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December 31, 2011

Fat As Bad As Climate Change

Patients with unhealthy lifestyles must be warned, say experts | Society | The Guardian

Smoking, drinking, diet and lack of exercise needs to be addressed, NHS Future Forum warns...

The Lancet medical journal has conservatively estimated that, on present trends, by 2030 obesity in the UK will have produced 5.45m cases of diabetes, 330,000 more people with coronary heart disease and stroke and 87,000 extra cases of cancer, which together will mean a loss of 2.2m quality-adjusted life years in the population, and costing the NHS another £2.2bn a year on top of the existing huge price of tackling obesity-related illness.

Alan Johnson, then health secretary, described obesity in 2007 as a problem "on the scale of climate change".

Couldn't have put it better myself.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Olympics To Allow State Sanctioned Demonstrations

Jeremy Hunt: London 2012 Olympics will not be 'austerity Olympics' - Telegraph

Jeremy Hunt believes that hosting the Games is an “incredible stroke of luck” during the global economic crisis as it will provide a “huge plus sign” for the struggling British economy. He also says demonstrators will be tolerated as long as their protests are legitimate and lawful.

Oh that is jolly decent of him to tolerate demonstrators, but seeing how they have introduced new laws that prevent anyone being rude about the games if he so decides it isn't exactly that reassuring.

The regulations may apply in respect of advertising of any kind including, in particular—

(a) advertising of a non-commercial nature, and

(b) announcements or notices of any kind.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Top Health Experts Don't Know Where Babies Come From

Cheap drink blamed for teen pregnancies and STDs | The Times

Health experts have called for the introduction of minimum prices for alcoholic drinks to help to combat a steep rise in sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies among teenagers.
The unprecedented alliance of public health experts, doctors and sexual health advisers also wants local authorities to be given extended powers to force pubs and nightclubs to curtail binge drinking.
Their demands.....

Oh just fuck off...

Posted by The Englishman at 6:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 30, 2011

Prosperity Through Rationing

EU warns wasting environmental resources could spark new recession | Environment | The Guardian

The overuse and waste of valuable natural resources is threatening to produce a fresh economic crisis, the European Union's environment chief has warned.
Janez Potočnik, the EU commissioner for the environment, linked the current economic crisis gripping the eurozone with potential future crises driven by price spikes in key resources, including energy and raw materials.
Potočnik gave notice that his department was scouring through existing regulations and proposed new ones in order to ensure that none would encourage resources to be used profligately, and to safeguard the EU's natural resources for the future.
Although most of the west is still mired in economic woes, much of the developing world including rapidly emerging economies such as China and India are forging ahead financially, and as a consequence are consuming a far greater share of the world's resources.
Potočnik called for resource use to become a "mainstream" issue in economics. Recalling his own education as an economist, he noted: "I was taught that water was a free commodity, like air. We really do need to have the internalisation of these costs."

A good dose of regulation and rationing and bureaucratic control of resource allocation that's what our Ljubljana economic wonk is ordering for us to catch up with those crazy growing economies. Allowing the market to allocate anything - pah!

Posted by The Englishman at 8:08 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 29, 2011

Hans In The Brothel

Hans, a middle-aged German tourist on his first visit to Orlando, Florida,
finds the red light district and enters a large brothel. The madam asks him
to be seated and sends over a young lady to entertain him.

They sit and talk, frolic a little, giggle a bit, drink a bit, and she sits
on his lap. He whispers in her ear and she gasps and runs away! Seeing this,
the madam sends over a more experienced lady to entertain the gentleman.

They sit and talk, frolic a little, giggle a bit, drink a bit, and she sits
on his lap. He whispers in her ear, and she too screams, "No!" and
walks quickly away.

The madam is surprised that this ordinary looking man has asked for
something so outrageous that her two girls will have nothing to do with him.
She decides that only her most experienced lady, Lola, will do. Lola has
never said no, and it's not likely anything would surprise her. So the madam
sends her over to Hans. The sit and talk, frolic a little, giggle a bit,
drink a bit, and she sits on his lap. He whispers in her ear and she screams,
"NO WAY, BUDDY!" and smacks him as hard as she can and leaves.

Madam is by now absolutely intrigued, having seen nothing like this in all
her years of operating a brothel. She hasn't done the bedroom work herself
for a long time, but she's sure she has said yes to everything a man could
possibly ask for. She just has to find out what this man wants that has made
her girls so angry. Besides she sees a chance to teach her employees a
lesson.

So she goes over to Hans and says that she's the best in the house and is
available. She sits and talks with him. They frolic, giggle, drink and then
she sits in his lap.

Hans leans forwards and whispers in her ear, "Can I pay in
Euros?"

h/t Squiffy

Posted by The Englishman at 9:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Aaronovitch Surrenders Europe

Goodbye, Europe, a New World awaits us | The Times

David Aaronovitch

.... I might wish it were otherwise, but the truth is that we British pro-Europeans are beginning to sound more and more like Betamax enthusiasts arguing the superior merits of their systems against the unstoppable VHS tide.
Without even losing the argument we have contrived to lose not just the battle, but the entire war. The British people, for all our efforts, have proved de Gaulle right, when he exercised his veto against our membership in 1963 and doubted whether our evolution “and the evolution of the universe might bring the English little by little to the Continent”.
The Universe has not so evolved. Judging by its newspapers and its politicians, the people of Britain don’t get Europe, don’t like Europe and don’t want Europe. I have done my best, but nothing will persuade older Britons that the EU is not just some updated, endless episode of ’Allo ’Allo! or younger Britons to take any interest in it. It’s over. Time to come out of the jungle with my hands up, lay down my rusty rifle and think of something else.

If only.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:44 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A Man Of The Left, Not Of The People

Professor Sir Michael Dummett | The Times

Throughout his adult life Dummett was a man of the Left. However, he resisted the tendency, oddly prevalent among well-born academic leftists in Britain, to display his adherence to the cause by aping demotic manners and tastes. His cultivated appreciation of fine wine, for example, lasted until the end. His heroic smoking was also pursued with a cavalier disregard for petty regulation.

Of course one wouldn't want to ape the lifestyle of common people when one is a leader of leftist thought.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Death Of The euro

Bill Jamieson: Apocalypse could be now for euro - Scotsman.com

The reports tell of Foreign Office preparations to evacuate thousands of British expatriates and holidaymakers from countries that may be stricken by a break-up of the eurozone. The Ministry of Defence is also said to have been consulted about evacuation plans should UK citizens find themselves trapped in countries which have closed their borders and where bank withdrawals have been suspended.

In the frontline of this preparation is the Treasury, where reports have been circulating for weeks of contingency planning in the event of a disintegration of the single currency. Key arrangements include plans for the imposition of capital controls. Immigration and border controls would also be tightened.

Cross-border emergency evacuations; curtailment of the movement of money; detailed checks on crossing borders: these are the very opposite of the free movement of capital, goods, services and labour that the European single market was supposed to enshrine. The assumption behind these plans is that there would be a panic-fuelled capital flight as a banking failure took hold. The end result could be a freeze of electronic transfers and a halt to disbursements from hole-in-the-wall machines. And if people have no access to their money, those stricken countries in the eurozone do not just have a banking problem, or a sovereign debt problem. They have a law-and-order problem.

