Posts in Category: Rant

Why Thank God?

Sunday 31st October 2010

This weekend, I’ve been down to Reading for a university friend’s wedding, which was all very pleasant indeed. Far too many of my friends are getting married or buying houses, I remarked to one over the weekend that “you’re like a proper grownup now”!

The friend that got married yesterday is very religious, as is her husband, so not surprisingly the wedding was all very religious too. Which is fine. Obviously not how I’d do things, but it’s their wedding so what does it have to do with me, so I can’t really complain. And I’m not, but some of what was said, some of the comments and revealed attitudes, were really intriguing to me.

There were a couple of readings from the Bible, and there was one in particular that I thought was odd. Ephesians 5:21-33 (hope I’ve cited that correctly):

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

I’m certain I don’t have to explain why this irked me! One of the speakers tried to explain this away, and came up with an explanation which to my ears really wasn’t much better. Needless to say that the guidance given in that extract is not how I’d want any relationship of mine to be like. Now, I’m not shocked that this is in the Bible. It’s an old text, it’s reflective of the attitudes at the time, and fair enough. I would question the wisdom of referring to such a text for moral guidance; if we start picking and choosing which bits of it we like, then surely that defeats the point of having such a text? But essentially, if people wish to do that then that’s their business. I can accept that, even if I don’t respect it.

To be honest, I find a lot of the sentiment of religion to be rather offensive. For instance during the course of the wedding there was lots of prayer to give thanks, to show gratitude for the things God has done, acknowledge the ways he has blessed us. And well, bollocks to that. Because it’s not some benevolent deity that meekly delivers good things to us. It’s us, and the people around us. I don’t need to thank some spirit in the sky for the various things I’m blessed with; I have to thank parents, family, friends, and myself for a whole lot of effort to get and do those things. And I find it really offensive to suggest otherwise, because it takes something away from that.

For instance. At the reception, someone said grace before we all started eating. They thanked God for putting the food on the table, and so on. But it wasn’t God; it was down to the efforts of people. Someone worked hard to pay for the food, someone worked hard to make it. Let’s not diminish those achievements by attributing them to God, let’s thank the people who put the effort in.

I guess that really, the whole thing seems incredibly anachronistic. I genuinely don’t understand why people are religious at all, because to my mind it all seems pretty ridiculous really.

Posted In: Rant Tagged: | 1 Comment

Please Stop Being Ridiculous

Sunday 29th August 2010

So the government has announced that it’s going to axe NHS Direct and implement a new “non-emergency” helpline. The chief executive of NHS Direct says that the new service will be “better and more cost effective”. Which is nice; we want good healthcare, and we’re also a bit short of money at the moment. So an idea that could be better and cheaper is good.

If it isn’t a good idea, if it doesn’t really work, then ok. But it seems that the intention is to do what I just mentioned, better and cheaper.

Andy Burnham disagrees:

“It is yet more evidence that Andrew Lansley is on a vindictive mission to break up the NHS, ruthlessly dismantling services before alternatives are in place.”

It’s something that you see time and time again in political discussions and I find it bloody annoying. Not that he disagrees with the idea, but that he’s assigning some sort of malicious motive to it. It seems common; the whole “Tories are Evil” thing, for instance. And, well, really? I get that you might disagree with the idea, but do you honestly think that (with one or two honourable exceptions!) someone goes to the effort of getting elected into office, purely for the reason of making things worse for people?

It’s ridiculous and stupid. Even if you disagree with an idea, you can’t just decide that the person who came up with that idea deliberately wants to make things worse for people. I mean, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Gordon Brown, and I think that he made certain things worse throughout his political career. But it would be foolish of me to assert that he did things maliciously (except – allegedly – certain things to destabilise Blair), just because I disagreed with his policies.

The same sort of thing gets thrown at Lib Dems now that they’re in the coalition, talk about selling out for power, or other such nonsense. Is it really that controversial to assume that, actually, they’re doing what they think is best for the country, rather than they’re nasty people who just want their own ministerial Jag?

