Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Muir Russell inquiry was in the pocket of the UEA -- whom they were supposed to be investigating

And in the best Green/Left tradition, the UEA lied about that. A short excerpt below

More developments from Bishop Hill on the strange relationship between the University of East Anglia and the supposedly “independent” Muir Russell review. On yet another occasion, the University gave untrue answers in order to avoid FOI disclosure, an untrue answer that led to several follow-up FOI requests that they were unable to subvert, but which ultimately showed the mendacity of the original refusal.

In this case, the original request from David Holland in December 2010 (see CA post here) was for the documents, that “in the view of the University, comprises the contractual basis under which Sir Muir and his team operated and under which the University was contractually obliged to pay the sums that you have disclosed”. The request was not limited to Muir Russell, but included, for example, the retainer of professionals, including Luther Pendragon and lawyers.
Please provide me copies of the Correspondence between the University and Sir Muir Russell that, in the view of the University, comprises the contractual basis under which Sir Muir and his team operated and under which the University was contractually obliged to pay the sums that you have disclosed of what, I assume, is taxpayers money.

Please advise me as to how the disbursements were made. For instance, were the fees of the legal advisors paid directly by the University? If not who paid and how were they reimbursed.

In its response, the University denied the existence of relevant documents:
The University does not consider that there was a contractual relationship with Sir Muir Russell or the inquiry team; it was by way of a public appointment (as is commonplace in these circumstances). Nonetheless, it may be helpful to you in understanding the terms on which the appointment was made if we refer you to the agreed terms of reference (see:, p.22)


In the past, we’ve speculated on what the Climate Change Email Review was as a legal entity – most of which has resulted from disinformation from the University of East Anglia.

After examining the invoices, invoice approval process and invoice payment process, I don’t think that there can be any serious doubt as to the legal status of the Climate Change Email Review: that it was nothing more than a university committee with outside members.

We now know (and while we may have suspected this, we did not “know” this) that the Review did not have a bank account nor did it invoice the university for interim payments nor did it pay its members according to invoices and then re-invoice the university. It bore no marks of independent legal existence.

As a comparison, consider the Investigation Committee formed by Penn State in respect to Mann. Let’s suppose that such an Investigation Committee established a mailing address in a separate building. That wouldn’t establish a legal existence for the Investigation Committee separate from the University. Suppose now that the Investigation Committee included members from another university or from a professional society. It still remains a university committee with outside consultants. Same thing applies here even when all the members are outside consultants.

The invoices show that the Muir Russell Email Review was a university committee with outside members. Muir Russell was nothing more than a consultant to the university with a fee agreement. The university directly paid all invoices sent to the committee and, in many cases (as shown above) the invoices were directly approved and paid within the registrar’s office.


Has Warmism lost its way?

Even The Guardian (below) seems to think so: "Anti-nuclear, anti-capitalist, anti-flying: the green movement may have alienated more people than it has won over, and there are now calls for a new kind of environmentalism"

In 2008 prizewinning environmentalist author Mark Lynas experienced a "eureka moment". Reading the hostile comments underneath an article outlining his objections to GM foods on the Guardian website, he decided his critics were probably right.

A couple of years later, Lynas had another eureka moment when he read Stewart Brand's book, Whole Earth Discipline, in which the American writer tore up the green rulebook and came out in favour of urbanisation, nuclear power and genetic engineering. A few months ago, Lynas appeared in a TV documentary, What the Green Movement Got Wrong, alongside Brand – and inside the ruins of Chernobyl which, he argued, had not been nearly as devastating a disaster as most people think.

Next week Lynas publishes a new book, The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans, in which he takes his argument with the green movement a step further. The book accuses the greens of having helped cause climate change through their opposition to nuclear power, and calls this a "gargantuan error, and one that will echo down the ages".

"Anyone who still marches against nuclear today," he writes, "as many thousands of people did in Germany following the Fukushima accident, is in my view just as bad for the climate as textbook eco-villains like the big oil companies."

The idea for Lynas's new book came to him in another "moment of revelation" two years ago. Lynas, who is a part-time climate adviser to the Maldives government (he is also a visiting researcher at Oxford university), was invited to sit in on the meetings of a group of scientists in Sweden. The group were aiming to flesh out the concept of "planetary boundaries", coined by sustainability expert Johan Rockström.

