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January 31, 2012

The Horrors of Climate Change in the UK

Climate Change Risks

An interesting graphic from Defra -

Less people dying in winter, higher yields of grass, grain and sugar beet. More tourism and less energy usage. And lots of lovely tree growth in Scotland.

On the downside; flooding, mental health problems from flooding, flood damge, trouble getting insurance against flooding and public water supply deficits...(Presumably all that extra water cant be used to fill reservoirs), Lower summer river flows, sewers overflowing, wildfires due to warmer drier conditions, more flooding damage.

Loss of staff hours due to high internal business temperatures, overheating of buildings and increased summer mortality. If only someone would invent air conditioning.

And beech trees yield may decrease.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 30, 2012

A Lesson eBay Is Teaching Everybody

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January 29, 2012

The Wind Farm, The Professional Archaeologists And The Undiscovered Inconvenient Monuments

Mynydd Y Betws wind farm stone row - the discoverer's tale « The Heritage Journal

... a look at an area of moorland which had been fenced off at Bancbryn as part of the wind farm development on Mynydd Y Betws. This development has caused considerable local disquiet for a number of reasons and some of those actively campaigning against the wind farm wondered whether the archaeological work in advance of the development had been carried out properly.  .... There are currently three scheduled monuments on Bancbryn and we decided to head straight there. What we found certainly justified the trip. Within moments we had identified several sites including a number of stoney mounds,  a few hollows,  a line of pits with associated banks and leading into and returning out from the fenced off area - a line of stones.  In amongst these archaeological features but significantly not actually touching any of them were the scars of archaeological trenches indicating that excavation had indeed happened but appeared to have missed all the visible archaeology.  ...

The 700m long stone row is probably the most important of the features we found and as it is associated with over 30 cairns some of which are kerbed it seems to form the focus of an incredibly important ceremonial landscape where the form of space between the numerous earthwork and built elements are as integral and important as the earthworks themselves....

Helen contacted the local archaeological trust to inform them of our discoveries.  They were initially very dismissive of our claims saying that the hillside had been extensively studied.  Eventually they agreed to accompany us on a visit and a date was set. On the morning of Monday 16th January we met up on site.  We asked if an earthwork survey had been conducted as part of the archaeological evaluation and were told that they had not felt it necessary since the "€˜desk based" assessment had not indicated there was a need. We expressed our dismay at this decision and we then proceeded to the site.  We showed the DAT officer the features we had identified and he explained to us that they had not been found previously because the area had been under thick vegetation. ...

... for the sake of clarity let’s just accept the explanation that this area adjacent to three scheduled monuments was covered in a high sward of vegetation making it impossible to see the archaeology hiding beneath. If this was the case why on earth was the vegetation not cleared? After all a brand new road was going to be built which was to be capable of taking lorries each weighing over 100 tons, this was serious civil engineering not some puny track for a bloke on a pushbike then. Surely construction works on this scale would have a somewhat negative impact on any archaeology which might have inconveniently stumbled in the way of such progress....when one is in the ‘last chance saloon’ as archaeologists we must remember anything we miss will be lost for ever, so surely we should try extra hard to record everything that is visible and ensure that the site record is as complete as humanly possible? It is difficult to believe that it is acceptable in any way to squander such a chance by not carrying out an earthwork survey first and then during the works failing to ensure that the archaeology is even looked at properly. If such work had been carried out in this instance and had been looked at, it is tempting to speculate the various features would have been spotted immediately. After all it took us less than 5 minutes to spot four separate monuments. ....

The other great sadness is that the archaeological profession in Wales has seen fit to ignore us. Finding archaeology would appear to be a crime. Community Archaeology – I think not. First they refused to accept that you could have found something then they exclude you from the process – perhaps because you questioned the strategies which precipitated the situation. ...

Perhaps this experience is considered a threat? Who knows – we certainly don’t. Perhaps it was because we were accompanied by wind farm observers? Perhaps it’s because we live in the area and overlook the hill? Or might it be that they would rather not have admitted to missing such an obvious and potentially important archaeological monument? Could it be a combination or all of these things or perhaps something else entirely appropriate?....

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January 27, 2012

Friday Night is Music Night (Drums Edition)

I have now got a drum set, the youngest Englishette is taking lessons - I would just love to be able to do the intro...

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Olympics Cost £24 Billion And Rising

Olympics over budget | Latest News | London 2012 | Sky Sports Olympics

The true cost of the London 2012 Games for the UK taxpayer comes in at over £12 billion, £2.7 bn more than the 9.3bn budget, a Sky investigation has revealed......

The additional money calculated by Sky does not include extra counter terrorism funding of £1.131bn being allocated to the police despite a ministerial statement saying "much of this capacity will be devoted to the Olympics in 2012". Nor does it include the £4.4bn budgets of the security and intelligence services.

It also doesn't take into account the opportunity cost of having the majority of the UK police force working on the Games instead of fighting crime elsewhere. On peak days 12,000 police officers will be policing the Games.

In addition Sky's total misses out the £6.5bn spent on transport upgrades which have been brought forward due to the Olympic Games and could have been cancelled as part of the Conservative government's spending cuts if it wasn't for the Olympics.

If we had counted these figures, the Olympic spend would have totalled well over £24 billion, more than double the current Olympic budget and ten times the original calculation....

Following previous Olympic Games, nobody has ever been able to accurately predict the final cost and it won't be until 2013 when we can predict whether any increased tourism, economic benefits and the returns from the tenancy or sale of the Olympic venues and Olympic village will be a worthwhile investment.

I think I can safely predict now whether it will be a worthwhile investment, the answer is a big fucking NO.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:45 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 26, 2012

Fried Salmon

BBC News - Scientists measure climate impact on Wiltshire salmon

Scientists are measuring the impact of climate change on salmon and trout populations at a nature reserve in Wiltshire.

