Sixteen Concerned Scientists: No Need to Panic About Global Warming

Picked up this interesting article on the Wall Street Journal

I’m sure we’ll see more of this.  A good thing too. If you’ve read my blog before, unlikely I know … I fully accept that the climate changes and is warming, the evidence is pretty clear.  What I don’t accept is the allegation that somehow in the last 50 years, planet Earth has suddenly decided to have no say in the matter and that any change in the climate is now simply all mankind’s fault … doesn’t make sense to me.  No doubt these guys will be branded as heretics and ‘deniers’, and the governments of the world will continue to tax the living daylights out of those who they think can afford it and let the heavy polluters of the world continue their merry way, whilst also ignoring the over fishing of the seas, the destruction of forests and eco-systems.

It’s about time people started to educate themselves in both sides of the argument, and think about the reality of the situation, not blindly swallow the IPCC party line that it’s all due to us driving around in our cars …

Cheers

Dave Mc

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Don’t Believe Everything You Read …

Take this article in the Independent for instance in 2009, which predicted that 2010 would be the hottest year ever recorded for the world.  Well. It wasn’t, it was warm, but only as 2005 which was the second warmest on record. Not ever. Just  on record. The records go back about 300 years or so.  Not 10,000, not 1,000,000.

2011 hasn’t got off to a great start, it’s pretty average really only about  +0.15 above the average which if it continues means it’s a non-eventful year.  I’m sure Human-Caused Global Warming Advocates will just dismiss a cool year as an anomaly, and then point to the warm years to prove their assertion.  I just say you can’t possibly say that human’s have caused all the warming we’ve seen in the last 30 years.  It’s an established fact that the world has not warmed in the last 10 years, so are we to blame for it not warming?

I’ve always said that the world is way to complex for us to understand all it’s intricacies at the moment. Let’s just look after our own backyards (look after the wildllife, don’t dump rubbish and poisons everywhere, don’t overfish the seas and stop keep cutting down the rainforests for beef burgers) and I’m sure planet earth will look after the other details!

So don’t always believe the doom mongers out there, they might sound like they know, but if they really could predict the future, don’t you think they’d be in Las Vegas, not writing for the Independent?

Cheers

Dave Mc

Blimey … “Yes to AV” trounced …

I have to say I was pretty shocked by the result on the AV vote.  Relieved, cheered, but shocked.  In my previous post on this subject I said I thought that “Yes to AV” would win, not that I wanted it to. Nearly 68% of people who voted, which was about 40% of the eligible population decided to keep First Past the Post (FPTP).    So 40% of people were interested enough to vote generally in the local elections and the AV vote, which means 60% didn’t care enough to find the time, so about 30% of the nation don’t want AV or to change the current system at the moment.  Some might say , AV wasn’t a big enough change, so that PR supporters would have voted no.  I don’t buy that.  People I spoke to who are PR supporters all said they would vote for AV as it was a step in the right direction.

So for those of you who were on the loosing side yesterday – deal with it.  60% of people didn’t care about FPTP or AV or PR.  Of the remaining 40%,  68% or about 30% of the nation currently think that FPTP is OK, only about 15% of the nation think it’s the way to go.  If you don’t care enough to vote in a simple Yes/No vote, then the non-voters have to go with the majority of those who do vote.

We do have a democratic problem in this country and it’s voter apathy.  I would refute that PR makes any real impact on voter turnout.  It’s issues which fire people’s imagination to vote, not voting systems.  Germany and the Netherlands both have PR systems, yet both have only about 10% better turnout than the UK and in key years for the UK such as 1997 and 2010 their difference in turnout was pretty negligible. Interestingly I note that voting is mandatory in Australia and in Greece, both PR systems, yet still not everybody votes …

So point number one – you will never get everybody to vote, irrespective of voting system. Fact.

