardian Comment on Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin's Alaska: reality tv live blog | World news | guardian.co.uk
The Palins are a bunch of uncultured country bumpkins hillbillies. They have no Ivy League college education, no social class, no taste of fine things in life, no decent family pedigree.
People like us who are highly educated, highly paid, highly cultured, highly developed and highly bred should never be allowed to be led by trash like those country bumpkin hillbillies. America is the land Of the Best, By the Best, and For the Best. We are simply the Best and those filthy trash like the Palins are simply the worst.
America has become such a great country because we have never allowed stinking trash like those Wasilly Hillbilies ever become our master. Like those civilised Indians who keep those disgusting Untouchables subhumans at the bottom of the society, we should suppress those untouchable Hillbillies at the very bottom of our feet forever. Low-life Hillbillies like the Palins are only worthy to clean my toilets and polish me loos.
Guess What Is Causing Forest Decline
Forestry industry fears for jobs if 100m trees are not planted - Scotsman.com News
SCOTLAND'S forests are in deep decline, threatening jobs and carbon-cutting targets, despite a Scottish Government pledge to plant 100 million new trees by 2015, industry experts have warned.
A new report by ConFor, the Confederation of Forest Industries, shows 24,000 hectares of productive forest - the type used by the timber industry - have been lost in the last five years.
ConFor blames the loss of land to windfarms, with promises of trees planted by way of compensation not always followed through.
Trees have also been lost due to forests being redesigned as part of biodiversity initiatives.
November 14, 2010
D for Dumb
The return of rickets in northern parts of the UK came as a surprise despite the colder climate and lower levels of sunshine in the north, but what has developed in Southampton is quite astonishing.
'This is almost certainly a combination of the modern lifestyle, which involves a lack of exposure to sunlight, but also covering up in sunshine, and we're seeing cases that are very reminiscent of 17th-century England.
Vitamin D is often called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because it is made by the action of sunlight on the skin, which accounts for 90 per cent of the body’s supply.
Although white children can develop rickets, many affected children in the UK have Asian, Afro-Caribbean and Middle Eastern origins.
Whether it is yummy mummies swaddling their children in factor 50 Boden clothes at the hint of a sun ray, kiddy-fiddler fearers locking their kids indoors all day or the melanin enhanced denying their bairns the extra sun they need for cultural reasons it is all stupidity. A disease that is completely avoidable being inflicted due to dumb ignorance. Cluebats need to be wielded.
Dave's Green Socialist Big Society
Scots land rights to be extended to England - Scotsman.com News
The report's co-author Phillip Blond, whose Red Tory book formed much of the thinking behind David Cameron's "big society" and the Conservative manifesto, will argue that after a decade of booming state investment and welfare spending under Labour, "meaningful assets and market entry have become the preserve of the rich."
Blond and his co-author Steve Wyler take their cue from the 2003 Land Reform Act (Scotland) passed by MSPs which allowed communities to buy up vast tracks of land north of the Border.
The report argues that buy-outs have led to entrepreneurship in Scotland in communities where people have a stake in the assets.
It notes: "in Scotland especially, there has been a rapid increase in community energy experimentation, including community owned wind power, ground source heat pumps, biofuels, anaerobic digestion, hydro-electric schemes, solar power, etc."
So the rich have more "meaningful assets" - wow! That has come as a shock.
And as for the rest of it I think it can be translated into self appointed "community groups" being given shed loads of tax payer cash to compulsory purchase private property to then spunk away even more taxpayer cash on fatuous green wet dreams on it.
And this is from the man who does Dave's thinking for him.
November 12, 2010
Friday Night is Music Night (Weather Forecast Edition)
Well everyone else has covered it...
....throw in “racist” anyway – the word has been diluted down to such an extent that only a homeopath could believe it had any power.
As dear Oscar said; " I wish I had said that". But then he will probably have the British Homœopathic Association suing him now...