Four temperature monitors have been installed along a stretch of the River Wylye at the Langford Lakes nature reserve, near Salisbury.

Scientists from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust will take readings every 15 minutes, helping them to analyse any benefits cooler water has in encouraging more salmon to swim upstream and spawn.

Over the past five years, the number of salmon swimming up the river at Knapp Mill, where the Salisbury Avon enters the sea, has halved.

"If this continues, the salmon could be extinct in Wiltshire in just three years,"

Knap Mill Temperature Page gives the detail of the souring temperatures that have caused the problem...

temp.jpg Click for larger

Can't see it myself....

Posted by The Englishman at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CCRA Predictions

UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) ォ Defra

The Government published the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) on 25 January 2012, the first assessment of its kind for the UK and the first in a 5 year cycle.

All the doom and gloom you could ever want - we are going to drown under a blazing sun unless we follow the Glorious Five Year Plan, I think. I'm guessing because the documents don't want to download this early in the morning. Maybe the civil servant in charge is working from home and is using his broadband to look at the effect of hot wet weather on the clothing needs of young women as they will suffer most from climate change and the institutional inbuilt gender inequality of Britain in the future.

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

Pretty Colours

Posted by The Englishman at 6:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 24, 2012

Acid Test

Rising levels of acidity in oceans revealed - Environment - Scotsman.com

In some regions, acidity rose faster in the last two centuries than it did in the previous 21,000 years, a study has shown.

Measuring changes in ocean acidity is difficult because it varies naturally between seasons, years and regions.

Direct observations only date back 30 years, not long enough to reveal a meaningful trend.

So observations reveal nothing, must be proxies and models then.

Posted by The Englishman at 10:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 23, 2012

Economics Made Simple - 1 Value

Hiker lost in blizzard for two days burned money to keep warm - Telegraph

Yong Chun Kim, 66, of Tacoma, who was climbing Mount Rainier in Washington State, said he had fire starters with him and first burned some leaves. Then he started burning personal items: his socks and then $1 and $5 bills from his wallet.

$5 bills were worth the same as dry leaves...

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January 22, 2012

"Climatic debt" - The New Problem

Animals can't keep up with climate change - Climate Change - Environment - The Independent

Animal and insect species in Europe are losing the fight to keep up with rapid changes in climate in a new phenomenon dubbed "climatic debt", according to an international study.
The findings saw birds lag behind their normal climate zones, on average by 212 kilometres and butterflies by 135km.

Some birds, such as the black and white pied flycatcher, are unable to adapt to the encroaching warmth and are not naturally moving north to cooler areas, according to experts writing in the journal Nature.

Numbers of the pied flycatcher have halved in the UK since 1995 – researchers believe the birds are not breeding as prolifically as they used to because of rising temperatures.

What UK rising temperatures?

Others, like the golden plover, are in danger of extinction as traditional food sources disappear. The plover's main food source – the cranefly – cannot survive in warmer temperatures.

The population crash in craneflies or Daddy Longlegs was because of a dry autumn in 2007 - they need damp soil to lay their eggs in. The population has largely recovered in subsequent years.

Experts are now suggesting some threatened species should be moved to new climate spaces, before they become extinct.

"It's something that's never been an issue before," said Mr Brereton. "Do we let the species become extinct or could we play God a bit and move them into places they've never occurred before?"

Why do I feel that a bird that can't be bothered to fly north a few miles isn't a problem we should worry about?

There are more important instances of climatic debt to worry about...

Posted by The Englishman at 7:12 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Unappetising Idea

Race to serve up artificial chicken for a $1m prize | Science | The Observer

. So far all the meat "made" has been nearly colourless, tasteless and lacking texture. Scientists may have to add fat and even lab-grown blood and colourants.

Professor Julie Gold, a biological physicist at Chalmers technical university in Gothenburg, Sweden, said it could take years before commercialisation. "There is very little funding. What it needs is a crazy rich person."

She should have married Macca...

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January 20, 2012

Friday Night is Music Night (RIP Etta Edition)

Etta James: Soul legend dies in California - Telegraph

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GM Algae Biofuel Hope

GM microbe breakthrough paves way for large-scale seaweed farming for biofuels | Environment | guardian.co.uk

the UK government envisages 400 km sq of offshore seaweed farms in its long-term energy planning.

The new microbe research, published today in the leading journal Science, represents a "critical" technological breakthrough, but the challenge of making the approach commercially viable remains.

"Natural seaweed species grow very fast - 10 times faster than normal plants - and are full of sugars, but it has been very difficult to make ethanol by conventional fermentation," said Yannick Lerat, scientific director at Centre d'Etude et de Valorisation des Algues, the algae study centre in France. "So the new work is a really critical step. But scaling up processes using engineered microbes is not always easy. They also need to prove the economics work."

That popping sound you hear is the heads of some of leading Green commentators exploding as they try to work out if this is a good thing or not.

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

Climate Change means more badgers fewer hedgehogs

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: More badgers and fewer hedgehogs. Coincidence? I don't think so - Nature Studies - Nature - The Independent

In the wild, animal numbers naturally fluctuate. The marsh fritillary butterfly, for example, can virtually vanish from some of its colonies in certain years, only to be present two or three years later in numbers that are overwhelming (this is caused by cycles of parasite infestation, and something similar happens with red grouse).

Generally, though, animal numbers have evolved to be in balance, both with their food supply and with other species. Predators cannot eat all the prey, as they themselves would die out. So when an event comes along which disturbs this balance, it's worth examining. One such is the steep decline of one of our best-loved mammals, the hedgehog.

