Friday, 3 November 2006

Beer O'Clock: The Twisted Hop

It's Beer O'Clock. Time once again for your weekend beer-drinking story from Stu at Real Beer.

Last weekend a group of fellow beer lovers and I embarked on the second annual Breweries by Bicycle craft-brewery tour (Christchurch this year, after a most successful trip to Nelson last year). Friday consisted of the more 'formal' part of the weekend - cycling from brewery to brewery, admiring large stainless steel tanks, chatting with brewers, and of course sampling their beers.

The Christchurch breweries on the whole were rather 'working class' and, while not disappointing, didn’t quite reach the quality heights of those in Nelson. One of them, however, stood out in all respects and would now have to go down as a Mecca for NZ beer lovers.

The Twisted Hop brewpub was, without a doubt, the highlight of the tour. I’m a bona-fide real ale fanatic (moonlighting only occasionally as a pantomime donkey jockey), so this was always going to be a highlight for me. The brewpub really hits the mark on all levels. For one, although it serves traditional English beers it is pleasantly free of Toby jugs and other pseudo-traditional adornments. The architecture is modern, stylish, and very practical (except for the odd funnel-shaped bar). Second, the food is fresh and well prepared. There are a couple of standard pub offerings but on the whole it is a big step above average. Third, and most interestingly for me, the staff are genuinely friendly, really appear to enjoy working there, and can actually answer questions with more than the standard “Um, well everyone seems to like Beer X.” Lastly, the beer and wine range is fantastic - great quality, and mostly local, without stretching itself too wide.

My pick of the house ales was the Golding Bitter (the lowest alcohol brew at 3.7%), which is huge in fragrant hop resins and summer fruit notes. The beer carries it’s bitterness very well, with a nice sweet and fruity malt structure (and it’s distinct lack of fizzy bite from the low carbonation), so those who usually struggle with bitter beers should not be scared off. The bar staff recommend it mixed 50/50 with the stronger Challenger but I enjoyed many pints of it on it’s own.

Other house brews are Challenger, a strong and aromatic bitter; Centennial, a well-hopped and malty American Ale; and Twisted Ankle, a very strong rich brown ale. There’s always a range of excellent guest beers on tap too, for those who don’t like it “warm and flat” (the beers are actually served slightly cooler than would be standard in the UK). While we were in the guests were Emerson’s Pilsner, Wigram Dunkel and Three Boys IPA.

New Zealand cities could do with more bars that hit the mark like this place. In the meantime The Twisted Hop alone is worth a price of a trip to Christchurch. I’ll certainly be back.

Slainte mhath

Twisted Hop
Real Ale
SOBA – (The Twisted Hop offers a 10% discount on their own beers to all SOBA cardholders).

Beer & Elsewhere


"God says NO to global warming" - Idiot

Garth George outdoes himself. He doesn't need any scientist to tell him whether or not global warming is happening, he doesn't need professionals to tell him climate change is "a rort being perpetrated on mankind by the well-funded boffins who tell us that all the ice is going to melt and flood the world."
I know that’s codswallop [says George], and every time I see a rainbow I have it confirmed for me. It tells me that God is keeping the promise he made to Noah after the world-drowning flood thousands of years ago recorded in Genesis...
To that, all you can say is, for fuck's sake. With Garth George on your side, you need to constantly keep checking your feet for bullet holes. [Hat tip Stuey]

RELATED: Religion, Global Warming, Nonsense

Bugger lust says Hell

Hell Pizzas' 'Lust' pizza, which comes complete with a side order of free condoms has got a lot of tits all a-tangle. The Kiwi Herald 'reports' that to appease sensitivities they're now also offering an 'Abstinence' pizza, as part of a new 'Heavenly Virtues' range.
In announcing the new 'Abstinence' Pizza, Hell Pizzas Director Warren Powell told the Kiwi Herald that the company was anxious to cater for a variety of tastes and the Abstinence pizza was the first of a series of innovations targeted at 'the more virtuous and abstemious' consumer.
The new pizza designed with the help of Catholic Bishop Dennis Brown would consist of an ultra-thin base of unleavened communion bread, no anchovies, no capers and no cheese.
The other 'Heavenly Virtues' to be offered soon, reports the Herald are "'Patience' - "for customers who are prepared to wait a very long time for their order" and 'Humility'- "for consumers who won't complain whatever is served up to them..."

LINK: Hell launches new 'Abstinence' Pizza - Kiwi Herald
Pic courtesy of Ana Samway's at the other Herald, who's own comment is also worth reading.

RELATED: Humour, Religion

How much for how little?

How much do you think this (just resold) painting is worth?

No. 5, Jackson Pollock, 1948

Answers to the nearest hundred million will be fine (have a guess before you have a look). Exclamations of outrage will be accepted. Observations on the buyer being conned will also be countenanced.

Yes, it is the buyer's money to waste if he wishes. But that doesn't mean we can't judge his painting, and his judgement, for ourselves.

LINK: Pollock painting sold for record $xxxm - Stuff [Hat tip Willie S.]

RELATED: Art, Nonsense

Selling disaster: The four horsemen of modern apocalypse

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led to safety - by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." -H.L. Mencken

There's money and power and headlines aplenty in scaremongering (and much less and many fewer in good news), but how often is the scaremongering accurate? And does it matter? Disaster sells. It sells politically, and it makes a fair return through the cash register as well. But do the facts matter when we're scaring ourselves to death, or is it okay to lie in order to "wake people up" to calamity?

For the benefit of those readers either not paying attention or under thirty-five (insert obvious jokes here), let's have a look at three hugely influential granddaddies of modern environmental scaremongering: these three invented the 'sky-is-falling' 'something-must-be-done' technique peddled so effectively as a political tool in recent times. Doom and gloom, we're all going to die, the four horsemen of the apocalypse -- these three books launched that whole alarming trend in public relations and political activism; between them they raised pessimism to an art form, and "there-ought-to-be-a-law-against-it" whinging to a central part of contemporary political debate.

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962) began the popularisation of environmental disaster for political ends. She claimed that DDT, used for malaria control, is killing birds, harmful to humans, and should be banned forthwith. People bought the book in droves. DDT was banned in 1972. The result of the ban was that millions died because of a resurgence in the disease that was formerly being controlled by judicious application of the chemical Carson called a killer. It wasn't. Her book was.

