So that’s the plan then

We should all return to the diets of medieval peasants:

This, above all, means swapping most of the animal protein we eat for vegetable protein. It’s not painful, unless we make it so. Many British people used to eat dhal every day. They called it pease pudding, pease pottage or pea soup. As in South Asia, its ingredients varied from place to place and season to season. It’s just one component of a diet that offers plenty of variety – without trashing the great variety of life.

You know, the entirely organic, free range, one, that had everyone dead at 35.

And I think I know what’s wrong with these figures (and if this isn’t correct then do of course tell me):

The figures were so astounding that I refused to believe them. I found them buried in a footnote, and assumed at first that they must have been a misprint. So I checked the source, wrote to the person who first published them, and followed the citations. To my amazement, they appear to stand up.

A kilogramme of beef protein reared on a British hill farm can generate the equivalent of 643kg of carbon dioxide. A kilogramme of lamb protein produced in the same place can generate 749kg. One kilo of protein from either source, in other words, causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York.

Typically in these studies they measure the total emissions from all of the land used for the production. In he same way that that gigatonnes of water to make a burger counts all the rain that falls on all the grazing land used.

What they then don’t do is subtract from that water/emissions number whatever the water usage/emissions from the land would be without that production taking place. We thus get given the gross numbers, not the net.

So let us imagine that the uplands rewild, as George desires they do. Rabbits, deer and lynx presumably take over. And what are the emissions from that ecology, that we must then subtract from the current managed one, in order to reach the net figure?

92 thoughts on “So that’s the plan then”

  1. The point being that the net is zero. It has to be zero. The only time it isn’t zero is when you dig up fossilised carbon and release it into the environment; if there is a carbon dioxide issue, that is the only issue.

    If your net of consumption and emissions of any living creatures or system thereof isn’t zero, your measurements are wrong.

  2. And anyone who thinks I’m going to live on revolting slop like pease pudding will have to wrest my pork chops from my cold, dead hands.

  3. Hmmmm, average life expectancy was low because of infant and childhood mortality due to disease (even up to the early 20th century – my father was one of 13 children, 3 lived past 21, and he and a sister both survived polio with some disability).

    However, if you lived past 21, then you could expect to live into your early 70s.

  4. Next in the Guardian killjoy Christmas line up:-

    Zulu – How dare they show a film glorifying war and colonialism
    Chocolates – A sweet celebrating a derogatory racist description
    Roast Potatoes – Trigger warning for the Irish who lost ancestors in the great famine
    Ham – Insensitive to our Moslem brethren

  5. However, if you lived past 21, then you could expect to live into your early 70s.

    Unless you were a woman:

    http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A142254&dswid=1189

    The purpose of this thesis was to chart the distribution and decline in maternal mortality in Sweden between 1751 and 1980, and furthermore to characterize positive (predisposing) factors and negative (protective) factors of maternal mortality. Maternal mortality declined from 900 to 6.6 per 100,000 live births in these 230 years.

    So for every birth, a woman had a 1% chance of not surviving. This chance is multiplied when you consider the size of families needed due to infant mortality.

  6. A kilogramme of beef protein […] can generate the equivalent of 643kg of carbon dioxide. A kilogramme of lamb protein produced in the same place can generate 749kg

    What does the equivalent of CO2 look like?

    How come a lamb which lives for, say, six months produces more CO2 than a beef animal which lives for eighteen months?

  7. Meissen Bison, I suspect it’s due to the calculation method; i.e. the emissions/ha/day are probably the same but producing fewer kilos of edible lamb vs edible beef means that the emissions/kilo are different, and higher for lamb than beef.

    However as Tim says the figures are bollocks anyway because they are gross and not net.

  8. You are not likely to give him any credit, or anybody outside the far head-banging right of the spectrum, but Monbiot was right about how rewilding and reducing the sheep on the fells in Cumbria would have prevented the recent flooding. (Start the fascist chant “intellectual , Guardianista” so much more modern than Jewish cosmopolitan.)

  9. DBC Reed, please do enlighten us as to how removing sheep from hills acts as flood defense.

    Are we to believe that no flooding took place in Cumbria until the advent of hillside sheep farming? And if you buy kippers on a Tuesday it will not rain.

  10. Arthur Dent, I do agree that it’s all bullocks.

    But it can occasionally be fascinating to determine where the reasoning veers off into a self-flagellating Bedlam.