The salvation of Europe would, on the contrary, appear to lie in the overwhelming popular preference for people to be governed locally and by their own people, rather than by supra-national constructs. This is the counter-force that the events of 2012 will unleash as the debt and deficit crisis enters a new and explosive stage. That is why next week we will be in no ordinary year, and in no ordinary new era.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 28, 2011

A Prosperous New Year?

The Euro accelerates the west’s decline

John Redwood

The rising strength of China and Brazil, of India and the Civets, is based on hard work and free enterprise. Economies which have been kept poor by too much state control and by bad government in past decades, are being progressively liberated. As this occurs, so more businesses are set up, more jobs created, more people are better educated. A virtuous circle has been created.

The declining relative strength of the west, especially of Europe, is based on the opposite process. There is growing government interference in every aspect of economic life. The top down Euro scheme, little wanted by the German and French people, let alone the British, is doing untold damage to economic prospects. It is proving to be the ultimate ill judged intervention by the political classes, the final expression of governing power that is damaging families, businesses and job prospects.

With bleary eyes I didn't recognise the CIVETS to mean "Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa" but once that matter was rectified I think John Redwood encapsulates the takehome message for 2012.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Olympic Fraud - Seb Watch Your Back!

Websites targeting Olympics visitors closed down by police | Technology | The Guardian

Detectives say many websites intended for use to commit fraud are using imagery of Olympics to lure customers..."We think there is some evidence to suggest they are waiting to commit fraud," Janet Williams, the deputy assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan police, said. "These websites have been set up and are in a holding position, and we will monitor them to see if they are used for criminal purposes."

Let me public spirited and point out the biggest fraudsters to Her Majesty's Plod - These bastards have stolen billions of pounds by misrepresentation - go get 'em.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cameron On The Booze

David Cameron plans minimum price for alcohol in England - Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph understands that the Prime Minister personally ordered the radical “big bang” approach, which will be included in the Government’s forthcoming alcohol strategy.

Pne would have thought he has more important things to worry about rather than knee jerking to fabricated statistics. A prudent politican might consider monitoring how fabulously well the Scottish experiment is going for a year or so first...

Posted by The Englishman at 6:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 25, 2011

The Queen

Posted by The Englishman at 4:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 24, 2011

My Christmas Tree Is Up!

Sprout%20Tree.jpg

The seeds of a sunflower, the spines of a cactus, and the bracts of a pine cone all grow in whirling spiral patterns. Remarkable for their complexity and beauty, they also show consistent mathematical patterns that scientists have been striving to understand.

A surprising number of plants have spiral patterns in which each leaf, seed, or other structure follows the next at a particular angle called the golden angle. The golden angle is about 137.5. Two radii of a circle C form the golden angle if they divide the circle into two areas A and B so that A/B = B/C.

The golden angle is closely related to the golden ratio, which the ancient Greeks studied extensively and some have believed to have divine, aesthetic or mystical properties.

Plants with spiral patterns related to the golden angle also display another curious mathematical property. The seeds of a flower head form interlocking spirals in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. The number of clockwise spirals differs from the number of counterclockwise spirals, and these two numbers are called the plant's parastichy numbers (pronounced pi-RAS-tik-ee or PEHR-us-tik-ee).

These numbers have a remarkable consistency. They are almost always two consecutive Fibonacci numbers, which are another one of nature's mathematical favorites. The Fibonacci numbers form the sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 . . . , in which each number is the sum of the previous two.

The Fibonacci numbers tend to crop up wherever the golden ratio appears, because the ratio between two consecutive Fibonacci numbers happens to be close to the golden ratio. The larger the two Fibonacci numbers, the closer their ratio to the golden ratio. But this relationship doesn't fully explain why parastichy numbers end up being consecutive Fibonacci numbers.
Scientists have puzzled over this pattern of plant growth for hundreds of years....

Posted by The Englishman at 12:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 23, 2011

This Christmas' Soundtrack

Posted by The Englishman at 1:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday Night is Music Night (Sweet Kim Edition)

Posted by The Englishman at 8:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Guardian Admits It Might Be The Sun Wot Did It

If the world is warming, why were the past two winters so cold? | Environment | guardian.co.uk

The winters of 2009–10 and 2010–11 in the UK were the coldest in the previous 25 years. This has been taken by some commentators and members of the public as evidence that global warming isn't happening. In truth, however, cold UK winters are entirely possible within broader global warming trends.

Scientists have determined that the Earth's climate is warming by averaging measurements from all over the globe over many decades. Indeed, 2010 was one of the warmest years on record. But natural climate variability means there are plenty of local or temporary events – such as cold winters – that appear to contradict the warming trend....

There's also evidence that low phases of the sun's 11-year activity cycle might influence the NAO and thus bring cold winters to Britain..

What! The sun might have influence, heresies are now creeping into the Guardian...

Posted by The Englishman at 7:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Divination By Swans

Arctic swans arrival: when did the first Bewick's get here? | News | guardian.co.uk

This year, the first swans to arrive at WWT Slimbridge Wetland centre
in Gloucestershire, landed on the 25th October - a week later than last year and possibly signaling the start of a warmer winter.
It is a fascinating look at one of nature's recurring events. What does it tell us about the British winter and what is happening to our weather?

Download The Data

(The answer I think is nothing, except not much has changed.)

Posted by The Englishman at 7:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 21, 2011

Starkey Advises Cameron To Go For England

Revive the Nation, the ghost of England past | The Times (£)

......Ever since Disraeli’s refounding of the Tory Party in the mid-19th century, the idea of the Nation has been central to the Conservatives’ appeal. Too often, no doubt, in the Victorian period it took the form of aggression and colonial conquest. But recent events have given it a new respectability. For only the nation state — as the debacle of the euro makes clear — can offer any sort of guarantee of democracy or prosperity. It is not a perfect instrument, of course, but at least it is better than the bureaucratic imperialism of European institutions.
The idea of the nation also speaks to our present domestic discontents. For the gap between super-rich and poor is nothing new. It was, once again, Disraeli who characterised it most vividly and offered the solution in One Nation Toryism. He widened the franchise to incorporate the respectable working man into the political nation; Stanley Baldwin and King George V went further and used decorations and ermine to make the trade unions and the Labour Party a part of the political establishment.
For Mr Cameron to follow in their footsteps he must look to both ends of the social spectrum. He must use education and social policy to reintegrate disaffected black and poor white people into society, and he must Anglicise the international rich who have turned the pseudo city-state of London into another Monaco. Teaching them the traditional British values of good manners and restraint would be a good place to start and next year’s Jubilee an excellent learning opportunity.Above all, he must confront the issue of national identity. For how can we all be “in it together” if we do not know who we are?
It is also a question of low political cunning. For Labour’s vote is ripe for the picking. Its core supporters, the blue-collar workers, are the most straightforwardly patriotic group in the country. But modern Labour is the anti-patriotic party, denying the very idea of national identity itself. Disraeli “dished the Whigs”. Mr Cameron’s renewed One Nation Toryism would dish Labour and make the Tories, once again, the natural party of government.
The challenge is indeed enormous. But then Mr Cameron, like Henry VIII, is at his best in a crisis. Go for it: England expects!

David Starkey is author of Crown & Country: The Kings & Queens of England (HarperPress)

Posted by The Englishman at 7:08 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hitting The Slopes

Many women too unfit to go skiing - Health - Scotsman.com

IT MAY sound like they are skating on thin ice, but ski experts have urged unfit women to think twice before they hit the slopes.