Paul Ehrlich wrote the 1968 best-seller The Population Bomb. Like Thomas Malthus two centuries before him, Ehrlich used shoddy arithmetic to predict a worldwide explosion of population that would see "future generations" stepping on each other's feet all day every day just to survive, and used scary rhetoric about this nonsense to fire up the activists. Fired up they were, and scary indeed were his predictions:
  • Not just millions but "hundreds of millions" would die from "a coming overpopulation crisis in the 1970s," he said, and by 1980 life expectancy in the United States would be just forty-two years.
  • "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000."
  • "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate..."
Nothing except perhaps good sense, hard work and entrepreneurial activity -- and of course the facts. As PJ O'Rourke notes, "Crowded as the country is, is overcrowding even its main problem? Hong Kong and Singapore both have greater population densities (14.315 and 12.347 per square mile, respectively) than Bangladesh, and they're called success stories. The same goes for Monaco. In fact, the whole Riviera is packed in August, and neither Malthus nor Ehrlich have complained about the topless beaches of St. Tropez."

None of Ehrlich's predictions have failed to come to pass -- unless of course you do count the overcrowding of topless beaches of St. Tropz in mid-summer -- but these were not predictions, he now says, they were "scenarios." Despite his abysmal failure as a prognosticator however, the sad old hippy is still tripping over wind chimes and bothering the adults. On the release of Bjorn Lomborg's book Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World Ehrlich ranted, "If Lomborg had done some arithmetic, he could have . . . spared us a book as thick as a brick and almost as intelligent." And if Ehrlich had spared us his comment, he might have spared us forming for ourselves the fairly obvious conclusion about himself...

But perhaps Ehrlich was still just pissed off because Lomborg's hero Julian Simon had famously embarrassed him in their 1980 bet on the price of a chosen basket of resources. Ehrlich bet $10,000 and his reputation as an alarmist that the price would go through the roof as resources ran out; Simon bet the opposite. Simon won.

Which leads us on nicely to another failed pack of alarmists and their own contribution to sensationalist history, The Limits to Growth (1972). Like Ehrlich, the Club of Rome had also read Thomas Malthus and had re-used his static arithmetics in the cause of alarmism. You name it, they said, and we're running out of it. "There will . . . be a desperate [arable] land shortage before the year 2000"; we would run short of gold by 1979, they said, of silver and mercury by 1983, of tin by 1985, of zinc by 1988, of petroleum by 1990, and of natural gas by 1992. Um ...

What they got wrong of course was not just their arithmetic, but their whole understanding of the role of price signals and entrepreneurialism -- indeed of the capitalist economy as a dynamic rather than a static engine of production. The capitalist engine of creation is a supple beast when left free and unshackled, allowing human minds to read price signals and opportunities, and to adapt their own resources to suit. The results are astonishing. As Ronald Bailey observed in 2001,
Since the 1970s, the weight of the average car has fallen by 25 percent. Food cans are 50 per cent lighter than they were 50 years ago. A flexible plastic pouch that replaces a steel can reduces the packaging weight by 93 percent. Plastic soda bottles are 30 percent lighter than they were in the 1970s -- which were already much lighter than the glass ones that preceded them. Similarly, plastic grocery bags are 50 percent thinner than they were 20 years ago and lighter than the paper bags they replaced. The invention of the steel frame building did away with structures that needed heavy thick walls to support their own weight.

Functionality is increasing throughout the economy as well—as computers get smaller and faster, air conditioners, refrigerators, furnaces, and all manner of appliances become more efficient and longer-lasting.

. . . [C]orn yields per acre in the United States have more than tripled since 1950. Improving crop productivity is based entirely on technological improvements such as fertilizer, pesticides, and better seeds.
He also notes,
A copper wire can transmit 24 voice channels or about 1.5 megabytes of information per second. Far thinner and lighter optical fiber can transmit more than 32,000 voice channels and more than 2.5 gigabytes of information per second. The first American communications satellite, Telstar 1, was launched in 1962 and could handle 600 telephone calls simultaneously. Modern Intelsat satellites can handle 120,000 calls and 3 TV channels at the same time.
So much then for the three granddaddies of today's scaremongering. Everything about them was wrong, tragically wrong in the case of Carson, but the spectre of their various apocalypses still haunt debate today.

Bidding to joining this prestigious club this week is a new candidate on the scene, a fourth horsemen predicting global apocalypse if Something Isn't Done Now. The already famous Stern Report on Climate Catastrophe is a "bombshell study" was greeted even before its release by a whole Stern Gang of waiting politicians -- it reports We Face Depression If We Don't Act Now! Worse, much worse, Than Even the Great Depression of the 30s! Calamity, catastrophe and 20% of our wealth stripped from our pockets if We Don't Do Something Now! Right Now!!

Guess what? Says Bjorn Lomborg of that headline-grabbing figure:
This figure, 20%, was the number that rocketed around the world, although it is simply a much-massaged reworking of the standard 3% GDP cost in 2100--a figure accepted among most economists to be a reasonable estimate.
In a series of ingenious steps, the modest 3% figure for a century hence if nothing is done now has been "tricked" and finessed and inflated with more imaginary "scenarios" -- Stern, says Lomborg, is "inventing, in effect, a "worst-case scenario" even worse than any others on the table" -- in order to grab headlines and to scream disaster. (And that's just one problem with Stern's report, as Lomborg and others have been pointing out since its release.)

Inventing catastrophe for political effect. What could be more ingenious.

"It's okay to lie," say activists, if you're doing it in the name of a good cause. Is it? Say those same activists: "Bush lied; people died." If it's wrong for Bush to lie, as they claim he has, then why doesn't that work both ways? A founder of Greenpeace Patrick Moore split recently over exactly this issue. "Beginning in the mid-1980s," he says, "Greenpeace, and much of the environmental movement, made a sharp turn to the political left and began adopting extreme agendas that abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism..."
Environmentalism has turned into anti-globalization and anti-industry. Activists have abandoned science in favour of sensationalism. Their zero-tolerance, fear-mongering campaigns would ultimately prevent a cure for Vitamin A deficiency blindness, increase pesticide use, increase heart disease, deplete wild salmon stocks, raise the cost and reduce the safety of health care, raise construction costs, deprive developing nations of clean electricity, stop renewable wind energy, block a solution to global warming, and contribute to deforestation. How sick is that?
Answer: Very bloody sick. Scaremongering sells -- but you don't have to buy it. And neither should you sell it on anyone else's behalf.

