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The Lia Fáil May 30, 2014

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Culture, Environment.

I dread to think what awaits whoever did that to the Lia Fáil. This stuff used to be deadly fucking serious years ago, still is in some places.

The Tuatha Dé Danann were to be respected, for your cows will be dry and there would soon be no butter in the churn. If you were lucky. The Bishops never managed to beat it out of us but money finished off the fairies in the end.

Green and red paint could suggest some sort of Mayo involvement. Though seeing as the football team near the end of their own curse, I don’t believe warring vandals from the west would risk desecrating the seat of the High King.

Wasn’t it tomb tampering that finished Sean Quinn.

According to these locals, it was the decision to move a megalithic burial tomb 20 years ago which led to the fall of his cement, hotels, and insurance empire.

The Aughrim Wedge Tomb stood for 4,000 years in the townland after which it is named, two miles outside Ballyconnell, Co Cavan. But when it got in the way of the expansion of a massive quarry for Quinn Concrete in 1992, permission was granted by the Office of Public Works to move it. Following a full excavation of the site, it was moved — stone by stone — and relocated in the grounds of Mr Quinn’s Slieve Russell Hotel on the other side of the village.

“I’m a big supporter of Sean Quinn because of what he has done for this area but that tomb should never have been moved,” said publican Toirbhealach Lyons, the owner of Molly Maguire’s pub in Ballyconnell.

Mr Quinn has since lost the cement works, the hotel, a raft of other businesses and his multi-billion euro fortune. According to bankruptcy documents, he now claims to have just €11,000 in the bank.

On national level we all continue to pay dearly for the destruction of Tara.

In June 2007 Minister for the Environment Dick Roche signed an order destroying the Lismullin Henge. Lismullin Henge was a 4,000 year old astronomical observatory and place of worship and hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds of the century.

Roche was since held up by an armed gang in the Druids Glen Hotel and soon lost his job. (His car also burst into flames two years ago)

Martin Cullen the then Minister for Transport nearly got sucked out of a helicopter when the door fell off on one of his extravagantly expensive trips.

The chief Health and Safety Officer was seriously injured by a falling tree when felling began at Rath Lugh in 2007.

A worker was killed when he became trapped at Fairyhouse where there have been many accidents on this stretch of road.

A human tooth was discovered in a digger which was used to destroy the famous ancient feasting grounds and gathering place of ancient Harpers at Baronstown. The digger, while leaving the site, fell off a low loader onto the N3. Shortly afterwards the stairs in the National Museum collapsed.

And finally, just last summer, several large wasp nests were found throughout the valley. In Celtic Lore the appearance of the wasp was associated with the anger of Mother Earth.

But all this is nothing new.

The fairies had more clout than even developers once upon a time as this Dáil transcript from 1952 can reveal.

Mr. Dunne In my view, all we can hope from the Irish News Agency is that it will do a very good job in accordance with the traditions and outlook of our own people.

The question I want to put to the Minister is this: “Is he satisfied that, during the last six or eight months, news agency has done a satisfactory job in the presentation of news for foreign consumption?” I have my doubts.

I will come in a moment to so-called news being released from this country by the news agency which can have no other effect but to bring Irish journalism and, indeed, the reputation of our nation as a whole into contempt. It is from that point of view that I would like the Minister to examine what has been happening with regard to the news agency and to decide what will be the policy for the future.

I am about to quote now from an Irish News Agency dispatch released in Fleet Street on November 3rd of last year.

It is headed: “Fairy Fort Stays—30 Houses Go. Ballynanty Beg, Limerick, Saturday, Irish News Agency.”

It goes:—

“Limerick City Mayor, Matthew Macken, declared to-day— ‘If I have to get a gun to defend the fort, I will certainly do it.’

He was referring to a circular mound believed locally to be the headquarters of Limerick leprechauns, which this week caused the partial hold-up of the new housing scheme. It started on Monday when workmen employed by Limerick Corporation to build 475 houses refused to clear the mound on the site because it was a fairy fort.

Limerick City Mayor, Macken, investigated the matter and then announced: ‘We will have to give in to the fairies. We have decided to leave the fort standing.’ The men resumed work on condition that they would not have to touch the mound.

Said corporation overseer, John McNamara:

‘The people of Limerick will not go within miles of the fort. Several members of the bulldozer crew said they saw leprechauns making shoes there that night.’ ”

It must have been on Monday morning that they saw them. I will continue the quotation:—

“Previously, the corporation brought men in from the adjoining County Clare, but strange things happened to them when they tried to build houses near the fort. Said Overseer McNamara: ‘They built a few house gables, but next morning not one of the gables was standing.’

