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January 31, 2011

A Rising Tide

BBC News - UK set for high end climate costs, as floods spread

The UK is likely to feel bigger costs from climate change than most other EU countries, a report concludes.
Rising sea levels are likely to impact the nation harder than most, negating economic benefits from increased tourism and possibly farm yields.
The researchers took four different scenarios of warming into account, and saw the biggest impact on the British Isles at the high-temperature end - a rise of about 5C from now.
"The highest scenario, with a sea level rise of 88cm, brings dramatic changes in coastal impacts - the increase is more than proportional," Dr Ciscar told BBC News.


The deadly sea level rise on the White Cliffs of Dover illustrated in blood red....multo spumantem sanguine cerno..

Posted by The Englishman at 9:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Harrabin vs. Met Office. Seconds Out.

Met Office: "€˜Not us, it was Harrabin"€.But… « Autonomous Mind
The Met Office appears to be suggesting that Harrabin embellished the Met Office forecast, in a way that gave cover to the department, on his own initiative and that the public was mislead with false information.

BBC News - Harrabin's Notes: What's the prognosis? I've just received full details of the previously-confidential Met Office winter forecast to the Cabinet Office, following an enquiry under Freedom of Information. Finally it's come my way. The Met Office was forecasting a 40% chance of a cold start to the winter, with a 30% chance of a mild start, and a 30% chance of an average start. This doesn't match a more conclusive forecast I gleaned from a Met Office contact in December whilst researching an article for the Radio Times - though it does point in roughly the same direction.


Posted by The Englishman at 9:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

In Whose Interest?

Helen Browning: A woman who won't be cowed in the war against titan farms - Profiles, People - The Independent

On one side of the argument are those who see the future in terms of US-style factory farms, enormous mechanised food production centres where tens of thousands of animals live under the same roof. The sales pitch is pretty basic: cheap food. For the organic lobby and farming traditionalists, such plans provoke horror.

It almost sounds as though smaller scale, less efficient farmers have a horror of the competition offering cheaper food and that is the reason they object.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sexing up Climate Change with Cash

Reheating the climate change story | Jules Boykoff | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Like other long-term, seemingly intransigent issues, climate change has lost its media mojo. But there is a way to rekindle its sex appeal: economics.
Reframing climate change as an burning economic issue could help journalists breathe life into the most important – and complex – issue of our time... beyond the number of gumshoe journalists patrolling the climate change beat, the plummet in coverage also came about because global warming is no longer perceived as novel and dramatic. Climate change is a slow-burning tick-tocker of an issue marked by incrementalism, slathered in arcane science, and often lacking whipsaw political theatre.

I'm not convinced the dismal science will help where celebrities have failed.

Aside from the beyond-the-pale advocacy journalists at Fox News network environmental journalists understand the gravity of climate disruption. And there has been significant improvement in the quality of coverage, with the US media casting aside their "balance as bias" approach, which, for years, meant putting pseudo-scientists and their benefactors on equal footing with independent climate scientists and their peer-reviewed research.
The downturn in the quantity of climate change media coverage is no small matter, since it affects public perceptions about the seriousness of climate change: if an issue does not remain on the public's mental fingertips, concern dwindles and urgency becomes overkill. Plus, it allows our elected leaders to squirm off the political hotseat. But as the world burns, quality matters, too, and journalists have – right there, in front of them – a short-term solution to the quandary of covering climate change: economists who can lend climate disruption the gravitas and drama it deserves.

No, I don't think he gets it.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Adam Smith's House Isn't His Castle

Smith's home 'could be left to lie derelict' - Scotsman.com News
EDINBURGH'S planning leader has accused Historic Scotland of being "stubborn" over its opposition to long-awaited plans to upgrade the former home of celebrated thinker Adam Smith.
Mr Lowrie said there was little of historic interest remaining inside the building, which was previously owned by the local authority.

Oh yes, public ownership is the only way to protect our heritage we hear every day.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 29, 2011

Who Needs Snow?

On the hill above The Castle - and no I'm not the one in the black hat.

Posted by The Englishman at 4:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 28, 2011

Met Office and The Cabinet Office - The Answer

The Met Office winter forecast lie is finally nailed ォ Autonomous Mind

Ummm....I think I was the first to point out that

The Met Office And The Cabinet - Missing The Bloody Point

... Roger's story.

The Met Office told the Cabinet Office in October it would be a cold winter.

Either someone is telling a porky, or the forecast was so hedged about it was unclear what it forecast, or the forecast was suppressed.

This is slipping me dangerously into the conspiracy theories I normally have no truck with but until we know what the Cabinet Office was told (and FOI requests are already in) it is a working hypothesis.

With Ministers and SPADs packing their bags to fly to Cancun, with Treasury boffins polishing their sliderules to calculate more green taxes and promises of "the greenest government ever" to be fulfilled there certainly would the temptation to sweep the inconvenient chicken bones under the carpet.

And that is the real story here.

Read The Files.

I don't think anyone lied, I don't think there was a conspiracy, as I suspected it was a muddle with people reading into a useless forecast what they wanted to read. The Met Office can't claimed they were ignored and the Cabinet Office can't claim they were mislead.

But I wouldn't pay a brass farthing for that forecast, and maybe that is the lesson.

Posted by The Englishman at 11:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday Night is Music Night (Going Edition)

I don't normally post videos with out video, but sometimes exceptions are justified.

Posted by The Englishman at 5:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Climate Conspiracies

Climate change: the top conspiracy theories - Telegraph
Conspiracy theorists agree the data purported to show our planet is warming has been fabricated - but can't agree on whether to blame the East, the West, the Left or the Right.

It's Elvis covering up fathering Barry Obama when he was filming Blue Hawaii back in 1960/61......

Posted by The Englishman at 3:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lester Brown Wrong Again

Will climate change burst the global 'food bubble'? | Damian Carrington | Environment | guardian.co.uk
The world is in the midst of a "food bubble" that could burst at any time: that's the conclusion of the eminent environmentalist Lester Brown,...The bubble exists because food is being produced by the unsustainable use of its key resource, water

In 1984 Lester Brown claimed that the global excess of soil erosion over soil formation was over 25 billion tons a year, and that if this continued it would be a major threat to the world's agricultural productivity.

In 1989, Brown claimed that three straight years of declining world grain reserves was evidence that population was outpacing the world's ability to grow food.n

I don't suppose Damien did that old fashioned journalisty thing of actually asking the old fraud any hard questions in-between lapping up his drivel, did he?

Posted by The Englishman at 3:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The future doesn't belong to the faint-hearted... it belongs to the brave.

25 Years Ago Today

Posted by The Englishman at 1:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

In Defence of Factory Farming

The Free Society: What's wrong with factory farming?

Prejudice against factory farming needs addressing. Small-scale farming is inefficient and, despite popular belief, no better for animal welfare than larger units. We cannot continue to view the countryside, farmers or livestock in a sentimental way. Large-scale farms like the one still planned for Nocton in Lincolnshire are not as Zac Goldsmith has said “squalid” and “take farming to a new low”, rather they are the future of the industry. Without efficient, modern and profitable operations like the one planned for Nocton, farming in the UK faces becoming a lifestyle choice, a hobby, rather than being about feeding the planet.

Posted by The Englishman at 10:09 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 27, 2011

Wiltshire Council £600,000 Waste

Wiltshire Council hit with £600,000 carbon emissions tax bill (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
Wiltshire Council has been landed with a £600,000 environment tax bill after the county was left lagging behind in the race to reduce carbon emissions.
The hefty government tax, known as the Carbon Reduction Commitment, is based on the increasing levels of carbon the council, private businesses and the general public of Wiltshire are using.
In 2007 the county’s total carbon footprint was 4.76 million tonnes or around 12 per cent of the south west’s usage and one per cent of the UK.
If the county fails to reduce its carbon footprint over the coming year, Wiltshire Council will face even greater CRC contributions.
The £600,000 will be paid in June 2012...
Cllr Toby Sturgis, cabinet member for the environment, said: “We are entering a critical period for climate change and energy security at the national and local level. The need to build a secure, low carbon economy here in Wiltshire is vital.”
(And in the print edition he adds) "There are quite a large number of potential sites and planning applications coming forward for solar parks and I think, in the right place, they can provide a suitable solution."

