Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Leading environmental campaigners now support nuclear and GM

Leading environmental campaigners have performed a u-turn on two key technologies they have opposed for decades by openly calling for greater use of nuclear power and genetically modified crops to help the world tackle climate change.

For years they campaigned against nuclear power and genetically-modified food. But now some leading environmental campaigners have performed a U-turn and said that they got it wrong.

The activists now say that by opposing nuclear power they encouraged the use of polluting coal-fired power stations, while by protesting against GM crops they prevented developing countries from benefiting from a technology that could have helped feed the hungry.

Mark Lynas, a campaigner who has been a member of action groups on GM foods and climate change, said the environmental lobby was losing the battle for public opinion on climate change because it had made too many apocalyptic prophecies and exaggerated claims. He said: "We have got to find a more pragmatic and realistic way of engaging with people."

Stewart Brand, an American activist and former editor of Whole Earth Catalog, said: "I would like to see an environmental movement that says it turns out our fears about genetically engineered food crops were exaggerated and we are glad about that. It is a humble and modest stance to take to the real world.

"Environmentalists did harm by being ignorant and ideological and unwilling to change their mind based on actual evidence. As a result we have done harm and I regret it."

Patrick Moore, one of the founding members of environmental campaign group Greenpeace, added: "We were right that the nuclear industry had problems, but that didn't mean we should be against nuclear energy completely. "We have caused extra gigatons of greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere by being so precious about nuclear."

The activists feature in the [British] Channel 4 documentary What the Green Movement Got Wrong, which will be broadcast this week.

They say that by successfully lobbying against the building of new nuclear power stations, environmentalists forced governments around the world to build new coal fired power stations instead, resulting in billions of extra tonnes of carbon dioxide and pollution being poured into the atmosphere.

Mr Lynas, who along with other activists ripped up trial GM crops in the 1990s, said that GM food had now been consumed by millions of people in the US for more than 10 years without harm, and this had convinced him to change his views.

The campaigners say that since they expressed their change of position, they have been vilified by traditional sections of the environmental movement.


No fun, please, we’re British environmentalists

Just in time for the winter holidays, the government has announced that it plans to hike the Air Passenger Duty by up to 50%. The measure is defended as a revenue-raising ‘green’ measure, but it fails on both counts. What’s more, it’s the worst kind of tax – one which directly penalizes fun.

The first defence of the levy is that it will raise revenue for the government. Maybe so – any form of taxation will do so. But this is the sort of tax that has a strong disincentivizing effect on people’s decisions about where to travel. The levy for European flights is one sixth of that of, say, a flight to the Caribbean. The government already massively taxes air travel, and adding more taxes will simply kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. The Laffer curve applies as much to consumption taxes as to anything else – tax something too much and revenues will decline as the cost of that activity outweighs the benefits.

The second defence of the levy is that it is ‘green’. Again, this is partially true – if you stop people from doing things that generate CO2, you will marginally reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. But the Air Passenger Duty is a blunt tool – it doesn’t differentiation between airplanes of differing CO2 output, and it taxes flights to the Bahamas (4,347 miles from London) more than to Los Angeles (5,448 miles) or Hawai’i (7234 miles). I’m not convinced of the need for any anti-CO2 measures, but even I was, this would be a bad way of going about it.

This duty hike is especially rotten because it taxes one of the most fun things most people have in their lives. Spending months toiling in boring jobs, with even lower-rate taxpayers already forced to pay nearly 40% of it to the government through income tax and VAT, is often only bearable because of the hope of a few weeks away in an exotic country. Certainly, the ministers behind the hike won’t be affected, and like cigarette and alcohol duties this is a regressive tax that will hit the people least able to pay the hardest. Adam Smith once wrote that taxes should be proportionate, nonarbitrary, convenient and low. I’d add one point – that they don’t try to stamp out fun.


Greenie BBC journalist: "We may be the only reliably independent source our audiences have"

These guys don't know how funny they sound. Note the contradiction between the 6th and 7th paragraphs below. It's perilously close to mental illness. Psychiatrists call it "compartmentalization"

A FORMER environmental correspondent with BBC, Alex Kirby says Journalists’ roles are to keep the public informed about climate change issues. Mr Kirby explained this during his presentation at the Climate Action Conference in Brussels, Belgium last week.

About 96 journalists from European Union and other countries outside the continent have attended the conference.

The conference was aimed to give journalists the EU’s perspective ahead of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico next month.

Kirby said: “We need to keep telling our audiences that climate change is happening, that it’s happening fast, that scientists cannot explain what is happening unless they factor in the influence of human activities, that decisions and actions we take – or fail to take - today may have effects decades and centuries ahead, and that apart from anything else climate change will make other problems – like water shortage, hunger and species loss – even harder to solve,” he said.

