Sophistry in action

If you are interested in what the leaders of the nations said about climate change at the failed Copenhagen conference you can see all the speeches at

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What should be cut?

There has been a great deal of political argument in the United Kingdom about budget cuts. The voters know that the Government is spending much more than it can afford. Voters suspect that the Government has been spending much more than we can afford for years now, relying on economic growth (which is not always desirable and is seldom guaranteed) and inflation to make the excess spending affordable. Continue reading

The leading investor in renewables is – China

According to some recent analysis by Pew Charitable Trusts in dollar terms China is by far the leading investor in renewable energy, spending more than double than the United States and more than three times than the United Kingdom. China is also making more wind turbines and more photovoltaic cells than any other country so when you factor in installation costs (often far more than the costs of the equipment itself) so with its significantly cheaper labour costs China, terms of renewable energy investment, is probably getting more energy per dollar invested. Continue reading

Spring is late this year

Spring is late this year in London. The trees are in bud but this time last year many of them were in leaf. The hard cold winter, well suited to the hard cold economic environment, has delayed the plants from showing themselves. Continue reading

The flawed consultation about the third runway at Heathrow

When I have to travel abroad for business I have to fly and when I fly I use Heathrow. I always used British Airways as my airline of choice but being messed around by the strike and finding their standards in some respects deteriorating, I now am open to all reasonable offers.

Heathrow is a very crowded airport but to ameliorate its crowding the Government proposed a third runway be built. As you might expect those around the airport opposed the new runway on as many grounds as they could think of. After all they suffer already from the noise and dirt pollution of one of Europe’s busiest airports.

My own position was to support a third runway, but only if the overall number of flights using Heathrow remained the same, thus leading to emission savings because the airport would no longer need to stack up planes. Of course promises to build a third runway but not to have more flights would be broken as soon as they are made, so on that basis I do not support a third runway.

Now the government set about getting approvals for the runway and one of the key things that a government must do in these cases is to have a public consultation.

In my experience public consultations are simply a way that the government uses to allow those opposed to its policies to set off steam; the decision is never remotely likely to be influenced by what the public say when being consulted and you can usually gather this by seeing the questions that are asked in a public consultation. Continue reading

Don’t worry about extreme weather, says the Treasury, as well as the Advertising Standards Authority

After the Advertising Standards Agency has ruled in their wisdom that the Government exaggerated the threat of climate change, the Government are at it again, or at least the House of Commons Audit Environmental Committee is. If you apply the ratio decidendi (as the lawyers used to say – which simply means the rationale for the decision) of the Advertising Standards Authority to the Environmental Audit Committee, then the Environmental Audit Committee (as well as the Royal Society) are exaggerating climate change threats by calling for much more government spending on making homes and buildings And infrastructure projects more resilient to flooding and excessive heat. Continue reading

The 2010 Budget and its environmental aspect

Today in the United Kingdom the Chancellor of the Exchequer – effectively the finance minister of the country – laid out his budget statement. Mr Darling headlined his budget as one to secure the recovery. What recovery? Well, the bankers have seen their bonuses recover greatly but for most ordinary people the recession is a reality and the recovery a myth. The environmental impact of the budget is dealt with separately these days, and that is a “Good Thing” because it enables us to see the actual measures that will affect the environment in some detail. Continue reading

The UK meets is Kyoto target and it is completely irrelevant and meaningless

The United Kingdom signed up to the Kyoto Protocol and promised to reduce its emissions by 12.4% based on its 1990 emissions. Today it reports it has reduced emissions by 22% on the 1990 figure, but does this mean that there have been real reductions in emissions by the United Kingdom. Continue reading

Air pollution – do we really care?

Air pollution has been with us since humanity discovered fire. It has always caused illness and death. A thousand or more years ago people sat in a poor ventilated buildings with a central fire. They would breathe the fumes of the fire and their health would be damaged. Chimneys were invented to prevent that danger. Even today many people in Africa suffer from poor ventilation in the homes from cooking fires and as a result their health is damaged.

In the modern, developed, “advanced” world of the United Kingdom we no longer burn a fire in the middle of a house with a hole in the roof to let the smoke out. But every time we get in a vehicle and travel – even in an electric car – and every time we turn on a switch, buy manufactured goods or bathe someone somewhere has burnt something to enable us to do these things. Continue reading

Trading in influence

Maybe thing were better years ago, when others sought to serve the public through politics; maybe politicians have always been corrupt, but there are degrees of corruption. After the scandal of Members of Parliament’s expenses, which infected the majority of them, and after we learned about members of the House of Lords, behaving so badly that they had to be banned from attending the chamber, it should come as no surprise to learn that members of parliament who were members of the government are still ready willing and able to sell their contacts and access to top civil servants and to the government itself in exchange for money. Continue reading