Posted by The Englishman at 7:20 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

GWPF Repeats Feed In Tariff Error

Ross Clark: How To Warm Your Mansion With Other People's Money....if you have the capital, a £15,000 array of 21 panels will earn you just under £1,500 a year in payments, all subsidised by electricity customers who don't have the roof space or can't afford the outlay. Yes, that is a return of nearly 10 per cent - tax-free. What's more, that payment is guaranteed for 25 years and is index-linked to the retail price index.

"A return of nearly 10%" is the promise, but it is on a depreciating asset. At the end of the 25 years the panels will be worthless (probably). So from your 10% remember to deduct 4% for depreciation (roughly). You might also want to deduct a little for the output figures being "optimistic", your mileage may vary.
Bang on about the madness of the subsidies but do get your numbers right.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Celebrating 1911

Utah plan to adopt official gun condemned by anti-firearms groups - Telegraph

I think a word from a Texan reader would be appropriate:

Say what you like: but we know whom to honor. Also: of all 50 states, gun violence in Utah is among the lowest. Mostly because there are jillions of Mormons, and armed people in the state.
Smallest group in the world: the Utah Gun Violence Prevention Center. I didn't even know they had one. Bet their membership is in the dozens, maybe.
Trust the Telegraph pussies to feature the opinion of a splinter group.

Unlike my Afro-American friend in Texas I'm not allowed to own a 1911 but I do have a 90 year old A-5 Humpback bought in person from Mr Greener of WW Greener, which I think is historic enough.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Drunk Tank

Emily Atack Investigative Reporter

When I rolled in from the pub last night Mrs E was watching young Emily investigating young people drinking;

I can't think what made me pause and watch a little as she prattled on about the need for minimum pricing (without mentioning the problem of the EU making that illegal) and watched in amazement as caring ambulance people looked after feckless drunks.
The solution isn't minimum pricing, it isn't more education, it is enforcing the law that has been around for over 100 years.

Licensing Act 1872 Penalty on persons found drunk (Section 12) Every person found drunk in any highway or other public place, whether a building or not, or on any licensed premises, shall be liable to a penalty..
Section 1 Licensing Act 1902 provides: If a person is found drunk in any highway or other public place, whether a building or not, or on any licensed premises, and appears to be incapable of taking care of himself, he may be apprehended and dealt with according to law.
Prohibition of sale of liquor to persons declared to be habitual drunkards
Section 6 of the Licensing Act 1902 provides: Where a person is convicted of an offence mentioned in the First Schedule to the Inebriates Act 1898 and such person has, during the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of the offence, been convicted on three occasions of an offence mentioned in the said Schedule, the court may order.....

Get tough on the drunks who cause the problems. We don't need more handwringing legislation and prohibitions, we need someone to enforce the ones we already have.

Posted by The Englishman at 5:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Lindzen Errs

A case study in climate science integrity | Environment | guardian.co.uk
Everyone make mistakes, including scientists. Should we trust our science with those who admit to and correct them, or with those who deny and ignore them?
In the past week, two key examples have emerged illustrating how the two sides of the climate science debate react to mistakes...
Dr. Richard Lindzen (a prominent climate scientist who is skeptical that the consequences of global warming will be dangerous), argued that we are already over 80% of the way to the greenhouse gas levels that the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims will cause a 2-4.5°C increase in global temperatures. But global temperatures have only risen by less than 1°C, so, Lindzen argues, The IPCC predictions are wrong and we have nothing to worry about....former TV weatherman Anthony Watts' popular global warming skeptic blog, WattsUpWithThat, soon ran Lindzen's article with no commentary or analysis. As a result, Lindzen's errors and incorrect conclusions were propagated to a much larger audience, which, based on the blog comments, was very receptive to the article. .... Lindzen's errors continue to spread, unacknowledged and uncorrected.

Is this Lindzen, who never admits errors, the same Lindzen who wrote last week in a similar article http://www.thegwpf.org/opinion-pros-a-cons/2229-richard-lindzen-a-case-against-precipitous-climate-action.html that; "Unfortuanately(sic), Lindzen and Choi (2009) contained a number of errors"?
Looks to me that the basic premise of the article is wrong, but then that probably means I'm denying something/

Posted by The Englishman at 5:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2011

More From The Warming Means Cooling School and Catlin, The Keystone Kops of Klimate, Return

Climate change means we will be skiing in Yorkshire rather than sunbathing under palm trees, experts warn - Telegraph

Dr Simon Boxall, of the National Oceanography Survey, said that while the planet as a whole will get much warmer, this country will see temperatures plunge as the ocean currents and weather patterns around the world change.
At the moment north west Europe, particularly Britain, is warmer than it should be because of the effect of the North Atlantic Drift bringing warm water from the Tropics.
This then warms sea breezes which keep temperatures mild on land.
But the process that causes this movement could be "switched off" by global warming if the Arctic heats up too much.
It will mean colder, harsher winters similar to last month will become the norm and summers will become cooler and wetter.
Dr Boxall said that the North Atlantic Drift could turn off now or in 50 years but when it stops it will be sudden – take about three years – and change our climate to one like north west Canada and Alaska.

Amazing what one cold month does to the climate predictions...

The scientists were speaking ahead of an expedition to the Arctic ice cap as part of efforts to establish how it is melting – which will help them predict if the ocean currents will change.
Explorers with the Catlin Arctic Survey expedition will venture out on to the ice to drill holes down into the ocean, measuring temperature, salinity and flow of the fresh water just below the sea ice.

Catlin are back draw up a chair and enjoy the show yet again.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:23 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Backup Cables

Scotland to export more green energy to England - Scotsman.com News
More than £80m will be spent by National Grid Electricity Transmission and Scottish Power Transmission on increasing the amount of electricity that can flow between the high-voltage networks of England and Scotland, helping the export of renewable electricity from Scotland.

And probably more importantly allowing more lovely nuclear juice from France to flow via England for when the wind doesn't blow in the Highlands.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Parking Hardly News

Drivers keen to avoid parking fines | UK news | guardian.co.uk

And that is news? Let me add the memo to the council - I am not only eager to avoid fines I'm also keen to avoid paying for parking, so when you introduce or increase parking charges in the town, I don't go there. I shop elsewhere. And you wonder why the tumbleweed blows across the shopping centre past Greggs and the charity shops.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 25, 2011

Free Trade And Science To Feed World If Politicians Get Out The Way

Global food system must be transformed 'on industrial revolution scale' | Environment | guardian.co.uk

The world will not be able to feed itself without destroying the planet unless a transformation on the scale of the industrial revolution takes place, a major government report has concluded.
No single solution exists, says the report, but it is critical to spread existing knowledge and technology to the developing world to boost yields by "sustainable intensification". Dramatically reducing food waste is also crucial. "Thirty per cent of all food produced is never consumed," said Charles Godfray, at the University of Oxford and another report author. Investing in better trucks, roads and infrastructure is vital to getting food to people before it rots. In rich countries, such as the UK, preventing food being unnecessarily thrown away could save a family £500-700 a year, said Godfray.
There is a place for organic agriculture, found the report, but it "should not be adopted as the main strategy to achieve sustainable and equitable global food security". Scenarios suggesting organic production can satisfy future global demand assume major changes in peoples' diets, which "may be unachievable," says the report.
The report stated that new technologies, such as genetically modified crops and cloned livestock, should not be excluded on ethical or moral grounds, but that investment is "essential in the light of the magnitude of the challenges."
"We need to act now," said Caroline Spelman, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, whose department co-commissioned the report from the government's futures thinktank Foresight. "Farmers have to grow more food at less cost to the environment."
Spelman emphasised the role of free markets and of consumers: "We must open up markets by removing subsidies and stopping protectionism." She said the biggest step forward in tackling food security would be a successful end for the stalled Doha trade talks, which began in 2001, adding that reform of the EU's common agricultural policy should encourage climate and wildlife protection.
In the UK, farmers should produce "more food more sustainably" and she suggested that small price increases represented an economic opportunity for British farmers.

A coffee table glossy report which seems on skimming to be on the right track, which is a miracle these days.
We know the answers to the problem of hunger, it is only politicians and campaigners who are holding back the free trade and science that they are. And so it is miraculous for campaigning politicians to acknowledge this simple truth.
Of course the tofu munchers are already up in arms as are the poverty professionals, what would they do without the poor and hungry?