Quite. Ski totty should be fit, and game.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rules The Weir

Turn of the screw set to contribute to royal power - Environment - Scotsman.com

The Queen’s Windsor Castle home will be partly powered by the UK’s largest Archimedes screw turbine installed into a weir yesterday.

I like water power, it seems to match demand better, and jokes about screwing the taxpayer for the subsidy won't be tolerated, unless they are very good.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 20, 2011

Cameron Prick

Prime Minister David Cameron Makes A Pre-Christmas Visit To British Troops In Afghanistan | UK News | Sky News

Cameron%20Prick.jpg

It is normally considered a good idea to paint over graffiti of a skyward pointing prick flanked by a pair of balls when the Prime Minister is doing a photo opportunity. There was an old RSM I knew who would have had the answer.

Posted by The Englishman at 10:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 19, 2011

Mercury In The Home - Blame Chinese Coal

Stray showers of mercury getting into food chain | Science | The Guardian

Poisonous metal released as a vapour by burning fuel, then falls back to Earth and gets absorbed by the aquatic ecosystem

Thank goodness no one be a stupid to pressurize people to have little glass bulbs of the stuff all over their homes just waiting to be broken and release ..... oh sorry the greens have..

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

Name One Real Job

Clegg slams ‘gleeful’ Eurosceptics and points to millions of jobs at risk - Politics - Scotsman.com

“I read and hear a lot of people breezily predicting, almost with a sense of glee, that the eurozone is going to fall apart and this country is going to drop out of the euro,” Mr Clegg said.

“It would be a triumph of optimism over fact to somehow wish away the fact that millions of people’s livelihoods are dependent on our engagement in Europe,” he said.

Genuinely confused - which jobs would be lost if we just freely traded with a bunch of countries over La Manche? They need our trade more than we need theirs so we wouldn't be blockaded.

Sorry that should have read "which jobs apart from those of party hacks and EU officials would be lost....."

Posted by The Englishman at 7:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

De mortuis nihil nisi bonum - Nah!

Kim Jong-il, North Korean leader, dies | World news | guardian.co.uk

Ding Dong Merrily On High!

Posted by The Englishman at 7:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 17, 2011

Pricing Up Hurt

Doctor is awarded £4.5m compensation for workplace discrimination trauma | Money | The Guardian

A hospital consultant who suffered mental trauma after colleagues campaigned to get rid of her following maternity leave was awarded record compensation of £4.5m by an employment tribunal.

Dr Eva Michalak, 53, who worked as an obstetrician at Pontefract General Infirmary, won claims for sex and race discrimination and unfair dismissal against the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS trust and three senior staff members.

The trust's medical director, Dr David Dawson, consultant physician Dr Collin White, and the human resources manager Dianne Nicholls were ordered along with the trust to pay Michalak £4,452,206.60. She had originally claimed £9m.

Appalling abuse the poor woman suffered but £4.5 million?

The Armed Forces and Reserve Forces (Compensation Scheme) Order 2011 prices up mental injury as well as physical for our service people. A sobering comparison.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Cleggy Chooses Wrong Bot Mot

Clegg vows to return Britain to heart of Europe and the single-market debate | Politics | The Guardian

Nick Clegg has accused Eurosceptics of stoking xenophobia and chauvinism by indulging in "the politics of grievance", on the day that a diplomatic war of words between Britain and France intensified.

Chauvinism is an eponym of a possibly fictional French soldier Nicolas Chauvin who was credited with many superhuman feats in the Napoleonic wars. By extension it has come to include an extreme and unreasoning partisanship on behalf of any group to which one belongs, especially when the partisanship includes malice and hatred towards rival groups. Jingoism is the British parallel form of this French word,...

Posted by The Englishman at 6:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 16, 2011

Friday Night is Music Night (Meri Kurisumasu Edition)

I don't think the restraining order prevents me posting this, does it?

OK - That one is probably a bit much...

Posted by The Englishman at 7:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sea Power

HMS York scrambled to Scotland in Russian fleet security scare | Mail Online

A Royal Navy destroyer was scrambled to Scotland in a major security scare after a Russian aircraft carrier came within 30 miles of British shores for the first time in 20 years.

HMS York travelled around 1,000 miles from Portsmouth to keep watch as the 65,000 tonne Admiral Kuznetsov and a number of other battleships anchored on the edge of UK waters.

The vessels did not warn British authorities they were going to come so close to the coast and are thought to have blamed bad weather for having to approach.

Previously defence chiefs would have scrambled Nimrod aircraft from RAF Kinloss in Moray but because the base has been scrapped in cutbacks and a new fleet of planes cancelled, the Navy had no choice but to send HMS York.

HMS York's top speed is 32 knots (36.8mph). I'm not sure if the 1000 miles referenced are wet or dry ones but compared to a Nimrod scrambled hardly seems the right word.

HMS York will be decommissioned next year, presumably if the Russians decide on a seaside patrol then one of the hundreds of our Admirals will scramble a rowing boat from the Serpentine to challenge them.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:53 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Near Record Lows

globescan2011.png

Noise of the Crowd - Exclusive: concern about climate change has increased in the last year - Interesting things about public opinion

New data suggest that there has been a significant increase in UK concern about climate change.

While the climb in those who say that climate change is a very serious problem, from 43% to 49%, does not restore concern to the level of 2007-2009, it indicates that concern about climate change is not in steady decline....

it’s clear that concern about climate change has climbed since last year’s low point. This should influence how older polls, like the British Social Attitudes survey, are interpreted, as well as undermining the view that steadily fewer people are worried about the issue.

Or the headline could be "Concern At Second Lowest Since Records Began".

It could be the start of a hockeystick upswing or it could be a wobble on a decline.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:35 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 15, 2011

Olympic Badger Shooting

Badger cull gets go-ahead with Olympic-sized police operation - Telegraph

The shooting of thousands of badgers will go ahead next year but not until after the Olympics to prevent police resources being overstretched by the £4 million security operation required for the cull.

Can't they combine the two? It would be the first useful thing to come out of the competition.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Calling Sir Fred

City placed to cash in as green bank HQ - Environment - Scotsman.com

EDINBURGH is well placed to meet the criteria set out by the UK Government to decide the location of the new Green Investment Bank, campaigners said today.

Sir Fred, your expertise is needed!

Posted by The Englishman at 6:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Green Energy Won't Cost You Much If You Don't Buy It

Green measures will not lead to 'astronomical' energy bills: analysis | Environment | The Guardian

Household energy bills will rise by £190 by the end of the decade, according to an analysis published on Thursday by the government's official climate change advisers. But fears of "astronomical" rises as a result of building a clean energy system for the UK have been rejected by the report, which says charges on future bills for renewable energy and energy efficiency will contribute just £110 of the increase.
"There have been claims that there will be astronomical bill rises in the next decade due to low-carbon policies. Our analysis disproves this," said David Kennedy, chief executive of the CCC. "We want to demystify this issue and have an honest debate based on facts not assertions."
Investing in low-carbon energy was the "sensible economic path" said Kennedy. "It will be very expensive to solve the problem [of cutting carbon emissions] later. We could ignore the issue and build gas plants, but then we will end up with lots of power stations we will have to scrap."

"There has been a concerted effort by some campaign groups to completely mislead the public into believing that green taxes have been the main cause of rises in fuel bills," said Bob Ward, at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics. "These groups, including the Global Warming Policy Foundation and the Taxpayers' Alliance, appear driven by an extreme ideological opposition to environmental regulation, and have sought to confuse and misinform the public with blatantly inflated figures."

