STRAIGHT TALKING February 2015
Roger Helmer’s electronic newsletter from Strasbourg
Please feel free to distribute this newsletter, or to quote from it. It is primarily written for euro-realists in the East Midlands, but may also be of interest to others concerned about the climate debate, or developments in the EU. If you receive the newsletter second-hand and want to go onto the e-mail list (or if you want to be deleted), please e-mail me on email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
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Balls backs Brexit? Has Ed finally got it?
Ed Balls has said <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/11402042/David-Cameron-tells-bosses-to-give-workers-a-pay-rise.html> “Britain has always succeeded and can only succeed in the future as an open trading nation, backing wealth creation and winning investment and attracting companies and talent from around the world”.
Bravo Ed! As UKIP Industry spokesman, I can say that we agree 100%. And that is exactly why we in UKIP want to leave the inward-looking, protectionist, over-regulated EU, and to re-engage with the world.
How can Britain succeed in the world when we’re primarily focussed on, and tied into, the only major economic area in the world that’s in long-term relative economic decline? When our labour markets and our financial services are weighed down with perverse and damaging regulation? When our companies are paying twice as much for energy as our major competitors – as a direct result of EU policies? When we have an immigration policy that welcomes unskilled Eastern Europeans, but clamps down on Canadian brain surgeons, Australian nuclear physicists and Indian software engineers?
The big news, Balls, is that we’ll be Better Off Out<http://www.betteroffout.net/>.
The biggest science scandal ever
Even if you accept the temperature data on which the IPCC relies, there are good reasons to challenge its alarmist conclusions. But now, it seems, the data themselves are open to question.
It’s long been known that data from a limited number of weather stations have been extrapolated over much larger areas, leading to wide-ranging conclusions. It’s also been known that those weather stations are frequently subject to the “urban heat island effect”. In one case a field became a car-park, with black tarmac under the instruments.
But now, it seems the data themselves may be open to challenge. Paul Homewood, who runs an excellent web-site<https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/>, “Not a lot of People know that”, has looked at the original data sequences from a number of weather stations, particularly in South America, and he finds that these have been “adjusted” prior to incorporation in global data sets by several of the world’s leading meteorological institutions. Data sequences that showed no change, or even declining temperatures, suddenly became evidence for warming, after “adjustment”. Homewood is now extending his exercise to other parts of the world, but he has already shown that the Artic climate history on which Warmists rely is deeply flawed, and arguably just plain wrong.
This perhaps helps to explain why satellite data, like RSS<http://www.remss.com/research/climate>, tend to show far less warming than data based on ground stations. We assumed this was because they covered the whole globe and were not subject to local distortions — but now it seems to be simply that there is less scope for “adjustment”.
Of course there is a huge industry riding on the back of IPCC climate theory — never mind the political and academic reputations that depend on it. So it is little surprise that they fight tooth and nail to defend it. But even I am shocked by reports that seem to suggest that otherwise reputable institutions have been deliberately falsifying data to keep Warmism alive. Surely a case of policy-based evidence when we need evidence-based policy. For more detail on this, see here<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/globalwarming/11395516/The-fiddling-with-temperature-data-is-the-biggest-science-scandal-ever.html>. And all credit to Christopher Booker for highlighting the issue.
The Straw Man gambit
We know how it’s done. You invent something that you think your opponent might have said, and then you ridicule him for saying it (even though he didn’t say it). I’ve written recently about the trolls on the internet<https://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/generalised-abuse-is-no-substitute-for-rational-thought/> , and of course this is one of their regular tactics.
Here’s one that came up recently: “How can there be global warming,” pondered @RogerHelmerMEP, “if it’s cold outside? Cold is the opposite of warm. That’s science”. But of course I never said that, and of course I know the difference between climate and weather. But since the Warmists trumpet every minor heat-wave as vindication for their theory, perhaps we sceptics can be permitted to mention it when it’s cold.
What all this shows is simply that the weather changes, and the climate changes, and we get both hot and cold weather. And if these simpletons knew anything about science, they would know that the rather small increase in mean global temperatures over the last hundred years is entirely consistent with the 1000-year climate cycle that’s been in place for at least ten thousand years, throughout the current Interglacial, and arguably much longer.
And if they really understood science, they would apply Occam’s Razor<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor>, and conclude that since nothing unusual or unexpected has happened, there is absolutely no need to go looking for any explanation at all (apart from an explanation of the 1000-year cycle, which is clearly driven by astronomical factors).
They would also know that the scientific method requires us to test hypotheses and predictions against observed data. Global Warming is an hypothesis. Computer models of future temperature are essentially predictions based on hypotheses. And when we test these hypotheses and predictions against observation, we find that they fail. Real temperatures undershoot the projections, and there’s been no further warming for nearly two decades.
That’s real science, based on real data in the real world — not the Warmist fantasy.
