Posts Tagged ‘Carbon Emissions’
How old will you be in 2033? I pose the question since we codgers have to declare a bias in respect of the much debated High Speed Rail project, one born of the fact that we will all have joined the chicken-keepers in the sky before the first train hurtles in the direction of Manchester. It follows that we are even more sceptical than most about the wisdom of bankrupting almost everything else to fund something that we will never use on days when the lines are free of leaves, ice or snow.
But we are surprised to learn this morning that we are far from alone. The first full ICM survey reveals that more than two thirds of the population want the government to scrap HS2 or to halt the plan while other cheaper options are explored. Only one in five agrees with our dear leader’s assertion that HS2 is “essential” for Britain, and just 3 per cent believe that it will be delivered on time and on budget. Even business leaders seem uncertain abut the argument that the hour saved will enable them to create even more jobs. They are young enough to contemplate the possibility of whizzing backwards and forwards to London, but have a strong suspicion that meetings will be few and far between given another twenty years IT development. And one wonders how many of them have ploughed through the detailed analysis of 50,000 pages of official documents published last week.
The HS2 Hybrid Bill and accompanying environmental report, effectively the planning application, spells out a worrying story of mass destruction. Seven major rivers will need to be diverted, while 19 ancient woodlands will be chopped down. Up to 310 miles of hedgerows will be destroyed and parts of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Beauty will still be suffering “adverse effects” in 2086. Some 1,180 buildings will be demolished and farmland will be lost. Tunnels and other structutres required for HS2 will cause a severe risk to drinking water in the Chilterns and Colne Valley which will be served with bottled water for at least six years, with the possibility of the arrangement being “permanent”.
The government is also quietly giving itself the power to allow massive building development on Green Belt land, bypassing normal planning controls. Ministers will be able to order the compulsory purchase of any land where they believe that HS2 creats an “opportunity for regeneration or development”.
Clause 56 establishes a new power to seize land in London’s Royal Parks and Regents Park and Hyde Park will become a distant memory. Legal protection from noise will be eliminated. Most surprising of all is the new procedure allowing ministers to close existing rail lines at the stroke of a pen and some lines such as Paddington to West Ruislip are named. The small print makes clear that fears about the effect of HS2 on existing services are justified!
There is an admission that the new trains will increase carbon emissions by 2.8 million tonnes of carbon emissions. This will not be offset by the reduction in the number of cars taken off the road which is calculated at just 0.17 per cent of long-distance car trips taken each year.
In fact anyone sad enough to delve into the report can only conclude that this is a very odd project indeed. For a fraction of the cost, and in one fifth of the time, our present rail network could be transformed, and be capable of removing a great deal of road transport off our congested roads. Most countries operating high-speed rains cover a much larger land mass than ours and include stops at all major towns and cities, something impossible here given the shorter distances involved.
In fairness it has to be acknowledged that scores of Tory MPs are planning a rebellion when the Bill is finally debated, but by then millions will have been spent or committed. Typical amongst them is Andew Bridgen who said yesterday that the poll shows that HS2 is “not only a flawed policy but an electoral liability”. But the total votes of all those with aspirations to become ministers plus the massed ranks of Labour and the Lib Dems will ensure the Bill a safe passage.
The other statistic from the Poll worth recording is the answer to a question about transport links between London and the north. A majority said that improvements are needed, but only 12 per cent believed HS2 is the best way forward.,
History is being made, this project will be the most expensive ever opposed by the public and imposed by politicians against their will. Sadly many of us will not be around long enough to find out who was right.
But we can guess!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY; ” The only way of catching a train I ever discovered was to miss the train before”…G K Chesterton
Morale on the allotments was lower than a snake’s belly this morning. Mud does that to you and we gravelled in a grudging way, knowing that we face a week of similar conditions. Anyone passing the gates might conclude at first sight that highly motivated codgers were defying the elements with a song in their hearts. But things are not always what they seem!