(As an aside I wonder what the subscription to the BHA is; £100 for junior members, £10 for senior, £1 for fellows, 10p for life membership?)
William Hague "I have in my hand, a piece of paper, signed by Humpy van Rumpy"
Referendum Bill aims to reassure Tory Eurosceptics | The Times (£)
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, has promised that in future all attempts to transfer sovereignty to Europe will involve a vote by the public. But the Government risks accusations that it has watered down its promises after allowing a loophole to evade a referendum in certain circumstances where it does not consider the EU legislation “significant”.
These would include cases where EU bodies were given the power to impose new requirements, obligations or sanctions on Britain.
The Bill also includes a “sovereignty clause”, confirming the principle that Parliament has the final say on which laws take effect in Britain, although the Foreign Office acknowledged that this was symbolic.
The full text of the agreement William Hague has reached with our European colleagues can be found here
"Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"
"Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really,"
Reported to police...racially motivated and incitement to murder...Arrested .... 'suspended indefinitely' from Conservative party
I didn't realise anyone actually read twitter, luckily there is none of that rough talk on the blogosphere...
Happiness is a warm app
Track Your Happiness App
Using your iPhone, you’ll be notified by email or text message and asked to report how you are feeling and what you are doing.
So if you're an Apple user you sign up for this app, and the results are:
Participants said they were distracted no less than 30 per cent of the time during every activity, except making love, when they were more focused than usual.
"A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.
"Mind wandering is an excellent predictor of people's happiness.
"In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged."
Strange people these iPhone users, I think if I was making the beast with two backs and my partner's iPhone started trilling and asking her how happy she was my distraction level might rise and my happiness decrease. And if she started texting back I would know the handcuffs weren't on tight enough.
November 11, 2010
November 10, 2010
The Englishman's Law of Art
BBC News - Image of teenage girl hunting wins photography prize
A picture of a teenager from Alabama on her first hunting trip to South Africa has won this year's Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize
The £12,000 award was presented to photographer David Chancellor for his portrait, entitled Huntress with Buck.
Now that is art, I don't know much about pictures but it seems the Traditional Law of Art is that a decent one has a bit of landscape, pretty girl, horses, hounds or dogs and probably a dead animal in it.
I know all the ones I have do.
November 9, 2010
Winds reached Force 11 – over 65mph – in South Uist on Sunday night and caused the temporary closure of roads andfurther flooding to low-lying areas of the already endangered island.
The causeway that connects South Uist to Eriskay was closed for two hours on Sunday evening as high tides and strong winds made it unsafe to cross.
As the weather raged, a public meeting about the impact on the island of coastal erosion and climate change was taking place in Daliburgh.
On Saturday, a project began to reinforce the dune system that protects the island from the Atlantic. Local people and Oxfam Scotland intend using redundant fishing nets to anchor the dunes on a five-mile stretch until marram grass can take hold and counter rising sea levels – which some fear may actually split the island in two.
I love his "so we are told" at 1:05, almost as though he doesn't believe the money men....
Who would think that exposed sand dunes erode and change, it has never happened before....
My Sort of Cookery Book
The Guardian reviews a cookery book entitled How to Feed a Man written by someone called Stasha Butterfly
......feature women nibbling lettuce and men hacking apart still-moving cows. And why would anyone want to cook from a book like that?
And why would anyone want a cookery book that suggested anything else?
Water Stress in the South East
Snow, rain and gales hit Britain
Torrential downpours will hit most areas today and London and the South-east are predicted to fare worst. The Met office warned the capital could expect over two inches, while 45 flood alerts were issued across the UK....
Weather forecasts should include Australian style updates on water shortages - Telegraph
Martin Spray, Chief Executive of the WWT, said people are unaware that many areas of Britain are in water stress. The crisis is greatest in the South East where at least 10 million people have less water available per head than those living in Egypt and Morocco.
Maybe not the best day to be launching the demand for action....
