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Malachy

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Posts posted by Malachy

  1. I haven't read Lovelock's latest book, but I have read about it and I don't like what I've read. He seems to have given up, to be saying "It's too late so we must retreat to the bunkers and weather the storm". He might be right, but to simply give up now without even trying is to condemn an awful lot of people to poverty and death.

     

    Lovelock has rather a track record of saying things folk don't like and then being proved right. His latest book is nowhere near as negative (to my mind) as the media have painted it. But what he says won't be popular. Essentially he argues that talk of 'sustainable development' is redundant. Human beings can no longer imagine that they should be 'developing'. What is required is, in his words, 'sustainable retreat' - lessening in every way our impact on Gaia. And, he claims, nuclear fission is the only technology, short term, which can allow for a rapid controlled retreat, though long term he believes nuclear fusion is a good bet (in the book he debunks some of the myths that have developed over the dangers of nuclear power).

    He is not very hopeful about the future of the climate, but, frankly, nor are many scientists any more. They've been ignored for too long. But he certainly does not encourage doing nothing, it's just that what he says is not what most folk want to hear.

    I'd encourage you to read the book.

  2. (And you still haven't come up with your solution. Given what we face, if you don't agree with my solution, how would you fix it? What would you do?)

     

    Fortunately it is not my job to offer a solution. And if it were I would resign immediately because I am not qualified or scientifically-minded enough to do so. But my instinct would be to trust the views of a visionary scientist, someone like James Lovelock, rather than councillors and the directors of VE.

     

    So what's left in your perfect Shetland, PJ? A landscape littered with ruins where people used to live and work, one ferry, like the old Earl, per week for the outer isles, a population of (maybe) 10,000 scraping a living from the land?

    This is a rather intellectually corrupt argument AT. Shetland didn't look like that in 1972, just prior to oil. Central government is not going to suddenly withdraw all funding for Shetland just because we don't put up windmills. To say we have a choice between VE and poverty is a baseless threat not an argument.

  3. Our lifestyles are unsustainable because they are based on fossil fuel energy.

     

    Well, that's an over simplification. It is estimated (these things can only ever be estimates) that the impact of our carbon emissions over the last 100 years are almost certainly less of a problem for the planet than the impact of our habitat destruction. The earth (Gaia, if you wish) is capable of regulating itself, even with major changes in the atmosphere. But once you remove living things that help do that regulating job then it doesn't function anymore. (I'm thinking here of the forests that once covered vast areas of the planet, and peat bogs, that kind of thing).

    That is why so many people who consider themselves environmentalists are so horrified by VE - by digging up a peat hill, by imagining that human technology is better at regulating the climate than the planet itself, we are guilty of the most dispicable and unforgivable hubris. We cannot simply continue building over the planet, replacing natural regulation with technological regulation, because we will fail.

  4. The thing that alot of people choose to ignore it seems to me is that nothing in the renewable sector will cure global warming on it's own. There needs to be massive changes to the way we use/produce/store energy.

     

    Yes, quite. The technology currently does not exist for renewables to be of much use at all large-scale. In fact, the only technology that currently exists that is capable of producing the amount of energy that people want without contributing to global warming is nuclear fission. And if that is the option that is chosen then all the other renewables are pretty pointless anyway because we wouldn't need them. ...

    If we back up our wind power with fossil fuel energy then we're not doing enough to cut carbon emissions. But if we back up our renewables with nuclear then, well, why bother. Nuclear can produce all the energy needed without covering the landscape in windmills.

    There are obviously risks with nuclear, but they seem to be less than most folk imagine, and it's probably now safe to argue that the risks of using nuclear are smaller than the risks of not using it.

  5. I think, as pointed out earlier in the thread, the real reason may have more to do with land ownership. The council own quite a big chunk of the land affected by the current plans, so will benefit from 'rent' payments, or whatever they're calling them. They will be very keen for it to remain on their patch.

  6. Every single watt generated by a windmill is a watt that is not generated by burning coal. Show me the evidence that that statement is untrue.