On the national stage that is being amply illustrated this morning. The left-wing papers are talking of Clegg’s fury and his intention to rebuild our ties with Europe. Their more numerous right-wing peers point out that Clegg initially supported Cameron’s veto, an act that paves the way to a better tomorrow. The odds are that both views are wide of the mark, certain it is that the chance of Clegg surviving to rebuild anything is akin to my opening for England in the forthcoming Test series against Pakistan.
But the greatest veneer of deception surely covers this morning’s headlines about the supposed breakthrough in Durban in the governmental talks about climate change. At first glance it sounds marvellous news, at last world leaders are going to actually do something about carbon emissions which every bit of evidence suggests are causing a potential Armegeddon to build up as the icecaps melt, the rain forests come down and the big polluters, America, China and India, continue to belch out more and more destructive emissions.
On the face of it the last minute agreement reached in Durban merits the ecstatic headlines. But it isn’t what it seems. The world’s leaders have merely agreed to write a comprehensive global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, covering developed and developing countries, to come into force in 2020. The next phase of negotiations covers “a protocol, a legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force”, so the amount of wriggle room left is considerable.
Even if a real deal emerges there will still be a long way to go for Durban didn’t so much as discuss how far and how fast countries must cut their emissions. Considering that emissions have risen 50% in the past 20 years and that with every further increase we have less and less chance of keeping global temperatures to within a further 2C, it is hard to confidently cast aside the latest warnings from scientists about climate change becoming “catastrophic and irreversible”.
Governments will now begin negotiations on what the new climate agreement should look like. We are told that the outcome must be wrapped up in 2015 with a legal document ready to be signed. Governments will then have 5 years in which to ratify it. Whether that will happen in the case of the “big three polluters” is open to doubt, given the possible effects on their economies. Right across the world powerful national and vested interests are involved and many refuse to believe the evidence, in the way that someone with a fear of dentistry ignores a decayed tooth right up the moment when it is too late to save it.
I apologise for being negative and sincerely hope that some good comes out of the Durban talks which at least have produced an intention to consider action. But it helps no one to pretend that suddenly the world’s leaders have come to their senses and, hey presto, the planet is saved.
Nothing so far has countered the scientific forecasts that a large part of the low-lying areas of the world will be under water within three or four decades. So I guess that the news that ‘Little Mix’ have won the X Factor isn’t that important in the great scheme of things.
There are of course many who advocate just waiting to see what happens but that sounds dangerous. It reminds me of the story of a London cabbie who was driving a Bishop and, as cabbies tend to do, launched into a tirade. He said that the ‘Bish’ would look mighty silly if, having denied himself the joy of sinning, found upon dying that there was nothing more. Ah, said the Bishop, but not half as silly as you will if you find that there is.
Some say never believe what you read in the newspapers. I say things are seldom what they seem. Same thing really!
No need for hand-warmers this morning, despite forecasts of frost it was relatively warm as we release the hens. As they scuttle out I often wonder what it is they are so eager to get on with. Albert suggests that they need a copy of the Sun to uplift their spirits but having seen the lethargy of the local council workers, for whom a rolled-up copy seems mandatory, I rather doubt it. Maybe they spend their time being thankful for not living as their battery-sisters do, they after all don’t have four visits per day from old geezers bearing a constant supply of lettuces, boiled spuds and spinach leaves. And they have freedom to wander amongst the trees and, if the mood takes them, to fly up into them.
Come to think about it trees play an important part in all our lives. Of course they play a key role in offsetting the effect of carbon emissions, but they also provide us with places of beauty and solace for the soul. Perhaps we should make the best of them for their massacre at the hands of money-grabbing developers is about to accelerate thanks to the bizaare plan of the coalition to sell off the Forestry Commission which owns 20 per cent of all the woods and forests in Britain.
On January 6th I revealed the campaign being run by ’38 Degrees’. Since then thousands have signed up on-line to register their opposition to this wanton destruction. Today one hundred top celebrities have added their names to the fight. The names include Judi Dench, Dr Rowan Williams, Annie Lennox, Joanna Trollope, Bill Bryson, Richard Briers and a host of others. All their signatures appear at the foot of a letter published in this morning’s papers.
