Our Island Story

I vividly remember the moment when I saw my first black person. It was December in either ’68 or ’69, so I would have been three or four at the time, and my father’s works had arranged some kind of coach outing to meet Father Christmas. Seated near me was a black child a bit older than me, and I recall gazing fascinated at the blackness of his skin and noticing that it had white blotches on it like a mirror image of the dark freckles and moles on my skin. ‘Daddy, what are those white things?’ I asked, pointing at the boy’s skin. ‘Pigment,’ my father explained.

It’s not the sort of detail you could make up, is it? And I’m sure most Englishmen of my generation or older will have had similar experiences. It’s not a racist observation, merely a statement of fact, that in our youth Britain was much, much whiter than it is now. So white that unless you ventured into the inner cities, it was quite possible not to see a ‘coloured’ person at all.

Suppose, then, you wanted to create a cosy, long-running TV series which would have especial appeal to the group of people who most watch TV. No, not students and the long-term unemployed: they’ve got Countdown and Shameless. I mean all those oldsters who don’t do Facebook and Call of Duty (Black Ops), who know the words to the ‘Beer at Home means Davenports’ ad, whose schooling included being taught how to add up and write in joined-up handwriting, who think Britain isn’t what it was and that nobody has any manners or respect any more. If you were designing a show just for them, how would it look?

Here, I would suggest, are some of the key ingredients: chocolate-boxy, unspoilt English villages with honey-coloured stone; a total absence of wind farms; a solid, reliable, if slightly dull detective of a certain age — ideally played by that wonderful chap who used to be Jim Bergerac, ah, remember Bergerac, happy days; plot lines involving country-house mysteries of the kind that greats like Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple used to solve; sly, shifty old rustics, blimpish colonels and bluff Mine Hosts; churches and churchyards and churchgoers; extremely limited use of iPods, iPads, Xboxes and PS3s; no ethnic characters.

You’ll have noticed that the series I’ve described, more or less, is Midsomer Murders.

Read the rest at the Spectator.

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10 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Be In Libya | James Delingpole

March 30, 2011

“It is one of those times when I feel estranged from the country and not comprehending of what we are doing and why everyone is so gung-ho for it all.” Rod Liddle on the Anglo-French/American Libyan intervention Spectator May 26

“One can only gape in stunned amazement at the extent of the idiocy being displayed by the leaders of America, Britain and Europe over the ‘Arab Spring’ – which should surely be renamed ‘the Arab Boomerang’.” Melanie Phillips on Libya in her Spectator blog.

Is this the first time Rod Liddle and Melanie Phillips have agreed so strongly on any subject, ever? I think it just might be. Which gives a pretty fair indication, I think, of how stupid, misguided, wrongheaded, counterproductive and suicidally dumb our current intervention in Libya is. It’s the war which no one outside the political class wants to wage because almost no one outside the political class is so foolish as to imagine any good will come of it.

Here are just ten of the reasons why we shouldn’t be there:

1. We cannot afford it. Liberal interventionism belongs to another era: the era when we imagined we had enough money to prosecute wars. Now our armed forces are so straitened by Cameron’s defence cuts that we don’t even have sufficient trained Typhoon pilots. And as for those bloody silly Storm Shadow missiles at £1 million a pop….

2. The Arabs won’t thank us for it – which kind of defeats the object, given that the sole real point of this misbegotten enterprise was to show the Middle East how lovely and caring we were and sensitive to Islamic feelings. Only once we’d secured the Arab League’s approval did we dare launch the mission. And now, guess what: they’ve decided they think it’s a bad idea after all.

3. We are fighting for Al Qaeda. Not traditionally one of our allies.

4. According to this video from the Cato institute, there are five key questions to be asked before actions of this kind: Is it in the national interest? Is there public support? Have the costs and consequences been considered? Is there are clear military mission? Have we exhausted all available options? The Libya debacle fails on ALL counts.

5. It’s the French’s colonial war, not ours. They sucked us into this. As Jonathan Foreman reports in his superb analysis:

For more than two decades the biggest threat to French dominance of Chad – and other Francophone countries in Central and West Africa has come from Libya. Qaddafi’s forces have battled those of Chad four times since 1978. During the first three invasions, in 1978, 1979 and the winter of 1980-81, the Libyans allied with local rebel forces, supporting their infantry with armored vehicles, artillery and air support. The third invasion resulted in the de facto partition of Chad in 1983 with Libyan forces controlling the country’s northern half, above the 16th parallel.

6. President Obama’s heart obviously isn’t in it and given that US provides the bulk of our military muscle, this doesn’t augur well for a happy outcome.

7. What kind of message does it send out to the Middle East generally? That we’ll only intervene in countries where we have no real strategic interest and which are weak enough to knock about, while leaving the really big nasty regimes – Iran’s, say, or Syria’s – to do what the hell they like. As Melanie Phillips reports in a superb blog post, all we are doing is alienating Middle Eastern moderates through our mixed messages and double standards:

So no air strikes to get rid of Bashar Assad. Of course not. The rule of thumb for western ‘progressives’ is that tyrants can stay in office if they are the mortal enemies of freedom, democracy and human rights and are helping the jihad – in which case it is a ‘war crime’ to get rid of them; the only ones they want to get rid of are those who are resisting the jihad.

Particularly damning is the verdict she quotes of Tariq Alhomayed, editor of Al Sharq al Awsat, on the US’s failure to understand the nuances of Bahrein’s politics (where the Shi’ite protest movement is in fact sponsored by Iran)

How can the U.S. defense secretary say that Bahrain must enact speedy reforms to put an end to Iranian interference… while the Americans are also issuing statements saying that in Yemen, protests are not the solution, and that there must be dialogue? Why must the Bahrain government to act immediately, while the demonstrators in Yemen must to wait? This is wrong, and it raises both suspicion and doubt.

…This is not to mention that that the U.S. is ignoring what is happening in Iran, where the state oppresses its minorities. [As recently as] yesterday, the Iranian opposition has tried to come out and protest in Tehran, only to be repressed, and its key figures have been arrested. This is a perplexing matter indeed, but it clearly tells us something – that is, that Washington does not have a clear picture of what is going on in the region, and that even if it does, it is too weak to act.”

8. Britain, France and the US now run a drastically increased risk of a Lockerbie-style revenge atrocity. Obviously we shouldn’t base our international policy on our fear of being punished for doing the right thing. But, er, being punished for doing the wrong thing?

9. If this goes on much longer, Britain’s beloved former minister Lord Mandelson may run a severe risk of never landing a coveted shooting invitation again with his chum Saif Gaddafi, nor will the London School of Economics be able to go ahead with any plans it may have have had to establish a new School of International Terrorism Support and Apologism, perhaps with someone like Professor Ken Livingstone as its head.

10. If, according to President Obama, Libya was a “looming humanitarian disaster” that would have “stained our conscience”, how come similar rules don’t apply to his biofuels policy which may be responsible for as many as 200,000 Third World deaths per year? Here is a genuine problem (see this paper by Indur Goklany) which could be solved without costly military action and bring about a guaranteed happy outcome.

Increased production of biofuels increases the price of food worldwide by diverting crops and cropland from feeding people to feeding motor vehicles. Higher food prices, in turn, condemn more people to chronic hunger and “absolute poverty” (defined as income less than $1.25 per day). But hunger and poverty are leading causes of premature death and excess disease worldwide. Therefore, higher biofuel production would increase death and disease.

Research by the World Bank indicates that the increase in biofuels production over 2004 levels would push more than 35 million additional people into absolute poverty in 2010 in developing countries. Using statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Indur Goklany estimates that this would lead to at least 192,000 excess deaths per year, plus disease resulting in the loss of 6.7 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) per year. These exceed the estimated annual toll of 141,000 deaths and 5.4 million lost DALYs that the World Health Organization attributes to global warming. Thus, developed world policies intended to mitigate global warming probably have increased death and disease in developing countries rather than reducing them. Goklany also notes that death and disease from poverty are a fact, whereas death and disease from global warming are hypothetical.

Thus, the biofuel remedy for global warming may be worse than the disease it purports to alleviate.

 

3 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Be In Libya”

  1. Nige Cook says:31st March 2011 at 7:46 pmGadaffi was drumming up support for months by jamming free unbiased TV transmissions around Tripoli while broadcasting state TV propaganda accusing all his opposition to be drugged Al Qaida terrorists, which is why he dominates Tripoli with propaganda and gets back so much support there.

    The Libyan intelligence technical administration building south of Tripoli has jammed Arabic language Russian Today (Rusiya Al-Yaum) TV transmissions relayed by the Nilesat (AB4) satellite, Al Jazeera TV on the Arabsat, and Alhurra TV on the Nilesat satellite.

    To help free democracy in Libya, the first thing is to get unbiased Arabic language TV news (not BBC propaganda) into Tripoli, stopping Gadaffi’s propaganda lies by jamming them! It’s cheap and risk-free, compared to having the risk of aircraft shot down in a no-fly zone!

    On CNN on 9 March, Senator John McCain argued for the jamming of Libyan state TV’s lying propaganda from the Gadaffi regime, which is an obvious and technically easy undertaking.

    (For technical details on military jamming capabilities, please see the February 2009 U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-36, “Electronic Warfare in Operations”. There is spare communications satellite capability over North Africa which can be adapted for this purpose, while terrestrial radio transmissions could easily be jammed using a ship off Libya.)

    Of course, Cameron won’t use electronic means to counter Gadaffi propaganda. He prefers to use expensive cruise missiles, etc. We all know how this happens. The great British top brass deny jamming exists, so they can do their bit to further bankrupt the country with the alternative of a no-fly zone. Cameron asks no questions and believes whatever people tell him, so the worst choices are taken.

  2. Bernie says:1st April 2011 at 7:48 pmJust imagine how the Soviets feel about the matter: it is manna from heaven. If Quadaffi prevails they can say that we never supported the idea of your overthrow. Thje imperialists fof the west did that. If the “rebels” win they can say that we supported you all along. Our agents were in the forefront of the protests along with whatever fundamentalists that we could scrape together. The only reason that we didn’t supply you with arms is that the United States was already doing that. It’s a win-win situation.
  3. Velocity says:4th April 2011 at 12:54 ambut David Cameron, not content with 2 wars (illegal foreign occupations) and going for a ‘lucky’ 3, says “it is absolutely the right decision”.
    When you’re born wrong, and a Home Counties village idiot, how do you know what the right decision is David???

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George Osborne’s New Eco-Bullingdon Club

Grotesque and pointless quango

Green-wishes-230Imagine if a cabal of privately wealthy upper middle class and lower upper class public schoolboys got into power and began using taxpayers’ money to dole out special favours to all their rich friends: cushy sinecures for their banking and management consultancy chums from Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, Logica and the Oliver Wyman Group; subsidies for landowners like Sir Reginald Sheffield (father-in-law of one D. Cameron, Esq) to blight their local countryside; investments in companies almost 100 per cent guaranteed not to make a profit but nice, all the same, for those plutocratic rent-seekers who’ve been tipped the wink by their chums in government. (H/T Barrie James)

Imagine if this were found out. There’d be riots on the street, right?

WRONG!

This is exactly what happened in chancellor George Osborne’s latest budget. And almost no one noticed. So thank heavens for Andrew Orlowski of the Register:

Last week, Chancellor George Osborne announced a new body that would make loans and issue debt. In a harkback to the 1970s, poorly performing and deeply unprofitable businesses will be the beneficiaries – and investors in them will be rewarded for their poor judgement. So much for moral hazard.

The Chancellor even found an unexpected £775m from the Government’s sale of the HS1 rail link to kickstart the venture. £3bn has been pledged: £2bn from the sale of publically-owned assets, and £1bn from taxes. This is a considerable sum that could alternatively be used to pay off the government borrowing, or pay for public services.