The best-known of these so-called boundaries is the climate-change one – the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But there are boundaries too for biodiversity, nitrogen, and ocean acidification. The idea is that, beyond these limits, Earth's systems will begin to break down.

Lynas's revelation was that these new rules about how to live on Earth should immediately replace many older green ideas, and over drinks he and Rockström agreed that Lynas would write a book with the aim of popularising them. But the most attention-grabbing passages in the book come in Lynas's denunciations of the green movement, and when we talk he makes no attempt to play them down. Instead he draws my attention to his blog, where over the past fortnight he has enthusiastically joined in attacks on a recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report on renewable energy. And he argues that "the green movement in itself is dying – I'm an environmentalist but not a green".

Lynas, who describes himself as a "recovering activist", was involved in direct action in his student days. He joined protests against the Newbury bypass and Manchester airport, and was heavily involved in the anti-GM movement of the 1990s, ripping up sweetcorn and sugarbeet crops from fields in East Anglia, and on occasion being chased by police and police dogs.

But is he a maverick iconoclast, stirring up controversy for the media by turning on his old allies? Or are the views expressed in his book symptomatic of broader divisions?

Eighteen months after the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit, there are signs of wider frustration. With no sign of progress in setting global emissions limits, a steady stream of reports gives cause for alarm to those who are already worried. Last week it was the turn of the oceans, with a warning about pollution and overfishing, last month a sudden upsurge in Amazon deforestation. This week climate sceptic Michele Bachmann launched her bid to become the next US president, while the EU was forced to put off a vote toughening emissions targets following reports that Tory MEPs were planning to reject it.

"People think that getting some publicity, having some tea with a minister and civil servants, lobbying parliamentarians, is making a difference, but it's not," says Charles Secrett, the former Friends of the Earth director who two weeks ago wrote an article accusing the organisation of being bureaucratic and out of touch. "Protest ain't going to win the day. Nor is a sort of incremental engagement with government and industry. The movement as a whole has got to collaborate more, pool resources – money, staff, ideas – and generate real cross-party pressure."

Novelist Ian McEwan spent years researching renewable energy for his 2010 novel, Solar, and says when he began "there was a positive mood for action, a public awakening. Now I think everyone has fallen back to sleep. Copenhagen was something of a fiasco, and the UEA emails didn't help. And the ideological deniers are well organised. At this point I don't see change coming from a bottom-up process, from a kind of peasants' revolt. I think the consumer moment has passed and people have got bored."

This feeling of a missed opportunity, and of 2009 as a high-water mark in public engagement with the issues, finds many echoes. Though activists trumpet their recent successes in having seen off the third runway at Heathrow and a new fleet of coal-fired power stations, as well as helping persuade David Cameron to commit the UK to a strict timetable for cutting emissions, they admit that disappointment after Copenhagen, and uncertainty about the future, have been difficult to manage.

Tamsin Omond of direct action group Climate Rush remembers this is a heady time. "2009 was the year we said we would do one action a month, and we did. Everyone saw this as the one chance and the feeling of momentum – that we only had to work really hard until December, and then we could have a rest – was really present. Everything we did would get in the papers and journalists were phoning up all the time. I was completely caught up in it."

I was caught up in it myself: in 2009 I joined the Green party and stood as a candidate in a council byelection a few months before Caroline Lucas was elected Britain's first Green MP. It was the year Age of Stupid director Franny Armstrong had the idea for 10:10, on her way to a debate with Ed Miliband, and launched the campaign at Tate Modern and in a special issue of G2. And it was the year newspapers around the world, led by the Guardian in an unprecedented gesture of editorial solidarity, printed the same leading article demanding action on global warming on their front pages.

Post-Copenhagen, consensus is harder to find. The recent ructions boil down to three issues. The first is nuclear power, with Guardian columnist George Monbiot, former Greenpeace director Stephen Tindale and McEwan among those to agree with Lynas that atomic energy is vital if we are to wean the world off fossil fuels.

Another disagreement is summed up by Charles Secrett's complaints about Friends of the Earth. Some activists believe that the big, long-established NGOs need to get better at mobilising their supporters and achieving a greater degree of focus and coordination, as well as building up links with nimbler and more dynamic direct-action campaigns.