The report doesn't seem to be online yet, so I can only guess at its contents, but a fiver says the figure is based on a reduction in energy use because of green measures in the home, more insulation etc. Where that leaves those of us who are insulated to the hilt already I don't know because the figure we want is not a comparison between what we pay now and what we might pay in the future if we don't turn the gas tap on, but between a unit of energy delivered today and a unit in the future. We can then work the rest out ourselves.
And does it include the costs the taxpayers incurs that are not on the electricity bill?

Posted by The Englishman at 6:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 14, 2011

A Slippery Slope To Freeing The Market?

Prices spike as butter shortage spreads through Norway - CNN.com

Norwegians are facing an unexpected wrinkle in their Christmas cooking plans. Butter supplies are scarce, and prices have skyrocketed.
A higher demand for butter as a result of low-carb diets and increased interest in natural, home-cooked meals is one reason for the shortage, according to Tine, the country's largest farmer-owned dairy cooperative.
...many stores have been rationing how much butter they sell....
Some Norwegian politicians have criticized the government for acting too slowly, and right-wing bloggers have compared the government's agricultural policies -- which include high tariffs on milk product imports -- to those of former Soviet states.
Authorities detained a Russian citizen Monday who they said was trying to smuggle 90 kilograms (200 pounds) of butter from Germany into Norway. Food safety authorities then warned people not to buy butter from strangers, Norway's TV2 reported.

Who would have thought it? A State near monopoly coupled with border controls maybe isn't the best way to organise a market.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 13, 2011

Jonny Jonny Jonny

England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson quits international rugby tormented to the end - Telegraph

Even in his valedictory message, released, as is the modern vogue, on his own website yesterday evening, there were echoes of the demons that have pursued Jonny Wilkinson since he first asked his dad to stop the car on the way to a mini-rugby session at the age of seven so that he could release his anxiety by being sick in the bushes.
That fear of failure never left him. In fact, it defined him, a tormented soul in search not only of perfection but also of inner peace. Even if he can be said to have achieved the former in dropping the goal that sent a nation into raptures, he never got close to the latter.
Nothing came easily to Wilkinson, the exemplar of one who willed himself to greatness rather than assumed it would alight on his shoulders.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Arctic Emergency

John Nissen: It may already be too late to deal with this terrifying leak - Commentators - Opinion - The Independent

Current projections by one team of Arctic scientists suggest that the sea ice in September, when it hits its summertime minimum, will all but have disappeared as early as 2015.

Outweighing this alarming state of affairs is the consequential rise in methane released from the Arctic seabed and surrounding tundra. The massive quantity of methane locked up in a frozen state in the Arctic presents a climate change "time bomb", with a fuse that is already burning.

The point of no return, when the positive feedback becomes unstoppable, could be very soon. It is now clear that there are two critical problems: the rapid loss of sea ice and the emergence of methane from a thawing seabed. They both call for rapid intervention to cool the region and to capture the methane.

John Nissen is chairman of the Arctic Methane Emergency Working Group

I bet he is the man for the job of spending the billions to do so.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 12, 2011

Adam Smith Against Sunbeam Bottling

Renewable energy: Vision or mirage? | Adam Smith Institute
It is difficult not to conclude that the official enthusiasm for renewables has more to do with the power of the green lobby than economics and energy security. Martin Livermore, joint author of the report, adds:

“For too long, we have been told that heavy investment in uneconomic renewable energy was not only necessary but would provide a secure future electricity supply. The facts actually show that current renewables technologies are incapable of making a major contribution to energy security and – despite claims to the contrary – have only limited potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

“Consumers have a right to expect government to place high priority on a secure, affordable energy supply. It seems that ministers have not yet realised the need to invest in more nuclear and gas generating capacity if the electorate is not to be badly let down.”

Posted by The Englishman at 6:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Scotland To Bottle Sunbeams To Sell Round The Globe

‘Scotland could earn billions selling green power to world’ - Environment - Scotsman.com

SCOTLAND could earn billions of pounds a year by exporting electricity if Holyrood was handed full powers over the country’s energy sector, says a leading think-tank.

But the claims were attacked by critics last night as “incoherent and confused”.

A report from Reform Scotland said that the nation could become a “world-leader” in trading green energy if it switched from nuclear power to renewables such as wind and sea power to generate electricity.

The report also said the Scottish Government should shut all nuclear power stations north of the Border and instead become the biggest exporter of low-carbon electricity in Europe.

However, the demands for full energy powers to be completely devolved from Westminster were questioned by Labour MP Tom Greatrex, who said the report failed to explain how Scotland would produce enough renewables with the “substantial subsidy” he said it received from the UK.

The row came just days after a report from multinational firm Citigroup said payments from the UK’s 27 million households and 4.5 million business consumers to help subsidise Scotland’s renewable power stations would end under independence...

Mr Blackett said the £2bn figure had been estimated by looking at Scotland’s expected electricity surplus, which he said could be sold to other nations across the globe.

The first man I saw was of a meagre aspect, with sooty hands and face, his hair and beard long, ragged, and singed in several places. His clothes, shirt, and skin, were all of the same colour. He has been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers. He told me, he did not doubt, that, in eight years more, he should be able to supply the governor's gardens with sunshine, at a reasonable rate: but he complained that his stock was low, and entreated me "to give him something as an encouragement to ingenuity, especially since this had been a very dear season for cucumbers." I made him a small present, for my lord had furnished me with money on purpose, because he knew their practice of begging from all who go to see them.

From Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

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December 11, 2011

Bishop Hill New eBook - Get it Today

- Bishop Hill blog - CMEP: the backstory

With Climategate 2.0 putting the story of the Cambridge Media and Environment Programme into the mainstream media, Bishop Hill thought it might be useful to tell the full story of how he stumbled across the partnership between Harrabin and Smith and how Tony Newbery and spent four years trying to uncover what it did.

The results are in a short ebook which he is making available today. Details of how to get hold of it are here.

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Global Warming Scare - The Shrink Is Here To Help

Paul Vallely: Climate change - what's your excuse? - Commentators - Opinion - The Independent

Only a psychologist can explain why most of us believe global warming is man-made yet limit our greenness to recycling

This is the real climate change conundrum. If the science is so convincing that humans are melting the ice, acidifying the oceans and making sea levels rise, why is everyone dragging their feet about doing something?

The way forward is in finding ways to change those underlying implicit values. At the personal level, Fair Trade labels pioneered a way to overcome the information problem; carbon footprinting needs to do the same. Campaigners should look to their vocabulary. Global warming sounds nice and cosy, as if we are all going to live in the Med. Planetary overheating might be a better term.

Without changes in our individual psyches there will not be real change at the political level that will turn aspirations into action. Psychology can help us to diagnose the problem; now we must bring it to bear on the solutions.

Call me old fashioned but I just want to get to the facts.

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December 9, 2011

Very Well Alone

Very%20Well%20Alone.jpg

This is David Low's famous cartoon from 1940 - it appeared after Sarko capitulated to Hitler (have I got that right?)