Or indeed, pay for a new aircraft carrier. Or buy five squadrons of F-18s. Or pay for the share of the Portugese bailout so kindly imposed on Britain (with Cast Iron Dave’s tacit agreement) by Osborne’s even-more-useless predecessor Alastair Darling. OrWell I’m sure we can think of lots of more sensible ways a Chancellor of the Exchequer could spend £3billion of OUR money. What I seriously doubt though, is whether anyone could think of a worse way of spending £3 billion, than on the grotesque and pointless quango  that is the Green Investment Bank headed by Bob Wigley.

The point to note about the Green Investment Bank is that it is based on one massive lie, promulgated by everyone from David Cameron to Chris Huhne to Greg Barker to every other two-bit chancer who wants to get on the Coalition, viz: that green investments and green jobs are the future. (See this brilliant Dilbert cartoon) (H/T Philip Foster)

They are not. The reason private investors don’t want to invest in environmental projects is not that they’re frightened of making too much money, as this chart shows:

http://regmedia.co.uk/2011/03/25/ftse_stocks_2010_large.png

Can you see which category of investment comes right at the bottom? The one so abysmally poor that investors lost on average 52.3 per cent over the course of the year? That’s right. Alternative Energy.

Now imagine you had a Prime Minister who had a first in PPE from Oxford and a Chancellor who claimed to be a classical liberal. What kind of intellectual contortions must they have gone through to persuade themselves against all evidence that it makes any financial sense to use taxpayer’s money to bribe investors to allocate their scarce resources in companies that are so inefficient they can only possibly ever turn a “profit” through massive state subsidy (paid for by imposing a national energy tax concealed in electricity bills)?

And you don’t even need to be on the libertarian right, like me, to believe that this is a crying scandal. It is, as Orlowski notes, above all a conspiracy against the poor.

Osborne’s programme really a continuation of his predecessor’s as he invented very few of the policies – is a set of deeply regressive measures at which the Left has traditionally bridled. The Left has historically thought of itself as being on the side of the poor, and opposed measures which hurt the poor disproportionately. It likes to think of itself as being on the side of the weak against the strong, and so has traditionally favoured a redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Yet the policies depend heavily on regressive taxation and more expensive essentials.

Forty per cent of the cost of a carbon floor price is paid for by consumers, the Treasury’s own documents suggest. The Budget measures alone add £17 to a family’s household energy bill. As even climate Jacobin George Monbiot has noticed, green measures distribute wealth from the poor to the middle classes: FITs are “extortionate, useless deeply regressive”. Not all on the Left are happy with this. Graham Stringer MP said Parliament needed to look much more closely at the policies, and the justification for them, because the measures hit the poorest people in the country. (He is MP for the North Manchester constituency of Blackley and Broughton.)

It’s a hard one for many on the Left. The number of households in “fuel poverty” – where energy swallows up more than 10 per cent of household income – has trebled. In Wales, more than one in four households is in fuel poverty, according to Wales Online. Left to the market, energy prices would plummet: even with profiteering and heavy Government duties. Gas is cheap, and set to be even cheaper for years to come; gas requires no subsidies.

Really, honestly, I have absolutely no objection to living in a country run by people who’ve had the best education in the world and who belong to the kind of old aristocratic families which tend to take the long view on what Britain’s interests really are. What I do object to, though, is when they abuse their power by behaving like selfish, ignorant, caricature toffs out of a Guardian cartoon by Steve Bell or Polly Toynbee’s most perfervid class-war fantasy. It is precisely such weapons-grade pillocks who govern us now.

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Simon Singh’s for the Joy of Solar Energy

Tonight, as I’m sure you’re all aware Simon Singh Britain’s third most famous celebrity mathematician after Carol Vorderman and Johnny Ball appears at the Spectator debate speaking in defence of the great AGW meme.

I do hope his spirits havent been dampened by the recent news that the government is planning to slash subsidies for large-scale solar installations.

The proposals would reduce the tariff for roof-mounted schemes of more than 50 kilowatts by 39pc to 49pc and the tariff for stand-alone schemes may be reduced by more than 70pc.

The  reason I mention this is that Simons entrepreneur brother Tom who runs the Tom Singh Family Trusts appears to be quite heavily exposed to the solar industry.

Entrepreneur and retailer Tom Singh has purchased a stake in solar power developer and producer mO3 Power.

Singh, who is the founder of high street retailer New Look, will become a non-executive director of mO3 Power after buying into the company during its second investment round.

His stake in the company has not been disclosed but a statement says it is a ‘substantial investment’.

Tom Singh Family Trusts, which made the purchase on Singh’s behalf, have interests in a range of sectors including retail, real estate and renewable energy.

mO3 Power develops, builds, owns and operates a number of large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) panel parks in the Midlands, southern England, East Anglia and south Wales.

mO3 Power chief executiveKen Moss says: ‘[Singh] has demonstrated a clear and deep understanding of the solar PV sector and the importance of increasing electricity generation from renewable resources.’

Let’s hope for Simon’s sake it adds extra passion to his oratory at the Spectator debate. After all, he wouldn’t want to let down Big Brother, would he?

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How the TUC’s Day of Innocent Family Fun Was Destroyed by Evil, Fascist Media

They came in their thousands from across the land – babies, pensioners, Ed Miliband, both the people who still watch 10 O’Clock Live. Their aims were simple, their intentions pure. They were marching against INJUSTICE. They were yearning for a Better Britain.

They were campaigning for a brighter, nobler, fairer world where:

Britain’s economy can compete on almost equal terms with those of Albania and Burkina Faso.

Media studies, golf course management and windsurfing technology students can watch Bully, Countdown and Fifteen to One, down 15 pints, a couple of special K and a pack of plant growth stimulant in the subsidised Mandela bar before retiring for a night’s gaming on their PS3s unencumbered by the fear of ever having to pay for their vital, economy-boosting education.

All those selfish greedy bastards who work for a living can have more of their money taken by the government and spent on worthwhile causes like million-pound-a-throw bombs to drop on Libya, diversity outreach consultants and communitarian think tanks run by Will Hutton.

Guaranteed job security and ring-fenced pensions for the people whose vitally important job it is to collate hospital reports showing whether you are a) white British, b) white, Irish, c) white, Traveller c) black, Caribbean d) black, African, e) black, Other…….

Britain’s international credit rating to be brought down to a more “fair” level, so as not to make the Greeks or the North Koreans feel jealous.

Anyone who runs a successful business enterprise – eg evil Philip Green of the wicked consumerist Top Shop chain – to have their legs cut off and their eyes gouged out and all their money spent on iPad 2s for the unemployed.

Was this really too much to ask?

Apparently so. What these poor innocent protestors had reckoned without was the vile prejudice of the fascist news media. Instead of reporting on the really important things – smiling babies, families having family fun in a TUC-endorsed family atmosphere, the astonishing fact that they actually managed to rope in some Gurkhas – the slavering hounds of the bourgeois running-dog lackey press and Goebbels-esque broadcast media decided instead to focus on the mildly inappropriate behaviour of a tiny minority. Shame on you, BBC! Shame on your Sky News! Shame on you, newspapers with your misleading pictures of masked figures accidentally pushing a table through the window of the Ritz hotel and policemen being carried off with (clearly faked) injuries!

(to read more, click here)

Permanently broken link. Possibly complete version.

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3 thoughts on “How the TUC’s day of innocent family fun was destroyed by evil, fascist media”

  1. JimmyGiro says:28th March 2011 at 1:38 pmI dare say there must have been some independent protesters, but isn’t it odd that so many ‘independent’ protesters manage to have made identical placards?

    Clearly, any protest that is genuine, would stand on its own merits; therefore the Marxist-Feminist organisations which invariably hide behind women and children, must be up to no good.

  2. Nige Cook says:28th March 2011 at 8:18 pmI love the fact Ed Miliband’s trade union financed and block-vote based party created the financial mess, the solution for which the TUC march is now opposing. Of course, the Government cuts should be slower.

    Thanks to the financial acumen of Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling (bless him), we only have a debt of £900 billion, increasing to £1.1 trillion later this year, and our interest repayments (since interest rates are now low) are only £43 billion a year, £118 million a day, £4.9 million an hour, £82,000 a minute, or £1,400 a second. Nothing to worry about!

    We owe £14,464 for every man, woman and child
    That’s more than £31,421 for every person in employment
    Every household will pay £2,128 this year, just to cover the interest
    http://www.debtbombshell.com/

    Why not wait a few years (when interest rates rise further) before paying some of it back? It’s a brilliant Labour Party plan: the longer we wait, the more likely interest rates will rise as the rest of the world recovers (America is already starting to recover). Then we’ll be really be f***ed by rising interest rates. Then what does Labour recommend? Guess it’s to follow the Greek example and riot against the Government, claiming that the people didn’t create the mess (yes they did if you claim it’s a democracy).

    Additionally, think how much money we’ll pay back on that interest. I love the argument that we should accumulate more debt for future generations. It’s funny, because these socialists have been complaining about tiny safe nuclear waste dumps as a threat for future generations, but they don’t see the debt legacy the same way! Unlike debt, radioactivity decays with time of its own accord (waste from the 2 billion year old natural nuclear reactors in water-moderated uranium ore seams at Oklo in Gabon, stayed safely in place for 83,300 times longer than the 24,000 year half life of plutonium-239). Radioactivity decays exponentially with time. Debt grows exponentially with time!

    You just have to love the deep sincere ethics of the Labour Party. When it’s voted out of office – unlike the Conservatives – the Labour union power base gets even more influential indirect power over the media headlines and protest marches, than ever. The electorate kicks Labour out, but the unions ensure it continues to have its say via union organized protest marches, industrial action, strikes. Very fair and proper democratic political ethics: “heads I win, tails you lose”.

    I’m completely in sympathy with having a mechanism in place to ensure workers are not completely ripped off by exploitative, imperialistic, Capitalistic fat cat bosses and investment shareholders, but there is a strong smell of corruption. Unions are far dictatorial, with the “closed shop” ethos forcing all workers in many industries to be union members, then there is the coercion of doing what the Union groupthink decides (picket line scabs, helpful “flying picket” mentality, and so on). One example is the good old gangster “legal protection racket”: school sports teachers are told they need union membership in case one of the kids accidentally throws a javelin through a rival, or slips on the mud, and the parent sues for criminal negligence.

    Then you have the whole issue of socialism versus unions. They’re supposed to be pro-socialist, anti-capitalist, moral, etc. However, while they have voting within the union membership, it’s not really that democratic: the unions are themselves are not biased in favour of their members interests, yet always claim falsely to be pro-socialism. There are serious conflicts of interest here. The union opposes pay cuts and strikes for higher salaries, which is fine when the enonomy booms, but leads to unemployment or the business going bust when a recession comes. Or it pushes up prices and makes the goods less affordable for large sections of the wider public.

    When the BBC shows scenes of closed steel mills, dock yards, mines, etc., from up north, what they don’t say part of the problem of the loss of British heavy industry is very simply the terrific success in unions in the past in negotiating higher wages and putting Britain out of business, since the Far East can undercut us. We’ve lost a huge amount of business because of the effect of our high salaries on products made in Britain, compared to China.

    There is no simple fix. If you ban imports by heavy import duties (and we already suffer heavy import duties on most goods), you just reduce natural competition, and force the British public and businesses to pay more than the odds in either being taxed to high heaven for foreign goods, or forced to buy expensive British goods which have a smaller production run with its associated problems of more “bugs”, and problems with expensive spare parts. The union action of driving up wages and therefore goods prices is equivalent to an additional taxation on consumers to boost the wage packets of union members.

