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.

Related posts:

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  4. Twitter wars: another proxy battleground for the future of Western civilisation

 

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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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Wind Farms Kill Whales: Blubber on the Green Movement’s Hands

Ungreen energy

The price of wind?

The price of wind?

So wind farms don’t just despoil countryside, frighten horses, chop up birds, spontaneously combust, drive down property prices, madden those who live nearby with their subsonic humming, drive up electricity prices, promote rentseeking, make rich landowners richer (and everyone else poorer), ruin views, buy more electric sports cars for that dreadful Dale Vince character, require rare earth minerals which cause enormous environmental damage, destroy 3.7 real jobs for every fake “green” job they “create”, blight neighbourhoods, kill off tourism and ruin lives, but they also

KILL WHALES!

According to researchers at the University of St Andrews, the sound of offshore wind farms is likely to mess with the whales’ sensitive sonar systems and drive them ashore, where they get stuck on beaches and die.

Has anyone else noticed the gentle irony here? Well, let me explain with the help of my magic sledgehammer: save possibly the polar bear and the mighty snail darter there is no creature on the planet more totemic of green values than the whale. Saving whales is what greens do. Or rather what they used to do in the days when greens were actually interested in caring for the environment instead of, say, trying to destroy the capitalist system. But now, here they are actively promoting a form of renewable energy which in the process of producing next to no energy very expensively also does the most stupendous damage to the environment and the eco-system.

I wonder how long it will be before the University of St Andrews team which came up with this research is accused of being in the pay of big oil.

And I wonder what Greenpeace co-founder Dr Patrick Moore – who in the mid-70s risked his life on many whale-saving expeditions – makes of it.

Actually I know what he makes of it because I’m reading his brilliant book: Confessions of A Greenpeace Dropout – The Making of A Sensible Environmentalist (Beatty Street).

I can’t recommend it highly enough. Moore is the real deal: a PhD ecologist who got into the environmental movement because he loved nature rather than because he hated mankind. He wanted to make the world a better place and he did: in those early days, Greenpeace did valuable work opposing nuclear testing, drift net fishing, industrial pollution and large scale whaling. But then, as he recounts in the book, the environmental movement lost its way:

Since I left Greenpeace, its members, and the majority of the movement have adopted policy after policy that reflects their antihuman bias, illustrates their rejection of science and technology and actually increases the risk of harm to people and the environment. They oppose forestry even though it provides our most abundant renewable resource. They have zero tolerance for genetically modified food crops, even though this technology reduces pesticide use and improves nutrition for people who suffer from malnutrition. They continue to oppose nuclear energy, even though it is the best technology to replace fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They campaign against hydroelectric projects despite the fact that hydro is by far the most abundant renewable source of electricity. And they support the vicious and misguided campaign against salmon farming, an industry that produces more than a million tons of heart-friendly food every year.”

And, no, he doesn’t think much of wind farms either:

“How can windmills be green when they require five times as much steel and concrete per unit of power produced compared to nuclear plants and when they occupy vast areas of land?”

URGENT!!!!! UPDATE!!!!!

It has been drawn to my attention that the man who led the St Andrews research team has violently, passionately and emphatically dissociated himself from the original Telegraph news item suggesting that his research showed wind farms to be deleterious to the health of whales. I am delighted to put this straight.

What this means is that, though at this stage we know for absolute certain that wind farms despoil countryside, frighten horses, chop up birds, spontaneously combust, drive down property prices, madden those who live nearby with their subsonic humming, drive up electricity prices, promote rentseeking, make rich landowners richer (and everyone else poorer), ruin views, buy more electric sports cars for that dreadful Dale Vince character, require rare earth minerals which cause enormous environmental damage, destroy 3.7 real jobs for every fake “green” job they “create”, blight neighbourhoods, kill off tourism and ruin lives, the possibility that they also lure whales to their doom remains at this stage an unproven hypothesis. (Just like Anthropogenic Global Warming theory, then.)

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14 thoughts on “Wind farms kill whales: blubber on the green movement’s hands”

  1. John D says:19th March 2011 at 11:32 amSo do sonars and ships, are we going to ban those too? Glass windows kill far more birds than wind farms, is the denial movement going to ban windows as well? Energy prices are already going up due to higher fuel prices…. and killing off 3.7 jobs, where do you get your dodgy statistics from?
  2. James Delingpole says:19th March 2011 at 2:57 pmOh dear, John. Do you know what a straw man argument is?
  3. John D says:20th March 2011 at 8:33 amNo James, but a strawlemming is a denialist who hasn’t time to read science but has plenty of time to bash science. Remember your interview with Paul Nurse?

    Watch this get censored…

  4. Nige Cook says:20th March 2011 at 5:57 pm“So do sonars and ships, are we going to ban those too? Glass windows kill far more birds than wind farms, is the denial movement going to ban windows as well?” – John D

    James makes this point in his book How to be right in the context of oil spill pollution at sea. It turns out that the number of sea birds covered in oil is trivial compared to the number killed by windows and windfarms.

    The point is, the green movement isn’t moral, right, just, honest, decent, and correct just because it has a left wing political agenda. It’s efforts to do away with safe, clean nuclear by lying about radiation will have serious environmental consequences, that make radiation look attractive and natural by comparison. The left lies in pretending background radiation is insignificant compared to radioactive pollution (it’s the other way around), and by pretending the fruit fly linear-response curve is still valid (it’s not, DNA repair enzymes have been proved to produce hormesis even at radiation levels well above natural radiation background, which is far above nuclear pollution levels).

    Unfortunately, if anyone in a position of authority in the health physics legislation quangos speaks up for the facts on radiation, they’ll be fired by Cameron and friends for the crime of political incorrectness.

  5. Nige Cook says:20th March 2011 at 6:34 pmWhat is curious is that the green movement fascists don’t even get the message here. The message is that windfarms, solar cells, etc., have environmental consequences, so they aren’t automatically safe just because they have green propaganda behind them. On the contrary, the politically correct power sources are provably the real danger, unlike nuclear power. I’ve experienced this before.

    You prove to the anti-nuclear propaganda politicians that “the radiation from nuclear power is trivial compared to natural background radiation”, and they honestly don’t get the message. They say “well we can’t stop background radiation but we can stop nuclear pollution, even if it’s trivial by comparison”. Then you explain, as Feynman did in the 1960s, that if they’re really worried about radiation, they should first ban people flying in aircraft, climing mountains, and living at high altitudes or in other places where the natural radioactive background is several times higher than in London. They then quieten down a bit but soon forget the facts and start again. They’re just too biased, which gives them protective stupidity, just as forecast by Orwell in his 1984:

    “Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimestop )

    First, alternatives produce very little energy, so you need an awful lot of them. Britain doesn’t get enough sunshine to make solar cells a substantial contributor even if every roof in the country is covered. So you need windfarms, and lots of them. You also need them in different places, to try to compensate for wind variations over the country. They shut down in both calm and gales, so you don’t generate any power in very hot weather (where there is a high pressure ridge over the country, with no breeze), or in very stormy weather. Both are times you get power surges for cooling (fans, aircon, etc.) or heating.