  11. “You know, the entirely organic, free range, one, that had everyone dead at 35.” Why weaken a good argument with that sort of pish?

  12. “Many British people used to eat dhal every day. They called it pease pudding, pease pottage or pea soup.”

    And many British people used to die of cholera. Now they don’t. We call this phenomenon ‘progress’.

    That’s actual ‘progress’, in comparison to the Left’s ‘Progress’ which is now a headlong herdrush towards Primitivism.

  13. We’re far out into angels on pinheads territory here. These sorts of claims should never be trusted at all: the people making them are always hopelessly parti pris.

    The idea that desperately poor peasants only had to make it past their early 20s to live to a comfortable (!) old age is absurd. Throughout the medieval period, not a single occupant of the throne of England reached 70.

    Greenshirts: I really hate them.

  14. Reading the article it actually appears George is making a case for meat as he implies (a) per calorie, vegetables can actually create more CO2 and (b) you can’t physically eat the replacement protein in vegetables alone.

    But his solution is actually “am suggesting that we should all eat far less.” So, for George, the iconic Christmas song that raised millions to avert famine is “playlist non grata”.

    The most worrying point he makes is this:

    “As the world’s people adopt the western diet, […] the methane and nitrous oxide produced by farming could rise to the equivalent of 13bn tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2070. This is more than all human activities combined can safely produce without exceeding 2C of global warming. Climate breakdown looks inevitable – unless we all change our diets.”

    Poor old George, he seems to have missed the point – that the “climate agreement” is tantamount to condemning many of the world’s starving to stay that way. There we are thinking that getting the rest of the world on a “western diet” was a noble cause and all, Sir Bob’s head must be exploding.

    And he has a problem with those of us who question the “science”, because they argue that if you are going to re-enact the Irish Potato Famine on a grander scale, you had better make sure your facts are right; that CO2 does cause as much warming as you predict, and that 2 deg C will result in catastrophe.

  15. DBC Reed, please do enlighten us as to how removing sheep from hills acts as flood defense.

    You make an “organic flood barrier” of them at the bottom of the hill, and the wool soaks up the water.

  16. Monbiot was right about how rewilding and reducing the sheep on the fells in Cumbria would have prevented the recent flooding.

    I thought it was all to do with warble gloaming.

  17. IanB

    “You make an “organic flood barrier” of them at the bottom of the hill, and the wool soaks up the water.”

    Is that called a baarrage ?

  18. DBC Reed

    So we should have eaten the sheep in Cumbria and it might have prevented the flooding – how can he argue that and then produce the drivel he manages here? I do like the cut of your jib in terms of arguments – I doubt you will listen to anything unless its published on the KCNA website but we live in hope 2016 will see you convert to a more sensible political stance where the solution to everything is more substantial than the adoption of a Land Value Tax…..

  19. He’s got a kicking in the comments & social media, and has just Tweeted:

    “The consensus among the comments is that I’m a scrooge, puritan, killjoy. Well, my job is to bring facts to light. https://t.co/MdkQx1EDux

    Shorter Moonbat: ‘The people have spoken….the bastards!’

  20. “You make an “organic flood barrier” of them at the bottom of the hill, and the wool soaks up the water.”

    And then they stretch so they are twice as long. Twice the CO2 also, I bet! Climate catastrophe!

  21. “The consensus among the comments is that I’m a scrooge, puritan, killjoy. Well, my job is to bring facts to light.”

    Richard Murphy could have written that.

    Poor George: at heart he just hates people, mankind. I think this makes him uncomfortable so he dresses it up in the party clothes of compassion and environmentalism.

  22. I don’t know what wee Georgie’s going on about. The Great Paris Agreement has ensured that the temperature will rise by a nice gentle 1.5 degrees then the climate will be stable and Cumbria will never have floods, (or storms), again and the lions will lay down with the lambs, (and they’ll all live of pease pudding but it won’t cause any farting.)

  23. Methinks GM should practise what he preaches. He lives in the wilds of Wales, he should re-wild his house (which with its hard roof and metalled roads and hard standing around it) contribute considerably to local flood run-off. Also living out in the middle of nowhere means his carbon footprint must be sky high with all those food miles, and the need for utilities to be transported there.

    He should move to a flat in a built up urban area and eat pease pudding for the rest of his life. If he doesn’t he’s a hypocrite of the first order.

    And a sanctimonious little prig to boot, but that goes without saying really.