In the past 20 years or so, hedgehogs have disappeared from much of Britain. This has not really registered yet in the public consciousness, but it is an astounding phenomenon. There were an estimated 30 million hedgehogs in Britain in the 1950s, but by the 1990s this was thought to be down to about 1.5 million, and recently the rate of decline has grown even steeper....

....my own impression – not worth a row of beans, scientifically, of course – is that the link is obvious and direct, and I take this from my experience of my local patch, as birders would say, which happens to be the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew ...

Say what you like: one animal has come, the other has gone. I can't see a way round it. In terms of our startling hedgehog disappearance, badgers seems to be The Cause That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

Yes - he is on the right lines here... of course he could have looked up a scientific paper to bolster his case.

“The abundance of hedgehogs varied in direct relation to the density of badger setts as a single variable. Absence of hedgehogs from all but a few isolated pockets in a site was predicted at densities of =2.27 badger setts per 10 km2” - http://www.jstor.org/pss/5262

But then maybe science isn't really his thing...

Badger ... numbers have increased enormously, almost certainly because of the warmer winters brought about by climate change.

Or maybe because they are a protected species...

Posted by The Englishman at 6:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Efficiency and Renewables aren't the same thing

Sandy Dobbie: Science can turn tide in favour of renewables - Scotsman.com

RECENT images of wind turbine towers being blown over or catching fire during the storms may have alarmed advocates of wind energy. Scotland has ambitious climate change targets, but we should look beyond wind and waves for answers.

Science has a key role to play in aiding our transition to a low carbon economy. Chemistry helps us use resources more efficiently, whether through better insulation, lighter vehicles, renewable fuels, or better batteries. ...In short, chemistry tackles climate change issues at source by increasing efficiency.

The headline writer makes a too common mistake energy efficiency is nothing to do with renewables. It could be even argued that if we achieve massive improvements of efficiency it decreases the need for renewables as our existing sources of power will go further and do less damage.

I can't blame the headline writer too much as it seems DECC makes the same mistake.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 18, 2012

Olympic Corruption

Tom Miers: Olympic fail on every level - Scotsman.com

The Games have been corrupted by government money, lack of talent and little public interest in the events

Much is written about the hubris of world sporting bodies such as the International Olympic Committee, with its pompous officials taking over the streets, hotels and even advertising hoardings of London. But the real story is the moral bankruptcy of the tournament itself.

Olympic participation has become little more than a government vanity project. Not just for the hosts, with their bribes and their billion-pound structures. But for all the big competing nations, with their costly pursuit of meaningless medals.....

money, voluntarily given, reflects society’s judgment of the merit of sport. Games like football, tennis, cricket and rugby are wealthy because they are popular.

In the Olympic Games, this dynamic is turned on its head. The reward for success is medals, and governments have come to the conclusion that Olympic medals bestow national prestige. The irony is that the easiest way to obtain medals is to target sports that are uncompetitive, either because they have little popular following (and so few participants), or are difficult and expensive to organise conventionally. Another way of putting it is that Olympic reward goes to sports that have little value in the estimation of the public.

Shamefully, Britain is particularly guilty of this tendency....

Britain has simply targeted Olympic events which attract little interest in an effort to boost its medal tally.

The Olympic Games are becoming increasingly dominated by such sports. There are ten different sailing events, in various types of boat, and you can win cycling medals on a BMX, on a mountain bike, in a velodrome or on the road. Some of these sports are beyond the reach of most of people in Britain, let alone the developing world.
For the sports that people ascribe real value to – football, boxing, golf, rugby, tennis, basketball – Olympic success is held to be unimportant. So with the exception of a handful of athletic events which demonstrate pure physical prowess, the rest of Olympic competition is corrupt in sporting terms because it reflects neither talent nor public enthusiasm.

What is worse, the games are corrupt in moral terms because they rely on the coercive deployment of resources by government. Whether or not we like watching people hop, skip and jump, we are forced, on pain of going to jail, to subsidise the participants and organisation that surrounds them.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

When Do Humans Come Into Being?

Football club faces eviction due to death of King Edward VII's last grandchild - Telegraph

A town football club faces eviction from its ground under an eccentric clause which stated the lease would expire 21 years after death of King Edward VII's last grandchild.

... the wealthy local woman who bequeathed the ground to the club in 1922 included a condition which said the land should pass back to the town 21 years after the death of King Edward's last grandchild, who became King Olav V of Norway.
The deadline, which passed yesterday, has proven controversial and the debate over the club’s future is far from settled.

The key clause stipulates that the 21-year limit should run from the day of the death of the last descendent who was “in being” at the time it was signed.
The club’s lawyers point out that the 7th Earl of Harewood, George Lascelles, had been conceived and was a few months from birth at that stage and therefore, they argue, can be considered to be “in being”.
Lord Harewood, a cousin of the Queen, died aged 88 in July last year, which, according to the club’s argument, means the lease should run for a further 20 years....

Conception or birth or somewhere in between? It's not just football clubs that want to know.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Indy Channels Her Maj On The Olympics

Christina Patterson: Let's turn this party in the park into something that will last - Christina Patterson - Commentators - The Independent

The Queen....might also have said that it would be quite hard for her jubilee celebrations not to be "overshadowed" by a party that was meant to cost £3bn, and was now costing £9bn, and looked set to cost even more. And that she understood that the bid to host the Olympics was made at a time when the financial climate looked quite different, but that £9bn seemed like quite a lot of money to spend when there didn't seem to be much of it around.