    Next, they cost lives to put up and maintain, because they’re high up and need maintenance, and people have to climb up there. Accidents happen.

    Then they pollute the skyline. Tidal power suffers from the maintenance problems, plus shipping hazards. The more clutter there is around the coasts, the more boating accidents will be caused. Also, extracting enough tidal energy to really make a difference is going to take that energy out of the tides around the coast. Energy is conserved. So there will be marine ecosystem effects, and the trials to date which extract negligible energy don’t indicate the environmental effects from enormous tidal energy systems that can provide useful power. More likely, however, the massive systems will simply break down (at great repair cost) during severe storms at sea. You’re not going to hear genuine negative criticisms from the scientists working on these projects, who have a vested interest in getting continued funding.

    The danger is that politically correct fashion will divert vast sums of money into not just down the drain, but into dangerous projects covering vast areas with environmentally threatening, high-maintenance technology that will break down just when most needed. All to appease the ignorant anti-nuclear propaganda lobby.

    The idea of using biofuels is just an inefficient version of electric solar power: biofuels are grown using solar energy (sunlight), then they have to be harvested, processed and more biofuel plants grown to take their place. Just as with solar power, biofuels require vast areas to be used if you want to replace existing power sources like oil.

  6. Chris P says:22nd March 2011 at 4:37 amIn the US cats kill over 500 million birds each year. Wind turbines less than 1 million.

    James is so bad at facts it’s not funny.

  7. James Stevens says:24th March 2011 at 9:29 pmJames, either you are deliberately misrepresenting what you read, or you simply do not know how to read scientific papers. Either way you are being highly irresponsible writing about scientific issues. The research you mention simply does not show what you claim it does above. See the link below for details.

    http://www.badscience.net/2011/03/why-dont-journalists-link-to-primary-sources/

  8. Martin Lack says:25th March 2011 at 11:09 amJames Stevens, I take my hat off to you. That is a wonderfully succinct comment; the like of which Nige Cook and I can but aspire to emulate.
  9. Nige Cook says:25th March 2011 at 3:09 pmMartin,

    If you want the scientific journal references, please see my draft paper on global climate change lies:

    http://nige.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/draft-climate-change-paper-nigel-b-cook.pdf

    Please see specifically the NOAA data in figure 1 which shows how H2O vapour fall (caused by a shift of global H2O from vapour to condensed cloud cover water, hence global dimming which stopped tree-ring data temp proxy working after 1960) has cancelled out CO2. Also, the recent evidence in figure 5 for strong negative feedback and its implications in fig 6 for predicted global temperatures in 2100 (all IPCC models rely on the false positive H2O feedback; with negative feedback there is zero temperature rise, and with zero feedback there is just 1C rise for a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere).

  10. Nige Cook says:25th March 2011 at 3:38 pm(Correction: “it’s” in the first sentence of my abstract should be “its”. I’ll correct that before submitting to a journal. The point remains: the published NOAA data for a drop in humidity cancelling out CO2 effects is justified by the published data of Spencer, Braswell, Christy, & Hnilo’s paper “Cloud and Radiation Budget Changes Associated with Tropical Intraseasonal Oscillations”, Geophysical Research Letters, which shows that cloud cover has a strong negative feedback on temperature. CO2 simply pushes the down the ratio of H2O vapour/H2O cloud drops, while the overall amount of H2O is pretty much constant. The change in the ratio cancels out the CO2 effect on climate. You might have an increase in mean cloud cover from 61-62%, but you won’t get a temperature change due to CO2 in the real world, which simply isn’t a greenhouse because of cloud cover.)
  11. Nige Cook says:25th March 2011 at 3:52 pmTypo corrected: http://nige.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/draft-climate-change-paper-nigel-b-cook2.pdf
  12. John D says:27th March 2011 at 4:46 amIf James says the green movement is killing whales and birds, does that James and his denialist movement is screaming for a ban on windows, planes, sonars, ships and all manner of modern technology because they kill birds and whales too?
  13. Nige Cook says:27th March 2011 at 10:46 amJohn D: James’ is putting the issue in perspective by pointing out the relative risks from other technologies. It’s just pathetic that the only response green fascists can make in reply, is to claim that James is “screaming for a ban on windows, planes, sonars, ship…”

    You’re deliberately misconstruing James’ very clear and funny sarcasm. It really has to be spelled out to you, doesn’t it, that James is being sarcastic. You’re so thick and prejudiced that you can’t see that “green” technologies are a far bigger danger than say nuclear scare mongering. The response of former New Scientist editor Jeremy Webb (an Exeter uni electronics graduate, who was a sound engineer at the BBC before joining New Scientist) in 2001 at the “New Scientist Global Environment Roadshow” to Dr Helene Guldberg (reported in her article “Eco-evangelism” on the website Spiked Science) was “Why take the risk?” She had asked Jeremy why nobody was being scientific and evaluating objections to scare-mongering.

    This proves that you need to understand relative risks or you have no perspective at all. Everything is risky. Unless you compare risks, you have no objectivity.

    People who smoke 20 cigarettes/day for 50 years have a 25-fold increase in the natural risk of lung cancer (Fig 1.1 at http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/causes/lifestyle/tobacco/ ). I.e., smoking 365,000 cigarettes gives a 2500% lung cancer risk increase, so if the dose-effect relationship were linear, you get a 1% increase in lung cancer risk for every 146 cigarettes smoked. However, if you look at the actual graph, it’s not linear but goes up by a curve whose gradient increases almost exponentially with increasing dose, so 20 per day for 20 years only doubles the natural risk, implying a 1% increase in risk for every 1,460 cigarettes smoked. So people who smoke at the same rate for 20 years have a risk per cigarette that is 10 times smaller than those who smoke at the same rate for 50 years.

    A more severe example, where the cause changes the effects in a qualitative way, not just quantitatively, is vitamin A. You first go blind and then your immune system packs in and you have increased cancer risks and genetic risks that make Hiroshima look like a picnic, if you don’t get sufficient vitamin A. Too much vitamin A, and you’re poisoned and die like many arctic explorers who ate the livers of polar bears or other polar mammals. So here the dose-mortality curve is not just non-linear, but has two peaks: 100% lethality at zero dose and at high doses.

    The same applies to things like proteins and sunshine, causing terrific problems for government advice. Government’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has finally been trying to “balance” the conflict that sunshine exposure permits vitamin D production, but also increases skin cancer risks. There is an endless controversy on this, caused by health experts advising on sunshine exposure to ensure people get enough vitamin D, and cancer researchers warning that sunshine ultraviolet radiation verges the soft X-ray spectrum, and is therefore ionizing and destructive to DNA with a cancer risk, like being exposed to large doses of nuclear radiation.

