Sunday, July 20, 2008

British regulators uphold accuracy of "Swindle" film

On Monday Ofcom is expected to publish a long-awaited report that upholds claims by some of the scientists who appeared in the programme last year that they were misrepresented. The Great Global Warming Swindle, which aired in March last year, has been accused of downplaying the threat in the public mind. It sparked an outcry among environmentalists and many campaigners argue that the programme has contributed to people believing that the threat is not real.

It is understood that complaints by Carl Wunsch, a climate expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be upheld. The regulator is expected to say that Channel 4 should have told Dr Wunsch that the programme was going to be a polemic. The regulator will also uphold complaints made by the government’s former chief scientist, Sir David King, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But the broadcaster will not be censured over a second complaint about accuracy, which contained 131 specific points and ran to 270 pages, with Ofcom finding that it did not mislead the public.

Debate has raged since the programme was shown, with many scientists claiming that it misrepresented evidence about the threat of global warming and that it rehashed discredited arguments and skewed data and charts to make its arguments stand up. In the closing moments of the program a voiceover from the climate change sceptic Fred Singer claimed that the Chief Scientist of the UK had said that by the end of the century the only habitable place on the planet would be in the Antarctic and that “humanity may survive thanks to some breeding couples who moved to the Antarctic”. Sir David has never made such a statement. It is thought that Mr Singer confused the comments with those made by the scientist James Lovelock, who infuriated many colleagues in the science community when he publicly questioned global warming.

Ofcom is expected to find that the programme made significant allegations against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, questioning its credibility and failed to offer it timely and appropriate opportunity to respond. Channel 4 argues that the organisation refused to cooperate with the programme-makers.

After the broadcast, Dr Wunsch said that the programme was as close to pure propaganda as anything since the Second World War and that he was duped into appearing on it. Martin Durkin, the director of the programme, has defended it vigorously. He wrote in a newspaper: “The death of this theory will be painful and ugly. But it will die. Because it is wrong, wrong, wrong.”

The producers have sold the programme to 21 other countries and a global DVD release went ahead despite protests from scientists. Channel 4 claimed that the public response to the programme, in the form of phone calls it received, was six to one in favour of it. The broadcaster said that the documentary was a useful contribution to a timely debate, arguing that it had a tradition for iconoclastic programming and that it had also aired programmes supporting the case for man-made climate change.

A recent poll found that the majority of the British public is sceptical that climate change is caused by human activity, with many saying the problem exists but is exaggerated. Ipsos MORI polled 1,039 adults and found that six out of ten agreed that “many scientific experts still question if human beings are contributing to climate change”. Campaigners believe that steadily increasing economic worries are denting public interest in environmental issues and some of them have blamed the programme.

Channel 4’s head of science, Hamish Mykura, said last March that he commissioned the film because it reflected the views of a significant minority of respected scientists. An Ofcom spokeswoman said she could not comment before the report was published. Channel 4 said that it could not comment at this stage.


British father branded a 'pervert' - for photographing his own children in a public park

When Gary Crutchley started taking pictures of his children playing on an inflatable slide he thought they would be happy reminders of a family day out. But the innocent snaps of seven-year-old Cory, and Miles, five, led to him being called a `pervert'. The woman running the slide at Wolverhampton Show asked him what he was doing and other families waiting in the queue demanded that he stop. One even accused him of photographing youngsters to put the pictures on the internet.

Mr Crutchley, 39, who had taken pictures only of his own children, was so enraged that he found two policemen who confirmed he had done nothing wrong. Yesterday he said: `What is the world coming to when anybody seen with a camera is assumed to be doing things that they should not? `This parental paranoia is getting completely out of hand. I was so shocked. One of the police officers told me that it was just the way society is these days. He agreed with me that it was madness.'

Father-of-three Mr Crutchley, a consultant for a rubber manufacturer from Walsall, West Midlands, was with his wife Tracey and their sons when the pleasant Sunday afternoon out turned sour. He said: `The children wanted to go on an inflatable slide and I started taking photos of them having a good time. Moments later the woman running the slide told me to stop. `When I asked why, she told me I could not take pictures of other people's children. I explained I was only interested in taking photos of my own children and pointed out that this was taking place in a public park.

`I showed her the photos I had taken to prove my point. Then another woman joined in and said her child was also on the slide and did not want me taking pictures of the youngster. `I repeated that the only people being photographed were my own children. She said I could be taking pictures of just any child to put on the internet and called me a pervert. We immediately left the show.'

Mrs Crutchley, 37, a teaching support assistant and qualified nursery nurse, said: `I was shocked by the reaction of those women. 'It is very sad when every man with a camera enjoying a Sunday afternoon out in the park with his children is automatically assumed to be a pervert.'

