High priest of climate deniers claims moral low ground

It's snowing all over the UK which for most people means snowmen and sledging, but climate deniers can't resist suggesting this means the globe isn't warming.

Trouble is this conflicts with their summer arguments. This summer saw an unprecedented heatwave in Russia and a deluge in Pakistan. Whilst the real story was of a humanitarian disaster at a time when the death toll was uncertain BBC TV's Newsnight asked if the Pakistan flood could be said to be due to climate change.  No, came the answer, a trend is more than a single event .

It's both sad and ironic that despite millions being left homeless by the deluge in Pakistan, that answer was given by an accountant living in Scotland thousands of miles away.

Andrew Montford didn't lose his home in the inundation, indeed, Montford takes a picture of his backyard to prove the world isn't warming.

Scottish snow which disproves AGW
 When I suggested that his winter argument conflicts with his summer argument and that as a result he should consider donating his disturbance fee from the BBC to victims of the flood Montford's absurd reply is "it's not obviously any of your business." Montford is the man who produced the GWPF's report into the three enquiries exonerating scientists implicated by the UEA hack.  Quite where the boundaries lie between personal privacy and public interest is a moot point but hopefully the answers will be found in the chapter of Montford's book dealing with the climategate emails.  If not, how can Montford pretend that those private emails are anybody's business other than the intended recipients?

The upside down world of Andrew Montford doesn't finish there though, ''you are talking bollocks'' Montford writes ''If you think I am carving a career out of any of this, think again. It's costing me a lot of money.'' Little point in asking for supporting evidence for that because Andrew Montford will probably fall back on his earlier statement "it's not obviously any of your business." So , poor Andrew Montford, the victim in all of this also argues in his book that much of climate science is driven by a desire for funding.

Myths can be created much faster than they can be debunked

I've been a fan of Potholer's gems for a while now. Does he suggest there is a secret plot by the media to keep us from the truth? Yes, I think he does.  Another beaut in this debunk is that the GWPF swallowed the original story.  A helping of humble pie Lord Lawson?

Is the media biased ? Don't ask

I've been listening to Climate Connection on the BBC World Service. Five programmes around the theme 'what's stopping us from tackling climate change?' The listener is offered an array of causes for our species' dilemma of inaction. But one thing seems to be missing.

In episode one a Swedish advertising agency present their ingenoius solution: a staircase that plays a tune. Brilliant , why didn't we think of that before. At this point I wonder when the series is going to consider the media's role.

Episode two is largely in Africa where the witnesses are close enough to nature to notice but sadly not educated enough to understand it. One man confronted with climate change is sure it is god's will.

Episode three and we are in California. Psychology, the herd instinct, behavioural norms, motivation, and the "message selling global warming" are all examined ad nauseum. This episode steers clear of the politics and looks closely at individual behaviour. Yet it fails to note that individuals are informed by the media which is far from presenting the scientist's views. It is the missing piece in the jigsaw. An academic from George Mason University explains "cognitive psychologists say that we have a finite pool of worry".  We meet another ad agency who come up with a line too vapid to bear repeating.  

Episode four about leadership is somewhat inexplicably in Hong Kong. The most worthwhile quote in the whole series comes from Cambridge University's Stephen Peak "At the international level I think the problem is the way that nation states have decided to engage with each other on this issue. They behave like adolescents arguing with each  other about how we got into this sate that we are, rather than applying more energy being more constructively with more imagination on how do we get ourselves out of the situation. That principally is the international problem"
With carbon tax incentives deemed politically unacceptable the question of authoritarian solutions is discussed. So without the suggestion of a media slant we have slided on to the deniers favourite territory.

Episode five was a debate in Milton Keynes, 'nuff said.

So, everything under the sun get's a mention except  media slant.  We rely on the media for our information and without that information we cannot be informed. Is loss of belief or mistrust of the media largely an impossible sentiment to express?

Warning from 255 scientists ignored as world watches shopped cuddly polar bear pic

Back in May, 255 distinguished scientists wrote a letter about the climate and sent it to the esteemed journal Science.

The picture editor at Science unwisely chose to illustrate the letter with a photoshopped picture of a polar bear on an ice floe which is how Telegraph blogger James Delingpole came to tackle the story.  Strong words from the scientists like "Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence." gave way to Dinglepole's deceiptful climate scientists narrative for the umpteenth time. Dinglepole argues that a doctored image shows the writer is being dishonest .

The 255 scientists also put their names to the warning 'There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend'   But it is the photoshopped polar bear story that went round the world, reproduced numerous times by bloggers and other newspapers. *

November; and Dinglepole's blog looks back at a year since the final nail in AGW's coffin that was the UEA hack illustrating his words with a picture of a tombstone to global warming clearly made using computer wizardry.  Strangely Dinglepole does not deploy the same arguments he used earlier in the year.

*The Daily Telegraph in Australia even manages to get the story wrong twice; erroneously suggesting in their correction that Science had shopped the pic when it was clear ( from Dinglepole's blog and the Science article) that it was a stock shot credited to iStockphoto.com.