     

    I hardly need evidence to show that is untrue - it's quite obviously untrue. Wind generation doesn't only replace coal power, it replaces all kinds of power. (In fact it doesn't replace any power except when used on a small scale; it augments power to cover our increasing demand.)

     

    He's just another nimby spouting the same old nimby song:

     

    "Everyone needs to change, but not me, not here, I don't need to change" Bloody hypocrite!

     

    See this is where it gets confusing, because it depends what you mean by change. You have repeatedly said in this thread that you believe people can carry on as they are, that society can go on unimpeded just as long as we clean up our energy production. To me that is hypocrisy. I believe we cannot simply find another kind of energy to prop up our unsustainable lifestlyes, we all must change, either by choice or by necessity. To me, the attitude that says 'tear up the hills to make green energy' is not one little bit different from that which drives oil companies, mining companies or anybody else. It is about making money and about sustaining what cannot be sustained. We must change, but windmills are just a way of putting off the real changes that must, one day, take place.

  7. But the point remains that the figure is being used to give the impression that this is a certain investment rather than a gamble. You have given good reasons why it should pay off, but no investment is ever certain, particularly one of this scale. There are many reasons why it might not pay off (for instance if oil prices rose again during the construction phase, or if construction was delayed or prolonged for any of a multitude of reasons). Also, you've said again that the cost of energy to the consumer is unlikely to fall. Last time you said that I provided links showing that in fact companies were dropping prices. You ignored me at the time, rather unsurprisingly, but it doesn't make your statement true just because you've repeated it.

  8. The wind farm brings two things. An annual income equivalent to if not greater than the oil industry at it's height, which will last as long as the wind blows, and the interconnector which will allow the development of other renewables such as wave and tidal power, neither of which will happen on any large scale without the interconnector. And remember, the lifetime of the wind farm will only be 25 years or so. Surely a small price to pay for economic security.

     

    I'm interested to know more about the economic of this, since I think that is what most of VE's support rests upon (certainly from councillors, most of whom have no interest in the environment whatsoever).

    In 2007 we were told that the charitable trust would receive £18M a year from their investment. That's a pretty good deal. Since then, in case anyone missed it, the world economic situation has changed somewhat. And crucially, the pound has collapsed against the euro (this is crucial because the windmills will be bought in euros). We can safely assume from this that initial costs are going to be massively increased and profits are going to be reduced, since Shetland does not exist in a financial vacuum. So what does VE now say the charitable trust will receive? £18M a year.

    So what I'd like to know is how exactly this magic number is so stable and secure? How is it that VE is immune from all external economic pressures and changes? My suspicion is that, in fact, £18M is just an arbitrary figure that sounds good. And yet no one has bothered to ask where this number came from and why councillors/trustees are taking it at face value. The number needs to stay stable because VE need to create the impression that the investment is safe and secure, but it is not. How can it be? Perhaps the trust would reap £18M a year, perhaps more. But equally they may not. And if it turned out to be, say £5M a year, or £1M, would it still seem like such a good investment?

  9. I'm not an enthusiast myself, but I did see a poster up in Sandwick yesterday for a night of train films in the Hoswick visitor centre sometime soon. They had several films showing about various train routes worldwide, so I guess there must be some enthusiasts here in the southend.

  10. Oh- does anyone mind that nice man David Bellamy? Not seen him on TV for long... wonder why?

    His programmes were very interesting, he had a lot to say ;)

    I remember him. He retired in 1992. Then, ten years later, he got bored of retirement and started to make bizarre claims about climate science from conspiracy sites he'd found on the internet. Then he decided that the reason he wasn't on TV any more was because of these bizarre claims, rather than the fact he retired and was old. A sad tale indeed.

  11. Brian, I would strongly argue that I am not confusing cruelty and efficiency. In fact, I'm not quite sure how you've come to that conclusion at all. I would say that to inflict death is not in itself cruel, but to knowingly inflict suffering is. This is why you would use a humane killer to kill a lamb, rather than some slow, painful method.

     

    (Now, clearly some people will say that to kill any animal at all, for whatever reason, is 'cruel', and if that is your point then I suppose I would have to concede that we are unlikely to find common ground on this, either ideologically or semantically.)

