Friday, November 30, 2007

Multiplication is vexation

Without being a mathematician or anywhere near that I do find it extraordinary how flummoxed perfectly intelligent people are by numbers. Take those polar bears, for instance. Article after article will tell you that there are now only 25,000 polar bears in the world.

Terrible, we all say, except those of us who ask “only compared to what”. How many were there before? You start looking round and you find that the decrease in the population is putative and possibly there is an increase, according to official organizations like Polar Bears International.

You go on through various organizations that are demanding action because they think that the polar bear population’s survival rate will fall by the middle of this century and then you come across an article like this.
A survey of the animals' numbers in Canada's eastern Arctic has revealed that they are thriving, not declining, because of mankind's interference in the environment. In the Davis Strait area, a 140,000-square kilometre region, the polar bear population has grown from 850 in the mid-1980s to 2,100 today.

"There aren't just a few more bears. There are a hell of a lot more bears," said Mitch Taylor, a polar bear biologist who has spent 20 years studying the animals.

His findings back the claims of Inuit hunters who have long claimed that they were seeing more bears.
Only 25,000, it seems, is five times as many as there were thirty years ago. Even scientists who disagree with those statements admit that while the population may be going down in one place, it is going up in another. And, anyway, male polar bears are solitary animals, so a picture of a single polar bear does not mean what people think one means.

Whether the population has increased because of better conservation methods or because the bears quite like the warmer weather is irrelevant. The answer to what is happening to the polar bear population and why remains doubtful but produce numbers, add the word “only” and people get very worried.

For a while we were told quite solemnly that this country was more subject to drought than Somalia. That was before we became subject to rather a large amount of rain.

How does that work? Well, some bright spark calculated that less rain falls in Britain per head of population than in the Horn of Africa. Help, help!!! This is the end. Actually, it is not, despite the faux-mathematical proof. Whether it is true or not is irrelevant. The reason why certain parts of the world are more densely populated than others is because there is more rainfall there. Duh!

Anyway, here is a wonderful blog on that very theme. Via American Thinker we come to Numberwatch, which is working to combat Math Hysteria. Fantastic. I have a feeling I shall be referring to it rather a lot.

It is run by Professor John Brignell, whose scientific and academic credentials are quite impressive.

He has an entry on global warming (well, actually, he has a number of entries on global warming), which is of great joy. He gives a list of all the many things that are caused or will be caused by global warming, which, as he reminds us, amounts to 0.006ºC a year.

I can’t resist it, though I think our readers should look at the blog. Here is the list.
Agricultural land increase, Africa devastated, African aid threatened, Africa hit hardest, air pressure changes, Alaska reshaped, allergies increase, Alps melting, Amazon a desert, American dream end, amphibians breeding earlier (or not), ancient forests dramatically changed, animals head for the hills, Antarctic grass flourishes, anxiety, algal blooms, archaeological sites threatened, Arctic bogs melt, Arctic in bloom, Arctic lakes disappear, asthma, Atlantic less salty, Atlantic more salty, atmospheric defiance, atmospheric circulation modified, attack of the killer jellyfish, avalanches reduced, avalanches increased, bananas destroyed, bananas grow, beetle infestation, bet for $10,000, better beer, big melt faster, billion dollar research projects, billions of deaths, bird distributions change, bird visitors drop, birds return early, blackbirds stop singing, blizzards, blue mussels return, bluetongue, boredom, bridge collapse (Minneapolis), Britain Siberian, British gardens change, brothels struggle, bubonic plague, budget increases, Buddhist temple threatened, building collapse, building season extension, bushfires, business opportunities, business risks, butterflies move north, cancer deaths in England, cardiac arrest, caterpillar biomass shift, challenges and opportunities, childhood insomnia, Cholera, circumcision in decline, cirrus disappearance, civil unrest, cloud increase, cloud stripping, cockroach migration, cod go south, cold climate creatures survive, cold spells (Australia), computer models, conferences, coral bleaching, coral reefs dying, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink , cold spells, cost of trillions, cougar attacks, cremation to end, crime increase, crocodile sex, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, cyclones (Australia), damages equivalent to $200 billion, Darfur, Dartford Warbler plague, death rate increase (US), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, dermatitis, desert advance, desert life threatened, desert retreat, destruction of the environment, diarrhoea, disappearance of coastal cities, diseases move north, Dolomites collapse, drought, drowning people, ducks and geese decline, dust bowl in the corn belt, early marriages, early spring, earlier pollen season, Earth biodiversity crisis, Earth dying, Earth even hotter, Earth light dimming, Earth lopsided, Earth melting, Earth morbid fever, Earth on fast track, Earth past point of no return, Earth slowing down, Earth spinning out of control, Earth spins faster, Earth to explode, earth upside down, Earth wobbling, earthquakes, El Niño intensification, erosion, emerging infections, encephalitis, equality threatened, Europe simultaneously baking and freezing, evolution accelerating, expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (human, civilisation, logic, Inuit, smallest butterfly, cod, ladybirds, bats, pandas, pikas, polar bears, pigmy possums, gorillas, koalas, walrus, whales, frogs, toads, turtles, orang-utan, elephants, tigers, plants, salmon, trout, wild flowers, woodlice, penguins, a million species, half of all animal and plant species, not polar bears, barrier reef, leaches), experts muzzled, extreme changes to California, fading fall foliage, famine, farmers go under, fashion disaster, fever, figurehead sacked, fir cone bonanza, fish catches drop, fish catches rise, fish stocks at risk, fish stocks decline, five million illnesses, flesh eating disease, flood patterns change, floods, floods of beaches and cities, Florida economic decline, food poisoning, food prices rise, food security threat (SA), footpath erosion, forest decline, forest expansion, frostbite, frosts, fungi fruitful, fungi invasion, games change, Garden of Eden wilts, genetic diversity decline, gene pools slashed, gingerbread houses collapse, glacial earthquakes, glacial retreat, glacial growth, glacier wrapped, global cooling, global dimming, glowing clouds, god melts, golf Masters wrecked, Gore omnipresence, grandstanding, grasslands wetter, Great Barrier Reef 95% dead, Great Lakes drop, greening of the North, Grey whales lose weight, Gulf Stream failure, habitat loss, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, harvest increase, harvest shrinkage, hay fever epidemic, hazardous waste sites breached, health of children harmed, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes (Australia), heat waves, hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late, homeless 50 million, hornets, high court debates, human development faces unprecedented reversal, human fertility reduced, human health improvement, human health risk, hurricanes, hurricane reduction, hydropower problems, hyperthermia deaths, ice sheet growth, ice sheet shrinkage, illness and death, inclement weather, infrastructure failure (Canada), Inuit displacement, Inuit poisoned, Inuit suing, industry threatened, infectious diseases, inflation in China, insurance premium rises, invasion of cats, invasion of herons, invasion of midges, island disappears, islands sinking, itchier poison ivy, jellyfish explosion, Kew Gardens taxed, kitten oom, krill decline, lake and stream productivity decline, lake shrinking and growing, landslides, landslides of ice at 140 mph, lawsuits increase, lawsuit successful, lawyers' income increased (surprise surprise!), lightning related insurance claims, little response in the atmosphere, lush growth in rain forests, Lyme disease, Malaria, malnutrition, mammoth dung melt, Maple syrup shortage, marine diseases, marine food chain decimated, marine dead zone, Meaching (end of the world), megacryometeors, Melanoma, methane emissions from plants, methane burps, melting permafrost, Middle Kingdom convulses, migration, migration difficult (birds), microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly, monkeys on the move, Mont Blanc grows, monuments imperiled, more bad air days, more research needed, mountain (Everest) shrinking, mountains break up, mountains taller, mortality lower, mudslides, National security implications, new islands, next ice age, Nile delta damaged, no effect in India, Northwest Passage opened, nuclear plants bloom, oaks move north, ocean acidification, ocean waves speed up, opera house to be destroyed, outdoor hockey threatened, oyster diseases, ozone loss, ozone repair slowed, ozone rise, Pacific dead zone, personal carbon rationing, pest outbreaks, pests increase, phenology shifts, plankton blooms, plankton destabilised, plankton loss, plant viruses, plants march north, polar bears aggressive, polar bears cannibalistic, polar bears drowning, polar bears starve, polar tours scrapped, porpoise astray, profits collapse, psychosocial disturbances, puffin decline, railroad tracks deformed, rainfall increase, rainfall reduction, rape wave, refugees, reindeer larger, release of ancient frozen viruses, resorts disappear, rice threatened, rice yields crash, riches, rift on Capitol Hill, rioting and nuclear war, rivers dry up, river flow impacted, rivers raised, roads wear out, rockfalls, rocky peaks crack apart, roof of the world a desert, Ross river disease, ruins ruined, salinity reduction, salinity increase, Salmonella, salmon stronger, satellites accelerate, school closures, sea level rise, sea level rise faster, seals mating more, sewer bills rise, sex change, sharks booming, sharks moving north, sheep shrink, shop closures, shrinking ponds, shrinking shrine, ski resorts threatened, slow death, smaller brains, smog, snowfall increase, snowfall heavy, snowfall reduction, societal collapse, songbirds change eating habits, sour grapes, space problem, spiders invade Scotland, squid population explosion, squirrels reproduce earlier, spectacular orchids, stormwater drains stressed, street crime to increase, suicide, taxes, tectonic plate movement, teenage drinking, terrorism, threat to peace, ticks move northward (Sweden), tides rise, tourism increase, trade barriers, trade winds weakened, tree beetle attacks, tree foliage increase (UK), tree growth slowed, trees could return to Antarctic, trees in trouble, trees less colourful, trees more colourful, trees lush, tropics expansion, tropopause raised, tsunamis, turtles crash, turtles lay earlier, UK Katrina, Vampire moths, Venice flooded, volcanic eruptions, eruptions, walrus displaced, walrus pups orphaned, war, wars over water, wars threaten billions, water bills double, water supply unreliability, water scarcity (20% of increase), water stress, weather out of its mind, weather patterns awry, weeds, Western aid cancelled out, West Nile fever, whales move north, wheat yields crushed in Australia, white Christmas dream ends, wildfires, wind shift, wind reduced, wine - harm to Australian industry, wine industry damage (California), wine industry disaster (US), wine - more English, wine -German boon, wine - no more French , winters in Britain colder, wolves eat more moose, wolves eat less, workers laid off, World bankruptcy, World in crisis, World in flames, Yellow fever
Professor Brignell is anxious to hear from anyone who has more examples.

Lie in the sky

Reuters and not a few others tell us that the Transport Ministers in Brussels yesterday agreed to kick-start Galileo, voting 26 to 27 in favour – the only opponent being Spain, which wanted more pork barrel – the right to host one of the ground control centre.

Transport commissioner Jacques "Wheel" Barrot thus warbles, "Galileo is about to be launched …".

This means, of course, that the UK caved in and went with the project – not that it would have made any difference as Portugal had sought "legal advice" from EU lawyers who said that the decision need not be unanimous. Accordingly the qualified majority vote was used, which means that even had the UK objected, it would have been overruled.

Meanwhile, the US is doing its best to stuff the project, finalising its plans for its GPS Block III satellites, which will have about 500 times the transmitter power of the current system, plus second and third frequencies to contain civilian signal. Accuracy will also be improved to within three feet.

These new capabilities will be introduced incrementally in a series of three blocks. The first Block IIIA launch is scheduled for late 2013 and, by the time the system is complete, it will consist of 32 satellites – two more than Galileo.

Interestingly, the US is investing $1.8 billion in the first eight satellites in the GPS III range, potentially putting the whole system in the €5 billion range – well above the €2.4 billion slated for Galileo deployment – and the Americans have already got their ground stations in place, although upgrading those will also cost.

That suggest that the Euros might be considerably under-estimating the overall costs of their project – which would not be at all surprising. Since they've consistently lied through their teeth about the financing of this project, continuing the deception is only to be expected.

Called a "spy in the sky" by some – which it is not – perhaps the better name for Galileo would be "lie in the sky".


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Unnoted connections

One’s first reaction to the recent tale of the Oxford Union meeting, their invited guests, David Irving and Nick Griffin plus the inevitable uproar was a weary shrug of shoulders – another clever-dick story. As time went on, the story took on a more interesting character, especially if one links it to a couple of other reports, not much noted by the British MSM, one of a set of events in Russia at the end of October and the other a report about Ukraine that appeared, though not in the British press, a few days ago.

A longish piece with some very gruesome pictures posted on Umbrella Blog 3

From Michael Yon's latest dispatch

I am intruding on my colleague's territory in that this posting is linked to defence matters. Nevertheless, I feel that our readers who may not see Michael Yon's dispatches regularly might like to read this passage from his account of action by 4 Rifles in Basra and the immediate aftermath.

The Smith of the tale is Pte Smith, driver of a Warrior that had been attacked, who had suffered severe burns.
Smith spent several months in the UK recuperating from his burns before returning to the war. Like the mechanics Burns and Miller, his courage under fire was unsung. As for recognition at home, the British soldiers say that it rarely happens, but they did tell me about one lady who gives them great moral support. They say she writes a handwritten letter to every wounded soldier in 4 Rifles. She writes a handwritten letter to every family of a soldier who is lost. She writes letters to the battalion often.

She is a wealthy woman who sends hundred-dollar bottles of scotch to wounded soldiers in 4 Rifles, and she will even present their medals on 14 December 2007 in the U.K. Who is this lady? She is Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, wife to the Prince of Wales, the future King of England, and she supports 4 Rifles as their Royal Colonel. One soldier expressed the sentiment of many when he told me, “she’s so busy, yet finds time to handwrite all those letters to our wounded and families.” Another soldier told me that she even invited the families to her home.
My colleague will point out that none of that matters as much as getting the right equipment to the troops and I agree - up to a point. People doing their duty and doing it with charm and ease also matters.

Read Yon's account.

A lack of imagination

If you want to know what it wrong with the Conservative Party, read about Bernard Jenkin on defence. The same lack of imagination which pervades his paper dogs the approach of the Conservatives to virtually every other subject.


Just be proud!

For once, no politics, no preaching, no analysis or hidden messages. We've received eleven superb photographs, so far unpublished, of 40 Commando operations in Helmund and have put them up on our Defence of the Realm site.

Some of the shots are absolutely stunning. They deserve an award in anyone's book, and represent the very best of our Armed Forces, doing a difficult and dangerous job in our name. We can truly be proud that they are there, doing that job, and offer a prayer that they and their colleagues come to no harm and return safely.

We have also posted a transcript of an interview with Bernard Jenkin MP on the launch of his defence policy yesterday. That does have political implications, and we will publish an analysis of it later today.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Start as you mean to go on

The Bali jamboree climate change conference is likely to provide us all with a great deal of entertainment or high blood pressure, depending on how you look at these matters. We have already called attention to the amount of carbon emission that the world, which is about to breathe its last, will be polluted with by the numbers of people who are converging on this rather lovely island.

Moving on from there, the disinformation has started. As EUOberver reports, Stavros Dimas, the Environment Commissar who is taking a pitiful entourage of only 90 people to the Bali junket important summit, has given a press conference in which he announced that the five-year plan has been over-fulfilled.
Just days before an important global conference on setting future environment targets, the EU announced it has cut the link between economic production and rising pollution and that it will meet its own international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"We have successfully broken the link that traditionally meant that economic growth inevitably translated into higher emissions," said EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas on Tuesday (27 November).

"Our emissions are currently 2 percent below [1990] levels (…) while our economy has grown by more than 35 percent over the same period."

The commissioner also said that "it is almost certain" that Europe will meet its goal of cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by 8 percent by 2012 – a target agreed and shared under the Kyoto protocol by 15 EU member states in the late 1990s.
Well, it ain’t necessarily so, as one inevitably has to say after every press conference given by a politician, even a shoddy one like the average Commissar.

As EUObserver points out:
However, the commission's pronouncement on achieving the target is dependent on getting member states to toe the green line in the coming years, with national governments' holding a patchy record on the issue.

According to Mr Dimas, the EU will cut its emissions by 7.4 percent using extra measures such as buying emissions from third countries but will only be sure of meeting its 8 percent commitment if member states agree to putting other tools in place – such as including airlines in the EU's pollution reducing scheme.

Green politicians have said that the commission's announcement covers up the fact that individual member states are not doing very well on their Kyoto commitments.

"The figures presented by the Commission show that the EU is totally reliant on developing countries for emissions reductions, with the figures far from positive as regards real emissions from EU countries," said a statement by the Greens in the European parliament.
So these figures are smoke and mirrors and, as Commissar Dimas, if not the Green politicians, knows full well, impossible to achieve.

Over the Pond in the Competitive Enterprise Institute they have noticed something else. Chris Horner analyzed Commissar Dimas’s statement on and came to the conclusion that the man was being somewhat economical with the truth.
Reader, beware. Europe has quietly swapped out one “we” for another, such that the “we” Dimas refers to now is the EU-27, a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. This does not reflect the performance of “Europe” according to Kyoto, which is the EU-15, or “Old Europe”.

The remaining States only afford such rhetoric by bringing to the table an emissions inventory well below their 1990 baseline, due to economic collapse, an artifact of political history unrelated to the Kyoto agenda.

This is not pedantic picking of nits, but revelation of a rhetorical ploy meant to assist political pressure against, well, us. Instead, it is significant because Europe as Kyoto recognizes it cannot ride the post-1990 economic collapse to a claim of “emission reductions, while growing the economy!” Even in the EU-27, emissions are actually well above where they were when the economic growth to which he refers began, in the late 1990s.

It is also a breathtaking statement to claim not that Europe will meet its Kyoto promise – which allows for the purchase of offsets for their emissions overage –
but to assert that it will cut emissions by the promised amount. In truth, the most optimistic (that is, Brussels’) projection of EU performance has them leveling emissions off at 1990 levels, which means they would buy the entirety of their “reduction”. Others aren’t quite so rosy. Still, that’s fine if that’s the game we agree to play. But drop the breast-beating about having “reduced emissions” by 8% through the courageous act of paying the Chinese to
ramp down their HFC production.
The writer also uses a wonderful word that I wish we had thought of on this blog: Kyotophiles. Perhaps, we can develop that and talk about Kyotophiliacs.

Incidentally, Chris Horner’s colleague, Iain Murray calls attention to an interesting fact: climate change or global warming is not making much of an appearance in the never-ending (or so it seems at times) American presidential campaign. No serious contender on either side has mentioned the issue for a long time. Go figure.

Closing the curtains

Standing aside from the current hyperventilation of the political groupuscules over the current "funding scandal" in the Labour Party, one cannot escape the view that the throbbing excitement over the issue is a vast exercise in displacement activity.

Unable to understand or address issues of importance and relevance to the real world and the concerns of ordinary people, we see instead political classes hurl themselves with gay abandon into the issue, one of not very much importance in the grander scheme of things.

And, as the obsession mounts, it drowns everything else out, dominating the news, provoking an orgy of comment, speculation and tittle-tattle, turning PMQs today into a veritable – and unedifying – bear garden.

In many ways this is the modern equivalent of "bread and circuses", a self-indulgent obsession with trivia, redolent of the final days of the Roman Empire, where the barbarians at the gate were of lesser importance than the internal preoccupations of the ruling classes.

A more prosaic analogy might be the embattled householder, his house falling down around him through lack of maintenance, the damp seeping in and the mould growing up the wall, with the bailiffs knocking at the door demanding the mortgage arrears, closing the curtains on the outside world and turning on the television to watch Coronation Street.

Outside, in the real world, we can think of any number of issues of huge importance, any one of which could give the opposition enormous scope to rip this government apart, crises in the here and now which, if ignored – as they are being – will have a material and damaging effect on all of us. Many of this, we have written about (such as this), about which we hear not one whit of concern or squeak of protest from the groupescules who profess to be so concerned with our governance.

Time and time again, we are regaled with the breast-beating and the laments of the political classes, as they despair at the retreat of ordinary people from politics, yet – as this example so clearly shows – they only need do one thing to identify the cause: they should look in their mirrors (or watch PMQs on television).

While the political groupies may love PMQs for its drama and for its raw entertainment value, as our politicians howl and bray at each other like over-excited schoolboys, the rest of us look upon the spectacle with growing dismay.

Despite their obsession with the soap opera that politics has become, their self-referential little bubble is not the real world. Furthermore, in the weeks to come, the drama that is so dominant today will be but a lingering memory, as the political classes draw their breath for the next episode, still leaving vital issues unaddressed.

And so, as these increasingly irrelevent players close the curtains on the real world outside, we trust that our readers will forgive us as we decide to sit this one out, and meanwhile get on with reporting things of more substance.