Politicians Papers and Policemen

The scandal continues to enliven a dull July. The politicians are embarrassed because they have associated most closely with newspapers and their journalists, some of whom have hacked into people’s telephones, including those of politicians. The papers are embarrassed because hacking is a criminal offence which they conveniently ignored in their efforts to expose wrong doing and bring us our daily or weekly does of salacious gossip, in order to sell more newspapers. The policemen are embarrassed because they have been supposed to investigate crime and for many years failed to investigate this type of crime properly, because some of the police were very close to the newspapers, not only in unhealthy close contact but also apparently in some cases in receipt of largesse from the newspapers. Continue reading

The Green Deal

In two weeks time the UK Government will have completed the finishing touches to the “Green Deal” which will be at the heart of its claim to be the greenest government ever. Frankly there is not a great deal of competition when it comes to being a green government of the United Kingdom; the last labour government was very good at setting up bodies to talk about being green and provide advice, very good at putting targets into legislation but when it came to measures they were rather on the short side. Continue reading

Emissions savings and Energy savings: time to stop talking about it and start doing it

I have for many years criticised the government for talking about the environment and reducing greenhouse gases, but failing to do much more than talk or set up talking shops and advice centres. In fact the talk has become boring to the majority of those who live in the United Kingdom. Talking about a problem does not solve the problem if there are solutions to the problem staring you in the face. I do not suggest that all the solutions for controlling greenhouse gases now exist, but those that can help now, without innovation and speculation. They key features of emission savings of the last government were:- Continue reading

Mr Cameron’s Green Agenda

Politicians and leaders of nations have two ways of communicating their ideas to the public. The first is in a speech; they universally like to make speeches and they probably attach too much importance to their effect. The second way is by writing. In writing the words can be studied, and it is easier to form a logical reaction to the words and develop arguments supporting or gainsaying what is written without the interference of emotion that political rhetoric raises.

Mr Cameron, the Prime Minister of Her Majesty’s Government, wrote yesterday in the Observer newspaper about a green economy. He writes “there is a compelling economic case to be made for fighting climate change …The green effort should not be downgraded or swept under the carpet because of spending cuts and austerity…” Continue reading

We pay members of Parliament to solve problems, not to smear people

Politics is a strange world and I do not understand it. Somewhat naively, I had believed what politicians told me when they said that they had entered politics for public service. These days you do see many poor politicians. I suppose that you may enter a job in order to serve and get a great deal of money for it. The two things are not directly inconsistent but they are bed mates that lie uneasy together. Continue reading

Time for the climate change talk to stop

To permit the climate to change or not to permit the climate to change; that is the question. You can read, see and hear about the importance of address climate change every day. Most of the talking is done by scientists and politicians. The former group can see the evil of climate change that threatens us and the latter group do the talking, but the talking by the politicians give rise to very little action. Continue reading

The energy and environmental policies of the Conservative Party

Every political party wants to appear to have “green” policies these days. Green is the new black. The policies of the Government in the United Kingdom are well defined but inchoate, and more observed in their talk than in their action. They talk the talk but do not, when push comes to shove walk the walk. Continue reading

UK terrorism laws applied to things that are nothing to do with terrorism

Parliament has enacted a series of anti-terrorism laws which are being used in ways that have nothing to do with terrorism. Great care must be taken before you give the police or the tax authorities more power because they will inevitably use powers given for one reason to assist them in ways that were not intended. Since the present Government came to office they have enacted a new criminal offence for every day of the eleven years that they have been in charge. I never knew that our criminal law was so lacking or that the people of the United Kingdom were so lawless. Continue reading

The Climate Change Bill will not change climate change

Peter Lilley is a Conservative MP and he has criticised the Climate Change Bill, working its way through Parliament, because it represents poor value. He places the cost at “up to” £10,000 per family in a blog written for the BBC’s very large and informative website, although it is unclear how the £10,000 is calculated and over what period. I suspect from reading between the lines that Mr Lilley is counting £10,000 per family over the period from now until 2050 – the Climate Change Bill’s final target date, which is a period of 41 years. If so that makes, in Mr Lilley’s opinion, £244 per family per year just very poor value. Odd that, because the website for which he writes, is put out by an entertainment organisation that costs each family in the United Kingdom at least £130 a year (under the penalty of prison if you do not pay) and more if the family has a second home or a student member living away from home watching television. Continue reading

Boris Johnson and Climate Change

There must be something in this climate change business if good old Boris Johnson, recently elected Mayor of London, has changed his mind about it. Just three years ago Mr Johnson in his friendly, semi-blustering and witty style poured scorn on the whole concept that the climate was changing due to human activity. This conservative politician liken those of us that thought there were very sound scientific cause for climate concern to religious believers, as though perhaps hundreds of thousands of people qualified or learned in science had abandoned their traditional ways of thinking and adopted climate change as a matter of faith, rather than scientific probability.

This is what he wrote two years ago:

“And the fear of climate change is like a religion in this vital sense, that it is veiled in mystery, and you can never tell whether your acts of propitiation or atonement have been in any way successful”.

He missed the point; climate change is a slow process. It is politicians who promise quick cures and fail. Those fighting climate change understand that it is a slow process, and there are no acts of propitiation, but a collection of many strategies each an essential part of the whole means to fight climate change and slow it down.

There are those that support wind farms, solar power, tidal power, nuclear power, biomass but as I understand it each supporter is not arguing that the object of his or her support is the panacea; only politicians do that. Scientists know that we have to use not acts of atonement but as many weapons as we have at our disposal.

It is the politicians that have been sending our soldiers in to fight the battle of climate change with single weapons, not the scientists.

Mr Johnson has changed in the two years since he wrote those words. I have read the whole article that he wrote and it is witty, but at the end of it I could not understand his views on climate change; he mocked those that supported it but covered himself by saying he did not know if it was happening, quoting the weather of centuries ago as though his examples were conclusive or in any way shed any light on the problem.

The change has come about because he has been elected as mayor of London and now has real responsibilities to its inhabitants. The time has come to stop writing words that sound well and witty, but, like all politicians, words that deliberately leave his meaning unclear.

With his election as Mayor of London it is refreshing to see that he has re thought his position on climate change. He now understands that it is a danger and that his duty as Mayor is to protect London from what may well be the effects of even a slight rise in the air temperatures over the next ten or twenty years.

He commissioned a report which has just been published. Its central finding is that London is not terribly well adapted to climate change, because London is likely to have hotter summers and warmer winters with more frequent floods, droughts and extreme weather events. If they happened today London, much of which is close to seal level, could not cope.

The report, which was commended by Mr Johnson, offers some practical and affordable strategies. These include increasing green spaces (which will help keep the city cool in summer and provide run off for flood waters. When the report was published the accompanying press release attributes the following to Mr Johnson:

“We need to concentrate efforts to slash carbon emissions and become more energy efficient in order to prevent dangerous climate change. But we also need to prepare for how our climate is expected to change in the future.”

He has summed up very simply and accurately what we have to do.

I do not think that Mr Johnson is now treating climate change like a religion, in the way he accused many of us doing just two years ago. I do not think he has been converted on the road to Damascus. I think that he has simply understood that his duty is to protect the great city that has elected him to protect it and advance his interests and he deserves much credit for doing so.