For the last hour as of 13.34 GMT, the Guardian has been running what it calls an ‘eco audit” asking readers to give their views on whether the destruction of ivory stocks helps save elephants as a species.
I was pleased and surprised to see comments running strongly in favour of the answer ‘no’. The first comment is typical:
It’s a stupid move. It just makes the price of contraband ivory go up and kills more elephants.
From the genuinely scary opening sequence of Muppet Treasure Island…
Shiver my timbers, shiver my soul
Yo ho, heave-ho
There are men whose hearts are as black as coal
Yo ho, heave-ho
And they sailed their ship across the ocean blue
A bloodthirsty captain and a cutthroat crew.
It’s as dark a tale as was ever told
Of the lust for treasure and the love of gold…
Shiver my timbers, shiver my sides
Yo ho, heave-ho
There are hungers as strong as the wind and tides
Yo ho, heave-ho
In other news, Tim Yeo has got the old heave-ho. Deselected as a Conservative MP by his constituency party.
For those unfamiliar with “Green Trougher” Yeo, this old post by James Delingpole explains why we mustn’t laugh. There are indeed hungers as strong as the wind and tides.
Milder than a year ago (and my heating bill is lower as a result, which is nice), the UK winter has been associated with a long period of rain. Parts of the UK have suffered heavy flooding such as in the southwest, as in Somerset. The floods again raise the issue of what ought to be the way we deal with them. Absent any kind of powerful government, I guess one obvious response would be that insurance premia would reflect the risks of living in a flood plain, and so this would prompt responses such as people building homes in different ways – such as a modern form of “stilt,” maybe – and moving to higher ground, or encouraging some sort of collective, but voluntary effort to abate flooding risks, such as creating funds to pay to put levees on rivers, or dredge them regularly, etc.
We are where we are, however. And if you think a government has certain very basic, narrow responsibilities, defence – one of the core functions – should perhaps include defence against certain types of natural catastrophe, albeit not an open-ended commitment; such a move should also incentivise local efforts, rather than prevent them. Which is where the UK Environment Agency’s recent behaviour comes in.
In the Spectator Coffee House blog, Charles Moore weighs in with an article that argues that much of the problem is that the EA has, over the past couple of decades or so, changed its approach to flood control to one where it seems to believe in benign neglect. It is possible to see a form of environmentalistic anti-modern civilisation mindset at work here. No more arrogant Victorian attempts to tame nature by dredging rivers, pumping out water systems and the like. And Moore cites the views of a recent head of the EA, which I think gets to the heart of the change:
The Environment Agency’s opposition to dredging is reported, but not explained. Poor Chris Smith, the current chairman, gurgles inarticulately as if the floods were closing over his head. The answer, as with so much in the management of the environment, is ideological. Especially under its former chief executive, Lady Young of Old Scone and New Labour (I have made only half of that title up), the EA has seen human activity as the enemy. Lady Young has been quoted in Parliament as saying that she would like to place limpet mines on all the old pumping stations to get rid of them. If people are the problem, you wonder why the EA employs more than 11,000 of them. Without human intervention, the Somerset Levels would become an inland sea. Perhaps that is what the EA wants.
I think maybe that it is what the EA wants, not that such an organisation could perhaps say so bluntly lest it provoke so much public anger that its staff would be sacked and leadership replaced. But even if you don’t go in for conspiracy theories (and I don’t) you might wonder whether the ideological tilt of the EA fits with those who actually want such disasters not to be averted because it will be used as handy evidence of Man-made climate change. Pictures of vast floods across parts of the UK will, I can bet, be used by the alarmists to justify their arguments that Man is wrecking the climate and so we need yet more windmills and all the rest of it. Much easier to do that rather than go to the boring effort of dredging rivers and undertaking civil engineering projects to reduce the flooding risks in the first place.
Another thought that strikes me as if the EA really has taken some sort of policy switch and decided that old pumping stations should be destroyed or left idle, who exactly approved of this policy? Was there any public discussion of this? Who is, or should be, held accountable for it?
Meanwhile, here is an article by the founder of the Glastonbury Festival, who, I suspect, can see the commercially devastating impact of the EA’s position. And a similar call for change in the local media.