November 8, 2010
Shooting Guardian Journalist
Biofuels - The Damage They Do - But The EU Demands Them
Meeting a European target to use biofuel in Britain’s 30 million cars will result in the destruction of an area of wildlife habitat the size of the West Country, a study has found.
Imports of biofuels from crops are due to treble over the next decade to reach the legally binding target for 10 per cent of all transport fuel to come from renewable sources by 2020. At present, just over 3 per cent of petrol and diesel sold in Britain comes from crops such as soya, palm oil and sugar cane.
The study found that 1.6 million hectares would be needed for the crops, the same area as Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset combined.
Converting rainforest and grassland could produce twice as much greenhouse gas as continuing to use fossil fuels, the Institute for European Environmental Policy said.
The additional emissions from converting land to meet Britain’s biofuel requirement will be the equivalent of putting 6 million extra cars on the road, the study, commissioned by the RSPB, ActionAid, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, concludes.
Tim Stowe, the RSPB’s director of international operations, said: “We are seeing the impact of European renewable fuel targets first hand with our work in Kenya. The Tana River Delta and the Dakatcha Woodlands are both hugely important areas for wildlife and they are currently at risk from irresponsible and unsustainable biofuel plantations.
Kenneth Richter, Friends of the Earth’s biofuels campaigner, said: “This research reveals the scale of the damage that misguided biofuels targets will cause to forest habitats and communities — and the UK is set to have the worst track record in Europe.
Norman Baker, the Transport Minister, acknowledged that biofuels threatened wildlife habitats and said that the EU rules should be rewritten.
Bright Idea on Global Warming
A global climate computer simulation was used to assess the potential for planting crops with high reflectivity.
The study found that a 20 per cent increase in crop albedo could provide Europe with an average summertime cooling of more than 1 per cent.
This was a fifth of the change needed to offset a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in the next century.
Under a more moderate global warming scenario, the method could offset up to half of the predicted summer warming over Europe.
Call me a simple old son of the soil but I thought we wanted less reflectivity in our crops so they absorbed more of that lovely sunlight and turned that nasty CO2 into yummy food and fuel...
Good News on the jobs front from the wind industry
Orders for wind turbines to fall 93%, energy experts predict | Business | The Guardian
Orders for offshore wind turbines in Britain will slump next year, threatening to halt the industry's recent growth and the expected creation of up to 10,000 "green economy" jobs.
Good news because with "Green Jobs" costing the economy twice as much as real jobs it means the money that would have been spent on creating them can now flow into the real economy where real jobs and real wealth will be created.
November 7, 2010
Add 1 shallot, chopped finely 6 tbsp red wine vinegar 4 tsp sugar Salt and pepper
THEY have formed a succulent and nutritious part of the human diet for thousands of years. But a new report is warning that plentiful supplies of oysters and mussels could disappear over the next century because the oceans are becoming increasingly acidic.
If the trend continued, the shells of thousands of species would be eroded and the creatures eventually wiped out - creating a huge knock-on effect on other fish and marine life.
As lobsters and crabs have shells with a different chemical composition, it is not clear how they will be affected by increasingly acidic sea water,
Dr Baxter, the principal adviser in marine ecology for Scottish Natural Heritage, presented the report, Ocean Acidification: Questions Answered, at a scientific meeting last week. SNH co-funded the report, alongside Natural England, the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
Baxter said: "The only way around this is for the amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere to be reduced.
But oysters need the tang of a bit of lemon, or some shallot vinegar to make them palatable. Straight out the steaming acidic cauldron that the Arctic Ocean will become merely will make live easier for the shuckers.
Or maybe not.
Hospital Food For Local Farmers Sake
This Friday, a private member's bill will be debated in Parliament that would introduce health and sustainability standards for food in public institutions such as hospitals and care homes.
