Guest Blog – A Christmas Greeting for a Climate Sceptic Council Leader by Sarah Whitebread

scwSarah Whitebread is an environmental campaigner and Lib Dem councillor from Cambridge.  She has an Mphil in Environmental Policy and works for an MP in Westminster.

Cambridgeshire is currently being run by a climate sceptic.  Councillor Nick Clarke, leader of the County Council, declared on his blog a few months ago that “it is now clear that climate change may not be happening, and if it is it is not caused by human activity.”  Clarke has done everything he can since taking over as leader last year to scale back environmental activity.  He has banned wind farm development on County farms.  He has scrapped the entire climate change team.  He has taken out the section of all papers that go to Cabinet meetings asking members to consider the impacts of their decisions on climate change.  He has even changed the name of the Environment Scrutiny Committee to the snappily titled “Enterprise, Growth and Community Infrastructure” committee – so strong is his aversion to anything environmental.

Those of us on the Council who care about protecting the planet for future generations have been left in a bit of a quandary.  How do you deal with someone who makes George Osborne look like a veritable eco-warrior?  How do you get that person to listen? And if you can’t get them to listen, how do you make sure the electorate are aware of what’s going on?

Of course, there are many Council processes councillors can use to get our point across.  We can put motions to Council, make suggestions at scrutiny committees, or turn up to Cabinet to fight our case.  I have done all of these and have been able to make a difference – but always in a very small way, unlikely to hit the headlines.

So this Christmas, I decided to try something different.  It was Clarke’s blog that set me off.  Though his policies had implied otherwise, I’d always assumed that once he became leader Clarke would distance himself from climate denial.  I thought he might take a more moderate course, realising that such an anti science position, for a County that includes centres of world leading research on climate change, might not be the best political move.  But no – there he was, proclaiming on his blog that it was clear climate change is not caused by human activity.

FoE Christmas card available from http://www.foeshop.co.uk/let-it-blow.html
FoE Christmas card available from http://www.foeshop.co.uk/let-it-blow.html

A few weeks later, still reeling from this statement, unsure how to take action and having tabled the usual motion to Council “regretting” his position (which of course was later voted down by the Conservative group) I came across a Friends of the Earth card that made me smile.

The card featured a set of wind turbines in a festive wintry scene with the words “Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow.”  It seemed like the perfect thing to send to Nick Clarke.  I decided to ask as many scientists and climate campaigners from Cambridgeshire as I could to sign it, with a greeting asking Clarke to rethink his policies on wind turbines.

The response from the environmental community was fantastic. Within a couple of days of asking I had 17 people who were all keen to sign, including scientists, writers and campaigners.   Signatories included Professor Douglas Crawford-Brown from the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research, Bob White, Professor of Geophysics at Cambridge University, and Aled Jones, Director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.  Prominent climate campaigners such as Craig Bennett from Friends of the Earth and Tony Juniper also signed, plus local campaign groups Close the Door, Cambridge Carbon Footprint and the Cambridge Cycling Campaign.

The card was never going to get Clarke to change his mind – but it was an excellent way of getting the message out about his worrying views. Several local newspapers picked up the story (Cambridge News, Ely Standard) and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire invited me on to their drive time programme to talk about it.  Apparently Nick Clarke was asked to appear and debate with me, but turned down the opportunity.

The result? Well, Clarke has certainly been put under a fair bit of pressure. Given the excellent response from the local media, I’m pleased I went ahead with it.  Sadly, the big picture has not changed – and worryingly, Cambridgeshire might not be alone.  The Green Alliance produced a report last year that showed 65% of Council’s planned to either completely eliminate or scale down climate change related work because of Government spending cuts.  Many of the national indicators on emissions that councils need to report have been scrapped. The carbon reduction commitment scheme, which gave councils above a certain size a financial incentive to act, was weakened in the Autumn Statement.  It is being made all too easy for councils to abandon their environmental commitments altogether.