Other people recalled queer things that happened during recent years at the fairy fort. Farmer Collins owned the land on which the fort stands and was forced to sell it Said he: ‘I just had to sell it because all my cattle died.’ It was purchased by Matt Foley. Said he: ‘I had to sell it, too, because my cattle losses were phenomenal.’ Farmer Dan Kennelly purchased it and turned his milch cows to graze on it but they stopped giving milk. He had to accept a low price for it from the corporation.

Local schoolteacher, Robert Cashin, says: ‘The fort is bounded by a number of fruit and nut trees. We were always warned not to touch them, but I remember, as a boy, a playmate of mine pulling some hazel nuts one day from one of the trees. He became a cripple for life.’

Limerick’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Gerard Dillon, says: ‘I would not lay one stone upon another within 100 yards of the fort. I live quite near the place and, as a boy, my mother always told me not to go anywhere near the fairy playground…’ Because of the decision to preserve the fort, 30 fewer houses will be built.”

This was issued by the Irish News Agency for world consumption and it appeared in the overseas Daily Mail, in several other English newspapers and in other publications. I do not think anybody will try to justify the like of that as being a legitimate product of a news agency operating in this country for the purposes of building up respect abroad for the Irish nation and for Irish traditions.

As I said at the outset, there is no question about the fact that we need a news agency. One of the greatest difficulties under which the Irish nation has had to labour for, it may be said, a century has been the difficulty of trying to get the Irish point of view put over in sympathetic terms in the foreign Press.

Sympathetic terms are hard to find.

No doubt many in Labour Party are feeling a bit poxed.



Another week February 21, 2014

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Economy, Energy consumption.
1 comment so far

…and another trip to a European court for Ireland

 For failing to up competitiveness in the electricity market.

The EU electricity Directive to increase competition was introduced in 2011. Ireland could be liable for a fine of €20,000 each day.

“Ireland has failed to take the various steps needed to introduce greater competition to the energy market,” said Peter Power of the EU office in Dublin.

“Greater competition in the energy market means better prices for consumers … the commission wants a separation of the energy production and supply activates from the networks, in order to bring other players into this market.”

Replace energy with water and skip on a few years. And while we’re here.

Must make note of this from Independent Newspapers earlier in the month

In a statement this afternoon, Mr Ogle signalled his intention to step down in the coming days.

The news will come as shock to members of the ESB unions, coming as it does just weeks after Mr Ogle successfully led a campaign to have their main pension scheme reclassified and treated as a defined benefit scheme.

But the campaign is said to have taken its toll on the Co Louth native, who was subject to much adverse media comment over the threat of power cuts in the run up to Christmas.

Would you want to set up FairPhone? January 14, 2014

Posted by Tomboktu in Choice, Community, Employment Rights, Environment, Ethics, FairPhone, Human Rights, Technology, Workers Rights.

Who in their right mind would want to set up FairPhone? Obviously you can check out their site to find out who actually did set it up as a Dutch social enterprise, but would you want to?

Park, for a moment, the ‘fair’ bit and think about what is involved setting up a company to make a new smartphone. Smartphones are complex products, with chips, capacitors, resistors, glass, sensors, casings, displays, batteries, cameras, speakers, antennae, sockets and other bits and pieces that I don’t know about. And you’d need software. You would also need to design all of this, or get people to do that for you, and to set up or find a factory to make it.

If you did do it, you would be going into a market with big brands like Samsung, iPhone, Sony, Nokia, HTC, and so on, so you would need a pretty strong selling point to attract customers from the products offered by those heavy-hitters.

Le Monde Diplomatique: “The corporation invasion” December 21, 2013

Posted by Tomboktu in Capitalism, Economy, Environment, Inequality, International Finance, The Far Right.

Readers might be interested in this article in Le Monde Diplomatique

Imagine what would happen if foreign companies could sue governments directly for cash compensation over earnings lost because of strict labour or environmental legislation. This may sound far-fetched, but it was a provision of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), a projected treaty negotiated in secret between 1995 and 1997 by the then 29 member states of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) (1). News about it got out just in time, causing an unprecedented wave of protests and derailing negotiations.

Now the agenda is back. Since July the European Union and the United States have been negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) or Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), a modified version of the MAI under which existing legislation on both sides of the Atlantic will have to conform to the free trade norms established by and for large US and EU corporations, with failure to do so punishable by trade sanctions or the payment of millions of dollars in compensation to corporations.

(1) See Lori M Wallach, “A dangerous new manifesto for global capitalism”, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, February 1998.

And why haven’t you heard of it?

The TTIP/TAFTA negotiations are taking place behind closed doors. The US delegations have more than 600 corporate trade advisers, who have unlimited access to the preparatory documents and to representatives of the US administration. Draft texts will not be released, and instructions have been given to keep the public and press in the dark until a final deal is signed. By then, it will be too late to change.