The bill offers a lifeline to British farming, sustainable fishing, the environment and the health of some of the most vulnerable people in the UK. It is the very least that government can do – to commit to buy food whose production meets the basic health and sustainability standards that we all expect. But shockingly, even this "very least" of commitments is proving immensely difficult to achieve. Such is the current mood to resist legislation, it seems that government may not support a bill that would put food and farming at the heart of economic revival.
So the bill isn't about improving hospital food at all, that might just be a side effect of a bill to protect local food producer interests.
So what do the poor buggers in Norwich Hospital get to eat all winter, local turnip hand hewn from the frozen soil by a peasant in a woollen smock? That is what local sustainability means. They might fancy a couple of New Zealand chops with fresh Kenyan Mange-tout and Cyprus New potatoes, and quick medicinal gargle of Rioja but that fails Rosie's "sustainability" test so gruel is what it will have to be.
Where Monboit Got It Wrong
Georgie is getting himself in a right lather. Channel 4, What the Green Movement Got Wrong, among many other subjects had a section on DDT.
The producers of the film had to change the script just a couple of hours before it was broadcast, as a result of the false and actionable accusations it made concerning the pesticide DDT. Until that point the film made the following claims:
• That Greenpeace campaigned for a worldwide ban on DDT.
• That this ban was achieved.
• That, as a result, millions of people died of malaria. These deaths were attributed by the programme to green campaigners.
Before the programme aired, some of this was stripped out, but the version broadcast still creates the impression that there was a global ban on DDT for all purposes.
It's simply not true. DDT for disease control has never been banned worldwide.
What George doesn't reveal at this point is that he published a review of the film whilst it was still being aired obviously based a draft version that was then changed. In the review he says; "For example, the film maintains that, as a result of campaigning by groups such as Greenpeace, the pesticide DDT was banned worldwide."
And he now he acknowledges that that wasn't in the film, only an "impression" of it was left in his mind.
He started the review with a fiction "Last night it aired yet another polemic" - when the review was written before broadcast. The review is wrong on a material fact, on his own admission. And yet he is stamping his foot about the film maker not coming clean.
His complaint seems to be that you can't blame "The Greens" for DDT not being used to save lives because they didn't get a total ban. Greenpeace never called for a total ban but supported "calls for all DDT use to be phased out. The phase-out commitment is often loosely referred to as a "ban."
It reminds me of David Irving attempts to absolve Hitler of the unfortunate decline in the Jewish population in the lands he ruled... There is no paper link, it wasn't exactly the number claimed, it was a bread oven.....
It seems the film accepts the point about Greenpeace not calling for the total ban (I haven't found a transcript to check). So George is increasingly pointing at one point in a draft that was corrected before broadcast to invalidate the whole film.
A pretty pathetic response.
November 5, 2010
Friday Night is Music Night (Tonight We Sing The Old Songs Jah Edition)
Wedding Anniversary - Happies to Mrs E!
Bitter sweet loss - After ten years, the oldest Englishette no longer qualifies for a Blue Badge, so no more free parking - she no longer qualifies not because of some tightening of the rules but because she is better.
A pint or two tonight is called for I think.
November 4, 2010
Guardian Environment Looking For Soap-Dodgers
Could you give up washing? | Environment | The Guardian
So could you join the extreme soap-dodgers?
"give up washing"? Surely "start washing" would be a better question.
Yoof is Green
Following news that councils are rejecting two thirds of wind farms applications, independent research has highlighted a huge divide in opinions between old and young on the developments - with concerns over spoiled views so far winning over planning committees rather than protecting the environment for future generations. Spoilt views and increases in noise were the main concerns of those who said they oppose wind farms.
...Nobody under the age of 24 said they would oppose a wind farm in their area.
John Quinton-Barber from IPB Communications said: "Younger people are clearly in favour of building wind farms for green energy - but they are not getting their message across.
"It is these generations, and their children, who are going to have to live with the long-term consequences of climate changes, so it is vital they stand up and have their say now.