Posted by The Englishman at 6:50 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Carry On Nurse

Sir Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society used climate-change science to illustrate his wider theory that scientists, no matter what their level of experience or expertise, are no longer trusted by the public at large. Nearly half of all Americans and a third of the British believe that the extent and significance of global warming are being exaggerated. Certainly, no issue better exemplifies the truth that for every scientist arguing that black is black, you can find another arguing that, actually, it's white. Nurse sat down in a New York diner with one of the world's smarter climate-change sceptics, Professor Fred Singer, who sipped Earl Grey tea and briefly outlined his conviction that solar activity is principally responsible for global warming, not man-made carbon emissions. But by then I'd dismissed Professor Singer as a shameless contrarian: who orders Earl Grey in a New York diner?

Science needs better advocates. As Nurse rightly said, it's "far too important to be left to polemicists and commentators in the media", yet it is they who wield disproportionate influence on public opinion. And inevitably, the problem, like just about all problems these days, is exacerbated by the internet, where crackpot conspiracy theories compete on equal terms with authoritative scientific findings.

It was an amiable ramble across the subject but I don't think we learnt anything. His problem was he conflated all questioning of, scepticism, denying, crackpottery together.
He talked to an HIV positive gay who had had many friends die of AIDs. The man had refused all drugs for 13 years because he believed that probiotic yogurt was the cure and that a virus wasn't the problem. That is some who is putting his life on the line with his "denial". Is he brave, stupid, scared? We don't know, because it wasn't asked.
Nurse tried a softball question to Delingpole about would he be so sceptical of a consensus if a life was at risk. What ever temperature the world is at it won't affect Dellers' comfortable life so it was a reasonable question, especially as we had the previous example. A bit of hand flapping and the question was forgotten. It wasn't the killer question that was hyped, it was just all inconsequential.
Sir Paul Nurse was just too nice and it was all too nice and cosy, where was the rigour of investigation as what were the various types of sceptics, what drove them, are anti-GM protestors the same type as Climate Change Deniers?
A missed opportunity.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 24, 2011

Traction Man on The Telly

Dispatches - Features - Hospital Food - Channel 4

Dispatches reveals investigates the shocking truth about catering in the National Health Service. More details about the programme, and when it's on, will be announced soon.

Reporter Mark Sparrow spent 10 weeks in traction eating NHS food. He thought it was so bad that he set up a blog ( Notes from a Hospital Bed (opens in a new window)) to record his experiences. He photographed and filmed dozens of meals. When he was released he set out to discover whether what he had gone through was a one-off or symptomatic of a deeper problem.

Posted by The Englishman at 5:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Tory Attack On Private Property

Localism Bill: people to get legal right to buy "community assets"- Telegraph
Under the community rights scheme, people will have a legal right to confer “protected status” on any locally important community asset.
These include local shops, pubs, libraries and leisure centres which will be added to a “most wanted” list by the local council.
If a listed asset goes on the open market, its sale will be delayed while local people are given a chance to buy it during a "community countdown".

Richard Attenborough seeks compensation after he is forced to sell Scottish estate at knock-down price - Telegraph Scottish ministers intervened, citing legislation introduced in 2003 that gives communities first refusal on the land ...

After the Tories passed the Leasehold Reform Act of 1993 I realised that the rights of Private Property aren't safe in those spivs hands.

There are plenty of think tanks defending various freedoms and market mechanisms, and others nibbling or hacking away at the cornerstone of all prosperity, property rights, but no one seems to shout out on this fundamental right. The right to own private property is different to the right to engage in any type of economy. And without a certainty that what is mine is mine there is no civilisation.
It is a pity that thinkers such as Adam Smith took such facts as being self-evident and did not bother to mount a defence of them. A defence we now need because the insidious erosion of such rights is so much more dangerous than the failed attack on them from communism.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:55 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Climate Science Under Attack

Scientists face 'shocking levels' of vilification over discoveries - Science, News - The Independent

Scientists are being subjected to shocking levels of personal vilification and distrust, Britain's most senior scientist has warned.

Sir Paul Nurse, the new president of the Royal Society, Britain's national academy of sciences, urged scientists to take on those critics who have cast doubt on the veracity of scientific discoveries ranging from the link between climate change and man-made carbon dioxide to the benefits of GM crops.
Sir Paul said many scientists felt under attack from critics in the blogosphere and the mainstream media, but rather than retreating into their ivory towers they needed to speak directly to the people who paid their wages.
"Scientists have got to get out there. They have to be open about what they do ... even if it does put their reputation in doubt," Sir Paul said in a BBC Horizon documentary that airs tonight.

What could be the reason that the public think scientists have exaggerated the threat from climate change?

Posted by The Englishman at 6:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Taxes Are For The Little People

Baroness Ashton reaps benefits from EU tax loophole - Telegraph
EU officials, including Lady Ashton can choose to pay national tax rates, giving the difference to the exchequer in their home country, a political party or a charity, but most, including her, do not.

Next time she demands more taxes remember that.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2011

Reaching Rock Bottom with Geoff Baker

Rock Bottom: A Fanchild's Revenge by Geoff Baker

Some of you may remember him from the Dear Hugh letters , some of you may have a memory seared into you from the Chilli Cook-off (23rd July this year), others may have noticed him hobble-de-hoying with various notable wastrals and musicians (tautology alert).
This book has had painful and protracted pregnancy, lawyers were involved; it is sure to be a good read when it is released in two weeks time - pre-order your copy.

(I gather he will be also selling it directly - send an email to sales@ragabondpress.com to cut out the middlemen.)

Posted by The Englishman at 9:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

In which I learn to cook an egg

Never too late to learn - frying an egg, just before the end, teaspoon of water in pan, cover pan with lid, steam cooks the top of egg to perfection. No need to do any of that splashing the fat about or turning it over. If only I had learnt this thirty years ago.

Posted by The Englishman at 8:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The postman always rings twice

Undercover police cleared 'to have sex with activists' | UK news | guardian.co.uk
The former undercover policeman claims that sexual relationships with activists were sanctioned for both men and women officers infiltrating anarchist, leftwing and environmentalgroups.

So why is Mrs Johnson's personal officer being suspended?

Posted by The Englishman at 7:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 22, 2011

Soap Dodgers Soap Company's Soap Buyers Targeted

BBC News - Lush hackers cash in on stolen cards
Lush said anyone who placed an online order between 4 October and 20 January should contact their bank in case their card details had been compromised.
Hilary Jones, ethical director at Lush, said the firm became aware of problems on Christmas day when hackers were discovered to have penetrated the site.
The site was taken down and did little trade between Christmas and New Year while Lush investigated to see if the hackers were merely mischievous or out to make money.

Cosmetics firm Lush will “pay for its politics” by alienating thousands of customers with its decision to fund the Hunt Saboteurs’ Association (HSA) with proceeds from a “fox bubble bar” product. Countryside Alliance Head of Media, Tim Bonner said: “This is also a very strange commercial decision. Hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated their support for hunting and the rural way of life and many of them would previously have been Lush customers. On the other hand the number of people supporting an organisation like the HSA is tiny and, let’s be honest, hunt sabs are not the biggest consumers of soap. It is entirely up to Lush who they want to support but they will pay for their politics by alienating thousands of reasonable customers.”

Posted by The Englishman at 10:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Brideshead Revisted

Sponsor pulls out of Oxford and Cambridge skiing trip after students strip off in the snow - Telegraph
But the conclusion of this year's Varsity trip to the Alps descended to such levels of debauchery, one of the event's chief sponsors has vowed never to get involved again.
The antics of the students has appalled management at Scott Dunn, the up market travel firm which is now distancing itself from the event faster than a downhill skier on a black run.
In the challenge "smashing an egg in the most creative manner possible", the winners from St Anne's College, Oxford – whose alumni include Edwina Currie, Libby Purves and Mary Archer – excelled again....

Andrew Dunn of Scott Dunn: my first million - MoneyWeek Andrew Dunn spent more time organising parties than studying while at Oxford Polytechnic....

Dear old Oxford Poly - I 'm sure it has changed its name now but this story is just too delicious for an West Cowley College man not to collapse with laughter about. Thank God that our ancient institutions can still shock the prissy polytechnic Daily Mail readers.