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Friday Night is Music Night (Happy Christmas Sailor Edition)

After lots of time away last year (214 days) -- planned for 7 week deployment exercise with other nations

Diverted to Libya and further operations

Back 9 Dec after 7½ months away - 225 days with 176 at sea

400 people onboard (at peak during the amphibious exercises just under 900 onboard but approx 650 during Op Ellamy)
Steamed just over 40,000 miles
Burned approx 6,000 tonnes of fuel
Operated 16 different type of aircraft off the deck

Realities of deploying:

15 babies born while the ship has been away (fathers did get home to see mum and baby)
5 people were sent home so they didn't miss their own weddings.
1 sailor whose son's third birthday is on homecoming. Family meeting ship

Ships company have missed:

Summer holidays.
Children's exam results
Children finishing school and starting university
The Padre missed his daughter's graduation.

The ship's company made a Christmas DVD when they heard they would be home for Christmas.

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Europe Fractures - Good News Morning

Britain on the outside of new eurozone treaty | The Times

The European Union fractured today at a rancorous summit when 23 countries signed up to a new euro-plus group with Britain on the outside after David Cameron wielded his veto.
Britain was left in a rump group including Hungary, Sweden and the Czech Republic as France and Germany led the rest into a more powerful inner core.
It means that the 17 eurozone countries, together with six who are outside the single currency, will agree the new rules in a separate inter-governmental agreement to be thrashed out by March.
Mr Cameron said Britain should be relaxed about the outcome because different parts of Europe already ran at different speeds. Perhaps it is a better outcome, he said, because Britain would never join the euro while many of the other countries outside the eurozone did.

A start of brighter times maybe?

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Jonathan Waxman The Fat Taxman

To avoid cancer, let the State dictate your diet | The Times (£)

So should the State dictate how many sausage butties I have for breakfast? Should the Health Minister be e-mailing me about my five-a-day broccoli and bananas? Yes and yes. Because my “freedom” has repercussions, not just on my health but on the rest of us. Private lifestyle choices have a tremendous effect on the public purse.
Not only do we need to ramp up the public health campaigns that encourage us to ditch the doughnuts. But we will have to go further and ban adverts for high-fat foods. It is wrong that manufacturers can produce mayonnaise with a 70 per cent fat content, so we should tax food laden with saturated fats.
Some will argue that this is an affront to personal freedom. But the people with the least ability to make informed choices are the poor, who happen also to be more likely to smoke or be fat. Food is a class issue and it must be made easier for the poorest in our country to eat well.
So let the State intervene and let us all take responsibility too. Be thinner, be healthier and maybe you will be happier in your later years.

Jonathan Waxman is Flow Foundation Professor of Oncology at Imperial College London and author of The Elephant in the Room

Happier if Waxman and his ilk constantly lecture, tax and ban?

I don't think so.

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Stupidest Bit of Journalism 2011 Award

Mary Dejevsky: Britain must join the euro – and Cameron is the man to do it - Mary Dejevsky - Commentators - The Independent

Tory Eurosceptics have one prejudice that unites them - xenophobic Little Englandism

MARY DEJEVSKY

Tory Eurosceptics make a lot of noise, and they have one widely shared prejudice that unites them – xenophobic little Englandism, masquerading as the high principle of national sovereignty. But their demands for Cameron to wield his veto on proposed EU treaty amendments contain one fatal flaw. The alternative to treaty amendments, as Cameron, Osborne and pretty much anyone else in government appreciates, is the two-speed Europe that would threaten London's primacy as a financial centre even more. So who is acting against the national interest now?

This could be Cameron's opening. Given the trouble he is going to be in anyway – with his sceptics, if he agrees to the proposed treaty amendments without agreeing to a referendum, and with business, if he effectively accepts Britain's relegation to a lower financial league – he should summarily end the ambiguity of the past year and embrace the only logical solution: Britain's belated entry into the euro.

With Liberal Democrats and Europhile Labour MPs on his side, he could win a majority in Parliament and campaign country-wide for a referendum "Yes" as the only true representative of the national interest.

With his PR skills and his one-nation Tory credentials, Cameron is one of the few British politicians who could convince mainstream voters to accept the euro.

A poster girl for idiotic journalism at its most inane - Commentators - Opinion - The Independent

It was a close run thing this year, but finally we have a winner: nominations for Stupidest Bit of Journalism 2011 are now closed.

It seems a shame that the contest ended last Wednesday as I think I have spotted a late entrant that would have been a strong contender.

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Know Your Baud Rate?

Older Britons 'know web jargon better than youngsters' - Telegraph

Some 72 per cent of over-55s are familiar with basic internet terminology such as "Wifi", "router", "cursor" and "bandwidth", compared to only 61 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds.

“Although youngsters have greater exposure to the internet through their communication habits and means of education, it is the older segment of the audience who are making the effort to get to grips with the net, and therefore learning more about how it all works," said Mr Ford.

A bit like cars - carburettors, chokes, tweaking the timing - why should young people learn about it? It now just works. It shows the maturing of the technology when it becomes part of the wallpaper and what it delivers rather than how it delivers it is what is important.

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Guardian Refutes Without Proof

Frozen Planet scientist refutes Nigel Lawson criticism | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Attacks on the science of the BBC's Frozen Planet series by climate sceptic Nigel Lawson were "patronising", wrong and the "usual tired obfuscation and generalisation", according to a leaked internal document written by one of the show's science advisers.

rebut/refute

When you rebut someone’s argument you argue against it. To refute someone’s argument is to prove it incorrect. Unless you are certain you have achieved success, use “rebut.”

The body of the article calls it a rebuttal - maybe the headline sub needs an education.

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December 8, 2011

Global Warming Turning Polar Bears Into Cannibals

BBC News - Polar bear 'cannibalism' pictured

It is an image that is sure to shock many people.

An adult polar bear is seen dragging the body of a cub that it has just killed across the Arctic sea ice.

Polar bears normally hunt seals but if these are not available, the big predators will seek out other sources of food - even their own kind.

... environmental photojournalist Jenny Ross...told BBC News.

".... there are increasing numbers of observations of it occurring, particularly on land where polar bears are trapped ashore, completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change."

Nothing to do with there being too many bears....

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Camilla Cavendish - Too Many Ghastly People To Blame

The Attenborough Guide to saving the planet | The Times (£)

Camilla Cavendish

I write about a wide range of subjects but I have never met such pure, hostile outrage as when I dared to suggest that a century of industrial revolution, population explosion and cutting down forests to grow food might be changing the composition of the atmosphere. People deeply resent the implication, often made explicit, that they are guilty in some way. Even Sir David will not be immune from attack: how dare people living in glass houses in Richmond-upon-Thames throw stones after flying thousands of miles for the BBC?
Men are drilling hundreds of miles under the earth to extract information about temperature changes; they are giving Inuit hunters satellite phones to monitor glaciers; they are living under artificial light for six months of the year in self-contained stations to study the complex ways in which the planet is warming. Yet mankind cannot rationally discuss the results of those studies. Human ingenuity stops at a psychological challenge that requires us to set the welfare of future generations against our own and requires us to take out costly insurance against a risk the magnitude of which cannot really be quantified....

Scepticism is healthy. It is also easy — shout that greens are exaggerating, politicians are prevaricating and scientists are partisan, rather than focus on what might be in store.
The irony is that interest has cooled in the warming planet just as the evidence is hardening on the changes taking place and when global carbon emissions have hit record levels, despite the recession in the West....

But soon it will be necessary to look the bogey of global warming in the face again. That means admitting the importance of limiting population growth. It means protecting the rainforests, which act as the planet’s lungs. It means not automatically sneering at plans for electric cars, nuclear power and such things...