The slide was run by Tracey Dukes, 35, whose father Malcolm Gwinnett has an inflatables hire company. Mr Gwinnett, 58, a LibDem councillor in Wolverhampton, said: `Our policy is to ask people taking photos whether they have children on the slide. If they do, then that is fine. `But on this occasion another customer took exception to what the man was doing and an argument developed between those two people that continued without any further involvement from staff on the slide.'



Below is a summary of a talk given by Christopher Monckton [] to the annual conference of the Local Government Association at Bournemouth, England, on 3 July 2008. Each statement is supported by references. Citation details are available from Viscount Monckton

Even if global temperature has risen, it has risen in a straight line at a natural 0.5 øC/century for 300 years since the Sun recovered from the Maunder Minimum, long before we could have had any influence (Akasofu, 2008).

Even if warming had sped up, now temperature is 7C below most of the past 500m yrs; 5C below all 4 recent inter-glacials; and up to 3C below the Bronze Age, Roman & mediaeval optima (Petit et al., 1999; IPCC, 1990).

Even if today's warming were unprecedented, the Sun is the probable cause. It was more active in the past 70 years than in the previous 11,400 (Usoskin et al., 2003; Hathaway et al., 2004; IAU, 2004; Solanki et al., 2005).

Even if the sun were not to blame, the UN's climate panel has not shown that humanity is to blame. CO2 occupies only one-ten-thousandth more of the atmosphere today than it did in 1750 (Keeling & Whorf, 2004).

Even if CO2 were to blame, no "runaway greenhouse" catastrophe occurred in the Cambrian era, when there was ~20 times today's concentration in the air. Temperature was just 7 C warmer than today (IPCC, 2001).

Even if CO2 levels had set a record, there has been no warming since 1998. For 7 years, temperatures have fallen. The Jan 2007-Jan 2008 fall was the steepest since 1880 (GISS; Hadley; NCDC; RSS; UAH: all 2008).

Even if the planet were not cooling, the rate of warming is far less than the UN imagines. It would be too small to cause harm. There may well be no new warming until 2015, if then (Keenlyside et al., 2008).

Even if warming were harmful, humankind's effect is minuscule. "The observed changes may be natural" (IPCC, 2001; cf. Chylek et al., 2008; Lindzen, 2007; Spencer, 2007; Wentz et al., 2007; Zichichi, 2007; etc.).

Even if our effect were significant, the UN's projected human fingerprint - tropical mid-troposphere warming at thrice the surface rate - is absent (Douglass et al., 2004, 2007; Lindzen, 2001, 2007; Spencer, 2007).

Even if the human fingerprint were present, climate models cannot predict the future of the complex, chaotic climate unless we know its initial state to an unattainable precision (Lorenz, 1963; Giorgi, 2005; IPCC, 2001).

Even if computer models could work, they cannot predict future rates of warming. Temperature response to atmospheric greenhouse-gas enrichment is an input to the computers, not an output from them (Akasofu, 2008).

Even if the UN's imagined high "climate sensitivity" to CO2 were right, disaster would not be likely to follow. The peer-reviewed literature is near-unanimous in not predicting climate catastrophe (Schulte, 2008).

Even if Al Gore were right that harm might occur, "the Armageddon scenario he depicts is not based on any scientific view". Sea level may rise 1 ft to 2100, not 20 ft (Burton, J., 2007; IPCC, 2007; Moerner, 2004).

Even if Armageddon were likely, scientifically-unsound precautions are already starving millions as biofuels, a "crime against humanity", pre-empt agricultural land, doubling staple cereal prices in a year. (UNFAO, 2008).

Even if precautions were not killing the poor, they would work no better than the "precautionary" ban on DDT, which killed 40 million children before the UN at last ended it (Dr. Arata Kochi, UN malaria program, 2006).

Even if precautions might work, the strategic harm done to humanity by killing the world's poor and destroying the economic prosperity of the West would outweigh any climate benefit (Henderson, 2007; UNFAO, 2008).

Even if the climatic benefits of mitigation could outweigh the millions of deaths it is causing, adaptation as and if necessary would be far more cost-effective and less harmful (all economists except Stern, 2006).

Even if mitigation were as cost-effective as adaptation, the public sector - which emits twice as much carbon to do a given thing as the private sector - must cut its own size by half before it preaches to us (Friedman, 1993).

Therefore, extravagant, futile schemes by the State and its organs to mitigate imagined "global warming" will have no more effect than King Canute's command to the tide not to come in and wet the Royal feet.

We must get the science right or we shall get the policy wrong. There is no manmade "climate crisis". It is a non-problem. The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.