Posted by The Englishman at 10:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Feeding Farmers

How can we feed the world and still save the planet? | Madeleine Bunting | Global development | guardian.co.uk

Olivier de Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, is establishing himself as one of its key protagonists with an unapologetically radical agenda.
In London this week to give evidence to a UK parliamentary working group on food and agriculture, he explained the challenge he is putting to the donors and the international community.
Chronic underinvestment in agriculture over the last 20 years combined with trade liberalisation has trapped many developing countries in a vicious cycle of low agricultural productivity and dependence on cheap food imports, he argues.
Local farming goes into steep decline leading to migration to the cities. This is a serious market failure.

Trade liberalisation and getting people off the land into the cities is the key to economic growth, wealth and full tummies.

Farmers can get a better price if they organise together. And if they are organised, then governments have to engage with them. Farmers need a greater voice in the political process otherwise they don't get consulted and are cheated," he says.
But he acknowledges that this is not always a popular message. In many countries governments are wary of a strong, well-organised farmers' co-operative movement that could threaten their strategy to feed urban populations.

Farmers getting together to raise the price of food is obviously good for farmers but not so good for the poor. What does he want? What is he for? Why is he?

Posted by The Englishman at 3:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Caroline Lucas Green MP for Walmington on Sea

Caroline Lucas | The new home front - UK needs a 'war footing' on energy and climate crisis

Britain must move to the equivalent of a ‘war-footing' if we are to overcome the threat of climate change, according to the New Home Front initiative, launched at the Imperial War Museum on Thursday 20th January 2010.
You can download the Home Front report as a PDF [750KB] here
Caroline Lucas MP said: "If we're to overcome the climate crisis, we must move onto the equivalent of a ‘war-footing', where the efforts of individuals, organisations, and government are harnessed together - and directed to a common goal.

Utter arse wipe - contemplating this stinking heap of ordure has given me blogger block for three days. My man Timmy has waded through it on our behalf. He deserves a medal.

Posted by The Englishman at 3:23 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Exploring the dark heart

1856: intrepid explorer finds source of the Nile. 2011: intrepid explorers find source of the Tay - Scotsman.com News

Legendary Victorian explorer John Speke almost went blind 155 years ago when he battled through desert and jungle to become the first European to gaze upon Lake Victoria - the source of the mighty River Nile.
But it is only now that the source of the Tay has finally been pinpointed, after a detailed, two-year survey of more than 1,000 miles of watercourses in the western catchment of Britain's largest river system.

Explorers, next it will be missionaries and traders. Civilisation will reach Scotland before the next century at this rate.

Posted by The Englishman at 3:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 21, 2011

Friday Night is Music Night (Blues Brothers Edition)

One of these bands will be playing in the evening of the 23rd July, after the Chilli Cook-off, at my birthday party. Regulars please drop me a line if you would like to come along.

Posted by The Englishman at 3:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 19, 2011

Climate Models, known knowns and the rest

Can We Trust Climate Models? Increasingly, the Answer is ‘Yes’ by Michael D. Lemonick: Yale Environment 360

Keith Dixon, a modeler at GFDL; "The climate is warming, and we can say why. Looking to the 21st century, all reasonable projections of what humans will be doing suggest that not only will the climate continue to warm, you have a good chance of it accelerating. Those are global-scale issues, and they’re very solid.”
The problem is that warming causes all sorts of changes — in the amount of ice in the Arctic, in the kind of vegetation on land, in ocean currents, in permafrost and cloud cover and more — that in turn can either cause more warming, or cool things off. To model the climate accurately, you have to account for all of these factors. Unfortunately, says James Hurrell, who led the NCAR's most recent effort to upgrade its own climate model, you can't. "Sometimes you don't include processes simply because you don't understand them well enough," he says. "Sometimes it's because they haven't even been discovered yet."

So really, really good about forecasting apart from the stuff we can't forecast or the stuff we don't know much about or the stuff we don't even know we don't know about; all the stuff that could make a big difference or not, we don't know, but apart from that they are really good.

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Do Increasing tax powers lead to increased growth?

More tax powers 'don't mean more wealth' - Scotsman.com News

A LEADING economist, Professor Lars Feld of Freiburg University, last night backed calls for a Scottish Parliament with more tax powers but warned it would not automatically lead to a richer nation.
Last week, an official Scottish Government document quoted a paper from two other economists - Andrew Hughes Hallett and Drew Scott - which drew on Prof Feld's work, saying it had shown that increasing the amount of tax and spending powers of Scottish ministers would have the effect of automatically boosting growth.

Increasing the amount of tax powers could mean reducing the amount of tax, but I doubt it, which is why I doubt it would lead to growth.

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Bercow Pussywhipped Hunt

Commons Speaker hounded for letter to constituent supporting ban on hunting | The Times

On election as Speaker in 2009, Mr Bercow said: “The Speaker has a responsibility immediately and permanently to cast aside all of his or her political views.”

October 21, 1996 “You may rest assured that I firmly believe in the right of individuals to practise field sports, including foxhunting”
July 13, 1999 “The new threat to hunting is a disgrace. I shall right it”
January 6, 2011 “The public as a whole support the legislation and consider that hunting foxes with a view to killing them is wrong in the 21st century. I support that view”
January 6, 2011 The Speaker’s wife, Sally Bercow, published an article on the Labour Uncut website attacking the “scarlet-clad tally-ho brigade”, supporting the ban and making similar points to her husband’s letter.
His letter and her article both highlight public support for the ban, insist that it is enforceable and assert that it is wrong to allow dogs to kill foxes.
The Government is committed to a vote on Labour’s hunting ban in this Parliament. The Tory manifesto called the Hunting Act “unworkable”.

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January 18, 2011

Scottish Hockeysticks

Influence of human and natural forcing on European seasonal temperatures : Nature Geoscience : Nature Publishing Group
Gabriele Hegerl, et al

Winter and summer temperature anomalies 1500–2000 from the reconstruction5 are shown in black, instrumental data in red30 and climate-model simulations in green (HadCM3; ref. 8), magenta (NCAR-CSM1.4; ref. 9) and cyan (ECHO-G; ref. 7)

Sunny skies or stormy weather - monks wrote it in their diaries 500 years ago - Scotsman.com News
ANCIENT weather records, including details gleaned from monks' diaries, are helping Scottish scientists work out how and why European climates have changed over the past 500 years.
Researchers found the historic data, from the likes of weather station archives and harvest records, closely matched modern computer simulations of climate patterns over the past five centuries.
They say the fact the computer models were on target for the past suggests future predictions will be accurate, and forecast that greenhouse gas emissions will shape the climate in future in a "significant and visible" way.

Gabi Hegerl studies changes in climate extremes in climate model simulations and tries to detect them in observations.

Carts and horses come to mind.

UPDATE - as a wise monk points out in the comments the models are based on the data so that the data agrees with the models shouldn't be a surprise, and doesn't actually tell us very much.

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January 17, 2011

Organic Milk Is Girly

Organic milk is healthier! Tim Worstall points out: "It’s to do with the clover"

Cows eating red and white clover produce less fatty milk, and organic cows eat more clover.

But red clover is a funny plant that some might worry about:

Cambridge Journals Online - Phyto-oestrogens in herbage and milk from cows grazing white clover, red clover, lucerne or chicory-rich pastures The total concentration of phyto-oestrogens was 4 to 5.6 times higher in milk from the red clover diet compared with the other treatments.

(Phytoestrogens are xenoestrogens which means foreign substances functioning as the primary female sex hormone not generated within the endocrine system but consumed by eating phytoestrogonic plants.)

Funny that organic milk is full of sex hormones isn't mentioned...