"At the moment the statistics don't add up. The opinions of older people seem to be taking priority when it comes to decision making. The silent majority need to find their voice and take their views to councillors when it comes to renewable energy."
Those bastard old people, what do they know about the world compared to the kidz?
Green doesn't mean inexperienced for nuffink does it?
November 3, 2010
365 Lessons on Global Warming at School
The family in "365 Penguins" find a penguin mysteriously delivered to their door for every day of the year. At first they're cute, but with every passing day, the penguins pile up - along with the family's problems. Feeding, cleaning and housing the penguins becomes a monumental task. They're noisy, smelly and they always hog the bathroom! And who on earth is sending these squawking birds, and why?
It's this week's homework, dare I correct it?
The Warmlist Video Highlights
Numberwatch's Warm list of things caused by global warming numbers over 800 things. Here's a few of them.
Watering Down The Tea Party
The Tea Party movement last night wielded a huge impact on the American political process that will ensure its influence for years to come, though it also suffered setbacks to its wilder fringes.
But there were also signs that the leaders of the movement – to the extent that the amorphous, bottom-up Tea Parties have leaders – will have to think carefully about how they chose their candidates
Tea Party leaders have insisted they have no regrets about choosing unconventional candidates who signal that this is a change from "politics as usual". But as the movement shifts from being a mere channel of rightwing anger to being a real political force, it is likely to come under pressure to contain its more extreme edges.
It now has a new generation of leaders who will carry considerable clout in the shaping of the movement in future. Rubio in particular has the potential to go far within the Senate. The son of Cuban exiles, he is respected by both rightwing and moderate camps of the Republican party.
It's got to have leaders; responsible, moderate, compromising leaders. Leaders who can shape it into something journalists can understand and pidgeonhole. It must be assimilated into the mainstream and neutered!
The Moving Finger writes, and having writ, Moves on
"It all gets a bit Groundhog Day-ish; when you start to scour the news websites with not a clue what to post about, but with a conviction that you must, must write something, you know things aren't quite right."
And there's certainly something in that. If you're not careful, blogging can end up eroding your free time to the point where you can't switch off, having a deleterious effect on your relationships and real life. But there's more to it than that, I suspect. Without New Labour providing regular cannon fodder to stoke up the libertarian mindset, I daresay it's harder to get worked up with the coalition promising a smaller state and clamping down on the scroungers. How can you get angry at people doing what you want?
Many libertarian bloggers were the first in the field, they had been doing it too long, they moved on as their lives changed and they got bored of saying the same things over again. The young pups don't start those sort of blogs now. They rant in the comment sections of newspapers, which weren't there five years ago. They tweet and facebook, post youtube videos. They are harder to spot but there are more of them and they are more effective.
But out in the swamp a few old dinosaurs still roar.
Blairite Assault on Our Liberties Continues
"We should not view the right to a jury trial as being so sacrosanct that its exercise should be at the cost of victims of serious crimes," Ms Casey The ommissioner for Victims of Crime said.
"Defendants should not have the right to choose to be tried by a jury over something such as the theft of a bicycle or stealing from a parking meter."
Being found guilty of stealing a bike means you are a thief, a villain, untrustworthy, unable to be employed in many chosen careers and unwelcome in many others. If it is the fiftieth time you have been caught doing it then it isn't a big deal. But for some of us it would be and for some Blair favourite in a £100k non-job to propose wiping away our rights in a the name of convenience makes me want to brew up.
November 2, 2010
There is even a launch party, which I'm trying to justify going to. Will I get free beer?
The environmentalists have won: we all agree that we should be green. Now it's the revenge of the economists: how should we be green?
Tim Worstall - entrepreneur, freelance writer and Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute - takes a long, hard, calculating (and very entertaining) look at the assumptions behind ‘green’ activity. Crucially, he draws on economic analysis – combining classic models with an impressive knowledge of contemporary research - to examine in an unsentimental, quantitative and analytical light, the core assumptions that drive our efforts to produce a cleaner, healthier planet.