It states “We, who love and use the English forests, believe that such a sale would be misjudged and shortsighted. It is our national heritage. We are an island nation yet more people escape to the forests than to the seaside. Our forests nurture countless species of native plants and wildlife. We have relied upon them since time immemorial yet we are only a heartbeat in their history.”
Last week saw the publication of a poll on the proposal. Over 75 per cent are totally opposed to the government’s plan. People from all walks of life are angry and bemused. Some visit the forests regularly and there have been mass protests in such as The Forest of Dean. Some remember with affection the visits they once made as a child and many others still take their children to enjoy the wonder of nature at its best. If Cameron rides roughshod over the view of the vast majority of Brits he will be making a lot of enemies, for once the sale is made there is no going back, the bulldozers will be revving their engines.
The most amazing aspect of all this is that even the most favourable sale is only expected to raise £100 million. Compare that to the £15 billion we are happy to plough into the Olympics or the £130 billion that is lost to the exchequer each year via tax avoidance. The truth is that money is not the motivation, it is ideology, the obsessive right-wing belief that everything must be privately owned even if that leads to its destruction.
If you too feel that the forests that belong to us all, and are part of what Britain is, should be left alone for future generations to treasure why not go on to the ’38 Degrees’ website and sign the petition. Politicians will only listen if they feel that their votes are at risk so numbers count!
OSBORNE ACCUSED OF TAX DODGING!
Channel 4 has claimed to have evidence that George Osborne is avoiding the payment of tax. It says that he employs accountants to find loopholes which help him avoid payments of up to £1.6 million. The pressure group ’38 Degrees’ is running an online petition demanding that he end this practice and, so great has been the response, it is running an advertisng campaign portraying the Chancellor as ‘the artful Dodger’.
Like you I have no idea as to the truth of these accusations but it seems unlikely that broadcasts and public campaigns would have been launched without firm evidence. And I have heard no refutals by Mr Osborne.
The government has been reluctant to tackle tax avoidance which is believed to account for losses far in excess of the total value of the cuts now hitting many poorer families. Why? Perhaps this story gives us a clue! Can it possibly be that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is using tax avoidance?
If so it might be prudent for the millionaires running this country to stop banging on about us all being in this together!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; “If we tread on a mine, Sir, what is the procedure? Normal procedure Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area”…..Captain Blackadder “The best defence against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off”…Winston Churchill “War doesn’t determine who’s right – only who’s left”….Bertrand Russell “We are not retreating; we are advancing in another direction”….General Douglas MacArthur “They still haven’t found Osama Bin Laden. Why don’t they give his name to the Child Support Agency, they’ll find him”….Roy Chubby Brown ” Peace is when nobody’s shooting. A ‘just peace’ is when your side gets what it wants”……Bill Mauldin “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last”……Winston Churchill.
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Andrei Sakharov 2. Richard Nixon
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who refused to play South Africa in a Davis Cup Final? 2. Which orchestra did Sir George Solti once conduct in London?
It seems unlikely that bookmakers will be offering good odds against a white Christmas this year, in fact the best odds will be available t’other way round. Right now the allotment is a foot deep in snow and according to Tom’s pin-up, Eno the weather-forecaster, we are due to receive a lot more of the cursed white stuff. This morning we made improvised snow shifters, thawed out a load of water-feeders and then moved on to breaking the ice on the ponds for fear that the fish will expire of lack of oxogen, By the time we had finished we were in need of a few puffs too. But those of us of a cricket bent were in a state of shock.
Amongst others I had put it about that Mitchell Johnson (recalled for the current Ashes Test) couldn’t hit a barn-door from five yards with a beach ball. Our heroes are now in a state of shock after the said barn-door hitter skittled England out after also top scoring with the bat. How wrong can one be? From muppet to Roy of the Rovers, Mr Johnson is now our choice to save the planet since no one else seems interested. Indeed half of the British delegation to the ‘last chance for the world’ conference in Mexico flew home early to vote in the tuition fees debate. Clearly saving Nick Clegg’s skin takes precedence over saving the planet!
