The Telegraph this week reported that council leaders are paying out over £100 million to fund an army of 3,500 workers to tackle climate change. Despite continuing disputes within the scientific community over the causes of global warming, how profound its effects may be and even its very existence, a nationwide investigation has revealed massive spending on new local authority staff with job titles such as "carbon reduction advisors" and "climate change managers".
Using figures obtained from 25 councils across England and Wales, the Taxpayers' Alliance calculated that councils on average now employ eight people to work on green issues. If that figure were repeated across all 442 councils in the UK, the total number of council staff employed to deal with the environmental agenda would be 3,494. The average salary paid to such staff was £29,283, suggesting a total expenditure by councils across the UK of £102 million.
News of the spending comes as many local authorities face criticism for axing weekly rubbish collections and reducing long-term care for the elderly. Help the Aged recently warned it was "deeply worried" about councils slashing the number of people eligible for carers in their homes and underinvestment in residential care. Last year while Harrow Primary Care Trust funded care for 826 old people, Derby City only managed to find the cash for seven.
Since 1997/98, the average council tax bill has almost doubled from £564 to £1,078. This money obviously isn't being spent on care for the elderly or proper refuse collection, so one must assume it's all going on global warming gauleiters. In Tower Hamlets, the capital's poorest local authority and among the nation's worst for recycling, 58 employees have job titles or job descriptions that contain "climate change" or "global warming". In Hull, the city council has 30 staff working on environmentally friendly policies. In Nottingham, 22 staff are employed to deal with issues around global warming, in addition to 70 volunteer "green champions".
Matthew Sinclair, policy analyst at Taxpayers' Alliance, said "Town halls are spending more and more of our money so they can just say they are doing something on climate change. It is an expensive and futile gesture when China is building a coal power station every ten days."
The GOS isn't the least bit surprised at this news. As he has observed before in these pages, one of the strongest and most pervasive motivations at work in any large organisation is the "bigger desk syndrome". By and large, the more people they're in charge of, the more money officials earn. If you can create more and more tasks for your department to do, you need more and more people to do them. The more people you have in your department, the bigger your desk, the more sumptuous your office and the more generous your salary. Global Warming, the multiplicity of its tasks limited only by the imagination, is a wonderful opportunity for council officials worried about their pensions, and yet another chance for them to prove their superiority to us ordinary mortals by not providing us with the services we thought we wanted (silly us!).
And guess who pays the price for all these free-loaders?
What makes it all the more galling is that the argument against man-made Global Warming is gaining strength day by day. As John Ray of Greenie-Watch says, "Seeing that we are all made of carbon, the time will come when people will look back on the carbon phobia of the early 21st century as too incredible to be believed."
On the Australian news website recently, Tim Blair had this to say …
Last month Australians endured our coldest June since 1950. Imagine that; all those trillions of tonnes of evil carbon we've horked up into the atmosphere over six decades of rampant industrialisation, and we're still getting the same icy weather we got during the Cold War.
Not that June should be presented as evidence that global warming isn't happening, or that we're causing it. Relying on such a tiny sample would be unscientific and wrong, even if it involves an entire freakin' continent's weather patterns throughout the course of a whole month, for Christ's sake. No such foolishness will be indulged in here.
Sadly, those who believe in global warming - and who would compel us also to believe - aren't similarly constrained. A few hot days are all they ever need to get the global warming bandwagon rolling; evidently it's solar powered. Here, for example, is an Australian Associated Press report on May's weather, which in places was a little warmer than usual:
"Climate change gave much of Australia's drought-stricken east coast its warmest May on record, weather experts say. 'Global warming and an absence of significant cold changes had driven temperatures well above the monthly average', said meteorologist Matt Pearce. According to Mr Pearce, May's temperatures were 'yet another sign of the widespread climate change that we are seeing unfold across the globe'."
If that's the case, shouldn't June's cold weather - coldest since 1950, remember - be a sign that widespread climate change isn't unfolding across the globe? We're using the same data here; one month's weather. And, in fact, the June sample is Australia-wide while May only highlights the east coast. Fear the dawn of a great "coldening"!
While Australia freezes, it's kinda hot in California. Again, local toastiness is evidence of global warming; one San Francisco Chronicle writer this week referred glibly to their "global-warming-heated summer". What phenomenon was responsible for previous summers?