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Blasphemous Science

‘Breastmilk evangelists’ stifle debate on feeding babies, scientist says | The Times

A proper debate on the best way to feed a baby in the first six months is being stifled by an “almost religious evangelism” for women exclusively breastfeeding, the lead scientist behind a new study said.
Mary Fewtrell, a paediatrician from University College London’s Institute of Child Health, said that she could not understand why questioning the policy, which is current government guidance, provoked such “outpourings of vitriol” from its supporters.
Spokespeople questioned the scientists’ links to the baby-food industry, which they said was an obvious beneficiary from a change in guidance.
Dr Fewtrell rejected the allegations, which she described as insulting and upsetting, and a smokescreen “because they can’t rebut the science”.
She said that the scientists had acknowledged in their study that they had provided advice for the baby-food industry, and they carried out their research as independent authors. “If you are doing work in infant nutrition you cannot not have links to the industry,” she said. “Part of our responsibility as paediatricians and scientists working in the field is to advise industry.
Janet Fyle, professional policy adviser at the Royal College of Midwives, challenged the findings of the review as a “retrograde step that plays into the hands of the baby-food industry”. Other organisations, such as Baby Milk Action, issued even stronger rebuttals describing it as “an attack from industry-funded scientists”.
Dr Fewtrell said she could have predicted the reaction, which like previous such stances undermined sensible appraisal. She and others were not trying to formulate policy, but present evidence. “We have worked in this area for a very long time. This [reaction] is partly what stifles any scientific debate in this field. People feel intimidated. If you stick your head above the parapet you get this vitriol. I don’t undertsand where this evangelism comes from. It’s like some sort of religious belief. It’s personally upsetting but we have to press on with this because its the science.”
She added that “lots of people” shared the views held by her and her fellow researchers “but are quite intimidated because they know if they express something like this its seen almost as if its blasphemous”.

Seems like Climate Science, where faith has overtaken scientific curiosity.

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One Puff And You Die

BBC News - Smoking 'causes damage in minutes', US experts claim
This study suggests the damage begins just moments after the first cigarette is smoked.

Scare Story?

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The euro Bill

Britain will suffer if it doesn’t help the euro | The Times

Here is a number that should be memorised by all those who sneered last week at the French Prime Minister, François Fillon, and his request to Britain to support future rescue and repair measures for the euro: $233.5 billion (£147 billion). It is the total exposure of British banks to sovereign borrowers in Ireland, Greece and Portugal. Like it or not, if those countries decide they cannot afford their debt burdens and choose instead to default and renegotiate, Latin America-style, Britain is going to be involved.
That figure comes from the Bank for International Settlements, by the way, the respected Switzerland-based body known as "the central bankers’ central bank". Add in Spain and it rises to $370 billion.....

We are on the hook, and need to help ensure a soft landing, but preferably without using our cash.

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January 16, 2011

July 23rd - Date for your diary


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If Only

This was Winston’s unfittest hour | The Sunday Times

Private notes kept by Churchill’s doctor reveal how the prime minister’s work and character declined under the strain of war.

The previously confidential records reveal a leader whose work deteriorated and whose character suffered because of “years of stress” that left him with “an intolerance of criticism and bad temper”.
Churchill’s decline was exacerbated because he “never nursed his physique” and failed to “listen to advice”, according to Lord Moran, his personal doctor for 25 years.

Just think what he could have achieved if he had eaten his five a day and laid off the baccy and booze. Can you imagine him in lycra grinning like a loon as he cycled to Parliament. Thank goodness today's leaders listen to their quacks and aren't like him.

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Out of Flavour

Don't call it vegetarian, it is 'meat free' - Telegraph

Retailers are increasingly selling dishes as 'meat-free' as vegetarianism is seen as "outdated" and unfashionable.
The shifting trend has frustrated some vegetarians, who fear it will become harder to find dishes that are completely free of animal products such as gelatin or Parmesan cheese.
Liz O’Neill, head of communications at the Vegetarian Society, said: “We’re definitely not this year’s flavour."

Flavour, not this year, not any year...

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Halcyon Days For Wind Power

Britain is becoming less windy, raising doubts over Government's wind farm strategy - Telegraph

In November, Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, spoke of wind's "massive economic rewards" in a "renewables revolution". In May, the wind industry trade body, RenewableUK, called the North Sea "the Saudi Arabia of wind".
Yet it can be revealed that as the rhetoric has climbed ever further up the Beaufort scale, the wind itself has moved in precisely the opposite direction. New figures published by The Sunday Telegraph show that 2010 was, by one authoritative measure, the least windy year since 1824.
The failure of the country's massive wind industry to generate almost any electricity whatever at the time when it was most needed – during last month's extreme cold snap – has been widely reported. But that, we can reveal, was just the tip of the turbine-blade in a decades-long trend of declining wind. It is a trend causing an increasing crisis for the industry among those, principally investors, who are more aware of events than British politicians.
"The Government is treating wind power as if it is a fully-established technological winner on which we can bet Britain's energy future," said John Constable, REF's head of research. "These latest figures show, again, that this is economically and technically reckless; wind simply will not do what ministers tell it."
There is a direct correlation between a lack of wind and cold weather. According to the Met Office, last month was the coldest December since records began a century ago. Last year as a whole was the coldest for 14 years.
On the coldest days of last month, when the need for power was at its greatest, there was virtually no wind, Britain's 3500 wind turbines were largely idle and almost no electricity was generated by them.
At 5.30pm on December 7, which National Grid says was the moment of the fourth-highest demand ever recorded in British history, wind contributed just 0.4 per cent of the country's electricity needs. The generation system coped – but it includes large numbers of old power stations that will soon be closing. In the future, under the far more wind-based system the Government wants to see, such levels of demand could turn out the lights.
Rupert Soames, chief executive of the conventional power-supply company Aggreko, compared government energy policy to a belief in the "tooth fairy," with politicians "holding hands and singing Kumbaya to the great green god."

Halcyon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A halcyon (pronounced /ˈhælsiən/) is a mythical bird said to breed in a floating nest at sea during the winter solstice, during which time it charms the wind and waves into calm.

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January 15, 2011

BOM Forecast The Rain But No One Listened

Australian floods: Why were we so surprised? | Environment | The Guardian
Germaine Greer
Meteorologists warned Australians six months ago to prepare for a soaking. And nobody did a thing ...
In June last year the bureau of meteorology issued a warning that La Niña was about "to dump buckets" on Australia.

Funny I can't find that June 2010 forecast - The BOM Forecast from June 2010 is only for three months:

Wetter conditions favoured in the northeast
The national outlook for total rainfall for the July to September period, shows a moderate shift in the odds favouring wetter than normal conditions over parts of northeastern Australia.

Not quite "to dump buckets".

The October one which is the earliest that should warn of the flood risk:

Increased rainfall odds for most of Australia
The national rainfall outlook for the November-January period favours wetter than normal conditions over large parts of Australia, most notably in eastern, northern and southwest Australia.
The pattern of seasonal rainfall odds across Australia is a result of warm conditions in the Indian Ocean, as well as cool conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean associated with the current La Niña event.

Hardly panic stations, and the last forecast before the rains fell...

Wetter summer favoured for parts of eastern and western Australia issued 23rd November 2010
Wetter summer favoured for parts of eastern and western Australia
The national rainfall outlook for summer (December-February) favours wetter than normal conditions in southeast Queensland, eastern NSW, northern NT and most of WA. Drier conditions are favoured in parts of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.


I'm not sure why the story that a Met Office actually did forecast a weather extreme for December but people were too stupid to realise it rings a bell...

UPDATE - Greer seems to be quoting a subeditor's headline on the Herald Sun - the story of which gives only the vaguest of warnings, certainly not a warning of what came.

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New European Tree Ring Temp Paper - We Are All Doomed Still

New evidence for climate impacts on ancient societies

Annual-resolved European summer climate has, for the first time ever, been reconstructed over the past 2,500 years. Tree rings reveal possible links between past climate variability and changes in human history. Climate change coincided with periods of socioeconomic, cultural and political turmoil associated with the Barbarian Migrations, the Black Death and Thirty Years' War.

European%20Climate.jpg Click for Full Size

Results demonstrate that recent warming is unprecedented over the late Holocene, but modern hydroclimatic variations have at times been exceeded in magnitude and duration. Cultural and economic prosperity of the Roman and Medieval eras was closely linked to wet and warm summers. Increased climate variability coincided with the demise of the Western Roman Empire and the Migration Period (~AD 300-600). The Roman-Medieval transition likely represents the closest natural analogue to projected anthropogenic climate change. The associated social disruptions at this time, the so-called Migration Period, might provide insight to prepare for and avoid future climatic-induced turmoil.
This from a lengthy abstract available here - http://www.emetsoc.org/annual_meetings/documents/presentations_2010/UC4_Buentgen.pdf The full paper is published behind a paywall here http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/01/12/science.1197175 No free access to online data or methods available that I can see.