She might have added that the extra £30m that David Cameron had recently promised for the opening ceremony was also quite a lot, and so was the extra £39m he had promised to "boost tourism", which she'd understood that the Olympics were meant to do on their own. And that while she too liked the idea that the Olympics would, as Cameron suggested, "lift Britain out of recession", the evidence showed that they wouldn't. That the Olympics had, for example, damaged tourism in Australia, and in China, and that whatever they'd done to the Greek economy, it didn't seem to have been all that good.

She might have said that she wasn't that much of an expert on public transport, and that it was no skin off her nose because she never had to sit in traffic jams anyway, but that the plans for getting an awful lot of people from one part of the city to another, which included special lanes for VIPs, which might well piss quite a lot of people off, seemed to be largely based on keeping fingers crossed. And that that double-decker bus we'd had at the opening ceremony in Beijing, with that girl from that TV talent show, didn't suggest that opening ceremonies were things we always did all that well.

But she might also have wanted to remind her Government that what the Olympics was meant to be about wasn't traffic, or security, or property prices, or shopping centres, or even making money, but human beings who had worked very, very hard to show that there was something they could do very, very well. .....

Posted by The Englishman at 6:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2012

Peer Review Holy Cow

The Parachute: Holy Cow, Peer Review

Peer review made sense in an era when publishing necessarily claimed expensive resources, such as paper to print on, physical distribution, shelf space in libraries, et cetera. One had to be careful and spend those resources on articles that were likely to be worth it, and even then restrict what was spent on individual articles by imposing maximum lengths and the like. Also, finding the articles worth reading was difficult and the choices and guidance journal editors and editorial boards made were welcome.

How all this has changed with the advent of the Web. There is hardly any need for restrictions on the number and length of articles anymore, and searching – not to mention finding – articles that are relevant to the specific project a researcher is working on has become dramatically easier. As a result, the filtering and selecting functions of journals have become rather redundant.

“All very well, but what about the quality assurance that peer review provides?” Well, it is debatable that peer review does that reliably, though I’m willing to accept that it might. However, given its costs, can we really not deal with a lack of this quality assurance in the light of the benefits of universal and inexpensive Open Access ....

Posted by The Englishman at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Free The Data

Academic publishers have become the enemies of science | Dr Mike Taylor | Science | guardian.co.uk

The USA's main funding agency for health-related research is the National Institutes of Health, with a $30bn annual budget. The NIH has a public access policy that says taxpayer-funded research must be freely accessible online. This means that members of the public, having paid once to have the research done, don't have to pay for it again when they read it – a wholly reasonable policy, and one with enormous humanitarian implications because it means the results of medical research are made freely available around the world.

A similar policy is now being adopted in the UK. On page 76 of the policy document Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth the government states that it is "committed to ensuring that publicly funded research should be accessible free of charge". All of this is great for the progress of science, which has always been based on the free flow of ideas, the sharing of data, and standing on the shoulders of giants.

And not just for health related papers.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Actual Nanny State

Nanny state makes a meal of child food advice with 80-page guide | The Times

...the Prime Minister has now endorsed an 80-page guide on how to feed toddlers, including “actual size” diagrams of the perfect plastic plate.
Designed for nursery staff who have already received two years’ training, the guide contains useful, if rather basic, information on why it is good for children to eat fruit (for vitamins) and why they should not eat too much sugar (it rots their teeth).
There is a helpful reminder not to feed shark to toddlers, along with exhaustive analysis of the correct portion size, illustrated with pages of thumbnail photos. For those who have forgotten what meat actually is, the definition is there in the “glossary of terms”, which also includes an explanation of the words “week” and “avoid”.
For a Government seeking to cut form-filling, there is a surprising amount of it in the Eat Better, Start Better guide, including a menu planning checklist, with 78 boxes to fill in....

The link seems not to be working this morning so I can't find out why we shouldn't be feeding sharks to toddlers...

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January 16, 2012

On This Day In History Climate Disaster

Grote Mandrenke - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The (1st) Grote Mandrenke (/ɣroːtə mʌndrɛŋkə/, Low Saxon for "Great Drowning of Men"], lit.: great man-watering) was the name of a massive southwesterly Atlantic gale (see also European windstorm) which swept across England, the Netherlands, northern Germany, and Schleswig around January 16, 1362, causing at minimum 25,000 deaths.[1] January 16 is the feast day of St. Marcellus (pope Marcellus I), hence the terrible storm tide is also called the "2nd St. Marcellus flood". The "1st St. Marcellus flood" which drowned 36,000 men mainly in West Friesland and Groningen (today provinces in the north of the Netherlands) took place on the same day (January 16) in 1219.
An immense storm tide of the North Sea swept far inland from the Netherlands to Denmark, breaking up islands, making parts of the main land into islands, and wiping out entire towns and districts, such as Rungholt on the island of Strand in North Frisia.
This storm tide, along with others of like size in the 13th century and 14th century, played a part in the formation of the Zuider Zee, and was characteristic of the unsettled and changeable weather in northern Europe at the beginning of the Little Ice Age.

And not an SUV to blame or taxpayer to mulct....

Posted by The Englishman at 7:23 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Jury Trial Attack

Right to jury trial faces axe in post-riot reforms | The Times

The right to trial by jury for thousands of offences would be scrapped under plans being considered by ministers, The Times has learnt.
The measure is being examined for inclusion in a White Paper next month aimed at learning the lessons of the riots last year. It would mean up to 70,000 cases a year, most of them for minor theft, being heard by magistrates rather than by a judge and jury in Crown Court. Eighty per cent of theft trials involve values of less than £200.
The saving would be huge, with a hearing before magistrates costing an average of £900 a day compared with £3,000 a day in Crown Court. But more crucially, supporters say it would relieve the workload on the overstretched Crown Court, freeing it to deal more swiftly with murders, rapes and serious assaults....