Posted In: PoliticsRantSleep Tagged: | 2 Comments

This is Rather Spectacular

Monday 5th July 2010

Nick Clegg retreats on no-confidence votes.

Nick Clegg today performed the first big U-turn of the coalition when he announced rules to guarantee that a simple majority of MPs will be able to vote down a government and trigger a general election.

The fuss about the dissolution of parliament (not the passing of no-confidence votes, which is a different thing) centred on the proposal for the requirement of a 55% majority to pass a vote to dissolve. The argument centred on how parliament should require a simple majority to dissolve, rather than the 55% limit. Opponents of this policy said that this limit was engineered to allow the coalition to decide when to dissolve parliament (which betrays a colossal misunderstanding of current parliamentary procedure, but that’s somewhat incidental at this point).

I really don’t understand how this is a U-turn. The opposing argument was that a simple majority would not be sufficient to dissolve parliament, and today Clegg has announced that actually the government will introduce a higher requirement – a 66% majority – to dissolve parliament. OK it’s different to what was originally proposed, but it’s not exactly a U-turn and it’s certainly not bowing to the opposition. I mean, they wanted it to just be a majority of MPs, so if they were thinking straight they would be even more opposed to the higher limit. As far as I can tell, the initial announcement back in May had nothing to do with changing the rules for no-confidence votes, and was all about moving power for dissolving parliament away from the Prime Minister and instead giving MPs that power. Today’s announcement doesn’t change that at all, so where’s the “big U-turn”?

I guess I shouldn’t expect anything else from the Grauniad though…

Clegg is currently trending on Twitter, in response to today’s announcement. A lot of it is negative, with some people saying things like “well I voted Lib Dem, and I won’t make that mistake again”. Huh? The Liberal Democrats have never been coy about their commitment to electoral reform, so the things Clegg announced today really shouldn’t come as a shock, especially to people who voted for the party. I mean, I’d sort of expect those people to have an idea that the people they voted for are committed to such major things!

Quite honestly, I can find nothing controversial in the announcement (except perhaps the date), so much of the negative reaction is a bit perplexing really.

Posted In: Rant Tagged: | 7 Comments

What Equality Looks Like

Sunday 4th July 2010

Wimbledon finals this weekend. It’s been a really good tournament, so it’s a bit of a pity the singles finals were both fairly unexciting. Ho hum.

The subject of prize money in tennis majors is relatively controversial. This is because in men’s tennis, they play the best of 5 sets, whereas women play best of 3. Both get the same amount of prize money (£1 million this year), even though male players do more work and provide more entertainment.

I think it’s right that the male and female players get paid the same amount of prize money. I think it would also be right if they both had the same challenge; if they both had to play to 5 sets.

Yes, men and women’s bodies are different. Yes, men are generally stronger, but that’s why there are two tournaments. I don’t think that women are that weak and incapable of handling the extra sets, provided they trained for it. We’re talking about stamina here rather than strength, and women are hardly incapable of completing marathons and the like…

It amuses me when alleged “feminists” argue (correctly) that men and women should be equal and that women are just as capable as men, but then fail to see the irony when they argue that women aren’t strong enough to play for as long as men do. This is a relatively small example, but these sorts of people offer similar arguments to justify all sorts of other inequalities (in the name of “equality”!) and frankly it’s ridiculous.

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Having an Argument

Sunday 20th June 2010

This is something which really annoys me, which I’ve noticed relatively frequently recently, and I’m wondering whether it’s just me who feels like this.

Right. So I generally enjoy arguing about things. I like having an opinion on something – be it politics, religion, motorsport, whatever – and listening to the opinions of others and generally discussing them, whether we hold the same viewpoint or not. It’s a satisfying experience, because it makes me look at my own thoughts more closely, and it obviously opens my eyes to other perspectives. This sort of analysis either leads to me reinforcing my initial opinion, or changing my mind partially or even completely. Either way I enjoy this because it broadens the way I view that subject.

