A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Quote of the Day.....

The quote of the day comes from a fine piece by Matthew Parris writing in today's The Times (June 4):
"Shame in the success of our species, dislike of our own footprint on the planet, is the great blasphemy of the green movement."

To read the full comment, 'We can decide if the forest will grow back over our footprints', visit The Times online.

Philip, now to imprint my own footprint and to mow that lush lawn before the rain descends. And, you bunnies out there, I'm very, very green - I use an old Edwardian-style handmower. I just love the click, click, clickety clack of its whirring blades. Daisy chains all round.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A daily text for Europe.....

'Old' Europe's arrogant lecturing of the rest of the world, and especially of America, on everything from 'global warming' to foreign policy reeks more and more of potential failure and extraordinary hypocrisy. The French 'non' on Sunday, and the Dutch 'nee' on Wednesday, have demonstrated all too vividly the fractured reality of an ancien régime, an elitist and pompous Europe (focused on France and Germany) that is desperately trying to put up the social barricades against the dynamism of Asia and the newly-developing world. Of course, these barricades will not hold, and, as Gerard Baker writes so tellingly in today's The Times (June 3): "... the challenge is now upon Europe. The longer it puts off the inevitable reforms - economic, social and political - the harder it will get. And if it chooses to defer a real response for ever ... [it] will simply continue to sink beneath the waves of its own economic irrelevance and moral ennui." Much of 'Old' Europe is growing economically, and morally, 'soft' as it totters into a self-indulgent sixth age.

Nearly everything Europe is about, from its raucous support for the doomed Kyoto Protocol (while totally failing to achieve its own targets) to the weekly burdens and red tape it bestows on industry and commerce, undermines its competitive ability in this fast-changing world. The voters of France and the Netherlands were, in part, rejecting the admission of an increasingly-dynamic Turkey into the EU. Paradoxically, the Bosphorus marks the semi-permeable boundary with Asia. Once, eager Europeans flowed across this boundary to plunder and to control the wealth of Asian nations. The osmosis is being dramatically reversed. I wonder how the softened-up, and morally-relativistic, European intellectual elite will cope when the economic crunch comes?

The abysmal failure of the EU to enforce its own monetary regulations, and the lack of democratic control over a bloated, and often corrupt, central bureaucracy, are worrying and represent a second key reason why the voters cast aside a 'constitution' for Europe. Although once a strong supporter of the EU, I have to admit that I am more and more convinced that we in the UK must resist being lulled into this decadence and decline. The thought of joining the Euro, for example, is an anathema. And, amazing even to myself, I should today likewise have to vote 'No' in any UK referendum on the EU constitution. Yet, a Europe of growing unemployment and massive social debt, is a deeply-troubling thought.

Thus, the Friday text for Europe is taken from The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 7, reading from verses 1 to 5:
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured unto you. And why behold you the mote that is in your brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me cast out the mote out of your eye; and lo, the beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye."

And today's 'Further Readings' on this topic are both taken from the Pink Gospel, the Financial Times (June 3):

(a) 'Blair and Schröder at odds on EU constitution';

(b) And this important 'Letter to the Editor' jointly from Rodney Leach, Director, Jardine Matheson; Michael Spencer, Chief Executive, ICAP; Simon Wolfson, Chief Executive, Next; Stuart Rose, Chief Executive, Marks and Spencer; Lord Sheppard, Former Chairman, Grand Metropolitan; Karl Ludvigsen, Former Vice-President, Ford Europe; Crispin Davis, Chief Executive, Reed Elsevier; Richard Balfour-Lynn, Chief Executive, MWB Group: 'Referendum results must be accepted for what they were - powerful expressions of unease':
"..... As business people operating across the UK, EU and rest of the world, we are well placed to understand why Europe is not working. Thanks to over-regulation and a one-size-fits-all monetary policy there are now 19m unemployed in the EU. Without radical action many member states face a medium-term crisis as a result of their unfunded pension systems and deteriorating demographics.

Although the UK government admits Europe needs to reform, so far it has come up with nothing more than rhetoric. Instead of continuing to argue in favour of transferring even more powers to EU institutions, it is now time the government began to question the logic of further integration....."

Philip, at heart still a European, and for a Europe working together. But the old core of Europe is losing its vitality and drive, and we in the UK must remain alert and adaptive on our ever-changing planet. We must side with the new and exciting Europe of Poland and its neighbours, who know what work means. In this, Mr. Blair is surely correct, as the world inexorably turns Eastwards. We cannot afford to follow the France of Jacques Chirac and of the French ancien régime. Look who was behind the 'constitution' - Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, while the new French Prime Minister is the unelected Dominique de Villepin. Just notice the proliferation of those 'de' names. And de Villepin's prime task? Of course, to tackle France's 10% unemployment - followed by the demographic time bomb, the pensions' crisis, and the overblown State. Time for a very large, strong, black coffee! Oooo, la, la!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Cracking that old Cnut.....

Now, I'm always fair (I hope) to the Gloomiad when it is genuinely good, and this is a lovely little take by David McKie on the old tale of Cnut (Canute to you): 'We all need King Cnut' (The Guardian, June 2):
"The Observer has had to apologise to King Cnut for repeating the old allegation that he ordered the waves to recede and was miffed that they didn't, when in fact the whole point of the enterprise was to demonstrate to his gullible courtiers that even the power of great kings was limited. It's astonishing how this error still persists more than a millennium later.

The first recorded account of the king's behaviour, by Henry, archdeacon of Huntingdon, a century afterwards, makes the point of the exercise utterly clear. The king, having ordered that his chair should be placed on the seashore, addressed the rising tide as follows: 'You are subject to me, as the land on which I am sitting is mine, and no one has resisted my overlordship with impunity. I command you, therefore, not to rise on my land, nor to presume to wet the clothing or the limbs of your master.' But the waves, says Henry, 'disrespectfully drenched the king's feet and shins'. Whereupon the king, jumping back, cried: 'Let all the world know the power of kings is empty and worthless, and there is no king worthy of the name save Him by whose will heaven, earth and sea obey eternal laws.' (Translation from Diana Greenway's OUP edition of Henry's Historia Anglorum)....." (read on)

Hm! Some of our more cnutty 'global warmers' and 'sea-level swampies' might do well to heed the old king's wise words.

Philip, just back from a day in Rye, Sussex, where the land has been expanding at the expense of the sea since the end of the C16th. The once thriving port is now 1.5 miles from the salty waves. Such are the complexities of sea-level change. "Pugwash, ahoy!" "A drop o' the ol' black stuff, Ye Landlubbers All!" "No tea, with Lucia, thanks."

Monday, May 30, 2005

Max Hastings talks consummate sense.....

Today, the normal gloom of the Groaniad is, for once, lifted by the resplendent Max Hastings writing on nuclear power and wind farms:

'Forget about wind farms. Nuclear power is the future' (The Guardian, May 30):
"Nobody can propose a credible alternative energy source that is anything like as environmentally acceptable. Anyone who supposes that wind turbines can meet demand is a mathematical duffer. A wind farm the size of Dartmoor would be required to provide the energy of one nuclear plant. In the past, atomic power has been very costly, but in the future it is reckoned that it will be cheaper than fossil fuels if oil prices exceed $28 a barrel (the current price is $50)."

"Mathematical duffer!" Just so. This reminds me of that telling, if slightly naughty, observation: "Remember those kids at school who couldn't do science. Well, they became environmentalists."

Good stuff, Max. Yomp on.

Philip, pleased to have Max's sunnier view on a rather wet and cloudy Bank Holiday. Coffee, but indoors, I fear.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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