John Fassenfelt, JP, chairman of the Magistrates’ Association, said that it was increasingly hard to justify trial by jury for offences such as the “theft of a bottle of Coca-Cola” when cases are now talking an average of 22 weeks to come to Crown Court trial and up to a year for some of the most serious cases.....

It might only be the “theft of a bottle of Coca-Cola” to him but it is my reputation, my work, my volunteer duties, my self-worth and my whole identity if I am branded a thief. It is also my Rights, but then they come cheap these days.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Euro-Tory Wants Money For Blue Carbon

Struan Stevenson: Blue carbon is key to fighting climate change - Cartoon - Scotsman.com

...An international conference kicks off in Brussels this week looking at how we can put in place the building blocks for a thriving global blue carbon system. It will look at practical ways in which we can reduce the rate of marine and coastal ecosystem degradation. That means carbon credits for CO2 sequestered in blue carbon sinks must be traded, just as they are with green carbon, while a global blue carbon fund to pay for the protection and enhancement of remaining marine ecosystems must be established.

Blue carbon lies at the very heart of the global warming debate. Over the past 70 years we have lost around 20 per cent of the habitats that play this vital role in CO2 reduction. That trend has to be reversed. Our survival depends on it.

• Struan Stevenson is a Conservative Euro MP for Scotland and President of the European Parliament’s Climate Change, Biodiversity & Sustainable Development Intergroup

I'm a little confused how we have lost 20% of the oceans where CO2 dissolves in to the water, becoming Blue Carbon, or how we trade this, maybe afte I have watched some Alka-Seltzer bubbles all will become clear.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2012

Climate Change Radicals

Scientific breakthrough in climate change study - Environment - Scotsman.com

A LITTLE-UNDERSTOOD molecule in the atmosphere could play an important role in reducing pollution and global warming, scientists believe.

Criegee biradicals were first hypothesised in the 1950s but have only now been isolated and measured.

New research shows they act as powerful “clean up” agents, neutralising atmospheric pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide.

A byproduct of the process is the creation of aerosol droplets that “seed” planet-cooling clouds.

The molecules, known as chemical “intermediates”, should in theory have a significant influence on climate. However, until now they have never been directly observed.

Don't go upsetting the settled science....

Posted by The Englishman at 6:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

HMRC - Unfair And Unlawful

Exposed: Taxman's 'illegal' war against Britain's small businesses - Tax - Money - The Independent

The Government is unlawfully using late-payment penalty fines against tens of thousands of small firms who do not file their tax returns on time as a "cash-generating scheme" for the Exchequer.

In a damning judgment, the Tax Tribunal has ruled that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs is operating a policy of "deliberately" waiting months before alerting businesses that have not filed their tax returns so that late- payment fines stack up.

If upheld on appeal, the judgment could result in between 50,000 and 100,000 firms being able to claim refunds on tens of millions paid in fines.

"It is no function of the state to use the penalty system as a cash-generating scheme," said the judge, Geraint Jones, QC. "We have no doubt that any right-thinking member of society would consider that to be unfair and falling very far below the standard of fair dealing expected of an organ of the state."

A couple of months ago HMRC suddenly "remembered" that I had filed late in 2004, 2006 and 2007 - They couldn't provide any details but demanded I sent them several thousand pounds. They claimed there was a CCJ against my firm even though a search through the official records fails to find one. Obviously the court records must be wrong because they "know" there is one.
I haven't paid them anything yet...

Posted by The Englishman at 6:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 12, 2012

Witchcraft Trials

No fracking in home counties, village residents tell oil company | Environment | The Guardian

"This is how they burn witches I guess,"

I'm not sure dwelling in a toxic wasteground wouldn't be preferable to living amongst such ignorant bigotry.

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Please reblog.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 11, 2012

Not Hunting Again in 2012


The annual meet of the local Non-Hunt was at The Castle yesterday - a fine morning, so much more civilised than the bad old days.

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

Hospital Food - The Spend

Hospitals feed patients on 90p a meal, official figures show - Telegraph

At least 30 hospital trusts, almost one in 10 of the total, spend less than £5 a day on breakfast, lunch and dinner for each person in their care.
The statistics, placed in the House of Commons Library this week, drew allegations from patients'€™ groups that nutritional standards are slipping as managers strive to save money....

The Western Sussex hospitals trust said that its spending figure was so low because of disparities in the way the NHS data had been collected. Paul Hatcher, the trusts’s director of estates said: “Unlike other trusts, the figure represents only the cost of ingredients, and not the total spent on sourcing, preparing, cooking and serving food and drink. If those costs are included our figure would be around £8 per patient, per day.”
Email The Telegraph with your experience of hospital food: hospitalfood@telegraph.co.uk

So if you buy in chips then your spend will be higher than if you buy in new potatoes and lightly boil them and serve with butter and a sprinkle of parsley. As ever stats can deceive but the underlying state of hospital food is a scandal, as we know.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Unhappy Crying Babies Recommended

Breast is still best – even if it does lead to tantrums - Health - Scotsman.com

Breastfed babies cry more, laugh less and generally have “more challenging temperaments” than formula-fed infants, a study has found.

But mothers should learn to cope with such behaviour, rather than reach for the bottle, according to researchers. Infant irritability was said to be a natural part of the “dynamic communication” between mothers and babies, while bottle-feeding was akin to “comfort eating” – producing quieter and apparently more content babies who may be over-nourished and putting on weight too rapidly.

The findings may help explain why so many mothers give up on breastfeeding after a short time, despite the strong health message that “breast is best” for growing infants.

Study leader Dr Ken Ong, from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, urged mothers to persevere despite the difficulties and seek help if they need it.