UPDATE: George Reisman's in an end-of-days mood, but one of a rather different character to the apocalyptic four. He argues that the Stern Review on Global Warming could be environmentalism’s swan song.

He raises a crucial point about the "action" called for in the report, a similar problem to Erlich's and the Club of Rome's own nightmare "scenarios": Stern simply fails to understand that a capitalist economy is a dynamic, not a static entity. Stern declares that disaster and hellfire and that depressive 20% drop in wealth production will be the inevitable conseqences of "not acting," but as Reisman points out,
Sir Nicholas’s use of the words “don’t act” is very misleading. What he is urging when he speaks of “action” is a mass of laws and decrees—i.e., government action. This government action will forcibly prevent hundreds of millions, indeed, billions of individual human beings from engaging in their, personal and business private action—that is, from acting in ways that they judge to serve their own self-interests. Thus, what he is actually urging is not action, but government action intended to stop private action.
LINKS: Hooray for DDT's life-saving comeback - Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM)
Julian Simon's bet with Paul Ehrlich - Overpopulation.Com
Dematerializing the economy: We're doing more with less. That's good for Planet Earth - Ronald Bailey, Reason Magazine (2001)
Stern review: The dodgy numbers behind the latest warming scare - Bjorn Lomborg, Wall Street Journal
How sick is that? Environmental movement has lost its way - Patrick Moore, Greenspirit

RELATED: Environment, Global Warming, Conservation, Economics, Politics, Politics-UK

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Restaurant at Xochimilco - Felix Candela, 1958

Pic from 'Candela: Shell Builder,' by Colin Faber

The intersecting hyperparabaloids of Felix Candela's restaurant at Xochimilco, Mexico City. You can see from the diagram above how the structure is formed from the 'saddle' shape of the 'hypars.'

The 'hypar' structure means the seemingly complex curves can all be constructed using straight lines, as the diagram above also helps to demonstrate.

 Candela's ingenuity here means the visible 'free edges' of the concrete shell are as thin as just forty millimetres.

RELATED: Architecture

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Thursday, 2 November 2006

Burying Botha

Liberty Scott does the job on the late and unlamentable PW Botha. There is no reason to mourn his departure, says Scott. None at all.
Botha will be remembered as the last dinosaur, the last South African President to still believe that the black African majority deserved little more than to be relocated and told to shut up.

And you wonder why I cheer the death of anyone? People died because of Botha, in their thousands. He ruined the lives of thousands of people, and did nothing to bridge the divide across South Africa. He could have taken steps to abolish apartheid, instead of [installing] separate racial parliaments, he could have integrated [those labelled as] Coloured and Indian citizens with the white minority politically as a first step - he didn't - he was racist, irrational and a fascist bully. There is no reason to give his memory any respect.
Scott comes to bury Botha, not to praise him. And why wouldn't you?

LINK: Cheering the death of a dictator - Liberty Scott

RELATED: Obituary, Politics-World, Racism

" atmosphere where criticising the government is becoming pretty hazardous."

The list of attacks on free speech by the Clark Government is a long one, and those listed here are just scratching the surface of incidents which, taken together, reveal their increasingly visceral hatred of the concept:
  • for the first time in 103 years, a crown-owned company fined for "contempt of parliament";
  • a Select Committee chairmen tearing up letters from Committee members who raise serious concerns;
  • a conviction for sedition for protesting the passing of the Foreshore and Seabed Act;
  • the 'crime' of "bringing Parliament into disrepute" still on the books;
  • TVNZ’s Board being hauled before Parliament’s Privileges Committee during the Ian Fraser affair;
  • Commerce Commission prosecution of Air New Zealand for highlighting the high cost of government levies to travellers in their ticket prices;
  • Attacking those who criticise the Clark Government of corruption -- "Allegations of corruption are intolerable in a Western liberal democracy," declared a hyperbolic Helen Clark. And as one blogger reminded her, "No, Miss Clark. Corruption is intolerable. When allegations of corruption are intolerable, it's no longer a Western liberal democracy");
  • an attack by Helen Clark on the Dominion Post and The Press for printing the Mohammed cartoons;
  • a threat by Michael Cullen to land the Herald with "a very large tax bill" if criticism of the Clark Government didn't cease;
  • an attack by Helen Clark on Fran O'Sullivan for her criticism of what Fran called "ramming through legislation under urgency to retrospectively legalise the unlawful raid on parliamentary funds";
  • "Taking away the Exclusive Brethren's employment law loophole because they spent $1.2 million campaigning against the Greens and the Clark Government";
  • praising loudly "the measures the British Labour Government has imposed to curb press freedoms";
  • moving to "toughen up the Press Council" when it comes to dealing with a local media that is just doing its job;
  • restrictions on liquor, pharmaceuticals, and fast food advertising;
  • the Electricity Commissioner removed from office because, says the former Commissioner, “I stood up to the government as an independent regulator should”;
  • bullying of the Auditor General over the last few months for criticising the Government;
  • long and prolonged attacks on a religious sect for daring to criticise the Government;
  • a "clamp down on the tax privileges of charitable trusts that cross an undeclared line into political advocacy";
  • moving to prevent third-party criticism of Government during an election;
  • moving to ban anonymous donations to political parties;
  • moving to institute state-funding of political parties (these last three, taken together, being a form of speech-rationing).
As Bill English said on Morning Report today (yes, even Bill can get things right occasionally), this is "all an atmosphere where criticising the government is becoming pretty hazardous."

And it is in this highly-charged atmosphere -- one in which free speech is rapidly becoming a privilege instead of a right -- that the decision of Wellington Airport to refuse to display this billboard below has been taken [Hat tip Darnton V Clark]. "Too politically sensitive," the airport management apparently said when presented with the ad.

In the current "atmosphere where criticising the government is becoming pretty hazardous,"you really have to commend the bravery of the other two airports which have chosen to run with the billboard. Look out for attacks very soon on the management and running of Auckland and Christchurch airports.

UPDATE: Bernard Darnton's Section 14 blog has this to say:

The Dominion Post suggests that the reason for the refusal may be that the Airport is concerned about the Government’s pending decision on the Qantas/Air New Zealand codeshare agreement, which could cut flights to the capital and hence cut airport profits.

A chilling effect is the self-censorship that occurs when someone fears the actions of another. A newspaper declining to print a cartoon not because it isn’t news but because it fears reprisals from medieval thugs would be one example.

