The outrageous arrogance of Boris Johnson

This is just a quick comment on the staggering arrogance of Boris Johnson who, according to some reports, is planing on replacing David Cameron as PM and has the support of Rupert Murdoch.

Let’s remind ourselves that Murdoch is a non UK citizen, who does not pay UK income tax, but who has been shown to have corrupted UK politics and has exerted a power over UK politicians that has subverted our  democratic process. None of this is in doubt – the evidence was always there for those who were paying attention and is now 100% clear after the Levenson proceedings.

Murdoch’s papers  (among others) have clearly been involved in corrupt practices and there is even the case of Daniel Morgan, a private investigator who was said to have been close to exposing important police corruption when he was murdered in a pub car park. The News of the World was directly or indirectly involved in this affair and the resulting failure of all attempts to convict the chief suspect,  a private investigator working for News of the World. The result of the web of corruption between Police, journalists and private investigators means that a murderer and corrupt policemen are still at large and we are no nearer the truth of what happened.

So you would have thought that any politician with a sense of propriety and rule of law would have kept a healthy distance from Rupert Murdoch. But no, Boris Johnson invited Rupert Murdoch as his personal guest to join him at the Olympics for the swimming finals. It is impossible to view this behaviour as anything other than arrogance of the highest order – it represents two fingers to the law, to democracy and to the people of the UK.

If this turns out to be part of a plan to rehabilitate Murdoch and the beginning of a campaign to replace Cameron with Johnson it will show that the arrogance of these two men shows no limit.

Boris Johnson, Rupert Murdoch and the arrogance in the mayor’s choice of guest

So, bumbling Boris Johnson is lovable and funny? Well, have I got news for you

Met to review Daniel Morgan murder over claims of News of the World link

Justice for Daniel

Daniel Morgan (private investigator)

Network of corruption which lies at the heart of  claim in the House of Commons by Labour MP Tom Watson that Rees was targeting politicians, members of the royal family and even terrorist informers on behalf of Rupert Murdoch’s News International. (Guardian June 2011)

Boris and Climate
While talking about Boris Johnson its worth noting that he chose Mathew Ridley to give the keynote address at a debate in the “The Environment Imperative” series. Mathew Ridley was promoted as “a renowned science writer, journalist, biologist, and businessman”.   There was a much longer introduction to Ridley given at the beginning of the debate but neither mentioned that the best description of Matthew Ridley is “failed banker”. Ridley was chairman of Northern Rock when it collapsed and came very close to bringing down the financial system of the western world. In fact this neolibertarian pundit who believes in small government that doesn’t interfere in business and finance had to go to our government for a £27 billion bailout. Funny none of this was mentioned.

London has many world class climate experts and environmental scientists that Boris could have chosen, Mathew Ridley is not one of them.

Two fingers to a rational, reasoned, evidence based debate.

Check the references below for further information.

Why is Boris Johnson promoting climate change “sceptics”?

The Man Who Wants to Northern Rock the Planet

Matt Ridley’s Rational Optimist is telling the rich what they want to hear

Daily Telegraph & Daily Mail get Wind Farm Study 100% wrong

As usual the Daily Telegraph (& Daily Mail) misrepresent a new research paper on Wind Farms.  This is the Telegraph article and here is their headline:

“Wind farms can cause climate change, finds new study”

“Wind farms can cause climate change, according to new research, that shows for the first time the new technology is already pushing up temperatures.”

Most readers will give this a cursory glance and assume that wind farms are causing climate change on a global scale and pushing up global temperatures, hence wind farms are a bad thing.

However, even before you get to paragraph 19, we find that this is a total misrepresentation of the research.  The study showed that turbines mix the air, and so at night, warm air higher up gets directed down on to the cold ground, causing small temperature rises at ground level.

So, no overall warming, and no effect outside the vicinity of the wind farm.

All of this is in the Telegraph article so why did their headline get the story 100% wrong???

In fact it is impossible to avoid concluding that both the Telegraph and Mail headlines were dishonest to the point of being outright lies. But then that is not unusual for these two papers when reporting any story that doesn’t quite fit their preconceived ideology.

An accurate headline would read:

“Wind turbines might be affecting local ground temperature, according to a new study”

Unfortunately I cannot read the whole paper as it is behind a pay wall here, but you can get all the information you need from the Telegraph article – you just need to read beyond the first few paragraphs and on to the end of the article.

Why do people buy newspapers that are so transparently dishonest? Perhaps this is the reason?

For those who are interested in reality rather than propaganda click here.

When the “truth wins” assumption fails.

100 Tories revolt over Wind Farms part 2

Recently 100 MPs wrote a letter to Dave Cameron demanding cuts to financial support for wind farms.

The letter contained a series of assertions with no reference to evidence or rational argument. The MPs could only make naïve or more likely disingenuous assertions such as wind power is intermittent, as if no one had thought of that before.

The fact is that all energy sources have been subsidised one way or another. Oil and gas exploration gains from massive tax breaks. Oil and Gas companies make excess unearned profits due to regular political crises which put up market prices – those unearned profits come from the ever increasing price to the consumer.