P.S. Have had a go myself, here's the results:

When Skepticism Equals Tedium plus Inconsistency

The combined intellects of skeptic/denialists Andrew Montford and Tony Newbery have decided to lobby the BBC over it's science impartiality. And I've been leafing through their submission.

In Paragraph 8 we learn how a "dedicated and vociferous environmental activist" who has also been "a trustee of the World Wildlife Fund" could not provide "either an authoritative or impartial assessment of the current state of the scientific evidence supporting the AGW hypothesis." About whom are we talking ? The eminent physicist and sometime AGW proponent  Lord May of Oxford no less . Thus establishing an important tenet that a person's background is relevant to assessing their credibility.

The BBC's evil warmist plot is nailed at Point 24(c)  
...During the programme Richard Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at MIT, and an authority on the
physics of clouds, was introduced as a climate sceptic. He was then shown
smoking a cigarette while a voice over explained that he had a lot of
contrarian beliefs including on smoking. It is most unusual for anyone to be
shown smoking on BBC programmes now and the sequence was clearly
intended to discredit his sceptical views on climate change. (emphasis added)
Well, as some famous jurist should have said 'When your case is piss-weak looks count for everything.' But seriously,  these two are asking the BBC to hold back on explaining the background information on this pillar of the denialist community. Dr Lindzen's views on tobacco and health might give an insight into his credibility and perhaps his scientific approach. Never mind that his views on tobacco and health are no secret, Montford and Newbery argue that the BBC must censor some of Dr. Lindzen's views whilst promoting his theories on climate. And if they do not get the balance right that's a warmist slant.  Thus establishing an important tenet that a person's background is NOT relevant to assessing their credibility.

Andrew Montford, a great face for radio

The BBC have asked geneticist Professor Steve Jones to conduct the review. Professor Jones I've done the research so you don't have to.

P.S.Could this be the same Andrew W.Montford who made a submission to Parliament dissing the head of the Met Office Board Robert Napier as "too close to environmental groups" and an "environmental activist"? Thus establishing an important tenet that a person's background is relevant to assessing their credibility.

Is my MEP smarter than a 10 year old?

The good people of South East England have elected Daniel Hannan to represent us in the European Parliament , who helpfully blogs on the Daily Telegraph website to keep us all in touch with his thinking on the critical issues of the day. Over to you Daniel Hannan:

"The case for anthropogenic global warming was, as far as I can understand, slightly more convincing a decade ago than it is today, with global temperatures having recently dropped."

Hmmmm, a citation would be useful Dan. So by Mr Hannan's reckoning the case for anthropogenic global warming is made up by the sole factor of whether temperatures are rising or falling. It's a very noisy background , as any GMST graphic will prove. Mr Hannan will have to change his mind every time the line changes direction. If he's being honest.

stuff im shamelessly plagiarizing

"Apparently, last month was the warmest April, worldwide, on record. We’ve also just had the warmest January-April period on record.

What politically correct alarmist socialist nonsense. These ‘scientists’ with their ‘data’ can say what they like, but let me tell you it’s been bloody chilly lately and no mistake.

In other news, later today I shall be disproving the second law of thermodynamics by tidying my desk."
Hat Tip Freemania

Scientists not skeptical enough for the WSJ

Here's a worrying example of just how polarized , and dishonest, reports about climate science have become. First the facts. The esteemed American Geophysical Union a scientific organization offers a Q&A service for journalists . It will not, repeat not, offer a commentary on policy . If you are a journalist and you have a scientific question on the science you can email the service and they will hook up your question with one of 700 experts on whatever field of climate science is troubling you. So it's a resource for journalists, not much of a story I know.

The (Murdoch owned) Wall Street Journal runs a different story though. WSJ hack Anne Jolis contacts Fred Singer, John Christy and Dick Lindzen and argues that the AGU service is corrupted because it does not include their skeptical views . None of these names are new to anyone following the polemic. John Christy graced our tv screens here in the UK recently on Panorama, whilst the skeptical commentaries of Dick Lindzen  (Vice President's Climate Task Force 2001) and Fred Singer (SEPP) are too numerous to mention.

Jolis posits that journalists are being misled by the AGU. But she can contact these names for herself if she needs their opinion, that's what her job is. Nobody can view this story without concluding that the truth has been distorted with somewhere. It's rather sad to see a grown up paper like the WSJ run a story that they are being misled, when in reality WSJ.com is misleading it's viewers .

TheGuardian "US researchers fight to reclaim climate science message"

Stop the forest sell-off !

If you only do one thing today sign the online petition to stop the government selling off the forests.  The background material can be found in this article by the excellent Caroline Lucas. Here is the link to the petition to stop the selling off of the forests. What are you waiting for.

The Optimist Activist

`Time is running out’ wrote two activists in Scientific American in August, `to limit acidification before it irreparably harms the food chain on which the world’s oceans – and people – depend.’