In this case the Government has the power to make decisions that could negatively affect the running of the Airport. The Clark Government has a history of being vindictive and so the Airport might rightly fear them and censor themselves in the hopes of getting the “right” decision from Pete Hodgson. An air of fear can sometimes be more effective than explicit censorship laws, and it’s certainly more stealthy.

Ain't that the truth. When the application of so many laws and regulations involves the exercising of "discretionary powers" by authorities, then appeasement of authority becomes a habit.

LINK: Political billboards - Morning Report, Radio NZ

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Free_Speech

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Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Another ban...

NZPA: Ban on ticket scalping for major events

Ticket scalping for major events will be banned under legislation proposed by the Government.

Sports Minister Trevor Mallard said the proposed ban would only be for ticket scalping of major events like the Rugby World Cup in 2011, the Cricket World Cup in 2015 and the Rowing World Championships in 2010.

The Government would consider other definitions of major events that were not linked to sports when public submissions were called, he said.
As a few searches landing here have reminded me, my comments on ticket scalping which I posted last year in relation to ticket scalping at the U2 concert are relevant once again.

What a lot of nonsense is talked about scalping, most of it due to a combination of economic illiteracy and an overdeveloped banning muscle.

Read on here to see how I said that in much longer form last December.

LINK: Scalping U2 - Not PC (Dec, 2005)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Economics, Sport

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How much planet-saving does $600 billion buy?

Carbon taxes will knock climate change on the head, you say? Let's have a look and see how much it might cost to be "carbon neutral," and how much "mitigation" that might buy if successful.

New Zealand produces about 35,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Earlier in the year the sum of $15/tonne of CO2 produced was mooted by Climate Change Minister David Parker.

Run these figures through Junk Science's Real Carbon Footprint Calculator and we get ... flashing lights, the whir of high-powered machinery and this result:

Congratulations! You have just saved the planet warming by

0.0000000000151 °C

at a cost of just

$595,403,130,086.39 per °C!

Just $600 billion (give or take a billion or so) for so for such an 'enormous' result. A bargain, don't you think?!

Now, what else do you think could be done with that money? [Go here for the working. Go here to try the calculation for yourself.]

And if you have a better calculation or a better calculator, then do let me know in the comments.

LINKS: The Real Carbon Footprint Calculator - Junk Science
Millenium development goal indicators (New Zealand) - United Nations Statistics Division

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Economics, Budget_&_Taxation, Environment, Global Warming



Yep, I'm trying blog advertising for a while. I figured if it's good enough for Farrar, it's good enough for this humble blogger.

UPDATE: And if you don't like it, you could always run Firefox and download the AdBlock Add On.

RELATED: Blog, Geek Stuff

Why some capitalists aren't voting Republican: Too much 'me-too'ism

Writing in Capitalism magazine, John Lewis explains why he will not be voting Republican this mid-term election. The cartoon provides a short summary of his argument; the excerpts below a longer summary. (And if by some chance you missed them last week, I offer my own thoughts here on what I might do if I were voting in the mid-terms.)

In every area of domestic and foreign policy, the conservatives controlling the Republican Party have expropriated the central tenets of the left, while claiming to be an alternative. This has created a false alternative to the political left, posing as its opposite but supporting the same basic goals. This has sowed massive confusion in people's minds, and limited the American people to a choice of poisons. This confusion is undermining people's capacity to even conceive of a true alternative to the welfare state and military defeat...

Conservatives conserve. They see a nation's institutions, traditions and moral ideals as the anchor for its society—the glue that holds it all together—and they want to preserve them. For most of history, from the Greeks through Rome, the Middle Ages and into the 18th century, the glue was seen as the laws and customs of our ancestors, whether the simple virtues of pious farm life, the norms of the Senatorial aristocracy, the dogmas of the church, the prerogatives of the ancien regime, the traditional religious standards, or other established credos. Conservatives do not stand for any content; they stand for preserving that which anchors and stabilizes society—a claim to mystical insights into moral ideals that rise above the petty concerns of life on earth...

For a brief moment, however—for a few decades in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—people understood that what defined American life was individualism, the free market and limited government. Conservatives to some degree supported these ideals against progressives and Marxists. People began to think that defending these ideals was the essence of conservatism, and they forgot the more basic nature of conservatism: to conserve traditions qua traditions, to be taken on faith.

Consequently, when the welfare state supplanted limited government and freedom, and showed its resilience in the face of opposition, conservatives became the defenders of the new status quo. That is where we are today. Conservatives of the Bush tribe are now energetic advocates for the welfare state, connecting it to what they call traditional American virtues, meaning altruistic sacrifice, and defending it as the basis for American life.

Read on for more.
Why I will not vote for any Republican - Capitalism Magazine
US elections: A house divided? - Not PC (Oct 26)
Cartoon by Cox and Forkum
RELATED: Politics-US, Objectivism, Cartoons
Background Reading:
The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism by C. Bradley Thompson
Explains how the two factions of conservatism -- "compassionate conservatism" and the "neo-conservatism" -- both unite on their fundamental opposition to individual rights and capitalism in favour of forced sacrifice of a fascist redistributive welfare state -- in other words they have embraced the philosophy of the Left, while claiming to be defenders of capitalism.

Slap on a tax, and ...

Green taxes. Carbon taxes. Pollution taxes. Cigarette taxes. Fat taxes. Alcohol taxes. Gambling taxes... There's a widespread recognition, indeed there's an enthusiasm for the notion, that slapping taxes on something will reduce the extent of that something -- and from wowsers everywhere there are demands to have them slapped good and hard on all the many things they object to.

So just what do people think happens when tax is slapped on things like wealth, income, production, energy, investment, enterprise ...

RELATED: Politics, Economics, Budget_&_Taxation


The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus - Rubens, 1618

Painting for the successful merchants of seventeenth-century Holland -- and these were men who liked their women ravishingly, astonishingly big, women whose excess flesh in those times of hardship was "a signal of prosperity" -- Peter Paul Rubens was a master of the voluptuous. As Michael Gill describes Rubens's work so wonderfully in his book The Image of the Body:
Success glows through his pictures in halcyon color. No one ever caught the rosy
bloom of healthy skin, the shimmering quiver of well fed flesh with such
lip-smacking skill. His women are displayed like great compotes of cream and
exotic fruits from the Indies— kumquats and soursops and apricots, the flesh of
melons and oranges from Seville—that the Dutch merchantmen were bringing back to the ports of northern Europe. It was an overdressed age, of velvets and taffeta
and ornate brocades, when rich men habitually wore three topcoats, when even the
walls of rooms were clothed in gold-embossed Spanish leather and the massive oak
tables covered in heavy tapestries.