     

    To try and clarify...if I found a rabbit that was suffering from myxomatosis I would knock it on the head to put it out of its misery. I'd do that because I think that hitting something on the head is a quick and hopefully painless way to kill it. That would not, I assume, be cruel from your perspective, no? So the act of hitting something on the head to kill it is not inherently a cruel act. Unlike, for instance, skinning something alive. Do you agree?

    If so then the cruelty you are highlighting presumably is a matter of intention, motive or mindset, ie, the fact that Mr Stewart had no defensible reason for killing the animals. I am guessing (and correct me if I'm wrong) that you wouldn't call an Inuit hunter cruel for killing a seal to eat, no?

     

    Well if I have read this right then we do indeed disagree only on the matter of the definition of cruelty. I define it a deliberately inflicting suffering (as does my dictionary), and using that definition I would say that this act we're discussing does not qualify. I can think of several words I would use to describe it, but cruel is just not one of them.

     

    Your comment about the history of the 20th century is a bit of a cheap shot, which is easy to do on a forum like this but isn't the kind of argument you'd choose to use face to face. I presume you're not accusing me of being some kind of nazi sympathiser because I fail to be horrified by somebody killing seals? The word 'cruelty' certainly becomes more complex within the context of killing people, but that isn't really the subject of this thread, so I'll just leave it at that.

  12. Whether we see a four degree rise or a six degree or larger rise by the end of this century is still within our control

     

    I would think if there's a six degree rise in temperatures we won't still be around to see it. I realise you're better informed than that AT, but there are still many who think a rise in temperatures just means warmer summers and that's it. If temperatures rise six degrees, the melting of ice caps will be meaningless compared to the other effects: extinction on an unimaginable scale, the collapse of human civilisation (think I'm being overly dramatic? Just imagine what happens to 7 billion people competing for space and food when there's only enough for, say, less than 1 billion), atmospheric and climatic turmoil. Have a read of Mark Lynas' book 'Six Degrees' - brilliantly written, brilliantly researched and refererenced. Terrifying.

  13. Your post is a bit confusing KOY because the news report you link to is unconnected to the video you posted, so far as I can see. The issue with PRS is a UK only issue, and PRS doesn't have anything to do with the big music corporations - it is the independent body that collects royalties on behalf of the artists/songwriters. Youtube wants to pay less to the artists for having their music online, so really it is Youtube that is the big, greedy corporation here. Musicians can't really continue making music unless they can earn a living from it; cd sales are plummetting, so they have to rely more on royalties. If they can't get those either then, er, they aren't going to be making any music.

    Other sites have agreed licencing deals with PRS recently, so if Youtube can't agree then they are probably making unreasonable demands.

  14. That's a climate that some predict follows from a 4C global temperate rise according to the climate models and the historical data.

    It's also absurdly optimistic. Current models predict up to a 6 degree rise by the end of the century, and it won't stop rising at the end of this century, the temperature will continue to rise possibly for hundreds of years.

    I wouldn't say Lovelock's point is exactly optimistic. What he says is that the earth (Gaia) regulates itself at stable points. We have been at one of those stable points for a long time, but now, through our own actions, are very quickly leaving stability behind. The computer models will (because they are computer models) predict an exponential rise in temperatures, but Lovelock suggests that, instead, the earth will simply find another point of stability - at around five or six degrees hotter than today. He also suggests that the human population will be dramatically reduced in the process (he mentions a world poulation of 1 billion in the interview). That may or may not be optimistic, depending on how you look at it.

  15. It's funny, but perhaps not surprising, that Ben Goldacre comes in for so much criticism on these homeopathy websites. The insinuation that he is in the pay of the drug companies is ridiculous, and simply shows a complete unfamiliarity with his work.

    His 'Bad Science' columns in the Guardian are excellent reading. By no means does he focus his attacks solely on 'alternative therapies' - presumably for the obvious reason that they are too easy a target. The columns cover a wide range of science-related stories, highlighting poor research, misleading claims and other 'bad science'. 'Alternative' practictioners come in for criticism, but so do mainstream journalists who do not understand the subject they are writing about, and so do drug companies that make unsubstantiated claims about their products or conduct inadequate or misleading research.