The British Labour party's heartland is rotten to the core and dying of welfarism

When one thinks of Glasgow East - and the lucky ones are those who have to go no further than just think - one is reminded of Sir Christopher Wren's epitaph in St Paul's: si monumentum requiris, circumspice. If you seek Labour's monument, look at this hell-hole of a constituency. It is not merely in their heartland. It is not merely as devastated as it is after 11 years of Labour misrule. It is in a part of Britain controlled by Labour for generations, and serviced by epic amounts of public money since the invention, 30 years ago, of the Barnett formula for preferential funding of Scotland. And it proves two things.

First, that Labour's managerial incompetence is such that it not only cannot run anything, it cannot even ensure the survival of what passes for the normal social structures of the civilised world. Second, that throwing money at a problem, especially when the state is doing the throwing, is a guaranteed way of ensuring not only that it is not solved, but that it compounds and worsens.

The facts about Glasgow East have been much retailed, but a compendium is always useful, not least as a means of emphasising Labour's massive achievement in government. Its life expectancy for males is just about the lowest in Europe: 63, but in one ward, Calton, it is 54. Iain Duncan Smith, who has for years done what amounts to missionary work in the constituency on a heroic scale, has pointed out that the Calton figure ranks below the life expectancy of North Korea and Iraq.

In Glasgow, the weapon of mass destruction has been welfarism, and the removal of any incentive to work or to be enterprising. Heart disease is twice the national average, but alcoholism is a bigger killer either than the deep-fried Mars bar or tobacco: helped by the Government that brought us 24-hour boozing.

A half of the people in the constituency are unemployed. A half - possibly the same half - have no qualifications. Only a third of families own a car. According to Mr Duncan Smith, thousands of children in east Glasgow are heroin addicts. He has seen drug deals done in broad daylight, the police nowhere to be seen on streets so riddled with violent crime that they resemble a war zone. A local academic, Prof Ivan Turok, compares the area with South African townships: he should know, he is a United Nations adviser.

When Mr Duncan Smith talks of the role welfarism has played in the collapse of society in Glasgow East, he introduces a welcome moral dimension to the argument. Locally, the Roman Catholic Church has taken the moral dimension a step further, alerting its many communicants in the area to the lax views on abortion and embryo experimentation of some of the candidates: all part of the self-conscious "anything goes" attitude to ethics that has been fostered by the liberals who run the Labour Party these days, and which in its widest form has been the ruination of communities such as Glasgow East.

It cannot be stated strongly enough that Labour has created this morass. Its stranglehold on Glasgow politics for decades was widely recognised as corrupt and corrupting, yet no one - including many prominent Scots who ran the national party - bothered to do anything about it.

That three generations of some families in Glasgow East rely on welfare to survive shows how Labour's obsession with spending money entrenches poverty instead of alleviating it.

Nor was it the police who chose to turn themselves into a means of social engineering instead of fighting crime: the lead came from the Government. It is Labour's hopeless schools that turn out so many unqualified people, its so-called fight against "child poverty" that has bred new generations of poor children to poor families without providing the slightest ray of hope. And these people expect to be voted back on July 24, at the by-election.

Glasgow East is a peculiarly deprived and shocking place. We should not, though, allow it to become the sole focus of any attack on Labour and its failures. Most cities in Britain have evidence - less startling perhaps, but still bleak and depressing in the destruction it betokens - of Labour's utter inability to help what it patronisingly calls "our people". You give Labour your poor and your dispossessed, and by golly they stay that way. The lessons are clear. Welfare, as now administered, fails. Regulation fails. High taxation and high spending fail.

Think of what you personally have paid in tax since 1997, and think how little you have had for it. All over Britain, public services are failing because money is being wasted.

Even the most hardened cases of deprivation can be turned round, but the policies Labour has pursued towards the poor since 1997 have, manifestly, failed. So what can the Tories do? Mr Cameron picked up the Duncan Smith line on welfarism in Glasgow 10 days ago, as I noted last week. Last night George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, spoke of the need to reduce the demands on government in order to fix our "broken society". Are they at last getting it? No.

Any suggestions that they might were dispelled by Mr Cameron's dismal performance on the Today programme yesterday, in which he gave a flat "no" to a question about whether, in the light of the economic downturn, it was the right time to abandon his party's foolish promise to match Labour's spending policies. Because Mr Cameron has learned nothing and has forgotten nothing he even trotted out, without a hint of satire, the old claptrap about "sharing the proceeds of growth". This means always spending more public money, even though it is clear we already spend too much. If you can marry this philosophy to Mr Osborne's about reducing demands on the state, you're a better man than I am.

Then, talking to the CBI, Mr Cameron made his most economically ignorant observation yet, about making it easier for bad businesses to avoid liquidation. He really doesn't get it. The late Prof Hayek wasn't being a tease when he said that bankruptcies were good because they drove inefficiencies out of the economy. He meant it, and he was right. Mr Cameron takes us back to Heatho-Wilsonian socialism, propping up lame ducks and wasting valuable resources that ought to be put to more productive use.

