Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I think this deserves its own gig


Guardian - Chaotic flood defences leave large areas at risk, say MPs - Surprise, surprise. But next time what's the betting we hear 'It's AGW... no one expected this level of...'

BBC - Benn denies flood plan 'chaos' - 'Did too'...'Do not, so muhr...'. Edifying

Indy - Is flooding really as big a risk to Britain now as terrorism?

Times - Thousands more face floods - break out the wellies!

BBC - Insurers agree flood cover deal - Helps a bit

Telegraph - NEW - Flood game shows UK cities under water - Courtesy of Dave from Solarventi, though given his reasons I am not so sure I'm that thrilled: 'Given your proximity to a river prone to flooding, I think I should leave this one to you.'


Environment Agency Floodline - actually quite useful, with email and text warnings
Flood Maps
Flood forum
Floodsim - NEW - a game, though maybe not too much fun for some
Homecheck -
Association of British Insurers -

I'll need to add more when they come in, or collate later. For now, check out the labels below

Aphids versus Computer Models?

Now there have been raging debates about the validity and accuracy (or not) of the complex computer models used to assess climate change possibilities and actualities; but this article from PhysOrg suggests that some of the UK's natural inhabitants, namely Aphids, are much better indicators of just what climate change is actually occurring.

One particular species is now appearing almost four weeks ahead of the 42 year average. The big problem is that these tiny little insects, although invaluable in the food chain for many native species, are a serious threat to many of our food crops. With the possible onset of an EU pesticide ban that could remove a whole raft of the chemical treatments used to protect UK crops, this could (yes, its that word 'could' again) lead to food shortages.
(OK, so the pesticide ban story is from the Daily Mail which actually used the word 'WILL', but you get the point.)

Next bout, Aphids versus Pesticides? Sounds like another interesting dilemma in the offing.

Yet another Government Website ......

..... on, you've guessed it, climate change.

This new section on DEFRA's website is all about 'Adapting to climate change'.

OK, so what does it tell us? Well, at first glance, it would seem very little that any of the other Gov. developed websites devoted to what they are doing (I couldn't resist a little snigger then) about climate change.

All the links appear to be to existing Gov. website sources already devoted to, errrr, climate change. All the usual suspects, 'Office of climate change', 'Energy savings trust', 'UKCIP', 'ActOnCO2', the new climate change bill etc. But very little new.

I can't help pondering that our Gov's entire raison d'etre here is to be seen to be doing something, whilst actually doing, well, very little. ("Yes, minister, we've put online another fantastic website for the public to access loads of information from").

And what was the cost of this latest 'joining up the web-links' site? Not provided. But you would be forgiven for guessing that it has cost at least a few tens of thousands of pounds.

Oh, sorry, it is a Gov. sponsored website extension. So let's make that a few hundreds of thousands of pounds shall we? Plus how many additional civil servants with ring-fenced gold plated pensions to administer?

Well worth it ...... not!

What's your excuse

Blog Traffic Is Getting Bigger and Bigger
Do you write for a blog?
If so................why?

Money. I realised that I read a lot to help stock my site, so it wasn't a stretch to stick links to what I read on my blog and add a comment or two.

People like what I find and/or share, and some even like my comments.

So they visit more. More visitors=more money.

Plus I get invited to things.

Which is neat, 'cos I don't get out much.

The irony is of course, that until I put AdSense or something on here, I am not making a bean. So it must be for love, not money. Go figure.

I'm greener than you... I've screwed up more!

How far will the climate campers go?


If one thing to me defines the state of things 'environmental', it's that whatever happens*, one bunch will be getting the hump and having a go at another bunch and ending up in a bit of snit.

Which is why I tend to prefer and hence favour associations with those who work quietly, effectively, proactively and tangibly in DOING what they can, where they can, whenever they can to make a tangible, positive difference, and inspire engagement in the general public by the power of their example, empathy and commitment.

But I guess protests and bans do get more media and hence feed systems that depend on 'awareness' (even if communications and getting one's point across are not always a strong suit, evidently) rather more effectively.