    If you only read his articles on homeopathy you will get the impression that he is specifically out to get alternative therapy, and could, for that reason, be in the pay of drug companies. But if you actually bother to read the rest of his work, you'll see that is clearly not the case. It is, as I said, ridiculous.

  16. So on the basis of those statements Malachy then within the agricultural community in Shetland there with the exception of the two who are not in favour of the SLMG due to it possibly being detremental to their business interests? There is full membership of the SLMG?

    Of course not, but we're not talking just about membership of a co-operative, we're talking about Shetland Marts. And while I don't have figures about the percentage of Shetland crofters who buy or sell animals through the Marts, I would say it was pretty high.

     

    Whilst native breeds should be supported and I have seen both native cattle and sheep being kept in the south mainland along with breeds that lend themselves to modern production reqirements, has the SLMG greatly increased the consumption of Shetland beef from Shetland cattle and Shetland lamb and mutton from Shetland sheep? or does the consumer still prefer to buy meat based on value at the supermarket? and disregard the provenance and quality that locally sourced meat has? (personally I prefer the locally produced product) but there are many I would profer that shop based solely on cost.

    There is a lot more that could be done and needs to be done to increase the market for local meat. Hence the importance of continuing to support the work of SLMG. I don't say the organisation is perfect, but their aims are aims that I believe should be supported.

     

    You still have to answer the question on what you base your accusation that the councillor in question is out for his own interest?

    Ha, there are times when using your own name on this forum suddenly makes you feel a little vulnerable. The comment I made was probably a little unwise, so I suppose it's best rephrased like this...

    There are a very small number of people in the agricultural industry in Shetland whose business models (and contacts) allow them to bypass the routes taken by most crofters and farmers. This is not an option open to everyone. The vast majority of crofters and farmers are greatly benefited by the existence of the Marts, and therefore I believe that those who wish to see it close are not acting in the interests of the wider agricultural industry. Some people however may benefit from the closure (ie from the change in industry dynamics that would be brought about, or from the closure of the Laxfirth abattoir, say,). Of course this would not necessarily influence their opinion on the matter.

     

    I think that's the end of my comments on this subject. :)

  17. On what grounds would you base that accusation malachy? If there is discord within the agriculture community within Shetland as there seems to be over this then should it not be deferred for further investigation?

    I wouldn't have said there was real discord within the agriculture community. We're talking about a very small number of individuals (two that I can think of off the top of my head) who strongly oppose SLMG for reasons that probably are not best described as altruistic. For crofters in Shetland, the Marts is an essential part of the way their businesses work. Without it, their income is likely to be reduced even further.

     

    to assertain why there are "bad debts" to be faced and why the co-operative as it is envisaged is not working? if you take a look at the aims of the group in early 2002 it does not seem to have achieved its intial aims. Im not saying that agriculture should not be supported in rural marginal areas, but it should be subject to the same scrutiny that people wish to see other industries subjected to.

    SLMG is a co-op, so it's inevitable that it is run without lots of extra cash swilling around. They have explained that their current financial problems stem from an unpaid debt of £50,000 from Faroe. I don't see a reason to disbelieve them. Agriculture needs to be supported locally, just as our other indigenous industries are.

     

    If there is a substainable market in finishing animals for the the meat industry in Shetland and then onwards for export, then why does the SLMG need subsidy?

    This is a market that is open to some people - mainly larger farmers in the most fertile areas. But do we really want Shetland to be entirely given over to non-native breeds to be sold to the Scottish market? Surely we want a local industry that also produces local animals for the local market?

  18. It makes me wonder why a councillor who represents an area with crofting communitys in its ward is so against funding the SLMG? maybe there is something fundamentally wrong in its operation? and while I can understand peoples point of view "well they pump money in to this and that without a care" when the project is something they feel empathy with. I smirk when I see the same people post on the forum when they see a project they don't have any care for or they believe isn't run properly.

     

    Don't be fooled into thinking that the councillor you're referring to is representing anything other than his own interests.

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