Point number two, PR supporters say that PR is fair as it reflects the overall views of the nation. I would say that that is true. What it doesn’t lead to though are governments who represent the national view, because in order to create effective governments, and by effective I mean those that are capable of making decisions – whether you agree with those decisions or not – you need to have a majority in parliament.  So PR invariably leads to Coalition Governments which invariably leads to political manoeuvering and squabbling such as we have seen between the Conservatives and the Liberals, which only antagonizes the public and leads to charges of ‘surrendering principles’ as have been levelled at Nick Clegg and Co.  Voters will have little or no say over which parties form a coalition. If you want more of this and also more time without effective government like Belgium who are in a position of having no effective government for over a year because they can’t agree a coalition, then go ahead and support PR.

I’ve also been thinking about this a bit and something else has struck me about PR, and that is this … PR would seem to preclude pretty much any radical change in political direction for a nation.

Most people’s political views don’t change that much. We’ve all heard the objections to FPTP, as people are ‘disenfranchised’ and say “My vote doesn’t count because I’m Tory in a Labour safe seat”. It’s true, the direction of the UK has probably been decided by a minority of people in reality.  What FPTP allows is the ability to move away from a direction which is not wanted by the populace at the time.  Most people vote either Labour or Conservative. It’s the floating voter who really has the power.  If the majority of floating voters prefer Conservative policies at a time, then the Conservatives get in, if the majority of floating voters want to ‘Vote for Change’ and vote Labour then the country swings to the Red and into the red … 🙂

If you think about it realistically, under PR it would be really hard to “vote for change” again.  Most people have pretty fixed political views, one election results would look pretty much like another.  Thatcher would not have got such a majority, if one at all.  Blair likewise.  So things would have gone on pretty much like before, of that I’m certain.  This is just my opinion of course.  One thing I’ve come to realise is that FPTP offers a ‘way out’ for the nation, a chance to ‘make a point’ to the politicians.  We can ‘throw out the useless b*****ds’ and get a different lot in.  A PR system I am totally convinced, whilst in theory would allow you to change governments, in reality I’m sure you would find the same old faces in government year after year.  We see the same faces, but they are not necessarily in power.

My final aversion to PR is the way it disconnects the voter from Parliament.  You might find this somewhat strange an argument in that most people’s view we already are disconnected.  But in reality many people make use of their MP.  Under PR you would not be able to have a single simple point of focus. You would either have one person nominated for you by a party or some complex system of multiple representatives from people who don’t know the local area or local conditions. Worse still the ability of independent MPs such as Dr Taylor or Martin Lewis to make it into Parliament, where they did great work for their local communities and influenced votes in the House of Commons, will be completely taken away.  The most powerful feature of our voting system is the fact that you can vote directly for a local representative in the highest organisation of authority in this country. Where our system has gone wrong I believe is in the party whip.  MPs should have loyalty first to constituency and then to party.  There should be no whip.  Then everybody is free to vote on their conscience.  Party whips will be even more powerful in a PR system as coalitions struggle to maintain power.  Not a good thing for government and representation.

Don’t be fooled by the nice percentages of PR.  It all looks so fair and even.  The trouble is, it doesn’t take into account the realities of people’s political views and ambitions.  FPTP is simple.  The current parliamentary system is simple. If you want to fight for something, for greater representation, fight for the disbandment of the party whip, fight for MPs to be able to vote on their conscience every time without fear of repercussions.  Fight for that extra box on the ballot paper which says ‘Non of the Above’  (see my previous post ).  Most of all go and vote for the local  person who you want to represent you in parliament.

All of the above is just my opinion, I’m sure not everybody agrees, but that is your right …

The next question is what happens now in Scotland …

Cheers

Dave Mc

Why I loved the Royal Wedding …

Today’s royal wedding for me was a bit of a surprise.  I am unashamedly a monarchist and a proud Englishman, but weddings to me are normally always overdone. When I got married it was in a registry office and afterwards we went down the pub …

Grateful though I was for the extra bank holiday, I never planned to watch the whole thing, yet I did.  I browsed briefly to the Beeb’s website mid morning and started getting caught up in the day, so I sat down with Sandra and watched it through from about 10.30am to 1.30pm on the TV.  Didn’t plan to.  We just did.  And I loved it.