    Then there is the really deep ethical problem. Unions that don’t end up sinking businesses down the plughole, end up in some kind of a collaboration with the management and shareholders, i.e. they end up effectively in some kind of profits sharing scheme when the workers get a payback from the success of the business. This is unethical, because it’s collaborating with Capitalists and profiteering from it. This is the opposite of the Marx’s socialist ideal, which is to cut the cost of goods by cutting salaries towards zero. It was particularly funny when some “communist” political agitators tried to infiltrate unions during the Cold War, unaware that despite all their “socialist ethics” talk, unions are actually anti-Marx and in complete idealistic sympathy with Capitalism: they just want a bigger share of the profits. There is nothing wrong with this unionist aim, provided it’s honestly admitted. What really p***es some people off, though, is the doubletalk union propaganda, where they claim they’re socialists and ethical and anti-Capitalist.

  3. JimmyGiro says:28th March 2011 at 10:45 pmNige,

    I think modern Marxists and Capitalists are not ‘opposites’ as Marx might have made out, but more orthogonal to each other.

    Old Marxism was about empowering the worker; I suspect new Marxism is about controlling them, by dictating what they can do and think. This allows new Marxists to enter a symbiotic relationship with Capitalists, using the worker as a mutual resource.

    The Marxists take over the bureaucracy, and effectively govern the workforce, deciding who can be offered jobs, and who works for their dole, or community service, from 4000 new criminal laws to entrap us by. And the large corporations, which are the only players in the economy of the nation, get virtually slave labour, only paying a relatively small premium to keep the bureaucracy fed; plus they have no threats to their monopolies, as the bureaucrats create crippling red tape to stymie the growth of any competition from small businesses.

    The new regime is like the old feudal system: with Knights, Clergy, and Surfs, cemented by religion, to be replaced by CEOs, Civil Servants, and ‘workers’, cemented by the Gleichschaltung of political correctness.

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‘Budget for growth’? Wot budget for growth? | James Delingpole

March 26, 2011

When George Osborne and I briefly had children at the same inner London primary school, I used to harangue him every morning over the limp-wristed uselessness of his faux-Tory party.

“Just you wait till we get into power,” Osborne used to reply to me, eyes agleam. “Then you’ll see what real Conservatives we are!”

I’m still waiting. Sorry to disagree with Lord Tebbit on this but I really don’t see how the Chancellor’s bold decision to remove 50p from the (still-rising) price of a tank of petrol (by stealing £2 billion from oil company shareholders), give very small businesses a brief holiday from the insane equality legislation (but not EU legislation) which in opposition the Tories were too cowardly to oppose, and driving up the cost of energy through carbon taxes in any way represents a “budget for growth”.

Apparently, Osborne still doesn’t believe in the thing he calls “unfunded tax cuts.” But cutting taxes is what stimulates economic growth by driving down the cost of labour (thus creating jobs) and enabling people to keep more of the money they have earned and therefore leaving them more to spend. Also – as Arthur Laffer has demonstrated – it actually increases government revenues. Osborne may not believe in the benefits of tax cuts, just as he may not believe in gravity. But his adamantine stance against reality doesn’t make him principled or bold or “not afraid to be unpopular”, just a useless, economically illiterate prat.

And what of these savage cuts that the great unwashed are planning to waste more and more police time protesting against in the next few months? Well, as Fraser Nelson notes in the Spectator, they are small to non-existent:

The “total cuts” figure is, oddly, not printed in the Budget. Perhaps because it’s so embarrassingly small. After the Autumn Statement, it was 5 per cent over four years. Now it’s back to 3.7 per cent over four years: that is to say, total cuts of just 0.9 per cent a year. The Chancellor’s cuts are mild — milder than Denis Healey’s now-forgotten cuts. Over the next five years, the spending total has risen: in 2014-15, we’ll be spending £744 billion, an extra £11 billion. A relatively small figure, but you get the overall direction. Remember this next time Ed Balls talks about “deep and fast” cuts.

And here’s the verdict of the Institute of Economic Affairs:

“As a budget that was intended to be about encouraging growth, this is a disappointment. Even on the areas where the Chancellor is doing the right things, his reforms are tiny. He committed himself to simplifying tax rules, but has only eliminated 100 pages from our 10,000 page tax rulebook and has added many more.

“He stated a desire to relieve business from the burden of regulation. But even on his own numbers, the burden is only being decreased by 0.4%. That’s not a slashing of red tape. It’s barely even a trim.

None of this was in any way unpredictable. I wrote the epitaph on Dave Cameron’s Tories the day they were elected. It has been downhill ever since. And don’t get me started on this bloody pointless new war….

18 thoughts on “’Budget for growth’? Wot budget for growth?”

  1. Nige Cook says:27th March 2011 at 8:56 pmOsborne’s pathetic efforts are of course probably a reflection not on his weakness but on the inertia of Whitehall bureaucratic procrastination. I assume that his civil servants are “helping” him to do nothing, spinning up this nothingness as a great budget (in the way the spivs sold the Emperor his great New Clothes, leading him to parade them proudly before the crowd).

    See The Economy Drive (Yes Minister, 1980: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgSmUGnNiqQ ) where the civil service secretly takes on 400 new civil servants in order to organize an economy drive, another fact based tale largely based on the experience of Wilson’s political secretary, Marcia. What the Tory-Lib Dem coalition is now achieving is the worst of all possible worlds: no significant savings, loads of resentment! It’s feeding fuel to Ed Milliband and his Union croonies.

    You can bet that Osborne is being severely restricted by the civil services, in a devious non-transparent way. Also, while Whitehall is cutting back, the EUSSR is squandering ever more money, and we’re the ones paying billions for it, even after rebate. I can’t understand why Cameron defended the EUSSR from a British referendum by saying that it wasn’t in the British “national interest”. We have a massive trade deficit with other EUSSR countries, so in a trade war they’d lose and we’d win. If we pull out and then ban imports of our goods (as Cameron fears), we could ban imports of German engineering and French agriculture. Since we’re the ones with the trade deficit, they would be hit harder. We could go on trading with other non-EUSSR countries, the USA, Canada, the Far East, etc.

    Seeing that the EUSSR dictatorship is exactly the oppression of European Integration we fought to prevent in both World Wars (which were fought to preserve freedom and independence, things then valued), and also deterred in the Cold War at great cost (Polaris and Trident), it’s sickening that we’re actually paying for the priviledge of being robbed and constitutionally mugged by these unelected Strasbourg thugs.

    There is a question how much money we’d save by pulling out of the EUSSR. But I think we must go one way or the other. If we’re going to surrender our liberty, let’s burn our currency and take on the Euro, so we have a common currency instead of having to pay commissions to change money and having that currency exchange factor affect business make business more expensive and complex. Also, the EUSSR recently opened 137 new embassies worldwide. Why all this duplication between Whitehall’s Foreign Office and our EUSSR’s embassies? Why not save money and tell British subjects to deal with EUSSR embassies overseas? Closing the Foreign Office would really save a lot of money. We have the worst of all possible situations right now.

    Britain has more in common in terms of defending liberty, freedom, democracy, and the English Language, with the USA than the EUSSR, so we should strive to become the 51st State, not a non-entity under the thumb of Strasbourg nutters and Brussels. Instead, we propping up failed banks like Northern Rock, which was offering sky high interest rates a decade ago, based on giving doling out mortages on the pie-in-the-sky assumption that it couldn’t lose in because house prices would go on rising. People who invest in most businesses accept they can lose money, and the government doesn’t bail them out in other industries.

    If the government wants to bail out banks using public money (unlike other businesses), it must nationalize the banks and drive away all bonus-seeking fat cats, and tell them to go abroad to some other country to make terrific profits by gambling other people’s money, not ours. If I wanted to gamble, I’d go to Las Vegas, not to a bank. The people at the top of banks should be down-to-earth civil servants, not private sector cowboys. Alternatively, if it doesn’t want to nationalize banks, it shouldn’t bail them out. Banks should not be permitted to have their cake and eat it.

    Lord Tebbit said on TV when the coalition formed that Cameron should have forced the Lib Dems and labour to make a coalition, and then attacked it from opposition until it collapsed, so he would then have got another general election and possibly an outright majority. The Lib Dem business secretary Dr Vince Cable knows more about business than Brown, but that’s hardly a big compliment. The only good thing about the Lib Dems is the name of their party. Lib Dems must have significantly more coercive influence in Cabinet than Cameron cares to admit publically, because the Lib Dems have the power to end their involvement in the coalition anytime they please, bringing down the government whenever they want.

    So, James, you should be wary of attacking your old school gate friend Osborne. He’s probably got his feet tied together by the civil service, his hands in cuffs behind his back by the Lib Dems, and a gag over his mouth by fellow Conservatives, preventing him from even daring to discuss really effective EUSSR-cost-cutting measures. Anyway, the state of the deficit inherited from Brown gives no power to this government. All they have is talk and spin, the debt is so big that we’re paying immense interest on it and can’t afford any nice budgets; they’re just going to preside over downward spiral and decay of Britain. Tebbit was right to argue they Cameron should have let Brown remain in his hole, digging deeper.

    It’s the old story that by trying to stop the crisis before it was clearly visible in terms of decay to everyone, Cameron was stepping into power at just the worst possible time possible. It’s like General Pershing’s correct 1918 forecast that an armistice before Germany was invaded was a mistake and would lead to another war in 20 years time. The soldiers returning home to Germany saw no destruction, no physical proof that they were defeated, other than by a “sellout” through their politicians. Similarly, all the public sector cutbacks are opposed by the trade union-backed party responsible for the mess, who deny that there really is a problem because they can’t see physically the deficit!

    Lord Tebbit’s argument against the coalition on TV was exactly the same as Pershing’s 1918 argument: it’s worth the price of allowing labour to completely destroy Britain, so that strong opposition could develop to fix it properly. Instead, the worst nightmare has become reality. Osborne and Cameron have taken on responsibility, without having power. I predict more strikes and media pressure on the Lib Dems via Labour spin doctors, until the Lib Dems withdraw from the coalition (which will happen I guess soon after the AV referendum, if union activist increases to escalate), bringing down the government.

  2. Martin Lack says:29th March 2011 at 12:37 pmAs I have said elsewhere, the Limits to Growth hypothesis of Meadows et al (1972, 1992, 2004) – and William Ophuls’ Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity (1977, 1992) have yet to be invalidated because, as Herman E Daly has pointed out, “the Earth may be developing but it is not growing!” (see my comment on the Wikipedia article on “Climate change alarmism “[Subsection “Economic alarmism“]).

    Furthermore, as John Dryzek has said, in response to the Promethean/Cornucopian critique, “The driver of an accelerating car about to hit a brick wall might well say ‘so far so good’ – but that does not mean that the wall is not there” (p.70 Dryzek, 2005).

    The real myth is that perpetual growth is the solution to all our problems. It cannot be the solution to anything; it is our ultimate problem… Therefore, what this country – nay the world – needs to get to grips with is Prosperity Without Growth.

  3. JimmyGiro says:29th March 2011 at 1:04 pm“Therefore, what this country – nay the world – needs to get to grips with is Prosperity Without Growth.”

    Didn’t they try that in the Soviet Block, where the state pretended to pay the workers, and the workers pretended to work.

  4. Nige Cook says:29th March 2011 at 3:02 pmMartin: the world’s population is growing, so the idea of “Prosperity Without Growth” is just sophistry.

    We must face the facts, instead of concentrating on wishful-thinking which don’t apply to this actual universe we live in. Handing out “family planning” education and devices doesn’t actually help limit population growth abroad where people need large families to earn money in poorer nations, or here to collect maximum child benefit security. You won’t stop problems by “family planning education at ever younger ages to get the message across“. They all get the message, they don’t do what the message says.