    In the real world, there are always counter-risks to any action. You can’t eliminate risk. People who quit smoking completely may end up drinking or eating to excess instead. You have to face all the facts, and take account of the consequences of other risks that emerge when you try to reduce one risk. Otherwise, you’re hyping deluded propaganda.

  14. John D says:28th March 2011 at 10:16 amTalk about pot calling kettle…

    Doesn’t James frequently goes off tangent accusing anyone not of the rightwing libertarian agenda of killing 3rd world people, whales, fascism etc etc. Then to add to that, uses 3 words in an email to destroy the reputation of one scientist without looking into the details of the 3 words?

    But when asked a question about whether to drink orange juice to cure a serious condition or follow the advice of the majority of experts in the field, blubbermouth Delingpole falls apart and accuses the BBC of a stitch up without answering the question!

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Nuclear Power – Some Perspective

This mutant pony - pictured near Chernobyl - has 11 bodies, 11 heads and no fewer than 44 legs

This mutant pony – pictured near Chernobyl – has 11 bodies, 11 heads and no fewer than 44 legs

Yesterday I suggested that the fuss about imminent nuclear disaster was greatly overdone. And predictably, the first name invoked by one of the gang of shrill haters who congregate below this blog was Chernobyl. So Im grateful to Roddy Campbell for producing this guest post on that subject.

Before I hand you over to Roddy I should also like to draw your attention to this post from Dr Josef Oehmen, a research scientist at MIT Boston, whose father has extensive experience in Germanys nuclear industry. (H/T Eureferendum)

In a nutshell, Oehmen argues that a) there is nothing remotely worrying about Japans alleged nuclear crisis:

There was and will *not* be any significant release of radioactivity.

By “significant” I mean a level of radiation of more than what you would receive on – say – a long distance flight, or drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation.

and b) that almost everything you have read or heard in the MSMs reporting on the subject is wrong:

I have been reading every news release on the incident since the earthquake. There has not been one single (!) report that was accurate and free of errors (and part of that problem is also a weakness in the Japanese crisis communication). By “not free of errors” I do not refer to tendentious anti-nuclear journalism – that is quite normal these days. By “not free of errors” I mean blatant errors regarding physics and natural law, as well as gross misinterpretation of facts, due to an obvious lack of fundamental and basic understanding of the way nuclear reactors are build and operated. I have read a 3 page report on CNN where every single paragraph contained an error.

Right. Now heres Roddy Campbell on Chernobyl

We seemed to have just reached the point where civil nuclear power was acceptable in polite society again, as decades on the fears that accompanied Three Mile Island and Chernobyl abated, CO2 emissions fears placed environmental advocacy groups in a cleft stick of nuclear versus global warming, and increasing demand for energy, and energy security concerns drive government policy.  The UK has plans to replace its ageing fleet of reactors, the US likewise, and China is already building new nuclear power stations, even green Germany has extended the life of its nuclear generating capacity.

Now we have an earthquake in Japan, possibly causing meltdown at a number of nuclear reactors, whose safety systems seem not to be working too well, and we may be back to square one.

So, how dangerous is it, either when there is massive operator error, like Chernobyl, or an exogenous event, like the earthquake in Japan?  We don’t know yet about Japan, although most expert commentary seems reasonably relaxed about the radiation risks in the event of core melt-down.  What do we know about Chernobyl?

Well, arent we lucky?  We have an almost perfect test case of the hazards of civil nuclear power, Chernobyl 1986.  25 years on we have an excellent view of the lives lost, environment despoiled, cancer rates, societal impacts, ecosystems, and so on, caused by the worst civil nuclear disaster ever.

We have endless reports from international agencies.  Cover-up?  I doubt it.  Ukraine and Belarus want aid and help, have no interest in covering up, and its difficult to believe in an international nuclear industry driven cover-up taking in all those UN agencies.

What did these agencies say?  Read for yourself, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and so on, the list really is endless, you can click through for hours.

Or you can let me summarise from the WHO/IAEA/UNDP Press Release that accompanied the 600-page September 2005 report, written jointly by 8 UN specialized agencies, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), and the World Bank, as well as the governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Deaths so far?  ‘As of mid-2005, however, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers…..’

Possible deaths in total?  ‘A total of up to 4000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant  …. an international team of more than 100 scientists has concluded.’

Cancer?  ‘About 4000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children and adolescents at the time of the accident, have resulted from the accident’s contamination and at least nine children died of thyroid cancer; however the survival rate among such cancer victims, judging from experience in Belarus, has been almost 99%.’

Fertility and malformations?  ‘Most emergency workers and people living in contaminated areas received relatively low whole body radiation doses, comparable to natural background levels. As a consequence, no evidence or likelihood of decreased fertility among the affected population has been found, nor has there been any evidence of increases in congenital malformations….’

General health effects?  ‘ …..the health effects of the accident were potentially horrific, but when you add them up using validated conclusions from good science, the public health effects were not nearly as substantial as had at first been feared.’

How much radiation did people receive?  ‘With the exception of on-site reactor staff and emergency workers exposed on 26 April, most recovery operation workers and those living in contaminated territories received relatively low whole body radiation doses, comparable to background radiation levels and lower than the average doses received by residents in some parts of the world having high natural background radiation levels.’

Why do people assume it was so much worse, in terms of human fatalities and illnesses? ‘Confusion about the impact has arisen owing to the fact that thousands of people in the affected areas have died of natural causes. Also, widespread expectations of ill health and a tendency to attribute all health problems to radiation exposure have led local residents to assume that Chernobyl related fatalities were much higher than they actually were.’

Any more reproductive or natal effects likely?  ‘….. no evidence or likelihood of decreased fertility has been seen among males or females. Also, because the doses were so low, there was no evidence of any effect on the number of stillbirths, adverse pregnancy outcomes, delivery complications or overall health of children.’

Environmental impact?  ‘As for environmental impact, the reports are also reassuring, for the scientific assessments show that, except for the still closed, highly contaminated 30 kilometer area surrounding the reactor, and some closed lakes and restricted forests, radiation levels have mostly returned to acceptable levels.’

Psychological impact – now that’s where the report is really interesting, stating that fear, lack of information, relocation, poverty, and so on had a far greater effect than anything else.  ‘…the report labels the mental health impact of Chernobyl as “the largest public health problem created by the accident” and partially attributes this damaging psychological impact to a lack of accurate information. These problems manifest as negative self-assessments of health, belief in a shortened life expectancy, lack of initiative, and dependency on assistance from the state.’, and ‘In most areas the problems are economic and psychological, not health or environmental.’

Don’t get me wrong, Chernobyl was not a Good Thing.  Lots of things aren’t Good Things, like Macondo, floods, earthquakes, coal mining deaths and lung diseases, so we have to try and measure how much of a Bad Thing they are.  Evacuations , resettlement, and agricultural economic impacts seem to have, according to the reports, caused most of the human suffering.  These seem now largely unnecessary, or at least capable of substantial mitigation, and to have been greatly exacerbated by false fear.