  24. If the sheep were removed from the fells then the forestry boys would move in and plant sitka spruce all over the place. To plant sitka you have to plough the peat (hard to believe this is still permitted and even encouraged). Ploughing the fragile soil leads to the soil drying out, huge carbon release and faster water run off down the furrows into the rivers.

  25. Rob

    Two ‘pease’ in a pod – both near psychopathic misanthropes, and amongst the most dangerous men in the world, whatever fluffy garb they dress themselves up in. In fairness to Monbiot he is at least capable of civilised discourse.

  26. “You know, the entirely organic, free range, one, that had everyone dead at 35.”

    Actually, not at all. Medieval people had a quite decent expectancy once they passed childhood. It’s the child mortality that brings life expectancy down in undeveloped places.

  27. Aah, pease pudding. Tim’s “2000 calories of the cheapest local stodge” that the world’s absolutely-poor are expected by the greens to remain on.

  28. Cumbria – a mountainous area with very high rainfall. The rainfall falls evenly, then channels into a small area.

    You aren’t going to stop floods there, whether the hills are alive with sheep or anything else.

  29. “You aren’t going to stop floods there, whether the hills are alive with sheep or anything else.”

    Flash floods maybe.

    However, what they just had wasn’t flash floods, but proper longer-duration floods of biblical proportions for our heathen age. Nothing on the hills would or could have changed that.

  30. It goes without saying that people on this site don’t know very much but they usually cover up for this by playing with their little whatsits at the computer, looking things up , misunderstanding them and going mental when their buffoonish mistakes are pointed out.So I am shocked , shocked I tell you (quote) that nobody has been able to find A Storm of Ignorance by George Monbiot which gives a pretty convincing account of his anti sheep thesis. N.B. I don’t agree with everything Monbiot says and could not live without meat but the treeless, barren man-made desert of the Cumbria landscape is utterly dead in IMO ,especially the burned over moorland used for slaughtering grouse .

  31. Yeah if you don’t count war, child birth, famine, and all those pesky diseases we have now cured then medieval folk had a good life expectancy. If you like to have a grip on reality then you’ll find that even if you made it through childhood in the Middle Ages your still likely to be dead by your 40s.

  32. “To produce one lamb you need to keep a large area of land bare and fertilised. The animal must roam the hills to find its food, burning more fat and producing more methane than a stalled beast would.”

    Well then, all beasts must be stalled! It is clear that in environmental terms free range organic is THE DEVIL – George Moonbat tells us so!

    We need to bind their legs together and suspend them in a stall with no room to move, feeding them only on the grasses we cut with our bare hands off the newly rewilded hills.

  33. DBC

    the treeless, barren man-made desert of the Cumbria landscape is utterly dead in IMO ,especially the burned over moorland used for slaughtering grouse .

    That is your subjective view of what constitutes an attractive landscape, there is no other form of aesthetic judgement. This is what people like Monbiot can never grasp, who is to decide what the right landscape looks like ? This why in order to give a spurious authority to their personal preferences they appeal to supposedly objective facts like AGW and cling to them with religious fervour. For my own part I love open, largely treeless, uplands ( and the lowlands like Romney Marsh ) which have been like that for a long time and are the product of human endeavour, to despise them as you and Monbiot do is not evidence of your ability to see things that ignorant conservatives can’t but rather a failure of your own imagination.

    Also what Pete said, for someone who is always berating the ignorance of others you might do well to do a bit of reading on the subject of upland ecology yourself.

  34. DBC Reed

    But when someone has been wrong as frequently as Monbiot why should I give him the time of day? True enough just as a blind squirrel stumbles across the odd acorn he might have an article periodically with a kernel of a point but he wouldn’t be the first place I’d visit for answers – indeed the sole reason I’d read anything by him is if Tim posts a critique of it on here.

    Conclusively thrashed by the superlative Christopher Booker on Climate Change in general and exposed as ignorant by countless Telegraph journos – why the shock? Is your bubble that impervious to being pricked?

  35. So, apart from the war, famine, pestilence, childhood diseases, maternal mortality AND the deforestation of Cumbria, what have the middle ages ever done for us?

  36. Please, please don’t put out food for birds in your garden. It only encourages the selfish bastards to fly around burning fat and emitting methane.

  37. I’m all for re-wilding of the uplands.
    All that forest would provide a good environment for deer and wild boar, providing a great source of venison and wild pork.