But the biggest issue of all is the nature of environmental politics. Is the green movement a leftwing, anti-capitalist movement? Mark Lynas believes it is, and that those who style themselves as greens should be marginalised and allowed to die off so that they can be replaced by a new breed of market-friendly environmentalists like him. "If it becomes a culture war like the debate over abortion or something, you can't win," he says. "I want an environmental movement that is happy with capitalism, which goes out there and says yes rather than no, and is rigorous about the way it treats science. The green movement needs a clause-four moment – the Labour party had to go through that."

Those within the green mainstream reject this analysis outright. Jonathon Porritt argues that social justice is intrinsic to the sustainability agenda, while Greenpeace director John Sauven points out that the charity has worked closely with all the main political parties in Britain and with multinational corporations abroad. "It's a very broad camp, isn't it? On the one hand you've got the anti-capitalists, and then you've got quite a strong body within the Conservative party that takes the environmental agenda very seriously – John Gummer's quality of life report was an excellent piece of work."

He believes Lynas over-eggs the nuclear point, and that the power of the economic and political interests aligned against change – above all the US fossil fuel lobby – must be understood. Others point out that there is already a strong emphasis on green growth and development, and the economic opportunity represented by the new industrial revolution that we need to carry us into a post-carbon world.

But Lynas is not alone in believing that the intense focus on aviation has been offputting, and there is general agreement that Britain must learn from the US, where many Tea Party supporters believe climate science is a socialist conspiracy. This week energy minister Greg Barker suggested that a debate started by Margaret Thatcher had been hijacked by the centre left.

Campaigners cite the Heathrow and forestry protests as examples of what a broader coalition of interests can achieve if they go about it in the right way. Climate Rush's Tamsin Omond coordinated a "Saving the Forests" letter to the Daily Telegraph with The Lady editor Rachel Johnson, and says: "If we haven't been good enough at appealing to people across the board then we are missing a trick. We are all on the same planet, we have a ballooning population, diminishing resources and a changing climate, and we really need to grow up and see the situation for what it is. You can say these things to people who have never voted anything other than Tory. I have said them and I don't think it's impossible at all. We need to be talking to everyone."

McEwan says the green movement is not to blame if climate change has slipped down the agenda. "I think it's got a lot to do with human nature. Most issues have a narrative, with the sense of an ending or resolution – the referendum is passed, the government falls – but this really is a lifetime story, and not just our lifetime, but our children's and their children's. We are decades away from the point where we say, 'We've finally deflected the rising curve of Co2 emissions, so let's have one last push to fix it for good.' We've made no impact on this rising curve as yet, and it's hard to keep interest and optimism alive."

And he adds: "I've never voted for the Tories, but I'd make my judgments at the next general election based entirely on the respective parties' attitudes and intentions in matters of climate change. This is the overwhelming issue that encloses all others. If Cameron and friends came up with a more feasible and effective plan than Miliband, then I would have to vote for it. I think that's all we, as citizens, can do."


Global Warming And Global Food Security

Almost every major American daily newspaper picked up an article published earlier this month by New York Times scribe Justin Gillis entitled “A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself.”

How many times have we read, in the last 50 years, that this or that environmental apocalypse is going to starve the world? I got my doctorate on the wings of one; at that time it was called “global cooling,” after a 1974 CIA report leaked to the Times said that rapidly cooling planetary temperatures could usher in an era of heightened global instability caused by food shortages.

In my lifetime there have been a large number of predicted nutritional apocalypses, caused by overpopulation, lack of biological diversity in our food supply, genetic engineering run amok, acid rain, too little ozone, too much ozone and, finally, global warming. If there were futures on the end of the world, I’d go short. The wrong bet won’t matter anyway.

Facts: Global surface temperature rose about three-fourths of a degree Celsius in the 20th century. U.S. corn yields quintupled. Life expectancy doubled. People got fat. Global warming didn’t cause all of this, but increased atmospheric carbon dioxide directly stimulated plant growth. Further, greenhouse warming takes place more in the winter, which lengthens growing seasons. With adequate water, plants then fix and yield more carbohydrate.

While doing my dissertation I learned a few things about world crops. Serial adoption of new technologies produces a nearly constant increase in yields. Greater fertilizer application, improved response to fertilizer, better tractor technology, better tillage practices, old-fashioned genetic selection, and new-fashioned genetic engineering all conspire to raise yields, year after year.

