Well, yes….

A rise in global temperatures of less than 2C (3.6F) could begin a meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet and Arctic sea ice, causing sea levels to rise by several metres and threatening tens of millions of people, according to a study by WWF, the conservation group. “Responsible politicians cannot dare to waste another second on delaying tactics in the face of these urgent warnings from nature,” said Kim Carstensen, a WWF spokesman. (AFP)

Now for the important question.


The IPCC tells us that Greenland is scheduled to melt somewhere between 2,500 and 2,700 AD. Not really something we should be worrying about now.

After all, if we keep up this liberal capitalism thing then people in 2,500 will be 19,000 (yes, nineteen thousand times) times richer than we are. Surely they can deal with it?

Mike Meacher

What is clearly needed, though sadly highly unlikely, is an international conference (perhaps as a serious offshoot from the lightweight G20 conference a week ago?) to reach a binding agreement on the oil price for a five-year period rolled forward,…


He\’s seriously suggesting that oil should be pegged at $90 a barrel. Have these people learnt nothing at all from the various attempts to fix commodity prices over the years?

Tee hee

FROM this autumn, all public bodies occupying large buildings have had to display an energy efficiency rating. I am told that less than 1 per cent of 3,200 buildings assessed have scored the top A grade. Among those scoring lowest are the offices at 3 Whitehall Place, Westminster, occupied by the new Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Who would expect otherwise?

To catch a falling knife

That\’s what it is, trying to call the bottom of a market and start buying again.

Helical Bar has spent the past few years scaling down its portfolio, but Mr Slade said the company intends to start buying again from spring 2009, to seize opportunities that only arise "once or twice in a property career."

He\’s called the market right twice before so should we see this as an encouraging sign? Or is it all different this time?

The long life secret?

Given that this is in The Mail I think we might file this under the "immigrants cause cancer to house prices" heading. However, it\’s sourced from the New Scientist which, as long as it doesn\’t stray into matters economic, is a respectable source.

And for centuries it seems we were looking in the wrong place. Forget exotic pills and potions, the key to prolonged life could be as simple as a glass of water. Scientists believe \’heavy water\’ enriched with a rare form of hydrogen could add as much as ten years to life.

And by also modifying foods, such as steak and eggs, with the hydrogen the way could be cleared to allowing us to eat and drink our way to a healthy old age.

The idea is the brainchild of Mikhail Shchepinov, a former Oxford University scientist.

The idea is, as far as I understand it, that deuterium based water protects aginst free radicals rather more than regular dihydrogen monoxide. As to the truth of this I have no idea.

As to the implementation of it, well, there is something of a problem. There\’s a limited amount of deuterium out there. And you have to separate it (and isotopic separation ain\’t one of those simple things to do) from the regular water.

Even if it does work, it ain\’t gonna be cheap.

Tee Hee

Labour in vain

Home from Heathrow just in time to hear a distressing first on the BBC Today programme. Hazel Blears was actually faded out. While still speaking. I nearly dropped the marmalade.

In the old days they would have tried politely to hurry her along, but yesterday, as Ms Blears twittered happy thoughts about new Labour\’s many achievements, they just turned off her mike. And she had only reached about the eleventh achievement.

Poor Hazel. It was brutal. Forget Monday\’s mini-Budget. Wednesday was truly the day that new Labour died.

Turning off the chipmunk. So sad.

Equal pay for equal work

It would appear that we\’ve had that for rather a long time.

Being 4ft 11in paid off for Edith Kent. Her diminutive stature meant that she could crawl inside torpedo tubes — and helped her to become the first woman in Britain to earn the same wage as her male colleagues while working as a welder during the Second World War.

This week Mrs Kent celebrated her 100th birthday with a tea dance at a hotel with 50 family and friends, including her sister Minna, 105.

Mrs Kent began working at Devonport dockyard in Plymouth in 1941 but was so good that she received wage parity in 1943 — which was unheard of at the time.

Given that such equal pay for equal work is now standard right across the economy, what is it that everyone is complaining about?