That's a quote taken directly from Matt Ridley's website and Times article which is used to suggest ocean acidification has been exaggerated. I didn't know Scientific American was biased by activism, shocking. Googling the quote finds the piece and the authors Carl Safina and Marah J. Hardt.  They do not describe themselves as  'activists',  the relevant point is they are more eminently qualified to write about the oceans than Matt Ridley . Both are PhDs, Hardt's is from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and both have won awards too numerous to mention. Matt Ridley neatly skips past all that, to him they are just 'activists'.
Matt Ridley likes to describe himself as the rational optimist. That's the title of his book and his website. Optimist yes, but how rational ? Perhaps the answer can be found by reading his paragraph 3

"The trouble is, a shoal of new scientific papers points to the conclusion that this scare is based on faulty biochemical reasoning, unrealistic experiments and exaggeration."

Dr Ridley cites three papers and it is clear this statement is opinion rather than fact. There is nothing wrong with having opinions but if he can't be honest about the weight to attach to the opinions of other scientists why should we attach any weight to Ridley's opinions? I've left a comment on Dr. Ridley's website that all this makes him an activist. He hasnt got back to me.

Astroturfing denied by Koch lackey politician

Many American progressives are wondering how the Tea Party have done it. Has the Tea Party hit upon a magic policy formula which finds favour with the wealthy and powerful yet wins votes too? Or is the spontaneous, popular and grassroots Tea Party as portrayed on Fox something of a canard? A recent article by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker is a revelation.

Follow the money. The vast majority of the millions flowing in to Tea Party coffers comes from two brothers from Wichita Kansas, Charles and David Koch. They also happen to be the billionaire owners of Koch Industries, America's second largest private company, and have much to gain from the agenda pressed by the Tea Party. A recent Greenpeace report names Koch as the “kingpin of climate science denial”  vastly outspending even ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Nobody quite knows how much money has been spent by Koch on political campaigns but a figure of 37 million dollars is cited just on lobbying alone. Greenpeace have called it the climate denial machine, other observers noting that the Kochs political ambitions are much wider than climate change denial have another name for it "the Kochtopus".

Nobody elected the Koch brothers, but they are hugely influential, and it's impossible to gauge the full reach of the Kochtopus. One commentator describes the phenomenon thus "They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

But in a democracy it's votes that count so a popular movement of ordinary people is mobilised to press the agenda of the Kochtopus. Enter the Tea Party. There are conflicting accounts of whether the Tea Party is grassroots or not. The recent film (Astro)turf Wars shows a slick well funded machine manipulating a handful of deluded activists.

One journalist who thinks he knows the truth is Daniel Hannan who blogs for the Daily Telegraph.  "The Tea Party is that rare beast, a genuinely spontaneous popular movement." Mr Hannan insists, dismissing the claims of astroturfing.   It's opinion though and not fact so how much it clears the matter up is open to question.

One fact that Mr Hannan fails to disclose to his readers though is that he is surpisingly close to the Koch brothers himself. Mr Hannan addressed the Koch Foundation last year on a pro bono basis. He is quoted on page 7 of the Koch in-house magazine*.  And on top of his business as a paid speaker and a journalist Mr Hannan finds the time to represent South East England as an M.E.P. in the European Parliament. 

"The idea that the Tea Party is “Astroturf” (meaning fake grassroots) just won’t wash" writes Mr Hannan, a point that might carry a little weight if it was being made by someone at the grassroots, but not by someone so close to the Tea Party's backers.  He even defends the Koch Brothers campaign to outspend any opposition "we ought to celebrate political donations"  says Mr Hannan, who likes to give the appearance of an impartial observer whilst propagandising for his paymasters.

Koch have sent approximately a million dollars the way of the  'National Center for Policy Analysis' and the 'American Legislative Exchange Council' (both of which are mentioned prominently in Mayer's article) which shares senior staff with the ironically titled 'Regular Folks United' a Tea Party organizer. These outfits sponsored Daniel Hannan's U.S. tour.

Some might ask just why is the Koch funding of political campaigns so rotten?  "The Koch brothers have been funding free market campaigns since the 1970s without ever sparking anything like this", writes Mr Hannan , indignantly. "The only difference between us and the Kochs is one of scale: the Kochs are wealthy, and good luck to them."  That's fair enough if were talking about David Koch's support of the New York  City Ballet but it's the political slush funds to support the bottom line of Koch Industries which is so distasteful and is at issue.  David Koch stood on the Libertarian Party ticket in the 1980 presidential election,  and now appears to be pushing the United States towards a libertarian agenda .

The Koch brothers back their weltanschauung with millions of dollars, against other ideas which stand or fall on merit alone. Lower taxes for billionaires, less regulation for polluting industries, no public healthcare option are just some of the causes that attract the Koch's money, and Tea Party support with it . “If we’re going to give a lot of money, we’ll make darn sure they spend it in a way that goes along with our intent. And if they make a wrong turn and start doing things we don’t agree with, we withdraw funding” , says David Koch.