The full article is available here: http://mondediplo.com/2013/12/02tafta

FairPhone June 11, 2013

Posted by Tomboktu in Community, Economics, Employment Rights, Environment, Ethics, Human Rights, Technology.
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[WorldByStorm suggested today that I move this up from a comment to a full post. I’ve uodated it because the time reference in the original is now out of date.]

Last year, I mentioned (in passing) that when I when I first bought a mobile phone, I made a point of buying from a telecoms company that recognises their workers’ union. I did not mention then that I had also done some research to see if I could buy a model that reflected my concerns — where the minerals are from, or union recognition for the people who make the actual phone.

So, I was pleased to see fairphone.com opened their new phone to pre-purchase.

On June 5 they hit their target of 5000 orders in order to go into production, and there are two days left to order one of the first batch.

And at the weekend just gone, they were working on aspects of the design their second phone.

The ethos is summed up in the invitation to the group of designers who participated in that workshop:

FairPhone was created because most people have no idea where the component parts of their mobile phone come from, how they are manufactured, and by whom. Bas: “Mobile phones are part and parcel of a complex economic and political system. We want to make this system visible to everyone. We do that by manufacturing the FairPhone, which unravels that system step by step.”

They recongise that their product is far from perfect — the rights of the workers is not secured through union recognition — but it’s better than any other phone I know of. Worth a look, I would suggest.

Take action in the legislative process of EU-Seed regulation! May 2, 2013

Posted by Tomboktu in Economics, Environment, Ethics, European Politics, Seed diversity.

This was sent to us at CLR earlier today

Take action in the legislative process of EU-Seed regulation!

There is urgent action needed to avoid damage by the upcoming new EU regulation of seed marketing. The new regulation will de facto ban old and rare varieties and farmers varieties and threaten the exchange and selling of seeds of diversity. DG SANCO (the General Direction of the EU for Sanitary and Consumer affairs) has been working on a proposal for a new regulation since years.

On Monday, the 6th of May they will present their proposal to the conference of commissioners. They could not get a consensus of the two other affected DGs, DG AGRI (agricultural affairs) and DG ENVI (environmental affairs). Both opposed the last draft of the proposal, and DG SANCO is not looking for a consensus.

The new regulation has mainly been drafted by Isabelle Clement-Nissou, an employee of GNIS, the French lobby of the Seed Industry. Madame Clement-Nissou was sent as a national expert to Brussels by the French government and is supposed to ” support ” DG SANCO. The drafts for the proposal became worse from the first to the second draft; and it is expected that the final proposal is going into the same direction. Since there is no consensus between the three DGs, the commissioners have to vote on the proposal.

If a majority of commissioners votes against the proposal, it should be stopped. If they vote in favour, it will be given to the EU Parliament and to the Council. The seed industry is pushing the legislation, because they’ve spent a lot of money to influence the seed legislation. Furthermore, they don’t want it to be postponed after the election of a new parliament in May 2014. They take the risk that the commissioners vote against it − and we think: the commissioners should do so! There is only a little chance to get a majority of commissioners to vote against the current proposal, but we still should try.

Each country of the EU has one commissioner in Brussels, so we need 14 votes against the proposal. The commissioners of DG AGRI and DG ENVI should vote against, so we need 12 more.

Please write to the commissioner of your country and convince him/her to vote ” NO ” on the proposal of DG SANCO on 6th of May.

Try to make a link from his/her department to the seed issue, and try to make clear to him/her that the proposal for a new EU seed legislation will affect the cultural and biodiversity heritage of your country and the freedom of farmers to use the seeds and the varieties they want to.

NO PROHIBITION OF SEEDS OF DIVERSITY! By the obligation to register varieties before marketing, the new regulation will be a de facto prohibition of old and rare varieties and of farmer varieties. Please write to your commissioner in Brussels no later than the 28th.

He/she has to make a statement on the proposal from 24th of April on, the sooner, the better. On the 6th of May, we must obtain at least 14 objections, otherwise this proposal will become the official proposal.


Dear Ms Geoghegan-Quinn, I have recently been made aware of the upcoming proposed changes to EU seed marketing law. This proposed new regulation will de facto ban old and rare varieties and farmers varieties and stop the exchange and selling of traditional seeds.

The apparent background to this is that DG SANCO (the Directorate General of the EU for Sanitary and Consumer affairs) has been working on a proposal for a new regulation driven by lobbying of the big agricultural seed companies. Apparently, however, two other EU directorates, DG AGRI (agricultural affairs) and DG ENVI (environmental affairs) both opposed the last draft of the proposal because it was so bad for agriculture and biodiversity. DG SANCO is now pushing ahead with the new law by putting it directly to the Commission this week.

