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.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thatcher's old spin doctor gets it right.....

In many ways the first modern spin doctor, Sir Bernard Ingham, Thatcher's former Press Secretary, professional Yorkshireman, and columnist for the Yorkshire Post gets it absolutely right re UK energy policy in this excoriating piece: 'We need brave politicians to win this vital power struggle' (Yorkshire Post, April 12):
"Is Tony Blair our last hope? I realise that just by posing the question regular readers will think I have flipped. In fact, I am deadly serious. Blair may well be the only British political leader ready to face up to an issue on which turns the economic life or death of this country.

I refer to energy – and more especially electricity – policy. Without reliable, continuous and competitive supplies of power, we have no comfort, no convenience, no economy, no jobs, no lifestyle worth having and no protection for civilised society.

While David Cameron poses as a cuddly green with a windmill and solar panel on his roof, Sir Menzies Campbell has emptily adopted 'environment, environment, environment' as his mantra.

Both are pathetic ......

..... The British problem can be briefly stated. Coal (33 per cent) and nuclear (20 per cent) power stations currently generate just over half our electricity. Within 15 years, we could easily lose half that generating capacity because of closures on grounds of age and, in the case of coal, its carbon pollution ....." (read on)

Interestingly, 'Dave' Cameron also received a severe mauling in yesterday's The Sun (April 26): 'Memo to Dave: there are no huskies in this dogfight' [apologies, I couldn't find this online]:
"The Government is a wounded, profligate beast, only finding the strength to occasionally raise its head and slurp greedily at the trough of 'political expenses'. A strong opponent could easily put it out of its (and our) misery. So what does the great Tory hope that is 'Dave' go and do? Poses with a load of huskies in Norway and witters on about melting glaciers and the threat of global warming ......

..... Memo to Dave: When crime is spiralling out of control, sentences are getting more lenient, the NHS is crumbling, our once-enviable education system is fragmenting before our eyes, factories are closing, our pensioners are being robbed blind and stealth taxes are at a record high...to imagine for even one, deluded second that melting glaciers in some far-flung part of the world are of primary concern to us makes you risible....."

I bet he was sad he didn't make Page 3 with those gorgeous huskies .....

Philip, fascinating stuff from Ingham. How we need this to be said. And, I need a strong espresso doppio quoting from - The Sun - which again, however, is bang on target. How the political landscape is changing!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Euston Manifesto.....

I should like to recommend a read of the admirable, and much-needed, Euston Manifesto:
"We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.

The present initiative has its roots in and has found a constituency through the Internet, especially the 'blogosphere'. It is our perception, however, that this constituency is under-represented elsewhere - in much of the media and the other forums of contemporary political life.

The broad statement of principles that follows is a declaration of intent. It inaugurates a new Website, which will serve as a resource for the current of opinion it hopes to represent and the several foundation blogs and other sites that are behind this call for a progressive realignment....." (read on)

If you agree with the values expressed, you might also consider adding your signature to the Manifesto. 'EnviroSpin' has readily consented to be an affiliated blog. The Manifesto has been widely reported and discussed in newspapers and magazines.

Philip, not a normal signer, or joiner, of things ["Natural awkward squad", as my mother would have said], but I find that I agree with so much (98%) of the Euston Manifesto that I have broken my normal reserve and willingly signed. The document is beautifully written and constructed, and, in my opinion, it is a much needed corrective in the UK.
Canada cools on Kyoto - why not our Mr. Cameron?.....

Now, here is something the British Conservative Party should be doing, Cameron of the Huskies please note. As predicted on 'EnviroSpin', the new Conservative administration in Ottawa is starting the mental, and practical, moves away from the Kyoto Protocol to the new Asia-Pacific Pact : 'Gov't looking at joining U.S. led Kyoto rival. Agreement not legally binding, doesn't set caps on carbon emissions' (The Vancouver Sun , April 25):
"Environment Minister Rona Ambrose says Canada is considering joining a U.S.-led effort to curb greenhouse emissions outside the framework of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Asia-Pacific Partnership is a loose agreement involving the United States, Australia, India, Japan, China and South Korea. It is not legally binding and does not set caps on carbon emissions.

'The key principles of the Asia Partnership Partnership are very much in line with where our government wants to go,' Ambrose said at a briefing Tuesday. 'The Asia Pacific Partnership is something we're looking at'"..... (read on)

See also: 'Canada backs breakaway six-nation climate group' (Yahoo! News, April 25):
"Canada's new Conservative government, which is openly skeptical about the Kyoto climate change protocol, said on Tuesday it backs a breakaway group of six nations that favor a voluntary approach to cutting emissions of greenhouse gases."

How we need such sense in the UK. The sooner some brave politicians start to eschew openly the moribund Kyoto Protocol, the better.

And, remember, Canada has vast reserves of coal, not to mention 1.7 trillion barrels of bitumen sands. "Running out of fossil fuels?" "Not in Alberta, mate!" Cranberry juice and rodeos all round.

Philip, lunch in the garden. The first, much belated, genuinely warm day of the year. The bees are buzzing, the lawn mowers humming, and the black-purple tulips blooming. "Global warming? The way to go!"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

As Cameron completely loses it, 'Our George' starts to get it.....