No one can doubt that Mr Hannan's views overlap with the Koch's to some extent, it is widely reported that Charles and David Koch were particularly influenced by Austrian economist F A Hayek's tome "The Road to Serfdom", Daniel Hannan's new book is entitled "The New Road To Serfdom" .

"I have no special brief for the Tea Party" claims Daniel Hannan in an article which asks "If Tea Partiers are such deluded fools, why are they doing so well?" The answer to that has quite a bit to do with the Koch brothers, whom Mr Hannan appears more familiar with than he is letting on.

*Discovery April 2010 http://www.kochind.com/files/DiscoveryApril2010.pdf

On tricks

The distinguished Dr. Richard Feynman gave a speech in 1974 to Caltech called "Cargo Cult Science", here it is. He recall's how scientists interpreted the work of Millikan another Nobel Laureate who did some research called the oil drop experiment. Feynman laments that the scientists who followed Millikan were slow to correct errors although they got there in the end. "We've learned those tricks nowadays," says Feynman. The word "tricks" jumps out at me. Isn't that what global warming skeptics are banging on about when they read the CRU emails. Well, there you have it, back in '74 the word trick is used in a scientific context to mean something perfectly innocent. Cargo Cult Science, by the way is well worth a read.

Google Einstein's trick and you will find gravitational lensing the observation that proved light waves are bent by gravity.
Have finally found a link to the new film PSYWAR http://www.archive.org/details/Psywar_277

Booker wallowing in Hubris

Its rather sad to see Christopher Booker and Andrew Montford  moan that Amazon no longer seem to list their opuses in 'science' . Both of these writers attack the science that has been held in the scientific literature. Whilst they are writing about science do they have a right to expect their work to be categorized as science? I would argue certainly not . The hockey stick graphs and "The Hockey Stick Illusion" by Andrew Montford , cannot both be right , ergo there isn't room for both of them in 'science' . Whilst Mann's work is  held "The Hockey Stick Illusion" is polemic. The task and freedom of saying what the book actually is about remains with the bookseller.

Christopher Booker has announced he is getting his publisher to 'look into this' and is agitating for arch sceptical publisher Stacey International (Montford's publisher) to act too.

What's objectionable about Mr Booker is that he is trying to control the context of his work. As a Telegraph columnist he enjoys privileged access to the fourth estate, he uses that to attack the scientific method, and then demands the world look upon his efforts as science. Well done Amazon, I suggest they start a category just for Mr Booker and call it Hubris.

The new iPhone Our Climate app : errors, lies, and critical omissions

A new toy for climate change sceptics is announced . The 'Our Climate iPhone app'. It gets reviewed in the Guardian by John Cook of Skeptical Science fame. John's review points out an obvious flaw " The cherrypicking nature of climate scepticism leads to an interesting phenomenon – sceptic arguments frequently contradict each other. One week, we're told El Nino is the cause. Next week, it's cosmic rays. No wait, we're cooling... Hold on, it's warming again, but this time, it's because of CFCs. Could anyone compile the many sceptic arguments into a single app without a mess of contradictions?"

In a nutshell climate change denial goes no deeper than what can fit on an iPhone app.

What climate change denial really needs is creativity. A new way to say the same old bollocks. Step up to the plate Australian blogger Jo Nova . "Really, this is a great endorsement" , writes Jo .  To arrive at this conclusion Jo asks "Has he found errors, lies, or critical omissions?"  Well, yes actually, but Jo answers the question for us and those exact words aren't used in John's review.

The flaw in Jo's argument is apparent. She is saying that any criticism that fall's short (in her view) of this yardstick amounts to an endorsement of her creed. It's a belief she is entitled to. But it's only that , a belief, it's not a scientific view. Moreover it demonstrates the bias that Jo Nova applies in her evaluations.

Denial journalism - Money for nothing

At the height of the CRU hack the BBC invited Melanie Phillips on to 'Question Time' it's flagship current affairs discussion programme.  "Is Global Warming a scam? " asked  a member of the carefully vetted audience. "Yes"  answered Mad Mel flatly, before positing that "a small group of scientists were conspiring to deny the evidence that the climate was getting colder rather than hotter" and unequivocally stated "there is no evidence for global warming" and "the ice is not decreasing it is increasing". No supporting evidence was offered throughout her rant.

Mad Mel - Disturbed

So let's investigate. In answer to 'the ice is not decreasing' read this from  the Montreal Gazette. To refute there is no evidence for global warming there is the entire canon of climate science, I reccomend the Skeptical Science website, or NASA.

But how could Mad Mel be so sure 'Global Warming is a scam'? I sent the BBC a Freedom of Information request asking how much Melanie Phillips was being paid to spout this claptrap. The answer came back "Please note that your request is outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the Act”) but we are happy to explain journalists who appear on news programmes are usually paid a nominal disturbance fee plus any necessary expenses they incur and Question Time is no different." 