Mr Kirby said reporters should not be entertainers or campaigners either. “On one level, our job is what it always has been, and that is to remain just simple and effective reporters. “That makes a number of demands of us. Perhaps the first demand is to remember that we may be the only reliably independent source our audiences have.

6. “More and more people, some with the best of motives, want to turn us into useful megaphones. Governments, NGOs, industry, negotiating blocs, parts of the UN would all like us to join their search for a better world,” he said.

7. However, Mr Kirby said good reporters remember that climate change is already changing and shortening lives. “It’s not just an abstraction to be argued over in Cancun, or Brussels, or wherever. It’s the thinning Arctic ice which lets hunters fall through to their deaths. “It’s persistent drought and unusually frequent flooding. It’s flesh-and-blood stories that need telling, best of all through the words of the people who are living them,” he said.

But Kirby warns that journalists should now allow the climate skeptics to call the tune. “Time and again in my early BBC environment days I would write a piece on climate and be told: “OK, now get a skeptic to provide balance.” Perhaps we’ve moved on. But those who deny the science still hold undue sway over many news desks.

“In fact the most skeptical people I know include the climate scientists themselves, because they know that’s how science works. It’s always worth asking skeptics whether they have had their claims peer-reviewed and published.

“And it’s worth remembering the advice of the British journalist Hannen Swaffer about our own need to be consistently skeptical. “When a journalist is speaking to a politician”, he said, “there is only one question he needs to ask himself. It is this: ‘Why is this lying bastard telling me this particular lie at this particular moment?’” He was of course speaking about British politicians in office during his lifetime, and I quote him strictly within that context. But if we are not always deeply skeptical, we shall not deserve to survive in journalism,” he said.


Skeptics seen on Russian TV

Global warming skeptics have gathered to air their views in the UK on what they have dubbed 'Climate Fools Day'.

It is also the second anniversary of the signing of the UK Climate Change Bill, which critics say is simply a waste of tax-payers' money.

The skeptics claim that the global warming issue has become a business scheme to tax industry and consumers, and make money from ‘green’ schemes.

Global warming has simply been made up, insists Piers Corbyn, one of the organizers of the annual Weather Action Climate Fools Day conference.

“There’s no evidence for carbon-dioxide driving temperatures or climate whatsoever in the last thousand years,” he told RT.

Corbyn claims that the fight against global warming is a myth, supported by government imposed policy all over Europe. “We’ve got basically a one-party state operating which is imposing taxes and restrictions on production of carbon-dioxide,” he said.

“If these politicians really cared about people, they would actually make use of effective long-range forecasts which can forecast hazards and even very damaging incidents which can cause deaths,” added Corbyn.

Climate change is a natural thing, where man’s amount of carbon dioxide represents a tiny proportion of the shift, only about four percent, stated Reverend Philip Foster, a colleague of Piers Corbyn.

“Extreme weather events always take place, always have and always will, and to blame them on human emissions is simply pointless, as there is no real connection,” he told RT.

Nobody disagrees that climate change is happening, echoes writer and legal analyst John O’Sullivan.

“The climate has changed for 4.5 billion years,” O’Sullivan said. “We are not arguing about something trivial like the issues of climate change. We are looking at corruption issues here that are not made known to the public. Today in parliament we put evidence to parliamentarians to show that around the world climate skeptics are bringing into court national government weather agencies and showing that they do not have a bona fide climate record.”

“What we’ve tried to do is ask the governments around the world to show us the evidence,” he added. “It’s not good enough to tell us that they have the records. We have found time after time here in England and recently in New Zealand that when challenged, government agencies cannot produce the records.”

The first Climate Fools Day was held in the UK in October 2008, as British legislators passed the Climate Change Bill. The Bill is aimed at stimulating a low-carbon economy and gives ministers powers to introduce the measures necessary to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Bill makes the government responsible for ensuring that by 2050, the net UK carbon account for six greenhouse gases is at least 80 per cent lower than the baseline set in 1990. An independent Committee on Climate Change has been created under the Act to provide advice to the UK Government on the issue.

Full interview with Piers Corbyn below:


EcoFascists oppress Norfolk Islanders

Norfolk Island is an isolated part of Australia. The scheme is apparently "voluntary" but it will cost you money if you do not take part -- because the Warmists will control food import and sale. I'm guessing that a lot of islanders will take up fishing

The global warming faith is just the latest vehicle for people who like to order other people around “for their own good”. Nothing reveals its appeal to the inner totalitarian better than the latest taxpayer-funded research of the Southern Cross University:
Southern Cross University is set to lead a project testing the world’s first Personal Carbon Trading program conducted in a ‘closed system’ island environment on Norfolk Island commencing early next year.

This follows the announcement this week of a Linkage Projects grant by the Australian Research Council valued at $390,000.