As the Committee on Climate Change pointed out earlier this year – if the UK is going to meet its carbon budgets, action from local councils is crucial.   Sending Clarke the Christmas card was fun – but wouldn’t it be excellent if there were local climate activists replicating this across the UK?  How can we bring the success of our national climate campaigns to bear at local level?  This is a big challenge for the environmental community, but it’s one that must be met if we are serious about tackling climate change.

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38 Replies to “Guest Blog – A Christmas Greeting for a Climate Sceptic Council Leader by Sarah Whitebread”

  1. I've always been interested in what makes a climate change sceptic tick, their belief system, politics etc. Is denial and scepticism really the same thing in this context? It strikes me that scepticism is usually a very healthy attribute, but in the face of overwhelming peer-reviewed evidence is it simply a way of hedging one’s bets or masking true feelings? Is there a correlation between climate change denial and dislike of other environmental protection, a belief that the polluter should not pay, a disregard for evidenced-based policy making, preference for religious-based policy making, denial of evolution, does in tend to be gender/race specific etc? Sarah, do you know if any robust research of this nature has been carried out in the UK?

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  2. After reading Nick Clarke's blog I can see that he was not denying climate change completely but suggesting that it may not be as bad as previously thought and suggesting that some but not all is caused by us. He also showed findings from a paper that showed that the temperature has risen a lot slower than climate change supporters ( less than a degree in increase) as opposed to the 5 degree increase since 2005 from the global warming supporters. I am not claiming it is not happening but that it might be happening more slowly than previously believed

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    1. Jack - who has claimed the temperature has risen by 5 deg C since 2005? What temperature - global? N Hemisphere? N Altlantic? UK? I have never heard that claim before and it seems extraordinary. The facts I know of are an increase of just under a degree since the beginning of the C20th, which is an unprecedented change and quite enough thank you, and that with current emissions growth we could be looking at 5 or 6 deg warming by the end of the current century. The various faltering efforts at international agreements are I believe to limit this rise to a somewhat less catastrophic 2 deg C. I cannot believe any "climate change supporter" would claim a temperature rise of 5 deg C in under a decade and that there is any peer reviewed science that would support that staggering assertion. It certainly is the case that there have been a number of very warm years since 2005 (e.g. "each of the last 11 years (2001–2011) features as one of the 12 warmest on record")* but that doesn't mean the global temperature has risen by that much - if it had I doubt we'd be in much of a position to contribute to Mark's blog...

      * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrumental_temperature_record

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      1. I'm not saying that it has risen a lot or not risen a lot. I am very sceptical about global warming- I know it exists but I don't like being constantly reminded that even burning a log on a fire is contributing to global warming. However I definitley accept that burning fossil fuels contributes to the greenhouse effect (which is a natural process to keep the Earth warm otherwise all the Earth would be covered in ice).

        Also we have heard a lot from Mark about Grouse moor owners burning blanket bog and releasing carbon in atmosphere but do you ever get fires naturally on moors which release Co2?
        Also I do not like the fact that wind turbines keep being called the answer to all our green renewable energy problems. Yes they are good at producing that energy but you often have dig into and destroy habitat to build them. And what they do when they're built in the ocean. They kill everything around from top to seabed

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  3. From Nick Clarke's blog "Green subsidies being provided to the renewable industry amount to about £100 for an average household this year."
    Fossil fuel subsidy was about $525 billion last year - or 30 quid for every man woman and child on the planet
    The group from Berkeley (sponsored by interests from fossil fuel industry) came to the same conclusion regarding the observed temperature fluctuations in the last 200 years but stopped a little short in their analysis by saying anthropogenic warming "could not be ruled out"
    He doesn't expect anything to happen when we pile 50 billion tons of extra greenhouse gas in to the atmosphere?
    It's a bit like drinking alcohol, a little won't have any effect but continually adding more and more and more will make you tipsy, then your equilibrium will be lots and you'll be staggering about then you'll become ill, but it'll still only be a small proportion of your overall body weight; same with CO2 350 to 390 parts per MILLION doesn't sound much but it is about a 10% rise (since 1988) and that can't be good.