The United Nation’s conference was held in Mexico and 200 countries sent representatives, albeit that some of them were the equivalent of the senior janitor. In the end they predictably did nothing. But one clear opportunity struck me and I cannot fathom why this at least cannot be tackled. Many delegates supported the idea of a system of incentives to prevent the destruction of tropical rain forests in countries such as Brazil, Congo and Indonesia.
Incredibly deforestation accounts for 15 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions. So here we have a single target that could bring a big step forward. The problem is that people in poor countries see felling as their only means of earning a meagre living. Given the option of earning it in another way they would be happy to leave the forests intact. So it merely needs the richer and larger countries to sign up to a contribution and, at last, the campaign which scientists tell us is the only hope of saving the planet would be up and running. So did they agree to go ahead? No!
Yet every developed country pays dues to something and the money required here is not penal when shared. For example, we think nothing about handing over £7 billion to bail out Ireland or heaven knows how much for the other Euro victims that we will have to underwrite. The economy of Ireland, Spain etc versus the destruction of the planet sounds an easy choice. It is, we prefer to let the planet flood. Of course some of the giants have problems of their own. In the United States President Obama faces opposition from mad people such as Sarah Palin who still believes that the world is flat. Doubtless there are equally tricky political problems in China. India and the rest.
But surely the conference has made progress on this basic issue at least. Not according to Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He says that the ” outcome of the conference was not enough to save the planet”. But, as if to offer consolation, he adds “but it did restore the credibility of the United Nations”. So that’s all right then!
Hopefully a move on the forests will evolve but right now it is hard to believe that mankind has the will to save itself. Still it did at least save Nick Clegg from humiliation, perhaps that is more important?
WHAT ABOUT THE SAVERS?
The Bank of England yesterday expressed great concern that inflation may make necessary an increase from the all-time low bank rate thus increasing mortgage rates for 7 million home buyers. They seem to have forgotten the 7 million savers, many of whom rely on interest for their existence in old age.
Mention that to any of the finance wizards and they will tell you that everyone should spend and borrow to save the economy. But isn’t that exactly how we got into this appalling mess?
STAMP PRICES UP AGAIN!
The price of a first class stamp is to go up again. From April it will cost 46p. Prices have gone up by twice the rate of inflation for five years. The increase is Royal Mail’s response to a fall in volume but the problem is that those still using the mail as against the internet are mainly older folk, some of whom are struggling to cope financially.
The last thing I would want is privatisation but something has to be done for the service continues to deteriorate whilst the cost of using it rockets. What is needed is good management and the mystery is that the government believes that only ownership by the French can bring that.
There must be plenty of dynamic young managers who would love to move in. If we don’t believe that we might as well close down Britain plc right now.
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. The Netherlands 2. John Wayne
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple were creations of which author, who died in 1976? 2. Who became conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1979?
The second dry day on the trot has the ferreters changing their minds on global warming for the millionth time. The recent long period of dark clouds and copious rain coincided with the floods in the West country and led to a renewed conviction that it is almost time to visit the library in search of a DIY guide to ark-building. All it takes is a couple of non-monsoon days for opinion to swing in the other direction which suggests that the gang is still less than completely convinced about armageddon. Since no one of note across the world seems to be actually doing anything to reduce carbon emissions we can only pray that our latest mood-swing reflects reality.
Meantime we hear a lot about endangered species ranging from tigers to starlings and the evidence there at least is worryingly validated. Sadly there is little we can do on our allotment site to preserve the endangered since the two wild creatures we encounter seem to be breeding at a rate faster than we ever managed in our days of procreation. I’m talking about collared doves, which eat everything that we grow, and moles, which constantly throw up hills often to the apparent bewilderment of the chickens.
But it is moles of a different sort that is beginning to try the nerve of the government. One can only assume that the Ministry of Defence has two moles per square yard for yesterday the Telegraph - perhaps the Telegraphs’ Editor’s neice is married to a General – for the umpteenth time obtained a copy of a report so damning that Liam Fox was forced to disown the writer and Cameron to disown Liam Fox. The report is headed ‘Restricted’ and was prepared by officials working directly for the Defence Secretary.
