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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Global warming ....again...

Jon Henke has another piece up on climate change over at QandO.

I have and will continue to resist the urge to comment over there, its not worth it. My view is that many people accept that climate change is happening, many do not and at this stage it is nigh on impossible to produce any data that goes either way that will convince those that are left arguing.

One thing that really does still bug me is that so many people use the 'weather' strawman. It goes along the lines of:
'If their models could predict what the weather would be like next week, then maybe I would trust them to predict the climate in a few years'

When I encounter this I am never completely sure whether it is dishonest arguing or a lack of understanding of the differences between weather and climate. I tend to go with the latter and give the benefit of the doubt, but it does get tiring explaining it and so from now on if anyone asks my stock answer will be:
Do your own research.

Lets face it there is a big wide web out there; even better there are libraries full of books. Look it up, educate yourself and then rejoin the argument.

Once more for the record I think climate change is occurring; I think there is a solar influence; I think there is a human influence. I think the latter is a big effect. I think we have to come up with solutions to avoid human-endangering catastrophes.

And once again, I hope I am wrong. This is one argument I would love to lose definitively.

Friday, December 01, 2006

December 1st

Today is of course the 1st of December and what did I just see outside my office window (4 floors up in the centre of Liverpool!)? A butterfly! (For those who care about such things I suspect it was a Peacock butterfly, but I only got to see the underneath of the wings).

To be honest I've no idea if this is really as unusual as it feels to me - it just adds to the other things I've noticed this autumn, like the spring flowers (clematis montana) I saw in late October near Lancaster. I think 2006 is definitely heading to be a warm year on the old weather records!

Paying the toll

A new government-backed report has come out suggesting that

motorists should be asked to pay to drive on the nation's road network
well there is no harm in asking.

Now this is all well and good but the thing is that I already pay for using the roads; I pay a car tax each year and everytime I fill up with petrol I pay a tax that makes the UK one of the most expensive places in the developed world to buy petrol.

One glimmer of hope mentioned in the BBC artcle:
If road charging was introduced, the government would be
able to examine the option of whether it could raise enough revenue to
replace fuel duty and the car tax disc.
A prediction:
After careful consideration the government has determined that the new toll system does not cover the costs incurred and that fuel duty and car tax must continue.
Some further careful analysis:
Road charges will put some people off driving entirely,
cut congestion and carbon emissions and could raise up to £16bn a year
in payments, Sir Rod says.
Bollocks, Kav says.

I am yet to be convinced that increasing the cost to run a car will put people off driving. This is wishful thinking. If memory serves, in all the years that petrol prices have increased the percentage of car owners in the UK population has too, such that congestion is at an all time high. You see people drive for a reason, in fact for a number of reasons; high on that list is the convenience of the motorcar in comparison with bus or rail travel. Until we get to a state where it is more convenient for our transport needs to use a bus, a train, a tram or whatever then car useage will not go down.

Punitive measures such as vastly increased car taxes in whatever form will only work after the implementation of an equally (or more) convenient public transport service. Then it will be a direct choice between competing services. As things stand now it is not and any increase in car tax will not push people onto a public transport service that fails to actually provide the service that people want and, most importantly, need for day-to-day activities and work in our society.

This is summarised by the Transport 2000 lobby group:
The Transport 2000 lobby group said that, for road pricing to work, alternatives to driving must be improved.
The final little gem:
With road charging, drivers would pay more to use roads when they were busy or more congested.
So let me get this straight, when a road (a public service, remember) is congested already we would be expected to pay more? So in order to get less out of the product we would be expected to pay more. Beautiful.

I suppose there is some logic there, if the road is busy chances are we would be on it for longer so we have to pay more to use it. If they adopted this scale everywhere, they could easily make money. Think about it; the longer you stay on a particular road the more you pay, so you drive faster to make sure you stay on the road for as short a time as possible and then the speed camera clocks you and you pay a fine anyway. Genius.

Children in need update

Thanks to those who left comments in an effort to cost me money. We managed to beat the level of last year. In a similar fashion I upped the donation to £10 per comment