The acquisitive burghers who owned such things would gain an additional frisson to see openly displayed the wide expanse of tender vulnerable bodies, their clothes torn away like the protective skin ripped off a ripe plum.
Rubens, as you might have guessed, is not a painter for the politically correct. His women might be the opposite of the anorexic stick insects so scorned by the chattering classes of today, but that does not mean you will find these pictures hanging up in Womens' Studies departments. But worry not, ye who are concerned at the crime being perpetrated before you.

The stern abductors [in the painting here] were in fact Castor and Pollux, two of the babies hatched from the eggs of Leda. They did the decent thing— married the girls, who each bore them a son. So the virtuous viewer can enjoy the triumph of rampaging masculine lust without a twinge of conscience.
Phew. Thank goodness for that!



Tuesday, 31 October 2006

The Stern Report: Selective modelling?

Blogger Tim Worstall is working his way through the Stern Report. Here's what he's posted so far:
He's not impressed. From his analysis of Chapter 5 he declares himself distinctly unimpressed by the "appalling failure in [Stern's] own modelling: only taking a medium high emissions scenario and then one with further feedback mechanisms to do your sums on. Here: Page 61 in chapter 3... It's almost as if that model were deliberately chosen isn't it? The one that shows the lowest future wealth and thus makes the discounting make current expenditure look good? Surely not?"

UPDATE: Tim has given a more concise summary of his trawl through the report over at the Adam Smith Institute blog.

RELATED: Politics-UK, Environment, Global Warming

I wish.

From the "I wish" file comes this excerpt from Helen Clark's weekend speech to her party faithful, from a section attacking National:
"Attacks on the Resource Management Act are [National's] stock in trade," she said. "It wouldn't just be the nuclear-free legislation that would be gone by lunchtime."
I only wish it were true. Sadly...


Stern green taxes

The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is a 700-page doorstopper commissioned by the Blair Government to have an effect on an international audience. It is a political document commissioned by politicians to justify political action -- and in Britain and here in New Zealand the 'Stern Gang' was all ready to hit the ground running with respectively "green taxes" and promises of "carrots and sticks" even before the report was released. The report takes the politicised science as read and unsurprisingly concludes with alarmist calls for government expansion. The UK's Scientific Alliance [Word Doc] "believes that Sir Nicholas’s talents have been misused."
His calculations are based on the output of complex computer models, all constructed on the assumption that average global temperatures are directly linked to atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases – in particular carbon dioxide. His estimates are doubtless correct for the scenarios presented, but we question the validity of the starting point.
As they drily note, "Not surprisingly, his conclusions are those which the government wanted..." Philip Chaston at the UK-based Samizdata blog gloomily summarises:

The Letter from David Miliband [PDF], the appointment of the political failure Al Gore and the report by Stern are all designed to provide the intellectual ballast for continued government expansion. These taxes are politically unpalatable and would be rejected by the electorate, if levied without green cover. Therefore, climate change and catastrophism are the reasons for a 'greener than thou' ratchet effect, where politicians use Britain and our money to puff themselves up as a moral example for others.

Since the science and the scenarios are still so uncertain, climate change has been adopted as the vanguard for further taxation and a curb on British consumerism. Using the expansion of the state and taxes, rather than market mechanisms, our politicians will dampen our economic growth, steal our wealth, and wrap us in their parasitical hairshirt. The only light in this gloom is that the British electorate may reject such alarmism and the example of our political stupidity will lead India and other nations to seek technological and free-market solutions that do not curb their march away from poverty.
Reaction from the public to the Stern Report, which is only officially released today, has not been entirely positive. This BBC forum is an example, with the more popular commenters expressing views like these:
  • Everyone in the country is sick to the back teeth of working just to pay ever increasing bills and taxes to this hopeless government.
  • We already have a green tax on cars. Its called petrol duty. And at 80% its already more than enough.
  • Typical government reaction: if you can't solve it, tax it.
  • It seems to me that this government has run out of ideas, and thinks that the failures of tax and spend, can be rectified with new and inifinitely more complex versions of exactly the same thing.
  • More taxes???? This really is the Government's answer to everything!
  • NO! Despite what the greenies would have you believe, there is NOT a consensus amongst climate scientists that humans have (or even can) affect the climate. The government is jumping on the green bandwagon because it allows them to increase taxes without taking the heat for it
Meanwhile, the Junk Science website has a useful round up of UK reactions to the report and to the "green taxes" proposed along with it.

LINKS: The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change - HM Treasury, UK
Too Stern a view of climate change - Scientific Alliance (UK) [Word Doc]
Blair's last word on climate change - Samizdata
Miliband draws up green tax plans - BBC
Would you pay green taxes? - BBC forum
News and Commentary - Junk Science [scroll down a little to see the links of reactions]

RELATED: Politics-UK, Environment, Global Warming


Spammers clogging inboxes

Ah. Now this explains why my iHug email has been so slow in the last couple of days.

LINK: Explosion in junk emails overloads service providers - NZ Herald

RELATED: Geek Stuff

What is New Zealand’s all time greatest engineering feat?

The Faculty of Engineering at The University of Auckland is celebrating its centennial year in 2006, and with it they're looking to pay tribute by running a competition amongst alumni to help identify New Zealand's greatest engineering feat by selecting ONE of the options below. The overall winner will be announced in November.

What's your pick?

Grafton Bridge (1910):
When it was built, Grafton Bridge was reputed to be the biggest span, reinforced concrete arch bridge in the world. It was pioneering in its use of reinforced concrete.

Auckland Harbour Bridge (1959):
New Zealand’s longest bridge with the largest span. ‘Clip-on’ extensions, doubling the traffic lanes, were added in 1969.

The Raurimu Railway Spiral (1908):
The famed spiral loop on the railway line between Auckland and Wellington overcomes an abrupt 132m rise in the topography.

Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World (1985):
Built in disused sewerage holding tanks, the 110m long transparent acrylic tunnel under Auckland’s waterfront was a world first.

The Skytower (1997):
At 328m it is New Zealand’s tallest structure. A feature of its design is its ability to safely withstand an earthquake, severe wind storms or fire.

Black Magic NZL32 (1995):
The yacht Sir Peter Blake and Team New Zealand sailed to glory in the 1995 America’s Cup race. Black Magic used cutting edge engineering and design technology to beat out the competition.