I would urge you to vote against the current proposal, as it impacts everyone who cares about our seeds and our freedom to save, use, and exchange them.

Given our Irish heritage and background in agriculture and indeed the many rare and beautiful varieties unique to our country, it is vital that you understand how the proposal for a new EU seed legislation will affect the cultural and biodiversity heritage of Ireland, and the freedom of farmers and growers to use the seeds and the varieties they want to. By forcing registration of all varieties of every crop species that exists, the new law will prohibit old, rare and traditional public− domain farm varieties. This will guarantee huge profits for the seed industry but will be a terrible loss to the people of Europe as our agricultural heritage is outlawed overnight!


Yours faithfully,

More info at: www.seed-sovereignty.org

Carbon weighting November 4, 2012

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Environment, US Politics.

Fatigue had long set in with the tokenism, ‘folk’ and events Stateside. While always and immensely fascinating, on the small p; that window to a grim future of ultra-staged politics and the obscene budgets now necessary to find an acceptable face of inequality has always repelled me on a few levels.

The campaign has thrown up an interesting tension. The sharpening of extremes has developed an odd hue of choice in the most embedded of two party systems while ultimately leaving either candidate well short of answers for the America they hope to define let alone one those middle classes sincerely expect.

With two days to polling you’ve suffered enough barely thought out analysis so I just wanted to highlight this clip as the first to fill me dread beyond any of the foreign or economic sentiment of campaign 2012.

The chant, those who shout the loudest, instantly cognisant of the threat and appropriate response. Instinct.  A backdrop as we zoom slowly back to Romney and all it represents. The hollowest of rhetoric bookends.

A real essence in there I think. So much contained.

The interesting dynamic is that like Japan, seeing Manhattan underwater brings disaster into our world. Watching five bedroom houses float out to sea last year carried a shock the routine images of third world devastation have long lost. Similarly, now events of this force have moved up the East Coast the issue may become harder to shout down or at least lead some to shout a bit louder. This arrival in the first world has an effect not unlike the magnifying of the ugly in politics I mentioned at the start.

Bloomberg’s Businessweek on Friday led with, It’s Global Warming, Stupid, a convenient swerve away economy and obvious kick against one candidate but an interesting departure for Wall St. none the less. New York’s last big event continues to ripple around the world. Naive to hope Sandy will have anything like the same effect but epicentres like that make it harder to forget.

Obama arrived and soon found deflation when the economic mountain emerged and his team appear to have copped on to something politicians elsewhere are going to get used to.  Like the first, his second term comes on the tail of an event that calls into question the approach, challenges and short-termism, until the next time.

Privatising Bin Services ………. September 9, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Environmentalism.
Tags: ,

Came home yesterday to find this lovely letter from Greyhound Waste waiting for me. Needless to say I’d forgotten that South Dublin County Council had abdicated its role in providing bin services and that Greyhound Waste had taken their place. All the while I’d told Panda and others that I wanted to stick with the Councils service as I actually believed a council should be providing such a service.

When the bin tags first came out I got myself a Green Cone and dramatically reduced the amount of rubbish that was ending up in my black bin, allied to that my youngest would soon be out of nappies, so my biggest source of rubbish was gone.
For hedge clippings, grass cuttings and plastics etc I’d go down to recycle centre in Rathmines once in a while with them. They started charging there for green waste , so I built myself a compost heap in the garden.
At this stage I don’t use my Brown bin and put my black bin out maybe 4 times a year.
So upon reading the letter I was delighted to see that I was going to be saving money on my bins.
except I wasn’t.

I read and then reread and found that no I had to pay this new annual sixty euro charge or my bins wouldn’t be collected.
Sixty this year ….. how much next year? how much the year after?
I don’t mind paying bin charges for each black bin I put out but I do mind having an annual charge whether I like it or not.
Whats the story with pensioners, unemployed etc? Will they have to pay the private company the sixty euro to have their bins collected?
We’ll soon have charges for water and whatever else they can invent and in time these utilities will be privatised. For whose benefit?

A little bit of science February 2, 2011

Posted by Tomboktu in Environment, Other Stuff, Science.

When I was in school, I had planned to be a scientist. But life took me on a different course. For a while after completing a science degree, I did get to copy-edit scientific journals, and in a later job I did interview a guy for a job who had published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. (He had dropped out of the “tenure rat race”, as he called it, but with a pre-PhD co-authorship in the prestigious PANA, he should have had no difficulty getting a job if he’d finished the doctorate. But love and marriage brought him away from all that.)