  5. Martin Lack says:29th March 2011 at 4:58 pmJimmy/Nige – From even the most cursory of glances at “Prosperity without Growth” it would be ovbious that it is not just a piece of Optimum Population Trust propaganda (as you both appear to think). The Earth may well have enough mass-energy to feed 10 billion humans (as Cornucopians believe – according to Wikipedia) but…

    This fails to address the central conclusion of Meadows (et al.) and Ophuls, which was that the Earth is likely to run out of the “ability to cope“, as a result of:
    1. the ever-more expensive business of extracting diminishing reserves of natural resources from awkward places;
    2. “treating environmental capital as if it were income” – E.F. Schumacher (1973);
    3. overloading global pollution sinks with quantities of waste they cannot asimilate or process (e.g. atmospheric CO2) ; and
    4. dealing with the other problems associated with over-population (civil unrest caused by shortages/price rises of life’s essentials – such as that we are already witnessing).

    All of this is do-able but not if we continue to make excuses for the poverty trap in which Africa is stuck; rather than investing in actions that will help it solve its problems.

    You really need to pull your heads back up out of the sand – and that’s the polite way of putting it!

  6. JimmyGiro says:29th March 2011 at 7:08 pmRich people don’t breed so well. Poor people breed well, but don’t survive so well.

    Your problem, Martin, is to convince the poor of the world, to not aspire to good health, so as to maintain their low survivability, in order to gratify your Malthusian utopia. Alternatively, to make everybody wealthy, without the aid of industry, so they become as childless as the average rich westerner, but without the resource ‘abuse’.

    Since we are all destined to die, I say that the only morally responsible choice to ‘dictate’, is that we optimise the life quality of the living, and disregard the unborn. They will also die if they are spawned, but with wealthy parents, their one life will be better and longer, else miserable and shorter.

    If, or when, the final days occur, it will be better for fewer happier people to meet it, than for generations to rot slowly towards it, in the misdirected policy of making it last for the unborn. As survivors in the last ark, with no hope of rescue, we may as well go down with a bang and a party.

  7. Martin Lack says:29th March 2011 at 9:01 pmWith regard to the impossibility of perpetual growth (in resource consumption) in a closed system (i.e. on a finite planet), you have no answer because there is none.

    With regard to poverty eradication, my point is – and always has been – that we need to help Africa/India get control of their birth rates. Therefore, despite your protestation to the contrary, the evidence is that too many poor people are being born and surviving; thereby ensuring that they remain poor. We can – and should – break this cycle by educating and emancipating women from a life of unnecessary – and now self-defeating -reproductive slavery.

    With regard to climate change, despite my best efforts – both here and on my blog – I must accept defeat; and admit that Greg Craven has said it all much better than I ever could…

  8. Nige Cook says:29th March 2011 at 9:16 pm“With regard to the impossibility of perpetual growth (in resource consumption) in a closed system (i.e. on a finite planet), you have no answer because there is none.” – Martin Lack

    There are answers. (1) Resources are recycled. Fossil fuels themselves are recycled atmospheric CO2. The atmosphere was flooded with CO2, as I’ve told you before, during the Cambrian. Plants locked up the CO2 in vegetation, which was compressed into coal and oil. Growing plants today for “biofuels” is just repeating the process, albeit more cleanly because you don’t have to burn the dust and minerals that have polluted the coal and oil.

    (2) Perpetual growth is not an issue, because the rate of increase of the population is no longer strictly exponential. It’s slowing down. But Malthus’s argument that resources increase at a slower rate than population, repeated by the Club of Rome in false computer models during the 1970s where the resources were assumed to increase at a non-exponential rate, until population, is fake. In the real world, technology keeps increasing efficiency. There are enormous possibilities for the future. No amount of self-aggrandising doom-mongering by self-deceived dictators at greenpeace will change the future by one iota.

  9. Martin Lack says:29th March 2011 at 9:40 pmResources are recycled…‘ I don’t know about you, Nige, but I don’t have time to wait for the next generation of fossil fuels to form!

    Growing plants today for “biofuels” is just…‘ removing vital land from use for food production!

    Perpetual growth is not an issue…‘ I fear that you are focussing on population again (when I have already conceded that it may yet stabilise)!

    So, to re-state the key finding of Meadows et al another way (such that perhaps you cannot fail to see it)… societal collapse is likely if too much of global economic output has to be diverted to tackling environmental problems!

  10. Nige Cook says:30th March 2011 at 4:58 pmMartin: I don’t agree with your claim that biofuels are a complete waste of time. Until the pagan mongols of Hulagu Khan (grandson of Genghis) invaded Baghdad on 13 February 1258, the deserts of Iraq were used for agriculture. Irrigation canals provided water to turn the desert in Iraq into farmland for thousands of years until Hulagu killed the people and allowed the canals system to disintegrate. We can in the future reverse the process and turn deserts into arable land. What was done thousands of years ago with primitive technology can be done more efficiently today with modern technology.

    Water a desert and you can immediately start to lock down the sands (preventing erosive sandstorms) with vegetation, even if there is high salinity in the sand (you can use many of the weeds you find in coastal areas to start with). Once you’ve consolidated the sands in a desert this way, you can go on to grow crops.

    In addition, recycling can include currently wasted abundant nuclear fuels uranium-238 and thorium-232, created in a supernova 5 billion years ago. We can recycle these into fissile nuclear fuels in nuclear reactors, turning them into plutonium-239 and uranium-233 by neutron capture.

    You also ignore my point about the history of CO2: all the CO2 in fossil fuels came from the atmosphere to begin with, as shown by GEOCARB III modelling, http://www.shef.ac.uk/aps/apsrtp/taylor-lyla/geocarbmodel.html

    During the Cambrian the model shows that the CO2 in the atmosphere was 26 times the current level, which is an unprecedentedly low level of CO2 in the history of the planet. As rainforests laid down CO2 in fossil fuels between the Cambrian and the Carboniferous, the CO2 level in the air dropped, but for most of history it’s been far higher than the current level. We’re just re-releasing CO2 by burning fossil fuels. Plants obtained their carbon from the air in the first place! So burning fossil fuels is just a recycling strategy.

  11. Martin Lack says:31st March 2011 at 1:25 pmNige, The GEOCARB III model is interesting because the 26-fold CO2 peak you highlight (550 Ma BP) does indeed appear contemporaneous with the flourishing of marine life found in the Burgess Shale. However, it is also interesting because the sudden 10-fold increase in CO2 (induced by the Siberian Traps volcanic eruptions [lasting 1 Ma]) at the end of the Permian (250Ma BP) caused the extinction of more than 90% of all life on Earth.

    Therefore (1) the benefits of excessive CO2 in the atmosphere must be, at very least, debateable; and (2) we cannot dismiss the rapid anthropogenic release of fossilised carbon into the atmospheric as mere long-term “recycling! Here we are back to Greg Craven – who has rightly suggested we should stop arguing about which row our future lies (i.e. is AGW true or false?), and decide which column we want to chose (i.e. are we going to take action or not?).

    Evolutionary biologists argue that the Permian extinction made way for ultimately for Humans (and that 99% of all known species that have ever lived are already extinct). However, that does not change the fact that, as a terrestrial species, we are now at the front of the queue for an extinction event of our own making.

    I think I have already made clear my reluctantly-positive view of nuclear energy and that it is long-term madness not to use the 99% of uranium that cannot be put into a conventional thermal (low eV) reactor. Therefore, I am sure that fast neutron/breeder reactor technology will have its day (circa 2050), as is the DECC apparently.

  12. Nige Cook says:31st March 2011 at 7:31 pmMartin, as GEOCARB III shows, http://www.shef.ac.uk/aps/apsrtp/taylor-lyla/geocarbmodel.html , the Siberian volcanic eruptions at the end of the Permian increased atmospheric CO2 to about 10 times the current level. Compare that to the factor of 1.4 increase increase in atmospheric CO2 due to the industrial revolution (280 ppm pre-industrial revolution to 388 ppm now).

    Volcanic eruptions don’t kill by CO2 emission, but by polluting the environment with hydrogen flouride in the sharp irritant silicate ash downwind, plus (for big enough emissions) global atmospheric poisoning by hydrogen sulphide (sewer gas) and sulphur dioxide. The volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo on 15 June 1991 expelled 20 million metric tons of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere, which absorbed sunlight, causing a 0.5-0.6°C cooling of the Earth’s surface in the Northern Hemisphere. Scaling up to the Permian events, you would have a severe global temperature drop from this effect, causing the extinctions. It’s not a CO2 effect, which isn’t toxic at 10 times normal concentrations.

  13. Martin Lack says:1st April 2011 at 10:40 amThanks for quoting back to me my own statististics (CO2 is now 140% of its 1850 level). I think we are therefore agreed about what the geological record tells us (and I agree that the Permian extinction cannot be blamed on CO2); but not about its implications for complex life forms today (because rapid temperature changes do happen [e.g. 5000BC]).

    If this happens now, as Greg Craven points out, human bieings will survive (although not as many as 6 to 10 billion). Therefore, again as Greg says, we should stop arguing about which row our future lies (i.e. is AGW true or false?), and decide which column we want to chose (i.e. are we going to take action or not?).

    CO2 may not be toxic; and it is only a significant pollutant now because we are pumping it into the atmosphere faster than either it or the oceans can assimilate it. In “Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity Revisited: The Unravelling of the American Dream“, William Ophuls points out that, “The liberal ideas of [John] Locke and [Adam] Smith have not gone unchallenged but, with very few exceptions, liberals, conservatives, socialists, communists, and other modern ideologies have taken abundance for granted and assumed the necessity of further growth.” (Ophuls 1992: 191-2). Then, a bit further on, referring to Garrett Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons” (1969), he re-casts the analogy like this: “The cows are standing almost shoulder to shoulder, many are starving, and the manure is piling up faster than the commons can absorb it“(ibid: p.204)

    Hardin correctly identified the core of what the Club of Rome would later call “the human predicament“; namely our inability to voluntarily exercise self-restraint. Thus, the ‘tragedy of the commons’ is equally visible in the failure of the EU’s fisheries policy; and in the failure of the UNFCCC process. Both are mired in a multi-faceted blame-game – wherein nobody is willing to take responsiblility for the consequences of their over-consumption; or willing to act alone to reduce it (because they will be disadvantaged if others do not act).

    We are all behaving like the rich man trying to justify himself to Jesus by saying “And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29).

  14. Nige Cook says:1st April 2011 at 12:08 pmMartin: while its still April 1st and you’re feeling agreeable, can I just try to quickly establish agreement with you that the rate of population growth is slowing down. The rate of world population growth peaked at 2.06% per year in the interval 1965-70, but fell to 1.74% per year in the interval 1985-90, and is now 1.14% per year.

    Currently the population is 6.5 billion, so it will take 61 years to double if the rate remains 1.14% per year (1.0114^61 = 2). But the rate itself has been falling. Since the rate of increase seems to be falling exponentially, extrapolating from the fall from 2.06% annual growth in c. 1968 to 1.14% 42 years later suggests that the annual rate of population increase halves every 50 years, so the future rate of population growth will be 1.14exp(-0.014Y) % or 1.14 [0.5^{Y/50}] %, where Y is the number of years into the future. Hence, if this extrapolation is true, in 61 years time the rate of population growth will be 0.49% per year, which implies a population doubling time of 142 years (1.0049^142 = 2).

    My point is, there is no “population bomb” threat. The population increase timescales are such that we can adapt to the rate of change of population, without racist eugenics to cut population growths in deprived areas, or fascist liebestraums about lebensraum.