I have to say that David Cameron, as the Green Guru, makes me wince. He is embarrassing, a kind of middle class Coriolanus dinner party 'See my wounds' type of host, with yummy mummy in tow. Melanie Phillips is just the right sort of commentator to 'out' the red-faced Boy Wonder on his sled: 'Even greener than he thinks' (April 24):
"I have returned from holiday to find that the British Conservative party has passed beyond parody. While lesser political beings were doing tedious things like preside over the disintegration of the health service, have their collars felt by the police over political corruption, fail to deal with the fact that people are being murdered by those notionally being supervised by state-funded officials and other boring little things like that, the Tory party leader David Cameron dressed as a polar explorer and posed with a sled drawn by huskies on the Scott-Tuner glacier in Svalbard in Norway to show how cool he was... er, sorry, the grievous effects of global warming in shrinking the Arctic ice. Alas for Mr Cameron – he was indeed sledging on thin ice, but not in the way he thought....." (read on)

By contrast, back at The Gloomiad, 'Savonarola George', our very own Monbiot, has started to get it (if only a bit), going for gas and carbon storage: 'This is embarrassing, but I've become a fossil fuel supporter' (The Guardian, April 25):
"So in two respects, the future seems to lie in the seabed. Our natural gas supplies will be secured and our carbon dioxide buried in old gas fields and salt deposits. All my instincts rebel against this prospect, but there don't seem to be any other answers..." (read on)

Mind you, George can't yet bring himself to accept the return of King Coal:
"Even in my confessional mood, I cannot bring myself to support coal. I defy anyone who knows what open-cast mining looks like to say the words 'clean coal' without blushing. This leaves only gas....."

But, at least, the thought is there. Watch this space.

The only viable mid-term future for the UK is a sensible mix of gas, coal, and nuclear, plus so-called 'renewables' at the edges. Thankfully, elements of this reality are beginning to dawn in the least likely of media worlds.....

..... meanwhile, back in Tory Toy Town, Cameron flies a private jet to be drawn by huskies to see a melting glacier in a land where many glaciers are expanding while he espouses tiny wind farms on the roof of his house:

"Young King Con was a merry young soul, and a merry young soul was he;
He called for his sled to examine our plight
And he called for his huskies three.
Every glacier was melting fast, so a very fine mush had he;
Oh there's none so daft as can compare
With King Con and his huskies three."

Give me George any time.

Philip, off for coffee. Cameron's stunt was just risible. This is such a disaster for British politics. We desperately need brave politicians who can talk hard sense about climate change hysteria.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Four downpours of good sense cool climate-change hot heads.....

I am encouraged - four most sensible sets of comments on climate-change hysteria for you to sample:

(a) First, in the excellent The Scotsman newspaper (April 24): 'Common sense must top green agenda':
"The most bizarre sight of last week was that of David Cameron driving a team of huskies across the Norwegian snows. If it is hard to imagine how the ruddy-cheeked Tory leader could more blatantly illustrate his commitment to the environment, it was also difficult to take the scene entirely seriously.

The same cannot be said about the green agenda, however. Concern about the environment is no longer a minority preoccupation: it engages people across the whole spectrum of society, of all political opinions. To that extent, Cameron is right to address the issue. But it is an issue that needs to be examined closely, scientifically and dispassionately, not fuelled by hysteria. Apocalyptic alarmism from green activists has become the secular equivalent of those religious cults that regularly assemble on mountain tops in expectation of the imminent end of the world.

What are the facts about global warming? The only honest answer is: we do not know. Nor is our knowledge advanced by scientists who are not climatic experts issuing sensational pronouncements..." (read on)

(b) In The Washington Times (April 21): 'Global warming may not be as dramatic as some scientists have predicted':
"Global warming may not be as dramatic as some scientists have predicted.

Using temperature readings from the past 100 years, 1,000 computer simulations and the evidence left in ancient tree rings, Duke University scientists announced yesterday that "the magnitude of future global warming will likely fall well short of current highest predictions..." (read on)

(c) Then there is the inimitable Mr. Steyn writing in the Chicago Sun Times (April 23): 'Nothing to fear but the climate change alarmists':
"Do you worry? You look like you do. Worrying is the way the responsible citizen of an advanced society demonstrates his virtue: He feels good by feeling bad.

But what to worry about? Iranian nukes? Nah, that's just some racket cooked up by the Christian fundamentalist Bush and his Zionist buddies to give Halliburton a pretext to take over the Persian carpet industry. Worrying about nukes is so '80s. "They make me want to throw up.... They make me feel sick to my stomach," wrote the British novelist Martin Amis, who couldn't stop thinking about them 20 years ago. In the intro to a collection of short stories, he worried about the Big One and outlined his own plan for coping with a nuclear winter wonderland..." (read on)

(d) And, we must finish with this splendid suite of 'Letters to the Editor' from The Sunday Telegraph (April 23): '41 scientists debunk global warming alert', with other letters (scroll down):
"The president of the Royal Society, Lord Rees of Ludlow, asserts that the evidence for human-caused global warming 'is now compelling' and concerning (Letters, April 19).

In a public letter, we have recently advised the Canadian Prime Minister of exactly the opposite - which is that 'global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural 'noise''.

We also noted that 'observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future'" [a link to a full list of signatories is provided after the letter]

But, above all, enjoy this glorious bit of correspondence:
"If I read another word about climate change, I shall go mad. Of course the climate is changing. That is what climate does, and has done so for billions of years. Do these scare-mongering pseudo-scientists really believe that puny man can control the unimaginable forces of nature by sticking a windmill on his roof, throwing away his fridge and planting a few trees?

Global warming? Perhaps, but what's the betting that in a few years they will be telling us that they have got it wrong? That, in fact, the earth is getting colder?

My advice? Leave it to God."

Well done, Mr. Celiz. I know exactly how you feel.

Philip, increasingly wide-eyed at the sheer bunkum that is climate-change hysteria in the UK. Like Mr. Cameron, I am getting a tad husky in trying to ensure that common sense prevails. "Tea anyone? Or an iced drink? Mush, Mush."

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

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