Limiting population growth - the trendy new green answer. And how are we going to that? Obviously the greens can sneer at the Roman Catholics, in a non-condemning multicultural way. But do they then push for economic growth which we know cuts population growth, even in Catholic countries or do we revert to some of the old trusted methods from the last century?
Do tell.

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How much did he pay for the seat?

Rod Blagojevich sentenced to 14 years over attempted sale of Obama's senate seat - Telegraph

In a tearful plea for mercy before a Chicago court, Blagojevich said he had made "terrible mistakes" but insisted he did not know he was breaking the law when he sought $1.5m in bribes.
...The twice-elected Democrat, who came to power on a promise to sweep corruption from his state's politics, is the second consecutive Illinois governor to be sentenced to prison and the fourth to be jailed in the last 40 years.

Thank goodness that nice Mr Obama was unsullied by the sleaze of Chigago politics as he made his saintly ascension.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hansen - More Less Now

Father of climate change: 2C limit is not enough - Climate Change - Environment - The Independent

James Hansen, director of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, said there was a widespread misconception among international climate negotiators meeting in Durban, South Africa, that the 2C "safe" target would stop extreme changes.

He believes carbon dioxide concentrations – now at nearly 389 parts per million (ppm) – should be no higher than 350ppm to stop catastrophic events such as the melting of ice sheets, dramatic sea level rises and methane being released from beneath the permafrost.

"The target of 2C... is a prescription for long-term disaster," he said. "You can't say exactly what long term is but we are beginning to see signs of slow [climate] feedbacks beginning to come into play.

We are all doomed and going to die in the long term.

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December 7, 2011

Some Of The People All Of The Time

Climategate email scandal shatters public confidence in paying to go green - Click Green

The latest British Social Attitudes (BSA) report, launched today by the National Centre for Social Research, reveals a substantial decline in public concern for environmental issues and climate change.

The seminal study of the British public’s attitudes and values, published annually for almost 30 years, pinpoints economic hardship and climate change scepticism as the key factors contributing to the decline in Britain’s collective environmental conscience.

It finds people are increasingly reluctant to make personal financial sacrifices to protect the environment:

• Since 2000 the number of people prepared to pay higher prices to safeguard the environment has fallen, from 43 to 26 per cent. So too has the proportion willing to pay much higher taxes to protect the environment, from 31 to 22 per cent.

• Support has fallen among all income groups. Just over a third (36 per cent) of those in the highest earning households (in 2010 defined as those with household income of over £44,000) would be willing to pay higher prices to protect the environment, down from 52 per cent in 2000.

The report also finds that people are more sceptical about the credibility of scientific research on global warming:

• Under half the population (43 per cent) currently considers rising temperatures caused by climate change to be very dangerous for the environment, down from 50 per cent in 2000.

• The least likely to see climate change as dangerous were older people (28 per cent), those with no qualifications (28 per cent) and those on the lowest incomes (37 per cent).

• Over a third (37 per cent) think many claims about environmental threats are exaggerated, up from 24 per cent in 2000.

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Full Time Activist

Kumi Naidoo: 'I hope sanity will prevail with climate change, just as it did with apartheid' | Environment | guardian.co.uk

*What hurts me most is that our (South African) government keeps talking about concern about climate change, yet 2.5 million people do not even have electricity and the government is building two of the largest coal-fired power stations in the world."

I can't work out the logic here...

A few hours after Greenpeace activists invaded a business meeting in Durban on Monday, the organisation's international director, Kumi Naidoo, went to the Durban central prison where some of them had been taken...
"In one sense I am grateful to the apartheid regime. It made me a full-time activist. ...
Naidoo went on to run a children's home, and became a community organiser, where he was arrested several times and charged for violating the state of emergency, and civil disobedience. He ducked underground, worked in Zimbabwe and then spent four years in exile in England....Naidoo then spent 10 years "on the road", leading the Make Poverty History campaign and other civil society groups. ...He has been criticised for not being an environmentalist, but he responds that the struggle for human and climate justice is similar to that against apartheid....He says his daughter convinced him to go for the Greenpeace job. "She was in London and had seen me on the BBC. I was in the 19th day of a hunger strike and looking like a skeleton. She said: 'Dad, go for it. Greenpeace is about the future. It talks and it acts.' She even helped me fill in the form."

Maybe he should get his daughter to help him fill out his thoughts as well.

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Cameron Yeahbutno

Yes to treaty change — but only on our terms | The Times ( £)

David Cameron

Britain will sign up for fiscal discipline in the eurozone, but not at the expense of our industries or our independence

Tomorrow's budgie cage liner.

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EU Hoping For Recession

Durban climate blog - Day 8 - Environment - Scotsman.com

The EU has identified itself as leader on climate change for many years. However, concerns have been raised here in Durban about its failure to increase its ambition to cut emissions to 30 per cent by 2020 from the current meager 20 per cent - a commitment that no longer shows a position of real climate leadership.

At today’s EU press conference they were also forced to defend accusations that Europe was in fact divided on the issue of climate.

“It is incorrect to say that the EU is not united,” said EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard. “We have a publicly known mandate. There are some differences, but the position is united.”

A question by a reporter asking if Poland will use its Presidency of the EU to push Europe to adopt a 30% target was met with the answer from the Polish representative of: “There are only 25 days of the presidency left, including Christmas.”

So, I’m guessing that will be a ‘no’ then.

Perhaps it’s just as well we wait until Denmark takes hold of the EU presidency as they, like Scotland, have declared a target of at least 40 per cent cuts in emissions.

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December 6, 2011

Tis The Season To Celebrate Salty Nigella

nigella%20salted.jpg

NIGELLA: "MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH SALTED CARAMEL"- Stylist Magazine

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Ruling The Waves?

Argentina launches naval campaign to isolate Falkland Islands - Telegraph

Argentine patrol vessels have boarded 12 Spanish boats, operating under fishing licences issued by the Falkland Islands, for operating “illegally” in disputed waters in recent weeks....
The warning has been backed up in a letter to Aetinape, the Spanish fishing vessels association from the Argentine embassy in Madrid warning boats in the area that “Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and adjoining maritime spaces are an integral part of the Argentine territory.”


The Navy

Now that there are just 31 warships (destroyers and frigates and submarines), there is a mere one Rear Admiral per ship. Most of the ships are commanded at sea by Commanders or lower ranked officers. Very few Captains go to sea in command of a ship. We do still have 300 captains, however, to sail desks and fire up bureaucracies. That’s almost ten captains per warship. There are just two full Admirals and 7 Vice Admirals.
The Senior service is better equipped with Commodores, in case squadrons need to put to sea. There are 80 of those, or almost three per warship.

...We had the planes: Harriers, 74 of them. Now we’ve sold them to the US Marines, who love them. How much did we get for them? Just about enough to buy one of the F-35s destined for our fine new fleet carriers. With a ten year gap in Fleet Air Arm fixed wing operations…..

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Met Office Panic Forecast Climate Change Will Make It More Of The Same

Climate change: do you want the good news or the bad? - Climate Change - Environment - The Independent

Spain will be arid, with all of its agricultural land degraded. India will face a near-tripling of its flood risk. Virtually the whole population of Egypt will be hit with water shortages. But British farmers will find their crops much easier to grow – while their French counterparts will find it harder.