So there you have it . The BBC is free with completely false claims on global warming. The scam is that licence payers money is paid to Mad Mel and her ilk to keep the lies coming.

A few reccomended videos

Because of the work I am doing on this BBC complaint thing I have had to gen up on climate science and jeez... I thought Al Gore was sorting it all out. How wrong I was. The mass media is continually trying to sell us this skeptic vs. proponent crap when there should be an entitrely different debate. What it should be , I'm not quite sure myself so I've been trying to catch up on climate science and realised that I am about three decades behind the scientists, as is everybody else except these brave souls who have produced some great videos to reccomend.

I should start with Annie Leonard's "Story of Stuff"  for an overview of how society is misled by consumerism ; but we've all seen it right ?  One of the latest thing's on the web is Professor John Abraham's stunning rebuttal of Lord Monckton's recent speaking tour in the U.S.A. It's well worth a look, but I realised that it was rebuttal to what we in the U.K. would call a load of codswallop , it is by definition firmly in the denialists ambit . So I decided to look further to try and sus out what the real issues are.

For the science I  moved on to this excellent series of scientific videos on You Tube by Potholer54, starting with "Climate Change the Scientific Debate" it's both sober and informative from a pseudonymous science journalist in Australia working under the nom de plume Potholer54. His videos are too numerous to mention here but I've yet to see a better explanation of the scientific method than this one and "Climate Change - Meet the Scientists" is a superb empirical rebuttal to skeptics. A must see also from Potholer54 is "Climate Change anatomy of a Myth"  an excellent retrospective on the science and how it's been misrepresented by the media from as far back as the 1970s. So whilst the science isn't settled because science is never settled, it's fair to say there is a mountain of scientific empirical knowledge on the subject of climate change  that is at odds with what the media have been saying.

The reasons behind that I can only speculate on, for now  . Then I looked at Naomi Oreskes lecture to the University of Rhode Island . It is subtitled 'How a handful of scientists obscure the truth about climate change.'  One cannot go away from this dry lecture without realising that climate change is the most important and relevant issue facing humanity today in the second decade of the 21st century, and that anyone facing up to this problem is dealing with a multi-dimensional issue not just about science but one that strikes at economics ideology politics and even the very nature of humankind. To say it is powerful stuff  would be to hugely underestimate Oreskes work. All I can say in response to it is watch it!

Naomi Oreskes (Ph.D., Stanford, 1990) is Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her research focuses on the historical development of scientific knowledge, methods, and practices in the earth and environmental sciences, and on understanding scientific consensus and dissent.

Now for more sciencey stuff making the case for action now I turned to "How It All Ends" from the superb hard working You Tube vlogger wonderingmind42, a US High School physics teacher. Importantly this also makes the case from a sensible risk management point of view, a POV completely obscured by the myth or real debate favoured by the mass media. The Nature of Science is well worth a look - it introduced to me the concept of "confirmation bias" which could prove important .Other stuff from wonderingmind42 is the conservatively titled "The MOST Terrifying Video Youll Ever See" which even has plaudits from General Anthony Zinni of the USMC ! 

But I can't leave wonderingmind42's films (there are at present over 95 of them) without mentioning what he calls the most important video you'll ever see, In which Professor Al Bartlett of the University of Boulder Colorado gives his lecture titled 'Energy Population and Arithmetic' which demolishes Capitalist Growth dogma. It's divided into eight parts - here they are: part 1, part 2 ,part 3, part 4 ,part 5, part 6 ,part 7,and  part 8 . Doctor Al says " You are important people , you can think. If there was ever a time the human race needs people who can think it's right now, it's our responsibility as citizens in a democracy to think." He also notes the observation by H.L. Mencken "It is in the nature of the human species to reject what is true but unpleasant and to embrace what is obviously false and comforting". Wise words , which I am finding sum up the public understanding of climate change today  in 2010.

Here is a five minute cartoon from the PostCarbon institute that has to be mentioned in despatches.

So there you have it that's where I am right now. Does all this make me a climate geek? I hope so !

Viscount Monckton of Brenchley : You're A Fraud. - Sue Me !!!

Sorry. I just couldn't resist writing that headline. But I can't be arsed to do any original research, sothis is just a shameless link to  here  and here and here and of course Barry Bickmore's Definitive site as the world of  self proclaimed nobel laureate* the ignoble Lord Monckton unravels.

* Click here for the evidence on that one

Why the Carbon Fairy should go to Coventry

Here's something odd. Someone with a Master's degree in sustainable development that doesn't find a definition of sustainability helpful.

Solitaire Townsend has a passion for professional green communications. She founded a public relations company which boasts 'we've only worked on corporate responsibility and sustainabilty'. Clients claiming these worthy virtues include Shell Unilever and EOn of Kingsnorth power station fame. She also has links with BP(about to plunge into the Canadian tar sands) , South African mining goliath Anglo-American , child slavers Nike, and the Chinese Government . Her stated goal has been 'to revitalize the way businesses view sustainability, using the tools of marketing and PR to make the message of sustainability more appealing.' Making sustainability more appealing to businesses that is.