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January 14, 2011

Friday Night is Music Night (Still Breathing Edition)

Much underrated band, only famed for Nellie, check out their other videos.

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Feed The World

We’ve never been better able to feed the world | The Times

Matt Ridley

Forget scare stories about rising population and record food prices, we can now grow more crops on less land
The person who tips the world population above seven billion may be born this year. The world food price index hit a record high last month, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Bad harvests in Russia and Australia, combined with rising oil prices, have begun to cause shortages, export bans and even riots. Does starvation loom?
No. Never has the world looked less likely to starve. Never have our grandchildren looked more likely to feed well. Never has famine been less widespread. Never has the estimated future peak of the world’s population been lower.

Matt Ridley normally puts his paywalled articles up on his own site so keep an eye out for this one. UPDATE Now Here Or for a more pessimistic view you can turn to the Telegraph

How can we feed 9 billion? - Telegraph The world’s population is set to soar in the coming decades – but food supplies are already under pressure. Meanwhile, Britain and Europe have turned their backs on a great agricultural revolution, Clive Aslet writes .... a report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers this week says that the world's infrastructure is alarmingly stressed ..If the food supply is wobbling now, most people prefer not to think about what it could be like in 2050. By then, there will be another 2.5 billion open mouths, as the global population bursts its corset and balloons outwards by 70 per cent. Will they have anything to eat? Can agriculture almost double its capacity? If everybody on the planet farmed as we do in Europe, the answer would probably be no. Europe has been scaremonger-in-chief over climate change, but when faced by the more immediate and quantifiable challenge represented by population growth, its response is a Gallic shrug.

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January 13, 2011

Monboit Despairs of English Democracy

George Monbiot | guardian.co.uk

..Perhaps the biggest impediment the country struggles with is an institution that calls itself the mother of parliaments.
The extent to which England pioneered democratic government is debatable. What's not in dispute is that it's stuck with a system of governance whose roots are at least 796 years old (arising from the Magna Carta of 1215). The ill-defined relationship between the Crown, the government and parliament (which Tony Blair exploited so ruthlessly); the antediluvian procedures; the first-past-the-post electoral system; the House of Lords – all these and more are legacies of ancient history, which most countries don't have to accommodate. As a result, policy in England, by comparison to the newly empowered nations of the rest of the UK, is getting left behind.

Just not progressive enough as those state-teat-suckling Celtic paradises..

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Britain must help us save the euro, warns French PM | The Times
France will urge Britain today to back deeper European integration in order to save the euro, or face catastrophe for its own economy if the currency fails.
François Fillon, the Prime Minister, told The Times that he is taking his message to David Cameron at talks in London that come after a day of respite for the embattled currency.
Portugal, the latest euro state under pressure after Greece and Ireland, successfully raised €1.25 billion (£1 billion) from the markets, slightly easing its debt emergency.
“Europe finds itself at an historic turning point. The real question right now is whether we keep building on this adventure or whether we leave it at that,” Mr Fillon said.
“In order to consolidate the euro we will need gradually to harmonise our economic, fiscal and social policies, hence we are going to go towards greater integration.
“We are going to need to put in place an economic system of governance for the eurozone. Great Britain is not part of the eurozone; at the same time the decision we will take will have great importance to Britain.”
Mr Fillon warned that the British must be careful not to find themselves left behind. “I am sure the UK has its own dynamics and history, I am sure it has its own culture, its own economic assets,” he said.
“The question is: is the UK ready to accept or encourage greater integration of the eurozone or is the UK distrustful of that and will it create obstacles and make it more difficult to happen?”

Do you want the short answer or the long one which involves a detailed description of how you can depart in jerky movements?

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Keep Up At The Back

BBC weatherman tries to clear Met Office but digs deeper hole ォ Autonomous Mind continues the story.

See also An Englishman's Castle: The Met Office And The Cabinet - Missing The Bloody Point

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January 12, 2011

I'm Green And I Can Prove It

Anenglishmanscastle.Com: Domain DB Profile: Climate Change

This profile page summarizes all known activity of the domain Anenglishmanscastle.Com related to Climate Change. This domain may have published content supporting this topic, against it, or in a separate context: this biographical entry simply demarks this domain as having published content suggesting contextual association with Climate Change.


H/t JoNova

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January 11, 2011

Not Hunting Again

The view from my lawn this morning as the hunt met here.

The snow prevented us not hunting last year but previous years can be seen here.

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The Times Plays The Blame Game

January 11 2011 - Peter Brookes for The Times

January 10 2011 - Morten Morland for The Times

Looks like Murdoch's lackeys behind the paywall know who to blame.

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The Coming Storm

EMU debt crisis edges ever closer to the core - Telegraph
The eurozone's debt crisis is once again in danger of spiralling out of control after yields on Portuguese debt spiked to a post-EMU high and contagion hit Spain and Belgium.

This is the big story that is buried in all the fluff in the MSM, It is getting worse for the euro, and when it goes our little rows on bonuses and fuel prices will as sand castles on the shore when a tsunami rolls in.

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Ban Not Worked So More Bans Needed

US gun crime: death for sale | World news | The Guardian
What is it with America and guns? Why does the most advanced democracy, which prides itself on being a bastion of reason and civilisation in a brutal and ugly world, put up with this carnage in its own back yard? Why does it tolerate the sea of blood that flows from gun incidents, with about 100,000 people killed or injured every year? Why does it accept an annual murder rate by guns that is 13 times that of Germany and 44 times that of England and Wales?
Obama has allowed, on his watch, guns to be carried for the first time in the US's national parks. He has watched as the courts have stripped Washington and Chicago – two cities troubled by high gun crime rates – of their stringent controls on handguns.

I can't see where the Guardian explains why stringent gun controls are needed when the only examples it produces are two cities where they had them and they failed to prevent gun crime. Is someone missing a logical step here?

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State Bodies

'Worried well' should be banned from having flu jab says leading GP - Telegraph

Dr Clare Gerada, the chairman of the Royal College of GPs said: “People who are not in the at-risk groups are getting [private] vaccinations, leaving less supply for us. If that’s going to happen again then the Government needs to stop it and think because that will affect the delicate balance that we have.”
She called for a study looking at how many healthy people had paid to have the jab privately, to gauge “whether there should be a law that they are not allowed to have it”.

How very dare people take worries about their own families health into their own hands! If the socialist planned system has run out of supplies how dare private enterprise not do so. If we let people rather than GPs make decisions on looking after themselves where will it all end?

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Glacial Growth Down Under

Report sounds alarm on glaciers | Stuff.co.nz

A major international report says New Zealand could lose many of its glaciers by the end of the next century due to climate change.
The research, published in the science journal Nature Geoscience said mountain glaciers and icecaps could shrink by 15 to 27 per cent in volume terms on average by 2100, while New Zealand could lose up to 70 per cent of its glaciers.
Prominent New Zealand glaciologist Trevor Chinn said he had not yet read the report – authored by Geophysicists Valentina Radic and Regine Hock of University of Alaska – but it chimed with research done in New Zealand.
"I'm in the midst of helping with a report which shows that from 1890 to 1976, New Zealand's glaciers started to retreat at a fast rate, but that rate has slowed to the present."
Dr Chinn said this was a result of climate warming, which shifted more southwesterly into the South Island, which had led to small increases in snowfall in all glaciers.
Dr Chinn said it was likely that due to climate change, a "tipping point" had been reached.
A good equilibrium was reached around 1890, he said.
"I would like us to get back to that, but I don't think it's likely."

04FJosefGlacier.jpg 2004

FranzJosef_080506_web.jpg 2006
Franz%20Josef%20Glacier%202010.jpg 2010

Franz Josef Glacier

Cherry picked because it is the only glacier I have climbed on. And it happens to be growing.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 10, 2011

Climate Weak

Al Gore, Gary Neville or Cheryl Cole: who would you trust on climate change? | Leo Hickman | Environment | guardian.co.uk
Ahead of Climate Week - a series of events scheduled for March which "offer an annual renewal of our ambition and confidence to combat climate change" – the organisers have commissioned a survey to illustrate which celebrities would most likely get us to "act on climate change".