Where I get to is that the health and environmental impacts of Chernobyl, while not a Good Thing, are far less bad than people thought and indeed still think.  That’s what the reports say.  And the impacts derive from a really bad disaster; one might exaggerate and say it’s difficult to think of how a civil nuclear disaster could be worse.

And you have to compare nuclear impacts over decades to the deaths, illnesses and environmental impacts caused by other energy generating businesses, which are the natural comparatives – coal mining, oil drilling, gas.

So let’s not exaggerate.  Stick to nuclear.  Overall it is clearly a Good Thing.  As is the invention of the combine harvester, which has ripped a few arms off and caused a few deaths in its time.

Related posts:

  1. Japan: whatever happened to the nuclear meltdown?
  2. BP oil spill: ‘mass hysteria on a par with the Dutch tulip bubble’
  3. The real reasons why one billion go hungry: wind farms, biofuels, sustainability…
  4. Queensland floods: but at least the ‘endangered’ Mary River cod is safe, eh?

16 thoughts on “Nuclear power – some perspective”

  1. Velocity says:15th March 2011 at 10:48 pmYou are quite correct James that deaths and accidents come with whatever energy industry one chooses. Though we now have nuclear accidents in Russia, America, Japan and low but dangerous emissions from French and British plants (pretty much everyone then!)

    As you report Germany is “extending the life of its plants (and shutting half its plants for safety checks as we speak). But what do all these “accidents” have in common?

    Nuclear plants are really bloody expensive to operate/run. Parts are very expensive. The commercial world would teach you very high running and repair costs inevitably lead to corners being cut, maintenance being neglected, safety checks being ‘bent’ so as not to run up costs and shutdowns.

    Compared to a coal or gas fired power plant, nuclear is a nightmare from every angle including worst nightmare of all, dumping safely spent material.

    And whilst you recognise the expense and negative energy budget of green energy you simply haven’t mentioned the extortinate price of nuclear energy, up to 400% more expensive than either coal or gas fired power stations.

    You haven’t mentioned that if left to the free market, instead of the pampered propped-up world of State monopoly nuclear, that the market simply would not go near nuclear because of its extreme expense. The free market would never choose nuclear, only the dumbest institution on the planet, Govt, picks nuclear.

    And that settles the argument James. You no longer have to try to push water uphill for whatever reason you have chosen to try to do so! Nuclear is a no brainer, a non-starter, as big a joke as green energy and that’s pretty hilarious i think you’d agree

  2. Nige Cook says:16th March 2011 at 10:56 am“About 4000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children and adolescents at the time of the accident, have resulted from the accident’s contamination and at least nine children died of thyroid cancer; however the survival rate among such cancer victims, judging from experience in Belarus, has been almost 99%.”

    But 1% of 4,000 equals 40 deaths downwind (off-site) from Chernobyl. For iodine-131 (half life 8 days) is that there is are simple antidotes like not drinking contaminated food and water, or taking potassium iodide or iodate tablets (130 mg per day). These flood the thyroid gland with stable iodine, preventing update of 99% of the iodine-131. Your death figure then goes down to 1% of 40 which is a predicted casualty rate of 0.4 dead.

    But the data quoted is wrong. The rise in thyroid cancers observed are subjective to diagnosis, and doubts have been expressed even over 40 deaths at Chernobyl, by Dr Zbigniew Jaworowski, “Radiation Risk and Ethics: Health Hazards, Prevention Costs, and Radiophobia”, Physics Today, April 2000, pp. 89-90:

    “… it is important to note that, given the effects of a few seconds of irradiation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, a threshold near 200 mSv may be expected for leukemia and some solid tumors. For a protracted lifetime natural exposure, a threshold may be set at a level of several thousand millisieverts for malignancies, of 10 grays for radium-226 in bones, and probably about 1.5-2.0 Gy for lung cancer after x-ray and gamma irradiation. The hormetic effects, such as a decreased cancer incidence at low doses and increased longevity, may be used as a guide for estimating practical thresholds and for setting standards. …

    “The highest average thyroid doses in children (177 mGy) were accumulated in the Gomel region of Belarus. The highest incidence of thyroid cancer (17.9 cases per 100,000 children) occurred there in 1995, which means that the rate had increased by a factor of about 25 since 1987.

    “This rate increase was probably a result of improved screening [not radiation!]. Even then, the incidence rate for occult thyroid cancers was still a thousand times lower than it was for occult thyroid cancers in nonexposed populations (in the US, for example, the rate is 13,000 per 100,000 persons, and in Finland it is 35,600 per 100,000 persons). Thus, given the prospect of improved diagnostics, there is an enormous potential for detecting yet more [fictitious] “excess” thyroid cancers. In a study in the US that was performed during the period of active screening in 1974-79, it was determined that the incidence rate of malignant and other thyroid nodules was greater by 21-fold than it had been in the pre-1974 period.”

    The normal thyroid “nodule” incidence is 16% in Americans, and 35.6% in the more carefully screened Finland population. A large percentage of people have thyroids that don’t conform to the medical textbook. What happens after a nuclear accident is that people do looking for these nodules, feeling people’s throats, and detecting more of the natural incidence, then mis-reporting this rise in detection of natural thyroid gland “deformalities” as radiation-induced nodules. At Rongelap atoll, where people received a really massive thyroid dose of 1,800 R or 18 Gray from drinking water from an open cistern for two days before evacuation 115 miles downwind of the 15 megaton Bravo nuclear test on 1 March 1954, some really did get thyroid cancer. But the highest dose in kids thyroids after Chernobyl was only 177 mGy or 0.177 Gray, a hundred times lower than the 18 Gray thyroid dose at Rongelap! It seems that all Chernobyl thyroid cancers are claimed to be natural cancers, under the threshold cancer dose, and due to screening!

    The same occurred with genetic effects immediately after Hiroshima and Chernobyl. E.g., the BBC and newspapers had an episode after of Chernobyl where they visited clinics filled with special needs children downwind of Chernobyl, and tried to claim that these children were proof of the evil of nuclear power, regardless of the natural incidence. Some clinic directors cooperated, to get funding, which was needed (no problem there!). The problem was the big lie of obfuscating natural incidences of genetic effects, cancer, and thyroid “malformations” with radiation for deliberate anti-nuclear scaremongering.

    Because the scientific community were unable to communicate such facts efficiently against pseudo-scientific propaganda, over 100,000 human lives were lost by abortions after Chernobyl: in 1995, environmentalist Michael Allaby stated on pages 191-7 of his book Facing the Future: the Case for Science (Bloomsbury, London):

    “The clear aim of the anti-nuclear movement is to silence all opposition … theirs are now the only voices heard … In the Gomel district … which was one of the most heavily contaminated [after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986], the death rate per thousand newborn babies was 16.3 in 1985, 13.4 in 1986, and 13.1 in 1987; in Kiev region the figures … were, respectively, 15.5, 12.2, and 12.1.”