I like to think that I am fairly logical in forming opinions. Whether or not that is fair to say is for other people to judge, but I like to think that it is. I find that I don’t come to a conclusion about something until I really feel as if I know a decent amount about it. I’m probably extremely pedantic about finding facts or evidence to form (or indeed judge) an opinion.

When that comes to forming opinions about things like politics, then yes I suppose to an extent that there is a certain amount of philosophy which enters into the equation. Questions about what we want to do – how we want society to be – are fundamentally philosophical. There’s not really any evidence to support the idea of freedom being good, for instance, it’s simply a philosophy which we generally find pleasing. I reckon that if you look across the political spectrum there is probably a great deal of commonality about this underlying philosophy; the real differences come from the development of political theories for building a society which delivers this, and this arena of thought is much more open to evidence. These theories are inherently testable – we can implement them and see which best deliver what we want. And in the course of human history (and especially in the last 100 years), many of these different theories have been tested to destruction and studied. So we can probably state with some confidence at this point, which political theories are most effective for delivering certain types of society.

The world is a complex place. It seems a bit simple to point that out, but I think people gloss over it sometimes. There is very rarely an unambiguous completely correct solution to something. Maybe this is something that’s been drilled into me through my engineering education; any scheme or solution has pros and cons, and the role of the engineer is to study the specific needs and to work out the solution which best balances the pros and cons to meet those needs in the most successful way. Which in most cases is really the “least worst” solution, in that almost every solution to every engineering problem is a compromise and will have downsides. It’s raw problem-solving (which is why I enjoy it) and its a way of thinking which I think is applicable to more than just purely technical problems.

So to come back to politics, I obviously have a certain opinion about which political theory is best. And by best I obviously mean that by the standards of what I think society should be like – someone who has a fundamentally different idea of this is likely to form a different opinion to me. In Britain though, I think there is probably general agreement that we want a fundamentally free and fair society. I don’t think many people have massively differing ideas of what this means, even if they disagree about what the solution should be to deliver it.

By way of example, a significant part of what I would consider to be a good solution is the idea of economic liberalism. That is, free trade in free markets. Or for want of a better word: capitalism. Now is not the time to explain the reasoning behind this, but I would say that it’s better for society if things are done in this way; if goods and services are generally provided through the market (I’m very much an Orange Book-er). And of course, the reason why I have come to this conclusion is because the evidence seems to support this (and also because I think it’s a wonderfully elegant concept). But, note the use of the word “generally”. I recognise that there are certain things that the market cannot deliver, or at least cannot (on its own) deliver fairly. And for these things, yes, we need a state.

(I intend to go into the thinking behind this in another post, so for now please don’t comment just to argue about the last paragraph!)

This is an example of what I mean about things requiring relatively complex solutions. I don’t think that my opinions tend to be straightforward “this is best”; generally I think that I recognise that many solutions are imperfect. But I find that when I try to explain what I think, occasionally people just ignore much of this and instead take what I say to an over-simplistic extreme. For some people, if I try to explain the belief in free markets, they seem to automatically assume that I’m some anarcho-capitalist nutjob who thinks that the state should be dismantled. They don’t seem to understand the nuance of the argument. Indeed in some cases, people don’t even seem willing to understand it…

The question is: has anyone else had this experience? I’m wondering whether it’s my fault for not communicating clearly enough; but then I’ve expressed the same opinion to different people, and some seem to understand what I’m saying (even if they disagree), whereas others seem to almost caricature what I say and leap to a simplistic conclusion about what I mean without really understanding my argument. And actually, from looking at comments on the various politics-y blogs that I follow, it does seem to be a fairly common occurrence on some of them. But I just don’t get it.

Whatever, it frustrates me massively when people choose to disagree with something before they’ve bothered to properly understand the argument they’re disagreeing with. It’s supremely arrogant.

