THE VILLAGE SOAPBXOX
Ron mounts his soapbox to challenge some of the so-called global warming experts and has gis two pennyworth on Racism and Immigration
A Wet Winter
Remember last winter, and the winter before and, I think, the winter before that? Whatever else they were they were relatively dry so that, at this time last year there was a great wailing that the reservoirs were very low, soon hosepipe bans were introduced in many areas. What was particularly worrying to many people was the experts telling us that, because of global warming, dry winters were the pattern for the future. Well judging by this winter they were wrong.
Perhaps we have too many 'experts' too ready to make statements as though they are facts when they are little more than their own opinions. Once upon a time scientists were much more reticent until they were sure of the facts, nowadays it seems they rush to try and ensure that their opinions receive publicity. A hungry media is only too ready to provide the space and then to further elaborate on the conjectures in an endeavour to produce the most sensational stories.
Global warming is a topic that has produced a constant stream of pseudo scientific claims. There is, however, some consensus amongst workers in the field, but by no means all, that the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is the principal cause for the warming observed to date. Nevertheless there is no real proof, much of the evidence is circumstantial, and many of the prophecies are based on unsubstantiated hypotheses. There have been prophesies of impending disaster that have been expanded and emphasised by the press to an extent that many people have become alarmed and fear for the future of the planet. It is approaching a situation of mass hysteria. People might take comfort, however, from the fact that the last few hundred years were exceptionally cold in the UK, it was warmer in the Middle Ages and even warmer in Roman times when, I believe, there were vineyards as far north as Lincolnshire.
More recently we have a new crop of experts who are claiming that the problem is not CO2 but the change in the Sun's activity and its cosmic rays that are influencing our climate. A suggestion that some might argue offers a better explanation of the facts. Attempts have been made to rubbish these views but they cannot be completely written off. It is interesting to note that NASA recently reported some increase in the temperature on Mars, perhaps the Martians are driving 4x4s.
Politicians in Europe have recently agreed that they should cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020. Now our government is proposing to introduce a 'law' requiring the UK to reduce carbon emissions to 40% of the 1990 level by 2050 with an intermediate position of no more than 72% of 1990 level by 2020. I am not sure how a government can pass a law for itself to obey or what the penalty might be for breaking the law. Especially since very few of the Members of Parliament that passed the law are unlikely to be in government by 2050. Neither our government nor the Europeans have offered much advice on how their targets are to be met. Reductions of even 20% are likely to require changes in lifestyle that will be strongly opposed and politically difficult to bring about, at the moment the trend is towards higher energy consumption with increases in air travel, wider use of air conditioning etc.
Without doubt it is prudent to take some action to reduce carbon emissions but to date, the most significant action by our government has been to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on building windmills. These mills have had negligible effect on emissions and have served only to profit those who build them and those on whose land they are sited. More effort is needed to reduce energy wastage and more reliable and predictable sources of renewable energy should be pursued. Tidal energy is more reliable and the potential of the Severn estuary could be exploited. Bio-fuels as substitutes for petrol and diesel for transport applications have considerable potential, not only as a means of reducing CO2 but also as a fall-back as the supplies of oil and gas dry up. Thankfully, apart from the wretched windmills, our government does seem to be talking more sensibly now about how we might achieve some reduction in carbon emissions with more emphasis on cutting out waste of energy, especially in the home. Talk of outlawing tungsten filament light bulbs, banning stand-by positions on appliances, better insulation, more bio-fuels etc are all sensible moves. The attitude of the Opposition in the matter of CO2 emissions, as expressed by David Cameron, is disappointing however. Tony Blair has found a new 'mission' and David Cameron is trying to outdo him, a dangerous situation for us since they might well lead the UK into taking actions that are to our disadvantage whilst the rest of the world refuses to follow their lead.