In doing so, he examines the misunderstanding about ‘job creation’ being unarguably beneficial; discusses how we must calculate the value of the time we spend recycling; unpicks the lazy thinking about markets and growth, and produces a witty, compelling and surprising perspective on all things green.
This is no knee-jerk, reactionary counterblast that denies we need to be environmentally conscious, but rather a compelling and utterly necessary plea to examine our environmental activities with due accuracy and thought.
Young Timmy's premise is that the Green agenda is to help the planet and so he helpfully points out how to do that. However, I fear it is likely that the answers are unacceptable and the Green agenda is not about achieving a result but about making a journey, setting a path, mandating behaviour and the end point is not important.
But the rational have to try, so go buy and support.
Incentives Matter in Schools
BBC News - Schools in Wales 'perform worse' after league table ban
Secondary schools in Wales are performing worse since league tables were abolished, claims new research.
The naming and shaming that accompanied the publication of league tables led to more "effective" schools, says the research by Bristol University.
Who would have thought it?
"Few tears were shed when school league tables were abolished in Wales nine years ago.
On the whole teachers, unions and politicians were glad to see the back of them."
And why do you think teachers, unions and politicians didn't want to be held accountable?
The bloody schools aren't - sorry shouldn't - be run for their benefit and convenience.
All we need now is some research that shows that the carrot works as well as the stick.
School vouchers, anyone?
Creating Work to Keep Scotland Warm
According to research published today (1 November) by Friends of the Earth Scotland, meeting our climate targets could increase employment, cut health-care costs and reduce social exclusion.
The report, '42% Better', identifies extra jobs in energy efficiency and public transport, health care savings arising from reduced obesity, improved mental health and reduced respiratory disease, and social inclusion gains from reductions in fuel poverty amongst the many non-environmental benefits of a strong climate policy. Even in the limited case studies examined, the estimated value of the health benefits alone exceeds £2bn.
For example, improving and insulating the homes of those in fuel poverty in Scotland, could avoid an estimated 180,000 cases of anxiety and depression each year, and cut days lost to work and school as a result of respiratory illnesses by up to 25%. The increased levels of fitness resulting from raising cycling rates to Danish levels could save over 1,600 lives a year, and help cut obesity rates in Scotland in half, especially if supported by the widespread adoption of low-carbon, low-meat diets.
The section on Employment and Economic benefits from the report is worth quoting in full because every cost is seen as a benefit....
Employment and economic benefits
Improving the energy efficiency of our homes is also
far better for employment than building new fossil
fuel power stations. According to the developers,
the proposed new coal plant at Hunterston would
employ 160 people in the long term. Including
construction jobs it might create 25 jobs per
terawatt hour (TWh) of electricity generated. Energy
conservation would generate 370 jobs per TWh,
including indirect effects.
An EU study found that there are three main
reasons why investment in energy efficiency has
such a positive impact in terms of job creation:
• The manufacture and installation of energy
efficiency measures is labour intensive
compared to energy supply. This accounts
for an employment gain of between 10 to 30
person-years per million pounds spent, and
nearly 60 person-years if job creation is made
• Cost effective energy efficiency measures result
in consumers spending additional money in
the more labour intensive general consumption
sector (where a greater share of spending buys
services rather than goods or commodities).
This effect can generate an additional 70
person-years per million pounds spent over
the lifetime of the investment, albeit with some
potential rebound effects in terms of carbon
• Work in the manufacture and installation of
energy efficiency measures is accessible
to people suffering the highest rates of
unemployment given that it is manual labour
and distributed around the country. Where
programmes are designed to help those in fuel
poverty (see above), the work is concentrated
in areas where unemployment tends to be
An analysis carried out by the Association for the
Conservation of Energy (ACE) determined that
a programme of domestic improvements in line
with the Scottish Government’s proposed Energy
Efficiency Action Plan would result in over 45,000
person-years of employment between now and
2020, or an annualised figure of 4,520 installer and
support positions either created or safeguarded.