Weather and climate have something to do with yields, too. Seasonal rainfall can vary a lot from year-to-year. That’s “weather.” If dry years become dry decades (that’s “climate”) farmers will switch from corn to grain sorghum, or, where possible, wheat. Breeders and scientists will continue to develop more water-efficient plants and agricultural technologies, such as no-till production.

Adaptation even applies to the home garden. The tomato variety “heat wave” sets fruit at higher temperatures than traditional cultivars.

However, Gillis claims that “[t]he rapid growth in farm output that defined the late 20th century has slowed” because of global warming. His own figures show this is wrong. The increasing trend in world crop yields from 1960 to 1980 is exactly the same as from 1980 to 2010. And per capita grain production is rising, not falling.

Gillis more rightly could have blamed any loss in per capita consumption on the stupid (I choose my words carefully) global warming policy that greens once touted: ethanol production from corn.

Even Al Gore now admits that corn-based ethanol produces more carbon dioxide than it saves. But as a result of recent ethanol policy, we are the first nation in world history to burn up its food supply to please a political faction.

Indur Goklany, a much-published scholar on the consequences of global warming policies, recently calculated that in 2010 alone, diversion of grain to biofuels (like ethanol) caused nearly 200,000 excess deaths in the developing world because of increased prices.

Roger Pielke, Jr., another noteworthy student of global warming science and policy, concurs. Regarding Gillis’ piece, he says: “The carbon dioxide-centric focus on the article provides a nice illustration of how an obsession with ‘global warming’ can serve to distract attention from factors that actually matter more for issues of human and environmental concern.”

Ever since people noticed how robust the increase of crop yields is, others have been saying that it must soon stop. This “limits to growth” argument is as tired as a farmer at the end of harvest. Two weeks ago, it was announced at the Global Wheat Rust Symposium that scientists are now producing “super varieties” of pathogen-resistant grain, which will tack another 15% onto yield. As the new strain is adopted, it will continue the linear upward trend in wheat yield for at least another decade.

I continue to be amazed at how little the facts are checked on global warming, even when writing for the so-called newspapers of record. Crop yields have increased at a constant rate despite changes in global temperature. Per capita grain production is going up, and stupid policies — not global warming — are putting people’s food security at risk.


Note: News just in provides graphic confirmation of the points made above: U.S. farmers have already reacted to government-produced corn shortages by producing lots more of it
The U.S. corn supply is far larger than thought and a bumper crop could be on the way, the Agriculture Department said on Thursday in a report that shocked traders and shoved grain markets sharply lower.

Farmers defied expectations by planting significantly more corn acres despite rain and floods, and sky-high prices curbed demand which left June 1 stockpiles 11 percent larger than traders had predicted.

The dramatic turnaround from fears of bare-bones supplies could signal comfortable supply levels for the coming year and ease fears about high world food prices.


British Government invests £670,000 trying to create strawberry resistant to climate change

Wouldn't it be simpler to let strawberry cultivation move further North? And Florida strawberry growers will be amazed to hear that strawberries don't grown in warm climates. I kinda think that importing a few cultivars from Florida would cost a lot less than £670,000

Scientists are trying to create new types of strawberries which are resistant to climate change to ensure the fruit stays at the top of Britain's summer menu. Consumer demand for fresh strawberries in the UK has been growing since the early 1990s and at Wimbledon alone, tennis fans consume an estimated 60,000lb during the fortnight-long tennis tournament.

Now scientists at East Malling Research are attempting to develop new varieties of strawberries which are better able to cope with the predicted impacts of rising temperatures in the UK, including hotter, drier summers. It is hoped the new types of strawberry will need less water and chemicals to grow, reducing their environmental impact.

The Environment Department, which is funding the research, said varieties were being bred by crossing UK and foreign types of strawberries with traits such as being more disease resistant, producing a large amount of fruit or tolerance to higher temperatures. The new strawberries are being grown in field trials and assessed in the £670,000 research project.

Dr David Simpson, from East Malling Research, said: 'Consumer demand for fresh strawberries in the UK has been growing year-on-year since the early 1990s. 'The British growers have done a great job of increasing their productivity to satisfy demand between April and October.

'The future will be challenging due to the impacts of climate change and the withdrawal of many pesticides, but the breeding programme at EMR is using the latest scientific approaches to develop a range of varieties that will meet the needs of our growers for the future.'

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: 'Strawberries are quite simply the taste of the summer, as inherently British as Wimbledon itself. 'Innovative research such as this may revolutionise the way we grow the nation's favourite berry.'


