Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Prince Charles: Eighteen months to stop climate change disaster

What a dummy! The guy lacks even basic caution. He will be a laughing stock in 18 months time. Canny doomsters don't put an exact date on anything -- not unless it is way in the future

In one of his most out-spoken interventions in the climate change debate, he said a 15 billion pound annual programme was required to halt deforestation or the world would have to live with the dire consequences. "We will end up seeing more drought and starvation on a grand scale. Weather patterns will become even more terrifying and there will be less and less rainfall," he said. "We are asking for something pretty dreadful unless we really understand the issues now and [the] urgency of them." The Prince said the rainforests, which provide the "air conditioning system for the entire planet", releasing water vapour and absorbing carbon, were being lost to poor farmers desperate to make a living.

He said that every year, 20 million hectares of forest - equivalent to the area of England, Wales and Scotland - were destroyed and called for a "gigantic partnership" of governments, businesses and consumers to slow it down. "What we have got to do is try to ensure that these forests are more valuable alive than dead. At the moment, there is more value in them being dead," he said.

He estimated that the cost would be about 15 billion a year but said that this should be viewed as an insurance policy for the whole world. "That is roughly just under one per cent of all the insurance premiums paid in the world in any one year. It is an insurance premium to ensure the world has some rainfall and reasonable weather patterns. It is a good deal."

Last month, the Prince had a meeting at St James's Palace with four state governors from Brazil to discuss the best way to allocate the money. One option would be for an organisation such as the World Bank to administer the fund. The Prince made clear yesterday that if nothing was done there was a "severe danger of losing a major part of the battle against climate change".

In an interview on Radio 4's Today programme, the Prince disclosed that he had raised his concerns with the White House, Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, and President Sarkozy, of France. He said he had pressed Barclays, Shell, Goldman Sachs and McDonald's to join his campaign. But he also said consumers had to play their part by choosing products that were environmentally sustainable and called for improvements in labelling.

He denied, however, that he was interfering in the political process. "All I am ever trying to do is to provide an enabling facility," he said. He conceded that at times he had been forced to keep his counsel when he would have liked to have spoken out. "You learn as you go along. I am going to be 60 this year. I would be a blinding idiot if I had not learnt a bit by now."


England feels pinch as Poles depart

Renata Drag sells champagne at 20 pounds ($42) a glass in an upmarket cafe in London's ritzy Kensington but she has something in common with hundreds of thousands of other Poles working in building sites, farms and hotels across Britain. She is going home.

Just four years after Britain was caught by surprise by a massive influx of workers from Poland and elsewhere in eastern Europe, the mostly young immigrants are turning around in large numbers and leaving Britain. Tabloid newspaper headlines that once agonised about the flood of immigrants from the newly expanded European Union taking British jobs are now warning darkly that there will be nobody left to pick fruit, clear tables and build stadiums for the 2012 London Olympics.

"I really like London and I have improved my English working here but things are getting a lot better back in Poland now," said 24-year-old Drag, who plans to go home to Cracow and look for work in international tourism. "Wages are really going up in Poland and the pound is getting weaker so it is harder to save good money in London. "Lots of my friends have left and now they are getting good jobs at home because they have learned good English and got good experience here."

The Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK estimates that about a million workers from Poland and the seven other eastern and central European countries that joined the EU in 2004 shifted to Britain, the only large EU economy that kept its labour market open to the new entrants. That shift has been one of the world's largest and smoothest migrations of workers across any border [Which of course has NOTHING to do with the fact that they are Northern Europeans of Christian background -- like the native British themselves], and has been described by historians as the largest influx into Britain in 300 years. But now, according to the IPPR, about half those workers have gone home, with many more planning to follow soon.

Danny Sriskandarajah, one of the report's authors, says this massive wave of migration has been unique in British history because most of the arrivals in previous influxes stayed permanently. At this stage, Britain's experience with what are dubbed "the Polish plumbers", suggests the EU's flexible labour market has actually worked the way it is intended, providing extra labour when the British economy was booming, allowing more growth while keeping down inflation and interest rates. Now that Britain's economy is slowing, there are suddenly fewer workers looking for jobs.