Human rights campaigners might want to ask how her work for the Chinese Government squares with her stated claim to "never work on an account that doesn’t directly contribute to environmental or social sustainability" . Don't expect a reply any time soon though, because this blog has found responding to enquiries from the public is not in this particular communication professional's skill set.

Solitaire Townsend's position perfectly invites the same criticism that she doles out. Manipulative and deceitful motivations. In her case that does not prevent getting a platform on the BBC though and on Radio 4 (25.01.10) she claimed to have met with hardcore environmentalists, significant in number with false motivations which compromised the environmental movement's approach to the urgent problems of climate change. She bases this on her exclusive account of the lack of response to a hypothetical question in her monologue in which she pretends to be a 'carbon fairy' with a magic wand that could eliminate carbon emissions. Science no, bollocks yes. This is at a time and place undisclosed . Contextual information also undisclosed.

I asked where and when this happened and for other contextual information, substantiation in other words. Beyond the counter-intuitive reply 'I believe the anecdote referred to a speech at a public event, so I’m afraid I’m unable to give you any more information' her office declines to enter into any correspondence. Her denunciation is based on her quarry's abstention from her question, but when asked (by this writer) to whom she was referring , abstention becomes her prerogative. Hypocrite!

Perhaps that is what her company Futerra Sustainability Communications means by Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility. Using privileged access to the media to develop a  straw man argument against a movement they claim sympathies with.

It is extrapolated in the BBC documentary she takes part in to allege fascism.

On the plus side Townsend is nothing if not thick-skinned.  In her blog Townsend bemoans being called a 'compromised sell-out' by the left, thereby implying some left leaning background. Elsewhere she is careful to say "I'm not an environmentalist really ". No surprise there, but she declines to say why not. After all Solitaire Townsend is never shy of lecturing the environmental movement. One of her central tenets is to promote green consumerism over environmentalism .  At heart she is a businesswoman and an imposter.

That Townsend is concealing the truth can be proved . What that truth is can only be guessed at , but that would probably be to miss the point. Let's just say, that were they to exist , the 200 or so environmentalists she speaks of  would not be pleased to learn that Shell and EOn's mouthpiece reckons she has been elected to speak on their behalf.

Her failure to substantiate deprives the environmental movement of any opportunity to exculpate itself from her scurrilous slur. Solitaire Townsend is at ease with that. Any environmentalist or civil libertarian who heard the broadcast will not be.

Buy No Brand - It's Approved !

Today I'm going to announce a new initiative in the field of feel good marketing. WTF? Well the religions got there first with their magnificent Kosher and Halal brands. Then the RSPCA got in on the act with freedom foods guaranteeing good slaughter. Nowadays you can pay a few quid extra to call your flight 'carbon neutral'. And there's the Fairtrade logo which assures us that some of the raw ingredients have traded at a 'fair price'.  Marketeers will stop at nothing to sell stuff . A cynic might suggest the rise of the ethical consumer is being countered by ethical labels placed on dubious products.

Take the fairtrade KitKat, owned by Nestlé . The words boycott and Nestlé go together like beer and curry. For the last thirty years Nestlé has been one of the most despised food companies there is. I can recall first hearing about the Nestlé Baby Milk Scandal in1984 but this site dates it to 1977. Nestlé will argue there is no proof but it is one of the longest running corporate boycotts and scandals there is. It even has it's own wikipedia page. And then in late '09 the Fairtrade people came along and bestowed their seal of approval on KitKat. My thoughts at the time were "Either the people at Nestlé have become saints or the people at Fairtrade have sold out."

Now Greenpeace have found that Nestlés suppliers have cleared the rain forest which Orang-Utans live in to make palm oil  for your Kit Kats.  Facing eviction from their habitat and extinction doesn't sound like a fair trade to me. Orang-Utans are more important than my elevenses that's for sure so I find myself boycotting (once again) this product, but now it is fairtade. To many consumers the Fairtrade logo means "you don't need  to worry about ethical provenance weve already done that for you". The problem with Fairtade is that it allows corporations to purchase their ethical credentials . Corporations have no conscience. Conscience can only be forced upon them by the consumer . A consumer boycott  may not be very powerful but it is the only tool in the box. I'm sorry Fairtrade but you are a corporation too. It is noteworthy i.m.h.o. that The Guardian's announcement of this marriage described it as a 'major coup for Fairtade' not the other way around.

So anyway this new initiative.  I'm gonna call it the "Hengist McStone Certificate of Adequacy and Provenance" or CrAP and it is available to all corporations industrialists marketeers and the like. Naturally I will require a small kickback to cover my expenses in processing applications. A million dollars should cover it.  Currently there are no products carrying this coveted seal of approval, which is it's selling point really.

¡Hey! Yet another reason to boycott Nestlé !!!