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  4. I've always wondered why the RSPB has presided over a massive decrease in the numbers of birds in Britain and yet it's hardly ruffled any feathers over the years. It's ex-boss is in the House of Lords. How surprising.

    I worked for them on an agri-environment scheme and the whole thing was basically corrupt - farmers paid massive amounts of money for ESA land and doing very little or often nothing for it, yet the RSPB were always putting a positive spin on population declines and would not face the obvious. I couldn't live myself and have never touched the organisation since.

    It's about time the RSPB bigwigs got angry and actually offended a few people who need it, instead of towing the line and looking after their jobs. It you're not going to do something worth doing, stop taking the cheque and get a different job.

    Same with climate change - I keep being told - probably rightly - that the end of the world is nigh but it doesn't seem to sooooo important as to warrant the RSPB actually making that much fuss or saying anything that will alienate its membership. After all, the decimation of our planet is bad enough, but imagine it with a 20% dip in membership of the RSPB - how awful would that be?

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  5. And how many people indignant at climate change deniers are chasing every year tick going, over-consuming in every area of their lives, not walking, using bikes or public transport, going on overseas holidays, eating out of season food with huge air-miles etc. A few people saying something that's happening isn't happening, shouldn't matter a jot if those of us that should be making changes in our lives are actually making those changes rather than being publicly offended on the net at the climate change deniers. Even if everyone agreed over climate change, nothing would change as the problem would still be the way we are living.

    Work less, spend less, consume less. The rest will follow. If you don't do these things, at least have the grace to shut up moralising.

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  6. I hate wind farms. They don't work. They destroy the uplands. And most of the people who run the companies are crooks. I once worked for them in the 1990s when I felt they would be good for the country. They even changed my name to try and prove that my Environmental assessment of an area was wrong. So many parts can not be recycled.

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  7. http://johnosullivan.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/breaking-u-s-national-academies-find-greenhouse-effect-doesnt-exist/
    Interesting reading !

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    1. Not that interesting, I think. An avowed climate change denier has seized on a 33 year old American NAS report and claims that the 'cream of American scientists' of the day completely torpedoed climate change theories below the water line. Unfortunately - as the comments responding to his blog make clear - he has completely misrepresented what the NAS report claims. His argument is based on the assertion that the report did not use the phrase 'greenhouse effect' which he takes to mean that they dismissed the existence or importance of such an effect but the report's conclusions explicitly link an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide conclusions with an increase in global surface temperatures.
      The NAS report may or may not have been correct in all of its conclusions but it really doesn't advance the debate to pretend that it claimed something that it did not claim. It is also worth pointing out that irrespective of what a NAS review of the science might have concluded in 1979, there have been another 33 years of research since then, most of which, I believe, points to climate change as a real phenomenon and to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions as the prime cause.

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      1. "...but the report’s conclusions explicitly link an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide conclusions with an increase in global surface temperatures."

        Sorry that should read "...explicitly link an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration with an increase in global surface temperatures."

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  8. As reported on Market Liberal Democrats site: "You’ve said yourself you’re not an expert. Some of us are."

    I wonder where they heard that

    Could it be that Cllr Clarke actually has the economic well-being of his constituents at heart, rather than career advancement via a political agenda?

    http://www.ref.org.uk/press-releases/281-wearnandntearnhitsnwindnfarmnoutputnandneconomicnlifetime

    Lord Beefburger of Deben let the cat out of the bag when he said recently that we have to reduce our reliance on carbon energy anyway, for reasons of demand and supply. If the argument for renewables, or thorium, or fusion, could be based on something honest like that, wouldn't it be better than catastrophism?

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    1. Ah, our economic well-being. Well, that should certainly be paramount. As (fictional) Martin Dean puts it in A Fraction of the Whole:

      "The world is getting hotter, the ice caps are melting, because man keeps saying to nature, Hey, our whole idea of a cozy future is to have jobs. That's all we've got planned. What's more, we will pursue this aim at any cost, even, paradoxically, if it means the eventual destruction of our workplace. Man says, Sacrifice industry and economy and jobs? For what? Future generations? I don't even know those guys!"