    The International Atomic Energy Authority has reported that over 100,000 excess abortions were performed throughout Western Europe after the Chernobyl accident (reference: L. E. Ketchum, Lessons of Chernobyl: SNM members try to decontaminate world threatened by fallout, Part I [Newsline], J. Nucl. Med., vol. 28, 1987, pp. 413-22). This is the danger from lying. The newspapers and media generally have a vested interest in hyping anti-nuclear lies to make a big “splash” that sells newspapers.

  3. Nige Cook says:16th March 2011 at 11:17 amI’ve been through the anti-nuclear radiation lies “evidence” here: http://glasstone.blogspot.com/2009/04/radiation-effects-research-foundation.html

    It’s all phoney, extrapolating linearly down from effects at massive doses and massive dose rates despite non-linear response rates, or falsely claiming that improved diagnosis rates correlate to effects from radiation. The whole reason why nuclear power is currently expensive is fear-mongering over radiation. This pushes up the costs of reprocessing spent fuel, because it has to be done in laboratory-type glove boxes, with staff restricted to tiny doses. E=mc^2 tells you that 1 kg converted into energy gives 9 x 10^16 Joules of energy. Fission converts 0.1% of uranium-235 into energy, so fissioning 1 kg of uranium-235 produces 9 x 10^13 Joules of energy.

    Done efficiently with cheap reprocessing and with the surplus neutrons being captured in cheap and abundant uranium-238 to form plutonium-239 (or captured in cheap and abundant thorium-232 to form uranoum-233), nuclear power would be the cheapest power on earth. The whole problem is psychological “groupthink” against small doses of radiation, despite the fact we get doses all the time.

    The reason why you can’t extract dinosaur DNA from a fossil mosquito in amber 65 million years old is that the DNA has been totally broken down by the natural background nuclear radiation dose exceeding 6 million centigray over that period. DNA in living cells has received the same dose while being passed on during all those generations, but because of DNA repair enzymes, the damage has been repaired.

  4. JimmyGiro says:16th March 2011 at 12:10 pm“The reason why you can’t extract dinosaur DNA from a fossil mosquito in amber 65 million years old is that the DNA has been totally broken down by the natural background nuclear radiation dose exceeding 6 million centigray over that period. DNA in living cells has received the same dose while being passed on during all those generations, but because of DNA repair enzymes, the damage has been repaired.”

    Interesting point. Or as my old radiochemistry tutor put it, when explaining how ‘radio’ carbon dating keeps track of time, “Because the chemistry of life is different to that of death.”

  5. Nige Cook says:16th March 2011 at 7:19 pmOn the One Show, the BBC just used the 1957 Windscale nuclear reactor fire in Cumbria to “explain” the dangers of the Japanese reactors.

    They omitted to mention that Windscale was an air-cooled burnable graphite moderated reactor with no steel pressure containment vessel. The Japanese reactors use water as the coolant, which suppresses fire (unlike air). Also, the chief danger after the Windscale fire wasn’t fission products, but inhalation of polonium-210 which was being made in the reactor for the long-obsolete neutron initiators of old-fashioned nuclear bombs (modern nuclear bombs use miniature particle accelerator “zippers” as neutron sources). There is no polonium-210 in the Japanese reactors, which are used for energy production.

  6. Velocity says:16th March 2011 at 8:14 pmNige Cook
    “There is no polonium-210 in the Japanese reactors…” Well thank fuk for that eh!
    I think “210” is the least of the Japs problems as the meltdowns and radioactivity appears to be more problems than this hieretical society can handle. They safety regulator has just increased the safety limit by 150% (usual Govt crony regulator bend-over job) and they’re preparing kamakazi workers who are “prepeared to die” to try to stop this escalating tragedy.
    They should send in the corrupt politicians who installed the most expensive electricity generation system and who made a 2nd tragic error of sighting them on tsunami risk zones.
    On top of compunding 2 terrible errors the Jap Govt and Bank of Japan who’ve already consigned themselves to 20 years of stagnant economic growth by propping up all their zombie banks and financial institutions are now pissing over $200bn down the toilet propping up their stock markets!!
    The costs of systemic political mistakes by Govt/politicians is bringing down this once advanced (and once wealthy!) nation.
    This is what happens when the dumbest institituion in the world, Govt, is allowed to run things (see education, healthcare and our own crumbling energy sector).
    No private company is interested in investing for bloody good economic reasons. Nuclear is dead…. at long last.
  7. Nige Cook says:17th March 2011 at 12:47 amVelocity: there is plenty of data proving that it’s the dose rate and not the old 1950s dose that really matters, because DNA repair enzymes like proteon P53 are overloaded at high dose rates. Likewise, you take a “dose” of 1,000 aspirins if you spread that dose over 20 years, but you’re dead if you take the same dose all at once. The dose criterion implicitly assumes no biological repair.

    Muller, who got the Nobel prize for discovering that X-rays mutate fruit flies, argued in May 1957 to the U.S. Congressional hearings on bomb fallout that there is no significant dose rate effect or threshold dose using his fruit fly data, plus some maize plant data on genetic effects of radiation from geneticists. However, fruit flies and seasonal crops don’t have the DNA repair enzymes like P53, which were only discovered about 20 years later.

    The DNA double helix (two strands of DNA facing each other in a spiral) in every cell nucleus in the human body suffers 200,000 single strand breaks and 15 double strand breaks every day. What’s interesting is only 0.007% of natural breaks are double-strand breaks, while 4% of radiation-induced breaks are double strand breaks. This debunks the groupthink myth that DNA damage is due to natural background radiation. It isn’t! If it were, the ratio of single to double strand breaks would be the same for both natural DNA damage, and radiation-induced DNA damage.

    It turns out that the natural damage to DNA is mostly due to thermal instability, i.e. 37 C body temperature, the mechanism being Brownian motion kinetic energy effects, i.e. water molecule bombardment of DNA molecules, related natural free radicals, etc. The cells have DNA repair proteins to rejoin the broken ends of DNA molecules. Single strand breaks don’t cause much risk, because the double helix as a whole remains unbroken. The one broken strand is easily rejoined by a DNA repair enzyme like P53, and all is well.

    The cancer risk occurs with double strand breaks, because then the entire double helix is broken off at that point. If you get two double strand breaks occurring quickly, before a DNA repair protein has time to rejoin correctly them, at a very high radiation dose rate, then the loose broken-free segment of DNA might move, reverse, or be lost, and the wrong ends can be joined by accident (like trying to repair a vase after it is smashed up into lots of similar pieces), causing a mutation that can lead to cancer in some cases.