Such will be the varying fortunes of different countries by the end of the century if climate change is not brought under control, according to a new study by the Met Office

But Spain is already arid with goat ruined land, most of Egypt is a desert with not a lot of drinking water and parts of India flood, so what is new? The French farmers feel hard done by, quelle surprise!, and the British farmer gets more productive, situation normal.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Global Warming 51% Your Bacon Sarnie's Fault

Study claims meat creates half of all greenhouse gases - Climate Change - Environment - The Independent

In the 19-page report, Robert Goodland, a former lead environmental adviser to the World Bank, and Jeff Anhang, a current adviser, suggest that domesticated animals cause 32 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), more than the combined impact of industry and energy.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Olympic Sized Waste

Taxpayers could face hefty bill for Olympic overspend - UK - Scotsman.com

The 2012 London Olympics is in danger of overshooting its £9.3 billion budget unless "€œrigorous action"€ is taken to curb costs, a spending watchdog has warned.

Do you remember when the budget was a firm £2.4 billion, not a penny more...

London 2012 Olympics: budget for ceremonies doubled to over £80m - Telegraph

Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered that more money be spent on London's Olympic ceremonies after deciding that existing plans risked missing a unique opportunity to promote the UK.

Promote the UK or promote David Cameron?

Posted by The Englishman at 6:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 5, 2011

Libya Wants To Take Us Back To Frost Fairs

Durban climate talks: day eight diary | Environment | guardian.co.uk

... the new Libyan transitional government, with six delegates. .. wildly ambitious and clearly already trying to revolutionise thinking on climate change and science. It plans a monster geoengineering project that would not just cool the Earth by 6C and cut carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2021, it says, but would reverse global warming, provide power for 2 billion people, lower sea levels and restore the climate of 1750. Wow. How, you ask? Easily, says Muftah Elarbash, who describes himself as a Libyan environmental engineer who is on the delegation. He wants to build, at a cost of around $45 trillion, several dozen giant, 15km wide "venting towers" to create constant winds in the desert to drive massive windfarms which would then electrify the world. "Once that is done the maximum ambient temperature of 26.2C will be reached in 2020 - 6C below the catastrophic threshold temperature of 32". He reckons that by 2080 the climate will be back to that seen in 1750. If you think all that is a bit far-fetched, then Elarbash cites the recent Libyan revolution against Gaddafi. "Libya did mission impossible in eight months with the help of the world," he says. One note of warning: better not mention a return to the British climate of 1750. Horace Walpole, MP, records: "[The year] opened with most unseasonable weather, the heat being beyond what was ever known in any other country". Severe earthquakes and widespread flooding followed.

Posted by The Englishman at 9:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Insurers Calculate How To Increase Your Green Premium

RSA uses polar bear tie-up to help it understand climate risks - Telegraph

David Weymouth, group operations & risk director at RSA, is leading a group of the company's staff on a whistlestop tour of Canada, taking in Toronto, Winnipeg, Churchill and Calgary.

Mr Weymouth is keen to stress that the effects could soon be clearly evident much closer to home.
"Arctic ice is melting – what does that mean in reality? It could mean that the house I own, that is currently outside a flood plain, finds itself in one if the tide goes up another metre...The consequences are serious."

All that floating ice melting will push up the water level by about the square root of fuck all, unlike your insurance premium which will rise....

RSA saw net written premiums rise 11pc to £6.1bn in the nine months to September 30, while the group expects to deliver a combined ratio of less than 95pc in 2011 (a key measure of underwriting profitability, with figures under 100 reflecting a profit).

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An Orderly Collapse Is The Best We Can Hope For

Brian Monteith: Wave the euro goodbye, welcome two-tier Europe - Cartoon - Scotsman.com

Expect a reasonably orderly collapse of the euro as we know it, and the start of another currency, but only for some countries

The euro is dead. Long live the new euro. Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have spoken rather cryptically but their meaning is clear. If the euro was a movie its title would be The Dawn of the Walking Dead. It is the zombie of currencies waiting for its head to be lopped off so it cannot stagger around from one crisis in Greece to another in Italy and terrorising France and Germany. The truth is it never had a chance, it never had the right genes nor did it have the resistance to fight the contagion to which it has succumbed.

Don’t take my word for it; see what is happening: the softening up of the European public for what is about to befall the euro in their pockets, namely the currency’s orderly collapse and the creation of a new euro, for want of a better working title....

The game will be given away once the British Cabinet is briefed and Business Secretary Vince Cable puts his foot in it (again) by offering up an indiscretion about the pretence of it all – or it is leaked that he is in disagreement with his colleagues and might yet resign (again)....

The new intake of Tory MPs is much more sceptical towards EU institutions and it is no longer predominantly about the cost of membership. In a world of more globalised trade, fewer Tory MPs view an ailing Europe as the panacea to economic success; with Merkel’s planned tax blitz on the City of London emotions are rising and with Tony Blair having signed away Major’s Maastricht employment law concessions and much of Thatcher’s Fontainebleau rebate the EU looks more like a hindrance than a help when it comes to the UK escaping from the eurozone whirlpool.

If Europe is to become two-speed – one under the strait jacket of a German-dominated new euro currency and the other the mostly southern European and former communist states with their own currencies, MPs are beginning to think the unthinkable and ask would we be better off out of it altogether.

Nato? Yes. European Economic Area? Yes. Two-speed Europe? Hmm. When Jacques Delors helped design the euro it was meant to bring Europeans closer together – now its inevitable collapse looks like pushing them apart. The Anglo Saxons were right, and he should have listened.

Posted by The Englishman at 5:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Global Warming 74% Your Fault

Three-quarters of climate change is man-made : Nature News

Natural climate variability is extremely unlikely to have contributed more than about one-quarter of the temperature rise observed in the past 60 years, reports a pair of Swiss climate modellers in a paper published online today. Most of the observed warming — at least 74 % — is almost certainly due to human activity, they write in Nature Geoscience...
Knutti and Huber found that greenhouse gases contributed 0.6–1.1 °C to the warming observed since the mid-twentieth century, with the most statistically likely value being a contribution of about 0.85 °C. Around half of that contribution from greenhouse gases — 0.45 °C — was offset by the cooling effects of aerosols. These directly influence Earth's climate by scattering light; they also have indirect climate effects through their interactions with clouds.

The authors calculated a net warming value of around 0.5 °C since the 1950s, which is very close to the actual temperature rise of 0.55 °C observed over that period. Changes in solar radiation — a hypothesis for global warming proffered by many climate sceptics — contributed no more than around 0.07 °C to the recent warming, the study finds.

To test whether recent warming might just be down to a random swing in Earth’s unstable climate — another theory favoured by sceptics — Knutti and Huber conducted a series of control runs of different climate models without including the effects of the energy-budget parameters. But even if climate variability were three times greater than that estimated by state-of-the-art models, it is extremely unlikely to have produced a warming trend as pronounced as that observed in the real world, they found.


hokey%20stick%202.jpg

74% eh? That fuzzy graph looks, well, a bit fuzzy as to fit to my sceptical eye. But then I suppose we all see what we want to.

Posted by The Englishman at 5:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 4, 2011

Sunday Times Leader Blows Cold On Turbines

Wind farms will end up as expensive follies | The Sunday Times (£)

Our quest for green energy could result in future generations being left with thousands of useless wind turbines dotted around the countryside

....The programme of replacing and eventually expanding Britain’s nuclear power capability must go on.