Posted In: PoliticsRantStuff Tagged: | 11 Comments


Wednesday 12th May 2010

When New Labour swept into power in 1997, I was 9 years old. At the time I was too young to pay attention to politics, so I didn’t know too much what it actually meant. All I knew was that John Major was out, and that a younger bloke called Tony Blair was now PM.

Basically, in the time that I’ve been reasonably aware of what’s going on and paid attention to the news and to politics, all I’ve known is a Labour government. And as long as I’ve been paying attention, I’ve mostly had one feeling towards that government: disappointment. A feeling, every time I read the news, of things getting worse. I’m not going to detail specific things, because the time has passed and I’ve said much of it before; but generally I’m thinking of things like ever-increasing taxes, or ever-spiralling public spending, or batshit-mental policy decisions which run contrary to what they’ve been advised to do, or of course the constant erosion of civil liberties.

This last thing is something that particularly ires me, because civil liberties – freedom – should be the hallmark of a civilised society, so it baffles me why anyone would think that taking some of them away would be a good thing. Someone I know who is a member of the Labour party says that I “exaggerate” this issue, that Labour hasn’t actually done that much to damage liberty. But that’s clearly bollocks; Labour have done quite enough, and I cannot take seriously any party who thinks that such attacks on individual freedom are justified.

So my experience has always been of the government disappointing me, always seeming to fail the people of Britain, and for that reason I’ve never supported the Labour government. Over the last few months, as I’ve been thinking about politics more and reading into the policies and ideologies of all the parties, I’ve began to understand exactly why I dislike them. The “nanny state” is a cliched joke now, but like most cliches there is a reason for it being – it’s true! Nick Clegg wrote a pamphlet last year called “The Liberal Moment“, and he said:

Labour requires a mighty nation state, just as liberalism believes in pooling sovereignty in multi-lateral institutions. Labour believes that society can only be improved through relentless state activism, a belief driven by far greater pessimism about the ability of people to improve their own lives. Liberalism believes fairness, fulfilment and freedom can be best secured by giving real power directly to millions of citizens. Labour believes in the ordered, controlled capacity of the state to take the right decisions about other peoples’ lives. A liberal believes in the raucous, unpredictable capacity of people to take decisions about their own lives. Labour believes a progressive society is characterised by enlightened top-down government. A liberal believes a progressive society is distinguished by aspiration, creativity and non conformity.”

I encourage everyone to read that pamphlet, because it’s a really interesting thing. As I read it, one thought kept running through my mind: “I agree with Nick”! I was shocked – and delighted – that any of the leaders of the mainstream parties actually believes the same sort of things that I do; that I’m not just some nutter on the fringes of the political spectrum.

After seeing their results and understanding their politics, my response to Labour campaigning for “a future fair for all”, or saying that theyre “fighting for your future” is: how dare they? After 13 years of illiberal, unequal government, how dare they pretend to stick up for anyone other than the rich and the powerful?

As I’ve said before, I support the Liberal Democrats. I seem to be in the minority in that I also don’t hate the Conservatives. And as you may have ascertained by now, I have nothing but contempt for Labour. And today, for the first time I can remember, I look at government and don’t feel disappointed. I think we really could be seeing the start of “new politics”, where the emphasis is on co-operation and compromise; not pointless tribalism where the aim is just to win.

For now, I feel optimistic. And I can’t tell you how excited I am about that.

Posted In: PoliticsRant Tagged: | 7 Comments

The Alliance

Monday 10th May 2010

I’m not calling it a coalition, if indeed that is what we get. I’m calling it the Alliance because then the government sounds like something from Star Wars, and that’s just cool.