As Moore says, the EA has over 11,000 staff. It is about time that organisation began to become part of the solution of flooding risk, not an active and foolish contributor towards it.
“…you’d have to have a heart as cold and unmovable as Commonwealth Bay ice not to be howling with laughter at the exquisite symbolic perfection of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition ‘stuck in our own experiment’, as they put it. I confess I was hoping it might all drag on a bit longer and the cultists of the ecopalypse would find themselves drawing straws as to which of their number would be first on the roasting spit. On Douglas Mawson’s original voyage, he and his surviving comrade wound up having to eat their dogs. I’m not sure there were any on this expedition, so they’d probably have to make do with the Guardian reporters. Forced to wait a year to be rescued, Sir Douglas later recalled, ‘Several of my toes commenced to blacken and fester near the tips.’ Now there’s a man who’s serious about reducing his footprint.”
Big Climate is slowly being crushed by a hard, icy reality: if you’re heading off to university this year, there has been no global warming since before you were in kindergarten. That’s to say, the story of the early 21st century is that the climate declined to follow the climate ‘models’. (Full disclosure: I’m currently being sued by Dr Michael Mann, creator of the most famously alarming graph, the ‘hockey stick’.) You would think that might occasion a little circumspection. But instead the cultists up the ante: having evolved from ‘global warming’ to the more flexible ‘climate change’, they’re now moving on to ‘climate collapse’. Total collapse. No climate at all. No sun, no ice. No warm fronts, except for the heaving bosoms in Rajendra Pachauri’s bodice-rippers. Nothing except the graphs and charts of ‘settled science’. In the Antarctic wastes of your mind, it’s easier just to ice yourself in.
Mark Steyn, who, I am glad to see, is back at the Spectator. The whole article is glorious. I must admit when I first read about this group of folk who, no doubt hoping to confirm their AGW warnings, got trapped in the Antarctic ice in that region’s “summer”, I thought of the expression “Ship of Fools”. It has been used quite a lot. Talking of that title, there’s a great article under that title about a trip by Leftists to the Soviet Union by the great P J O’Rourke. Reprinted in his book, Republican Party Reptile.
… but particularly we dedicate this to Professor Turney, who may have done more to raise awareness of the veracity of the AGW thesis since someone somewhere said something about hockey sticks…
(hat tip to Samizdata commenter Mr. Ed, who may or may not be a talking horse, of course)
Professor Turney’s expedition was supposed to repeat scientific investigations made by Douglas Mawson a century ago and to compare then and now. Not unreasonably, it has been pointed out Mawson’s ship was never icebound. Sea ice has been steadily increasing, despite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s gloomy forecasts. Had the expedition found the slightest evidence to confirm its expectation of melting ice caps and thin ice, a major new scare about the plight of the planet would have followed. As they are transferred to sanctuary aboard the icebreaker Aurora Australis, Professor Turney and his fellow evacuees must accept the embarrassing failure of their mission shows how uncertain the science of climate change really is. They cannot reasonably do otherwise.
- The Australian
The Independent, looking back over the year through its deep green spectacles, tells us:
It was mostly a terrible year for the environment. In the UK, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson continued to prompt speculation that he is a climate sceptic and Chancellor George Osborne carried on putting off potential investors in green energy, most obviously by scrapping from the Energy Bill a clause to green Britain’s power supply by 2030.
Meanwhile, for reasons I have not been following, badgers are being killed.
People like Osborne, Paterson and their ilk, in Britain and around the world, could be doing much better, but reports like this remind us that things could be far worse. At least the argument is flowing in the sane direction and away from climate catastrophism. And, with painful slowness, the power and the money are now responding to this change in the climate, as in: change in the climate of opinion.
Meanwhile, the world continued to experience the kind of extreme weather events that cannot be directly linked to climate change but which scientists say are likely to occur more often as a result of a changing climate.
I love that “cannot be directly linked” bit. As in: cannot be directly linked, no matter matter how hard the Independent’s preferred scientists are trying. These guys are just too obvious about what they want to be true.
The climate itself remains much the same.
At first I thought that Tim Blair’s account of the outrageous behaviour of the Australian delegates to the Warsaw UN climate conference was written for laughs. I duly laughed. Then I followed the links. It’s all true; the snacks … the T-shirts … the pyjamas. Then of course my laughter was replaced by profound sorrow at the disgrace brought upon a once-respected nation by its so-called representatives*.
