Saturday, April 19, 2008

a climate of chaos in cantabrigia

What's missing is the questionThere was a demo in Cambridge this morning at 11am, which meant I was able to listen to all of Sounds of the 60's on the radio, which is always a Good Thing.

This was advertised in the window of the pagan bookshop in Mill Road, where you get the odd good thriller on the 50p table outside, as a rally "against climate chaos" in the Marketplace. It was promoting the inclusion of shipping and aviation emmissions in forthcoming climate change legislation, ie the proposed enactment of March 2007's Draft Climate Change Bill.

I had hoped to barge into an uproar of student activists, be outraged by their nihilism, offended by their adherence to the ideological orthodoxy of radical militant atheism, incensed by their refusal to contemplate anything outside the realm of their inexperienced wisdom: in other words, to be as happy as a pig in muck.

Instead, I met a couple of middle-aged folk who worship at the same church as me, with sCambridge Guildhallome of their friends, braving the drizzle to man a disregarded stall outside the front doors of the Guildhall (right), solemnly trying to give away their leaflets on the Climate Change Bill. And the World Development Movement. And a map of "Fairtrade Cambridge".

I have to admire the pluck of my acquaintances - the Socialist Workers' Party had a stall nearby and had tried to shunt them away from the plum location of the doors on the basis that they were the only anti-Nazi organiclick for samplesation present. The Anti-Nazi League used to be their recruiting sergeant, but this has been replaced by Rock against Racism; maybe they realised that supporting Palestinians on an anti-Nazi basis was unrealistic, as it is not uncommon for Mein Kampf to be found in Muslim bookshops in London, under the pretext, acording to its translator Luis al-Haj, that "National Socialism did not die with the death of its herald. Rather, its seeds multiplied under each star." Given that RAR represents "racists" by a picture of Adolf Hitler shooting himself in the head (see hyperlinked pic, left), what are their conclusions about those Palestinians who buy Hitler's Mein Kampf? I think I detect an own goal...

Anyway, I started talking about the impact of plastic bags on the environment with one of the campaigners, who seemed satisfied that Cambridge Link-Up was refusing to recycle Tesco's carrier-bags, but seemed wrong-footed when I informed her of the reason, that Tesco's carrier bags decomposed too quickly to make lasting products. She then advised me not to get hung-up on bags.

The central thesis of their reason for being there wasn't up for discussion. They were distributing postcards in the shape of a jumbo-jet, which said on the back:

Dear Gordon Brown,

Would you sanction a drink driving law that ignores the effects of whisky? Excluding aviation and shipping emissions from the new climate change bill is just as flawed. Other industries will need to play their part when the climate change bill becomes law, so why not aviation and shipping? It's unfair for these industries to be treated differently from the rest of the economy.

Air travel is the fastest growing source of the greenhouse gases that lead to climate change. if the UK is to fulfil its role in tackling climate change we need the climate change law to be tough and watertight. This means that emissions from international aviation and shipping need to be included from the outset when the climate change bill becomes law later this year. Please don't ignore these emissions, or the world's poor will pay the price. Yours etc...

It feels rather strange to be defending the Labour government, but clause 39, subsection 3 of the Draft Climate Change Bill states that, as far as shipping is concerned, the Bill's geographical scope extends no further than the borders of UK waters or the UK continental shelf.

Section 5.8 of the introductory section of the Draft states, "The emissions reduction targets do not currently apply to carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation and shipping." The reason for this is that these were not covered in the Kyoto Accord, and arguments in favour of Great Britain making a commitment to do something which no other country in the world is required to do reminds me of the chants of the votaries of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which stated that if we divested ourselves of our means of self-defence, the playground bullies would be nice to us.

However, all is not lost: note 29, to para 5.22 of the introductory section, states that if international law were amended so that shipping and aviation emmissions were included in international targets, this would be adopted into UK law.

So far so fair. I have no problem with the concept of global warming 2.0, ie climate change. It's happened before. There seems to have been an agenda at one point to prove that global warming was a reality, but one of the major nails in the coffin of this dead dog was an expedition to the North Pole to show the world the effects of global warming, which had to be called off because a member of the expedition caught frostbite.

Climate change is nothing to be sneezed at. It portends the death of many ways of life, not to mention people. But the assumption that we, homo sapiens, are to blame for it, begs the question, what fuelled global warming when the most intelligent mammal around was the size of a dormouse? Methane from dinosaur windypops?

I will consider the concept of anthropogenic climate change seriously when scientists do me the courtesy of presenting me with serious science. A joint report analysing climate data from China, done by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA states that "station histories are not currently available". I'm not surprised, in the light of evidence from Douglas Keenan that some weather stations in China were moved from the upwind side of cities, where the temperature was lower, to the downwind side, where the wind had passed through the city and bethey were just playingen heated. It was around this time that a picture of polar-bears playing on a melting iceberg in summer (left) was presented as something more sinister.

I am not in any sense a climate change sceptic. I believe it's happening. What I'm sceptical about is the self-appointed atheocracy who are pushing a recycled pantheism, demanding that everybody believe the same as them, because they are disturbed by the ability of ordinary people to accept God as well as to reject him.

Leaving the city with Minima, we listened for a while to an American street-preacher lay out his suooprt for creationism and opposition to the concept of the Big Bang (first proposed by Belgian Jesuit Georges Lemaître). I didn't agree with everything he said - despite the opinions of Dawkins and his dachshunds, getting Christians to agree on details can be like herding cats - but the way he answered his many critics with consistency, courage and aplomb was moving. I hope I meet that young man again.

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