Anyway I’ve had an uneasy feeling since the election result. Not about the result itself – that’s quite interesting (it looks like Labour will shortly be out of government – of which I approve. And Jacqui Smith also lost her seat, which is what is known as a “Fucking Result”. I saw a blog the other day which said this was a bad thing; words fail me to be honest. Real shame about some of the other people who also lost out though). No, the general reaction is what’s made me uneasy. All through Friday, #dontdoitnick was trending on Twitter, because of the fact that the Liberal Democrats were (are) in talks with the Conservatives. Can’t remember where but I’ve read someone saying we’d been “LibConned” as well. Conned, you see, from Conservatives, and Lib from Lib Dems. Oh the rapier wit…

I’ve also read a fair few posts like this, criticising the Liberal Democrats for basically talking to the Tories. Not for anything they’ve agreed, just for talking to them. It’s a bit tiresome really.

Anyway the reaction to the whole thing – the idea that the two parties talking is the worst thing in the world – really didn’t sit well with me, and it’s taken a while for me to work out why.

I’ve been impressed by the Tories and the Liberal Democrats for the way they’ve handled this. Obviously I don’t really know what’s going on as I am not privy to the talks, but from the things we’ve heard it sounds as if discussions are really quite amicable, and that both parties are trying to bash out a deal. The speeches Cameron and Clegg made on Friday were both graceful and statesmanlike. Obviously they’re bound to be, because they want to work together and make friends, but it seems that both parties had the right attitude. Of course not everyone has had that reaction, but we’ll gloss over that…

Obviously proportional representation is a hot topic at the moment, and people criticise it saying “it ends up in weak governments”, “it always gets coalitions”. Well, I think the last few days have been refreshing. We’ve had the spectacle of two political parties apparently trying to put aside their differences and co-operate. I’ve often criticised politics for being too adversarial, too much about beating the other team and not about working constructively.

The parties have (apparently) been working constructively, and perhaps the new parliament will be formed in that sort of co-operative spirit. The parties themselves seem to understand this, but judging by the response on Twitter and the Blogosphere, a lot of supporters are still stuck in this old adversarial mindset. The time and place has passed, and there are more important things than sticking one to the other side. Politicians have impressed me lately (and I really don’t say that much), but their supporters have just depressed me. The point of politics isn’t to win; it’s to do good. Just because “your side” didn’t win, no need to be so bitter about it and oppose something that hasn’t even happened yet.

I suppose that a lot of it is down to Irrational Tory Hatred, but that’s another phenomena I’ve never fully understood. I mean I loathe a lot of things about Labour but I don’t exactly have a hatred for the party, yet for a lot of people the Tories seem to provoke a raw visceral hatred; as if Tory MPs drink the blood of dead babies and stamp on kittens for fun. Most bizarre.

In other news, I’m seriously considering joining the Liberal Democrats. How does one go about doing so? And what’s the cost?

And now I’m going to go read about concrete. My life is so rock and roll…

Posted In: PoliticsRant Tagged: | 5 Comments

Get Oval It

Wednesday 10th March 2010

Ignoring any question of how entertaining it may or may not be (500 mile races where only the last 2 laps really count? Why not just race for 2 laps them?), oval racing is incredibly dangerous. There’s no way it can’t be. The corners are banked so the cars can go quicker, which means that all the way round the outside of the track is a wall. At most road circuits like the ones raced on in F1 or touring cars – which are more interesting and provide for more compelling racing – there is runoff. The walls aren’t right next to the road the cars race on because that’d be rather dangerous.

So in NASCAR, what we have are cars lapping very close to each other, at about 185mph, with a wall running all the way round the outside of the track. When things go wrong it can be nasty, because if you fuck up there’s a very good chance you’ll be going into said wall at 185mph. Which, all things considered, is less than ideal.

In the last NASCAR race, one of the drivers – Carl Edwards – committed possibly the worst foul I’ve ever seen in any form of motorsport. Actually, probably in any form of sport generally- when someone fouls in football or rugby, it doesn’t send them crashing into a wall and flip them over. At 180mph. This was insanely dangerous, so what would you expect the driver’s punishment to be? A ban for a few races? Maybe even a permanent ban? Massive fine? Guess again! He’s been put “on probation” for 3 races. So he’s ok as long as he doesn’t deliberately crash into someone in the next 3 races.