  38. TimothyA

    Define re-wilding and on what historical and ecological basis are you making that judgement ? As for Deer and Wild Boar, we have plenty of those already despite our supposedly tree poor landscape, the only thing stopping us from obtaining venison and wild pork from that resource is our gun laws and the urban liberal sensibilities of the sort of people who would be all in favour of re-wilding. Defeating their own purposes as usual. By the way how do you propose keeping those deer under control while all the new trees are growing, reintroduce the Wolf perhaps ? Good luck with persuading the Daily Mail and Mumsnet of the wisdom of that move. Little Red Riding Hood isn’t fiction to them.

    I will tell you what will happen if re-wilding is ever attempted. First we will have endless consultations and feasability studies costing millions and reaching no firm conclusion. Politicians will then go with whoever has the biggest gob at the time and consequently opt for the worst option. Then we will need a National Re-Wilding Authority, with a staff of several hundred at least plus any number of subsidiary groups all jostling for their bit of turf and share of the loot. After a decade or so of this we will no doubt have a lot of scrubby upland. liberally sprinked with information boards and interpretation centres and no one will be allowed to deviate from the designated pathways if they wish to wander in this new Eden. Venison and wild pork will be strictly rationed and sold only in farmers markets and selected M&S and Waitrose store.

  39. A commitment to build a bear sanctuary/habitat locally was avoided after a report was produced that said the mountain area selected wasn’t a suitable environment for bears, somehow it doesn’t seem to bother the ones that already live there and often come for a wander around the neighbourhood, or the ones that live in a private sanctuary a couple of mountains over.

  40. Allow me to sort all of this out. Science has done it thank goodness and in fact finds that…moving to a more veggie diet actually increases energy inputs, blue water usage , and GHG emissions. Compared to the standard diet. At last, that nagging guilt I had been feeling is now gone and I can really get my inner carnivore going.
    Just to be clear, I think Monbiots work on rewilding is in fact excellent, and he deserves praise for it.

  41. DBC

    You were challenge to explain how rewilding Cumbria would have prevented the floods. So far toy have only pointed people towards a book with which tell us you are not actually on complete agreement.

    So allow me to repeat the challenge: how exactly would removing sheep farming from Cumbria and rewilding the county have prevented the floods?

    You know what, I think you’re bullshitting.

  42. @I have pointed to George Monbiot’s article/essay on “storm of ignorance” . I am in agreement with it.Why should I copy it out when you can read it on Net?
    @Th I made quite clear that my dislike of open treeless Cumbrian fells was a purely personal aversion borne of having been dragged over them at an impressionable age by fell-walking enthusiasts who went on about God’s country when all I could see was something like the back-end of the local brickworks though down at the Lake’s edge under the trees the effect was beautiful .But the amount of lakeside woodland has markedly declined according to “Cumbrian woodlands -past present and future” on Net-which report kicks off by saying that the area was originally ,in pre-historic times, entirely covered in trees.

  43. Removing sheep farming could certainly prevent the consequences of floods from being so bad. Actually, just removing all those fat government subsidies for farming completely would do it, by reducing land prices and freeing up land for building, much of which is land which isn’t on flood plains. ( Does government insist insurers offer flood protection too? If so another governmental distortion of land use )
    What George Bioporn gets wrong is that he doesn’t want the market ( i.e. people ) to decide the best use of land. He actually wants government subsidies to be paid to landowners to rewild, because his condescending view of people is they can’t be trusted to like wild areas unless they first get a cheque from the Treasury.

  44. Yes, but in Noah’s time as now, the flood was caused by the iniquity and evil of mankind.

    It’s like poetry, it rhymes.

  45. “which report kicks off by saying that the area was originally ,in pre-historic times, entirely covered in trees.”

    which pre-historic times? as the geology of the area clearly shows, quite a bit of “prehistoric times” was spent under an ice sheet, or as glacial tundra. A significant amount of time must have been spent as swamp, and later peat bog to even build up to the point where trees could get a chance..

  46. Because the perfect state of anything is whatever it was one second before a human being arrived there and did something.

  47. There are some choice names in the North-West. Copeland Forest, Skiddaw Forest, Forest of Bowland, Gilderdale Forest, Milburn Forest etc, all of which are lacking in . . . the stuff they are named for.
    Not all of these drain into the River Eden but you get the idea.