Have sent this to the Head Honcho at baby killers Nestlé

"I am writing to express my deep concern at the role Nestle is playing in the destruction of Indonesia's rainforests, and the impact this is having on people, wildlife and the climate.
The palm oil you buy to make Kit Kats is often the result of forest and peatland destruction, which is speeding up climate change and destroying the home of the endangered orang-utan.
By buying palm oil from the notorious forest destroyer Sinar Mas, you and the palm oil traders you buy from are involved in the destruction of Indonesia's precious rainforests.
Sinar Mas continues to destroy rainforests to grow plantations, despite the negative impact on the people and wildlife that depend on it for their survival, and despite the fact that it is also accelerating climate change.
As the world's largest food and drink company, Nestl� could be using its influence to insist on positive changes in the palm oil industry that would have a real benefit for the rainforests of Indonesia. Your company uses over 320,000 tonnes of palm oil every year, which goes into a range of well-known products including Kit Kat. In the last three years, your use of palm oil has almost doubled according to your own figures.
Unilever and Kraft have already cancelled its contract with Sinar Mas due to its bad practices, whilst Nestl� has failed to take the same action. Please stop turning a blind eye and instead immediately:
- Stop trading with companies within the Sinar Mas group
- Stop buying Sinar Mas palm oil and pulp products from third-party suppliers.
- Engage with the Indonesian government and industry to deliver a moratorium on forest clearance and peatland protection
In short, please give the rainforests and the orang-utans a break. I look forward to receiving your response in due course."

Got it all from this website here. Please do the same. You and I share 97% of our DNA with Orang Utans

Death of a Scientist

29Jul03 - Death of a Scientist

Here's something I wrote some years ago and just found on my old friend Tony Gosling's website. Astonishingly I still like it.

As soon as Thames Valley Police announced they were not looking for anybody else involved in the death of Dr David Kelly all the mainstream media came onside with that view. Since then the death has been reported as a "suicide" or an "apparent suicide". Could it be a murder made to look like suicide? No one asked. There are very few facts from the scene of the crime to offer convincing evidence either way, but I suggest there is an empirical case that Kelly died at the hands of a state sponsored assassin immune from the law (and the enquiring nature of the media) because his her or their actions were sanctioned at the very highest level.

We all know that from time to time the state has to break it's own laws to do it's business, but most of us happily believe that any infringement of the rules is justified and thus stops well short of murder. That concept is too much to swallow in a democracy. And so when the state says Dr Kelly's death was a suicide human instinct forces us to breathe a sigh of relief, our safe little world remains unchallenged even if it is untrue it is worth believing in.

OK, even if you don't buy any conspiracy theory place yourself in the don't know camp and read on.

The police are not an information service. Usually results of all police enquiries are embargoed until they can be presented to a court. Occasionally they release titbits to encourage witnesses to come forward. (In a murder they always hold something back so that knowledge of specific gruesome details of the crime will be shared between themselves and the murderer and to catch out false confessions.) The Kelly death is different. The police have done their investigating they have formed their view and they have announced their view. That is all. There has not yet been a coroner's inquest to actually give an official view yet all the newspapers have taken their cue and gone to press on what at the time of writing (23/07/2003) is nothing more than opinion of unnamed bureaucrats.

Let's consider the story so far. Outside of the arcane world of civil service microbiologists no one had ever heard of Dr. David Kelly until a week or two ago. He was an arms inspector and it turns out a mole whom we now learn released information to the BBC that the British Government's case for going to war against Iraq earlier this year was at best embellished. Dr Kelly only came to public attention on 15th July when he gave evidence before the parliamentary foreign affairs select committee, subsequently he was called before the parliamentary Security and Intelligence Committee. Before that could happen he was found dead on an Oxfordshire hillside.

Any conspiracy theory minded copy is simply drowned out by other issues dominating this macabre affair. "Who let on that Kelly was the mole?" is a game currently being played out between Downing Street and the BBC. Who cares, I say. The fact that various branches of the state are at odds over such minutiae is unremarkable, yet to the broadsheet newspapers this row is the issue, certainly not how Kelly met his death and why.

Suspicious? You should be.

Perhaps it is so much easier to accept the orthodox view over the conspiracy theory because the notion of sharing Dr Kelly's thoughts is too much for most of us to bear. Kelly had some awful things going on his head, he was an expert in biological warfare for crying out loud. Whatever he knew there were others in government circles who didn't want him to share that knowledge. Bumping him off would have been a sure fire way of preventing him speaking and doing any more damage to the MOD's cause. If he died by his own hand then it proves he had a tortured mind, murder on the other hand proves a cover up.

Whatever the truth of the matter it is grim. Kelly's thoughts led to his death and that's a fact. It is human nature to take our views from the wise and the informed but when that extends to political reasoning the subject can consider himself fully brainwashed.

Apropos of nothing ...

I've just read something that is so good simply had to cut and paste it in to my own blog, even without a context to put it in. Here's Charlie Brooker waxing lyrical on the topic of climate change or more exactly climate change scepticism.

