Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Mountain Rescue ServiceAs far as most people were concerned, mountain rescue was just a matter of winching ill prepared walkers from the Lake District or Snowdonia, but the recent cold snap has hilighted the larger scope of their role as across the country they have helped the emergency services cope with the treacherous conditions, you may also have been suprised (as I was) to find Mountain Rescue Teams in places that are only slightly bumpy.

Today, I was further suprised to learn that unlike the RNLI which is exempt, the Government charges VAT on the equipment that these volunteers use, in fact 35-45p of every £1 raised to fund this service is snatched away by various taxes (For instance 4×4 vehicles are essential to their work, yet in an effort to crucify the Chelsea Tractor more and more taxes have been heaped on their purchase and use).

The Government’s stance is to blame European rules on taxation and that it would be difficult to change the European rules since our voluntary service is fairly unique (most mountainous countries have state run rescue teams) and that the RNLI exemption was negotiated at the time of these taxation rules being put into place.

Although the Government’s litteral interpretation of the rules is correct, Laszlo Kovacs, the European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs, has pointed out that there is nothing stopping the Government from refunding the money using direct subsidies.

“Such tools are entirely a matter for individual member states and do not depend upon European Union legislation”

In the grand scheme of Govenment finances, the money snatched from the charitable doantions is small (especially when you consider how much it would cost them to provide the service themselves), but for the volunteers and those helped by them, the money would make a huge difference.

Iced up BritainAfter last year’s scandal with the leaked e-mails which possibly show that The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tried to suppress conflicting views, now we find that a key part of their reports was effectively copied off the back of a cerial packet.

The IPCC had claimed that the Himalayan glaciers would have melted by 2035 due to climate change, they even labeled the Indian Government’s study that disproved this as “voodoo science”. Now it turns out that the claim was lifted from an interview in New Scientist magazine, an interview that the scientist in question admits was his own personal opinion and not based on any scientific research.

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, a glacier specialist at Cambridge University, said: “The average glacier is 1,000ft thick so to melt one even at 15ft a year would take 60 years. That is a lot faster than anything we are seeing now.”

The IPCC seems to have been taken over by politicians whilst still masquerading as scientists, they seem to have forgotten that the role of scientists is to constantly challenge and reassess conventional wisdom, especially in a subject where we know so little. It is certainly questionable that the chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri (Who has incidently a degree in Industrial Engineering and a PH.D. in Industrial Engineering and Economics – no environmental qualifications as far as I can see), is reported to have business interests that receive millions of pounds of funding derrived from IPCC policies.

The Climate Home Guard are quick to point out that there is a difference between climate and weather (or at least they are when an unexpected cold winter comes along and makes everyone question their dogma) but climate is made up of all the little pieces of weather. It’s hard to take these people’s rightiousness seriously when we can’t accurately predict conditions a week away (we certainly have no idea how much of it is caused by human activity) and these people are evangelical about what will “definately” happen in 40-50 years.

There is global warming, historically we’re near the bottom of a cycle that has been going on for millions of years, it’s also possible that global warming won’t be good for the human race (a change in the opposite direction certainly allowed the mammals to take over from the reptiles as the dominant class. The real question is how much of this climate can we change, (the world will continue to get warmer even if we stop all man-made carbon emissions).

We just don’t know and until science can understand the subject well enough to separate the natural changes from the man-made ones scientists need to continue questioning and challenging people’s views on the subject not silencing each other.

With the Copenhagen summit all over the news “man made” climate change is all over the news once again. The issue has reached religious proportions, with any sceptic accused of heresy and the believer’s dogmatic approach to the science even when the results don’t fit.

The truth is that in an age where we can’t predict tomorrow’s weather because we don’t fully understand the causes, how can we accurately predict what will happen next year or in the next decade.

Personal observations show that the weather is getting warmer, but if you look at data over a longer term than the fanatics use, the planet has been both much hotter and much colder than it is now, with dramatic swings between the two extremes.

If these changes in temperature happen anyway, then how much influence has mankind over these changes, nobody is accusing the dinosaurs of using 4x4s on the school run (apart from maybe Jim Henson). There are a million and one factors in the changing weather, some of which we’ve worked out, others we haven’t even thought of. The danger is that by blinkering ourselves to carbon dioxide as the root of all evil, we ignore other factors.

Climate change is always happening and possibly it will be a critical factor in the survival of the human race. There may not be much we can do about it,  but in my opinion, the only way forward is to reduce our footprint in as many ways possible, this world has finite resources, so we need to look at making everything renewable or recyclable, we need to look at a wider spread of renewable energies, not just wind turbines (probably the most fickle source available)

Carbon is part of the issue, but there are a whole host of other pollutants that we need to eliminate if we’re to avoid poisoning ourselves.