I'm sure HE is all in favour of screaming babies from the comfort of his lab. Mothers and fathers maybe more pragmatic and shouldn't be made to feel guilty for making their babies happy.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 9, 2012

Windy Gas Emissions

Wind power is expensive and ineffective at cutting CO2 say Civitas - Telegraph

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent

A study in the Netherlands found that turning back-up gas power stations on and off to cover spells when there is little wind actually produces more carbon than a steady supply of energy from an efficient modern gas station.
The research is cited in a new report by the Civitas think tank which warns that Britain is in danger of producing more carbon dioxide (CO2) than necessary if the grid relies too much on wind.
Wind turbines only produce energy around 30 per cent of the time. When the wind is not blowing - or even blowing too fast as in the recent storms - other sources of electricity have to be used, mostly gas and coal.
However it takes a surge of electricity to power up the fossil fuel stations every time they are needed, meaning more carbon emissions are released....

A "surge of electricity", or a surge in fuel usage? I wonder if My Little Chipmonk has transcribed the press release correctly, but whatever the point stands. But the lovely Louise finds someone to argue against it.

But Dr Gordon Edge, Director of policy at the lobby group RenewableUK, said much of the information was gathered from “anti-wind farm cranks”.
He explained that modern gas plants are not required to provide back-up for wind. Instead, wind is "integrated" into the existing system to act as a fuel saver, enabling the UK harness a free electricity source from the weather when it’s available. Some additional investment is required, but Dr Edge said “credible analysis” makes clear it will cost less for consumers than relying on fossil fuels, that are rising in price all the time.

So no backups needed for when the wind doesn't blow....hmmm.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:22 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Boyle on Groupthink Law

Bigotry law is anti-working class, says comedian Frankie Boyle - Politics - Scotsman.com

“It’s basically an attack on freedom of speech. It’s the ruling classes telling the working classes what to say and think.

“Will middle-class rugby fans be arrested for singing anti-English songs? The idea is laughable.

“Supporting Rangers, being in an Orange Lodge, that whole life – that’s a valid culture. Supporting Celtic, waving a tricolour because your parents are Irish – that’s a valid culture.

“You can’t come in and say that the opinions those people hold, the songs they sing, the language they use, is inferior and invalid.”

In the interview published in The List magazine, he added: “An anthropologist studying an aboriginal society would be really careful about making those judgments, but here we have a ruling class that has internalised colonial attitudes and says, ‘ban songs, ban words’.”

And it's not just the working classes who are being ordered what to think.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Watch Your Drapes

Invading cannibal ladybirds take over Britain's homes - Nature - Environment - The Independent

Asian interlopers exude chemical that could ruin your curtains

LadyBIRDS not LadyBOYS - I was worried there for a minute....

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

January 8, 2012

Olympic Park "Huge Drain On The Taxpayer"

Londoners could shoulder £231million Olympic Park debt | The Times

Ashling O'Connor Olympics Correspondent
Last updated January 6 2012 12:16AM

London taxpayers will bear the burden of a £231 million debt on the Olympic Park for years after the 2012 Games under a new land transfer deal agreed with the Government.....
The revised agreement will mean that the GLA is entitled to the first £223 million of any future receipts from land sales in order to repay the debt, which stands at £349 million. The Government will pay it down to £231 million by March 31, 2014 but it had originally been envisaged that it would cover it in full.
Any further upside from sales will be split 25:75 with the Lottery, which was raided for £675 million in 2007 to help fund the £9.3bn Olympic project, and then 50:50 with the Exchequer.
City Hall officials claimed the deal, to be confirmed this month in the GLA’s grant settlement, was a good outcome for Londoners who will own an asset with an indicative market value of about £1bn. Under the previous deal, the GLA was to receive just £97.5 million of the first £650 million from land sales.

London’s Olympic Park loses 75% of its value | The Sunday Times

08 January 2012

The Olympic Park, intended to be sold after the games for up to £2 billion to repay the lottery and the Treasury, is worth less than £160m, according to an official valuation.

More than £750m of public money was spent buying the land in east London for the Olympics. Ken Livingstone, then the London mayor, said during the acquisition that the park would be worth between £1 billion and £2 billion after the games.

The valuation of the 500-acre site — including the stadium, aquatic centre, press centre and development land — values it at £138m if it was sold to one developer. It would be worth £157m if sold in lots.

One developer warned this weekend the park may require hundreds of millions of pounds for any regeneration scheme to work. “People don’t seem to have yet realised that this park isn’t actually worth that much and is potentially a huge drain on the taxpayer,” he said.

Some of us realised a while ago....

Posted by The Englishman at 3:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Organic Despair

Charles Clover | The Sunday Times

....Under discussion at the Oxford Farming Conference, the annual meeting of big agriculture, was nothing less than a new agricultural revolution of factory farms and genetically modified (GM) crops.
People were talking with relish about the need for “affordable” food — a euphemism that often means “dubious” — to the despair of the stalwarts at the alternative conference of organic farmers across the road.....

Yes the horror of "affordable" food. All those common people filling their bellies with food and not going to bed hungry and grateful for the beneficence of their better.

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

The Generation Game

Wind farms earn £1m to shut down over Christmas and New Year gales - Telegraph

The gales battering Britain have been so strong that many turbines have had to be shut down for safety reasons and the National Grid forced to increase output from gas and coal fired power stations to make up the shortfall.
At one site, near Huddersfield, in Yorkshire, 110mph winds were so strong that 15ft blades were blown off three turbines.
On other occasions, often during periods when the wind is still strong but slightly less gusty, operators have been asked to turn off their turbines, because they were flooding the network with more electricity than was needed.
On the 23 occasions since Christmas Eve on which this has occurred, operators have received more than £1 million from the National Grid.