The case for climate scepticism
I recently received a useful summary of the case against climate alarmism, in a form accessible to the non-specialist. Read it here. <http://is.gd/oh0Zj3>
There’s an organisation called “Factcheck” that makes a point of checking claims made by politicians. They recently picked up my statement that the UK is not directly represented on the World Trade Organisation (WTO). I read their verdict with some trepidation, but after all the “ifs and buts”, they seem to conclude that I got it right.<https://factcheckeu.org/fr/factchecks/show/701/roger-helmer>
Climate & Energy with Piers Corbyn
I was recently invited by Piers Corbyn of Weather Action<http://www.weatheraction.com/> to address his group on climate issues. The meeting was hastily rescheduled when the room previously booked in the House of Commons became unavailable (enemy action?), but the event<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP1YveB60QQ&feature=youtu.be&a> went ahead anyway.
EU Energy Policy: If this is not madness, what is?
I recently commented on EU Energy Policy in the parliament’s Industry & Energy Committee. My remarks were well received and widely circulated amongst intensive energy users. See them here<http://www.ukipmeps.org/articles_1141_The-Madness-of-Europes-Industrial-Massacre—Roger-Helmer-MEP.html> (2½ minutes).
Political Propaganda in School
Recently at the Chellaston Academy<http://www.chellaston.derby.sch.uk/>, they conducted a school assembly to mark the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz. And in a section discussing whether similar movements to Nazism could arise today – they showed an image of Nigel Farage<http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Chellaston-school-UKIP-storm-picture-Nigel-Farage/story-25957424-detail/story.html>.
The Party’s legal advisers are looking at the issue. But it is almost unbelievable that a school should lend itself to such blatant political propaganda, and such a vile misrepresentation.
Difficult to get it wrong all the time
I recently wrote on my blog about a rather unconvivial dinner event I attended, where I crossed swords with the “smug and supercilious” climate obsessive Tim Yeo. There are few people so hopelessly out-of-touch with reality. His position on climate issues depends on believing computer models and predictions, and ignoring the data. Computer models are, as noted above, no more than predictions based on assumptions. If the hypotheses, and the predictions based on them, fail to match observed reality, then we start to question the hypotheses. Unless we’re Tim Yeo, of course, in which case we ignore the data.
The computer models all predict rising global temperatures. Yet for eighteen years, real-life observation of global mean temperatures shows no further increase. The facts effectively falsify the hypotheses. Nonetheless true believers like Yeo cling to faith ahead of experience.
At that dinner, however, he did manage to get one thing right — although not quite in the way he intended. He started off on the clichéd Warmist riff about “Flat Earthers”. He expected his hearers to jump to the conclusion that climate sceptics are as absurd, ignorant and wrong as those who still espouse the Flat Earth theory (although surely no one does?).
But in 1600, Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for asserting (amongst other heresies) that the earth was round, and was not the centre of the Universe. Tim Yeo forgets (if he ever knew) that in those days, the conventional wisdom — the dominant paradigm — was the flat earth theory. Everyone — the church, scientists, public — believed it. And they had to make it clear that they believed it — that the Earth was flat, and the centre of the Universe. The parallel is clear with today’s dominant paradigm — that human activity, and CO2 emissions, are the primary cause of climate change. Today, if an academic challenges the orthodoxy, he risks his post, his tenure, his grant funding, his access to publication in scientific journals. In Bruno’s time, he risked the stake.
Then, as today, the vast majority supported the orthodoxy. Then, as today, they were wrong. Then, as today, many harboured private doubts, but few had the courage to go public. As a paradigm ages, it is the majority, almost by definition, who are wrong, and the dissenters who are right. But when a paradigm has reached the end of its life, the end can be rather rapid. That is why I say that climate orthodoxy is like the Berlin Wall. Its fall will be sudden — and for many, including Tim Yeo, unexpected.
Grantham Museum reopens
The Grantham Museum<http://www.granthammuseum.org.uk/>, with its wealth of material on Grantham girl Margaret Thatcher, re-opens after extensive refurbishment on Saturday February 14th at 10:00. Worth a visit if you’re able to make it.
Anwar Ibrahim jailed for Sodomy
I was saddened and disappointed by the news that a Malaysian court has upheld a five-year prison sentence for sodomy against Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s most prominent and charismatic opposition leader.
Saddened for two reasons: first, because whatever your views on homosexuality, it is a private and personal life-style choice that people should be entitled to make if they wish to do so. It should never be subject to criminal sanctions.
And secondly because (without having followed the full details of the case) I have considerable sympathy with those who say that this looks very much like a political show-trial designed to side-line a key opposition leader. This will do little to enhance Malaysia’s international reputation.
The Freedom Association – time to think about joining?
The Freedom Association (of which I was Chairman for several years) does a great job. It’s a cross-party organisation campaigning for individual freedom, freedom of expression, free enterprise and a free country. It runs the “Better Off Out” campaign to free the UK from the EU, and the “Axe the TV Tax” campaign to scrap the TV Licence. Founded by Ross and Norris McWhirter (of Guinness Book of Records fame) it publishes a quarterly magazine, “Freedom”, and runs lots of great events throughout the UK, including The Freedom Festival and Freedom Festival North. At just £30 per annum (£20 for senior citizens), membership is terrific value. Join online at www.tfa.net<http://www.tfa.net> or call 01242 235333.
