Attack on 4x4s by Eco-Fanatics – The Causes

This weeks South Manchester Reporter (28/05/09) carrys the following report on Page 11 (not online)

Eco-vandals target another 80 4x4s

“Environmental activists attoacked scores of 4×4 vehicles -leaving messages on the windscreems accusing owners of adding to global warming”

“The attacks, across Chorlton, Fallowfield and Whalley Range, follow two similar incidents over the last month. Tyres on 20 vehicles were slashed or let down overnight in the Ladybarn and Withington areas last week. And the tyreson 11 cars were also slashed or let down on Ladybarn, Withington and Disbury last month.

“A statement from the activists said tyres were deflated rather than slashed. It added: “Given the threat of climate change and the government’s inaction, direct action such as this is, unfortunately necessary. Large SUVs emit substantially more greenhouse gases.””

The Manchester Evening News (owner of the South Manchester Reporter) ran the story, as did the Daily Mail, on 25th May, the Herald on 28th May  and the Independent on 23rd May

The Independent contained the following

Detective Inspector Damian Moran, from Greater Manchester Police, said: “Those responsible might believe they are making a point, but this behaviour is criminal.

“It is mindless vandalism with no regard for the distress and nuisance caused to decent members of our community and will not be tolerated.

DI Moran is slightly in error in this. It is a modern form of political protest, aimed at intimidation.  It is the outcome of the way that the whole global warming climate change agenda is going. To substantiate this, consider the sequence.

1. The emission of greenhouse gases by humans will theoretically raise global temperatures by maybe 0.5 to 1.0 degrees this century. This seems to correlate quite closely with the temperature data of the past century

2. Bodies like the UNIPCC then assume that there will be a positive feedback loop. The computer models project with that small rise in temperatures will increase the water vapour in upper atmosphere. As this is over 95% of greenhouse gas, a small increase will lead to large rises in temperature. So the forecast churned out by those models is around 2 to 4 degrees.

3. The climatologists then assume that the data collected is unbiased, and the recent warming is a unique feature. Therefore the results have a high level of confidence and explanatory power.

4. This is then dressed up with appropriate political spin and certainty, whilst denouncing those who reject it as having impure motives or being deranged or out of order.

5. The UK government (along with others) responds by setting draconian reduction targets.

6. Environmental groups, like the Green Party, look at the worst most extreme predictions then say it does not go far enough and want yet more draconian targets.

7. This gives the fanatical, morally self-righteous (e.g. Green Fist, Plane Stupid) who want to commit puerile acts of vandalism, dressed up as saving the planet.

8. The perpetrators of these acts then decide to take matters further, going beyond their remit. In this case, slashing car tyres instead of just letting them down.

Where will this end? Snatching babies bottles, as they contain dairy products? Vandalising the homes of those who have their heating too high? I will not suggest more obvious examples. This whipping up of hatred is a common feature of human history, whether the crusades, the post-reformation Calvinsim, Marxist revolutionaries or German anti-semitism. It has no place in pluralistic, liberal democracies, nor in advanced societies who want to benefit from science.

MPs Expenses – Classic British Fudge follow-up

In an earlier post I wrote about Nadine Dorries alleging that the  “expenses system was designed to give MPs an underhand pay rise, when a real one would have caused public anger.”

John Prescott says that

“I recall Bob Mellish, our Chief Whip in the mid 70s, telling us at the PLP that the Government was not allowing the MPs wage award but the new alllowances would be more generous and they’d allow a ‘liberal interpretation.’

 This led to my first row with Bob about this policy, which I told him would end in tears”

BNP’s Economic Policy from a 16 year old

I thought I would look into the BNP’s policies to see if they have any depth. On the BNP Chronicle (a blog that slavishly follows the party line, but is not the official mouthpiece of the BNP) is and article on “Why the BNP can get us out of the Recession” by Jason Newton Aged 16. In the light of his being a minor, I will try to inform than put down.