Is this anyway to run a reliable supply?.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 7, 2012

Good Food News

Food costs a 13th of basket in 1862 | UK news | The Guardian

Modern shoppers pay one 13th as much for their groceries as those who lived 150 years ago, according to new research.
A shopper would have needed £1,254.17 in real terms to fill their weekly basket with food, drink and household items in 1862 - compared to just £93.95 today.

The analysis, published by The Grocer magazine, took 33 items such as a dozen eggs, hot chocolate, a loaf of bread, a toothbrush and a litre of sherry, and applied an average earnings measure of inflation to their 1862 prices.

The biggest percentage changes were seen in fruit with the cost of a pineapple, which cost £1.72 this week and sold for 5s in 1862, estimated to cost £149 in real terms to the 1862 shopper, according to The Grocer.

That means today's price is a fall of 8,553%, the magazine said. The price of 1kg of grapes had dropped 7,419% while a melon fell by 5,971%, according to the calculations.

The horrors of trade, technology and globalisation! How much happier we would be if we worked all week to be able to afford to buy a low food miles turnip to gnaw on...

Posted by The Englishman at 7:18 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 6, 2012

Libertarians Have To Be Deniers - Monbiot - End of Argument.

Why libertarians must deny climate change, in one short take | George Monbiot | Environment | guardian.co.uk

....the procedural justice account of property rights. In brief, this means that if the process by which property was acquired was just, those who have acquired it should be free to use it as they wish, without social restraints or obligations to other people.

Their property rights are absolute and cannot be intruded upon by the state or by anyone else. Any interference with, or damage to, the value of their property without their consent – even by taxation – is an unwarranted infringement. This, with local variations, is the basic philosophy of the Republican candidates, the Tea Party movement, the lobby groups that call themselves "free market thinktanks" and much of the new right in the UK.

It is a pitiless, one-sided, mechanical view of the world, which elevates the rights of property over everything else, meaning that those who possess the most property end up with great power over others. Dressed up as freedom, it is a formula for oppression and bondage. It does nothing to address inequality, hardship or social exclusion. A transparently self-serving vision, it seeks to justify the greedy and selfish behaviour of those with wealth and power......

So here we have a simple and coherent explanation of why libertarianism is so often associated with climate change denial, and the playing down or dismissal of other environmental issues. It would be impossible for the owner of a power station, steel plant, quarry, farm or any large enterprise to obtain consent for all the trespasses he commits against other people's property – including their bodies.

This is the point at which libertarianism smacks into the wall of gritty reality and crumples like a Coke can. Any honest and thorough application of this philosophy would run counter to its aim: which is to allow the owners of capital to expand their interests without taxation, regulation or recognition of the rights of other people.

Libertarianism becomes self-defeating as soon as it recognises the existence of environmental issues. So they must be denied.

I'm not sure what George has given up for his New Year's resolution but I suggests he starts back on a medicinal dose of it ASAP.

I think his beef is with people recognising property rights. They are the most unfashionable rights to campaign for. There is no think-tank declaring their importance, though there should be. They are the one true foundation of prosperity and happiness. I beg no forgiveness for standing up for them. And that includes the right to demand compensation from anyone who harms my property in any way.
Isn't that what you want George?

Posted by The Englishman at 11:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Friday Night is Music Night (Etta Edition)

Etta James released from hospital - latimes.com

Blues singer Etta James, who is terminally ill and battling leukemia, was resting at her Riverside home Friday, a day after being released from a Southern California hospital,..

Singer Etta James is "nearing the ends of her time," but her health has improved in recent days allowing doctors to remove the respirator that was helping her breathe, according to her sons' lawyer.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 5, 2012

When I'm 65

The Times

Happy Birthday Tom Burke, 65

The environmental policy adviser Tom Burke thinks that environmentalists are winning the argument about climate change with the government, business and the public: “We’re only losing it with the media who are rather bored and want to move on to the next, new thing.”
He is not worried about getting older: “The great thing about growing up in the Sixties was that the idea of getting old never occured to us. That Bob Dylan song Forever Young always gets it just right for me.

Winning the argument?

Depends on who you listen to, I suppose.
But banging the drum seems to have been an agreeable career....Friends of the Earth, BP, Rio Tinto, Secretaries of State...

Tom Burke is a Founding Director of E3G. He is a currently an Environmental Policy Adviser to Rio Tinto plc and a Visiting Professor at Imperial and University Colleges, London. He is a Senior Business Advisor to the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative on Climate Change. He is Chairman of the Editorial Board of ENDS magazine. He was appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to chair an Independent Review of Environmental Governance in Northern Ireland from 2006 – 2007. He was a member of the Council of English Nature, the statutory advisor to the British Government on biodiversity from 1999 – 2005. During 2002 he served as an advisor to the Central Policy Group in the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. He was Special Adviser to three Secretaries of State for the Environment from 1991 – 1997 after serving as Director of the Green Alliance from 1982 – 1991. He was an environmental advisor (part time) to BP plc from 1997 – 2001. He was a member of the OECD’s High Level Panel on the Environment 1996 – 1998. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and was a member of the Council from 1990-92 sitting on its Environment Committee 1988 – 1996. He also served on the Executive Committee of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations from 1984 – 1989. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Cranfield Institute of Management and a Senior Visiting Fellow at Manchester Business School. He was formerly Executive Director of Friends of the Earth and a member of the Executive Committee of the European Environmental Bureau 1988 – 1991. He was the Secretary-General of the Bergen 1990 Environment NGO Conference 1988-90. He was a member of the Board of the World Energy Council’s Commission ‘Energy for Tomorrow’s World’ 1990 – 1993. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for Conservation International’s Centre for Environmental Leadership in Business in the US. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Energy Institute. He also serves on the Advisory Council of the Carbon Disclosure Project. He is a Patron of the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association and a Vice-President of Environmental Protection UK. In 1993 he was appointed to United Nations Environment Programme’s ‘Global 500’ roll of honour. In 1997, he was appointed CBE for services to the environment. He was awarded Royal Humane Society testimonials on Vellum (1968) and Parchment (1970).