*Interestingly, I have noticed a rather concerning trend, at least for the principle of free speech and the spirit of debate. And that's on blogs and forums folk being 'accused' (Witch! Burn... well, give 'em a nasty pallor with a CFL light!) of undermining 'the cause' by disagreeing with the group think du jour.

So careful what you wish for. 'And then they came for the lite greens who did not (want, feel like, see the need to, etc) foreswear their all, and there was no one left to speak...'

Addendum - The Mancunian way - see comment 11:16 to 11.25am.

Gaurdian - NEW - Dirty tactics to defend a dirty industry

Gaurdian - NEW - The stakes could not be higher. Everything hinges on stopping coal - Whilst I might agree that coal needs a serious look at in the mix, I have to say I tend these days to stop at most that starts with 'stopping' (if you get my drift).. at least as a call to action in this regard. Kinda sweet that the first para to such pieces now has to start with a mitigating planet-commitment action... 'Sitting in a teepee eating Fairtrade..', '...boarding a train.'. I wonder how it plays with those sitting at work 9-5, 5 (or more) days a week? No matter how important, and valid, the message, the cred of most self-appointed messengers is really going South.

Newsnight - NEW - Climate change - Ta for the tip, Chlo_F:

One other, worthy aspect of the 'green' debate is how it is running past the general/consuming public from many sources, especially those who see themselves as 'guiding lights'.

Rather topical as the subject of communicating with the great unwashed, er, me... has cropped up of course with the VED, too.

Another from the Guardian - on the topic of medium and messengers - worth a gander:


Meanwhile here's another aspect that seems... pertinent:

I do have to wonder how those who may agree that we are in a pickle (but also may not agree with some aspects as outlined by other advocates) might seek the week off from our day jobs were they not funded in some way by more sympathetic employers. Maybe the relevant minister could be asked for her opinions on our rights to do this on the basis that we are looking after a needy planet?

Meanwhile, I shall now for all due balance pop over to the Times**, Telegraph**, and maybe even such as the News of the World*** (circulation what, and to whom, versus the Guardian readership?) to see how all this is playing there:)

Over the past few months the voters who read such tomes seem to have had an influence it would be silly to (try to) ignore (or, worse, dismiss), eh?

**Nothing so far..


Newsnight - ADDENDUM - (had to edit a bit... got carried away)

We are, seemingly, facing a global crisis (the single greatest we face I believe, according to a UN head) based on some predictions that point to our growing numbers and what each one of us needs (heat, stuff, travel) and likes (more stuff & more travel), that inevitably lead to the generation of emissions and... consequences (I do note that some views as to man’s relative contribution, or not, have not been included in this particular debate, which is hence taking this as a given, which in turn some might feel a slight omission given the weight public opinion and hence political action that can and should hold sway in such matters, but oh, well).

Thanks to some interesting PR surrounding a protest at a power facility, an aspect of this topic has again come to the fore for a brief flurry under the sun before we worry about JP’s undies again.

In yesterday’s blog preamble, I wondered how all this was playing with the various options we, the public, get our information from.

Well, certainly some mention in such as The Independent and Guardian for print, and on broadcast news the BBC.

However, not a lot I could glean from many other places, including anything much originating from our government. There’s a surprise.

So I turn to a late night news programme in the hope of some objectivity to help me learn the issues, to help me shape an option should I ever be asked to vote sensibly on the directions we take (assuming voting is still in fashion in the near future – I do notice that these days the majority not voting the ‘right’ way can get frowned upon, and to quite extensive coverage in some places, by minority commentators who seem to think, and are often accepted by the bookers who give them airtime, as ‘knowing better’).

And what, or rather who do I find? An ‘environmental activist’ of questionable qualifications (‘Leading’? By what measure and whose agreement?), who seems to have carved a career by writing provocative articles in a very minor broadsheet, who seems to be saying ‘Oh heck, anything but coal.. let’s go nuke, then’. Words, if loose, that are deemed (again, er.. why and by whom) to have sent ripples throughout, well, parts of North London at least.

I’m not sure, but I have this small notion that the issue is not that simple. And spans not just the choices we face on energy, but also economic vs. environmental balances, geo-political considerations, immigration, population and a host of other stuff I really don’t envy those staked with unraveling this Gordian knot (and not Gordon, for sure).