Some of you get cross with me for being negative about Mr Cameron, but this is an object lesson in why he isn't up to it. All around us is the monument to Labour's profligacy, its penal taxation and its addiction to welfarism. Mr Cameron holds out hope of a fourth New Labour term, only with himself as Prime Minister, continuing Labour's gluttonous public spending, coddling failed businesses and maintaining a massive state apparatus. Isn't Glasgow East proof enough of just how utterly poisonous that sort of thing is? Or does he seriously want us to have a lot more?


Counterproductive NHS pennypinching

When you've got an army of clerks to feed day in and day out, you cannot do your best for the patients

The Department of Health may have saved more than $36 million a year by choosing a cervical cancer vaccine that does not protect against genital warts. The decision to use GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix rather than Merck's Gardasil for the vaccination campaign for 12-year-old girls was announced last month. It was criticised by experts who said that Gardasil was a better vaccine. Dr Colm O'Mahony, a consultant in sexual health at Chester Foundation Trust, said: "All the clinical evidence pointed to Gardasil and instead they have chosen a vaccine suitable for the Third World."

A new analysis published in the British Medical Journal says that a vaccine that does not protect against genital warts needs to be $26-$42 cheaper per dose to be as cost-effective. The study, by health economists at the Health Protection Agency, used the economic model employed in the tendering process. The agreed price is confidential, but if the department saved less than this it made a poor choice.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Professor Jane Kim, from the Harvard School of Public Health, said that the Department of Health seemed willing to forgo health benefits in return for the lower cost of Cervarix. "Assuming 80 per cent coverage of current 12-year-old girls in the UK with the full three-dose vaccine series, this price differential translates to savings of $23 million to $37.2 million from the vaccine price alone in the first year of the programme."

A spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline said that the Health Protection Agency's model assumed that the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines were equal in quality and duration of protection against HPV strains 16 and 18. It also assumed that protection must last ten years or longer. There were no data for either vaccine over such a long period, but data on GlaxoSmithKline's vaccine had demonstrated prevention of pre-cancerous lesions and strong immune response for 6.4 years. "This is the longest duration of protection reported for any vaccine against HPV 16 and 18," she said.

Natika Halil, director of information at the FPA, said the charity was disappointed that Gardasil had not been chosen. Choosing Cervarix, she said, "has cost the UK a rare opportunity to protect an entire generation of its young women against genital warts. "Genital warts is very common, easily transmitted, but can be stubborn to treat and young women are in a high risk group for this infection. We reiterate our disappointment that Gardasil wasn't chosen. "Genital warts has its own financial cost to the NHS which spends $44 million a year treating it, so it will be interesting to see how this has been factored into the cost analysis."

Lisa Power, of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "The Government has made a decision which appears to be cost-effective but not health-effective. They think it's cheaper to let people get genital warts and treat them than to prevent them. The cost of human misery has not been considered."


UK retains ancestral visas for Australians

Australians with a UK-born grandparent will retain the right to live and work in Britain but visa conditions may be changed. The British High Commission says the UK government has decided not to scrap ancestry visas as proposed earlier in the year. Under the existing rules, Commonwealth citizens aged 17 and over can be granted residency if they can prove that one of their grandparents was born in Britain. Those awarded visas are allowed to work and then apply for citizenship after five years of residence.

The British government in February called for a debate over whether the UK ancestry route should be abolished. British high commissioner to Australia Helen Liddell today said the visas would be retained as a route to UK citizenship. "Ancestry visas are a tangible sign of our close, shared history. They give Australians a glimpse of their heritage and a gateway to one of the world's most innovative economies," Ms Liddell said in a statement. "Full details on how ancestry visas will work in the future are yet to be announced. For the time being, the current rules apply."


British Ministry of defence still losing files and data: "This year, 22 portable memory sticks containing classified information had been either stolen or lost, the MoD said. More than 700 MoD laptops have gone missing or been stolen in the last four years. The disclosure sparked claims that the Government has not learned from previous Whitehall information-handling blunders. . Earlier this year, an independent review of the MoD's information security systems warned that a "Facebook generation" of young officials had not learned the disciplines of the Cold War and were often careless with sensitive data. In a written parliamentary answer, the MoD said that 131 of the department's portable USB memory sticks had been taken or misplaced since 2004. Twenty six of the small storage devices have been lost this year. Three of those held information classified as "secret." Another 19 carried "restricted" data. The MoD also said that between 2004 and 2007, a total of 658 laptops were stolen, and another 89 were lost. Only 32 have been recovered."

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