Now many people I know will say I succumbed to the hype, that I’m a shallow person, that the royals are a modern day anachronism, of no use, that the day was a waste of money in a troubled time, that the monarchy is pointless in today’s world.  Well everybody is entitled to their opinion, and you can write your opinion on your own blog if you want, or in the comments of this blog, but here’s why I loved the royal wedding:

It was a day when the nation as a whole could get together without conflict, malice or cynicism and have fun celebrating the marriage of a great young couple and subsequently have it’s spirits raised in a time of uncertainty and worry.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of the feel-good factor, whilst one day alone cannot get us out of the financial mess we find ourselves in, a day such as today is an investment in us, in Britain.  Forget the extra business for traders, resturants, pubs, clubs and TV and radio stations, things you can’t buy are confidence, goodwill and happiness. Will people feel better or worse as a result of today?  I would say the overwhelming majority will feel uplifted and better.  Sometimes you just have to forget your problems and enjoy yourself and that what today enabled each and everyone of us to do. If you chose not to, that’s your loss, not mine.

Are the royal family and the monarchy worth it? Absolutely!  Forget the money side of it.  Anybody who thinks the monarchy costs too much clearly doesn’t understand that the royal family probably contributes positively to the economy through promoting Britain abroad, through tourism, through taxes on royal estates and through employing and paying a large number of people.  This invisible income probably far outweighs the £40 odd Million they get from the civil list.  But even if it didn’t, this year the government will pay £50 Billion in interest on our debt, that’s over 1000 times the amount the royal family recieve, and that’s £50 Billion for nothing.  So forget the money, it’s a tiny drop in the ocean.

Are they relevant in this day and age?  Absolutely.  They connect us with over a thousand years of our history. Some people seem to believe the myth that the Queen’s family were German, but that is firstly neither true or secondly relevant.  The House of Saxe-Coburg as the Windsor’s were known came from Queen Victoria’s Husband Albert.  All monarchs since George III (1783) have been born and raised in Britain and the Queen is directly related back to at least George III, if not further.  History is important, tradition is important, they both provide us with lessons and experience and hint at ways to live our lives for the benefit of one and all.  The royal family are the stewards of our history and tradition, they are a thread running through the British Psyche.  Take away that core and what remains? A parliament full of politicians who have not exactly covered themselves in glory. An elected politician as a President? In my mind we need less politicians in the world, not more.  No, we need more people like the royals who quietly get on with representing Britain at home and abroad, working with voluntary organisations and charities home and abroad, trying to maintain and promote the good name of Great Britain  and our industry home and abroad.  Meanwhile a number of our self-indulgent politicians do their best to drag our country through the mire. Give me the royals any day of the week: twice on Sundays.

Aside from that the monarchy provides a figurehead for the country that is apolitical.  The reigning monarch is somebody who represents us, the British, as a people, at home or abroad.  The monarch has no political agenda, is often more in touch with what people think than many politicians, is on the inside, yet on the outside of international affairs and over the years provides a consistency which is comforting and neccessary to ensure political and economic stability.  The fact that the monarchy is there provides a rallying point for the country in times of hardship.  World War II was a classic example, today was another. We live in tough times,  but the happenstance of the royal wedding provided a welcome relief from the doom and gloom.  If all you can do is poo-poo it as hype, I pity you – life is too damn short to be a cynic.  Most of us are privileged to live in a relatively peaceful, stable, law-abiding society if we can’t find the time to be thankful and have some fun, shame on us.

As we go forward into the 21st century, I hope we continue to have a monarchy. They provide a true link with our great past, a rallying point for the nation in times of crisis and embody the people of our nation at home and abroad keeping a distance from political wranglings.