      Or here's another spin on the whole issue:

      http://www.cartoonistgroup.com/store/add.php?iid=41786

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      1. What Steve said, earlier.

        Windturbines are just what is needed for renewable energy, because they are going to wear out quickly and will need renewing frequently. This is entirely consistent with the renewable schtick

        But "to the detriment of consumer interest, the development of the renewables sector, and climate change policy" - according to REF

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        1. So the renewables industry isn't perfect out of the can. We should bin it then? Technologies like wind turbines aren't perfect, their current efficiency, issues with their siting and storing the energy they capture are all problematic. But as you say yourself, supply and demand means fossil fuels have no long term future, while those convinced of the (to my mind credible) climate change threat wish they had no short term future. So instead of moaning about every problem encountered by this fledgling industry we should be encouraging the hunt for solutions which will ultimately benefit us all.

          I had a look at the REF website. Reminded me strongly of the Songbird Survival approach to cherry picking data and promoting a clear agenda.

          My own take on climate change deniers is incredulity. So, to be clear, these people believe the climate isn't changing. At all?! It seems a belief akin to the one (held one suspects by many of the same people) that the earth is only 6000 years old and species are immutable. Of course the climate is changing! It always has changed. The only serious debate left is how much of this change is anthropogenically driven and whether this current change is happening at a faster and therefore more alarming rate.

          The other debate one hears is does it matter? Apart from the offensive "I'm alright Jack" aspect of this debate, the reality is that even if your island home isn't flooded by rising sea levels or your farm isn't lost to drought or increasing desertification, everyone, everywhere will likely suffer some consequences, if only in terms of rising food and security costs.

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          1. "Of course the climate is changing! It always has changed. The only serious debate left is how much of this change is anthropogenically driven and whether this current change is happening at a faster and therefore more alarming rate."

            Almost exactly what I think, too, although I would move "current" to before the first "change".

            However, I would never use the offensive term "denier", which because of its connotations is too strong for the modern-day equivalent of a flat-earther. Whether REF are cherry-pickers or not I wouldn't know - I'm not an apologist for them, but their views on the shortcomings of the Renewables Obligations and the distortions it has allowed seem pretty accurate. If you really want to see cherry-picking in action, try the IPCC (the climate one, not the police). Although to be accurate , the IPCC's mission was to examine evidence for anthropogenic effects on climate, not to assess all the possibilities.

            For a detailed commentary on the IPCC process: http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/my-book/

            As for the "science" aspect, I think we have been very badly served by the climate science community and the mainstream media - the BBC in particular. I look forward to the debate widening as AR5 dribbles out, and more of the factors which drive the climate are exposed, debated and better understood. An outbreak of unsuppressed climate-truths would be nice!

            Perhaps Sarah Whitebread should be encouraging the hunt for solutions which will ultimately benefit us all, like REF suggest. But we don't know what she suggests - all we have is a blog personally attacking the elected leader of her council, because he has thwarted her favoured plans for publicly-owned land to be used as a cash-cow farm with dubious long-term efficacy.

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  9. Hi Sarah

    I’ve always slightly envied climate deniers. Just imagine. Pretty much the whole of science, across a range of disciplines, is convinced that climate change is happening. But after an hour or two on the internet, you recognise they all have it wrong. It’s just hokum. Or a conspiracy. Fancy realising, with no specialist knowledge or training, that a whole field of science is junk? It would be like discovering Einstein made a mistake in his maths. No wonder it's so attractive.

    There’s quite a lot of science been done on the differences between the conservative and liberal mind (it’s a continuum of course, but let’s stick with the description for now). It seems the two groups really do see the world in a different way. Conservatives are strong on duty, loyalty, determination and order. Liberals do better with nuance and the ability to adapt to change. Sending your Christmas card (I bought some myself!), no matter how much publicity you got, may have been counterproductive, because conservatives seem to have a stronger reaction to threat. Paradoxically, presenting your councillor with more evidence may not actually help. It simply reinforces his belief that everyone else is wrong, and encourages a retreat to the laager.