*While acknowledging the limited validity of concerns about health and safety of delegates in late night negotiations.
It’s no coincidence the MPs found guilty of fiddling are all Labour, writes Peter Oborne.
The book can at last be closed on The Daily Telegraph investigation into the MPs’ expenses scandal. More than 300 Members of Parliament have paid back wrongly claimed expenses. Several of the worst offenders have stood down from Parliament. Now that the former minister Denis MacShane has at last pleaded guilty to fraud, no further prosecutions are planned, and all criminal investigation is reported to have ceased.
But one puzzling question remains. Why is it that only Labour MPs have been found guilty of expenses fraud as a result of the Telegraph revelations?
His argument that there is “only one chance in 64 that Labour’s score of 6/6 was a coincidence” should be saved as an Awful Example for the probability chapter in a GCSE mathematics textbook, with calculation of the precise odds that he has let the Tories off far too lightly left as an exercise for the student.
This part of his explanation, however, is accurate:
It is especially perplexing because the party in general strongly feels itself to be the embodiment of decency and morality. Indeed Labour has always insisted that the Conservatives are the party of venality, greed and selfishness. How baffling it is, then, that only Labour MPs have been sent to jail as a result of the Telegraph revelations.
Paradoxically, I believe that it is Labour’s belief in its own higher morality – what Bertrand Russell called the “superior virtue of the oppressed” – that has led to its downfall.
Many Labour people cannot believe that anything done by the oppressed classes or their champions can ever really be wrong, not when there are Bullingdon-educated toffs who were in the Eton club out there for comparison. The jailed MPs and their supporters know in their hearts that their very sentences are part of the oppression. They take comfort as the prison gates clang behind them from the thought that when they hear that sound they join the company of heroes.
Stanley Kurtz described a similar persecution envy burning in the breasts of greens and climate change activists in The Wannabe Oppressed:
What do America’s college students want? They want to be oppressed. More precisely, a surprising number of students at America’s finest colleges and universities wish to appear as victims — to themselves, as well as to others — without the discomfort of actually experiencing victimization. Here is where global warming comes in. The secret appeal of campus climate activism lies in its ability to turn otherwise happy, healthy, and prosperous young people into an oppressed class, at least in their own imaginings. Climate activists say to the world, “I’ll save you.” Yet deep down they’re thinking, “Oppress me.”
And deeper yet, “Oppress me a little bit so that I can resist you with visible heroism safe in the knowledge that you will not actually hurt me.”
Australia will be represented by a diplomat rather than a senior minister at international climate talks in Poland next week aimed at securing an agreement to cut global carbon emissions. Environment Minister Greg Hunt won’t attend annual United Nations climate change talks in Warsaw, saying he’ll be busy repealing the carbon tax in the first fortnight of parliament. Mr Hunt said through a spokesman that he would be “fully engaged in repealing the carbon tax” while the conference was under way.
- Ben Packham
It was a breezy night last night in England, and because such times are rather rare in these islands we aren’t really organised for it. When the wind does blow a bit, there is damage. There are even deaths. Not funny.
But, this is funny. It’s a wind turbine in Devon, looking somewhat the worse for …. wind:
My thanks to commenter number one, on this posting at Bishop Hill today.
Christopher Booker writes in The Telegraph:
What on earth was in David Cameron’s head when, amid raucous Commons exchanges on our soaring energy bills, he shouted at Ed Miliband, “we need to roll back the green charges” that the Labour leader “put in place when he was energy secretary”? Mr Cameron must have known that he and his party cheered every single one of the green charges introduced by Mr Miliband when he was energy and climate change secretary. Along with George Osborne, William Hague and most of his present Cabinet, Cameron happily voted for Mr Miliband’s Climate Change Act, committing us all to paying up to £18billion every year until 2050; in fact, the Tories wanted to go even further
So are the likes of David Davis plotting to remove the catastrophic Cameron? And if Nigel Farage is not intending to make hay out of this I would be very surprised. But then regular readers of Samizdata has long known we regard Cameron’s Tories, the LibDems and Labour as pretty much interchangeable.