But a group have decided they don’t fancy an aspect, and so we get a ratings punt by a broadcast medium using a media-friendly person’s dubious pontifications as a basis, or more like bedrock for a whole discussion. Does the BBC not have anyone of relevance to add to this critical discussion at the level one would expect from a premier news programme? Or is the speed dial restricted to the half-dozen usual suspects who write for the Guardian and live in the mews next door when not in their country cottage? I have no problem with opinions from all walks, but surely they need to be balanced (and not a blooming classic ‘two/threefer wheeling out extremes from far sides... a nuke industry spokesperson for heaven’s sake, but billed – I need to find from fellow posters - as a ‘former energy minister’. No wonder the whole thing is a farce and trust in media and government is out the window). And can we not get some objective science and engineering FACTS in the mix? Possibly a bit of rational economic pragmatism and/or political realism too?

Beyond the beliefs, not all of us obviously have the financial ability to scoot hither and thither looking for the next ban or protest, so when it comes to how we heat our homes and other factors self interest may guide us. And this is, very possible short-term thinking. So I was stuck by the comment ‘There largely to protest’, that rather sums up how many may come to view these efforts, when rarely is there much by way of viable alternatives presented (though I think I did glean a few halfway sensible tilts towards efficiency gains). ‘Ruining my day’ vs. ‘status quo’. Tough call.

So what’s going to get me, or my kids’ kids first? A C02 (man-caused/worsened or not still a little up in the air, ‘scuse pun) dawn, or a nuclear one (Space 1999 style)?

So far, I have no blooming clue, and nothing sensible to help try and figure it out. Certainly not when it is ignored or treated piecemeal and often in a contradictory manner by the majority of most read (and watched) media, or served up in such a daft fashion by the minority of the rest.

I am not at all keen in playing the person and not the argument, but we really do need more sense of objectivity, and ‘opinion former’s’ backgrounds do become very pertinent... What stance they are taking? Where are they getting their money from? A book deal? A lobby group? Quango target bonus? An activist board salary/pension? The message can often end up being very coloured by the messengers, especially self-proclaimed ones deemed ‘expert’. Is there anyone left who is not in someone’s pocket? Including the media? Jonathan Porritt seemed the only halfway rational person in the whole lot. Maybe he did have alternatives to mitigate the pain of mitigation, but I didn’t catch many.

I see James Lovelock mentioned. As with a few others in this Heat’ed debate, I am afraid the more I see his opinion in an article with ‘his new book is published.. at £16.95 by [coincidental news media publishing arm]’ at the end, the less I feel inclined to read on without a very cranked eyebrow.

Especially when I also read ‘his opinion is that CO2 is far more lethal than compact bunkers of nuclear waste’ not so long after I find he may be one of the first passengers atop a column of greenhouse gasses on the Virgin orbital gawping (rich) tourist shuttle.

Maybe this thing is ‘the future’, but if we are talking about emissions now, exhaust smoke on a jolly seems a contradictory, if not smoke and mirrors foundation upon which to base one’s argument.

Do I like the idea of coal (especially without any viable CCS) as proposed? No. But do I like the idea of nuclear much better, especially as many key aspects seem still unresolved... disposal, ROI, enviROI, etc). No, not yet.

But I see how delay can be viewed as frustrating. However the way the issues are portrayed certainly don’t help... well, me at least. ‘The environmental movement is split’ I heard the reporter say, well, challenge at one stage, doubtless for a provocative response. What the heck IS ‘the environmental movement’. It seems a rather odd, artificial construct almost designed to create a ‘them’ vs. others quality that can help nobody, and especially the quality of discussion.

Stop giving sound bite airtime on a hobby horse basis. If it is as serious as has been suggested, treat it seriously and get a decent spread of sensible views who can at least explain where we currently are rationally. It has to be better than the sensationalist spinning that passes for news I see in this arena, and I’m frankly fed up with it.

Gaurdian - NEW - Kingsnorth protester diary: Come to the camp - Working as planned, is it?