    So if you want to communicate with him in a way he will understand and respect, you have to speak to his strengths. For instance, instead of talking about ‘saving the planet’, speak in terms of energy security, or preventing wasted resources. It may be that Nick Clarke has skills that tree-huggers like you and me lack, that could be a real asset in our attempts to counter climate change. You can try to make common cause, even if your ultimate motivations are different. It won't be easy, but, as I heard someone say the other day, tackling climate change isn't rocket science - it's much harder than that.

    For a bit more reading on this, I’d recommend Chris Mooney’s ‘The Republican Brain – the science of how they reject science and reality’. I was going to reference a cartoon too, but Hugh Webster got to it first…

    .

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  10. I will recommend one cartoon as well. I found in on display in the corridor of my local pub, the work of a young local student of illustration who could go far.
    http://www.traceylouisewright.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/global-warming.html#comment-form

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  11. Sarah,what use is it talking to a few people on this blog and in Cambridgeshire,I think I read that the world consumption of coal in 2017 would be more than 6 billion tons so anything we do in the U K will have really so little effect to be meaningless,all that we are doing is making ourselves less competitive and the business we could be doing is being produced in other countries resulting in probably more pollution than if produced here.
    Of course climate change is happening but the whole world needs to take measures not just Cambridgeshire even though of course you lot grabbed Huntingdonshire so you had a bit more clout.

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    1. Dennis - that's a bit unfair, I think. That's like saying that not many of all the murders in the world happen in the UK so we shouldn't bother with a police force (a bit like that anyway!). Most global issues are globally shared responsibilities which means that unless everyone plays their part there will be no progress. And that means that someone needs to take the lead. The UK is not, by any means, the worst nation on earth but it could do better. And should do.

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    2. "anything we do in the UK will have really so little effect to be meaningless"

      This is almost what was said from the platform at a Royal Society meeting in 2010. But the speaker went further, saying that we would not meet our 2050 GHG emissions targets but justified the cost to society, and the Research Funding, in terms of the UK showing leadership and expertise and how it all nearly could be done by heroic effort and self-denial. Unlike the politicians, I think he was not using any smoke and mirror tricks to hide the emissions from imports.

      Well I'm sat sitting here in the pm of 21 December 2012 and emails keep arriving so I guess the World didn't end after all

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  12. Filbert Cobb has a brilliant definition of renewable energy in that it will not last long and will need to be renewed!!. Well said.
    All of this "global warming" or are we now talking about "climate change" or perhaps "extreme climate change" is a difficult concept to grasp. In the 1970s I wrote an essay for my earth and environmental science course about global warming and received a bollocking for it and was told that it was scaremongering and would never happen. My professor told me that the earth is largely self regulating and with an increase in warmth there will be a corresponding increase in cloud cover which will have a cooling effect.
    Also I just cannot get my head around the fact that the human race is capable of measuring the average temperature change of the earth to within 0.6 degrees over 100 years. I couldn't even measure the average temperature of my living room to this tolerance. I mean do you measure it once a day or a thousand times a day and would you measure one location or one thousand locations within your room?.Every combination would give a different figure.
    Regarding the earth temperature, do you take into account all of the water vapour in the atmosphere and it's content of latent heat. How would you measure this water vapour, the quantity of which after all will be dependant on how much movement of air there has been over the earth's water/air interfaces ie more wind = more eveporation= more water vapour = more absorbed heat energy?