  48. DBC

    I made quite clear that my dislike of open treeless Cumbrian fells was a purely personal aversion borne of having been dragged over them at an impressionable age by fell-walking enthusiasts who went on about God’s country when all I could see was something like the back-end of the local brickworks though down at the Lake’s edge under the trees the effect was beautiful

    You said nothing of the sort, here’s what you actually said,

    N.B. I don’t agree with everything Monbiot says and could not live without meat but the treeless, barren man-made desert of the Cumbria landscape is utterly dead in IMO ,especially the burned over moorland used for slaughtering grouse .

    As Grikath says your ‘prehistoric’ landscape is the immediately post glacial one, which itself underwent constant natural change as the ice retreated and a cycle of warming and cooling began. Humans altered that evolving landscape to suit their own purposes. In other words the present position is no more or less ‘natural’ than any that has gone before, so to talk of re-wilding is at best misleading, deliberately so sometimes. It is a political concept based on the Green notion of the non existent balance of nature and a hatred of industrialism and anything other than low intensity agriculture. Wilding is popular with people like Monbiot because it serves both that deep green agenda and his anti capitalism.

    It is quite impossible to re-wild in an intensely urban society like ours, our megafauna is gone and can’t be reintroduced without fencing off protected areas, hardly a wilding, so what we will get is a kind of large zoo or safari park. If the land is just abandoned or planning controls removed humans will move in again and start reshaping it to their own preferences, just as before. Depending on your point of view that might be a reasonable option but there will be nothing wild about it. Monbiot has a personal vision of the ideal landscape and land usage, fair enough so do I, the difference is that I don’t claim mine to be the only true one and have no desire to compel others to adopt it. As I have mentioned here before Monbiot’s take on the world is Romantic pessimism and when Romanticism moves from the personal to the political it becomes dangerous.

  49. Andrew, that may be because quite a lot of it has historically disappeared into the Royal Navy..
    A medieval forest was *quite* cultivated. The modern notion of “rewilding” would have sounded like utter tosspottery and a waste of resources and income to the average medieval landowner.

  50. @ Andrew Carey
    Yes there are trees growing only on the artificial slopes of the railway embankments. None on the other areas from which sheep have been excluded.

  51. Correction – there’s an extension to the bottom of the picture, showing seven trees growing in fields where sheep graze. They are near a stream so get more water, as do the trees getting run-off from the railway line..

  52. AC

    There are some choice names in the North-West. Copeland Forest, Skiddaw Forest, Forest of Bowland, Gilderdale Forest, Milburn Forest etc, all of which are lacking in . . . the stuff they are named for.

    Not sure what point you are making here but Forest never meant an area covered in trees it meant hunting ground, over the centuries some of these forests became wooded as a result of game preservation and lack of agriculture. In Britain, particularly England, woodland has a very different history to that of most of Europe, never mind the rest of the world. Large tree covered areas have been a rarity for a long time now.

    Grikath

    that may be because quite a lot of it has historically disappeared into the Royal Navy..

    No not really, that’s pretty much a myth and a myth that seems to have been believed as much in the past as it is now. There was never really a shortage of the favoured trees for shipbuilding, particularly Oak which has always been one of our most abundant trees. There was an absence of very tall trees but that was because we didn’t go in for plantations as our woods were always a small percentage of total land use and intensively cultivated. Hedgerows were also a useful source of wood and sometimes quite substantial timber. The navy never had any real difficulty sourcing wood not least because there was a flourishing import trade from early times and later there was access to the trees of the newly emerging empire. What they did have trouble with, as always, was funding, warships have always been horribly expensive things.

  53. There are some choice names in the North-West. Copeland “Forest, Skiddaw Forest, Forest of Bowland, Gilderdale Forest, Milburn Forest etc, all of which are lacking in . . . the stuff they are named for.”

    Pure ignorance, old fruit. They were not called “Forests” because they were covered with trees, but because they were regulated deer-hunting ground. “Forest” could be largely woodland, or marsh, or heath, or moorland. Oop north, it was usually moorland. And on Exmoor, et bloody cetera.

  54. So Much For Subtlety

    dearieme -““Forest” could be largely woodland, or marsh, or heath, or moorland. Oop north, it was usually moorland. And on Exmoor, et bloody cetera.”