Leading chief investigator Professor Garry Egger, a Professor of Lifestyle Medicine and Applied Health Promotion at Southern Cross University, said the main goals of the project were to test the effectiveness of a Personal Carbon Trading scheme over a three year period; reduce per capita carbon emissions and reduce obesity and obesity related behaviours…

“This is a project for looking at reducing climate change and obesity in the one hit…

“The way the system will work is basically it will involve giving everyone on the island a carbon card, like a credit or debit card, and they will get carbon units on that card. Then every time they go and pay for their petrol or their power - and from the second year their food - it will not only be paid for in money but it will also come off the carbon units that they are given for free at the start of the program.

“If they’re frugal and don’t buy a lot of petrol or power or fatty foods, then they can actually have units to spare at the end of a set time period so that they can cash those in at the bank and make money from them.

“If they aren’t frugal and they are very wasteful and they produce a lot of carbon and consume unhealthy foods then every year they will have to buy extra units. Also over time - as we target lower carbon emissions and increasing health goals - the number of carbon units they are given will go down and therefore the price for the individual will go up to sustain that lifestyle they are not prepared to forego...”

Of course, to fulfil its mission, the experiment will have to include the bit where emissions are forced down if the guinea pigs don’t respond to the bribes.


On MTR 1377 this morning, Professor Egger told me his idea was borrowed from this British proposal:
The Environment Agency will argue today that carbon rationing is the fairest and most effective way for the UK to meet its legally binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Agency’s chairman, Lord Smith, will propose at the organisation’s annual conference in London that every citizen be provided with a “carbon account” and unique number that they submit when buying carbon-intensive items such as petrol, electricity or airline tickets.

Individuals would then periodically receive statements that show the carbon impact of each purchase and how much of their annual ration has been used up. If they exceeded this ration, they would need to buy extra credits from those people that have not used their full allowance, in a similar fashion to existing emission cap-and-trade schemes.

Lord Smith, former culture secretary under the Blair Government, is expected to say that carbon rationing will help citizens “judge how they want to develop their own quality of life in a sustainable way”.

Nor was this proposal just the thought-bubble of some out-of-control quango:
The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee called on the Government last year (2008) to resume research on a rationing scheme and to be “courageous” in seeking to overcome likely public hostility to the idea…

The committee concluded: “Widespread public acceptance, while desirable, should not be a pre-condition for a personal carbon trading scheme; the need to reduce emissions is simply too urgent.”

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, called for a “thought experiment” on carbon rationing when he was Environment Secretary in 2006.

But although the idea has kicked around for a while, it seems that some basic questions have not been answered.

Egger told me his carbon-rationing plan could be one day spread to the whole mainland, so that citizens who’d blown their ration by buying too much fatty food, for instance, would find that buying more “credits” prohibitively expensive. I asked what would happen to a fat and poor family who’d maxed out on their ration card. Would they then starve? Egger said this was a problem they’d have to work on.

Er, right.


More on the trial:
Each year the quota of carbon units will be reduced, and the price of a high carbon emission lifestyle will rise.

Although it will be a voluntary scheme, the incentive to participate was obvious, Professor Egger said: ‘’People can make money out of it.’’…

The Norfolk Island trial will determine whether the approach is acceptable to people or not. If so, it could eventually be scaled up to a country level, and then world level, he said.

So those who look like making money will join, and those who’d blow their rations can opt out - for now. Some test.

Egger himself should be overdrawn on his carbon rations - if the scheme was made to apply to him, too: He has been invited to speak to business people at the United Nations climate change conference in Mexico in December.


Propagandizing little kids

After her second day at school, my four-year-old daughter sat me down at the kitchen table for a conversation. She wanted me to explain exactly how I take her to school each morning.

I learned later that upon arrival at her reception class each day pupils have to tick a box on a piece of paper denoting how they journeyed to school that morning. Though they are never told in quite so many words that cars are actually bad, they are nevertheless steered, by their eco-aware teacher, towards the two former modes of transport – because cycling and walking are both environmentally friendly, and environmentally friendly, as my daughter appears already to know, is "good".

A week later, and we had a similar kind of conversation, this one about the fact that we currently grow no fruit or vegetables in our small garden. I informed her of the wonders of Ocado, but she insisted that self-sufficiency was better. At school, my daughter explained, they have an allotment where they grow tomatoes and strawberries, possibly potatoes and almost certainly marrows. She wants us now to do likewise.

Friends who have children older than my own have told me this is just the tip of an iceberg which (so long as the iceberg doesn't inconveniently melt due to global warming) will continue to grow as she does.

"Mine told me to turn off the hoover the other day," a father said to me, "because it used too much energy. She also stands by me while I brush my teeth, to make sure I have the tap turned off while I'm doing it."

This, I know now, is pester power in action. And in a world where we must all become more green aware, it is children who are at the very forefront of the movement, children who collectively soak up all the information like the sponges they are, before disseminating it in a manner that, rather winningly, brooks no argument.

