Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hottest in 12,000 years! But wait. . . .

As is not unusual, the BBC website loves to stress what serves its politics and enjoys ignoring, or embedding, the details that muddy the water of its pure train of thought. Here is a good example. First of all, geological time is not on their side - the past 12,000 years have indeed been a warming period. But scroll down and you will see that the BBC mentions but does not stress the fact that proxy data present significant problems in calibration. But this important qualification never gets stressed, and never gets into the mainstream of lay thought on the subject. Simply put, sets of data should not be mixed in scientific analysis without this being fully explained and the limitations recognized.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Virgin Green

So, Sir Richard Branson is to pledge $3 billion (i.e. all) profits from his travel firms to "fight global warming". What might this headline really mean? A clue can be found in the photo of Branson with Bill Clinton - Ol' Bill seems to be doubting the sincerity of the pledge even as it is made!

This type of PR media stunt goes on all the time. BP (that's British Petroleum) frequently touts it's massive investment into alternative energy, yet, as Lord Brown admitted to Sue Lawley on a recent Desert Island Discs, the company is actually moving very carefully into the unknown arena called Beyond Petroleum with only a very small percentage of total company investment. Not that this statement is included in the summary of the program!

In many ways, this type of thing is designed to fend off criticism, preferably on to someone else (in Virgin's case it will almost certainly be British Airways and the competitors for Virgin Train's franchises). Why else do it? But then again, why do it at all? Think how else that $3 billion could be re-invested in better train services (more space between the seats, please!) that can have a finite influence on every day lives.

Perhaps Virgin's cheap flights need to be curtailed?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Green taxes are in - at what cost?

All the UK political parties are scrambling to garner the green vote. The Tories (Conservatives) have changed their logo to a green tree scribble while the Lib Dems are touting yet more green taxes. You might be right in thinking that eco-friendly voters may be up for grabs!

But what do green taxes really mean. Does this policy actually make sense? That's a difficult question but it is not necessarily difficult if you simply state that less taxation is better than more taxation! As several nations are proving these days (from the US to Australia to some Eastern European countries) a policy of reducing taxation actually generates more tax revenue through stimulation of the economy.

In Europe, ever higher gasoline taxes are designed to kerb drivers' appetites for using their vehicles. Does it work? No! Simply more of the personal budget goes toward the idea of personal mobility. And now the Government sees higher gasline taxes as a necessary fund raiser for almost anything other than providing a better road system!

Does the Government own tax revenue? Most people think so. But in reality, tax payers should think of their taxes being invested in the government for the government to provide those services the tax payer cannot provide as an individual. Basically, we should be able to trust our governments with our taxes and this does not necessarily mean that those taxes are given to the government to spend for its own self-aggrandisement. This concept is better understood in America than in Europe. But the understanding is far from perfect!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Yesterday's Weather was. . . . .......

The Daily Telegraph prints out a list of yesterday's temperatures and hours of sun for a range of locations in Britain. Today (Sept. 15) the list was prefaced by the fact that the readings from the day before were not available so the readings from September 13 were shown instead. So, for whatever reason, we can't even accurately report on yesterday's weather, never mind run computer models to accurately predict what tomorrow's weather will be. Never mind about the climate change we can expect in 30 years time!

Why are there so many doomsayers?

The BBC web pages carry nothing but bad news about climate change. Al Gore's movie is making the rounds and being highly rated by environmentalists and policy wonks. Is there really no good news about climate change? Of course there is, but it simply isn't going to have us quaking in our boots like all the doomsday scenarios that make the headlines.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Rich vs Poor and Global Warming

There has been a flurry of activity recently from those who want us to "feel our pain" when it comes to the impact the rich nations are making on the Third World. Here is a good example.

Note that European governments love to spend "their" money on studies to make the people who pay them their funds (a.k.a. the taxpayer) tow an imaginary line. The logic behind much of what is said is bogus at least, tenuous at most. Why? Simply to make us (taxpayers) guilty and therefore more inclined to sign off on our taxes.

The vested interests at play here are rarely mentioned. Not surprising really, given the stakes. Developing countries want funding to assist them in survival, socialist countries need to exert the control they have to have to survive, scientists need funding for white elephant projects, etc. etc.

Monday, September 04, 2006

More on the Sea Change

Even the BBC is getting in on the act. But you cannot expect the Beeb to take it all lying down without some doomsaying!

The concept of scientific numeracy is good, of course, but rather than focus just on education of the next generation in school, perhaps we should start with the politicians?

The Sea Change?

Once in a while something is written or said that, usually in hindsight, is seen to have been a pivotal point in a society's thinking. This may be one such moment in the history of the "science" of global warming.

I don't think the topic goes far enough, mind you, but with any luck others will take up the baton and run with it. As an example, the author is concerned that species migration should be helped along with the inevitable climate change. What Homo sapiens needs to understand is that as a species it will have its own migration needs which must also be addressed. Far easier to allow butterflies to migrate than people from the Third World to the First World.

It important for lay people to understand that the politicians can do precious little (if anything) to stop climate change. Once we all begin to understand this, reasonable science will have achieved a major success and we can then get on with coping with climate change (and my suspicion is that there will be many more positive aspects than negative).