  15. Martin Lack says:1st April 2011 at 4:23 pmHi Nige,

    Happy April Fools Day to you too! Did you hear Rob Brydon impersonating Ken Bruce for 2 hours on Radio 2 this morning? (I just caught a snippet of it in the car this afternoon – being repeated by Steve Wright)… It sounded very funny (if you like that sort of thing!)

    I am sure you have told me before – and I have conceded the point before as well – that, for all the reasons you state, global population is not projected to go above 10 billion. However, I find it easier/quicker to estimate doubling time by dividing 70 by the percent growth rate (because the natural logarithm of 2 is approximately 0.7).

    Far more importantly though, none of this changes the fact that, as a species, we have already exceeded the safe carrying capacity of the planet; especially if everyone aspires to live like we do in “the West“. Therefore, if we accept that everyone has such an aspirational right, then we must live more frugally. Otherwise, ecological collapse awaits us.

    Why? Because AGW is only one of the consequence of our failure to differentiate between environmental capital (i.e. finite resources) and income (i.e. solar radiation), oh yes, and our failure to recognise that the Earth’s ability to recycle our wastes (including CO2) is also finite. [See E.F. Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” (1973)]

  16. Nige Cook says:2nd April 2011 at 10:52 am” I find it easier/quicker to estimate doubling time by dividing 70 by the percent growth rate (because the natural logarithm of 2 is approximately 0.7).”

    Martin: as I said, the annual percent growth rate is falling. It’s been falling since 1968. If you use the current rate, therefore, you’ll overestimate future populations.

  17. Martin Lack says:3rd April 2011 at 3:22 pmAs I think I have made clear, most analysts accept that the falling growth rate will lead to a stabilisation of global population in the latter half of this century. However, your silence regarding the rest of what I said is truly deafening.
  18. Nige Cook says:3rd April 2011 at 7:30 pmMartin,

    What’s interesting is that you keep avoiding responsibility for exaggerations, such as the example immediately above. I’d suggest that you try reading Julian L. Simon and Herman Kahn’s The Resourceful Earth: A Response to Global 2000, for historical perspectives on green scare-mongering, plus James Delingpole’s How to be right for vital updates on key issues. My position is that your content-less arm waving assertions like

    “Therefore, if we accept that everyone has such an aspirational right, then we must live more frugally. Otherwise, ecological collapse awaits us.”

    is missing the whole point that Red China is not us. It’s a heresy you won’t hear from the BBC, but sadly we’re not the main problem in the world, and we’ve signed up for eco-eugenics anyway. The money we’re paying into the wallets of green carbon traders will offset our tiny contribution. Your attitude reminds me of the CND propaganda during the Cold War, where it was our nuclear weapons that threatened freedom, not the USSR which had invaded Eastern Europe. I recommend a reading of Janis’s Victims of Groupthink. Even top politicans like President Kennedy made serious mistakes. (His Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 by 1,400 all-talk-no-guts Cuban exiles firstly failed, and secondly worked as leverage for Castro to pressurise Khruschev into supplying 42 nuclear IRBMs to Cuba.)

    Science is supposed to be critical, in contrast to politics. Dissent is supposed to be the basis of science, after the trial of Galileo for heresy. Instead, we’re living through a retreat in which the modern Galileo’s are again being dismissed as unqualified outsiders, data is avail being hidden (despite the data protection act), obfuscation is becoming the language of science, and politics by contrast is becoming relatively democratic. Science is redefined as an occult club of experts that uses peer-review not to boost objectivity and quality, but as old-fashioned “blackballing” censorship.

    In the January Horizon documentary, Sir Paul Nurse spends almost the entire program “defending” as consensus the errors in orthodoxy, then at the end he delivers a pretty good sermon saying the exact opposite, that “theories must be tested to destruction”. The contradiction in appeal at the last minute to win over precisely the people who have been repulsed by the groupthink of main part of the documentary, is vital in politics. The politician who is successful is full of contractions (we’ll cut taxes and improve services). So Nurse was using political tactics, trying to say the different things different people wanted to hear. Think of professional science as a trade union, and Nurse’s position as union secretary makes a great deal of sense. He’s defending a profession from media criticisms. His token gesture towards science at the end, as distinct from “scientists” (union members) is just what you’d expect.

    If you look at the science correspondents in the media, traditionally they shy away from skepticism, treating science with kid gloves or as a high-and-mighty form of religious genius to worship. Most scientific news reports are written in awe and praise of the research, provided it comes from the right places. This is a perfect recipe for breeding elitist corruption based on institutions, not quality. Science is more likely to become a cult dictatorship than politics, because it relies on criticisms and has no parlimentary mechanism in place. Directors of research are simply dictators under another name. Reading peer-refereed journal articles is the whole cause of this problem, because you have to trust the data reported. No peer-reviewer repeats the research before passing it.

    The actual basis for peer-review is not checking data by repeating experiments, but checking that the paper follows current fashions, i.e. is politically correct and not damaging to the research funding contracts that other scientists of the discipline depend upon.

    I’m not bashing peer-review where it’s valid, which is within a peer-setup. Where it breaks down is obvious: where a critic writes a paper and doesn not have any “peers”. He then gets an enemy who doesn’t want to know or understand the criticism, acting as a “peer” reviewer who blocks publication. Galileo didn’t have any peers when invented the first telescope and found himself censored before arrest:

    “Here at Padua is the principal professor of philosophy whom I have repeatedly and urgently requested to look at the moon and planets through my glass which he pertinaciously refuses to do. Why are you not here? What shouts of laughter we should have at this glorious folly!”

    – Letter of Galileo to Kepler, 1610, quoted in Oliver Lodge, Pioneers of Science.

    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/science/sc0043.html

    Refusing to look at the NOAA evidence for negative feedback from H2O vapour on CO2 injections since 1948 is the modern equivalent to refusing to look through Galileo’s telescope. The professor of Padua used his authority status to censor science; the Pope used his political power to arrest Galileo. In 400 years we haven’t quite come full circle, since religion has weakened, but the censorship role of peer-review and political backing for fraudulent science remain as strong as ever.

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Joy Shall Be in Heaven over One Sinner That Repenteth

Stunned angels, yesterday, after reading Monbiot

Stunned angels, yesterday, after reading Monbiot

George Monbiot on Japan:

You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.

A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

Some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution.

H/T Bufo

UPDATE. Im grateful to Pirran for his informed insights into the rationale behind Monbiots spectacular conversion:

Moonbat has discovered the New Truthiness. GreenieNuke reactors are powered by the enduring hope of a new tomorrow. They are run by folk singers and vegans.

Old, dirty, nuclear reactors were the problem. They employed fat cats and lawyers and processed week-old puppies as fuel PUPPIES FOR GODS SAKE!! Thats why the Green movement was SO justified in condemning them.

Related posts:

  1. Japan: whatever happened to the nuclear meltdown?
  2. Nuclear power – some perspective
  3. Haiti disaster caused by failure of Copenhagen summit – says actor Danny Glover
  4. My holiday is being ruined by global cooling. But try telling that to the ‘scientists’

12 thoughts on “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth”

  1. JLK says:23rd March 2011 at 3:16 pmHi JamesWhen my wife came into my office asking me “who George Monbiot is” I told her about His Looniness and she proceeded to read me the “money quote” about “crappy Nukes” from the WSJ.

    I immediately went to your site and was not disappointed. Maybe there is a God with logic and brains out there! Now if we could get one of the well known greenies from here to quoth a similar mea culpa. I am not counting on Al Gore to see the light.
    JLK

  2. Bernie Kelly says:24th March 2011 at 12:01 pmThis is great news! Whether a firm believer in CAGW or a skeptic or disbeliever, we have a solution to the common problem of energy security. All of us in the spectrum can put our differences aside and get on with the task of replacing coal and gas and possibly oil with Nuclear generated electricity. The world needs cheap power, essential to raise the poor out of misery.
    I am particularly excited about prospects of Thorium and/or Gen. 4 nuclear power
  3. Martin Lack says:24th March 2011 at 6:42 pmHi James,I agree that it is good that George Monbiot has got off the fence w.r.t. Nuclear Energy. He thus joins the ranks of such luminaries as James Loelock and Stewart Brand (see this very challenging YouTube video of his 4 environmental heresies [circa July 2009]).

    However, you really need to “change the record” w.r.t. your characiture of global warming as a “new religion” (a la Freeman Dyson) or “climate alarmism” (a la Richard Lindzen)….

    You have suggested elsewhere that there is a large body of british sceptics who question the consensus represented by the IPCC (which you claim has been discredited). However, as usual, your tiresome and unsubstantiated accusations fail to take into account the following:

    40% of the US population think that human activity is changing our climate and/or that any such change is a serious problem;
    Whereas 70% of the UK population think it is.
    However, at least
    75% of scientists think it is.
    More specifically, at least 82% of earth scientists think it is.
    And finally, the equivalent figure is 97% of climate scientists.
    That is what I call a consensus.

    Furthermore, what is the sceptical position?
    The atmosphere may not be warming; but if it is, this is probably due to natural variation; but even if it isn’t, the amount of warming is insignificant; but if it is, the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages; but if they don’t, technology will solve problems as they arise; but if it can’t, we shouldn’t wreck the economy to fix the problem.
    (Adapted from p.257 of “The Rough Guide to Climate Change” (2nd Ed), Robert Henson (2008).
    That is what I call a joke!

    Wikipedia has nailed you guys for what you are when it defines “climate change denial as… organized attempts to downplay, deny or dismiss the scientific consensus on the extent of global warming

    However, as David Aaronovitch observes in his new book Voodoo Histories Conspiracy theories normally improve on reality. Therefore, it is AGW denial – rather than acceptance – that looks like a conspiracy and yes, in the UK, the Institute of Economic Affairs is its biggest corporate proponent. However, with the IEA, the clue to their problem is in their name – they are all economists! It is just a shame they did not shut up and go away when Sir Nicholas Stern pointed out that climate AGW is the greatest market failure in history“(right there on p.1). And before anyone suggests it – that rules out “discounting” future costs as an easy get-out clause…

    Here endeth the lesson.

  4. Nige Cook says:24th March 2011 at 9:07 pm

    “The atmosphere may not be warming; but if it is, this is probably due to natural variation; but even if it isn’t, the amount of warming is insignificant; but if it is, the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages; but if they don’t, technology will solve problems as they arise; but if it can’t, we shouldn’t wreck the economy to fix the problem.
    (Adapted from p.257 of “The Rough Guide to Climate Change” (2nd Ed), Robert Henson (2008).

    – Quote above by Martin Lack

    Martin, this is a strawman attack on AGW critics. The climate is always changing, usually at rates faster than at present as proved by the fact that the current rate of rise of sea level is trivial compared to the average since the last ice age was at its peak!

    So your argument must begin by falsifying the record to make natural variations in temperature look unprecedented (the hockey stick curve). AGW theorists invent a falsely stable natural climate history, allowing them to then claim that CO2 injections correlate with their faked temperature rise. This is what James exposed in climategate.

    But it gets worse. The “greenhouse effect” is fake, as recent research on cloud cover shows. Unlike a greenhouse, where water vapour amplifies warming when CO2 is injected, in the real world without the glass ceiling of the greenhouse, water vapour that absorbs sunshine infrared and heats up is able to buoyantly rise until it meets cool air a few thousand feet up, forming cloud. As research shows, this is the end of the positive feedback theory whereby H2O amplifies CO2 effects on temperature by a factor of 2. Instead, the real bouyant H2O rises to form clouds which increases the earth’s albedo and cools the planet. So it produces negative feedback, which cancels out temperature changes from CO2 increases.

    Sooner or later you’re going to have to confront that this is real, solid physics, backed up by published research (e.g. see the evidence for strong negative feedback from cloud cover during 15 tropical intraseasonal oscillations in Spencer, Braswell, Christy, and Hnilo, “Cloud and Radiation Budget Changes Associated with Tropical Intraseasonal Oscillations,” Geophysical Research Letters, 9 August 2007).