Why do Warmists run from debate?

Andrew Bolt reports from Australia

Tom Switzer, editor of the Spectator, is the latest to suffer from the warming lobby's deliberate strategy to refuse a debate:
Allow us to do some selfpromotion: on 3 August at Tattersalls Club in Sydney, this magazine is holding a debate on the proposition, `A carbon tax is needed to combat global warming.' On the affirmative side will be former opposition leaders Mark Latham and John Hewson, as well as the distinguished University of NSW climatologist Benjamin McNeil; against the resolution will be Margaret Thatcher's Chancellor of the Exchequer and bestselling author Nigel Lawson, former Keating government minister Gary Johns and scientist and author Ian Plimer.

It promises to be a lively evening, though The Spectator Australia can reveal that it was a struggle to fill the affirmative slate - something that seems curious to say the least. Despite sending invitations months in advance, it was very hard to attract the leading climate authorities and activists to argue in favour of the tax. Among those who declined the invitation were ... Greg Combet, Christine Milne, Tim Flannery, Ross Garnaut and Clive Hamilton.

This is odd, given that two are prominent warmist politicians (Climate Minister Combet and Greens climate spokeswoman Milne) bound to vote for a carbon tax, and two more, Professors Garnaut and Flannery, are bought-and-paid-for government advocates for `action' on climate change. Professor Flannery, in fact, is contracted to receive $720,000 in taxpayer dollars for his four-year part-time gig.Perhaps the debate was scheduled for one of his nights off.

Other examples of this tactic? The following warmists have all refused invitations to come on The Bolt Report: Julia Gillard, Greg Combet, Tim Flannery, Ross Garnaut, Simon Sheikh, Cate Blanchett, Drew Hutton, Michael Caton, Don Henry, Jill Singer and more. Lord Monckton has also been refused a debate by many of our warmist activists, and academics have demanded he be banned from speaking at Notre Dame University.

The warmists' strategy is two-fold: first, to deny there's a debate by refusing to actually have one; and, second, to avoid subjecting their ludicrous claims to scrutiny by the informed.

In fact, you can generally assume that if Garnaut or a Gillard discuss global warming with a journalist, they have judged that journalist to be a propagandist, a dupe or otherwise harmless. Chris Uhlmann would be a rare exeception, but only because he's with the ABC's 7.30, which Labor does not dare boycott. Hence attempts by some on the Left to drive him off.

This fear of debate should tell you everything about the warmists and their theory. But give credit to those few that do dare meet their critics.


Australian conservative leader: The Government's planned carbon tax is "socialism masquerading as environmentalism"‏

Trade in international pollution permits will be strictly limited under the Gillard Government's climate change package to prevent so-called "carbon cowboys" from scamming the multibillion-dollar scheme.

In a significant departure from Labor's abandoned carbon pollution reduction scheme, international permit purchases are likely to be restricted to high quality sellers such as the European Union and the US State of California. The concern under the CPRS was that low-quality carbon abatement could be bought by Australian polluters from places such as equatorial Africa and South-East Asia through hard-to-verify and dubious projects such as tree plantations.

It is understood the Government agreed to "qualitative and quantitative controls" under its emissions trading scheme at the insistence of the Greens who opposed unlimited access to international permits under the CPRS.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who yesterday blasted the Government's planned carbon tax as "socialism masquerading as environmentalism", said the possibility of the ETS being corrupted was great.

"Without a dependable carbon cop, Australian businesses might easily end up spending vast amounts on permits generated overseas for abatement that's never actually happened," he said. "This is a market based on the non-delivery of an invisible product to no one, and is almost certain to be scammed."

Mr Abbott also took an extraordinary swipe at economists who supported a market-based mechanism to reduce carbon emissions. "It may well be that most Australian economists think that a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme is the way to go," he said. "Maybe that's a comment on the quality of our economists rather than on the merits of the argument."

Former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull, who crossed the floor in support of the CPRS, yesterday expressed faith in economist Ross Garnaut, the Government's climate change adviser. "I don't agree with everything Ross says but he's one of our great public intellectuals, great economists, thinkers and he's done a lot of work on climate change," Mr Turnbull said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the price of carbon would be fixed for the shortest time possible - about three years - before the ETS started. "The carbon tax is temporary, the emissions trading scheme is permanent," she said.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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