    There’s plenty of evidence using mice that dose rates a few hundred times natural background stimulate the DNA repair enzymes to use more energy and work faster, not only preventing additional risks, but also actually reducing the natural cancer risk from the natural 15 double strand breaks per cell per day. See: http://www.radpro.com/641luckey.pdf

    More recently, there was a fine piece of mice research by Kazuo Sakai, Iwasaki Kazuo, Toshiyasu Iwasaki, Yuko Hoshi, Takaharu Nomura, Takeshi Oda, Kazuko Fujita, Takeshi Yamada, and Hiroshi Tanooka, International Congress Series (2002) 1236 (Radiation and Homoeostasis): 487–490. They found that a dose rate of 1 mGy/hour (100 mR/hour or 10,000 times natural radiation background) stops cancer, and a further paper by Sakai and collaborators in 2006 gives statistically significant evidence that 0.7 mGy/hour extended the life expectancy of mice by 15% (Sakai has nice colour photos showing the slower aging of the irradiated mice, see my blog). There is also human data:

    “Today we have a population of 2,383 [radium dial painter] cases for whom we have reliable body content measurements. . . . All 64 bone sarcoma [cancer] cases occurred in the 264 cases with more than 10 Gy [1,000 rads], while no sarcomas appeared in the 2,119 radium cases with less than 10 Gy.”

    – Dr Robert Rowland, Director of the Center for Human Radiobiology, Bone Sarcoma in Humans Induced by Radium: A Threshold Response?, Proceedings of the 27th Annual Meeting, European Society for Radiation Biology, Radioprotection colloquies, Vol. 32CI (1997), pp. 331-8.

    The higher the dose rate the lower the threshold dose for effects, just as with aspirin. The radium dial painters had their bones irradiated by deposited radium over typically 30 years. Rowland could measure the radium in the bones after they died to determine the dose rate accurately, so this is reliable data (he even exhumed skeletons to get data). His funding was cut off when it became clear that there was a massive threshold dose needed for bone cancer if the dose was spread out. For Hiroshima nuclear bomb data, the dose rate was much higher so threshold dose for cancer was only a few cGy.

    Below the threshold dose excess cancer cases in Hiroshima and Nagasaki data, there was still evidence for hormesis, although recently the RERF (the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, funded by the politically correct of Tokyo and Washington, D.C.) has tried in its publications (e.g. “A Brief Description”) to obfuscate its low dose data (both for solid tumours and also for leukemia) by lumping together cancer rates in about 30,000 people for the massive (20 fold variation) interval of 0.005-0.1 Gy to cover-up hormesis, while using intervals of just a factor of 2-variation for doses, e.g. the next interval is 0.1-0.2 Gy which contains about 5,000 people! When you look at their older data which clearly show hormesis in the lower half of the 0.005-0.1 Gy interval, you can see what they are covering-up. They are choosing intervals to avoid showing hormesis by juggling their data.

    The whole nuclear industry is in limbo on this, they’re mainly conservative and believe the best way to resolve any crisis is to do nothing, and say nothing. The anti-nuclear lobby uses falsified statistics that are complete lies, but they gain ground because hardly anybody defends the facts. One typical ploy is the lying claim that there is no human proof of hormesis or thresholds (ignoring the radium painters and Hiroshima), and that animal data is inadmissible.

  8. Velocity says:17th March 2011 at 9:31 amNige Cook – i’m very sure both sides lie on the theoretical and actual dnager and death rate. The Jap Health Regulator has just doubled by 150% the ‘safe’ exposure rate so clearly they’ve been lying for 40 years too!
    But really who cares, the safety limit is rather mute compared to the facts nuclear is an extortinately expensive (un-commercial) means of electricity generation. Like trains, buses, green policies, only the dumbest instititution in the world, Government, thinks spending such large sums is ‘clever’. this is not and never will be a profitable (commercially sane) means of electricity which is why the private sector will not invest.
    And of course the expense of nuclear in running costs leads to the unreliability and the safety issues we’ve now seen in almost every country nuclear plants are installed. This is one dumb expensive option to use when far more efficient, productive and easier all-round coal and gas fired power stations are available. ‘Game Over’ for nuclear …unless you’re a complete retard (ie. a politician)
  9. Nige Cook says:17th March 2011 at 11:23 am“… the safety limit is rather mute compared to the facts nuclear is an extortinately expensive (un-commercial) means of electricity generation.” – Velocity

    You’re missing the whole point about nuclear power: it’s the lying safety limits of effectively “zero safe dose” that makes nuclear power expensive in the first place. The name for this fiasco is the LNT (linear no threshold dogma) which politically leads to the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) “not me guv!” Health and Safety officaldom. Lewis Strauss, Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, in his speech to the National Association of Science Writers, New York City, September 16th, 1954, said:

    “It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter, will know of great periodic regional famines in the world only as matters of history, will travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a lifespan far longer than ours as disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age.”

    Nuclear energy offers energy too cheap to meter by E=mc^2. c = 300 Mm/second, so 1 kg of energy conversion (which is what you get from fissioning 1 ton of uranium-235 or plutonium) gives you precisely (3 x 10^8)^2 = 9 x 10^16 Joules of energy!!! The costs come in from the use of glove boxes to limit doses to reprocessing plant workers to almost zero. They have to work behind a thick shield, often using remote control, which slows down reprocessing and drives the cost of nuclear power through the roof. The cheapest power on earth has been made needlessly expensive by political anti-nuclear propaganda.

    “i’m very sure both sides lie on the theoretical and actual danger and death rate.” – Velocity

    I’m on the “side” of not lying, by establishing the scientific facts. The BBC could have exposed the lying propaganda, and thereby helped to inform people. Instead, they chose to scare-monger with lies.

  10. Andrew Dibb says:18th March 2011 at 6:05 amRadiation in Tokyo Same as Eating 1.5 Bananas!

    I am not kidding….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_equivalent_dose

    http://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.com/2011/03/radiation-in-tokyo-same-as-eating-15.html

  11. Nige Cook says:18th March 2011 at 2:45 pmThe naturally radioactive potassium-40 in bananas and coffee is worse than caesium-137 and strontium-90, by the anti-nuclear fear-mongering propaganda standards of “scary long half-life”.

    Natural potassium-40 has a half-life of 1,248,000,000 years, compared to only 29 and 30 years for strontium and caesium!

    Another “fun fact”: the alpha particles emitted by plutonium-239 are only 5.2 MeV in energy, less ionizing that the 5.6 MeV the alpha particles from the Am-241 in a household smoke detector.

  12. max says:18th March 2011 at 6:07 pmVery interesting,I dont see you getting on a plane, though?. Go on, go clear it up. Its not dangerous. You’ve proved it. I’ll lend you a broom, and a water pistol.
  13. JimmyGiro says:18th March 2011 at 10:14 pmMaybe people should crack Brazil nuts between two control rods !?