Furthermore, the programme of investment would
generate £400 million of gross value added to the
Scottish economy each year.
The employment and economic benefits to be
gained from a massive programme of residential
energy efficiency improvements are at the heart of
the proposed Green New Deal; domestic energy
efficiency installations are so cost-effective that they
represent one of the best and most secure ways
of investing both public and private money while
creating secure employment and making massive
cuts in carbon emissions.
Have they no clue at all? None of that is benefit to the economy or the well being and prosperity of the people. They are all the downside and costs of the proposal.
November 1, 2010
The Wrong Sort of Scepticism is a Crime against Humanity Says Penn State Prof
Deeply irresponsible corporate-sponsored programmes of disinformation have potentially harsh effects upon tens of millions of people
It may be reasonable to be somewhat sceptical about climate change models, these untruths are not based upon reasonable scepticism but outright falsification and distortions of climate change science.
These claims have included assertions that the science of climate change has been completely "debunked" and that there is no evidence of human causation of recent observed warming. There are numerous lines of evidence that point to human causation even if it is not a completely settled matter. Reasonable scepticism cannot claim that there is no evidence of causation and some other claims frequently being made by the well-financed climate change disinformation campaign, and they amount to an utter distortion of a body of evidence that the world needs to understand to protect itself from huge potential harms.
Disinformation about the state of climate change science is extraordinarily – if not criminally – irresponsible, because the consensus scientific view is based upon strong evidence that climate change:
• Is already being experienced by tens of thousands in the world;
• Will be experienced in the future by millions of people from greenhouse gas emissions that have already been emitted but not yet felt due to lags in the climate system; and,
• Will increase dramatically in the future unless greenhouse gas emissions are dramatically reduced from existing global emissions levels.
Threats from climate change include deaths and danger from droughts, floods, heat, storm-related damages, rising oceans, heat impacts on agriculture, loss of animals that are dependent upon for substance purposes, social disputes caused by diminishing resources, sickness from a variety of diseases, the inability to rely upon traditional sources of food, the inability to use property that people depend upon to conduct their life including houses or sleds in cold places, the destruction of water supplies, and the inability to live where has lived to sustain life. The very existence of some small island nations is threatened by climate change.
As long as there is any chance that climate change could create this type of destruction, even assuming, for the sake of argument, that these dangers are not yet fully proven, disinformation about the state of climate change science is extraordinarily morally reprehensible if it leads to non-action in reducing climate change's threat. In fact, how to deal with uncertainty in climate change science is an ethical issue, not only a scientific matter, because the consequences of delay could be so severe and the poorest people in the world as some of the most vulnerable.
The corporations that have funded the sowing of doubt on this issue are clearly doing this because they see greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies as adversely affecting their financial interests.
This might be understood as a new type of crime against humanity. Scepticism in science is not bad, but sceptics must play by the rules of science including publishing their conclusions in peer-reviewed scientific journals and not make claims that are not substantiated by the peer-reviewed literature. The need for responsible scepticism is particularly urgent if misinformation from sceptics could lead to great harm.
We not have a word for this type of crime yet, but the international community should find a way of classifying extraordinarily irresponsible scientific claims that could lead to mass suffering as some type of crime against humanity.
• Donald Brown is Associate Professor in Environmental Ethics, Science, and Law at Penn State University. The full version of this article was first published on the Penn State website.
In other news Dr. Michael E. Mann is employed by Penn State.
How I Obtained More Leaked UEA Emails
A nice little cache of UEA emails in my inbox this morning. Nothing very interesting though; just about assignments and word counts.
I can reveal my secret source - I rejoice in having the same name as one of the climate scientists there, and only a single letter different Googlemail account.
Does that make me a an evil hacker and thief?
You don't suppose last years lot were emailed for review to the wrong address do you?