So, I was dead jealous when I read about a study that has been accepted for publication in the Royal Society’s journal Biology Letters. Visually, it offers a clue as to why it is different from your usual academic paper in a learned journal (and make no mistake, Biology Letters is a learned journal). First, if you run your eye over the references section at the end of the paper to see if you recognise any of the preceding work in the area, you find there is no such section. And, second, the published paper has three figures that contain tables like this one.

Image of table published in Biology Letters









If you think the handwriting in that table looks a bit child-like, you would be right: it is child-like because it was written by a primary school pupil. But the paper does not report a study that is about primary school pupils’ handwriting. No, that table was the authors presenting their findings. The whole study was conducted by 25 school pupils aged between 8 and 10 years old. They did have some adult help, but that is described as minimal.

The study was on the ability of bees to learn where to forage, using the colour and position of “flowers”, which were made of perspex for the experiment.

I suspect that they have had a little bit of help in writing up the research: they open the “Discussion” section with the following comment:

[This experiment] tells us that bees can learn to solve puzzles (and if we are lucky we will be able to get them to do Sudoku in a couple of years’ time).

And where the typical acknowledgement of grant support in a scientific paper would be limited to various foundations or state scientific funders, this paper thanks” the George Inn—where the manuscript was written—for the free Cokes”.

Biology Letters has accepted it for publication because they have checked and it appears that it is novel scientific research.

The paper is short enough 6 pages, and is available here.

My heartiest congratulations to each of you, S. Airzee, A. Allen, S. Baker, A. Berrow, C. Blair, M. Churchill, J. Coles, R. F.-J. Cumming, L. Fraquelli, C. Hackford, A. Hinton Mellor, M. Hutchcroft, B. Ireland, D. Jewsbury, A. Littlejohns, G. M. Littlejohns, M. Lotto, J. McKeown, A. O’Toole, H. Richards, L. Robbins-Davey, S. Roblyn, H. Rodwell-Lynn, D. Schenck, J. Springer, A. Wishy, and T. Rodwell-Lynn (but I am dead jealous of ye!)

(Science?) cat on a hot tin roof. Heat of tin may not be due to global warming and climate change – so says Dr. William Reville in the Irish Times. August 20, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in climate change, Science.

This blog has been taken to task for concentrating on the ultra-liberalism of the Irish Times and that’s a fair criticism – although it’s sort of difficult to peg Breda O’Brien, or indeed John Waters as ultra (or indeed any sort of) liberals. [You see, it’s the little criticisms or questions with a grain of truth that hurt, not the big existential ones like ‘WorldbyStorm, you’re not a socialist/Republican/Green’]

So, that in mind let’s consider a source of constant fascination to the CLR, the author of the Irish Times Science column, Dr. William Reville. It’s a remarkable column, as has been noted, here and here and here. And if I check on the search function of the Irish Times I see that in this month alone we’ve been treated to pieces on “Oxford view on Shroud of Turin eagerly awaited” (Is the Turin Shroud real or a medieval forgery? The centuries-old question may soon be answered, writes William Reville – I await with bated breath the outcome of that ‘scientific investigation’) and “Growing challenge to prevailing view on climate change”(sub-head: A small but growing view is that global warming is a natural process – nothing to do with human activity, writes Dr William Reville).

Yes indeed, the ‘Science’ column of the “paper of record” is now given over to climate change – well, not quite denial, but certainly – doubt.

He starts:

GLOBAL warming/climate change is a very serious and important issue. It has been under scientific investigation since 1986 by the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC declares global warming is a fact and it is driven largely by emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities (IPCC Report 2007 – http://www.ipcc.ch/). I have reported the IPCC reports uncritically in this column, but a growing number of scientists are now presenting evidence that contradicts the IPCC position and I will give you a flavour of their position in this article.

Then comes a mea culpa…

Some scientists always disputed the findings of the IPCC but I dismissed this largely as expert opinion hired by the international oil industry.

Well, one wonders what investigations he made into the bona fides of those who disputed this.

However, it is now clear that many eminent scientists, who are not beholden to vested interests, disagree with the IPCC (eg physicist Freeman J Dyson who argues that the modelling methods used by IPCC are not nearly discriminating enough to reliably predict future climate conditions). The American Physical Society recently issued a statement to say: “There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming since the Industrial Revolution.”

And the heart of his new-found scepticism, sorry, doubts about the IPCC.

Well, critics charge the following: First, IPCC is an activist/ political enterprise whose agenda is to control emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and concentrates exclusively on evidence that might point towards human induced climate change. Second, leading IPCC scientists reflect the positions of their governments, or seek to persuade their governments to adopt the IPCC position. Third, a small group of activists wrote the all-important Summary for Policymakers (SPM) for the four IPCC reports to-date. SPMs are revised and agreed by the member governments. The thousands of scientists who do the scientific work have no direct influence on these selective summaries. Fourth, large professional and financial rewards go to scientists who are willing to slant scientific facts to suit the IPCC agenda.