It is also proposed that in Europe 20% of energy must come from renewable sources by 2020. Currently, despite the forests of windmills, the UK is bottom of the European league with just 2% (most other European countries have the benefit of more hydro-electric power). A proposal that the 20% of renewables should be broadened to include energy from non-fossil fuel sources was rejected. I regard that as a big mistake since, if we are to achieve any major reduction in carbon emissions in this country, there is no doubt in my mind that there has to be much wider use of nuclear power.
In my opinion we will do well in Europe if we succeed in achieving even half of the targeted reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 (no doubt there will be a lot of book cooking to make it appear that we have). And there is little doubt that it will be many years beyond 2020 before the level of CO2 in the global atmosphere stops rising and starts to fall.
In the end, we may learn that such problems as there may be with climate change have little to do with CO2 , yet there could be serious consequences for future development, especially in the third world, if too much effort goes to reducing carbon emissions.
Racism and Immigration
I have no time for racists. I do not believe that anyone should be discriminated against because of their ethnicity. Nevertheless I am weary of hearing the cry of 'racism' in situations where probably none exists. Patrick Mercer M.P. was sacked from the shadow cabinet by David Cameron when he suggested that calling a black soldier, who was not shaping up during training, a 'black bastard' was no different to calling a red headed soldier a 'ginger bastard', or a tall soldier a 'lanky bastard', and I agree. Calling someone ginger bastard, lanky bastard or black bastard is not very nice but it is not racist.
A black person resisting arrest is treated violently by police, immediately the cry of 'racist police' is heard, but the police probably behaved no differently than they would do with a white person in a similar situation.
Lord Levy is arrested on suspicion of being complicit in offering honours in exchange for cash for the Labour party and the cry of anti-semitism goes up immediately. Similarly, criticism of Israel's ruthless behaviour towards the Palestinian people or their illegal acquisition of Palestinian land is dubbed anti-semitic. Frankly I am tired of it.
For some time now anyone who criticised the government for not doing more to control immigration has been called a racist. We have been brainwashed into believing that immigration brings with it considerable economic benefits. The evidence for this is somewhat lacking, however. In fact a serious study by an independent group concluded that there was no economic benefit. Professor Coleman of Oxford University has challenged claims of the economic benefits and he too has been dubbed racist. Another piece of propaganda that we have been fed was the claim that we need immigrants to help pay the pensions for our ageing population. Clearly this is a nonsense, at best it could only bring a short term benefit until the immigrants get old themselves. Even the Government's own Turner Commission on pensions decried immigration as a solution.
The claimed economic advantages of migration do not take into account the social disadvantages in terms of health, education, housing, roads, pollution etc. Apart from the additional burden on the NHS from the increased numbers, there are growing problems of HIV/Aids and TB directly linked to migrants. Schools have growing rolls and many are faced with problems of classes in which a significant proportion of the class does not speak English and those that do not speak English do not have a common language either. As fast as roads are improved to remove congestion spots the number of cars increases. The growing population makes the fight to reduce pollution that much more difficult. With regard to housing, it has been estimated that, over the next two decades, the recent inflow of migrants with their associated birth rate will lead to a requirement for 1.5 million new homes. Already we have a population density in England that is four times that of France and twelve times that of the USA. All the efforts to deal with health, housing, road congestion, pollution etc are being set back by the growing demands. Of course one cannot blame the migrants, they are seeking a better life, but they can't all come here. We must do more to help improve their life in their own country. As I have said before in these columns the greatest problem facing mankind is the rapidly expanding world population.
To date any attempt at sensible debate on the problem of immigration has been stifled by claims of racism. At last, but some might say too late, the government does seem to be trying to get to grips. The Home Secretary, Dr Reid, has said that he regards mass migration (not CO2 incidentally) as the greatest challenge facing European governments and he has said that we must get away from the notion that anyone who talks about it is a racist. Sadly he has come under attack for saying such things.
For too long the liberal PC brigade have held sway in this country and it is time to bring some commonsense back into our policies.