    On these clear frosty days has anyone ever seen the numbers of aeroplane vapour trails in the atmosphere and how quickly they spread to form a cloud bank blocking out the suns rays. Dirty chimney stacks spewing out foul smoke also deflects the suns rays. Anyone been to China? In some parts of China you cannot even see the sun for atmospheric pollution. When we clean up our act with less flights and less atmospheric pollution are we not simply increasing the solar radiation which reaches our planet and increasing global warming.
    Increased carbon dioxide levels should lead to increased plant growth and in turn increased evapotranspiration and in turn more clouds to deflect the suns rays away from earth. Perhaps if we hadn't alowed the destruction of so much of the Amazonian rainforest then we wouldn't even be worried about global warming.
    By the way is global warming not a better prospect than entering an ice age. Once the earth's ice fields start to increase the very nature of ice with it's high albedo or reflectivity would divert more and more heat away from the earths surface and causing mass extinction of many things including us.
    By the way I am a global warming sceptic but with an open mind

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  13. 'Green' or 'Denier' it makes not one iota difference what happens in Cambs, UK, or EU if trade in fossil fuels continues world-wide on a free market basis. Any wind energy generated here merely reduces the cost of fossil fuels for another purchaser.

    We can see that happening in UK. I was curious as to why when the wind blows in UK the load on gas plant fell while coal continued unabated ( watch here: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ ). Coal-fired plant have much lower thermal efficiency than gas CCGT so obviously switching off coal should happen before gas. But coal has become cheaper than gas because the USA are using less coal, their fracking gas is taking over. So Drax buys their coal- cheap. The USA coal surplus has prompted building new west coast ports to export coal to China.
    Local - i.e. European - 'green' action is a complete and utter waste of money without our political leaders - at the very top - taking action to curb fossil fuel consumption world-wide. Wind energy here is someone else's cheap coal.

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  14. In my experience those who dispute that our climate is changing tend to stay indoors and quibble over temperature figures, while anyone who gets out and observes the natural world (or tends a garden) will have seen lots of evidence.

    In Britain, many plant species are flowering and leaves unfolding earlier; many butterflies are appearing earlier; amphibians are breeding earlier; birds are breeding earlier; most spring migrant birds are arriving earlier; whilst in autumn, deciduous leaves are falling later and mammals are hibernating later (summarised by Walther et al 2002 http://eebweb.arizona.edu/courses/Ecol206/Walther%20et%20al%20Nature%202002.pdf).

    Granted, most deniers/ sceptics often ignore or don't accept these facts, either, and they tell us nothing about the mechanism driving climate change; but at least they get us away from nugatory arguments about fractions of a degrees in average global temperature, which is a figure that no-one can directly comprehend.

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    1. David N
      I am certain that you have oversimplified this phenology argument. I will give an example; I have a rowan tree collected from Northern Scotland and another from Northern England. The scottish one always came into leaf a couple of weeks later than the english one which must mean that these differences are genetic. Now if we get a warm period in the springtime then both will come into leaf earlier than if there had been a cold spell, but there will still be a time lag between them. As we have only been in a warmer period in the UK since 1974 then genetical differences have not had time to evolve in response to physical differences. The scottish tree has evolved (over millenia) to survive in a colder part of the UK than the english one. A tree such as a 100 year old ash will respond to ambient temperature in such a way that it may come into leaf sooner but there will be no genetical differences produced during this process. This year in Northern England plum and pear trees flowered at their "normal" time but then were met by a dearth of insects due to a cold spell and also frosts which killed off the blossoms with the result that there was no fruit. This in no way represents any form of global warming.
      You also mention spring migrant birds arriving earlier. Now as I am sure you will know in any population there is what is known as a normal distribution of individuals. As this is a form of variation in a population what will happen is that some individual birds of a certain species will arrive early. If this arrival coincides with a spell of good weather and abundant insects then they may breed successfully, produce a lot of offspring and the following Spring even more individuals will arrive earlier. This does not necessarily mean that there is global warming the second year, but what it does mean is that the previous Spring was warm early and produced a lot of offspring. I have often heard willow warblers calling early , indeed they did this year, but as you yourself said your constant effort sites showed a poor breeding year for willow warblers. Not exactly a good argument or evidence for global warming.
      Amphibians were the same and frogs did not breed until later this year than last year.Ok you may get one or two early frogs breeding, but this year their early eggs were destroyed by really cold temperatures and the majority bred in mid may as is normal.
      All of these phenological responses are affected by short term climate change. For example only one or two frosts of -5 degrees C will cause leaf fall in Autumn.