It tells us that the rushed and seemingly shambolic way in which the government conducted its strategic defence and security review has “badly damaged the confidence and morale of the armed forces”. We read that the decision to scrap the Ark Royal aircraft carrier and its fleet of Harrier jets was taken at the last minute.n fact the armed forces personnel first heard of the decision through the media. Officials in the National Security Council , chaired by David Cameron, are criticised for the way they handled the whole defence debate and the way they reached decisions. “People should have been consulted” the report booms.
According to the leaked report communications were abysmal. “At Cabinet Office direction , there was no pre-briefing of the chain of command and no pre-warning of units affected by changes. The combination of covert media briefings and restrictions on internal communicatiuons have “badly damaged morale and confidence and created a poor baseline for implementation” says the report. And it has few words of praise for the National Security Council, saying that meetings “did not provide the guidance the MOD needed”. Even worse “its members took too long to understand the complex issues”.
The report goes from bad to worse. Allies such as the United States were consulted so late that their comments were only received and collated as the plan “was being confirmed”.
The document makes depressing reading. It clearly points to rushed and inadequately thought through strategies and certainly adds strength to the argument of those who for some days now have contended that the whole defence package will lead to a istuation where the United Kingdom is inadequtely defended.
Predictably Liam Fox has condemned the writers as too junior to know but that doesn’t wash since they were clearly appointed to carry out the review. And it all gels suspiciously with his own early outburst about being unable to accept cuts. Of course that was before his sudden conversion which seemed to suggest that he had his collar touched as Knacker of the Yard is wont to say.
I can never decide whether moles do us a service or simply boost the sale of worry-beads. We are for ever trying to stab ours with a fork and the likelihood is that right now Cameron is proposing to do something simialr to Mr Fox!
Maybe we should build that ark for it seems that if the floods don’t get us Bin Laden will!
COALITION BARES ALL- AND REGRETS IT!
The coalition deserves great credit for its historic decision to publish full details of all expenditure in excess of £25,000, in fact many departments have gone further by using a mere £500 as the transparency line.
I hope they now hold their nerve because such openness is surely a huge step forward why would they waiver? Because the details reveal an appalling story of waste. Many will focus on trivia such as £55,000 to improve the PM’s office or nights in 4-star hotels. But for me two numbers stood out by a mile on the waste scale.
Since coming to office the coalition has spent £200 million on management consultants and £80 million on public relations. To spent so much on such frivolity when the services such as those for the mentally ill in the community have been cancelled is nothing short of scandalous.
But at least this lot is being open about its misuse of public money which is more than can be said for previous governments! My self understanding tells me that I wouldn’t have been so brave!
STAMPS FOR CHRISTMAS?
As a compulsive stamp collectors I have no alternative to buying the Christmas stamps plus the special brochure. But I did find myself wondering about this year’s choice of Wallace and Gromit.
Yes they are brilliant and funny but where are the traditional Christmas scenes based on the greatest story ever told? When I mentioned this at the bar a pal said that it was right and proper to keep religion out of Christmas. I found this odd since without religion there wouldn’t be a Christmas!
I just hope that Royal Mail has not become infected with the cult of political correctness!
HAVE THEY NOTHING BETTER TO THINK ABOUT?
Today’s papers are full of material relating to the forthcoming Royal wedding, no surprisev there. But the Daily Express has added the Charles ‘drama’ to the offering. It seems that the Prince conceded the possibility of Camilla being called Queen.
Alan Berry is the co-founder of a group called the ‘Diana Appreciation Society’ and is apparently outraged. In fact he doesn’t even accept that Charles should become King. I must confess that I had never heard of either the society or Mr Berry.
Am I in a minority in wondering why he and they cannot find something a more productive way to pass the time? Perhaps I live in a non-typical community for I have never heard anyone express the slightest interest in what the future holds for Charles’ second wife!
YESTERDAYS QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Walter Mondale 2 Graham Greene
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which country maintained Syowa Station in Antartica? 2 Which French carmaker did Peugeot take over in 1974?