He makes a reasonable point. And then a not so resonable point.

Two things strike me about these charges. First, if they are true it is amazing that no whistle-blower has emerged from among the large ranks of IPCC. Second, why does IPCC not strenuously rebut these charges?

Well firstly, the lack of whistle-blower would indeed strike one as leading to a belief that, bizarre as it may seem, the bulk of scientific opinion backs the concept of anthropogenic climate change. Secondly, why should the IPCC whose function is to assess the data and arrive at a conclusion become an activist agency? Particularly in a context where increasingly event the most recalcitrant governments are finally accepting their central thesis. Indeed why should they waste time and energy dealing with marginal critiques?

Incidentally I love the charge that there are ‘large professional and financial rewards… [for] scientists who are willing to slant scientific facts to suit the IPCC agenda’. That it is made in the main by those whose funds directly or indirectly appear to be sourced in the ‘international oil industry’ perhaps is indicative of it being the finest passive aggressive attack ever.

Still, not one to be put off by such things as the ‘mainstream majority scientific position’ our man in Cork notes that:

THE US Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) was set up “to base environmental policy on sound science rather than exaggerated fears”. However, it has been accused of being influenced by the oil industry.

‘Influenced’ is a nice way to put it. For a rather deeper take on this consider this from Newsweek which discusses the ways in which S Fred Singer, leading light of SEPP was central to climate change denial in the 1980s in conjunction with Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute.

But undeterred by – or unaware of – such side issues Reville continues.

SEPP has published scientific evidence (Nature, Not Human Activity Rules the Climate, S Fred Singer ed. The Heartland Institute, 2008) – http://www.sepp.org/publications/ NIPCC_final.pdf – to illustrate that 20th-century global warming is not the once-off phenomenon of recent historical times claimed by the IPCC, and that most of the current warming is the result of natural and uncontrollable variations in solar activity and very little is being caused, or could be caused, by human emissions of greenhouse gases. The SEPP also claims that we have little to fear from global warming since human civilisation always fared better during warmer than during colder periods.

The last statement is risible. One need merely look at a map to see that firstly global populations have increased rapidly across the last two centuries and the density of these populations around coasts is significant entailing massive disruption should climate change lead to increasing sea levels (not to mention other effects such as pervasive flooding of plains etc). But a bit of digging about the report that Reville references leads to some disquieting conclusions.

Firstly let’s examine The Heartland Institute which is a libertarian/conservative think tank, based in the US. It has already run into trouble over global warming with a strong contrarian stance. Fine, as far as it goes. Let a thousand flowers bloom, but consider the following. In September 2007 the Heartlands Institute published a list of 500 scientists from:

A new analysis of peer-reviewed scientific literature [which] reveals that more than 500 climate scientists have appeared as authors or coauthors of peer-reviewed scientific articles confirming that climate change is a natural phenomenon.

The authors of this?

The names were compiled by Dennis Avery and climate physicist S. Fred Singer, the co-authors of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), mainly from the peer-reviewed studies cited in their book. The researchers found evidence of climate change long predating human industrial activity, captured in such “proxies” as tree rings, stalagmites, lichens, pollen, plankton, insects, public health, Chinese history and astrophysics.

Only problem is that the scientists referenced didn’t agree with the interpretation Singer and Avery, and indeed the Heartland Institute were making. Or as desmogblog.com noted:

…we have received notes now from 45 outraged scientists whose names appear on the list of 500. We’ve published more quotes here.

Dozens of scientists are demanding that their names be removed from a widely distributed Heartland Institute article entitled 500 Scientists with Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares.

The article, by Hudson Institute director and Heartland “Senior Fellow” Dennis T. Avery (inset), purports to list scientists whose work contradicts the overwhelming scientific agreement that human-induced climate change is endangering the world as we know it.

The response from the Heartland Institute?

DeSmogBlog, a Web site created to attack conservative and free-market nonprofit organizations, targeted The Heartland Institute in late April 2008, and in particular two lists posted on Heartland’s Web site [ http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=21971 ] of scientists whose published work contradicts some of the main tenets of global warming alarmism. The blog persuaded some of the scientists appearing in the lists to ask that their names be removed from the lists.

In response to the complaints, The Heartland Institute has changed the headlines that its PR department had chosen for some of the documents related to the lists, from “500 Scientists with Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares” to “500 Scientists Whose Research Contradicts Man-Made Global Warming Scares.”