    Please get real. CO2 has only increased from 300 ppm to 388 ppm in the last hundred years. A tiny increase in cloud cover is enough to cancel out the temperature effect, and the mechanism for this increase in cloud cover is simple to grasp: http://www.examiner.com/civil-rights-in-portland/hungarian-physicist-dr-ferenc-miskolczi-proves-co2-emissions-irrelevant-earth-s-climate which includes the sorry tale of NASA censoring the anti-greenhouse mechanism of negative feedback from H2O:

    In 2004 Dr Ferenc Miskolczi published a paper “The greenhouse effect and the spectral decomposition of the clear-sky terrestrial radiation”, in the Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service (Vol. 108, No. 4, October–December 2004, pp. 209–251).

    The co-author of the article was his boss at NASA (Martin Mlynczak). Mlynczak put his name to the paper but did no work on it. He thought that it was an important paper, but only in a technical way.

    When Miskolczi later informed the group at NASA there that he had more important results, they finally understood the whole story, and tried to withhold Miskolczi’s further material from publication. His boss for example, sat at Ferenc’s computer, logged in with Ferenc`s password, and canceled a recently submitted paper from a high-reputation journal as if Ferenc had withdrawn it himself. That was the reason that Ferenc finally resigned from his ($US 90.000 /year) job.

    I want to make it clear: NASA never falsified or even tried to falsify Ferenc`s results, on the contrary, they fully understand it. They know that it is correct and see how important it is. To make sense of their actions, they probably see a national security issue in it. Perhaps they think that AGW is the only way to stop, or to slow, the coal-based growth of China.

    In my circumstance where I have been dismissed from my Government paid position in Hungary, I think the information vacuum (in Hungary), has the same type of origin. I believe someone is in the background trying to convince the establishment (media, science, politics) that Miskolczi’s results are against our national security interests. First, they tried to frighten me, and then when that did not work, they kicked me out from my job. So now I am turning to the wider internet to publicise Miskolczi`s work, as I know that his results are valid and true. There is no way and no need to hold them back for the world to understand them.

    Tomorrow, for the first time in my life, I am jobless.
    Budapest, 31 Dec, 2009

    Dr Miklos Zagoni

    The thing to note is that the dogma is so hardened that, as Al Gore/Comical Ali said, you can get away with lumping critics of the beloved AGW regime into the category of moonlanding deniers or holocaust deniers. In fact, you have to do this if you are in the AGW religion, because with all your data fake, you have no alternative than to throw mud and try to end the argument before it begins.

    Dr Zagoni’s evidence, is that the NOAA data showing a fall in the the global average absolute humidity diminished by 1 per cent from 1948-2009: “This decrease in absolute humidity has exactly countered all of the warming effect that our CO2 emissions have had since 1948.”

    His argument here is that CO2 increased by 25% over that 61 year period (from 310 to 388 ppm), and so the 1% drop in H2O as water vapour over that period has cancelled it out (H2O in vapour – not cloud cover – form is 30 times stronger as a greenhouse gas than CO2, therefore a 1% drop in H2O is equivalent to a 30% drop in CO2).

    This is a nice clean evidence-based argument, but I don’t like the way Dr Zagoni (and others explaining that H2O is negative feedback cancelling CO2, not positive amplifying it) goes about his media relations. He starts off with a lot of technical modelling, all idealized stuff which is riddled with approximations and things for critics (the pro-AGW lobby) to get hung up on. He should put up the humidity fall graph and work on getting the explanation crystal clear, so even Al Gore could be put on the spot by it. Also, he needs to focus on explaining the simple physics for why the humidity has fallen: the warm humid air rises, making clouds.

    The question is, what will it take to make people wake up and smell the coffee on this one?

  5. James Delingpole says:25th March 2011 at 10:25 am@MartinLack My dear chap, you did promise us you were not going to come back. We all know here that you mean well, that you are passionately committed to your cause, but you don’t need to keep telling us. We know.
  6. Martin Lack says:25th March 2011 at 10:50 amNige,It seems that when I address my comments to James; you reply. Does this mean that James will reply to this? I doubt it, because the only thing James has recently exposed is that he is no scientist and consequently avoids reading peer-reviewed literature; and prefers instead the continual recirculation of peer-to-peer denialist propaganda. Furthermore, although arguing with denialists (as with all conspiracy theorists) is a Herculean task; like cleaning out the Aegean stables. However, I have a brush in my hand so here goes…

    1. “A Rough Guide to Climate Change” is no “Strawman attack. This is because Robert Henson admits that no single denialist believes all of these things (p.257) but then spends the next 8 pages disproving each proposition in turn.

    2. MBH98 did not make the MWP or the LIA disappear, they (and all other reconstructions using different proxies) merely put those events in their proper perspective; as it is warmer now than it has ever been in human history (even NASA says so).

    3. True – water vapour has flattened the AGW that would otherwise have occurred (just as did atmospheric pollution between 1945 and 1975). But does that mean we should rely on it to solve our problem – absolutely not! Furthermore, water vapour is not the primary cause of the climate change we are now experiencing. In particular – in case you missed it (then or now) – your information on the efficacy of cloud cover is out of date, as this NOAA study from last year clearly demonstrates. Reading your posts is like reading one of my children’s semi-automated school reports and, clearly, you need to update your database of potential response material.

    4. Al Gore said, “Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries… have produced… a consensus that we… face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we act to prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming.” (09/09/2005). Whereas, James Inhofe said, “With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phony science, could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? It sure sounds like it.”(28/07/2003). Only one of these men can be right, but I know which one I would put my money on – the one backed by 97% of climate scientists, 82% of earth scientists and 75% of all scientists!

    5. As I have said to you before, water vapour is continuously varying in space and time; it always has done and always will. However, at any one time and in any one place it is typically between zero and 3%. Therefore, it is simply intellectually dishonest to ignore the fact that there has been a 40% increase in CO2 levels since 1850, when they were already as high as they had been for 200k years. Furthermore, they are now higher than they have been for tens of millions of years. To continue to argue that this is not likely to cause the Earth’s climate system stress is reckless to say the least.

    I am fully awake and enjoying my coffee, how about you?

  7. Martin Lack says:25th March 2011 at 11:03 amSorry to disappoint you James, but I have been unable to resolve my inability to reply to comments at http://my.telegraph.co.uk/earthyissues/.However, if you are saying that alternative views are not welcome here, then clearly, George Monbiot was right (see final paragraph here)! But I am sure you would not want to leave yourself open to that line of criticism, so I will not promise to leave you alone again. Incidentally, I cannot see that you ever responded to this (24/01/2011):

    I am looking forward to seeing tonight’s Horizon programme: I note your denial that you objected to the line of questioning put to you. If so, who is the source of claims that you did object? Furthermore, if Sir Paul Nurse is not intellectually capable of “raping” you, can you please enlighten me as to the scientific credentials that qualify you to make your cynical pronouncements on the subject of climate change?

    Even if the likes of Sir Paul Nurse, and/or David Mackay (see http://withouthotair.com [Part I, chapter 1 on “Motivations” especially]) cannot convince you that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are the primary causes of acceleration of the “greenhouse effect” since the Industrial Revolution, would you also argue that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is flawed? Would you indeed deny that the concept of entropy is a myth?

    Even if you cannot bring yourself to acknowledge that the 10 warmest years in the last 200 have all been in the last 3 decades; can you accept that the Earth’s resources and its capacity to accommodate humans are finite? Unfortunately, the Limits to Growth hypothesis of Meadows et al (1972) has been proven correct and, very soon now, we will have to confront some of those limits. The real myth is that perpetual growth is the solution to all our problems. It cannot be the solution to anything; it is our ultimate problem.

    Anyone who denies this is denying the reality of both the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the concept of entropy; and I for one would not dare to stick my neck out that far.

  8. yaosxx says:25th March 2011 at 1:18 pmJames – What the hell’s going on on DT Blogs – some are working but most are not!
  9. yaosxx says:25th March 2011 at 2:57 pmWell most blogs appear to be up and running – except for yours! Is there some sabotage going on…?
  10. Nige Cook says:25th March 2011 at 2:58 pmMartin Lack,1. I wrote that you were making a strawman attack by that contrived quotation,

    2. I wrote that it’s now warmer than ever before, since climate is always varying one way or another and it’s been warming since the minimum in sea levels (120 metres lower than today) 18,000 years ago. I’ve in previous comments commented on the mini ice age, caused by the North Atlantic conveyor e.g. Golf Stream shutting down due to ice shelfs melting and flooding the North Atlantic with bouyant fresh (non salty) water.

    3. The NOAA data from 1948 to now shows the fall in H2O vapour. You write: “Furthermore, water vapour is not the primary cause of the climate change we are now experiencing. In particular – in case you missed it (then or now) – your information on the efficacy of cloud cover is out of date, as this NOAA study from last year clearly demonstrates.”

    You’ve completely misunderstood what Susan Solomon (US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), co-chair of the 2007 IPCC report, said. She said that the increase in H2O in the stratosphere caused 30% of the global warming in the 1990s, and thad thet 10% drop in H2O in the stratosphere since 2000 has had a cooling effect, not a warming effect.

    The Guardian article you linked indirectly to (via a nonsense propaganda blog!), by David Adam on 29 Jan 2010, “Water vapour caused one-third of global warming in 1990s, study reveals”, starts with a photo of a cloud, captioned underneath:

    “A 10% drop in water vapour, 10 miles up has had an effect on global warming over the last 10 years, scientists say.”

    What David Adam and the Guardian editors conveniently fail to highlight in the caption is that the “effect” over tyhe past 10 years was cooling, not warming. In other words, the water effect over the past 10 years DID EXACTLY WHAT I TOLD YOU: IT STOPPED GLOBAL WARMING!!!!

    It’s a classic example of the highly biased Guardian misinforming highly biased people like you into making lying attacks on scientists. The article did go on to eventually state: “A subsequent decline in water vapour after 2000 could explain a recent slowdown in global temperature rise, the scientists add.” Apparently you didn’t read that?http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/29/water-vapour-climate-change

    The 10% drop in stratospheric H2O in 2000-2010 is included in the NOAA data I quoted. If you know anything about climate, you’d know there is no water in the stratosphere to speak of: it’s concentrated below the tropopause. So that’s a strawman argument by you, yet again.

    “Reading your posts is like reading one of my children’s semi-automated school reports and, clearly, you need to update your database of potential response material.”

    Martin, you should not start getting personally abusive until you know the facts. Your incompetence to see that even the Guardian article you refer to agrees with what I said (the NOAA data from 1948-2009 showing a fall in total H2O vapour) shows you’re the one with the problems. Maybe you need to stop and think for a change before jumping to conclusions?

    “As I have said to you before, water vapour is continuously varying in space and time; it always has done and always will.”

    We agree here that the total amount of H2O in the atmosphere is not varying: what I’ve been telling you is that the partition of that H2O between vapour and liquid droplet phases has varied. The NOAA data show a fall in vapour by 1% since 1948, with an increase in cloud cover (albedo increasing). As H2O vapour falls, the greenhouse effect due to H2O falls, and it’s 30 times stronger as a greenhouse gas than CO2, so a 1% fall in H2O vapour is like a 30% fall in CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas. As condensed H2O (cloud droplets) increased, it reflected more sunlight away from the earth. So the change in partition cancels out CO2 effects, just as your beloved Guardian stated has occurred in the past decade!

  11. Martin Lack says:25th March 2011 at 7:41 pmNige,If you had bothered to read my (“nonsense propaganda“) blog artcile, you would have noticed that I accept exactly the points you, nonetheless, felt it was necessary to repeat. However, the NOAA admit the cooling effect of water vapour reduced (but did not cancel out) the warming that occurred. Furthermore, they would NOT agree with you that we therefore need not be concerned about global warming.