    Although to return to a point made by someone else in an earlier comment, humans have been screwing with the local environment for so long it is hard to tell. Thomas Hardy’s desolate moors in Dorset aren’t moors any more. People removed the sheep and horses and now they are forests. Really impressive forests too. You would never know they had ever been anything else.

    So the difficult question is what would the northern moors look like in their natural state? The forest requires no large herbivores to thin them out. Before humans hunted the auroch to extinction was it enough to keep the trees down? This blog has had a discussion before about how much of the Highlands were covered in trees. But is that the result of humans hunting the largest herbivores?

  55. where I currently hang my hat the entire area was logged about 80-100 years ago, now you go for a walk from my house and within 30mins or less you can be so lost they never find you, or at least not alive. At one point they had 17 deaths in 12 years. Current year coyote and cougar sitings have risen and bears, somehow I don’t think this is what the rewilding proponents in the UK are after though, likely they want somewhere for a peaceful weekend stroll.

  56. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke not in Cymru – “Current year coyote and cougar sitings have risen and bears, somehow I don’t think this is what the rewilding proponents in the UK are after though, likely they want somewhere for a peaceful weekend stroll.”

    I am a rewilding supporter and that is precisely what I am after.

    Britain has enough places for peaceful weekend strolls. It needs somewhere that a future French King can be killed while hunting one.

  57. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B – “Nature is overrated. It’s dangerous and it smells.”

    The same is true of Camden. But who could deny that what Britian’s flabby leftists need is to be chased and mauled by a bear while on their nature walks? Not all of them or all the time. But one or two. Every now and then.

    Improve the moral fibre of the nation no end.

  58. I lived in Camden in the 1980s. Back then it was the best spot on Earth. It’s been ruined since, like all of London. But back then, amazing place to be.

  59. To echo others’ comments on here, I have actually been to places untouched by humans, mainly in Russia and particularly in the middle of Sakhalin. You can’t get near it, it is undergrowth 2-3m high and absolutely impenetrable. Yes, the trees tower nicely above it but you’re going to need a helicopter or a large weed-whacker to enjoy them. The most enjoyable nature is managed nature, but the dimwits on the Left and the clowns in CPRE or whatever it’s called don’t seem to understand that.

  60. “Current year coyote and cougar sitings have risen and bears, somehow I don’t think this is what the rewilding proponents in the UK are after though, likely they want somewhere for a peaceful weekend stroll.”

    Let’s rewild Hampstead Heath with bears, cougars and rattlesnakes. It might dampen down the enthusiasms of the SJWs if a few dozen of them are culled in their natural habitat each year.

  61. @Th I flagged up my stated aversion to treeless desert landscapes in Cumbria (“desert” meaning deserted) by IMO.Clearly you do not know what this abbreviation ,often used on the Net, means.
    In general : pre historic means times for which there is no relevant historical record not post glacial.Clearly there were many more trees than now: all Monbiot is saying ,for very good reason, is that we now need more trees again.Cue storm of abuse from people who have not read his sensible argument ” Storm of ignorance” on Net) .
    The usual wankerish enemies of their own best interests are flying to the defence of Government subsidised farmers who spend huge sums funnelling the water off their sheep-cropped fields as fast as possible downstream to ruin the lives of the greater number of people living in towns on rivers and the confluence of rivers.BTW talking of subsidies look at subsidies paid to owners of grouse moors who manage landscape by an early spring burn of heather to expose roots so young grouse can feed off them.
    Also please bear in mind that your side ( of enemies of the British state and society) have been in charge since Thatcher
    and so you are not brave rebels but supporters of a monstrous right wing government, involved in the mass bribery of a majority of the electorate via unearned, untaxed capital gains in the value of ratty little houses.
    And a very happy Christmas to all honest men and women!

  62. DBC

    That’s a nice Christmas rant Santa gave you there, I had no idea I was part of a side ( must be like my honorary membership of the Patriarchy I suppose ) or that I was an enemy of the British state either, do I get to wear a badge or something ?

    @Th I flagged up my stated aversion to treeless desert landscapes in Cumbria (“desert” meaning deserted) by IMO.Clearly you do not know what this abbreviation ,often used on the Net, means.

    I’m well aware what IMO means my point was that your opinion is demonstrably wrong as Pete showed you. Neither did you give any indication that you meant deserted rather
    than the normal meaning of desert as largely devoid of life.