In the UK today, more than 67 per cent of schools have now signed up to the Eco-Schools Programme.

A global award programme that guides schools onto a sustainable journey, it helps provide a framework to embed environmentally aware principles into the very heart of modern school life. Keep Britain Tidy, which administers the programme, hopes that the remaining 33 per cent of schools will follow shortly. There are 46 countries around the world already signed up, linking more than 40,000 schools to share with one another their initiatives and successes.

The programme was set in motion after the 1994 Rio Earth Summit, but took hold fully four years ago, as climate change increasingly became a staple of news bulletins. Eco-Schools essentially encourage pupils to account for energy and water waste in daily life, to collect litter, and grow their own food. It rewards all efforts too, and achievements are marked by bronze, silver and green flags.

"What we want is for schools to put sustainability at the very heart of everything they do," says Andrew Suter, education project manager at Keep Britain Tidy. "We'd like to help change the whole behavioural framework for schools, to encourage them to identify their own specific issues, and also to then create solutions for them."

This doesn't merely mean through solar panels and wind turbines, but also by simply observing good behaviour. The Switch Off Campaign, he explains, has proved particularly effective, largely because it is so easily implemented. Pupils now ensure that before they leave their desks and rooms all the computers are off, as are the lights.

The manner in which eco-awareness is first introduced to children is basic, but effective: the ice caps are melting and the polar bears have nowhere to live. Children, in the main, says Andrew Suter, very much want polar bears to have somewhere to live. From this spark, they begin to comprehend that the world is in peril, and they want to help.

Their first port of call is at home, where they educate their parents accordingly. Successfully, too. A 2008 poll of 1,500 parents showed that24 per cent cited their children as a key green motivator. Only 2 per cent said they took their cue from politicians. And an increasing number of books targeted directly at children, are being published on the subject. How To Turn Your Parents Green by James Russell, for example, is a pocket-sized manifesto that encourages its youthful readership to monitor their parents' behaviour and punish them should they refuse to heed the eco-message.

And then there is television.

Somewhere within the labyrinth of BBC TV Centre, Clare Bradley, a producer for CBeebies, is explaining the thinking behind Green Balloon Club. The show's largely pre-teen cast, one dog and an appropriately coloured hand puppet (green) extol the many virtues of becoming environmentally aware.

Essentially, Bradley says, she wanted to make a children's version of Springwatch, the BBC show presented by Chris Packham and Kate Humble which observed the wonders of nature through night-vision glasses and open jaws.

"Springwatch was fiendishly popular in my house, my children dropping everything to watch it," she recounts. "It made sense, then, to want to do something similar – but this time specifically for, and presented by, younger people."

It was one of the few programmes she has produced that came with its own mission statement. "I had lofty objectives, I suppose. I wanted it to inform children about their world, [to encourage them] to care about it and to become the stewards for the next generation," she says. "An ambitious plan, I'll grant you, but one I felt sure would catch on."

She was right; it did. Many might expect kids to want to focus more on the cartoon world than on the real one, far less a real world that required of them an awful lot of grunt work (viewers are encouraged to get out into the mud and ramble, plant, dig and recycle). But Green Balloon Club ran for two series.

The first series even managed something no other CBeebies show had: to run once a week for a full year. This allowed it to fully chart the incremental changing of the seasons, as the young viewers watched planted seeds grew to fruition.

Green Balloon Club hasn't been commissioned for a third series, largely because CBeebies tends to repeat its programmes ad infinitum (children love repetition, and repeats are cheaper).

However the channel is planning several more green-flavoured shows, among them Mr Bloom's Nursery, which, from early next year, will encourage children to nurture their own homegrown produce. Bradley says that though CBeebies doesn't have a specific mandate from the BBC to enlighten its viewers on environmental matters, it wants keenly to reflect what is going on in the world.

"You should never underestimate children, because they really do care," she says. "Kids today have a far more global view than we ever did. When I was growing up I remember my father constantly reminding me to switch off the lights. Now it's my children who tell me to turn off the lights. They know all about wasted energy, and how to avoid it. The environment has become a big concern for them – as it should."

But pester power is not without its share of controversies. Not all -parents, after all, necessarily want their children at such a young age to get on such a high horse, not least when an increasing number of people are starting to feel that the purported realities of global warming have been exaggerated, perhaps for politically motivated reasons.

"Not all parents appreciate the message," Andrew Suter says, "and, yes, we do occasionally encounter scepticism. But our response to that is simply to say that all we are really doing is encouraging children to care about the world around them, and to do positive things in it. Nobody, surely, could have an issue with that."

He concludes, pointedly, by saying that children themselves have yet to question the veracity of climate change, "chiefly because they are children. They are not cynical yet."



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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