    As ever, you are highly selective about which points you choose to agrue and those which you choose to ignore. I would give you, at most, 10 years until you will have to O/D on humble pie.

  12. Nige Cook says:26th March 2011 at 9:01 amMartin,“As ever, you are highly selective about which points you choose to agrue and those which you choose to ignore.”

    As I stated, Susan Solomon (US NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), co-chair of the 2007 IPCC report said that the increase in H2O in the stratosphere caused 30% of the global warming in the 1990s, and that the 10% drop in H2O in the stratosphere since 2000 has had a cooling effect, not a warming effect.

    The key data that debunks AGW is NOAA’s 1948-2009 curves showing a 1% drop in H2O vapour, equivalent to a 30 x 1% = 30% drop in CO2 greenhouse gas equivalent, which well cancels out the 25% rise in CO2 measured during this period.

    Since it suits you, you ignore this complete set of long-term data, you selectively focus on a subset of it – for the last 10 years – by a Solomon at NOAA who was co-chair of the biased 2007 IPCC report – and then you accuse me of being “selective”!

    I include all the evidence from 1948-2009. You only comment on the last 10 years. So you’re the one being highly selective. The data is in, and you’re disproved. First, there is no non-fiddled evidence for any unnatural global warming. All the data is fiddled. Tree ring growth is a function of cloud cover and rainfall, not merely air temp. Weather stations are affected by nearby city or industry growth, pumping out local heat (not a CO2 effect). Finally, weather satellites can’t see 62% of the surface because it’s under cloud.

    So they just measure the surface Planck spectrum and temperature for a biased sample of 38% of the earth’s area, namely that not under clouds. This biased sample then has to be corrected using flawed procedures. So in fact, you are the one who is being “highly selective”, not me!

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Japan: Whatever Happened to the Nuclear Meltdown?

Godzilla: where the hell is he?

Godzilla: where the hell is he?

Amazing, isn’t it, what a little light military intervention can do to a nuclear crisis?

One minute, the world is facing nuclear meltdown armageddon to rank with ooh, Three Mile Island at the very least, and quite possibly Chernobyl. A few (shockingly expensive) missile strikes over Benghazi and Tripoli later, though, and the Japanese nuclear crisis has all but vanished from the face of the earth.

Maybe we should start small wars more often. Or maybe even better the MSM could learn to start reporting on nuclear incidents like journalists instead of activists from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

I’m with Lewis Page on this one. In the Register, he writes:

As one who earns his living in the media these days, I can only apologise on behalf of my profession for the unbelievable levels of fear and misinformation purveyed this week. I have never been so ashamed to call myself a journalist.

Page puts the Fukushima incident in its proper perspective:

The Fukushima reactors actually came through the quake with flying colours despite the fact that it was five times stronger than they had been built to withstand. Only with the following tsunami – again, bigger than the design allowed for – did problems develop, and these problems seem likely to end in insignificant consequences. The Nos 1, 2 and 3 reactors at Daiichi may never produce power again – though this is not certain – but the likelihood is that Nos 4, 5 and 6 will return to service behind a bigger tsunami barrier.

The lesson to learn here is that if your country is hit by a monster earthquake and tsunami, one of the safest places to be is at the local nuclear powerplant. Other Japanese nuclear powerplants in the quake-stricken area, in fact, are sheltering homeless refugees in their buildings – which are some of the few in the region left standing at all, let alone with heating, water and other amenities.

Nothing else in the quake-stricken area has come through anything like as well as the nuclear power stations, or with so little harm to the population. All other forms of infrastructure – transport, housing, industries – have failed the people in and around them comprehensively, leading to deaths most probably in the tens of thousands. Fires, explosions and tank/pipeline ruptures all across the region will have done incalculably more environmental damage, distributed hugely greater amounts of carcinogens than Fukushima Daiichi – which has so far emitted almost nothing but radioactive steam (which becomes non-radioactive within minutes of being generated).

And yet nobody will say after this: “don’t build roads; don’t build towns; don’t build ships or chemical plants or oil refineries or railways”. That would be ridiculous, of course, even though having all those things has actually led to terrible loss of life, destruction and pollution in the quake’s wake.

But far and away more ridiculously, a lot of people are already saying that Fukushima with its probable zero consequences means that no new nuclear powerplants should ever be built again.

One of those ridiculous people is inevitably the noisome Energy Secretary Chris Huhne. In true Rahm Emanuel style he is using the perceived crisis as an excuse to push forward his anti-nuclear, eco-loon agenda. He claims:

“We can do the 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050 without new nuclear, but it will require a big effort on carbon capture and storage and renewables.”

If implemented this will most assuredly cause brown-outs and tremendous economic damage by the time the energy gap begins to widen in 2020. But since Huhne will no longer be in office then and since he is wealthy enough not to have to face the consequences of his political stupidity this is unlikely to bother him.

Another of those people is the Hon Sir Jonathon Porritt, who could be heard on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions grandstanding about his  opposition to nuclear and being given a free pass by Jonathan Dimbleby to spout his spurious eco-propaganda as if it were actually true. At one point, he actually claimed that wind farms did not cause noise disturbance. (Maybe, Sir Jonathan, I should give you the phone number of the poor Welsh chap who has been advised that he should now sleep with his windows shut at night to cut out the noise of the wind farm which has destroyed the value of his property and ruined his retirement).

One of the main objections raised about nuclear power is how incredibly expensive it is. There’s a reason for this: thanks to forty years of hysterical, dishonest propaganda from “Atomkraft Nein Danke” eco-activists like Porritt and Huhne, the bar for safety has been set to such impossibly high standards that it cannot compete economically with less heavily regulated industries such as oil, coal, gas or indeed wind. I was pleased to hear Toby Young on Any Questions reiterating my point about the safety records of the nuclear and wind industries:

Nuclear fatalities in the last ten years: 7

Wind farm fatalities in the last ten years: 44.

In those ten years nuclear provided thirty times the energy of wind. This means in the last decade, nuclear has been around 200 times safer than wind on an energy produced/accidents basis.

And entirely unsurprised when the Hon Sir Jonathan Porritt, having pompously thanked Toby for raising the safety issue, chose to ignore the inconvenient truth of these statistics.

Let’s leave last word to this German astronomer and physicist, Dr Peter Heller, who has written a moving essay on how the scientific truth on nuclear power has been warped by political activism. (Hmm. Reminds me of another area of “science” which has been similarly distorted by scientists, politicians and activists with an agenda. Can anyone jog my memory?) (H/T Roddy Campbell)

So it fills me with sadness and anger on how the work of the above mentioned giants of physics is now being dragged through the mud, how the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century are being redefined and criminalized. The current debate in Germany is also a debate on freedom of research. The stigmatization and ostracism of nuclear energy, the demand for an immediate stop of its use, is also the demand for the end of its research and development. No job possibilities also means no students, which means no faculty, which then means the end of the growth of our knowledge. Stopping nuclear energy is nothing less than rejecting the legacy of Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr and all others. It is tantamount to scrapping it, labelling it as dangerous – all in a fit of ignorance. And just as creationists attempt to ban the theory of evolution from the school books, it almost seems as if every factual and neutral explanation in Germany is now in the process of being deleted.

The media suggests a nuclear catastrophe, a mega-meltdown, and that the apocalypse has already begun. It is almost as if the 10,000 deaths in Japan were actually victims of nuclear energy, and not the earthquake or the tsunami. Here again one has to remind us that Fukushima was first hit by an unimaginable 9.0 earthquake and then by a massive 10-meter wave of water just an hour later. As a result, the facility no longer found itself in a highly technological area, but surrounded by a desert of rubble. All around the power plant the infrastructure, residential areas, traffic routes, energy and communication networks are simply no longer there. They were wiped out. Yet, after an entire week, the apocalypse still has not come to pass. Only relatively small amounts of radioactive materials have leaked out and have had only a local impact. If one considers the pure facts exclusively, i.e. only the things we really know, then it exposes the unfounded interpretations of scientific illiterates in the media. One can only arrive to one conclusion: This sorrowful state will remain so.

Read the full essay at Watts Up With That? It’s a blinder.

Related posts:

  1. Nuclear power – some perspective
  2. What really happened on BBC Any Questions
  3. Climategate: Greenpeace hoist by its own petard
  4. Greenpeace goes postal

4 thoughts on “Japan: whatever happened to the nuclear meltdown?”

  1. Nige Cook says:23rd March 2011 at 8:29 am

    Let’s leave last word to this German astronomer and physicist, German astronomer and physicist, Dr Peter Heller, who has written a moving essay on how the scientific truth on nuclear power has been warped by political activism. …

    “So it fills me with sadness and anger on how the work of the above mentioned giants of physics is now being dragged through the mud, how the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century are being redefined and criminalized. The current debate in Germany is also a debate on freedom of research. The stigmatization and ostracism of nuclear energy, the demand for an immediate stop of its use, is also the demand for the end of its research and development. No job possibilities also means no students, which means no faculty, which then means the end of the growth of our knowledge. Stopping nuclear energy is nothing less than rejecting the legacy of Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr and all others. It is tantamount to scrapping it, labelling it as dangerous – all in a fit of ignorance. And just as creationists attempt to ban the theory of evolution from the school books, it almost seems as if every factual and neutral explanation in Germany is now in the process of being deleted.”

    Deja vu. This groupthink episode has sadly happened before, namely after German defeat in WWI when their physics mainstream went bananas, as Paul Forman’s paper explains: “Weimar culture, causality, and quantum theory: adaptation by German physicists and mathematicians to a hostile environment,” Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences, vol 3 (1071), pp 1-115.

    The Weimar culture from 1918-33 in Germany was a sellout of rationality and causality due to their alleged failure in WWI. This led to widespread applause for Heisenberg’s 1st quantization Uncertainty Principle of 1925, which assumes intrinsic indeterminancy exists in the universe, without a mechanism. (From 1927 Dirac and other proponents of 2nd quantization disproved this and showed that indeterminancy results from particulate or quantum force fields, like Brownian motion of pollen being due to a sum-over-histories of discrete individual air molecule impacts on the pollen grain.) Heisenberg’s 1920s neo-Nazis fellow travellers wanted the Uncertainty Principle because it seemed to say that German defeat in 1918 was due to a random wavefunction collapse with no cause, and that Germany won the war in a parallel universe.

    Adolf Hitler then rewarded Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle 1st quantization theory by making Heisenberg head of nuclear research in the Third Reich. You know the story. Heisenberg knew nothing about real science, so he failed the make a nuclear bomb. The detail he got wrong was simply not knowing that boron electrodes were used in producing graphite, and that boron (a neutron absorber) contaminated the graphite and make it useless. America simply changed electrodes and used pure graphite for their reactor moderators, producing plutonium. Heisenberg rejected graphite altogether and switched moderators, choosing heavy water from a Norway plant, soon blown up by commandos.

    Exactly the same thing has occurred after the second German defeat in 1945. Instead of screwing up the future of theoretical physics by changing the pursuit of mechanistic models into the pursuit of mathematical obfuscation, this time the German fascists chose to back the USSR by trying to get the West into nuclear disarmament, so the USSR would achieve world domination. To do this, they lied this time about nuclear radiation dangers.

    For a good technical debunking of low-level radiation media hype scare-mongering (such as that from Dr Ernest Sternglass), please see: http://www.broadinstitute.org/~ilya/alexander_shlyakhter/92h_radiation_risk_leukemia_cancer.pdf

  2. James Delingpole says:23rd March 2011 at 8:39 amI do enjoy your posts Nigel. They’re better than my blog.
  3. Nige Cook says:24th March 2011 at 9:17 pmThanks for the witty sarcasm, James.
  4. John D says:27th March 2011 at 4:55 amJames and Nige, what a great sycophantic double act.