What motivates the scientists? They have no right — legally or ethically — to demand that their names be removed from a bibliography composed by researchers with whom they disagree. Their names probably appear in hundreds or thousands of bibliographies accompanying other articles or in books with which they disagree. Do they plan to sue hundreds or thousands of their colleagues? The proper response is to engage in scholarly debate, not demand imperiously that the other side redact its publications.

It’s pretty masterful, isn’t it? For consider again the phrasing in their initial communication: ‘authors or coauthors of peer-reviewed scientific articles confirming that climate change is a natural phenomenon’. Not a lot of room there for the subtle reworking they then go for. And they continue:

Many of the complaining scientists have crossed the line between scientific research and policy advocacy. They lend their credibility to politicians and advocacy groups who call for higher taxes and more government regulations to “save the world” from catastrophic warming … and not coincidentally, to fund more climate research. They are embarrassed — as they should be — to see their names in a list of scientists whose peer-reviewed published work suggests the modern warming might be due to a natural 1,500-year climate cycle……. the point should be obvious: There is no scientific consensus that global warming is a crisis.

Now that’s bad enough, because the actual statements from the scientists referenced:

I have NO doubts ..the recent changes in global climate ARE man-induced. I insist that you immediately remove my name from this list since I did not give you permission to put it there.”


I don’t believe any of my work can be used to support any of the statements listed in the article.”

On a side issue, entertaining, isn’t it, to see a supposedly libertarian organisation denying individual autonomy to those who it references? I guess the collective trumps all. Erm.. who again are the collective?

But this is all background. What of the report itself?

It makes for interesting reading. It attempts to demolish, in a fairly predictable fashion, the bona fides of the IPCC, then curiously attempts to have its cake and eat it. It agrees that climate change may be occurring but that the effects are ‘minimal’, indeed even congenial to human civilisation.

Our findings, if sustained, point to natural causes and a moderate warming trend with beneficial effects for humanity and wildlife.

Go wildlife. Hope the humans have waterproofs.

If, for whatever reason, a modest warming were to occur – even one that matches temperatures seen during the Medieval Warm Period of around 1100 AD or the much larger ones recorded during the Holocene Climate Optimum of some 6,000 years ago – the impact would not be damaging but would probably be, on the whole, beneficial.

But then consider the following. On various outlets the 24 contributors are described as ‘some of the brightest names in the climate field’, climate experts, university professors and ‘well reputed’ and even ‘reknowned’ scientists. Hmmm…. let’s see about that.

Warren Anderson
United States
Dennis Avery
United States
Franco Battaglia
Robert Carter
Richard Courtney
United Kingdom
Joseph d’Aleo
United States
Fred Goldberg
Vincent Gray
New Zealand
Kenneth Haapala
United States
Klaus Heiss
Craig Idso
United States
Zbigniew Jaworowski
Olavi Karner
Madhav Khandekar
William Kininmonth
Hans Labohm
Christopher Monckton
United Kingdom
Lubos Motl
Czech Republic
Tom Segalstad
S. Fred Singer
United States
Dick Thoenes
Anton Uriarte
Gerd Weber

It’s a good list, but if we go to realclimate.org change we see that the provenance of these fine fellows is as follows:

Contributors (info from Source Watch http://www.sourcewatch.org and other sources)

Warren Anderson, US
(co-author of Fire and Ice)

Dennis Avery, US
(director of the Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute)

Franco Battaglia, Italy
(professor of environmental chemistry at the University of Modena)

Robert Carter, Australia
(”Professor Carter, whose background is in marine geology, appears to have little, if any, standing in the Australian climate science community;” well known climate change skeptic)

Richard Courtney, UK
(Technical Editor for CoalTrans International (journal of the international coal trading industry), was a Senior Material Scientist of the National Coal Board and a Science and Technology spokesman of the British Association of Colliery Management)

Joseph d’Aleo, US
(retired meteorologist & well known climate change skeptic)

Fred Goldberg, Sweden
(associate professor at the Royal School of Technology in Stockholm)

Vincent Gray, New Zealand
(founding member New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, which has the stated aim of “refuting what it believes are unfounded claims about anthropogenic (man-made) global warming.”)