      Well this year we had no plums at all and only 2 hazel pears when normally there would have been thousands.

      Butterflies : Yes I saw a small tortoiseshell butterfly flying around only last week but it could have been disturbed and it certainly will not breed. This last spring many Small Tortoiseshells were out and about during a warm spell but were then hammered by an extremely cold period before they had been able to lay eggs and I guess they must have died. In actual fact they had an extremely poor breeding success and for some reason many caterpillars were still feeding on nettles well into late September.
      This year a few willow warblers arrived along the local river bank before any trees and bushes came into leaf. They would be hard pushed to survive to breed. The peak numbers for warbler arrival was still pretty similar to previous years

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      1. Yes, I oversimplified the link between climate change and phenology because I don't think that the comment section of Mark's blog is the place to go into the details of thousands of published papers on the subject. There are, of course, year-to-year fluctuations in timing of most natural phenomena (and some well-known cyclical variations) which is why the detailed analyses cover long time-periods, typically 30-60 years for the examples in the review article by Walther et al quoted above.

        Incidentally, much of the data comes from systematic long-term observations from amateur naturalists, a great example of citizen-science in action.

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  15. Mark,merry xmas,yes I feel I am often unfair but think the big band of conservationists whose sole belief is that the only thing that matters is wildlife and the environment have impressed you.Think the fact is there has to be a balance where the countries finances have to be at least important or otherwise the money will not be there for them as like now as soon as times a bit harder it seems charity's donations are down immediately.
    Of course it is a admirable thing to set a example if others respect you and will then follow but that was at least a century ago in the U Ks case.Absolutely no one will follow our example they will just laugh and say what mugs we are for making ourselves less competitive.

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    1. Dennis, it is all right leaving the kids a few quid but I would still prefer to leave them a countryside so they dont have to spend their few quid on DVDs to see what used to be there. I agree about the Charities not getting the funding they need, such a pity especially when the Govt wants to rely on their input into a Big Society approach (although I haven't heard those words for a while).

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    2. Hi Dennis,

      Re: "wildlife and the environment"

      I know this is a much-used quote, but here it is nevertheless

      "When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money."

      Indeed, it's sad when this country has a "government" whose sole belief is that the only thing that matters is economic growth.

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  16. This is how other countries follow our example.
    Britain banned keeping Sows in stalls in 1999,hey ho the rest of Europe thought so much of our example that they finally decided to ban them next year but with the ban only days away 80% of EU countries have not yet complied with the measure.
    Only 33% of French farmers comply
    48% of German farmers comply
    57% of Irish farmers comply
    This makes it really easy to be cynical of absolutely no one likely to follow any example set by Britain.
    For goodness sake even after 13 years they are still taking the p*** by selling Pig products in the U K with unfair advantages of keeping Pigs in what the U K considers less than humane conditions.If we had any politicians worth anything they would have banned E U pig products for all those years.
    Think exactly the same is happening with battery Hens.

    Bob,think it is actually easier to leave a better countryside for the kids if the country is in good financial health than if like now we are still increasing our debt each month.I always think any debt has to be paid off at some time.

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    1. Spot on Dennis - the pork market is insane. I couldn't find any UK reared and processed gammon in Sainsco - only Irish, Dutch or Danish. So I went without.

      On the other hand, huge amounts of pigwheat occupy the prairies from Luton to York and we still import soybean meal. After the chooks, who is eating it? Could it be the pigs we are are so keen to export? Both Gentleman Jim and Rambo have been wooing the Chinese market, despite China being the biggest pork producer of all. I will try to find out what subsidies the wheat and pork exporters get - unless anyone here already knows? Once properly informed we might go about asking for our money back.

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  17. Liberals and conservation and indeed liberals included in anything are a disaster. I would rather milk sheep for a living than listen to their pathetic arguments.
    At least UKIP and SNP are fighting for fishing quotas !

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