Posted by The Englishman at 8:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tudge Calls For Drudgery

Farming needs Adam Smith's invisible hand, not finance capitalism | Colin Tudge | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Common sense tells us that in a finite world, farming must be low-input, which means as organic as possible. Mixed, low-input farming is complex and must be skills-intensive; there is little advantage in scale-up so the default farm size is small to medium.
Britain now needs a million more farmers – at least 10 times the number at present; closer to 10% of the workforce than today's 1%. For a country with 2.5 million unemployed, including a million young people, many of them graduates, skills-intensive farming should be a godsend – not just a short-term expedient but the permanent base of the economy....
Scientists are paid to give the impression that the status quo works. Successive governments beginning with Margaret Thatcher have closed Britain's network of publically supported agricultural research stations, and/or have gifted them to corporations. University departments have gone the same way. So scientists who seek seriously to be paid must work for corporations, even if they seem to be working for the public weal....
Properly directed science tells us that we need farms that are as diverse as possible

You see- scientists aren't being "properly directed" which is why they aren't backing this call for the return of serfdom.
Once we get the scientists in line then we can get all those people back on the land chopping turnips by hand in the biting easterly winds of February. Of course you and I and Colin Tudge will have important jobs doing the directing but the permanent peasant class will be grateful for our kind and paternal leadership.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 4, 2012

Just Add Feathers

You Can't Eat Tar Sands | 350.org

We've known for the last year that the full exploitation of the tar sands would mean "game over" for the climate. This new report puts into stark relief exactly what "game over" looks like: millions upon millions of starving people across the planet.

We couldn't put it anymore succintly and powerfully than the report itself: "Put simply, the potential destructive power in Canada’s oil sands exceeds anything modern civilization has witnessed to date."

I think there is a Venn Diagram somewhere of two unconnected circles one marked "350.org" and one "plot".

Posted by The Englishman at 8:30 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 2, 2012

The Year of Climate Justice

First Minister Alex Salmond has called for global leaders to make 2012 the “year of climate justice” - Scotsman.com

Yes! Let's go for it!

I demand in the name of climate justice that:

The sun shines on my birthday.
It only rains at night in the summer.
Really hot August bank holiday so the Telegraph can print photos of lovelies on the beach.
Snow on Christmas Day, every year.
And so on, I'm sure you can easily think of more.

Demanding the world is fair is lovely, demanding that the "rich" pay for it to so become is less attractive.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Surf's Uppers

Surfers to be tested for drugs | Sport | guardian.co.uk

Amid growing evidence that the sport's drug culture has gripped even some of its elite athletes, the Association of Surfing Professionals will in 2012 roll out a policy for screening competitors and officials for performance-enhancing and recreational drugs.
"We believe this is a natural evolution in enhancing the professionalism of our sport," said Dave Prodan, a spokesman for the ASP. "This motion has the full support of the surfers on tour as they want to be taken more professionally, and believe this is a step in the right direction. We have been discussing and drafting a policy with the guidance of the World Anti Doping Agency for over two years and the budget, approved at the November board of directors meeting, has just allowed us the possibility of implementing it as soon as next year."

Bureaucrats, don'tcha love them! I'm reminded of those parasitic fish, remora, that attach themselves to sharks with suckers for the free ride for some reason.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

All I Want For Christmas

Americans buy record numbers of guns for Christmas - Telegraph

On Dec 23 alone there were 102,222 background checks, making it the second busiest single day for buying guns in history.
The actual number of guns bought may have been even higher if individual customers took home more than one each.
Explanations for America's surge in gun buying include that it is a response to the stalled economy with people fearing crime waves. Another theory is that buyers are rushing to gun shops because they believe tighter firearms laws will be introduced in the future.
The National Rifle Association said people were concerned about self defence because police officer numbers were declining.
A spokesman said: "I think there's an increased realisation that when something bad occurs it's going to be between them and the criminal."
The record for gun sales in a single day was set in November, on the day after Thanksgiving, when 129,166 background searches were carried out on customers buying weapons.

Private response to fear of government restrictions and failure to provide one of the core state functions of law enforcement.

How bless'd we are on this isle not to be able to so respond to similar failures.

Posted by The Englishman at 6:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 1, 2012

Europocalypse Now

I love the smell of Napalm in the morning...

The best thing about 2012 - the collapse of the euro.

The worst thing about 2012 - the collapse of the euro.

It's not going to be nice. Fasten your seatbelts and be prepared.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Olympics Opening Ceremony

Something to look forward to in 2012...

Posted by The Englishman at 7:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Good News On Renewables For 2012

World's largest solar plant powers up - Green Living - Environment - The Independent

Globally, renewable energy is on the retreat, to the point where last month the Ernst & Young accountancy firm warned that, should the eurozone debt crisis worsen, a climate funding gap of $45bn (£29bn) worldwide could emerge by 2015.

Even if government cuts do not deepen, which is unlikely, the Ernst & Young report claimed that a gap of $22.5bn on investment in renewable energy and subsidies is likely to emerge across 10 leading world economies in less than four years. Among them is the UK where the shortfall is estimated to be $5bn, while in Spain it would be $6bn.

The "gap" in investment is caused by the lessening of subsidies. In other words in the UK $5bn won't be spunked away on subsidy seeking, because presumably over $5bn of public taxpayer's money won't be available to subsidise uncommercial renewables.

That sounds like a result to me.

Posted by The Englishman at 7:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack