Friday, December 31, 2010

It's just weather

... and it's caused by global warming. Move along there, nothing to see. And 539 new snowfall records set in the US? Just weather. US record lows outpace record highs 21 to 1 this week? Just weather. But what about the coldest UK winter for 300 years? Just weather - caused by global warming.

Even if the warmists never can seem to get it quite right, it would never do to mock Arctic specialist Bernt Balchen. According to the Christian Science Monitor of 8 June 1972, he warned that a general warming trend over the North Pole was melting the polar ice cap and could produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2000.

As of last month, the Arctic Ocean had 3.82 million square miles of ice cover - an area larger than the continental United States. Ignore this. Whatever else happens, you must keep repeating the mantra.

"Though no single mega-storm is the fault of climate change, scientists agree that weather - including snow patterns - will become more intense as the planet's ecosystem is transformed by human-produced pollution. So while New York's near-record snowstorm may not be the direct result of unbridled carbon emissions, powerful storms like it will undoubtedly be more frequent thanks to our head-in-the-sand attitude toward the environment".

There! Now doesn't that feel better!


Really taking the piss

Of all the organisations that have really screwed up this last year, the Met Office must be high on the list, if not actually at the top. So how appropriate it is that the chairman Robert Stewart Napier is awarded the CBE "for public service", in the New Year Honours.

It is almost as if the political classes had a death wish.



That's the way to do it.


A scandal emerges

Coming back to the condensing boiler "scandal" - for that it is - we are aware that this equipment was foisted on the unsuspecting public in 2005 by John Prescott, then deputy prime minister. It was done through the expedient of amending the thermal efficiency requirements for domestic heating appliances in the Building Regulations.

As part of the process, though, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister then in April 2005 issued formal installation guidance for these boilers, five pages of which were devoted to the condensate drain. On first view, there did not appear to be any mention of the danger of the pipes freezing, but a more thorough search shows several references to the problem.

For instance, pg. 13 tells the installers: "Any external condensate pipe work must be insulated to minimise the risk of freezing". Pg. 17 states: "Where possible connections should always be made to internal drain points (stack pipe or waste pipe). External termination points are more likely to become blocked by, for example, freezing ...". Pg. 18 states: "If an appliance does not include a siphon then external pipework is best avoided to reduce the risk of freezing. If this is not possible then external pipework should have a minimum nominal diameter of 32mm".

Typical manufacturer's instructions also include warnings about condensate drain freezing but, despite this, and the fact that installers must hold government-approved ("gas safe") qualifications, and are overseen by the HSE, hundreds of thousands of boilers seem to have been improperly installed. Thus, through the freezing winter of 2009-10, very large numbers of households began to experience problems.

So extensive had the problems become by early 2010 that the issue was raised by Jeff Howell in The Daily Telegraph on 19 January 2010. He noted that this (condensate pipes freezing) had been "a common reader's problem during the cold snap last winter", and it had "become even worse this year".

Then, on 25 February, in the context of enquiring about the then boiler scrappage scheme, Tory MP Philip Dunne told the House of Commons that condensate pipes were freezing up and: "the boilers break, with the result that households have no heat or hot water". "What are the Government doing to stop that happening?" he asked.

Joan Ruddock, answering on behalf of the government agreed that Dunne "may be correct about this being something that we need to look into." However, she said, "I hope that he will not want to detract in any way from the great success of the boiler scrappage scheme and the huge savings in CO2 emissions - and therefore the good effects on climate change - that it is achieving".

Needless to say, nothing was done by the then Labour government, or subsequently by the Cleggerons.  They seemed to have been concerned only with saving CO2 emissions.

Thus, despite the problem having been raised in Parliament, the official guidelines continue to be ignored in a large number of cases. No attempt seems to have been made to ensure that installers follow the guidance. There have been no further official warnings given to installers or existing users to take precautions to prevent freezing.

As a result of government neglect, therefore, over the holiday period, at the depths of the freeze, tens of millions of pounds have had to be spent by householders on emergency call-outs. The problem was predictable, had been reported, and then had been ignored by a government which had allowed it to develop to epidemic proportions.

To my mind, everyone who has had a boiler failure for this reason over the last cold period, has a valid claim against government, for the costs of the call-out and remedial action, and for consequential losses. That is the stuff of politics. If the government sets up these systems, it has the responsibility to make sure they work, and should be accountable when it does not.


Open thread – part two

Rather than expand the original thread, I'm going to continue the discussion here. The condensing boiler issue certainly seem to have struck a chord and I'll continue on that. But we also see that the water situation is deteriorating. It is not just Northern Ireland, but my favourite company (not), Yorkshire Water, is having a torrid time.

As well as North Yorkshire, and Thirsk in particular – where it was especially cold, Sheffield has been badly hit, Bradford is having its moments, and the residents of Hull and East Riding are being asked to ration water. Outside the Yorkshire area, Wales is recording the "worst water supply problems for 30 years", and The Daily Express is telling us that "tens of thousands" of people have been left without water.

One might have some sympathy with the predicament of the water companies as they battle to overcome the devastation caused by the "unprecedented" weather, except for the fact that they have been frittering away their time and our money on climate change.

On top of that, as our own readers remind us, the capital spending on water has been heavily distorted by the often absurdly over-the-top requirements of the EU water directives, spending which now totals over £65 billion, against only £14 billion left for infrastructure.

Water leaks and now water cut-offs might not seem political, but they surely are. Between EU madness and the government obsession on global warming, at the very least we can say that they have left us unprepared. And you can now bet that the water companies will be coming to us again for yet more money, to add to their already inflated bills.

And what do you think our over-paid MPs in Westminster might say about that? And that's what politics is really all about. Everybody out there seems to have their hands out for one thing or another. On top of the water bills, energy costs are going up, petrol is going up, VAT is going up, inflation is going up – the inevitable consequence of "quantative easing" – and no end of families have had to pay unexpected call-out fees when their boilers failed.

Jeremy Warner in The Daily Telegraph thus writes, "For many, it'll be a very unhappy financial new year," predicting that, "It will only need a small nudge to tip some households into destitution". He is not wrong, and not a little of this is simply because MPs past and present have not been doing their jobs.


It's still a local event?

As we noted earlier, a crucial part of the warmist mantra is that the cold we have experienced recently was a local event, balanced by greater warming elsewhere. This certainly was not the case last year, when we had the Daily Mail offer this, fronting the heavy snowfall in Mongolia (pictured above).

That was on 7 January last year and here we go again, a week early with the People's Daily Online reporting on heavy snowfall in Mongolia. Mongolia actually had a terrible winter last time round, and clearly has not fully recovered. Thus we are learning of the death of thousands of livestock, with many more facing starvation, after a blizzard brought heavy snow to a county in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Wednesday night.

The snow, with falls of over three feet in places, has stopped animals grazing and the county does not have enough stored winter feed. It is currently short of 21.5 million kg of hay and other stored winter feed. And, with roads to five townships blocked, affecting 4,928 people and 248,000 livestock, things are not set to get better in a hurry.

All this is happening on top of the US blizzards and it is not yet January. The idea that the cold weather is simply a local event is, therefore, looking even thinner than it did. The warmists are going to have to do some more reading.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wikileaks and The Guardian


Clever boy!

Says Met Office spokesman Dave Britton: "What has been quite unprecedented has been the prolonged nature of the cold. We have had some colder spells in December but what has been quite noticeable about this one is quite how prolonged it was and the amount of snow we had."

Someone in the Met Office must have looked out of the window.


Is there a connection?

Between this (above) and this (below)?

As tales of delay and incompetence emerge, one wonders whether Mayor Bloomberg and his staff have spent so much time and money on the global warming obsession that they have failed to attend to the basics. There seems to be something of a trend here.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Biggest Douche in the Universe Award 2010

A guest post by Peter North

Normally at this time of year the Biggest Douche in the Universe Committee's (pictured) job is an easy one. The BDIU award so readily falls to David Cameron year after year. But this year sees a new talent; the absolute pinnacle of douchedom. While Nick Clegg was a strong contender and David Cameron running high in the stakes, we had to make a special consideration this year. I am, of course, referring to that international man or moronicism, Julian Assange.

About two years ago I gave up any kind of blogging so as not to distract from day job stuff. Fighting idiocy is a full time occupation in itself and naturally one cannot do the job part time and expect to pass as normal (see one RAE North). So I have to be especially irked to find myself giving a rats hindquarters about anything these days for my own job security. But this year no-one has jolted me from my blissful indifference quite so rudely as Julian Assange.

Though it is not just Assange. It is the whole package from start to finish. There I find nothing quite so nauseating as Dianaesque public and media fawning over narcissistic minor celebrities, especially sexual deviants who consider themselves to be paragons of virtue. Not that this comes as any more of a surprise as the Wikileaks content.

It comes as no surprise either to see the left falling over themselves to paint this man as some modern day cyber-Che Guevara. But in this instance, what is surprising is that even right thinking people, and seemingly the whole UK libertarian movement (with some honourable exceptions), have let their collective brain drool out of their backside. Facebook is bulging with sentimental drivel about this utter fraud.

Leaving aside for a moment the faux sentiments exalting the virtues of democracy (while violating the basic right to freedom of association in publishing the BNP membership list) and the obnoxiously entitled "Collateral Murder" propaganda video in which an Apache crew follows exact protocols for dealing with suspected hostiles, we find that Zimbabwean democracy has taken a hit all for the sake of Mr Assange's ego.
Later that day, the US embassy in Zimbabwe dutifully reported the details of the meeting to Washington in a confidential US State Department diplomatic cable. And slightly less than one year later, WikiLeaks released it to the world.

The reaction in Zimbabwe was swift. Zimbabwe's Mugabe-appointed attorney general announced he was investigating the Prime Minister on treason charges based exclusively on the contents of the leaked cable. While it's unlikely Tsvangirai could be convicted on the contents of the cable alone, the political damage has already been done. The cable provides Mugabe the opportunity to portray Tsvangirai as an agent of foreign governments working against the people of Zimbabwe. Furthermore, it could provide Mugabe with the pretense to abandon the coalition government that allowed Tsvangirai to become prime minister in 2009.

It's difficult to see this as anything but a major setback for democracy in Zimbabwe. Even if Tsvangirai is not charged with treason, the opponents to democratic reforms have won a significant victory. First, popular support for Tsvangirai and the MDC will suffer due to Mugabe’s inevitable smear campaign, including the attorney general's "investigation". Second, the Prime Minister might be forced to take positions in opposition to the international community to avoid accusation of being a foreign corroborator. Third, Zimbabwe's fragile coalition government could collapse completely. Whatever happens, democratic reforms in Zimbabwe are far less likely now than before the leak.
For that reason alone I would toss Assange in Guantanamo Bay and this will not be the last such instance. But the anti-American left will have its pound of flesh and will drive by with the same disregard for the consequences of their own intellectual idleness and pomposity, as ever they do.

As to the morality of mass dumping, I have made the argument too many times to repeat it here. I am now completely robotic on this matter. My main observance would be to point out that there's a massive gulf between "public interest" and "the public are interested". Also the difference between loyal nationalist whistleblowing and internationalist espionage. Evidently there are those left and right who seem completely incapable of making the distinction. Julian Assange is no Daniel Ellsberg. Assuming there was anything particulaly moral about what he did. It has since passed into the narative that events and deeds leading to the fall of South Vietnam is a good thing.

But there is one revalation more disturbing than the contents of the mostly unrevealing cables. The support of Julian Assange and Wikileaks is telling of a society that has lost its way, one whose moral compass is in a flat spin. A society that prefers to see itself as the greater evil on Earth, one that would willingly assist in its own destruction to atone for its perceived sins. For that reason I have found reason to disassociate myself with anyone who could utter a word of support for this creature.

I think the best summary I can muster would be to echo the words of Charles in the comments of LGF.
One of my main objections to the massive document dump approach is very simple, and based on the human right to a reasonable expectation of privacy.

When you just release every stolen document you get your hands on, you're not just a noble warrior for the freedom of information - you're fucking around with thousands of people's lives. In the case of these diplomatic cables, the consequences of having their communications leaked in some countries may be extremely severe, and not just for the people named in the documents. It's naive and irresponsible in the utmost to think there won't be serious problems for many people.

What did these people do to deserve having their lives disrupted by Julian Assange's galactic ego? So far, the vast majority of what's been released shows these people doing their jobs, to the best oftheir abilities. But now their names and reputations and possibly their freedoms and lives are at risk.

The whole concept of doing it like this stinks. It's cruel and irresponsible, and completely disregards the human beings involved.
So ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give you the BDIU nomination for 2010.

Drum roll please... Julian Assange, you are the Biggest Douche in the Universe.


They were all at it

It wasn't just David Viner who was predicting back in 2000 that snow would disappear. We also had the great Charles Clover then of The Daily Telegraph, who on 2 November 2000 was telling us: Britain "will gain from global warming". Northern Europe, he wrote, "will have fewer days of frost and snow and longer growing seasons because of global warming".

Winters in Northern Europe would be wetter and there would be a reduction in number of days with frost and lying snow. There would be no cold winters by the 2080s. Cold winters, which currently occurred once in ten years, would be half as frequent by the 2020s.

Interestingly, these gems came from a report commissioned by the EU Commission, as part of what was known as the "Acacia Project", the EU contribution to a major re-assessment by the IPCC. And the project co-ordinator and report editor was Prof Martin Parry, of the University of East Anglia – colleague of Dr Viner.

Of course, of the people working in the year 2000, all would be long retired by 2080, although the Parry team did create their own hostages to fortune by suggesting that there would be significant observable changes by 2020. By so doing, they set the level of expectations which, for a few years, the warmists were happy to reinforce.


The fall of Moscow

Something that even the 1941 Nazi invasion did not achieve has been briefly imposed by freezing global warming – the closure of Moscow's airports. Reported by AFP and many others, things got so bad that "near riots" broke out as frustrated, cold and angry passengers expressed their opinion of Russian customer relations.

The problems are a particular embarrassment for Aeroflot, we are told. Russia's flagship carrier now operates out of a state-of-the-art wing of Sheremetyevo airport and has made enormous efforts to break out of its dowdy Soviet mold. But state television led its evening news broadcasts with Internet footage of exasperated passengers - many of them scheduled for one of Aeroflot's 153 cancelled flights - banging plastic security containers against Sheremetyevo's floor.

RIA Novosti news agency said that Aeroflot attendants were attacked at Sheremetyevo and AFP reporters saw hundreds trying to shove their way past Domodedovo's passport control as exasperated security officials called the police for help.

"There is absolutely no information and they just keep sending you from one place to another," growled a young man named Dmitry Menyayev. "People are on the verge of a nervous breakdown," another passenger was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Interestingly, the problems arose from a spell of freezing rain, which caused a power outage at Domodedovo airport, as well as coating roads with ice and leaving more than 300,000 people and 14 hospitals without electricity in southeast Moscow.

Sheremetyevo airport, on the other hand, blamed cancellations on a shortage of de-icer fluid – exactly the same problem that grounded Brussels flights – but further blamed "a German subcontractor that never provided with its regular shipment of de-icing fluid".

President Dmitry Medvedev has instructed his chief prosecutor to look into the affair, which the Russian media is reporting, and in some detail.

Tensions, The Moscow Times reports, were high late Monday in Domodedovo, where thousands of passengers spent hours with no food or drink except what they had with them and no information on when their flights might depart.

The airport - lit only by candles - suffered a 14-hour blackout Sunday. Some 8,000 people spent a sleepless night on the premises as more than 150 flights were delayed. Departure halls and local cafes at the airport were still unlit as of late Monday, and passengers, many on the verge of hysteria, thronged check-in desks for information on their flights.

An Interfax reporter described the inside of the terminal as looking "either like a movie about revolution or a horror film." Passengers said they had to spend time in the unlit halls without any help or information.

"It was completely dark, everyone was running around and nobody knew anything. I was shocked by the complete indifference of airport officials toward passengers," a blogger, Anna Goryainova, wrote (more photos on this site).

Perhaps Heathrow was not so bad after all, but then our time has yet to come. It remains to be seen how well we manage when the lights go out. But one thing is for certain, if this global warming can bring about the fall of Moscow, we are in for some interesting times.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No worries

After recent claims that all this bad weather is caused by global warming, it is comforting now to be told that this is "just natural variability pulsing back briefly overwhelming the greenhouse warming". The real problem is that: "Climate deniers think that unless you've got constant warming every year the greenhouse warming has gone away. And they forget about the natural variability".

But don't worry little people. We should expect now to see the global warming trend take over again.


Morano on Fox


Twenty hours in 40 seconds

Really clever stuff


"Citizens' initiative procedures"

I did try the "ignore it and it will go away" strategy – not in any expectation that it will work ... (the greenies found that it didn't – see above), but simply as a time-saver. One should, though, visit this bit of stupidity, if for no other reason than to enjoy the comments – which are giving young Hannan a hard time.

But then, anyone who suggests that getting parliament to debate something on the basis of a number of signatures, and then confuses it with democracy, deserves a ragging. One might ask, for instance, for parliament to debate waste strategy. And what good would that do? And if it was to do any good, should not parliament be debating it, without recourse to "Citizens' initiative procedures".

Says just one commenter: "What happens if 100,000 people vote to enter the Euro? Or abolish private schools? Or stop immigration controls? Or introduce Sharia Law? Do we give parliamentary time for that? There could be thousands of measures which any vested interest could take up. You really are clueless Hannan".

I'll bundle this with the Priestley thread, for comments purposes ... it seems to fit there.


The price of green

About half a million pensioners spent Christmas in bed, in order to keep warm. It is more complex than just fuel poverty, but it is certainly the case that every new windmill and every new middle-class solar panel user, milking the system for the feed-in-tariff, is putting heating out of the reach of still more pensioners.

What people forget, though, is that the greenie objective, quite deliberately, is to increase the cost of energy, firstly to discourage its use and secondly to make inefficient alternatives more attractive. By this means, greenie policies put pensioners in bed ... and hasten them to their coffins.


The price of indifference

In yet another example of how ill-served we are by the media, today we see The Independent offer a front-page headline proclaiming: "Waste crisis means 80 giant furnaces set for go-ahead in 2011".

That "waste crisis" is, of course, the one created by the EU's waste framework directive. It prohibits the use of landfill - the cheapest and most effective option - for the disposal of household waste, and substitutes the most expensive and least effective ... incineration - and now, at enormous cost and disruption, these incinerators must be built.

Needless to say, though, the newspaper article, under the by-line of Jonathan Brown, does not mention the EU. There is not the slightest hint of EU involvement. Instead, we learn that "a grassroots revolt is growing" over the plan to install incinerators on more than 80 sites under the so-called "dash for ash".

Then we are told that "the Coalition must decide this summer whether to give its blessing to the £10 billion roll-out of the new incinerator chimneys, which continue to meet fierce levels of local resistance from those who would live in their shadow".

Thus does the egregious Jonathan Brown present a completely false picture. The "Coalition" has nothing to decide, other than to continue with the implementation of EU law, with a starting price of £10 billion for the incinerators that the public most certainly does not want.

As for the "grassroots revolt", this will not be allowed to interfere with the administration's need to obey its master's demands. The decisions have already been made as we descend into madness. The clever-dicks prattle but they consistently ignore this issue, preferring to deal the trivia, disguising their lack of power.  All that remains is for us to pay through the nose for their indifference, and pay we will.


The retreat into trivia

Even Richard Littlejohn is joining the fray over the useless windmills. But what is really interesting is that he, like so many, find this subject highly controversial – yet the Westminister politicians are silent on this and so many other vitally important matters.

In this context, we can't help but note that the Tory Boy Blog chooses to commend new MP Rebecca Harris, for "her parliamentary and extra-parliamentary efforts to promote the introduction of permanent daylight saving time," offering her the ultimate plaudit of "backbencher of the year".

There is your divide, ladies and gentlemen. The real world gets pissed off about the billions we are being forced to spend on useless windmills which despoil our precious countryside. The politicians retreat into trivia, prattling about daylight saving (i.e., Berlin) time, and the claque dutifully applauds.


Trying it on

The blizzard in New York has been quick to attract a warmist disclaimer, delivered by Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at an atmospheric and environmental research firm. Says Cohen, "The reality is, we're freezing not in spite of climate change but because of it".

However, a guest post in WUWT quickly debunks this desperate warmist canard , pointing out that this is just another east coast blizzard, the current weather not being in any way different from the past.

To illustrate the point, the author, John Goetz, calls in aid the 1888 storm in New York which, according to contemporary records and subsequent comparisons (this one with the storm in 1920), was the greatest of them all.

This was the storm of 11-14 March, which would simply be known as the Blizzard of '88. Its heavy, drifting snows isolated four major American cities — Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston — for several days, dealing the latter two particularly devastating blows.

The storm's impact closed commerce in these cities for days, downed thousands of telegraph and telephone poles, and grounded two hundred ships. The death toll was estimated at more than 400, with around 100 of those being sailors, and 200 of the dead succumbed in New York City. Property losses reached $25 million ($562 million in 2007 dollars). Snow measured from 40-50 inches and drifted to over 50 feet in some places, burying houses and railroad trains.

The point made by Goetz is, quite simply, if this was clearly unrelated to global warming, how can we possibly assume that this current storm has anything to do with it.

But perhaps as good a point is the fact that, towards the end of the 19th Century, severe blizzards seem to have been relatively rare. The nearest comparison with the blizzard of '88 was the 1872 storm, 16 years earlier. Thus, when there was another serious blizzard in 1894, the New York Times noted on 27 February:
Pessimistic old gentlemen who have been entertaining grave fears for the "old- fashioned Winters we used to have" should have been very much cheered up yesterday. There was Winter enough to suit everybody.
And so it was again yesterday, when there was "winter enough to suit everybody". The "pessimistic old gentlemen", however, have transmuted into warmist zealots, and they are not suited. Way back to last century, though, it was only three years later, in January 1897 that a monster storm delivered snow to a depth of 34 inches.

If that was not global warming either, then why should we now be freezing because of it? And there is some more commentary on the subject here.


Monday, December 27, 2010

What is it for?

This is the question they (the media) really don't want you to ask. It rather ties in with the first of my two pieces from J B Priestley, so the link below goes to that comment thread, which is generating some interesting discussion.



A script for Julia Slingo ... although it doesn't always have to be this way.

Meanwhile, from the salvaging national pride department, the photograph in the article here is of a 1950s Swedish snow-clearing train ... borrowed from the transport museum and put back to work.

We are not alone ... although that is hardly any compensation for this tale of woe from Subrosa: "My local council has reduced snow clearing equipment from 16 machines to 2 over the past 12 years".


Of suits and spades

More often part of the problem than the solution, Ofgem is turning round to accuse electricity network companies of putting customers at an "unacceptable" risk of power cuts as they try to maintain Britain's ageing pylons and wires.

Having had Christmas rather spoiled by a six-hour power cut, with lunch reduced to cold turkey (pre-cooked, with no power to reheat it) and mashed potato, we would be the last to dispute this. The village is now reminiscent of a World War I battlefield – holes have sprung up all over the place as the electricity company searched for the faults (one pictured this morning after a recent fall of global warming).

This is the second time this month we have had an extended power cut and now Ofgem has sent a letter to all operators, including Scottish Power, Scottish & Southern, CE Electric and E.ON, threatening to fine operators if they do not improve their services.

In its report, The Daily Telegraph talks of a "worrying sign for investors", because Ofgem is threatening to impose penalties which will have "a proportionate impact on shareholder returns". At the receiving end of the "service", though, is not exactly how we see it – more a question of feeding the ravening beast, while getting less and less in return.

Strongly adding to the "piss-off factor" is the difficulty of actually reporting faults. Attempts to communicate with the utility are referred to a call centre, which elicit denials that there is problem, or a procession of lies, as we are told of mythical timescales for remedies that never materialise. In the end, we talked to the workmen who were just as pissed off as we were, getting instructions from their own call centres, with little sense or coherence.

At the heart of the problem is a service and repair system that has been cut to the bone. While the "suits" on bonuses proliferate, there were two men with spades covering the whole of Bradford, a medium-sized city, throughout the Christmas period. And we were the lucky ones. Some of our neighbours did not get their power back until the next day.

Then, of course, we had another happy little event. With the power cut and then restored, every burglar alarm in the district (installed because of the famous inability of West Yorkshire Met to deal with the burglary problem) went off – a cacophony of wailing and warbling that lasted on and off into the night.

Anyhow, back to Ofgem, which is warning the network companies that they must be quicker about reporting any breaches of their engineering obligations while they work to keep the network in a good state. "We want to raise our concern that the approach being adopted by some distribution network operators to assess their compliance may be exposing customers to unacceptable levels of risk regarding security of supply," writes Rachel Fletcher, Ofgem's distribution partner.

"It is not acceptable to expose customers to significant levels of risk for a prolonged period of time and without having a plan agreed with Ofgem in place to rectify the matter," she says.

We are not sure what exactly that means, other than, at the current rate of progress, all we are seeing is holes in the ground proliferate, while service deteriorates and charges continuously increase. Ofgem should care less about our happy Christmas. But while it may have been a celebration of the birth of Christ, we have to admit that our thoughts on Saturday were (and still are) at the other end of the life spectrum.

Meanwhile, Gerald Warner is extracting his own brand of micturition, the New York Times is being pessimistic, reporting that the next year "offers little cheer for those battling climate change," the Haggis-eaters are turning to the Kermits for salvation and Dellers is on the track of the missing snow.


It's over?

The National Trust – so often at the forefront of the warmist claque - has now decided that we are seeing a return to traditional seasons. And the wildlife is benefitting.

Says Matthew Oates, the National Trust's nature conservation advisor: "We have had a long run of mild winters which dramatically seem to have ended. It just goes to show that you can never get bored by the English climate. It is always changing and always of interest."

So global warming has ended then?


Who cares wins?

In the tiny, foetid world of Westminster politics, where the rats are too well-paid to jump ship, passions are stirring and stresses are building up.

Despite growing unpopularity, the Cleggerons – or unidentified factions therein - want to acquire an electoral identity and put up candidates at the next playtime. Others, who still have some ambitions of being Conservatives, want to go it alone in the expectation of being able to acquire a majority vote.

The boys and girls in the playpen, however, have not yet realised how loathed they are, and that the majority of the country is entirely indifferent to their petty scheming. Short of a revolution, the population will probably not begin to take an interest until the current party structure is ripped apart and new alliances are created.

What has to happen here is that the Conservative Party splits. This has been on the cards for many years, but now it really must happen. Then, the soggy, centre-left under the leadership of the Cleggerons will form its own party, reinforced by soggy, centre-left elements from Labour.

The new, nationalist "right" will then form an alliance with UKIP (or steal its votes), while the "left" will join up with the greens to form a blud und boden national socialist alliance, where the intolerance already displayed by its members will thrive.

One can then see the new alliances squeezing the Cleggerons into oblivion, and real politics returning. It will be messy, and won't be at all pretty, but it will be more honest than the faux consensus on offer. Until then, who cares wins?


It's a local event

Heavy snow and strong winds have slammed the northeastern United States cancelling hundreds of flights and causing havoc as travellers scurried to return to work after the Christmas holiday. This is according to Reuters, which informs us that the National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings along the coast from Maine down to New Jersey with winter storm warnings in effect for nearly the entire East Coast. 

Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina have declared states of emergency and up to 20 inches of snow are expected in places.

The widespread nature of this event, of course, completely stuffs Julia Slingo the British Met Office's chief scientist. Somewhat forlornly, she is insisting that global warming is still a "reality" despite the bitterly cold temperatures and heavy snowfalls in the UK and Western Europe.

The straw she is grasping is the single mantra: "This is not a global event; it is very much confined to the UK and Western Europe and if you look over at Greenland, for example, you see that it's exceptionally warm there." Actually, it never was confined to the UK and Western Europe, and now it is even less so.

But the Slingos of this world will never let go. They cannot afford to. "Global warming is continuing and we know that from the global trends. There will, of course, be large local and regional variations from year to year. So this event that we're currently experiencing is not unprecedented," she protests.

Meanwhile, snowfall records are falling like autumn leaves in what is being called the "snowpocalypse". The warmists have lost it. Their protestations are now becoming the stuff of comedy, as even the New York Times admits that the blizzards are "rare". And ours is yet to come.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing day link

It is a little while since I linked to WfW. That is no reflection of his output, the quality of which remains consistently high, like this piece.

What is to be done?

We often hear people cry: "Never mind all this writing and talking, get on and do something." The answer to that is, that at the stage at which most people in the country have arrived, writing for them and talking at them is the best kind of action. It is a change of ideas and mental attitudes they primarily need.

"Out of the People", J B Priestley, 1941.


Forcibly extracting the micturition

You know you are going down in the world when even the New York Times is taking the mick:
It snows in winter. This shattering discovery has now cast Britain and France into chaos for a week, with London's dysfunctional Heathrow airport leading British claims to be officially designated a third-world nation.
Thus does Roger Cohen write that we have been glued to the radio listening to people like the director of Alaska's Anchorage airport describe how, "with the help of vehicles called snowplows and stuff called de-icing fluid, it's actually possible in the 21st century to keep an airport open after a snowstorm."

This is embarrassing.


The blame game

In between being a propaganda sheet and a comic turn, The Sunday Telegraph does occasionally deliver an interesting story - this one on Heathrow's lack of preparedness for the snowy conditions.

What emerges though is not only that capability was inadequate but that the snow clearance plan was known to the government and had been approved by it. All this really does, therefore, is confirm the Booker thesis that the government had been so misled by the Met Office and its views on global warming that it did not believe that preparations for a severe winter were necessary.

In a sense, it is now a blessing that the warmists have now decided that cold winters are caused by global warming. At least now, they can admit that snowfall has not been abolished and that public funds can be expended on preparing for it. But when it comes to blame, it is to government that we should be looking, as well as the management of Heathrow. The lead must come from the very top, and the blame belongs there as well.

There is no point in expecting the warmists to get the message. They are beyond redemption.


Then and now

In my view, the Britain of 1912 was more democratic than the Britain of 1932. And every succeeding year up to the outbreak of war saw us retreating farther and farther away. It was of course mainly the fault of the people themselves. Too few of them took a critical interest in public affairs. Too many allowed themselves to be gulled by any nonsense, chiefly appearing in newspapers that could no longer be regarded as serious organs of opinion but were simply a mixture of propaganda sheets and comic turns.

(It is typical of this period that the very newspaper that told its readers every day that there would be no war was making elaborate arrangements in secret to cope with war conditions.)

It was possible to form an inner ring, centralising power, because public opinion was weak and uncritical. Let it be admitted, once and for all, that you cannot have a democratic government long, cannot make a democracy function properly, if you have an apathetic and passive people.

"Out of the People", J B Priestley, 1941.


The question that is not asked

"Britons want European Union to assert itself on the global stage" says The Observer, telling us that a Fabian Society poll "reveals" that the British public wants EU states to co-operate more on major policy issues such as climate change. This is a YouGov survey, which purports to show that, while anti-Brussels feeling is still deep-rooted, "Britons now want the EU to be more active in meeting specific international and global challenges."

Thus do we discover that, while almost twice as many people (45 percent) believe Britain's membership of the EU to be a "bad thing" rather than a "good thing" (25 percent), when asked what role the EU should take in relation to key policies of global significance they are far more positive. About 71 percent of those questioned said EU countries should co-operate more closely on fighting terrorism and international crime, against only seven percent who wanted to loosen links between member states in that area.

A total of 55 percent thought member states should work more closely on climate change, against 14 percent who thought they should co-operate less. About 53 percent said they should do more to regulate the banks jointly, against 25 percent who said they should do less.

When it comes to assessing these results, however, few readers here will have missed the switch. The poll asks about EU member states co-operating. The Observer translates this into wanting the EU to be "more active". But of course people want member states to co-operate. The real question is whether we have to give up power and sovereignty to do so. And that is the question that is not asked. To do so would give the game away.


The hijack of the Met

By far the biggest story of recent days, writes Christopher Booker, has been the astonishing chaos inflicted, to a greater or lesser extent, on all of our lives by the fact that we are not only enjoying what is predicted to be the coldest December since records began in 1659, but also the harshest of three freezing winters in a row. We all know the disaster stories – thousands of motorists trapped for hours on paralysed motorways, days of misery at Heathrow, rail passengers marooned in unheated carriages for up to 17 hours.

But central to all this – as the cry goes up: "Why wasn't Britain better prepared?" – has been the bizarre role of the Met Office. We might start with the strange affair of the Quarmby Review. Shortly after Philip Hammond became Transport Secretary last May, he commissioned David Quarmby, a former head of the Strategic Rail Authority, to look into how we might avoid a repeat of last winter's disruption.

In July and again in October, Mr Quarmby produced two reports on "The Resilience of England's Transport System in Winter"; and at the start of this month, after our first major snowfall, Mr Quarmby and two colleagues were asked to produce an "audit" of their earlier findings. The essence of their message was that they had consulted the Met Office, which advised them that, despite two harsh winters in succession, these were "random events", the chances of which, after our long previous run of mild winters, were only 20 to one.

Similarly, they were told in the summer, the odds against a third such winter were still only 20 to one. So it might not be wise to spend billions of pounds preparing for another "random event", when its likelihood was so small. Following this logic, if the odds against a hard winter two years ago were only 20 to one, it might have been thought that the odds against a third such "random event" were not 20 to one but 20 x 20 x 20, or 8,000 to one.

What seems completely to have passed Mr Quarmby by, however, is the fact that in these past three years the Met Office's forecasting record has become a national joke. Ever since it predicted a summer warmer and drier than average in 2007 – followed by some of the worst floods in living memory – its forecasts have been so unerringly wrong that even the chief adviser to our Transport Secretary might have noticed.

The Met Office's forecasts of warmer than average summers and winters have been so consistently at 180 degrees to the truth that, earlier this year, it conceded that it was dropping seasonal forecasting. Hence, last week, the Met Office issued a categorical denial to the Global Warming Policy Foundation that it had made any forecast for this winter.

Immediately, however, several blogs, led by Autonomous Mind, produced evidence from the Met Office website that in October it did indeed publish a forecast for December, January and February. This indicated that they would be significantly warmer than last year, and that there was only "a very much smaller chance of average or below average temperatures". So the Met Office has not only been caught out yet again getting it horribly wrong (always in the same direction), it was even prepared to deny it had said such a thing at all.

The real question, however, is why has the Met Office become so astonishingly bad at doing the job for which it is paid nearly £200 million a year – in a way which has become so stupendously damaging to our country?

The answer is that in the past 20 years, as can be seen from its website, the Met Office has been hijacked from its proper role to become wholly subservient to its obsession with global warming. (At one time it even changed its name to the Met Office "for Weather and Climate Change".)

This all began when its then-director John Houghton became one of the world's most influential promoters of the warmist gospel. He, more than anyone else, was responsible for setting up the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and remained at the top of it for 13 years. It was he who, in 1990, launched the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Change, closely linked to the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia (CRU), at the centre of last year's Climategate row, which showed how the little group of scientists at the heart of the IPCC had been prepared to bend their data and to suppress any dissent from warming orthodoxy.

The reason why the Met Office gets its forecasts so hopelessly wrong is that they are based on those same computer models on which the IPCC itself relies to predict the world's climate in 100 years time. They are programmed on the assumption that, as CO2 rises, so temperatures must inexorably follow.

For 17 years this seemed plausible, because the world did appear to be getting warmer. We all became familiar with those warmer winters and earlier springs, which the warmists were quick to exploit to promote their message – as when Dr David Viner of the CRU famously predicted to The Independent in 2000 that "within a few years winter snowfall will be a very rare and exciting event". (Last week, that article from ten years ago was the most viewed item on The Independent's website.)

But in 2007, the computer models got caught out, failing to predict a temporary plunge in global temperatures of 0.7°C, more than the net warming of the 20th century. Much of the northern hemisphere suffered what was called in North America "the winter from hell". Even though temperatures did rise again, in the winter of 2008/9 this happened again, only worse.

The Met Office simply went into denial. Its senior climate change official, Peter Stott, said in March 2009 that the trend towards milder winters was likely to continue. There would not be another winter like 1962/3 "for 1,000 years or more". Last winter was colder still. And now we have another even more savage "random event", for which we are even less prepared. (The Taxpayers' Alliance revealed last week that councils have actually ordered less salt this winter than last.)

The consequences of all this are profound. Those who rule over our lives have been carried off into a cloud cuckoo land for which no one was more responsible than the zealots at the Met Office, subordinating all it does to their dotty belief system. Significantly, its chairman, Robert Napier, is not a weatherman but a "climate activist", previously head of WWF-UK, one of our leading warmist campaigning groups.

At one end of this colossal diversion of national resources, permeating every level of government, we have the hapless Mr Quarmby, who feels obliged to follow the Met Office, advise that the present freeze is a "random event" and call for no special responses – with the results we see on every side. At the other, fixated by the same belief system, we have our climate change secretary, Chris Huhne, hoping we can somehow keep our lights on and our economy running by spending hundreds of billions of pounds on thousands more windmills.

More than once in the past week, as our power stations have been thrashed way beyond normal peak power demand, the contribution of wind turbines has been so small that it has registered as zero percent. (See "neta electricity summary page") At the heart of all this greenie make-believe that has our political class in its thrall has been the hijacking of the Met Office from its proper role. It's no longer just a national joke: it is turning into a national catastrophe.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

... to all our friends and readers, and especially to those who found their way to the "donate" button during the year. I didn't realise we had so many fans working for "Big Oil" but, through their generosity, Mrs EUReferendum has kept the bath well-filled with coal. What's more, we've even had a few tripe butties and the odd crisp and salad cream teacake.

'Appen, today's official forecast is for fine weather, so she can tek a break from shovellin' t'snow off backyard. Once she's broken ice int' wash tub, and tekken in the washing, she'll 'ave plenty of time to polish the doormat and shampoo t'whippets. Then she can roast the squirrel fer Christmas dinner, fer when her old man gets back from pub. It's shaping up to be a reet grand day.

That'll give me a chance to stop pretending to be a stage Yorkshireman, which doesn't come easy for someone who was born and bred in North London and only travelled to the wrong side of the Wash to export some civilisation to the lost regions of England.

Whether it actually snows today depends, I suppose, on Piers Corbyn. Contrary to the official forecasts, he is labelling the period 25-31 December a "Weather Action Red warning (World)" period with top activity expected in sub-periods 25-27th and 29/30th December. With the Met Office reputation at an all-time low, and Booker planning a demolition job for tomorrow, getting it right could make Corbyn's reputation once and for all.

There seems less uncertainly in Chicago, where snow accumulations yesterday ranged from 3 to 6 inches, and they are confidently declaring a White Christmas. The Chicago Weather Center says it has been 13 years since an inch or more of snow has fallen on Christmas Eve, and 59 years since 4 inches or more fell on 24 December.

Two inches of snow have also fallen in parts of Minnesota, but that did not stop the "holiday procrastinators" from going out to buy gifts on Christmas Eve. And the same snow belt is headed southeast, expected to bring rare Christmas Day snowfall to Kentucky

After dumping 9 inches of snow in Iowa by Friday morning, the storm was likely to dip south into Tennessee and Georgia today, then perhaps move north Sunday. Winter weather advisories were in effect from Kansas east to Kentucky and from Minnesota south to Arkansas yesterday.

Making a mockery of the claim by the British Met Office that the cold in Britain and Europe is a local event, we have also seen more than 300 people in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region stuck in a traffic jam after snowstorms blocked a national road. More than 100 firefighters and police officers and 20 rescue cars had to be rushed to clear the snow and rescue the trapped people, amid extremely cold weather with temperatures 30 degrees Celsius below zero.

Tianjin Municipality on Thursday received its first snow this winter, forcing transport authorities to close 11 highways. The temperature in Peking was around six degrees below freezing Thursday morning, a drop of 12 degrees Celsius from the same time the previous day.

Cold conditions are spreading to northern India, with mercury hovering around freezing point in several parts of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. And in St Petersburg, they are mounting icicle patrols in a bid to stop people being killed by falling ice.

But there's no need to worry. Once the global warming really gets going, billions will die. Human civilization will be reduced to a "broken rabble ruled by brutal warlords", and the plague-ridden remainder of the species will flee the cracked and broken earth to the Arctic, the last temperate spot, where a few breeding couples will survive.

That was James Lovelock in February 2006, so I guess it will not be long now. Enjoy your Christmas while you can. You might be having to share the next one with the polar bears.

Pic by Emma wot takes photographs.


Friday, December 24, 2010

A matter of priorities

The Daily Mail is trying to salvage some national pride, by pointing out that our gallant French neighbours are having a little bit of problem with their global warming. Parts of the terminal at Charles de Gaulle have had to be closed because of the weight of snow on the roof, while stocks of de-icer fluid for aircraft have got so low that the number of flights has had to be restricted.

Dublin airport has also taken a hit. Until recently, they were not doing too badly, having avoided failure on the heroic scale that has blighted Heathrow. That was until yesterday when an unexpected blizzard caught the airport operator off guard. No less than eight inches of global warming forced several closures, and the airlines have been doing catch-up ever since.

Other than very brief closures during and in the aftermath of storms, however, these episodes are more about money than weather. Shortages of de-icer for instance, are simply a reflection of airport operators' reluctance to invest in bulk storage facilities, and then to tie up money in hold stocks of the fluid. This has left Charles de Gaulle exposed to a strike at the main French factory producing de-icing fluid, forcing the cancellation of half – about 400 – of the flights scheduled for this morning.

The tightness on the purse strings for winter preparations makes an interesting counterpoint, with the spend on other things, highlighted by Italy complaining about a diary being distributed free to schoolchildren throughout the EU. It wants a recall of millions of copies because they do not mention Christmas but do give the dates of other religions' festivals, such as Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, and Sikh, Hindu and Chinese feast days.

Surely the more pertinent point, though, is why they are being produced at all. We really do not need rather sinister organisations such as the Generation Europe foundation, creaming off public funds to produce something like three million copies of the Europa Diary at a cost estimated at £4.6 million.