Poland has benefited because many of its ambitious workers were able to find good jobs during a time of high unemployment at home and are now returning with the money and experience to start their own businesses or take on more highly paid jobs while stimulating economic demand. Poland's unemployment has halved since it joined the EU in 2004. Wages in some of its industries are up by 25 per cent this year, and the zloty has soared against the pound. In 2004, each pound saved by a Polish worker would buy 7.5 Polish zloty; today it buys only 4.5 zloty. Given the higher living costs in London, rising wages at home and the tug of family ties, there are weaker incentives to stay.

The arrival of the eastern workers in the UK strained government services in many regions but soon prompted visible changes in many aspects of British life. Supermarkets stocked hundreds of lines of Polish food and beers, street signs in some cities were duplicated in Polish, Catholic churches saw fuller pews and nightclubs introduced special Polish pop music nights. Local councils and even political parties translated their hand-outs into Polish, and dozens of medium-sized newspapers began printing regular Polish-language editions.

Even The Sun, which revels in British nationalism, is considering printing special 48-page Polish language editions during the Euro 2008 football tournament. With England failing to qualify, retailers and publicans hope to cash in on Polish fans by advertising Polish beers and snacks.

Wojciech Pisarski, a spokesman at the Polish embassy in London, told The Weekend Australian that his Government "is doing everything it can to encourage workers to come home because we need them now in Poland." "We are running a publicity campaign to convince them that they can use the expertise they have gained here to set up businesses or get good jobs back home," Mr Pisarski said. The Polish Government had offered cheap loans to returning workers hoping to set up new businesses, and a tax amnesty on remissions of cash so workers could shift their money home without worrying about being double-taxed on foreign earnings, he said.

"Gdansk council has also introduced its own incentives to get people to shift home. It is quite important because, just like London is getting ready for the Olympics, we are hosting the 2012 Euro (football championship) and a lot of work has to be done. "We need to build stadiums, hotels and infrastructure and we need to bring home people with the skills to do that," Mr Pisarski said. "At one point we had about 1000 Polish people a day coming to Britain but that has levelled off and now it seems to be flowing the other way."

Miles Quest, a spokesman for the British Hospitality Association, said hotels and other catering businesses would suffer if east Europeans kept returning home: "Around 80 per cent of workers in hospitality in London are from overseas and ... the eastern Europeans have been extremely valuable." The departure of Poles means many British employers are turning to Bulgarians and Romanians, who tend to have worse language and technical skills but are cheaper workers.


The British spooks sure know how to screen their spies: "A bizarre sex scandal involving a top motor sports official and the prostitute wife of a British spy has raised urgent questions about the screening procedures employed by the MI5 security service. The Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph reported that an MI5 officer had been forced to resign after it emerged that his wife was one of five prostitutes who took part in an orgy with Max Mosley, president of Formula One's governing body, the FIA. A security source did not dispute the reports but said any suggestion the orgy had been an MI5 'sting' operation to entrap Mosley was "nonsense". The affair raises many questions, not least how MI5 could have failed to know that the wife of one of its operatives was working as a prostitute. Staff are subjected before joining the agency to what its website calls "the most comprehensive form of security vetting in the UK", aimed at establishing their reliability and suitability. The screening continues after a person has joined the service, and there is a responsibility on staff to inform MI5 of changes in their personal circumstances." [Even Kim Philby could probably get a job there these days]

Blame it all on fatties: "Obese people are contributing to the world food crisis and climate change, experts say. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calculated the obese consume 18% more calories than average. They are also responsible for using more fuel, which has an environmental impact and drives up food prices as transport and agriculture both use oil. The result is that the poor struggle to afford food and greenhouse gas emissions rise, the Lancet reported."

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