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Twitter: ‘Tweet’ Went the Birdy, and We Did

Short messages? On everyday issues? Surely it would never catch on. Five years later, convert James Delingpole explains the attraction.

Twitter: funny, inspiring, up-to-the-second informative, witty, warm - but vile and cowardly as well. It's all what you make of it, says James Delingpole.

Twitter: funny, inspiring, up-to-the-second informative, witty, warm – but vile and cowardly as well. It’s all what you make of it, says James Delingpole. Photo: PA

About four years ago, my bleeding-edge techno guru friend John gave me some unwanted advice. “You’ve got to get yourself on Twitter!” he said. “Oh yeah? What’s Twitter?” I asked. And when John explained in further detail I knew at once that Twitter was an utterly useless idea that was never going to catch on in a million years.

“So you’re limited to 140 characters? How’s that an improvement on a text or an e-mail?” I asked. And: “But what exactly are you going to tell people in these ‘Tweet thingies?” ‘Mm. I have just had a delicious sandwich for my lunch.’ That kind of thing?” And: “Isn’t it kind of creepy having all these random strangers sharing every last intimate detail of your life?” And: “Who’d want to read this kind of drivel anyway?”

Now, though, I am eating my words. Twitter is celebrating its fifth birthday, the company is worth around $3.7 billion and among the 200 million users sending 140 million Tweets daily, is a sneery sceptic turned complete addict called James Delingpole.

One of the many brilliant uses of Twitter, I’ve found, is for pieces like this. You send out a Tweet saying: “I’m writing an article about the fifth anniversary of Twitter. Any thoughts on Tweeting, good, bad or indifferent?” And within 15 minutes, your work is half done with views as diverse as this:

“There’s the obvious point that it gives the vile & cowardly a platform to say what they would never say to a person’s face.”

“i fink it vewy gud for spelin und compusing reelyn interetrustin fink s to say in case i right an ebok”

“it’s addictive, a friend when you are lonely, a place to rant when you are cross. Its a place to meet irl new friends.”

“Twitter is reshaping the perception of disability as it enables disabled ppl to show our normality using it.”

“I never got the point of pointless Im-on-the-bog commentary but for news/instant feedback/mobilising people its perfect.”

“twitter is THE way to stay notified of whats going on.”

“it’s great for the Perpetually Outraged championed by Stephen Frys of this world. But not great for solid political debate”

I agree with all these points, especially the first one. At its best, Twitter can be funny, inspiring, up-to-the-second informative, witty, warm. But at its worst and not just if you’re poor Paul Chambers, who was fined, sacked and banned from flying because of a grotesque police overreaction to what was obviously a flippant Tweet about blowing up an airport it can be one of the harshest, most miserable places on earth.

My own brief journey into Twitter hell came about as a result of an appearance I made on a BBC documentary. A significant portion of the Twittersphere decided that they didn’t like what I had to say and told me so in no uncertain terms. And in such numbers, that for a period I actually trended (thats Twitterspeak for being one of the main topics of conversation).

I’m sure this represented only a fraction of the suffering Jan Moir had to endure when she wrote a newspaper article on the late Boyzone singer Stephen Gately, which was widely deemed homophobic, or the grief given to Stephen Fry as a result of a casual remark he’d made about the differing sex drives of men and women. Even so, it was enough to convince me that the spirit of the witch-hunt and the lynch mob is alive and thriving on Twitter; and that this spirit generally manifests itself in a shrill, aggressively intolerant political correctness bordering on the fascistic.

My colleague Milo Yiannopoulos (himself the victim of a Twitter roasting because he once dared to speak up for conservative views on Channel 4s achingly PC 10 O’Clock Live) puts this down to Twitter’s youthful demographic. I think he’s right. You’re much more likely to be attacked on Twitter for, say, sticking up for fox-hunting, Israel or Margaret Thatcher, than you would be for campaigning for more generous student grants or vegetarianism. Twitter is biased towards green, Left-liberal views because those are the prejudices of its mainly young audience.

Which may invite the question: what’s a middle-aged, Right-wing fart like me doing on Twitter, anyway? The short answer is that I can’t afford not to be. Whether you work in e-commerce or politics or any branch of the media, it has become an almost essential place in which to raise your profile or even make a bit of money. And the ways you can achieve this are almost endless.

The author Susan Hill uses it to interact with readers and vent spleen (If I read one more book that starts wonderfully well before crashing big time, I’ll…); philosopher Alain de Botton has built a massive audience (86,165) with such witty, daily pensées as “Important to remember: when an English person says ‘You must come around some time,’ it means ‘leave me alone forever'”; others– you’re bound to have come across them–have acquired huge Twitter followings not through wit or style or even interestingness, but through sheer, dogged persistence.

Possibly my favourite Tweeter, Tom Morton, does so in the guise of Dr Samuel Johnson, translating modern phenomena into 18th-century English: e.g., “Midsomer (n.) crime-wrack’d Parish, in which a white-skinn’d Resident does Murder a white-skinn’d Neighbour each WEEK.” And “Fish Finger (n.) lurid piscine Digit, luring unsuspecting Infants unto the Dining-Table or unto Capt. BIRDSEYE’S Cabin.”

But, of course, if you don’t find that sort of thing funny, you don’t have to follow that particular Tweeter. This is part of the genius that has made Twitter so popular: it is whatever you want it to be. For some it’s an instant news source (which, thanks to shortened hyperlinks, can keep you abreast of the latest thinking on all the worlds events); for others its a place to gossip or deconstruct your favourite trash TV with like-minded mates; for some–that’ll be you, Obnoxio the Clown–it’s a chance to swear like you’ve got Tourette’s; or it’s a marketing tool; or it’s a chance to rant to whoever will listen.

For many of us it’s a mixture of them all: a condensation of everything that’s good and bad about the internet, precis-ed down into 140 of the wisest and wittiest, vilest and dumbest words contemporary thought can devise.

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10 O’Clock Live Is Shedding Viewers. Oh Dear

Channel 4’s groovy, topical, political comedy show for the nation’s yoof 10 O’Clock Live is being hammered in the ratings. It launched in January with 1.4 million viewers. Now its audience has slipped to less than half that. Its commissioners at Channel 4 are putting a brave face on this. But it doesn’t sound like the definition of a great success story. I wonder why that could be.

Actually I know why, as I explained when I reviewed the abysmal first episode in the Spectator. (Since when, I gather, it has gone even further downhill.)
Just before Christmas, a TV production company asked whether I might be interested in appearing in a zappy new live and topical political series they were soon to launch on Channel 4.
‘It’s called 10 O’Clock Live,’ they said. ‘You probably saw our pilot. The one-off special with Lauren Laverne, Charlie Brooker, David Mitchell and Jimmy Carr? It got pretty good ratings.’ No, I replied. That isn’t the sort of programme I’d watch in a million years. Lefty comedians making lefty jokes to a lefty audience about politics from a relentlessly lefty perspective? No, thanks.
‘But that’s exactly why we’re approaching you. To give it a bit of political balance,’ they said. ‘You mean, to come on as your token right-wing nutcase to be reviled and jeered at?’ I said. ‘Nooo,’ they said. ‘We want every point of view to be represented, we really do.’ ‘Yeah, right,’ I thought. But I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and wait for the first episode.
And guess what? 10 O’Clock Live is so relentlessly left-wing it’s like attending one of those Maoist re-education lectures the Chinese used to impose on captured British and American prisoners during the Korean war. Only without the levity, rapier wit and penetrating intellectual sophistication.
Look, you’re just going to have to take my word for it that this isn’t a case of sour grapes. Really, I’m absolutely 100 per cent sure that had I been chosen to be one of the presenters, I too would have made just as appalling hash of the job as Laverne, Mitchell, Brooker and Carr do with such cackhanded verve, week-in, week-out.
But the real point about all this is that the problem with 10’O Clock Live has absolutely nothing to do with personalities. (As I say later in the Spectator piece, I’m actually a massive fan of all four of those presenters: I just think their talents are wasted on this particular misbegotten show.) The problem lies with its relentlessly left-liberal politics.
Now I would concede that greenie, left-liberal politics are more likely to be in line with its yoof demographic. But the programme’s tacit assumption that all people today between 18 and 34 are Israel-loathing, high-tax-loving, believers in an expanded welfare state, man-made global warming, waterboarding for bankers, compulsory homosexuality, free university education and so on is not only demeaning (and, to a degree, false) but also the makings of excedingly dull TV.
Sure, granted, a lot of the nation’s “uni-” “educated” yoof do think in this way. But what you get if you make a topical news programme in this way is an amen corner for the received orthodoxies of the green, liberal-left. What you definitely don’t is the cut and thrust of real, exciting political debate.
As much as anything else this is a psychological thing. There are many fine, entertaining figures of a right/conservative/libertarian persuasion. But if their job is merely to be tossed like scraps of raw meat into a bear pit of salivating lefties who wouldn’t know what a free market was if it bit them on the bum, they are simply not going to perform to their best advantage.
Not everyone reads the Guardian or the Independent, you know. (In fact, hardly anyone.)

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3 thoughts on “10 O’Clock Live is shedding viewers. Oh dear”

  1. JimmyGiro says:20th March 2011 at 10:16 amA depressed man asks the psychoanalyst what he can do for relief?The analyst replies: “The treatment is simple. The great clown Terrifini is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up. Man bursts into tears: “But doctor . . . I am Terrifini.”

    I think the main problem with ’10 O’clock Live’ is the audience. Comedians, and popular public speakers alike, are inclined to react to the audience, which becomes their audience.

    Would Bernard Manning’s style of humour be the same if he were not playing to North Manchester working class men? Would Hitler have chosen a different angle if he couldn’t depend on the inherent anti-Jewish sentiment of the German people, in his early political career?

    If the organisers attract a crowd of brown shirts, the show is going to be different than if it was populated by people that want a laugh after a hard days graft. The Guardian reading crowd seem to want self affirmation rather than a belly laugh, as witnessed by the cheering and clapping, dominating the paucity of natural, non-forced laughter.

    When Nigel Farage, who was introduced amongst Pavlovian jeering, gave his typically cogent responses to David Mitchell’s questions, despite the latter desperately trying to force the answers to a simplistic level of xenophobia, the audience where stunned, and eventually collapsed into polite applause at the end.

    So I conclude that it is the neurosis of the audience that is wearing away the credibility of the show, and it took someone of Nigel Farage’s confidence to expose it.

  2. Velocity says:21st March 2011 at 1:24 amLeftie (and liberal) comedians are sooooooooo not funny. Dross in, dross out.
    But maybe you should take up the challenge James as first we need some right wingers (libertarians), second lefties are a (easy) target to be hammered and third times are a changing. and becoming more receptive
    They take the piss out of austerity you take the piss out of State bankruptcy
    They take the piss out of bankers you say it was the socialists that bailed them out
    They take the piss out of higher Uni fees you say State education is the most expensive liability
    They say Cameron is a clown you say ‘Agreed, but not as big as the last Labour Govt’
    They want more for the NHS you say the free market works better
    They want more for trains, green energy, Euro subsidies etc you say the free market works better
    They complain about cuts you complain about high taxes on everything (fuel, VAT up, ciggies, drinks etc etc etc)
    They want more Govt you want a whole lot less (zero someday when the penny drops)
    You could have a field day slapping these lefties in the face… remember they’re soft as shit and haven’t a leg to stand on after Labours destruction of the country… a missed opportunity James
  3. Colin says:22nd March 2011 at 9:52 pmI watch it, I laugh.

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