High-voltage DC link between the North and South Islands (1965):
The under-sea cable in Cook Strait was the world’s largest and longest submarine cable when it was built. The 600MW, 500kV HVDC transmission link integrates power supply between North and South Islands.

World’s first base isolated building (1982):
The William Clayton Building in Wellington was the world’s first base isolated building, designed to withstand earthquakes using a lead/rubber bearing as an isolator and energy absorber.

Manapouri Power Station:
The largest hydro power station in New Zealand. The majority of the station, including the machine hall and two 10km tunnels, was built under a mountain.

Wairakei Geothermal Power Station (1963):
The first in the world to utilise super-heated geothermal water as a steam source for the turbines, and the first to utilise flash steam from geothermal water as an energy source.

McLaren F1 Supercar (1994):
The McLaren F1 was the fastest production car ever built (top speed 386.5 km/h). Most of the McLaren designers were New Zealanders and Team McLaren was founded by Bruce McLaren, a legendary New Zealand F1 driver.

World’s first flying machine (1903):
A claim open to interpretation, Richard Pearse flew a powered heavier-than-air machine on 31 March 1903, some nine months before the Wright brothers.

The electric fence (1936):
In 1936, New Zealand inventor William "Bill" Gallagher Snr built one of the world’s first electric fences from a car's ignition coil and a Meccano set. The Gallagher Group of companies is still involved in electric fencing.

The Modern Jet Boat (1950s):
Bill Hamilton developed the modern jetboat in the 1950s to navigate the shallow fast flowing rivers where he lived. In 1960 a Hamilton jet boat was the first boat to travel up the Grand Canyon.

The Taranaki Gate:
A ‘Taranaki Gate’ is made from battens strung together and connected to a fence by loops of wire. The phrase has come to mean a practical approach to a common problem.

John Britten Motorcycles (1990s):
John Britten designed a world-record-setting motorcycle that was years ahead of contemporary design. In 1994 it broke four world speed records in its class.

I understand the current leader is the Manapouri Power Station, with a narrow lead over NZL 32. What's your own pick?

LINK: Celebrate Engineering: 1906-2006 - Auckland Engineering School

RELATED: New Zealand, Heroes

Cezanne: View of Bonnières

Why am I posting this painting? Because I was fascinated by a discussion of it in one of Bernard Levin's columns.
The problem of Cezanne, which we who only want to feast on his pictures can
happily leave to the experts, is how to classify him. To start with, was he an
Impressionist at all? He said himself that his aim was ‘To make of Impressionism
something solid and durable. . .‘, which suggests that he was not altogether at
home in a world where everything dissolves, and if he was the true precursor of
Cubism, that would further distance him from the ‘true’ Impressionists, though
his Cubism was all his own, and it didn’t last long anyway.

A fig for all this taxonomy; go to the Academy and stand in front of
No. 17, ‘View of Bonnières’. Better still, get yourself a camp-stool and sit in
front of it. If you stay there long enough you will see the picture change
before your eyes, first becoming Impressionist, and then sliding imperceptibly
into Cubist. What you are watching through these metamorphoses is Cezanne
becoming Cezanne — no, Cezanne making himself Cezanne, wrenching his genius
apart to see how it works and how it can be put back together and remade.
Click on the pick to enlarge, and then spend some time in front of it on your camp-stool. Can you see it?


Monday, 30 October 2006

More sustainability

The Austrian Economics Environment Study Guide (just updated) is the sort of resource that National's wet Bluegreens should be eating up, instead of ignoring.

The two highlights are George Reisman's insightful refutation of resource doomsday-ism -- he points out that "the entire planet is a big ball of chemicals that, with the right technology, can be used to meet human wants ...for all practical purposes, [natural resources] are infinite"; (and this ain't just theory folks) -- and John Brätland's article on "sustainable development" which has just come online.

Brätland's article (pdf) deals with the economic theory of intergenerational sustainability, more popularly known as "sustainable development". The red flags pop up right away for Austrians with this description by a proponent:

Fundamentally, "sustainable development" is a notion of... disciplining our current consumption. This sense of "intergenerational responsibility" is a new political principle, a virtue that must now guide economic growth. The industrial world has already used so much of the planet’s ecological capital that the sustainability of the future is in doubt. That can’t continue.

Brätland's basic strategy is to deploy insights from the calculation argument against the neoclassical theory of Robert Solow and others. A few suggestive quotes from Brätland will, I hope, pique your interest in this excellent article:

The concepts of valuation, capital, and income only take on valid or coherent meaning in the context of individual action, private property and market exchange... The critical goal of legitimate sustainability is to establish an expanded system of private property rights that allows the owners to manage resources as capital assets. (p. 21)

...the ethics underlying the acquisition of private property is not even acknowledged in the economics of intergenerational sustainability. The entire resource base of the world’s society is implicitly under the control of some government making allocative decisions. (p. 22)

Without private property, monetary exchange, and capital accounting, no rational economics of asset maintenance could exist... The extent that individual business plans may conflict and be incapable of mutual success creates a barrier to aggregation or "macro-reckoning." Hence, society or a government as its agent has no aggregated measure of capital for which it can legitimately presume to make decisions. (pp. 28,29)

...public control of resources in the name of "sustainability" is not only contradictory but also self-defeating. (p. 41)

LINKS: Austrian Economics Study Guide: Natural sciences and the environment - Mises Institute
Environmentalism refuted - George Reisman, Mises Economics Blog
Toward a calculational theory and policy of intergenerational sustainability - John Brätland, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics [34-page PDF]

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Environment, Philosophy, Ethics

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Clark Government signals free speech attacks

I've mentioned the headlining sustainability nostrums trumpeted at the weekend's Labour conference, but Bernard Darnton points out the less well-reported attacks on free speech that emerged:

In the wake of their shambolic handling of the election funding scandal and their disgust that people voluntarily give more money to the National Party than to them, the Labour Party called for a raft of changes to electioneering rules at this weekend’s party conference.

The NZ Herald reports that the remit called for state funding of political parties, a ban on anonymous donations to political parties, and constraints on third party advertising. The resolution was passed “unanimously and without debate.” And that’s how they like it.

All of these are attacks on free speech. State funding of political parties subsidises some political propaganda, in effect drowning out opposition. Banning voluntary donations can be seen as a move to protect against any potential corruption but, given the general lack of corruption in New Zealand, is more likely to be used as a way to find out who donates to the “wrong” party. Restricting third-party advertising is the most direct attack on free speech as it prevents unapproved groups from expressing their opinions at election time.