Climate Week Supporters

Eminent individuals
Gillian Anderson, actress
Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General
Ed Balls, MP
Rory Bremner, impressionist
Jarvis Cocker, musician
Lily Cole, model
Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate
Paloma Faith, musician
Lord Anthony Giddens, sociologist
Al Gore, former US Vice President
Alistair McGowan, impressionist
Stephan Merchant, comedian
David Miliband, MP
Sienna Miller, actress
Lewis Moody, England Rugby Captain
Sir Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate
Gary Neville, footballer
Debi Nova, musician
Michael Palin, television presenter
Philip Pullman, author
Mark Ronson, musician
Lord Nicholas Stern, economist
Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer
Jo Wood, entrepreneur

Is this some definition of the word "eminent" that I'm unfamiliar with? Is this really the A list of celebrities who will convince me as to the science or is it the contestant list for Dancing on Ice?

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Whenever I Hear The Word Culture I Reach For My Browning

Pitt%20Rivers%20Gun%20Room.jpg +

Catching up from a trip to Oxford - the renewed Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers Museums are wonderful (throw in the Natural History as a bonus), and I'm all cultured out.
Lunch at the Ashmolean Resturant looking out over the spires in the sunshine and all was pretty well with the world.
The picture is from the reopened top floor of the Pitt Rivers; points for naming them.

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January 9, 2011

The Great Hedge of England

Raedwald can only conclude therefore that Network Rail are planning to plant that curse of suburban gardens the Leylandii in two continuous lines half way up the country, not only effectively screening the line but providing passengers customers with an uninterrupted view of nothing but manky dark green-brown foliage during their journey. Only in England.

What an excellent idea - just as we did in India plant a Great Hedge to split the country into two different tax areas. That will keep the Northerners out.
(Though of course I personally think a line along the M4 would be about right.)

Posted by The Englishman at 7:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Big Society - BS

Cameron's 'Big Society' in crisis - Scotsman.com News

SENIOR government figures are planning a relaunch of David Cameron's Big Society vision amid concerns that the project is in crisis, Scotland on Sunday has learned.
A Conservative source said: "Blond and Hilton and other senior government figures are concerned that the Big Society Network has no message. It's just invisible and it appears to be doing nothing."
Whitehall sources said Cameron's advisers are looking at a relaunch. One said: "It won't be branded as a relaunch because that would be an admission of failure, but it cannot be allowed to fail because it was central to Cameron's manifesto."

Has anyone any idea what Cameron's fatuous idea is meant to be all about?

Posted by The Englishman at 7:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tax Exile Calls For Green Taxes

Cancun climate change talks: Richard Branson calls for global carbon taxes | Environment | The Guardian
Branson, in Cancun to launch a web-based initiative to reduce shipping emissions by as much as 25% over the next 20 years, said taxes could be useful. "

That presumably is the same Richard Branson who started his record business with a tax scam and is famous for his entirely legal and above board offshore trusts which reduce his tax liability.
But he is a cuddly entrepreneur who cares for the environment so no protests at his shops.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How the West Was Lost

Dambisa Moyo: without change US will almost certainly become a socialist nation - Telegraph

Economist Dambisa Moyo predicts in her new book that the West's economic dominance will collapse unless some very difficult choices are made.

How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices Ahead goes so far as to predict that the US will be a “bona fide socialist welfare state” by the latter part of this century.
“Indeed, if nothing else changes it from its current path,” writes Moyo, “it is almost certain that America will move from a fully-fledged capitalist society of entrepreneurs to a socialist nation in just a few decades.
“The trouble is, it won’t be just any socialist welfare state... the US is on a path to creating the worst and most venal form of welfare state [poorly developed and designed] – one born of desperation from many years of flawed economic policies and a society that rapaciously feeds on itself.”
The US and other Western powers will be reduced to second division players and the new global powerhouses will not just be China. Forget East versus West. It’s now the Rest versus the old West.

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Oranges and Lemons

BBC News - EU organic food push hailed by African farmers

The European Union (EU) is co-funding a $2.8m (£1.8m) publicity campaign to convince UK residents that organic food is good.
They want to put across the message that there is nothing elitist about organic foods and to highlight what they consider to be the advantages, both to a person's health and to the environment.
For organic producers in developing countries, the drop-off in trade in recent years has been a bitter blow.
In the UK, organic sales dropped 13% per cent in 2009 and have been making only a slow recovery since then.
The Organic Trade Board (OTB) is unhappy that the organic sector is not getting more help from the UK government.

Nice spin, cash to help organic farmers market their stuff here is obviously for the benefit for poor third world peasants.

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January 8, 2011

Take Home Trouble

Fire chief tells public to drink less after spate of deadly blazes - Scotsman.com News

Brian Sweeney, chief officer of Strathclyde Fire & Rescue, said Scottish society had to accept that alcohol misuse, not economic troubles, were the "greatest crisis" facing the country.
He added that moves to ban smoking in public had made the habit "almost socially unacceptable" and advocated that steps be taken to alter the way ordinary Scots drink.
However, a leading licensed trade body said that an increase in house fires was "one of the consequences" of the fact Scotland had become a "nation of take-home drinkers" after smoking was banned in pubs.

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January 7, 2011

Friday Night is Music Night (That'll Do Edition)


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January 6, 2011

That Forecast Question Is Asked

Did UK Government Keep Cold Winter Warning Secret In Run-Up To UN Climate Conference?

As we were saying

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Pulling a Sickie

Two million off sick after New Year break - Telegraph

Sickness rates among NHS staff – Britain's biggest employer with more than a million employees – were higher than other sectors, forcing more money to spent on hiring agency staff to cover those who are absent.
For every five men off with a cold or flu there are eight women – indicating that more contact with children and being run down by chores has left them more susceptible to the virus.

I wonder what the rate among self-employed men is.

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Splashing The Cash

Quango boss ordered staff to invent ways to spend £1m - Telegraph
The chief executive of UK Trade and Investment, the Government’s business promotion arm, said the Foreign Office was “heading for an underspend” and asked officials to help find ways to “get money out of the door”.
In the email Sir Andrew, a former British Airways executive who left his post this week to return to the private sector with a £1.2million pension pot, wrote: "€œIf we can spend money in this financial year on a one-off basis, then we can have at least £1million...Can you think what we might do with such money?"€
He went on: "€œIn the past, it would have been marketing, but Cabinet Office restrictions make that difficult"
Susan Haird, who took over from Sir Andrew as acting chief executive after he left for a senior post at an investment bank this week, sent an enthusiastic response to the email.
She said using unexpected funding for visits was a “good idea and money can be spent swiftly on those”.

Wee Willie Hague has an opportunity now to show he has some balls and save the taxpayer some money. Sorry I forgot I am talking about Hague...

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How Many Would Have Died In The Cold Without Coal Power?

Why we need a law on ecocide | Polly Higgins | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Sophie Scholl, a Munich University student, was executed for revealing the truth about the activities of the Nazi authorities; today 20 brave Ratcliffe whistleblowers have been sentenced at Nottingham crown court for plotting to draw attention to the truth of the activities of another German entity. This time, replace the tyranny of the Nazis with the tyranny of the energy giant E.ON.
Scholl and 20 others stood up and took direct non-violent action. Their crime was the dissemination of leaflets highlighting and decrying the tyranny of the Nazi dictatorship. It was a decision to undertake something unlawful – an act that they believed was a necessity – to halt a greater but unnamed crime, a crime that cost many lives. That crime did not, at the time, have a name. But it soon did: genocide.
The Ratcliffe 20 did the same in April 2009. They too were prepared to stand up and take action. Their crime was planning to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar, a coal-powered station that is one of Britain's largest greenhouse gas emitters. The state was failing to prevent a greater injury from taking place; the loss of life. This time it is not only human life, but all life.
Scholl and her co-conspirators were denied the right to defend themselves in their trial.
Prior to the Ratcliffe trial, the judge ruled: "the defendants must have the opportunity of putting that contention (that the emissions from the power station do pose an immediate threat) before the jury, no doubt backed by expert evidence." Expert evidence was heard, from James Hansen, the former head of Nasa's Goddard Institute, on the immediacy of the threat to life caused by escalation of emissions, to MPs who confirmed government inertia. All of which the jury failed to accept. What will it take for that dense sea fog to dissipate and for the truth to be revealed?