Spread over the 27 EU member states, this would be small beer, except that it is but one small example of the continuous waste by public authorities. In this case, it is the EU, spending money on propaganda which could be picked up off the website, but it could just as well be any of the member states.

And this is the way the world now seems to work. Money is frittered away on non-essentials, while essential services go short, and are curtailed altogether when the money runs out. Locally, you could even see the absurdity of local council propaganda sheets not being delivered through want of street gritting, omitted because the money has been spent on propaganda sheets.

No longer do we seem to have public administrators who know how to prioritise essential tasks, a failure which – as we now see – has European if not global dimensions.

The pic, by the way, is icicles in Wales – the global warming prison: bars on the windows symbolising how the cold is keeping so many people housebound.


"A transient phenomenon"

"Scientists have established a link between the cold, snowy winters in Britain and melting sea ice in the Arctic and have warned that long periods of freezing weather are likely to become more frequent in years to come." This is from The Independent, which cites arch-warmist Professor Rahmstorf. Snowy winters will be about three times more frequent in the coming years compared with previous decades.

But worry ye not. "If you look ahead 40 or 50 years, these cold winters will be getting warmer because, even though you are getting an inflow of cold polar air, that air mass is getting warmer because of the greenhouse effect," says Rahmstorf. So cold winters are "a transient phenomenon". In the long run, "global warming wins out."

This means that the warmists are back in their comfort zone. Having argued consistently that global warming will give rise to mild winters, they now have a framework to explain why they are getting colder - the "immaculate conception" of climate change. The new dogma will be quoted endlessly and unbelievers scorned in the usual insolent way. Armageddon is merely deferred. The religion lives on.

And now that the freezing weather is "officially" caused by global warming, we will be seeing dozens of stories like this from the BBC (above). The reality doesn't matter – nor does the science. They never have. The only thing that counts is that the warmists have a narrative which can be used to support their belief. Rahmstorf has given them that. No further discussion is required.



Harriet Sergeant writes an important piece in the Daily Mail, the title: "Have we customers ever been so impotent?" "Like thousands of - others today," she writes, "I am stuck in one place while the people I love and want to be with are somewhere else. In other words, BAA has stolen my Christmas".

Sergeant was meant to have flown to Cape Town to join friends and family. Instead, she had been grounded. But, she declares, "this is not just a story of the weather or incompetence. It is about a far wider issue." She is right, although the issue about which she writes is even wider than she describes.

Rehearsing her own "far wider issue", she tells us that, when she was young, we were at the mercy of state-run monopolies, such as British Rail, British Telecom and British Leyland. But now we are the victims of what she calls the new utilities. Along with airlines, this group includes train companies, mobile phone and computer suppliers, broadband providers and cable and satellite TV firms.

With these "new utilities", Sergeant asserts, the normal rules of the marketplace do not apply. "They know they have become indispensable. Like water and heating, we cannot do without them, and so they abuse their position of power." And they all share certain characteristics, the main one being a stunning indifference to us.

By way of example, she asks: "What kind of company turns off the heating at night in terminals full of stranded travellers? It was so cold people were unpacking suitcases and passing clothes to strangers". Continuing the theme, several more questions trip out:
What kind of company fails to keep travellers informed of what is happening, then locks out passengers who arrived at Terminals 1 and 3 in sub-zero temperatures — on the grounds that they were already packed with passengers going nowhere — and then sets security guards onto them when they protest?
From this Sergeant develops her thesis. "This appalling indifference to customers by large, modern companies is not confined to Christmas. It is a year-round phenomenon," she says.

Every one of us, she adds, has emerged from an encounter with one of these companies — whether it be with an airline help desk or a mobile phone operator's call centre — with the same feeling: that they have a complete disregard for us as customers and, worse, as individuals. "We are treated as part of a herd that has to be controlled, manipulated and, all too often, abused," she notes.

Confronted with these monoliths, Sergeant suggests that the argument that the free market should protect us, as these companies have to compete to provide a better service, doesn't seem to hold water.

These firms either have a stranglehold on a service that none of us can do without, such as BAA with its monopoly over Britain’s airports, or train companies which offer appalling commuting conditions. Or else they are so replete with customers — as in the burgeoning IT, computer and mobile phone industries — that they couldn't care less.

The issue she misses is that this ethos, this corporate indifference, spreads far beyond the "new utilities". We get exactly the same thing from the old utilities – such as the energy companies. And we also get it from the banks, the police, the newspapers, the broadcasters, local government, doctors, the health service, central government and the political parties. Their indifference is their defining characteristic.

However, while in our relations with the authorities, we suffer because there is no choice and the systems of accountability have broken down, with the commercial corporates there is a different mechanism at work. It is not quite as Sergeant puts it, that these companies are "replete with customers".

The essence here is that these giant corporates do lose customers. But since they are all much of a muchness, and they all share a similar arrogance and indifference to their customers' needs, they all lose customers. But they lose them to each other. Thus, we have a huge merry-go-round, with customers constantly on the move. This is called "churning".

The corporates live with their churn rates - they are regarded as normal and acceptable business expenses. They know that customers have limited places to go. What they lose in dissatisfied customers, they will get back from their fellow corporates. Thus they can afford to remain completely indifferent to the fact that we are unhappy with the service we get.

There Sergeant is right to ask: "Have we customers ever been so impotent?" Unfortunately, the answer is, "probably not". And that's just how the churning corporates like it.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

In the land of the morons

Snowfall, ice, Arctic-level cold and all the rest have caused major disruption to the UK infrastructure in the last few weeks, not least because our gilded civil servants have been looking in the wrong direction. And they still are.

Thus we learn from a report published today by Defra that the UK's infrastructure will "struggle to cope with climate change". "Floods, rising temperatures and higher sea levels threaten the UK's road, rail, water and energy networks between 2030 and 2100," it says.

Consumers will have to learn they cannot expect cheap heating and lighting and to go where or when they want as floods, rising temperatures and higher sea levels threaten the UK's road, rail, water and energy networks, it says.

Dear God. The country is grinding to a halt NOW, and they are still prattling about global warming in the period 2030 to 2100? These people are truly off their trolleys. They are seriously mentally ill.