"Hey, I'm no scientist. I'm not an engineer either, but if I asked 100 engineers whether it was safe to cross a bridge, and 99 said no, I'd probably try to find another way over the ravine rather than loudly siding with the underdog and arguing about what constitutes a consensus while trundling across in my Hummer." 

The Spanish have a word for it ...

The purpose of language is the expression of ideas. And the expression of ideas can be a very dangerous thing. That's why despotic rulers crack down on freedom of speech. The lexicon of a language therefore delimits thinking, political or otherwise. For instance the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" or WMDs never became current until Bush and Blair desperately needed a casus belli to go to war with Iraq.

Eskimos have twenty-three different words for snow. The reason is pretty obvious; eskimos spend a lot of time hoop-la-ing in the snow, it means a helluva lot to them so that's what they want to talk about. To an eskimo our word snow probably seems awfully generic.

There's an opposite side to the equation too. Some concepts that aren't represented in certain languages. There's an account that a frustrated EU anti-corruption commissioner reckoned there was no word for integrity in Bulgarian, the veracity of this is questionable but the anecdote can still be used to demonstrate something about Bulgarians.  There's the Amazonian Piraha tribe who don't have numbers, but then they only have 300 or so speakers. Of course the need in Piraha society has never evolved to require numbers, they have 'few' 'many' and 'enough' doesn't that sound idyllic?

Now I'm lucky to have the world's most influential language as my mother tongue and I've noticed that it is curiously descriptive-poor in accounting for it's influence. The influence is down to our American cousins and I'm lamenting the fact that the english language has never given them a word all to themselves. Weve all become used to the word American or american but it has more meanings than can properly be said to be useful. It can mean a language or a people or used as an adjective, either for the continent of America or more usually the country of the United States. There is no distinction between all these meanings in english. Our language wrongfully suggests the whole continent were colonized by anglophones too. According to wikipedia George Washington even came out with this bizarre statement in his farewell address "The name of American, [...] belongs to you in your national capacity". Washington was famous for many things and being a freemason was one of them, could this linguistic anachronism be masonic?

Even the phrase United States is not specific enough. There is of course a United States of Mexico. So when ahem americans like to say their country is The United States of America I like to correct them, it is A United States of America. Doesn't quite sound so grand does it?

The spanish speaking world has none of this nonsense and why should they? Most nations of the continent of America have actually adopted an iberian tongue as their official language. So the word 'American' to refer to someone from north of the Rio Grande and south of the 49th parallel is too generic. The spanish have the wonderful word 'estadounidense' for this. It simply means of or from the United States. Why can't we have such a word? I'd like to propose it now : Unitedstatesian, I don't care how it's spelled or pronounced, it may sound odd at first but we'll all get used to it. If someone would like to coin a better word to describe this concept be my guest, but until some word any word to describe the United States is inserted into the lexicon english will be curiously descriptive-poor in this regard.

I'm inspired by George Orwell's excellent essay "Politics and the english language" . Orwell says "But if thought can corrupt language, language can also corrupt thought" . It's a recurring theme of the great man. What I think he was saying was that language can viewed as the chains of a kind of mental slavery, but the key to emancipation is in there somewhere too.

Sharp practice from Sir Peter Rigby

A few years ago, just before christmas I got a job as a driver for a computer company. This company was called Specialist Computer Centre and describes itself as Europe's largest independent IT company. Their chairman is a fellow called Sir Peter Rigby.
I thought I'd tell you a little bit about how they do business. After a few days I was given a contract to sign, it included an authorisation to deduct ten pounds per week from my wages for the accountancy costs of deducting income tax and National Insurance. These deductions are obligatory .  Under the PAYE system the employer has to deduct the tax at source neither the employer nor employee get any choice in the matter. I know of no other company that charges it's employees this kind of money in this way. Ten pounds a week was a sizeable portion of my income and I didn't feel that I owed this money to Specialist Computer Centre, I wouldn't sign.
I soon learnt about how this company did business with it's employees. Their Birmingham office phoned me and sacked me whilst I was driving round the motorway. It turned out that I was  employed by the Birmingham office who called themselves Specialist Computer Recruitment (or something like that) who in turn work for their only client Specialist Computer Centre. This meant that I was always at arms length and the people I met I never actually worked for; and the people I worked for I never actually met. But that is beside the point.
When they came to pay me they still made the deduction of ten pounds for accountancy fees, by then I had left. Eventually they repaid that money. I took it up with Citizen's Advice Bureau who described it as 'sharp practice', but said nothing could be done because I hadn't been there long enough to accrue any employment rights.
There are plenty of lousy employers out there, I nominate Sir Peter Rigby for a Scrooge and sharp practice medal. Yeeeeuuurgh

Food Glorious Food

Just a thought. Boston University is among others in offering a Masters Degree in Gastronomy - The art of fine dining. Food of course is very important but should the act of getting it down your gob be the subject of academic endeavour? I am unlikely to be invited to any gastronomic events when I point out that every day over 13000 children die of hunger.*

*World Hunger Education Service