    :))

  14. Velocity says:22nd March 2011 at 9:29 amNige Cook

    Ever had the feeling in life you are flogging a dead horse? No, ok here goes…
    The Jap Govt i’m sure you’re pleased to hear has just raised the decontamination threshold by nearly 20x from 6,000 cpm to a stunning 100,000 cpm. Radioactive caesium found in sea water is now 24.8 times their safety limit and Kyodo says radioactive Iodine found in sea water is nearly 130 times the safety limit.
    Remind me why Govts have safety limits? Is it so they can move them when it’s ‘politically expedient’ to do so?
    So now you have your safety limits (goal posts) shifted in a very shifty manner what to do now your shifty limits are still being exceeded?
    And this is a pattern for the nuclear industry. A number of covered-up accidents in America, then we have Russia, Britain and now Japan. Serial dangerous errors when coal and gas stations present no such threat to human existence. Why choose the dangerous (dumb) option when you can choose the safe cheaper one eh?
    You (keep) ignoring the fact nuclear is up to 400% more expensive than coal or gas fired power generation (the economic case). Now you’ve had the safety limits moved you’re now ignoring the danger (safety) case too!
    You have reached the stage all delusional scumbags (politicians) reach. You’re delusional and a cancerous wart (rather than worthwhile) in/on society.
    Are we crystal clear nuclear is not just dumb but double-dumb yet??

  15. Nige Cook says:22nd March 2011 at 9:13 pmVelocity:

    If you actually bother to read the facts on radiation hormesis you’ll see it’s a health benefit at dose rates up to several hundred times background: http://nige.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/luckey.pdf

    It’s not the dose but the dose rate that determines whether your P53 and other DNA repair enzymes are stimulated and expend more energy (reducing the natural cancer rate), or are overloaded (as in the most highly exposed groups at Hiroshima).

    Obviously the Japanese government has taken action because they have to in time of leak. I doubt if the politically correct left wing governments of the EUSSR, including ours, will increase radiation standards to make nuclear power to cheap to meter. Nor will the health physicists lose their Health and Safety powers by campaigning to shift limits up here. You’ll get the usual quango that includes left-wing fanatics who think radiation is unnatural and a danger.

    We’re getting the same thing with ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. At low dose rates (intensities), ultraviolet on skin is a health benefit; at high dose rates it’s like soft X-rays and causes damage to DNA faster than repair enzymes can work, so there’s a cancer risk.

  16. Nige Cook says:22nd March 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Herman Kahn (RAND Corp.): … I suggest that we should be willing to accept something like 50 to 100 sunshine units in our children …

    Representative Holifield: We have been using the term “strontium unit” rather than “sunshine.” Some of us are allergic to this term “sunshine”. We prefer the term “strontium”. …

    Senator Anderson: I think that term sunshine came because the first time they said if the fallout came down very, very slowly, that was good for you. And then later they said if it came down very fast, that was good for you. We decided to take the sunshine, in view of everything.

    Herman Kahn (RAND Corp.): I prefer not getting into that debate. I deal in a number of controversial subjects, but I try to keep the number down. … But I might point out, no one has ever seen a bone cancer directly attributable to radioactive material in the bone at less than the equivalent of 20 to 30 microcuries. … Ten microcuries of Sr-90 per kg of calcium [an adult has typically 1 kg of bone calcium, so this implies 10,000 strontium units in the bone] would mean a dose of about 20 roentgens a year in the bones.”

    – June 1959 U.S. Congressional Hearings on the Biological and Environmental Effects of Nuclear War, page 900.

    http://nige.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/1959-congress-nuclear-war-hearings.pdf

    At low dose rates, you can take vast doses of radiation spread over a period of decades; it’s only when you receive the dose too quickly for DNA repair enzymes to fix correctly that you get in trouble. So it’s the radiation “dose rate”, not the “dose”, that actually determines the hazard or benefit. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory megamouse project run by Dr Russell in the 1960s (where 7 million of mice were exposed to various dose rates to get statistically reliable cancer and genetic effects data) clearly showed that the linear no-threshold dogma from Edward Lewis and others at the 1957 fallout hearings was wrong. Female mice had a dose rate threshold of 0.54 cGy/hour for an increase in the mutation rate. That’s massive, 54,000 times natural background. The 1950s data was based on maize plants and Muller’s fruitflies, which don’t have long timespans and so don’t have elaborate DNA repair enzyme systems to repair DNA breaks.

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Triumph of the West

If at the beginning of the 15th century you’d had to predict who was going to dominate the world for the next 500 years, the answer would surely have been China. From the sophistication of its sanitation system to the size of its fleet, China — under the Emperor Zhu Di and his eunuch naval commander Cheng Ho — was a country going places. Its mighty, 400-foot-long ships sailed as far as Malindi on the East African coast and probably Australia. It had invented the clock and, of course, gunpowder.

Europe, during the same period, was — relatively speaking — a stagnant, backward mess. Architecturally, it had nothing modern that could match the glories of the Forbidden City in Peking or imperial Nanjing. It was decidedly lacking in Confucian harmony and cohesion: a mishmash of violent, squabbling, plague-ravaged city states and warring kingdoms. Between 1330 and 1479, one quarter of deaths among the English aristocracy was violent.

By the end of the century, though, something had changed. Columbus, in a ship one tenth the size of Cheng Ho’s, had discovered the New World, while Vasco da Gama had opened a new trade route to India. And by 1842, the power imbalance had grown so great that to punish China for confiscating some of its opium Britain was able to demand reparations, including $21 million, the opening of five trade treaty ports and the establishment of a crown colony on Hong Kong.

Where did Europe get it so right and the Chinese so badly wrong? This was the question asked by Niall Ferguson in the first episode of his six-part series Civilisation: Is the West History? (Channel 4, Sunday). I can’t say I’ve been a particular fan of his earlier stuff, which has always struck me as a bit abstruse and pleased with itself. But this new one looks set to be an absolute cracker: cogent, urgent, persuasive and compelling.

Read the rest at the Spectator.

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5 thoughts on “Triumph of the West”

  1. Nige Cook says:14th March 2011 at 9:28 amYes, it wasn’t too bad. I saw it and Niall Ferguson half won me over with his discussion of the role of science in the military, showing off Benjamin Robins’ book which attempted to mathematically predict air resistance effects on cannon shell in his 1742 New principles of gunnery were enthusiastically taken up and extended three years later by the German language translator, the ubiquous mathematician Leonard Euler, in his improved Neue Grundsätze der Artillerie, 1745. Robins argued that the effect of air resistance increases with the initial velocity of the projective, which was revolutionary because the previous half-baked analysis by Tartaglia in 1537 and made parabolic by Galileo in 1638, claimed that air resistance was only important near the end of the trajectory.

    In fact air resistance is highest when the velocity is highest (in the early stages), because the drag is due to dynamic pressure, which as Euler found is clearly proportional to the square of the velocity of the shell. So as it slows down, air resistance becomes smaller, not bigger (as previously believed from intuitive guesswork). The key problem was determining the shell’s range as a function of gun elevation angle and the initial velocity of the shell. Napoleon studied the French version of Euler’s revision, and was able to get his gunnery more efficient than his rivals, whose military relied on an excessive amount of preliminary “test shots” to empirically determine the best elevation angle (wasting time, wasting cannon, and forewarning the enemy!). So the basis of Napoleon’s success was the brainpower of an English physicist!