You may not be a supporter of the monarchy like me, you may be a republican like Cromwell.  You may believe that anybody in public office must be voted for.  I can understand that point of view, but I don’t adhere to it.  Sometimes having people with no political agenda in positions of responsibility is a good thing, they often concentrate on doing a good job, rather than worrying about where the next vote and paycheck comes from.  As I always say, be careful what you wish for …

So I hope you enjoyed the wedding.  If you didn’t watch it, believe me you missed a very enjoyable event.  I feel good! I really do …

Cheers

Dave Mc

Why I Will Not Support the “Yes to AV” Campaign …

I’ve visited http://www.yestofairervotes.org today to check out why I apparently should vote ‘Yes’ to a supposedly fairer system of votes.  Whilst I agree on the face of it, AV looks attractive to voters, I don’t actually think that it is fairer than the current First Past the Post (FPTP) system.  My reason comes down to my suspicion that ‘fairer’ for most people means ‘what I want’.  Check out the website if you want an explanation of AV, I won’t do one here.

Interestingly the “Yes for Fairer Votes” state that FPTP is unfair because you only vote for one person and that two-thirds of MPs get into parliament with less than 50% of the voters support.  Let’s look at that.

If you’re in a constituency with four candidates which is say normally a labour strong hold, this isn’t going to change under AV.  Not really.  In solid seats either way things will hardly change.  You do the maths, only in seats where the candidates are reasonably equal will there be any difference.  Have a look at this article  from the Guardian, it shows that the results would not have been that much different overall.  Take the results with a pinch of salt, but I truly don’t see what great difference AV makes.

Also Interestingly the “Yes for Fairer Votes” states “The Alternative Vote takes what works with First Past the Post and improves on it.”.  So FPTP isn’t all bad apparently, but then it also states that FPTP fails the basic test of fairness.  It then says that FPTP fails each and every test, and yet despite AV being based on FPTP that apparently is OK … eh? 

I like FPTP for the following reason: I am forced to make a decision. No get out, no wishy–washy pandering to the people who don’t get their way. Take it or leave it.  I don’t always get the Government or MP I want, or the council, but you don’t get me bleating about how unfair the voting system is.  I’ve wanted a government with the beliefs, grit and determination of the first two Thatcher Governments for years, I ain’t going to get it though.  What I do get with FPTP is I normally get a Government with a mandate and I’d rather have a Government with plan and a belief, than a Coalition which trades away it’s convictions and principals for a chance to hold power. 

The “Yes for Fairer Votes” by the way, conveniently mixes up Hung Parliaments and Coalitions, stating that Australia have only had one Hung Parliament in 38 elections, I don’t know where they got that from, but Australia have had loads of Coalition Governments, Robert Menzies for example was heading a Minority Coalition Government when war broke out, John Howard led a Coalition Government in 1996.  They also state that that Canada have permanent Hung Parliaments whilst using a FPTP System.  But  the Canadian House of Commons Web Site states “Coalition governments have been rare in Canadian history.”, which is true but they have been ruled by Minority Governments for years and years, and I say again, I’d rather be ruled by a party that sticks to it’s principles, rather than a conglomerate of people, hell-bent on political power at any cost, forging a Coalition of convenience.

Would I rather have a Labour Government now than the Coalition? Yes if they had enough to form a Minority Government, I wouldn’t complain.  Would I rather Cameron ditch Clegg and rule with a Minority Government? Absolutely and twice on Sundays.  Why? Because then the government might stick to it’s principals more. Forging a Coalition has probably done more damage to the LibDems than any other action in recent years with accusations of ‘selling out’, yet this kind of deal would be common place in Coalition Governments which would be more commonplace under AV.  Yet people want more Coalitions?  I don’t get it …

I would like one change made to the FPTP system however, and that is a box which says “None of the above”.  If this figure reaches 50% then the election should be held again, and the candidates have to run again and pay for their submission again.  That might help motivate the candidates.  It also might encourage people who decide not to vote to actually vote and take part, as the most common thing I hear is “I don’t want to vote for any of them” and not “I prefer him first, him second, him third …” and so forth.  Having to stand for re-election again might encourage candidates to work hard and listen to their voters a bit more.

So I will be voting “No to AV” simply because it does not improve the voting system or make it any fairer, it only makes it more likely that once again trying to please everybody will result in it pleasing nobody.  But if, as I suspect, the vote will be for ‘Yes’ again, you won’t hear me belly-aching about how my vote didn’t count or how unfair it all is, just because I was on the loosing side …

Cheers

Dave Mc