Polly is a barrister so obviously only has contempt for the little people of the jury who are too "dense" to see her point of view. She is also a nasty eco-fascist who uses odious comparisons of gobby trustifarians and brave victims of the Nazis. She is dog shit.

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January 5, 2011

Climate Renewal

The climate movement is in desperate need of renewal | Bradley Day | Environment | guardian.co.uk

If a jury that received extensive education on climate change could not vindicate the Ratcliffe activists, then who will?

In the final weeks of 2010, 20 individuals – including myself – went on trial after being accused of conspiring to shut down the Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power station.
Despite hearing terrifying evidence from some of world's leading climate change experts; learning of the millions of pounds spent in their local area as a result of extreme weather conditions; listening to gut-wrenching testimonies from flood victims across the globe; and observing senior politicians explain our crippling democratic deficit, the jury went on to deliver a unanimous guilty verdict.
The jury received a more extensive education on climate change than most people get in a lifetime. That they could not vindicate our actions is nothing to get self-righteous about; it is deeply disturbing. If the jury, after everything they had heard, couldn't bring themselves to sympathise with our actions, who will?

So you don't get the hint. People just need more educating to feel as terrified as you do. And that is despite the poor bloody jury having been forcibly educated in a locked room for three weeks still not "getting it".
May be they did "get it" - does that thought ever cross your mind.

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The Met Office And The Cabinet - Missing The Bloody Point

The Met Office Bullhockey rumbles round the blogosphere. Roger Harrabin, the mouthpiece of the Met, tried out an official excuse that the Met knew what it was going to be cold all along but only told the Cabinet Office; and the public are too stupid to understand so that is why they were told it was going to be warm.

Commentators are enjoying poking fun at this excuse but are missing the key point.

"Darling, I wasn't playing pool with the boys in the backroom all night, I promised you I wouldn't do that. Your sister can back me up because I was in bed with her."

I can assure you that in your haste to show your good faith, and how you can prove it, you have dropped a small faux pas which may be brought up in conversation the next morning.

And the same is true of Roger's story.

The Met Office told the Cabinet Office in October it would be a cold winter.

Either someone is telling a porky, or the forecast was so hedged about it was unclear what it forecast, or the forecast was suppressed.

This is slipping me dangerously into the conspiracy theories I normally have no truck with but until we know what the Cabinet Office was told (and FOI requests are already in) it is a working hypothesis.

With Ministers and SPADs packing their bags to fly to Cancun, with Treasury boffins polishing their sliderules to calculate more green taxes and promises of "the greenest government ever" to be fulfilled there certainly would the temptation to sweep the inconvenient chicken bones under the carpet.

And that is the real story here.

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Shona Robison For And Against Global Warming

Skiing enjoys best ever start to season - Scotsman.com News

With the cold snap set to continue throughout January and fresh falls of snow forecast, an industry that was in the doldrums only five years ago is set for another money-spinning season.
The extended season contributed an estimated £37.5 million to the Scottish economy with hotels, bars and restaurants benefiting from a welcome boom in the winter sports industry.
Sports minister Shona Robison yesterday joined skiers and snowboarders taking to the slopes at Cairngorm to celebrate what a government spokeswoman said was the "best ever" early start to the Scottish skiing season.
Ms Robison said: "This year's winter sports season has got off to a terrific early start and is already shaping up to be a record-breaker with Cairngorm, Glenshee, the Nevis Range, the Lecht and Glencoe all opening early this year and recording a phenomenal 77,000 skier days since the end of November. This builds on the growth we saw during last year's bumper ski season, which was the best we had seen for 14 years."

Shona Robison MSP » Blog Archive » Copenhagen Negotiators Should Follow Scotland'€™s Lead Shona Robison said: “Scotland is leading the world on setting ambitious targets for reductions in emissions. Our Climate Change legislation has set an interim target of 42% reduction by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050. This sends a message that we are serious about tackling this urgent issue, a message which we hope that other countries will emulate.”

It's working then.

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January 4, 2011

Monbiot's Castle

In this morning’s Guardian George Monbiot advocates that the rich should have their homes forcibly opened up to solve housing shortages and those that refuse be punished.

Let’s All Go To Monbiot’s

A bit spacious for a single man?

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Met Office Knew It Was Going To Be Cold, But Didn't Tell Anyone.

Met Office 'kept winter forecast secret from public' - Telegraph

In October the forecaster privately warned the Government - with whom it has a contract - that Britain was likely to face an extremely cold winter.
It kept the prediction secret, however, after facing severe criticism over the accuracy of its long-term forecasts.
Roger Harrabin, an environment analyst at the BBC, told the Radio Times: “The trouble is that we simply don’t know how much to trust the Met Office. How often does it get the weather right and wrong. And we don’t know how it compares with other, independent forecasters.
The Met Office stopped making its long-term forecasts public in March after a series of major gaffes.
In 2009 a predicted “barbecue summer” became a washout, while a subsequent forecast of a “mild winter” turned out to be one of the coldest in 30 years.
This winter, however, its seasonal forecast proved more accurate. Mr Harrabin said: “Why didn’t the Met Office tell us that Greenland was about to swap weather with Godalming? The truth is it [The Met Office] did suspect we were in for an exceptionally cold early winter, and told the Cabinet Office so in October. But we weren’t let in on the secret.
“The reason? The Met Office no longer publishes its seasonal forecasts because of the ridicule it suffered for predicting a barbecue summer in 2009 – the summer that campers floated around in their tents.”
A spokesman for the Met Office said: “In late October we informed the Cabinet office that there were early indications of a cold start to winter. Following public research we were told that a monthly outlook would be of more use which is why we now have the 6-15 day and 16-30 day forecast on our website.”

The public prediction was for warmer, as Autonomous Mind has pointed out. so what does this back covering story tell us?

Is it a desperate attempt to say we woz right all along, passing the blame for unpreparedness to the Government (who could hardly act without Met Office backing) or did they just say to the Cabinet, it could be hot or it could be cold, we haven't got a clue? Or did the Met Office really believe it might be cold and refused to warn us in case it upset the case in Cancun?

However you spin it the Met Office doesn't come out of it well. I hope there will be an Inquiry.

(The Met Office also sells its long term forecasts to other concerns as well as the Cabinet Office, Mr Tesco et all dropped the Met Office for Metra Long Range Forecasts or other forecasts, but someone must still be using them, and what the forecast they bought said would be revealing.)

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The Huhnetic On The Loose

Chris Huhne promises Britain will speed up switch to green energy | The Guardian

Yup all those whirly gigs have been working so well in the cold still days, haven't they.

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January 3, 2011

Rio Adopts Brazilian Chastity Belt As Olympic Logo

Rio 2016 Olympic Games emblem is launched during the Copacabana Beach New Year's Eve party | Rio2016


A chastity belt in vibrant plastic colours, how appropriate, not.

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On This Day - Terrorists On London Streets

"...through our tolerance we had allowed terrorists into our midst.."

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Santa's Sacks

Households left with month of rubbish after snow and Christmas hit collection - Telegraph

Gardens, driveways and streets in many parts of Britain are full of overflowing bin bags, paper, bottles and plastic, research by The Daily Telegraph has found.
Across Britain, councils have reduced collections of household waste and forced residents to sort paper, glass and tins for recycling, as they face European Union fines of up to £180million a year if they send too much rubbish to landfill.
But services were cancelled on health and safety grounds after heavy snowfalls in mid-December, as officials feared it was too dangerous to send lorries down icy streets or to make binmen carry bags on slippery pavements.

To give Wiltshire credit our bins were emptied on Christmas and New Year's Eves but others weren't so lucky as parts of Britain slide into third world conditions and they discover the council is more interested in promoting recycling to save the planet than picking up trash.

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January 1, 2011

Have a Healthy New Year

Your prescription for 2011 is… | Life and style | The Guardian

Your prescription for 2011 is…
… be slightly overweight, don't exercise too much and stop peeling your fruit and veg. Follow these seven simple steps to better health....

The new emphasis is on waist measurements: men can be content if their waist is less than 38 inches and women should be happy with a waist of 34 inches or less. Keeping our waist measurements lower than those of our hips is a practical aim for everyone.

The current advice is to exercise to breathlessness (it doesn't matter what you do – anything you continue to enjoy) for around 30 minutes, and avoid exercising more than three or four times a week.

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