Oooooh, yes, we like this….

Oh yes we do.

Here in Singapore, the government continues to respond to the worsening downturn with austerity of the sort that avowed scrooges like nineteenth century prime ministers William Gladstone and Robert Peel would have approved of.

The latest cost-cutting move is a pay cut of up to 19pc for all senior civil servants, including the PM and President…..

Action this day as Churchill would have had it. Cut taxes by even more of course, in order to still have a fiscal stimulus.

So much for the Indian Navy then

The "pirate mothership" destroyed by the Indian Navy in the Gulf of Aden last week was actually a Thai fishing boat that was itself being hijacked and whose crew was tied up below decks.

The sunken vessel, which was destroyed by INS Tabar, an Indian frigate, on the night of November 18, was the Ekawat Nava 5, a deep sea trawler – not a floating pirate armoury loaded to the gunnels with supplies of ammunition and explosives as India had claimed.

Wicharn Sirichaiekawat, manager of the Bangkok-based Sirichai Fisheries, the ship\’s owner, said that the true story emerged when one of his crew was found alive, adrift in the Indian Ocean, but that 14 others were still missing and at least one dead.

The story was confirmed by the International Maritime Bureau, the marine watchdog.


Weird, just weird

Sir James Crosby, a former chief executive of HBOS, told ministers that for the first time since records began, banks and building societies are likely to take in more in mortgage repayments next year than they give out in new loans. Such negative net lending could push house prices into a new “self-feeding” downward phase, he said.

This development is said to warrant even the possible nationalisation of all the banks. Certainly, it\’s being used as an argument that banks must open up their books to the Government.

However, I\’m not sure that there\’s actually anything odd here at all.

Imagine that the banks were funding exactly the same number of mortgages this year as they were last (they\’re not, we know, but just imagine). House prices are steeply down this year from last. Imagine that this drop was 10%.

OK, so last year the banks financed (imagine) 100,000 transactions at £100,000 each. That\’s £10 billion isn\’t it? (or is it 100 billion….not very mathematical this morning). Prices have fallen so now they\’re financing 100,000 transactions at £90,000….meaning that there\’s been a fall in mortgage lending but no fall in market activity.

No, I know this isn\’t what is actually happening….but it is part of what is happening. The volume of money lent on mortgages has, in part, fallen simply because house prices hjave fallen.


The French Agriculture Minister speaks out!


It\’s the usual hogwash.

But Europe\’s focus must be on encouraging the development of local agriculture. Doing so is the only way to achieve greater global food security and reduce poverty. It will also make it possible to ensure that today\’s high prices for agricultural products are transformed into opportunity for poor farmers. This is vital because, according to the World Bank, growth in farming eliminates poverty twice as much as growth in any other economic sector. Indeed, agriculture remains the primary productive sector in the world\’s poorest countries, employing 65% of the working population and, on average, contributing more than 25% to GDP.

Twat. If agriculture is such an important part of poor country economies then the one thing we don\’t want to do is encourage localism. We want to encourage trade, so as to grow the value added in that important part of the economy.

Further liberalisation of farm trade will not ensure food security.

Cretin. Of course more trade will increase food security. By sourcing food from multiple sources, from different parts of the world, we\’ll be free of the effects of purely local phenomena like drought, floods and so on that destroy crops.

But, in a world where productivity differentials can be as great as one to 1,000, it would be unwise to rely on markets alone to enable the poorest countries to expand their economies.

Moron. It is precisely because there are such variations in productivity that we want to have trade. If, to use entirely made up numbers, one hour of human labour will produce 1 kg of rice in one place and 1 tonne of rice in another then of course we want to grow the rice in the latter place and trade it for whatever can be done with that 999 hours of net labour saved. That\’s what trade is for, it\’s the very definition of wealth creation to do such things.

Nor is it likely that much economic expansion will result from competition between multinational food distributors and producers in countries where famine still stalks the land.

Idiot. Food will be in greater supply and cheaper if the more productive producers and distributors get involved. Isn\’t that actually what we want?