  2. Nige Cook says:14th March 2011 at 9:41 am(Sorry, I was interrupted while writing the comment above; the second sentence is a dog’s breakfast.)
  3. JimmyGiro says:14th March 2011 at 6:04 pmI totally agree with your assessment of the Headmaster, in Jamie’s Dream School, as being the weakest link. And therein lies the value of the show; not so much for Jamie’s hopes, but for the way this show promises to expose some of the excuses that professional teachers (and their unions) come up with, such as blaming parents.

    Whether these ‘dream teachers’ succeed or fail becomes dwarfed by the incite we will all get by watching the reactions of real kids in real lessons. And I’ll bet a pound to a penny that the Headmaster will inadvertently expose his political training, along with the culpability of the teaching profession as it currently stands.

  4. Velocity says:15th March 2011 at 2:30 amNial Ferguson nailed only 1 major force for Europes, and latterly Americas, economic success: competition. It’s the most powerful force in capitalism.
    The other key he missed was freedom. Freedom of the individual to push boundaries, wether that be technology, industry or science (ie. knowledge).
    He touched on Chinas regression from being the most advanced nation but he didn’t nail the reason: authority or centralising of power.
    Centralising power of economic progress is fatal. Ity proved fatal to China.
    Whereas in Europe entrepeneurs, primarily agricultural and industrial, had room to breath. However Americas freedom surpassed Europes increasingly stifling Govts which is why America overtook authoritarian Europe so rapidly.

    Incidentally James ‘The Abyss’ is about to kick off i believe. The Euro and US stock markets have just taken what looks like the beginning of an accelerating wave down.
    This is important because it’s a lead indicator for the economy. And it also leads all political events (markets = horse… politics = cart).
    This last stock rally is being nicely ‘peeked’ by Merkals Emperor like orders for the minnows of Europe and agreeing to increase the Eurozone bailout fund. But this stock collapse is marking the beginning of the end for these last ‘chummy’ and ‘friendly’ Euro Clubbers. The declining stock market will now bring on devision, fall out and the inevitable split of the Eurozone in the next year.
    Tell Hannan… he’ll like the news… in fact if he knew how events unfold he could make the news and mark his place in history! He was very brave to use my line that business does not need the EU/Govts to trade across Europe in his speech at the EU. He gulped a bit delivering such a powerful message but deliver it he did (kudos for that)

  5. herkinderkin says:15th March 2011 at 2:37 pmJames – Nailed, pretty much. I cannot disagree about the key advantages:
    competition, science, property rights, medicine, the consumer society and the work ethic.

    Neither can I disagree about that these are negatives:
    bunny-hugging, diversity awareness training, renewable energy and the EU. The last is taxation (and regulation) without representation.

    The way that successive UK politicians of both left and right have ceded sovereignty to the EU.is treason in my book. NZ politicians have similarly ceded sovereignty to foreign interests and the UN. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the same leaders have abolished the death sentence for treason. Playing it safe, no doubt.

    Two comments are necessary.

    It is ironic that China, which is growing very fast, has central control, but does it in such a way that it now at last has all of the key advantages you identified. (Actually, they always did have the last, the work ethic.) I am uncomfortable with the excesses of the control the Chinese exercise, but it seems to be working overall. The Chinese are out-performing the West.

    Part of their success – a big part, arises from the headlong rush of western businesses to source their manufactured goods from the cheapest sources. As a result, manufacturing in the West has severely diminished. The short-term profits have been made, but the overall wealth of western nations has declined sharply.

    And the Chinese, and latterly the Indians, are beginning to laugh all the way to the bank.

    Competition, science, property rights, medicine, the consumer society and the work ethic. greed may not be such a crash-hot idea. It might be a good thing if western governments exercised some controls designed to promote growth. And abandoned the cloying, unecessary growth-limiting controls of carbon taxes.

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Why the Liberal-left Isn’t Wishing Spiked a Happy 10th Birthday

I once wrote a contentious piece for the Spectator with the tongue-in-cheek title I Am Facing Up to the Fact That I May Be Marxist. This wasn’t because I was seriously thinking of moving leftwards after a lifetime’s natural and unrepentant conservatism. Rather it was an affectionate tribute to the fact that the best political commentary in Britain at the time was – and still, pretty much is – coming from an eccentric bunch of self-proclaimed revolutionary Marxists. (Though I personally did – and still do – prefer to think of them as libertarian conservatives in denial).

One of them – Brendan O’Neill – is now an adornment to Telegraph blogs. Others include the feisty but oddly cuddly Claire Fox who runs one of Britain’s most entertaining intellectual talking shops the Institute of Ideas; Austin Williams of the Future Cities Project; the Times commentator Mick Hume; academic Frank Furedi; and destroyer of PC in the museums world Tiffany Jenkins. Their spiritual home is the website founded by Hume a decade ago: Spiked.

Spiked is often accused of its critics on the left of being gratuitously contrarian. I encounter this a lot myself: it’s how left-liberals often dismiss political views they lack the mental wiring to comprehend. They don’t understand the logic, therefore it can only mean that the journalist adopting these unhealthy, politically incorrect views must be voicing them as a cynical attempt to get more readers or because they’ve been ordered to do so by their evil right-wing bosses. Because, obviously, any point of view which contradicts the left-liberal Weltanschauung cannot possibly be sincerely held.

Here’s how Spiked’s editor Brendan O’Neill sees it, in a characteristically thoughtful, intelligent essay:

spiked does not adopt political postures in order to annoy. But we understand why some people think that we do. Because spiked subscribes to principles and ideals that were once taken for granted amongst certain sections of left-wing or radical-humanist thought, but which no longer are. And it is our attachment to those ideals, our commitment to freedom of speech, open-mindedness and a human-centred morality, which means that we often rub up against a political culture which not only now lacks faith in such values, but which sees them as undesirable. The accusation that spiked is contrarian is really testament to the shrinking of what is sayable and thinkable these days.

spiked has firm principles based on a commitment to the ideals of human liberation. Unfortunately, upholding those principles today often means dissenting from and being sceptical of both mainstream political thought and also the ‘radical’ outlook. So spiked is for free speech, moral autonomy, tolerance and the democratic spirit. These sound like easy principles to endorse, but in modern political debate they frequently come with a ‘but’ attached. ‘I am for free speech, but not for racists…’; ‘I am for tolerance, but I won’t tolerate climate change scepticism…’ spiked prefers no ‘buts’ with its principles. And it is our war of words against the contemporary ‘butting’ of what were once seen as key Enlightened ideals that makes us appear to some as contrarians.

This is why left-liberals loathe Spiked possibly even more than they loathe people on the right like me. No leftist likes being told he has betrayed both his principles and also all those oppressed people – moderate Muslims, say; scientists who still believe in openness, empiricism and keeping politics out science; Third World families who want working electricity not ‘renewables’ – that he is supposed, in theory, to be defending. Also, of course, there’s nothing the left enjoys more than an internal spat. It’s like the Judaean People’s Front versus the People’s Front of Judaea: splitters!

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