F1 got this right last year. In the wake of the Singapore 2008 scandal, the FIA effectively purged everyone who was involved from the sport (except for the drivers, but Piquet essentially purged himself by being shit, and Alonso “didn’t know about it”. Sure he didn’t…), which sent the message that “this is not acceptable”. Edwards’ misdemeanour in Atlanta was much, much worse, so to my mind the fact that they’ve not really punished him only serves to discredit NASCAR.

Not that there was much to credit to start with, but that’s a different debate…

Posted In: MotorsportRant Tagged: | 2 Comments


Friday 19th February 2010

A while back I commented on a post on Callan’s blog about Avatar. At the time I hadn’t seen the film, so I refrained from commenting on the film itself, but rather on 3D. I’ve seen the movie now and I stand by what I said there about 3D – I really don’t think its “the future” or anything like that. In fact I think that Avatar was a pretty bad vehicle with which to demonstrate 3D as a technology. I thought that the bits of the film where the 3D effect was most effective were the “live” bits, with real actors in real sets. It added to the “grittiness” of those scenes and I think the 3D effect looked brilliant then. I found myself noticing things like reflections in glass or creases and wrinkles on people’s clothes, and overall it made those scenes look pretty good. Not more immersive though, but I shall come back to this. In contrast, I thought that the CGI scenes looked more fake than they would if they were just in 2D. Everything was too smooth, too polished, too obviously rendered.

But enough talk about the technology, because it’s not really what I want to talk about. Avatar (like many contemporary Hollywood films) is a really awful film. The characters, plot, everything is just ridiculously cliched, shallow and pathetic. It’s way too long, and I found myself getting pissed off at everyone involved. I wanted the humans to piss off and die because they were obviously bastards. But I also wanted the na’vi to fuck right off just on general principals. Both sides were equally irritating so the big battle scenes at the end really didn’t move me. I think we were meant to feel some sort of empathy for Zoe and Jake, but honestly I just didn’t care.

And the less said about “Unobtainium”, the better. For fuck’s sake…

In contrast, last night I watched Das Boot for the first time. This is actually 40 minutes longer than Avatar, but you really don’t notice that. In contrast to Avatar, the story doesn’t feel like it drags at any point, and you definitely feel empathy for the characters. Whereas I didn’t give a toss about the characters in Avatar, it’s completely different with this. The way the tension is built and sustained is really amazing, and just goes to show that clever writing is a lot more successful  than any amount of flashy CGI bollocks. We are treated to the odd shot of depth charges exploding around the U-boat but it’s all very dark and murky, probably because it was made pre-CGI. I actually think it’s more successful like this. No doubt if the film were made now it’d be possible to have loads of cool CGI stuff, but I think it’s much better if the focus remains in the sub with the characters; if our only clues as to what’s happening are the same clues that the people on the boat have – the eerie, threatening sounds coming from the water outside.

The point I’m trying to make is that it was a wonderfully immersive film, with probably a more interesting and subtle message than Avatar. You don’t need 3D or any other clever technology to involve an audience, all you need is a bit of intelligence. All too often, gimmicks like CGI and 3D are used as a replacement for good film making (as further evidence, I give you Star Wars… speaking of which, if you have time watch this, well worth it), and it’s a real shame.

I suppose the polar opposite is something like The Road, and I’ve commented on this film before over on Jenny’s blog. In that case, there’s just… nothing. Again, I didn’t care for the characters and as far as I could tell, there’s no real story to speak of. Now I’m all for a story being subtle, but if it’s so subtle that it’s invisible then it all starts to become somewhat pointless!

Anyway, it’s getting late, so I’m gonna go watch an episode of Mad Men (and read for a bit… I got up very late today) before sleeping. In fact, if you want to see an example of really good storytelling (not to mention beautiful characterisation – I mean really, stunning), watch it. It’s worth doing so just for one particularly brilliant scene at the end of season 1, but I shall say no more so as not to spoil it for anyone.