 

The errors are as follows

 

  1. The solution is less exports and imports.

 

“The solution it seems would be to reduce foreign imports and reliance on them. This would not only reduce who would be involved in this mess but also make it more manageable since by the use of Occam’s razor we can deduce that if less countries are reliant on each other the less that can go wrong.”

 

This is incorrect. The Great Depression of the 1930’s was made much worse by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1932, where the US Government sought to protect it’s own industries. Other countries retaliated. Industries that faced foreign competition were helped. They could raise prices and increase output. But, when other countries retaliated, the exporting industries suffered. So jobs are gained in some areas, but lost in others. But with less competition, profits are higher. This is fine for the minority, but not for the majority who pay for the profits with higher prices and less choice.

 

  1. Recessions are caused by an excess of Aggregate Demand

 

“A recession is a temporary retraction in the economy. This means that a recession happens when the current aggregate demand of the economy is greater than the total output.”

 

An excess of aggregate demand is a boom that is out of control. In Keynesian theory (to which I do not subscribe) this leads to inflation. John Maynard Keynes wrote that you could get stuck into a depression by a deficiency of aggregate demand – a circular situation where people without jobs have no money to spend, but without people spending no jobs would be created. The current crisis is due to the financial system seizing up. It was caused by two factors. First, a policy in the United States of helping the poor those in high risk jobs to get mortgages (the sub-prime). Second is keeping interest rates too low for too long (they were lowered after the dot.com bubble burst, and again after 9/11, then raised too high in 2005 and 2006). It was like encouraging some teetotalers to drink a beer. Then when they start feeling a little dizzy to have another and turn the music up. The world economy has collectively passed out. They are each waiting their turn for the stomach pump.

 

2. The way out of recession is through investment.

 

Spending more money would increase aggregate demand which is too high in the first place, if it weren’t we wouldn’t be in a recession. We need to cut back on spending and increase investment that, way more goods and services will be produced, and the long-run equilibrium will be at a higher point.”

 

Investment will help recovery out of the recession, but it must be of the right type. The sort of investment that produces real returns, not job creation schemes that will lead to higher taxes forever. The problem is, government expenditure is already out of control. The cut-backs in spending required will depress aggregate demand far more than some investment will increase it.

 

3. There is only a finite level of output.

 

“With this in mind it shows how the bnp will help to create a stable economy and won’t be driven by the ideology that an economy will continue to grow. The world isn’t big enough for us all!”

 

British economic output in total (after adjusting for inflation) is over 2,000 times higher than in 1700. Per person it is 250 times higher. In purchasing power it is 40 times higher than in the poorest countries. Globally in the last millennium, output per person grew by 20 to 30 times (2000% to 3000%). Most of this was in the twentieth century. But in 1900 or 1950, most people would have said the economy can’t grow any more. Further, an economy that does not grow will be an incredibly miserable place to be, Spain from 1940 to 1975, or Portugal 1945 to 1970. The biggest example is India from 1947 to 1990. They shut off the economy to foreign goods & foreign investment. Instead, they sought to control investment and business with a licencing system. The system was corrupt with the political elite prospering, whilst the vast majority were kept poor.

 

Jason. I sincerely hope that you go on to study economics seriously. But do not be fooled by the fancy graphs (or algebra at higher levels). They are but abstractions that can aid understanding, but also provide blinkers to that knowledge.. The real economy consists of billions of people, who by mechanisms that we do not fully understand, in serving their own immediate purposes, also serve the common good. A source of Britain’s Greatness was being the first country who let the market mechanism flourish.

No warming in the Antarctic after all

Remember in late January an article in Nature was published concluding Antarctic warming over the past 50 years was more extensive than previously thought?

 

A chap called Ryan O. has got to the bottom of the numbers. The conclusion is that the statistical analysis is flawed, and the results do not stand up. Steve Mcintyre, on Climate Audit has published blogs here and here explaining and enlarging on aspects of the findings.