The scores of wind farms are more worrying. Renewable energy technology is in its infancy. Huge breakthroughs in solar, wave and other renewables will be made in the coming years. Mr Huhne envisages a “technology race” in the 2020s with the cheapest winning. It is important that the race is not fixed before it starts. The current generation of wind farms may quickly become outdated and remain as expensive reminders of a rush to invest. New, more effective and less intrusive energy technologies are on the way. The risk is that the door is closed to them if the government throws in its lot with wind farms. For reasons of cost as well as aesthetics, we must avoid falling into that trap.

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Huhne Speeds Off To Futile Freebie

Millions of taxpayers money spent on tackling climate change abroad - Telegraph

The UK has spent more than £600 million on securing an international agreement on climate change and promoting green technologies in developing countries since April 2006, according to Government spending reports.
The figures do not include spending by the Foreign Office, which has an entire department dedicated to climate change, nor the amount given in aid to foreign countries for climate change projects by the Department for International Development.
The revelations come as Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, leads a 45-strong delegation to Durban, South Africa,

Durban Conference: The forgotten planet - Climate Change - Environment - The Independent

Despite apocalyptic warnings about temperatures reaching record levels and carbon emissions rising faster than ever, the delegates at the vast UN climate conference in South Africa this weekend could not be further from reaching a deal – or further from the thoughts of a global population gripped by economic fears.

More than 10,000 ministers, officials, campaigners and scientists from 194 countries are meeting in Durban in an attempt to counter the devastating effects of global warming....

I hope Huhne enjoys his holiday by the sea, I'd happily forgotten he was still around.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thar She Blows!

Whales, dolphins, seals: newcomers crowd into British waters in pursuit of their prey | Environment | The Observer

The waters around the British Isles could soon be home to several new species of mammals as a rising number of foreign visitors are being reported around our coasts. Experts believe the rare sightings of cetaceans from tropical climes could mean sea creatures are scouting for new territories to settle as global warming takes effect on sea temperatures....
But it is not just the whales moving north into warmer seas; we are also seeing mammals coming down from colder climes. Bearded seals from the Arctic have been seen off the coast of Fife, east Scotland, said Callan Duck, a senior research scientist at the Scottish Oceans Institute at St Andrews University.

"The change in climate and the food chains is definitely having an impact in the species we are seeing, but I think you have to remember to factor in how much better we are at spotting and recording these mammals. Good digital cameras are really accessible now, and so everybody has the opportunity to identify what they have seen – so the whole process of reporting sightings is much more accurate and efficient."

Panic over....

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December 2, 2011

Friday Night is Music Night (Military Wives Edition)

The official video released today.

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At St Pauls All Are Equal But Some Are More Equal Than Others

Animal Farm at St Paul’s Cathedral | The Times (£)

It was on Tuesday evening, after the campers had gathered for a meeting about money in their unofficial conference space, a Starbucks, that the equal people first came to blows with those who, to some minds, are more equal than others....
During Tuesday’s meeting, the camp’s first aid team and “tranquillity” team, which is responsible for welfare and night patrols, had asked the committee for £1,200 to buy equipment including walkie-talkies and trauma kits for treating stab and gunshot wounds....
Last week, the committee said that a drop in donations meant that it would have to be “stricter” about funding. The camp’s bank balance was £12,000, Ms Jones said yesterday, including £8,000 in an account held by the London Camp for Climate Change and £4,000 cash in a secure location off site. She added that about £25,000 has been donated to the camp by well-wishers since it formed seven weeks ago.
As tensions rose at the meeting, Ms Jones was implicitly accused of using the donations to fund flights to New York, prompting her to storm out in exasperation at the “wild rumours”. The first aiders and the tranquillity group stood down in protest at their treatment by the “elitist” committee, though both have since reformed....
...an anonymous whistleblower said: “About two weeks ago we had £21,000 in donations and there must have been more now but they said there would be no more money for the food tent or the tranquillity tent and that the legal team couldn’t use taxis or buy stationery....
She said the two main leaders were two veteran anarchists in their 40s or 50s, and three people in their 20s. “Paul [in his 40s or 50s] has written a charter which gives all the power to a tiny group of people,” she added. “We are all calling it the Animal Farm manifesto. They are always smartly dressed. I don’t know how they manage it when we are all camping, and they go off and have these secret meetings at Starbucks. A small number have decided they are more equal and are controlling the rest of us.”

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Hugo Dim But Nice

We’ve gone cold but the world is still warming | The Times (£)

Hugo Rifkind

Interest in the warming world has gone off the boil.
It’s not just the Government and the press that have lost the fire. It’s everybody. Yesterday’s climate campers have become today’s Occupy campers — the same people protesting against the same people, but for wholly different reasons.....
None of this is surprising. Climate has traditionally been cared about most passionately by people who don’t particularly have anything else to care about, such as children or Bono....
Few people manage to be wholly honest with themselves as to exactly why they think what they think about climate change. It maps too easily on to other agendas. Has anybody come across a climate sceptic who is also a passionate advocate of the euro? Where can they all be? With varying degrees of rationality, those who want small government cleave one way, those who want big government cleave the other.
The so-called sceptics for whom I have most time are those who leave the science alone and confine themselves to disputing that the economic benefits of drastic action outweigh the costs. I doubt they’re wholly right (the Stern Review five years ago suggested they weren’t) but at least they’re operating mental machinery for which they have a licence. This should be their time. Whole tranches of government environment policy seem hard to defend right now, from the vast, unrecoverable cost of off-shore wind turbines to the rationale of the subsidising the installation of new solar panels on to virtually anywhere flat where they can be nailed down.
In this, I suppose, the perennial protesters have a point. The economic cycle does make long-term action on climate change much harder. But if saving polar bears depends first on abolishing the boom and bust, then the poor sods might be in trouble.... If so, we’re in trouble. Because climate change isn’t like horse manure. By the time it’s at your door, it’s far too late.

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Friday Morning Wake Up Tune Request

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December 1, 2011

Can You Crack It?

Can you crack it?

cyber.png

My OCR makes that:

eb 04 af c2 bf a3 81 ec 00 01 00 00 31 c9 88 0c
0c fe c1 75 f9 31 c0 ba ef be ad de 02 04 0c 00
d0 c1 ca 08 8a 1c 0c 8a 3c 04 88 1c 04 88 3c 0c
fe c1 75 e8 e9 5c 00 00 00 89 e3 81 c3 04 00 00
00 5c 58 3d 41 41 41 41 75 43 58 3d 42 42 42 42
75 3b 5a 89 d1 89 e6 89 df 29 cf f3 a4 89 de 89
d1 89 df 29 cf 31 c0 31 db 31 d2 fe c0 02 1c 06
8a 14 06 8a 34 1e 88 34 06 88 14 1e 00 f2 30 f6
8a 1c 16 8a 17 30 da 88 17 47 49 75 de 31 db 89
d8 fe c0 cd 80 90 90 e8 9d ff ff ff 41 41 41 41

If you want a job as a spook...

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Too Bleeding Right

Swearing can help to relieve pain - Health - Scotsman.com

SWEARING can provide effective relief from pain – but not if people swear many times a day, according to research.

Keep those words for special occasions for real impact. I could have told you that but then I didn't get a fucking grant.

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Pretty Faces Against Climate Change

Famous faces expected at the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference in Durban - Telegraph

Angie, Leo, Arnie and Bono - If there was an opening of a paper bag with a press photgrapher they would be there. And that is all the Celebs the Telegraph can think of. Not very impressive. Is the glamour going out of the movement?

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