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Remembering Dennis Howell

He was, of course, the Minister for Rain in that drought of 1976. Appoint a minister and mere days later the heavens opened and solved the drought.

As I was ambling around an airport last week I read a copy of a local freebie, Portugal News. Which had the sad news that the dams had only a year’s water (at least in Southern P we are reliant on collected rainfall in reservoirs and they like to have three or four years worth at any one time as they know they can have low rainfall years). So, here’s hoping.

While I was away the heavens opened and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if some of the local dams might need to have their sluices jammed open for a bit to get rid of the excess. We have seen this before.

So, now we have to decide upon causality. Was it the issuance of the doom-laden report by the Minister, the reporting of it, or my trip which caused the rainfall? For whichever it is clearly we should be doing more of it, right?

14 thoughts on “Remembering Dennis Howell”

  1. Well, no, they were pretty good. Two environmental economists, a retired banker who reads here as well. And we all agreed. If – note the if – we’re to do something then tax. “Get your prices right and the rest will follow”. Or, more pithily, “Grab ’em by the wallet”. But then given that everyone on the panel had an economics education that’s what we all would say anyway.

  2. A mere three months ago we were being scared to death of drought in the UK due to man made global warming (although the Met Office have clearly not got the memo: “Currently, there are no UK climate attribution studies available that clearly link human-induced climate change with an altered risk of drought events”
    Then in November we were being bombarded with ‘exceptionally wet November’ due to man made global warming, now it’s “Winter snow warning as Polar Vortex threatens most savage December for 11 years” also due to man made global warming.

    CO2 – the miracle molecule. There is nothing it cannot do.

  3. given that everyone on the panel had an economics education that’s what we all would say anyway.
    And this, of course, explains so much.

  4. @Addolff


    Strangely I recall the Met Office predicting the end of barbecue summers and that snow would be something UK children would never see

    After our recent barnecue summer and with the ‘Troll from Trondheim’ imminent I wonder whether I should pay any attention to the Climate Catastrophists

  5. The only BOM publication that I remember is when they pointed out that all the temperatures recorded in the good old days were too high. The heat island effect I understand.

    Thus global warming was supported by the records after all!!!!

  6. You actually had any water use restrictions where you are, Tim? I can remember there were some words of caution from our local bods in the summer but it didn’t stop our council running sprinklers on their bits of gardening. And Portugal’s waterlogged compared with where I am. We actually get less annual rainfall than the Sahara. Mountain rain-shadow effect. All concentrated in a short window of the year
    S’pose it’s the difference between our countries & the UK. Our bods accept they have to provide reliable water supplies. Most of our water comes from reservoirs between 150 & 250 kilometres away. There isn’t much of Southern England that distant from dam-able valleys with adequate winter inflow. But they don’t. They have hosepipe bans instead. Incredible. But very British.

  7. No, no restrictions. But the price of water rises as your per unit usage rises. So trying to irrigate becomes very expensive very fast. Don’t really need a hosepipe ban when no one can afford to use one for more than a few minutes anyway.

  8. ‘ And we all agreed. If – note the if – we’re to do something then tax. “Get your prices right and the rest will follow”.

    Exactly what is the ‘rest’ that will follow?

    Did the agreeable company say how ‘tax’, once it has forced us to stop using fossil fuels to produce energy for heating, lighting, cooking, industry, locomotion and providing a long list of products – such as plastics, fertilisers, paints, disinfectants, etc – would provide all this in their place?

  9. @John B


    Lamp oil, lubricating oil, soap feedstocks, burger fillings, rubbery bits in Japanese lunches…

    There’s a reason we stopped using whale bits, and wasn’t because of the Greens. All that harpooning in South Georgia couldn’t compete with cheap petroleum.
    But the Greens want us to go back to using them. Sigh.

  10. @BiS
    Southern England has ~7 times the population density of Andalusia.

    There’s no way there could ever be a shortage of water across Britain, it’s just in the wrong place. A national water grid would have been an infinitely better investment than HS2.

  11. The bits we can actually live on tend to higher density than UK though. Round here, two neighbouring farmers could farm both sides of the same acre.

  12. @JohnB
    “And we all agreed” “Get your prices right and the rest will follow”
    Typical fucking economists. Unable to think outside their box. You give governments carte blanche to tax, you really think the outcome will have any relevance to the problem you’re trying to solve? The “right” rate of revenue will always be the maximum that can be extracted.

  13. There’s a touch of the gamblers’ fallacy about droughts being ended.
    Like when the favourite wins 6 world cup matches in a row, then a ‘shock’ is overdue. Although Morocco topped their group and Spain did not.
    Or when red comes up at roulette 6 times in a row, people should bet on black.
    But is climate really like the opposite of that, even climate ologists don’t seem to know.
    Hence the mysticism and the simpler explanation that the Adam Smith guy caused it.

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