In Britain, the Independent's environment editor, Michael McCarthy, forecast in April "The possibility is growing that Britain in 2007 may experience a summer of unheard-of high temperatures, with the thermometer even reaching 40C, or 104F, a level never recorded in history. This would be quite outside all historical experience, but entirely consistent with predictions of climate change."
As Wimbledon watchers would be aware, what with the rainiest tournament since Jimmy Connors defeated John McEnroe in 1982, those unheard-of high temperatures remain unheard-of. Someone might conclude, therefore, that the not-hot summer is not entirely consistent with predictions of climate change.
But climate change is like Michael Moore's tracksuit - it can fit anyone. In 2005, Greenpeace rep Steven Guilbeault helpfully explained: "Global warming can mean colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter, that's what we're dealing with." What we're dealing with, apparently, is weather.
What will the weather be like 100 years from now? Don't ask Britain's Guardian, which, like the Independent, is full of Warmin' Normans whose warm warnings never come true. "It could be time to say goodbye to defining features of British life," the paper claimed a few months ago, "like rainy picnics and cloudy sunbathing . . ." Other defining features of British life - screaming, inaccurate nonsense from the Guardian, for example - will never be farewelled. Cue wet Wimbledon, the coldest day for Test match cricket (7.4C) in English history, and this BBC online headline: "Where has the UK's summer gone?"
Maybe it migrated to Australia, like Augustus Owsley Stanley III, the American LSD enthusiast and manufacturer. Possibly influenced by his product, Owsley moved to outback Queensland about twenty years ago, reportedly convinced that imminent global warming would cause - in the tradition of warm meaning cold - the whole Northern Hemisphere to be covered with ice. Owsley, now 72, is still in Queensland, and likely not a little confused. Things didn't exactly turn out as predicted. While his former Californian haunts melt due to "global warming", this year Queensland has gone frosty. Townsville's June was its coldest since 1940; June 24 saw the coldest Brisbane morning on record.
Think of these little factoids the next time your read a report linking a hot day or month or year to global warming. And, if you run into this Owsley bloke, please ask him to quit adding things to environmentalists' water supplies.
The aforementioned John Ray is an Australian university professor who runs a number of excellent websites. For those of us who aren't expecting imminently to fry or flood but prefer their weather forecasts to contain a certain amount of old-fashioned common sense, GreenieWatch makes entertaining reading.
Here are one or two of his bon-ner mots …
Against the long history of huge temperature variation in the earth's climate (ice ages etc.), the 0.6 of one degree average rise reported for the entire 20th century by the United Nations (a rise so small that you would not be able to detect such a difference personally without instruments) shows in fact that the 20th century was a time of exceptional temperature stability.
The Holy Grail for most scientists is not truth but research grants. And the global warming scare has produced a huge downpour of money for research. Any mystery why so many scientists claim some belief in global warming?
I am not a global warming skeptic nor am I a global warming denier. I am a global warming atheist. I don't believe one bit of it. That the earth's climate changes is undeniable. Only ignoramuses believe that climate stability is normal. But I see NO evidence to say that mankind has had anything to do with any of the changes observed - and much evidence against that claim.
The "precautionary principle" is a favourite Greenie idea - but isn't that what George Bush was doing when he invaded Iraq? Wasn't that a precaution against Saddam getting or having any WMDs? So Greenies all agree with the Iraq intervention? If not, why not?
There is an "ascetic instinct" (or perhaps a "survivalist instinct") in many people that causes them to delight in going without material comforts. Monasteries and nunneries were once full of such people - with the Byzantine stylites perhaps the most striking example. Many Greenies (other than Al Gore and his Hollywood pals) have that instinct too but in the absence of strong orthodox religious commitments they have to convince themselves that the world NEEDS them to live in an ascetic way. So their personal emotional needs lead them to press on us all a delusional belief that the planet needs "saving".
For many people, global warming seems to have taken the place of "The Jews" - a convenient but false explanation for any disliked event. Professor Brignell at Spiked Online is eloquent on the subject. Notice particularly the incredible list at the foot of the page, of things that are "causing" or "proving" global warming.
And here is an interesting exposé of the way greenies distort statistical data to prove their point.
Rainfall chart. It's obvious - we're all going to drown
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