The New Pamphleteers

Every morning (well almost every morning) I call up a blank piece of simulated paper on my computer screen and sit down to write an essay for this blog. I have written now more than 1600 of them. They have been viewed in more than a hundred countries in the world. You would expect my own country, the United Kingdom, has the most “views” followed by the United States, Canada, Australia, India, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa, but I am pleased that I have a large following in the Philippines, Greece, and Germany. Continue reading

What is Wrong with Changing Your Mind?

The UK Government (for whom I hold no candle) has been criticised for changing its mind on two tax issues. The first is about a tax on pasties, and the second is about a tax on fixed caravan homes. The Government will say that it merely put some proposals out for consultation, and when it considered the responses decided that its proposals ought to be modified. The Opposition claim that the Government has changed its mind and the Government’s policy is in a shambles. Continue reading

Where is Plan B?

Plan A is not working. I am not writing about the economy; as far as plans for the economy are concerned they are all rather useless, except to the extent that they prevent people from behaving badly in future. Such is human nature that when you stop one form of bad behaviour another entirely different form of bad behaviour eventually rears its ugly head. Plan A for the economy is most countries is simply to cut down on high debt. I am writing about climate change, where we have Plan A, but no Plan B.  Continue reading

Too Much of a Good Thing

Britain seems to be winding down. We have been distracted from our economic activity however pitiful that may be, by Easter with its attendant holidays, then by May Day and now we are celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee by taking a day off after Whitsun Bank holiday so that next week will comprise for most a three day week. We then have to look forward to the distraction of the Euro football completion followed by the Olympics and Para Olympics. It is inevitable that people will take time off to view these events. London’s civil servants will be working from home during the Olympics because of the travel problems that the Olympics will cause. No doubt they will be careful to avoid watching any of the games on television. These are long holiday periods in troubled times. Holidays are very good things but you can have too much of a good thing.

Sail Away Ladies

Music soothes the savage breast.  Among the horrors and mundaneness of our lives one composition can bring comfort or hope that things will not always be like this. The hope may be fond, the thinking wishful, but as you listen you enjoy the comfort of the music and the fact that you do or might have hope where there is none.

I remember the days when I listened to sail away ladies, played by John Fahey.

Composers have to name their music because there is so much of it around and because naming a composition without words gives the composer an ability to add another dimension to the words. Fahey did not write the original “Sail Away Ladies”. It is a traditional song but he rewrote it, taking its best melodies and adding to them until he created something new.

Fahey took music and added to it to make it new and different. I like to add words to music which is missing them, to make a song out of a tune, something to sing in your head as you listen to the music or, even better, something to sing in your head when you cannot hear the music, walking through a rainy town.

The days have sailed away, ladies

The days have sailed far away

Sail away you black eyed dancers

Sail away you blue eyed blonds

Odd Things – Begging the Question

I keep hearing journalists and television people misuse the useful phrase “begging the question” and when i do I cannot take what they say seriously. If they can’t be bothered to use the language correctly why should I be bothered to try and figure out what they mean?

“Begging the question” means Continue reading

Climate Change – Suspending your Disbelief

Let us all for the purposes of argument accept the view that climate change is human induced. For many that seems to be a big thing to accept. I find it odd that many people refuse to accept the advice of the majority of specialists in this field, which is that climate change is induced by human behaviour and activity. However, if you are one of those who refuse to believe the advice of experts in this matter, then please try to suspend your disbelief for the purposes of this essay.

If you have suspended your disbelief then let us see where, following the expert’s advice, takes us.

Climate change is a threat. The extent of the threat and the damage that it will produce depends upon two things. The first thing is just how much the climate will change. A warming across the world of three or four degrees Celsius will provide conditions which will seriously damage the ability of much of the world’s population to live in many places on this planet.

The second threat is the time factor; how long that human induced climate change will last is a great potential problem. If we could reverse climate change after a few decades then climate change would fall into one of those categories of things that Malthus thought were events which acted as a way of reducing human population growth. Like war, famine, drought and pestilence, climate change would wipe out a few billion people, leaving those who survived the ability to live within the resources that the earth provides, after the climate had settled into the status quo ante. Mr Scrooge was unkind when talking of removing the surplus population, but that is what nature seems to do, from time to time.

Let us imagine (your disbelief still suspended) that we all reached the conclusion that not only is the world a spherical object but that climate change is human induced by large emissions of carbon dioxide, and we actually stopped emitting carbon dioxide in a few decades time. By then the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide would be more than 450 parts per million. It may be as high as 600 parts per million depending on how quickly nations like China and India are able to grow economically. If ninety per cent of the population of those countries live in the same way as ninety per cent of the population of the developed world live, then atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide will be very high.

So we then would have very high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and would have stopped emitting more carbon dioxide, having seen the effects of the emissions that we have already created. The carbon dioxide gradually reduces in the atmosphere but the climate does not return to how it was because another factor comes into play. There would be a slower loss of heat to the ocean, which has become warmer, which would keep atmospheric temperatures high for at least another one thousand years, according to studies of the processes which remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  That is simply the way the chemistry works.

The are other factors which delay the reversing of climate change, the most significant is probably the rainfall changes which will come with climate change. It is easy to spoil something but hard to repair the damage. You may now stop suspending your disbelief and I how that you will ask yourself “I believe that climate change is not human induced…but what if I am wrong?”

Huffing and Puffing to Blow the Euro House Down

When politicians do not know what to do, they hold a summit in the hope that the noise will be mistaken for action and the publicity of the event will mask the lack of ideas generated by it. The present meetings and statements about the crisis that is affecting Greece and the Euro is a case in point. There are no ideas except that the Greeks must make huge sacrifices to repay their debts. Continue reading

What Energy Policy?

I listened to the United Kingdom’s Energy Minister, Mr Ed Davey, speak on the radio about the proposals for nuclear energy. He spoke about the need for investors to see a clear return on their investment within a settled and predictable framework and that by putting a levy on electricity bills investors in the nuclear industry would see a clear guaranteed return (guaranteed by the consumer no less) and would therefore invest in the building of new nuclear electricity generating plants. It is a statement which sounds logical but is full of inaccuracies and has a great measure of hypocrisy. Continue reading

Do you feel the earth move under your feet?

Scientists from the US Geological survey at Menlo Park in California have been measuring earthquakes in the central part of the United States and looking at their frequency. Earthquakes of magnitude three and greater have increased six fold in the 21st Century compared with levels in the 20th Century. A six fold increase is noteworthy. Continue reading