SN Brussels baggage-handling: a disaster area
On Monday Jan 19th I arrived in Brussels from Birmingham on SN Brussels flight £SN 2040. But my case didn’t arrive. For twenty-four hours they couldn’t find it at all. But mid-day Tuesday, they found it! Too late for the 3:00 p.m. flight: they’d put it on the six o’clock. I sent a car to the airport to collect at eight – and cut short my evening programme to get back to the parliament before it shut down. But if course no case. On Wednesday morning, it was back to “we don’t know where it is”. Then at mid-day we heard it would be in Brux by 3:00, and on a delivery vehicle by 3:30. Sigh of relief all round (I was still wearing Monday’s clothes, for the third day running!).
When it didn’t arrive, they reassured me it would be delivered within 24 hours! But by that time – Thursday afternoon – I should be back in UK, and my case in Brussels! Finally they agreed to try for the Wednesday evening, and it arrived about 9:00 p.m.
But SN Brussels is almost impossible to deal with. Their lost baggage number only accepts incoming calls – they’re not authorised to call out. So when I said “Why don’t you call Birmingham and ask where the case is?”, or “Please call the delivery company and tell them I need the case today”, the answer was “We can’t call”. I asked for the supervisor. No supervisor. I looked for a head office number or the name of a director responsible for customer relations. Not available. It’s a complete dead letter box. No answers. Nowhere to turn for help. And appalling customer service.
Culture Corner: The Winter’s Tale
I first saw the Royal Ballet’s major new narrative ballet “The Winter’s Tale<http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/the-winters-tale-by-christopher-wheeldon>” (based of course on the Shakespeare play) as a cine-cast last summer, and I have to admit I wasn’t at all sure about it. I didn’t find either the story or the music very accessible — though the dancing was beyond reproach.
I must admit I tend to prefer 19th Century ballet music. Less sophisticated, but tuneful and joyful. Joby Talbot’s music for Winter’s Tale, as with his earlier score for the recent Alice in Wonderland, follows the action and sets the mood, rather like a film score. But don’t expect any melodies that you’ll want to hum in the car on the way home. As for the story, it’s not a play I know at all well, and maybe I was a bit cursory in reading the programme notes.
So I was delighted to find that the BluRay disc version, which I received recently, was much more enjoyable than I had expected. Indeed I have to admit that this Winter’s Tale is, after all, a bit of a masterpiece.
The First Act is all drama and tragedy. Misunderstandings; violent and misplaced jealousy; life-long friendships broken; a new-born baby rejected by her father; the Queen and her son dead. The Second Act is a huge contrast, and a welcome relief. The action moves to a hillside in Bohemia (previously we were in Sicily), and sixteen years on, where we see Prince Florizel wooing the beautiful Perdita, believing her to be a mere shepherdess (but we know better!). There is wonderfully colourful peasant dancing — a real work-out for the corps de ballet — and delightful pas de deux. Perdita is danced by Sarah Lamb<https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=sarah+lamb+perdita&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=677&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=lqyvVOSNA4Oa7gb_moCwBQ&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ>, who is always a delight to watch. Later, the look on her face when she discovers her true identity and her true father, is astonishing. It transcends ballet, and becomes pure drama.
The Third Act brings these disparate themes together. The truth is revealed, the young couple marry, old friendships are restored, joy is unconfined. The final scene uses that old dramatic cliché, seen in more than one ballet, of an apparent statue which “comes to life”, but even this is done with an original twist that is genuinely moving.
Zenaida Yanowsky plays Paulina, Queen Hermione’s major domo, a serious and responsible part far removed from her previous rôle in Alice, where she danced the manic Red Queen.
The production set some challenges for the designers. There is a sequence when the young lovers flee Sicily in a boat, hotly pursued by Florizel’s father King Polixenes. How on earth do you represent that in ballet? Or indeed Shakespeare’s best-known stage direction: “Exit, pursued by a bear<http://www.roh.org.uk/news/exit-pursued-by-a-bear-how-do-you-approach-shakespeares-famous-stage-direction>”. But they manage it, effectively, dramatically and creatively.
It’s a remarkable production. I recommend it.
Quote of the Month
Jeremy Warner on the €uro: “Holding the whole hopeless mess together seems to have become an end in itself. All memory of its original purpose, to enhance the European economy, is long since lost in the mists of time”.
A Tweet that appealed to me:
“The day Al Gore was born, there were 130,000 glaciers on Earth. Today, only 130,000 remain”.
That’s it from Strasbourg for this February session. Please remember to visit my web-site<http://www.rogerhelmer.com/>, & my blog<http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com/>. And follow me on Twitter: @RogerHelmerMEP
Also have a look at the UKIP MEP web-site www.ukipmeps.org<http://www.ukipmeps.org>