    Whether we need more trees or not is a matter of taste not fact. Monbiot is free to claim we do and I’m free to disagree but his intentions go much further than that. His adherence to vegetarianism is another example, what is a matter of private moral choice, with which I have some sympathy, is for him a vital requirement to save the planet. He and people like him would, by various measures, including compulsion if all else failed, impose that belief on the rest of us.

    Anyway happy Christmas to you DBC, did you get a tree this year ?

  63. Thomas Hardy’s desolate moors in Dorset aren’t moors any more. People removed the sheep and horses and now they are forests. Really impressive forests too. You would never know they had ever been anything else.

    Indeed and that former heathland is now one of the rarest habitats in Britain, home to some of our most endangered species. Considered from that point of view the extra trees are not a gain.

  64. So the difficult question is what would the northern moors look like in their natural state? The forest requires no large herbivores to thin them out. Before humans hunted the auroch to extinction was it enough to keep the trees down? This blog has had a discussion before about how much of the Highlands were covered in trees. But is that the result of humans hunting the largest herbivores?

    A question we will probably never know the answer to. Its possible that the post glacial European landscape was largely wooded with pockets, some quite large, of open country and the Aurochs may have played a part in that. What is certain is that we can never reproduce that landscape even if we knew what it looked like. So talk of re-wilding is meaningless, what it really means is a deliberately made landscape with woodland fauna and flora given priority. Not a necessarily bad thing in itself but it’s too often the result of a belief that Britain lacks trees, which it doesn’t and that they represent the best option for conservation. This view is based on the outmoded concept of climax vegetation and fails to understand how complex woodland ecology is and that humans have been a vital part of that.

  65. “So there’s no way of knowing the original level of tree canopy from the name.” Not if the name is Forest. You might get a clue from names from Brythonic (pre-Welsh), German (Anglo-Saxon), Norse/Danish, or Gaelic (though the latter is less use because a name in Gaelic tells you very little about when the name was introduced). If they all clustered in valleys, that might be a clue that the high ground was moor. You can also find historical records of Forests being moor, of course, and you could do archaeology e.g. find buried bits of tree and date them using dendochronolgy and C14. You could also do pollen studies.

    Lots of this has been done already, especially in England. Some conclusions are pretty firm. The NW Highlands, most of Skye, the Outer Isles, and nearly all of Caithness either never had much in the way of trees or lost them to peat growth as the climate turned cooler and wetter after the post-Ice Age climate optimum. Much of the rest of the high ground of the British Isles was de-forested by the Bronze Age, with an other burst of clearance in Roman times. There never was a widespread, substantial respreading of woodland after the legions left, though it happened locally. Nor was there ever destruction of woods for shipbuilding, for domestic fuel or for iron-making. Tales to the contrary are just favourite fairy-stories. Ditto the Oirish favourite that Ireland was deforested to make barrels for Guinness. Bollocks all.

    The man to read is Oliver Rackham e.g. his brilliant History of the Countryside.

  66. Neither did you give any indication that you meant deserted rather than the normal meaning of desert as largely devoid of life.

    Or, frankly, the normal meaning of “desert” when referring to large bits of the back of beyond as in “doesn’t rain very much”. Or, if you want to be technical – extremely arid and arid land – the latter being less than 250mm of annual rainfall. Which at the moment is one decent shower in Cumbria.

    So, it was pretty obvious DBC was deliberately using a word wholly incorrectly and patently confusingly. Unfortunately, this doesn’t separate itself from much of his oeuvre.

    At least he hasn’t suggested that an LVT would fix it. Which is his monotonous solution to all the other ills of the world.

  67. The man to read is Oliver Rackham e.g. his brilliant History of the Countryside.

    Seconded. It’s a fascinating and very learned book, written in an engaging style – and quite witty in places. Highly recommended.

  68. We need to add the “London to New York Carbon Equivalent” to the list of poptastic units, such as the “Belgium” (area) the “Wembley Stadium” (volume), and the “Wales” (area).

  69. Enjoyed this thread. Moonbat frequently rails against hill farmers and, bearing in mind that where he lives is full of them, I can only conclude one of them ran over his dog or fucked his wife.

  70. BiG-

    Don’t forget the Olympic Swimming Pool (liquid volume), the Football Pitch (paradoxically, length only), the Double Decker Bus (height) and the Camilla Batmanjellybaby (weight).

  71. @SE Do give over: I am using the word “desert” correctly. My dictionary gives as definition: “deserted; desolate; uninhabited”.

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