Coal has been subsidised because it has never had to pay for the damage that over a hundred years of pollution has done to our health, forests, buildings and our environment.

In the case of Nuclear Power the costs have been so lacking in  transparency and governments have been so cagey about publishing the costs involved that it is true to say that we really have little idea of the true cost of Nuclear Energy.

Here is an interesting article about Nuclear Power which should be essential reading for all those who think Wind Power is too expensive: Environmental research Web

100 Tories revolt over Wind Farms part 1

100 Tories revolt over wind farms

More misinformation and made up facts from Tory MPs.

If they are genuinely concerned about the subsidies devoted to wind power then why are they not also concerned about the unquantified, opaque and open ended subsidies for nuclear power.

What about the subsidies/tax breaks for North Sea Oil and Gas?

In fact all new sources of energy have been subsidised at least in their initial development.

What about the hidden subsidies due to pollution and ill health caused by coal fired power stations and the ill health and environmental damage due to coal extraction.

If those 100 MPs are genuinely worried about consumer’s energy bills why don’t they admit that renewable energy subsidises are a very small part of the increases in fuel prices . The reason for the rise in energy bills is the rapidly rising wholesale costs of oil and gas and  the massive profits being made by the six big energy companies.  The energy companies, many foreign owned, are able to increase their profits simply on the back of the rising international prices – they do not work more efficiently or harder, all they do is put the prices up a bit more than their costs.  So why don’t the MPs start with those unearned profits  if they are concerned about consumers?

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Six Times More Than Renewable Energy

IEA: fossil fuel subsidies must be cut

Why are energy prices rising (OFGEM)

Why Tory MPs opposition to wind power will put your energy bill up

Instead of sending baseless letters to the media, the 100 MPs would be better off using their time  signing up to this: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/the-big-switch#petition

Sierra Club vs “Ethical Oil” – One of them is a Ridiculous Radical

I recently came across a debate on Canadian TV (via Desmogblog) that is worth watching – it’s  only 10 minutes long. It shows what we are facing across the world if we do not start paying attention.  Wherever their interests are threatened, multinational oil  and mining companies are pouring money into campaigns to undermine their opponents. They do not do this by argument or rational debate but by the clandestine spreading of misinformation, lies, and smears.  In many cases they have actually corrupted the democratic process [1].  All of this is obvious to anyone who is paying attention, the facts are clear, the situation incontrovertible.  But we sit back and let it happen.

In Canada the government has been corrupted [2] by oil and mining companies who are also trying to misinform the public via phony grass groots groups such as “Ethical Oil”.  The video clip (below) shows a debate [2] between representatives from the Sierra Club (an environmental organisation) and Ethical Oil.  All you need to do is watch the video to see what is going on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=toR3Tt9fS2E

[1] http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=338

[2] http://www.desmogblog.com/cozy-ties-astroturf-ethical-oil-and-conservative-alliance-promote-tar-sands-expansion (accessed 18/01/2012)

[3] http://www.desmogblog.com/unaccountable-oil-enbridge-already-polluting-canadian-political-environment (accessed 18/01/2012)

Canadian campaign puts the spin on ‘ethical oil’

Snippets of Stolen Emails Cannot Make the Earth Flat

(Scroll down for list of links)

Timed to undermine the Durban climate conference we have another release via a Russian web site of, apparently,  the same emails that were stolen from the University of East Anglia in 2009.  The person(s) responsible have had two years to search through a quarter of a million emails covering a period of ten years.  Yet all they have found is a small selection of short quotes which, taken out of context, might ‘look’ suspicious.  You could of course do this with anyone’s emails and generate a fictitious conspiracy theory. Bloggers are doing this all the time on the web.

If you take a look at the emails you will see that, out of context, they mean very little. At most, they give evidence that the scientists involved are human and have private discussions involving  arguments, debates, questioning each other, they have jokes and yes sometimes are rude about colleagues or people for whom they have no professional respect.

What the emails in general show is a group of scientists openly and frankly discussing the science, the uncertainties and the more general political and social ramifications of their work.  What else would we expect them to discuss?

However you look at the selected, out of context quotes, they do not show evidence of a smoking gun or a hot bed of fraudulent science.

It would be very interesting to see the emails of some of the members of Nigel Lawson’s Global Warming Lobby group (see below) but funnily enough they refuse to release them. One set of rules for climate science and no rules for those who refuse to accept the evidence.

Here is a list of links that give some balance to the story including the Real Climate site where some of the actual scientists involved in writing the emails explain the context of the quotes.

Sorry if suggesting that we actually read the defendants side of the story is anathema to a few of you but I think that it’s called natural justice.

Useful Links:

*****Real Climate: Two year old turkey (Recommended: It is very revealing to read the comments by those involved in writing the emails and who actually know the context. To get a good picture of what is going on you need to be thorough and read them all)

Snippets of stolen emails cannot make the Earth flat (Scott Mandia)

A video that explains the emails in context

Media matters US

Climate Progress: Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice, Shame on the Media

Climate Brief:More on the UEA ‘Climategate’ emails – recommended reading

Attacks on climate scientists are the real ‘climategate’

Bad News for Deniers: Grown-ups Weigh in on Email Leftovers

How have the UK Media reported the Climategate 2?