 

I wonder if Nature will publish these findings? I can say with near certainty that the press will not give the same prominence to this as the original findings. There will be no announcement on the BBC, nor will msnbc be announcing that “Flawed research undermines climate change consensus”. It is not just a media bias in the Global Warming Climate Change debate, but simply that counter-news is rarely reported. So every minor bit of medical research is shown as news, but rarely do we get updates that the results have been overturned, despite it happening 80% of the time. Yet in scientific areas that rely on statistical analysis this happens all the time. In studying economics I found in many areas, such as the Theory of Demand, The Phillips Curve and on the Monetarist / Keynesian debates on the 1960s to 1980s, papers were constantly being overturned.

 

For those who believe that predictive ability is the sign of good science James M. Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute, should be commended. Quoted in OPedNews on January 24th 2009, three days after the article was published.

 

“I would be quite wary of assigning much value to this article. Raw temperature data and a number of studies over many years have determined that Antarctica is cooling. Now we have a single article, reliant on subjective data interpretation from well-known global warming alarmists, saying the opposite.

“For a long time now, Antarctic cooling has been a stone in the shoe of global warming alarmists. Now, conveniently, those who regularly blog on an alarmist Web site claim they have ‘statistically smoothed’ the data to show Antarctica is warming, even though surface temperature stations show a significant, long-term cooling trend.

“The article appears to argue that due to incredibly bad luck, many temperature stations scattered throughout the continent are located in random, isolated pockets of cooling that defy the overall warming trend. The odds of this being the case are quite remote, and the theory is notably short on reliable evidence. Adding to the dubious nature of the study’s conclusion is the authors’ self-interest in silencing an embarrassing mountain of raw temperature data that contradict the authors’ global warming theory.

 

Taylor points to the results contradicting established data. When that happens the review process should ask searching questions. Something seems to have gone amiss with the review process at Nature, despite them having taken 11 months to review the paper.

Climate Change – An opportunity for the UK to benefit humanity

In March, Phillip Salter, on the Adam Smith Institute blog, suggested that we should also open up peer reviews in climatology.  My response was

 

Dr Alister McFarquhar is right in that the opening up of peer reviews will not help.
There are is a way that the closed world of the Climate Change Lobby can be changed. Steve McIntyre of climateaudit.org campaigns for the datasets behind articles to be published. In Economic Theory this already happens, which means that debate is actively encouraged. That is careers are made more through disputing established opinion than reinforcing that opinion. Such an approach should appeal to those on both sides of the debate. Those who believe in anthropogenic global warming should be in favour of optimal policies, so must want to see challanged the more eccentric views based on poor scholarship. It would also appeal to those are searching for answers, or who believe that proper debate brings greater understanding.

 

I would go further.

 The Government is looking for opportunities for investment to get us out of this depression. That is spending of money now that will lead to far greater returns for the economy in the future. In the area of the universities, this means promoting the UK as a world-leading centre of original research. Financing the launch of a new journal (say “Critical Perspectives on Climatology”) is one area where there is a huge gap in the market. The Government can justify it for the following reasons.

  1. The promotion of better science will give a new lease of life to the historical role of the UK as a fountainhead of great intellects.
  2. Reducing the risks to the poor. Extra measures to combat climate change will hurt the poor the most. For this reason, more objective analysis will reduce the risks that we will get policy wrong.
  3. Proper stewardship of the Earth means proper democratic debate, where all views are heard. This is another reason for Britain’s historical pre-eminence in science.
  4. When funding investment one should look for high returns. Most government-backed investment does not get back the money invested. This one could generate huge returns.

Steve Macintyre’s Peek Behind the curtain

Back in March Climateaudit published this blog. This deals with the suppression of a paper that says there is no evidence for a rise in the level of water vapour in the upper atmosphere in the recent past. Why is this important? The forecasts of dramatic rise in global temperatures are based upon the small rise in global temperatures so far experienced (and claimed to be caused by increases in greenhouse gases) resulting in higher levels of water vapour in the middle and upper troposphere. Without this positive feedback loop, the current 2oC to 4oC rise in temperatures predicted for this century are dramatically reduced.