Read Bernard's whole post here, and make no mistake that free speech is under attack.

UPDATE: Liberty Scott weighs in as well:
Having happily used your money, extracted from you by force, to fund a key part of its election campaign (and none of the other parties having the same funding to spread its manifesto the same way), the Labour Party has voted in its conference to support compulsory funding of political parties campaigns based on the previous party vote... This is an absolute outrage for several very important reasons:
Read on for those reasons.

LINK: Stifling dissent the Labour Way - Section 14
Thieving bastards have conference - Liberty Scott

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Free Speech, Politics-Labour

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The buzzword for this morning is 'sustainability'

The buzzword for this morning is 'sustainability.' Be aware that both National and the Clark Government have now trumpeted that your freedom and your future prosperity are to be sacrificed on the altar of 'sustainability' -- National are doing so in the name of political strategy; Clark in the pursuit of a political diversion, but the few carrots and the many sticks are the same. So what the fuck does it mean, this flatulent buzzword? It's no good looking to your dictionary for help:
Sustain v.t., to bear the weight of, to hold up, to keep from falling...
Not much help there. No, sustainability is more about keeping people down than it is about keeping anything up.

'Sustainability' first became fashionable with the UN's Bruntland Report of 1987, which provided a recipe for authoritarians to take control of their nations' economies -- this report by the way was produced on on the back of scare stories from Rachel Carson about DDT (which proved to be both wrong and destructive), from Paul Ehrlich on the population explosion (which proved to be embarrassingly wrong), and from the Club of Rome on how the world is running out of resources (which myth Julian Simon almost "single-handedly routed"). All were wrong, spectacularly wrong, but their spectres still haunt the world through the 'sustainability' detritus of this report.

The Bruntland Report defined sustainable development as
development that "meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
This nostrum was adopted by the Agenda 21 circus in Rio early in the '90s, by schools and universities around the world, and was reaffirmed by the World Sustainability Summit in Johannesburg as recently as 2002. As the Ayn Rand Institute's Robert Tracinski pointed out at the time, the confusion seen at the 20002 summit
is precisely the result of taking "sustainable development" seriously -- with all of the contradictions inherent in the notion.

For environmentalists, the campaign for "sustainable development" is not motivated by a legitimate desire for development. Instead, it is an attempt to put a respectable face on their anti-development, anti-industry, anti-technology philosophy. The environmentalists want to pretend that strangling industrial civilization would not consign the world to a permanent hell of poverty, starvation and mass death. They want to evade the monstrous consequences of their ideas.

Thus, they tell us that there is something called "sustainability," a magic mechanism that will help the Third World achieve prosperity -- even as the environmentalists restrict the only known conditions for prosperity: free trade and industrialization. The way to achieve this contradiction, or at least to achieve the illusion of it, is the central idea of the Johannesburg conference: the demand that industrialized nations pay out massive aid subsidies, putting Third World countries on the dole rather than helping them develop their own economic production. It is an attempt to give the Third World some of the results of industrial development without actual industry or development.

But even the promise of aid is a lie, because Western money can do no good when the greens have outlawed all elements of industrial development. For example, there is much talk in Johannesburg about using Western aid to prevent famine, to halt the spread of disease and to provide Third World countries with clean water and sanitation. But it is the environmentalists who have campaigned against the construction of hydroelectric dams, a major source of electric power and clean water. It is environmentalists who have tried to block the use of genetically modified crops, which are more resistant to drought and disease. And it was environmentalists who stopped the use of DDT, allowing the resurgence of malaria, which once again kills millions in the Third World each year.

These campaigns are proof of the greens' real motives. They want to stop development and keep the Third World in a state of poverty -- while they work to bring the same ideal of poverty to industrialized nations...
Michael Shaw and Ed Hudgins call 'sustainable development' Sovietization, and they highlight a number of philosophical problems with the notion:

The U.N.'s concept of Sustainable Development is antithetical to individual freedom and economic liberty. It is, philosophically speaking, unsustainable. Development in this context refers to the use of naturally occurring materials such as land, forests, rivers, water, and the like. The notion of Sustainable Development assumes that if not managed by some collective body, these materials will be destroyed by individual owners. The United Nations Habitat Conference Report in 1976 stated: "Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice…Public control of land use is therefore indispensable."

This idea plays on the notion that resources are limited. Yet there is no such thing as a "natural resource." There is only matter and energy in the world that we human beings with our remarkable minds are able to make use of for our survival and well-being. Oil, for example, a century and a half ago, was not a resource to a farmer who found it seeping out of his land; it made the land worthless for growing crops or grazing farm animals. Only when men discovered how to use it to heat homes, run electrical generators, and propel planes and automobiles did it become a resource. Since from a human perspective there is no limit to the potentially usable matter and energy in the universe, there is no problem of running out of resources. The only problem is which resources will be developed and at what cost.

There is nascent technology, for example, to generate energy via ocean waves or to use orbiting collectors that would convert and beam energy to Earth via microwaves or lasers.

And University of Arizona, Tucson, Professor John Lewis has done serious work on the technology and economics of mining asteroids for minerals.

Sustainable Development is supposed to meet "the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." This definition is collectivist to the core. Not only does it ignore individual owners of assets, it in effect bestows title to those assets to an unborn future collective—not even future individuals who might inherit titles to property - but to "future generations." Agenda 21's definition of Sustainable Development was lifted from the 1977 Constitution of the Soviet Union.

In addition, this conception assumes that one can judge at any given time whether some use of an asset will be sustainable in the future. But such knowledge is virtually unobtainable. Estimates a century ago that America would soon lose its forests—a renewable resource -- were wrong; we have more woodlands today than at that time. Predictions at that time that America would run out of oil in a few decades also proved spurious. Consider the folly if our ancestors had determined to save whale oil for lighting a few homes during the twentieth century.

But more fundamental is the fact that we cannot know how technology will affect the sustainable use of any given asset in the future. A snapshot is not a movie. America's history shows material progress over past centuries by any measure. If we had asked at any given time whether the use of an asset were sustainable without knowledge of future technologies that are simply unknowable before they are created, not doubt most development and progress would not have occurred.

This brings up another flaw in the definition of Sustainable Development. It is likely that future generations will live better than present ones if governments do not sabotage economic growth through takings, taxes, and regulations. If anything, the present generation makes itself a victim by forgoing the use of resources for the sake of future ones. The present generation bequeaths to the future a wealth of capital and knowledge. That means future generations will not need to reinvent the wheel.
These problems with Sustainable Development show that at best it is a subjective, collectivist muddle and its application inevitably will destroy private control of property and with it freedom itself.