Klaus Heiss, Austria
(economist, Science & Environmental Policy Project)

Craig Idso, US
(founder and chairman of the board of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, funded by Western Fuels and Exxon Mobil)

Zbigniew Jaworowski, Poland
(professor at the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw & global warming skeptic)

Olavi Karner, Estonia
(Tartu Observatory)

Madhav Khandekar, Canada
(retired Environment Canada meteorologist, on the scientific advisory board of Friends of Science, published in Energy & Environment)

William Kininmonth, Australia
(past head of head of Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre, known Australian climate change skeptic; listed as “Director of the Australasian Climate Research Institute,” but the Institute is listed as simply a trading name for “Kininmonth, William Robert”, and is based at his private residence)

Hans Labohm, Netherlands
(economist, author of Man-Made Global Warming: Uravelling a Dogma)

Christopher Monckton, UK
(… connected with the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI), formerly the Frontiers of Freedom’s Center for Science and Public Policy, which promotes the views of global warming skeptics)

Lubos Motl, Czech Republic
(theoretical physicist who works on string theory and conceptual problems of quantum gravity)

Tom Segalstadt, Norway
(head of the Geological Museum within the Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo, IPCC reviewer)

S. Fred Singer, US
(Whom we also all know; former space scientist and government scientific administrator, runs the Science and Environmental Policy Project and has been connected with numerous conservative think tanks, including Cato, American Enterprise Institute, and of course, the tobacco industry)

Dick Thoenes, Netherlands
(emeritus professor of chemical engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, co-author of Man-Made Global Warming: Uravelling a Dogma)

Anton Uriarte, Spain
(professor of Physical Geography at the University of the Basque Country)

Gerd Weber, Germany
(works for the ‘Gesamtverband des Deutschen Steinkohlenbergbaus’ (Association of German coal producers))

So, perhaps three of those exalted ‘experts’ could claim to have direct professional expertise in meteorology, let alone climate change. Impressive, I think you’ll agree. And while the oil industry is not in situ for this particular gig a cheer or two for King Coal.

And note that name Christopher Monckton (United Kingdom). Now that was familiar to me. But from where? Climate scientist? Researcher? Why no. For Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is a ‘journalist, politician and business consultant, policy advisor, writer, and inventor’ according to wiki. Inventor you say, then surely he has some engineering and/or scientific expertise. But no again, for his invention is the multi-million selling “Eternity” and “Eternity II” board games. This doesn’t invalidate his right to say whatever he likes about climate change, but to be a contributor in a project in direct contradiction with the IPCC might well necessitate something a little more grounded.

Now I could be petty and list off those on the IPCC, but to be honest lunch is only so long and I can’t be arsed.

And the response from scientists in the field? According to ABC News this was as follows:

ABC News showed Singer’s most recent report on global warming to climate scientists from NASA, from Stanford University and from Princeton. They dismissed it as “fabricated nonsense.”

Now, I’ll leave it to http://www.realclimate.org to dissect the report in detail, but you get the idea.

But these being all of a piece, as it were what of Reville’s point that:

The American Physical Society recently issued a statement to say: “There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming since the Industrial Revolution.”

This got the anti-climate change camp all of a fluster with ragged breathing and sweaty palms. But. Er. No. No it didn’t. The editorial in the newsletter of the APS ‘Physics and Society’ suggested did include the quoted phrase. However the APS as a body this July noted:

The Forum on Physics and Society is a place for discussion and disagreement on scientific and policy matters. Our newsletter publishes a combination of non- peer- reviewed technical articles, policy analyses, and opinion. All articles and editorials published in the newsletter solely represent the views of their authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Forum Executive Committee.

The FPS Executive Committee strongly endorses the position of the APS Council that “Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.” The statement in the July 2008 edition of our newsletter, Physics and Society that, “There is considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution” does not represent the views of the Executive Committee of the Forum on Physics and Society.

All this was on foot of the APS newsletter publishing two pieces, one accepting climate change and one not, the latter written by the ubiquitous Mr. Monckton. Now I’m an ambitious kind of a person, but I know my limits and the idea that – for example – I might have an article on cosmology published in an associated newsletter of Scientific American or New Scientist or a professional science body is simply nonsense. So how come climate change is seen as an area where anyone can ‘have a go’, as it were?

Dismal dismal stuff. And what is so striking is just how thin the NIPCC and associated groups is. For a serious tilt at the IPCC something a lot more weighty would be necessary, with perhaps actual climate change experts as distinct from industry/excited non specialists. And isn’t it telling that they can’t get that level of expertise? Still, that’s perhaps not the point from their perspective. And perhaps not that important in the big picture in the context of – as noted before – some awareness by states of the seriousness of the issue.

Yet, here is the thing. It takes me about twenty or so minutes over lunchtime on a couple of successive days to find out all this information in the detail necessary to put together a post on the subject. William Reville – one presumes – has more time and the added incentive of being paid for his time. And yet he doesn’t do so. Odd that.

Remember, as the line says at the foot of each of his articles:

William Reville is associate professor of biochemistry and public awareness of science officer at UCC

While I’m at it can I direct you to the remarkable (for which read insane) site here. The US state conflicted on climate change? Who’d have thunk it?

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