The bottom line is that, if (repeat if) one could believe the NCEP data ‘as is’, water vapour feedback over the last 35 years has been negative. And if the pattern were to continue into the future, one would expect water vapour feedback in the climate system to halve rather than double the temperature rise due to increasing CO2.

In other words, if the data is right, expect global temperatures to rise by 0.5 oC.

The response should be one of ‘let us pursue this further’, not ‘let us squash this, as it rocks the boat’.

MPs Expenses – Classic British Fudge

There is a very valid allegation that Nadine Dorries makes, that will get drowned out in the backlash from her wilder comments. The expenses system was designed to give MPs an underhand pay rise, when a real one would have caused public anger. Nadine Dorries claims that until 2005, MPs were actively encouraged to view expenses as part of their normal salary, and the fees office actively helped. According to Iain Dale, that same fees office have privately apologized to Labour MP Ben Chapman for advice given to him on his mortgage arrangements. Dale also made a post that Ken Livingstone has alleged that the Labour Whips actively encouraged MPs to see second home allowances a supplement to their salary. They therefore encouraged MPs to claim the maximum.

 

If Dorries’s allegation is true. then the current expenses system was put in to deceive the electorate about with the true level of MPs pay. In so doing it encourages a culture of dishonesty and self-serving that should be alien to the political class. It also shows that rather than a few MPs troughing off their own, both the fees office and the political parties actively encouraged their MPs to participate. This could be most damaging for the Labour party who have done least to make a clean break with past practices.

The end of Nadine Dorries’s Career?

 

The Honourable Member for Mid-Beds has had her blog taken due to manic accusations about the Barclay Brothers, owners of the Telegraph. Full story from Dizzy, with additional comments by Iain Dale.

It is a shame that she should end the piece concerned with wild conspiracy theories. They do not stand up to close scrutiny. Nadine is also made wild suggestions on BBC Radio 5 Live that there is the risk of MPs committing suicide.  It looks like these extreme comments will drown out a very valid point – see next posting.

UK Green Party Manifesto – Grade E for Numeracy

The UK Green Party yesterday published it’s Manifesto for the forthcoming European Elections. There were some statistics that show a lack of numeracy.

 

UK Labour Party’s target emissions reduction

 

The Labour government now proposes a target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050, which works out at about 2.5% per annum. (Page 4 Col 2)

 

          Let us keep the maths simple. Let us take the base year as 2010 and set that at 100. This gives 40 years to achieve the target, which is 20. There are 2 ways of calculating this. – Beancounters will recognize the terminology.

  1. Straight Line Method. Take the same reduction every year. The reduction is 2.5 each year. So if 2010 is 100, 2011 is 97.5, 2012 is 95 etc. After 40 years emissions will be 100-(2.5*40) = 0
  2. Reducing Balance Method. Each year reduce the balance by 2.5% from the previous year. So if 2010 is 100, 2011 is 97.5, 2012 is 95.06, 2013 is 92.69 etc. After 40 years emissions will be 100*0.97540 = 36.32.

 

By the straight line method, emissions will be reduced by 100% and by the straight line method they will be reduced by 63.68%. The correct answer, by the straight line method is 2% per year, by the reducing balance method 3.95%. Neither approximates to 2.5%

 

Green Party’s target emission reduction

 

Based on the latest scientific predictions, an industrialised country such as the UK needs to reduce emissions by 90% by 2030. And we need a commitment to annual targets now, rather than aspirations for the distant future. The Green Party has calculated that the UK needs to be making reductions of around 10% per annum from now on. (Page 4 Col 2 to Page 5 Col 1)

 

            Let us see if the Green Party’s calculations are correct. Taking 2010 as a base, 2030 is in 20 years time. Using the straight line method, a 10% reduction per annum reduction will give 100-(10*40) = -100. That is we will be taking as much greenhouses gases out of the atmosphere as we are pumping in today. Children of today can look

forward to a chilly retirement. Vote Green for a White future!