Posted In: RantSleepTechnologyTV Tagged: | 3 Comments

Climate Control

Monday 21st December 2009

I’ve said before here that I don’t know much about climate change. In fact what I said was “I don’t know whether it’s happening and really I don’t care, because it’s irrelevant”, which taken out of context says something which I didn’t intend to say, but ho hum.

Anyhow, I was reading up on the science behind climate change the other day. I was reading up on how human activity causes it, and it’s fairly interesting. It also gave me a fairly large headache, because I don’t really understand it. I understand the argument thats being made, but I don’t see how the evidence which is being presented supports that argument.

Before I continue, I’m not writing from a “boo climate change isnt happening” standpoint, because thats stupid. I just don’t understand the science. That could be (probably is) because I’m missing something, and that’s ok because I’m not a climatologist. I’m kinda hoping that by writing this, someone will write a comment which says “ah, but you’re forgetting this…” and it’ll suddenly make sense.

Ok. So looking at the data from ice cores or wherever for CO2 in the atmosphere and comparing it with the temperature of the Earth, does show a clear correlation. Historically, when there’s been an increase in the Earth’s temperature, the increase in CO2 levels comes after the temperature increase. Now this makes sense, because theres lots of CO2 stored in ice and water, so when the temperature goes up (due to, say, fluctuations in the Earth’s orbit), obviously CO2 is going to be released. And CO2 is a greenhouse gas, so clearly increased levels of CO2 help to warm the Earth’s surface, amplifying the temperature increase which has caused the extra CO2 to be released. Eventually the thing which caused the Earth to warm up in the first place stops having such an effect, so eventually the temperature of the Earth goes down again. As the temperature goes down more CO2 is dissolved in water and ice, so there’s less in the atmosphere. As I understand it, that’s the science which explains the relationship between CO2 and temperature, right upto mankind having any appreciable effect on either.

Ok, some facts which I think everyone will agree on.In the last 150-200 years, humans have put a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere. More CO2 in the atmosphere will help warm the Earth up. The Earth has warmed up – more than it has in the “recent” past – in the last  few hundred years.

However. We’re told that the current increase in the Earth’s temperature is entirely due to the increase in CO2 emissions. I don’t see where the evidence is which suggests that CO2 is such a large driver of the temperature of the Earth. If CO2 in the atmosphere plays as important a part in this as people claim it does, how come the Earth’s temperature has dropped in the past when CO2 levels were high? If a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere was that catastrophic, surely in the past when there were high levels of CO2, the temperature would have remained high once the original warming action was removed?

Why are we so sure that the current increase in temperature is purely down to CO2? Why have we ruled out the possibility that other – perhaps natural – phenomena are taking place, as they have done for thousands of years?

(Ego, perhaps?)

This isn’t to say that CO2 doesn’t play a role or that we should ignore what we’re putting into the air. If natural processes are responsible for some of the increase in temperature, then clearly we’re responsible for the rest of it. I just think that perhaps simply focussing on CO2 as the silver bullet is a really silly – maybe even dangerous – thing to do. As I’ve written before, the thing which really scares me is the fact that we’re running out of energy. Distracting ourselves with jollies to Copenhagen may make us feel like we’re doing something, but does it really solve the problem? Irrespective of whether the science is right, it annoys me that so many people have simplified the issue so much, to the point that they’re not even trying to solve the right problem. Stop CO2 emissions with sustainable fuels. Problems solved. As I said in the last post, that should be our Apollo…

In a comment on Callan’s blog, I likened Copenhagen to rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. That’s not true – it’s more trying to pump the water out to keep the ship from sinking. I mean it’ll work, albeit at great expense and inconvenience. But it doesn’t really solve the problem of the holes beneath the water, does it?

Posted In: EngineeringPoliticsRant Tagged: | 8 Comments