Nigel Lawson’s Think Tank: refuses to reveal funders, refuses Freedom of Information requests – Hypocrisy and Dishonesty but ignored by most of media.

Skeptical Science has the facts on the previous Climategate – essential background reading

On finding one’s email in the hacked climate science email files

Professor Phil Jones explains the context of some of the phrases cherry-picked from the thousands of emails

The Real Scandal: The Endless Effort to Smear Climate Scientists

Please let me know if I have missed any useful links

What is really fuelling energy bills in Britain?

My interest in Energy issues tempted me to watch this week’s episode of BBC’s Panorama:  “What is really fuelling energy bills in Britain?” – and unfortunately I was in for a shock.

There are two answers to the question in the title of the programme depending on your politics i.e the rise in energy bills is due to the rapidly rising wholesale costs of oil and gas or to the massive profits being made by the six big energy companies. Most likely the reason is a combination of the two.  Coming in well behind these is the cost of developing low carbon energy sources.  However, if you watched the programme (which confusingly mixes the future with the present) you would get the impression that the family collecting timber from their local forest for heating (yes I’m not kidding) were doing so because of the adverse affect of wind turbines on their energy bills.  The sources of information were an unpublished and unverifiable report from the accountants KPMG, some unsubstantiated figures from a self proclaimed expert with an unmentioned political agenda and some more dodgy figures from USwitch.

There has been criticism of the programme in the Guardian and, Tom Heap, the programme’s narrator, has responded to those criticisms but, in my opinion, Tom is not convincing.  I fail to see how anyone, whatever their point of view can come away from the programme thinking that it was anything other then one sided. Worse, it did not push the debate forward because of the sparsity of any useful and validated facts and figures.

There is a real debate to be had about how our energy needs are to be met. I am having difficulty getting my head around the complexity of the issue and the wealth of propaganda from a variety of sources does not help.  The need for the debate is urgent if we are to meet our future energy requirements.  The great thing about this debate is that we are in a position t0 argue on the basis of facts and figures.  There will always be those who will ignore or cherry pick the facts or simply make up their own facts to fit their -preconceived ideas. But for those of us who want the discussion to be based on reasoned, rational, evidence based debate we need programmes like Panorama to consist of high quality investigate journalism where the aim is to get as far as possible to the facts of the argument. It is essential that self proclaimed ‘experts’ with a hidden political agenda are not allowed to present their facts and figures without any attempt by the makers of the programme to validate those figures or to check their provenance or authenticity.

A big black mark to the BBC and Tom Heap and a missed opportunity to bring some light to the debate.

Below I have given some further sources of information  which I hope will address the lack of balance but the issue is so big and complex that they only really demonstrate the bias of the Panorama programme.   A great deal more research is needed – I hope to return to this subject.

Update: KPMG refuses to release controversial green energy report that the programme was based on.

Update 2: BBC Admits it got it wrong: Clarification: What’s Fuelling Your Energy Bill?

This is the programme: What is really fuelling energy bills in Britain? http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_9631000/9631864.stm

This is Damian Carrington’s Criticism of the programme: The vast, shocking hole in Panorama’s analysis of rising energy bills: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2011/nov/08/energy-bills-panorama-renewables

This is Tom Heaps reply: Energy Bills: the Guardians big green blind spot: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/nov/09/energy-bills-panorama?newsfeed=true

Further sources:

Video: Why BBC’s Panorama got it wrong on Green Energy

Looking into Panorama’s sources:  http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2011/11/looking-into-panoramas-sources

Huhne: Wind turbines are here to stay: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2123863/huhne-wind-turbines-stay

Why are energy prices rising (OFGEM): http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Media/FactSheets/Documents1/Why%20are%20energy%20prices%20rising_factsheet_108.pdf

Let’s end the tyranny of the six big energy companies: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/10/friends-of-the-earth-time-to-end-tyranny-of-big-six-energy-companies/

EDF found guilty of spying on Greenpeace:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/10/edf-spying-greenpeace

Breaking News: The Earth Still Goes Around the Sun, and It’s Still Warming Up

“The scientific community has known — and been saying for decades — that the earth is warming up. Except for a small cadre of highly vocal, ideologically stuck, but increasingly marginalized people, there is no dispute about this among scientists. The data are extensive – covering the globe – and they have been vetted, reanalyzed, corrected for error, compared with satellite data, and subjected to every known criticism. And independent group after independent group has found the same thing: the earth is warming.”  So begins an article in Forbes magazine by Peter Gleick prompted by the latest confirming evidence for global warming. Continue reading “Breaking News: The Earth Still Goes Around the Sun, and It’s Still Warming Up”

“The earth is warming”

A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems….
Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities. (US National Academy of Science) Continue reading ““The earth is warming””