            Using the reducing balance method, a 10% reduction per annum will be 100*0.9020 = 12.16. Strictly, to get a 90% fall would require a 10.86% reduction per annum, but 10% reduction would only miss the target by 2 years, so is a good enough approximation.

 

Conclusion

Of the two statements, there are 4 possible answers. Only one of these answers can be correct, so a 25% mark is possible, or an E grade. However, as the method of calculation is not stated, a much less generous marker, would give them an F.

MP’s Expenses – Being Machiavellian to tackle the bigger financial issues

Yesterday I wrote a comment on John Redwood’s blog that

  1. That MPs costs are an insignificant part of public expenditure.
  2. David Cameron should take a decisive (Machiavellian) approach to this, providing a clear precedent for the government to follow.
  3. We should then move on to sorting out the economy.

 

This drew two responses. I repeat them hear, with more fulsome responses than I posted earlier on the blog.

Lynne Gill Reply:
May 12th, 2009 at 6:44 am

If you think the furore over MPs’ expenses is a mere distraction you have no idea of the outrage felt by the rest of the population. Removing the party whip and asking for admissions and apologies from these miscreants is only the beginning of the process.

Their behaviour is morally repellent and conniving, and in many cases criminal – but I guess it’s going to be deemed ‘not in the public interest to prosecute’, eh?

The very least they should be expected to do is pay back what they have stolen from the tax-payers pockets. How about putting their ill-gotten gains into a fund for, oh, lets say refurbishing the almost-slums some of our service personnel are living in, between putting their lives in danger at the behest of these gross pieces of work.

 

 I profoundly disagree with your comment. I believe that in politics, as in other areas, you should give people a chance to make amends and move on. This is what David Cameron has done today, setting a precedent for the government to follow.

If we start an inquisition it will go on for months. At this time when we need better government to sort out the economic mess we are in, not to turn parliament into a Roman Circus to watch good people being thrown to the lions.

Further, most MPs have acted within the existing rules. They have not “stolen” money, but that have acted dishonourably and immorally. For them, the conformance has been to the letter of the detailed rules, rather than to the spirit of why they were laid down.

 

Donna W Reply:
May 12th, 2009 at 8:33 am

Sorry, but it is going to need much more than punishment of the 3 worst offenders.

This is Cameron’s chance to clear the Party of the Old Guard – the Squire-ocracy who have no understanding of ‘normal’ peoples’ lives.

If he let’s them get away with claiming expenses for swimming pools, moats, chandeliers, horse-manure (how apt); domestic servants etc ….. then the Tory Party will sink like a stone.

He should be demanding they all pay back the money they have mis-appropriated, seek resignations – and if they’re not forthcoming, withdraw the Whip.

 

Your comment about Cameron demanding that money should be paid back is valid, and is exactly what Cameron has done today. However, Cameron has broadly followed my line. Draw a line in the sand to those who recognise their error and apologise, then move on. Indeed he has improved on my suggestion, as he has set a clear set of rules for those wishing to retain the Conservative Whip. To do as you suggest – essentially sack those the toffs, or those you disagree with – is poor leadership.

Political parties are essentially coalitions, and the leaders need to keep a large range of people on board, who are loyal to that leadership. Machiavelli wrote in 16th century Italy that when a Prince takes over a city he should kill a few and then clearly state that peace should ensue. This way, the new subjects have a clear decision – die or become loyal. For Machiavelli, going after all the vanquished enemies would be counter-productive. It is better to transform the majority and make them loyal subjects, for given that chance most will become loyal subjects. If you are continuously crushing the vanquished, then they will have reason to rise up against the Prince.

 Being “Machiavellian” in the modern political context, is about delivering a clear message in times of crisis, sacking those who do not conform, but then offering a clear way forward to those who wish to mend there ways.  

          As John Redwood has stated, the Conservatives in power will have much bigger battles to wage. Today Cameron has shown he can fight those battles more effectively than the current Prime Minister.

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