'Sustainability' is not about wealth production, rational analysis or the use of science or technology for advancement of human welfare. Quite the opposite: at root it is about sacrifice, paying penance for our prosperity and our freedom, and like all forms of sacrifice or of altruism, it's more about the present-day sacrifice than it is about future results (if any).

As Bjorn Lomborg points out for example, rational analysis of authoritarian reactions to projected environmental problems see the solutions as more expensive and more damaging than the so-called problems. As he says, "Just because there is a problem doesn’t mean that we have to solve it, if the cure is going to be more expensive than the original ailment." That of course doesn't stop much irrationality.

We're supposed to conserve 'resources' for future generations, for example, but if ‘resources’ are ‘conserved for future generations,’ when in fact will the resources be used? Which future generation will be allowed to access them? When? This is a sacrifice of the present to a future that never arrives. If ‘resources’ may no longer be used, can they really be called a ‘resource’? It is the human mind that has turned trees, rocks and mud puddles of yesterday into the resources of today; it is the human mind that is the ultimate resource -- and just like all the other resourcess, it is not running out, although with economies and industry being shackled it is the mind being applied to production that is itself being shackled.

But will our grandchildren really thank us tomorrow for not applying our minds and our energy to production today? Will they really thank us tomorrow for not having built today the roads, dams, abattoirs, oil refineries, industrial and chemical plants, canals, sewerage systems, pulp and paper mills, railways and mines that we present generations have enjoyed as a gift from our own predecessors? Will they think we've been sensible? Or bloody idiots with an anti-human agenda who should have been silenced with a gag and a bucket of paraquat.

But in the end it's not sense that attracts politicians is it, it's power, and the reason for the more-than-decade-long popularity of the 'sustainability' nostrum is that it delivers power to those who are hungry for it: to politicians and their minions. It is nothing other than a pseudo-concept giving planners, bureaucrats, politicians and minor functionaries power over your property and your industry and the use of your mind to create new wealth and new resources. And it does this in a way peculiarly suited to politicians -- by delivering them a constituency that can't talk back. If ‘resources’ (i.e., your property) must be protected for ‘future generations,’ and in the absence of future generations to speak for themselves, then the idea of 'sustainability' nostrum empowers someone to speak on their behalf. That someone of course is a politician.

How ironic: a constituency from tomorrow that can't answer back, used to shackle the constituency of today that can. What could be more ingenious? And what could be more suitable to sell politically.

Are you buying it?

LINKS: 'Bluegreen - the new symbol of wetness - Not PC
Bruntland Report - Wikipedia
'Sustainable development's unsustainable contradictions - Robert Tracinski, Capitalism Magazine
Sovietizing America: How sustainable development crushes the individual - Michael Shaw & Ed Hudgins, The Objectivist Center

Speaking for the speechless - Not PC (Aug, 2005)
Altruism: It's about us, not about them - Not PC (May, 2005)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Environment, Philosophy, Ethics

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Welfare activists on air

I hear that welfare activist and petitioner to abolish the DPB Lindsay Mitchell, and Libertarianz health deregulation spokesman Dr Richard McGrath will both be appearing on Radio NZ's Nine to Noon show later today to talk about growth in the sickness and invalid's benefits. (Sorry, I don't know the exact time.)

You should be able to hear it online here later today.

LINKS: Nine to Noon Show - Radio NZ
Nine to Noon - Lindsay Mitchell

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Welfare, Libz

Sunday, 29 October 2006

More Gore

We all know by now that the Sunday Star front page is a regular repository of trash. From the fish and chip wrapper of tomorrow we see splashed across it today the breathless revelations that "New Zealand may be refuge as rising sea levels displace hundred of millions of people"! That Helen Clark has"called for boldness in tackling climate change"! That she boldly "credits [Al Gore's movie] An Inconvenient Truth with helping sharpen public opinion"! This movie, says the Star, "lays out evidence for the potentially devastating effects of man-made climate change"!

Wow! What a lot of bunk.

Those "hundreds of millions" of "climate refugees" are supposed to be the result of massive rises in sea level. Al Gore's film talks about sea level rises of “18 to 20 feet,” partly as a result of "possible" melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The Skeptics' Guide to An Inconvenient Truth conveniently rebuffs these two related myths.
Sea Level Rise. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does not forecast sea-level rises of “18 to 20 feet.” Rather, it says, “We project a sea level rise of 0.09 to 0.88 m for 1990 to 2100, with a central value of 0.48 m. The central value gives an average rate of 2.2 to 4.4 times the rate over the 20th century...It is now widely agreed that major loss of grounded ice and accelerated sea level rise are very unlikely during the 21st century.” Al Gore’s suggestions of much more are therefore extremely alarmist.

Greenland Climate. Greenland was warmer in the 1920s and 1930s than it is now. A recent study by Dr. Peter Chylek of the University of California, Riverside, addressed the question of whether man is directly responsible for recent warming: “An important question is to what extent can the current (1995-2005) temperature increase in Greenland coastal regions be interpreted as evidence of man-induced global warming? Although there has been a considerable temperature increase during the last decade (1995 to 2005) a similar increase and at a faster rate occurred during the early part of the 20th century (1920 to 1930) when carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases could not be a cause. The Greenland warming of 1920 to 1930 demonstrates that a high concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is not a necessary condition for period of warming to arise. The observed 1995-2005 temperature increase seems to be within a natural variability of Greenland climate.” (Petr Chylek et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 13 June 2006.)
Read on here for the top 25 one-sided, speculative, misleading and just plain wrong pieces of "evidence" peddled in Al Gore's film, and here (if you haven't already downloaded it) for the full 120-page Skeptics' Guide [PDF]. Given that both National and now Labour have been pushing the bloody film in recent weeks as an excuse to outbid each other in meddling promises of environmentally-motivated authoritarian action, it would seem that a passing acquaintance with its full shallowness is to be necessary self-defence for freedom-lovers in coming months.

LINK: Al Gore to star at Kiwi summit - Sunday Star
Gorey Truths - Ian Murray, National Review
Skeptics' Guide to an Inconvenient Truth - Competitive Enterprise Institute [120-pge PDF]
Lots of climate change announcements - Not PC (Oct 6)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Environment, Global Warming

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