Instead, bringing together outside expertise and local knowledge of the geography and environmental and economic constraints in order to spread risks and share the management of resources and projects is far more likely to help poor countries achieve food independence.

Flaphead. We don\’t want countries to achieve "food independence". Just as we don\’t want cities, towns, villages, families or individuals to do so. We want people to trade with each other for it is this division of labour and specialisation which makes us all so stinking rich. Even a Frog might have noticed the connection between not being crouched over a hoe in the fields and being wealthy.

It was such an approach that, in less than 20 years, helped postwar Europe achieve food sovereignty.

Twit. As above, we don\’t actually want food sovereignty, just as we don\’t want car sovereignty, wine sovereignty or iPod sovereignty.

Countries that have protected their agricultural development from the threats posed by international markets – such as India or Vietnam – have achieved substantial reductions in agricultural poverty.

Blatherer. Countries which have not so protected their agricultural development, like, say, Canada and Australia, have abolished agricultural poverty.

The time has also come to prioritise agriculture in order to ensure growth with a more human face. At the heart of the EU, France wants to play its part in a collective effort that is fast becoming a major issue for us all.

And that\’s a Frenchman talking to you. Give us your money so that we can pay off our tiresome peasantry.

No. Michel, please do just fuck off.


But we ought to uphold the right of the British National Party to express its views, however vile, after Merseyside Police arrested 13 of its members for distributing leaflets. I\’m afraid that free speech means freedom for fools and scumbags, too.

Umm, George?

The effects of melting permafrost are not incorporated in any global climate models.

That\’s a bit of a surprise actually

Dramatic changes to the lives and livelihoods of Arctic-living communities are being forecast unless urgent action is taken to reduce greenhouse gases, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).Its Working Group II predicts wide-ranging thawing of the Arctic permafrost which is likely to have significant implications for infrastructure including houses, buildings, roads, railways and pipelines. A combination of reduced sea ice, thawing permafrost and storm surges also threatens erosion of Arctic coastlines with impacts on coastal communities, culturally important sites and industrial facilities.


To get an ID card, people will have their faces scanned and will have to give 10 fingerprints.

Campaigners fear that this will put off celebrities like American singer Madonna from setting up home here and so damage the cultural life of the nation.

Now I give way to no one in my hatred of ID cards but really, Madonna not being here would be a benefit to the cultural life of the nation, no?


Apparently this one is doing the rounds again.

"Editor: Steve Harvey".

Any five of you bored enough to carry this on can consider yourselves tagged.

This bit…

From 2011, if Labour win the next election, earnings above £150,000 will be taxed at a new higher rate of 45 per cent. The new higher rate of tax – the first income tax increase in decades – will raise £670m a year.

Trivial….the politics of envy, no more. At current rates of spending this is something like 0.1% (yes, one tenth of one percent) of the total tax take. Meat for the success hating classes, nothing else.

Mr Darling\’s tax increases will begin in 2010 – before the expected date of the next election – with changes to the tax-free personal allowance. At the moment, no taxpayer has to pay income tax on the first £6,035 of their earnings – a tax saving worth £1,207 per person.

However, from 2010, those earning more than £100,000 will lose half their personal allowance – adding more than £600 to their annual tax bill. Those earning more than £140,000 will not get any tax-free allowance.

This creates a couple of oddities in the marginal rate that (some) people face. But not important ones I think. Dependent upon the details those earning £139,999 and getting a £1 pay rise will see a reduction in take home income. But at that level I don\’t think that anyone does get a £1 pay rise, so I doubt that it\’s of any importance.



Honeymoon disappointments

This really sounds rather bizarre:

Around 10 per cent of newly-married women are seeking counselling to cope with their "secret sadness", according to psychologists.

Many are turning to marriage guidance websites for reassurance about what they should expect after the excitement of their big day wears off.

Did anyone really ever believe the "get married, live happily ever after" bit?

Still provides an opportunity to retell an old joke, from back in the day when sex was something that happened after marriage rather than before.

Niagara Falls has been the second biggest disappointment for many a newly wed bride……