Monthly Archives: December 2009

Climate change

The international summit on climate change has begun in Copenhagen. The media in this country and many others are approaching this issue on the basis that anyone who doubts whether man-made global warming is scientific fact, is as mad as someone who still believes that the earth is flat. Our old friend the BBC, apparently in the interests of balanced journalism, has produced this web page which appears to set out both sides of the argument: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8376286.stm

However when you look carefully at the page you will see that it is in reality set out as a line by line attack on the sceptical viewpoint. All the “responses” to the sceptical arguments are longer than the original sceptical theses, and there is no “comeback” for the sceptics. It is in my view rather dishonest. Plainly there is a debate to be had but the BBC takes the view that those who are unsure about man-made global warming need to be put back into their boxes right quickly. Questioning the received orthodoxy is not to be welcomed.

I cannot pretend to have the necessary scientific knowledge to weigh the various arguments with any great insight. But I am a natural sceptic, particularly where issues are treated as stone cold certainties by the media when in fact there are clear arguments on both sides. Remember the “Year 2000” computer problem? How the media scared us with stories of an international computer shutdown accompanied by planes falling out of the sky. How much money was spent on new software and on consultancy fees? – and on 1st January 2000, absolutely nothing happened. We seem to have a blind spot when it comes to so-called “experts”. Instead of challenging them to explain their theories, we swallow their views whole and then panic.

My own view is that whatever the truth may be about global warming, it is irrelevant to our ongoing human obligation to generations yet to be born not to waste the Earth’s resources. So I’m all in favour of recycling, of researching new forms of energy and of reducing our emissions. We should try to separate this obligation from the shrill background noise of the fanatics and the doom-mongers. There would be a real advantage to this country in ceasing to be beholden to oil and gas rich nations who do not share our democratic values. But that does not mean that every house must have its own wind turbine, or that all car owners are the very devil.

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Leader elect

Last night the Conservative Group on Elmbridge Borough Council chose Cllr John O’Reilly to succeed Cllr Roy Taylor as leader of the Conservative Group. John will take over after the local elections due on 6th May.

The idea of having a leader-elect is to ensure that when Roy Taylor stands down from his position the new leader will have spent the last 6 months shadowing the outgoing leader and will be able to hit the ground running. It is important for all businesses to apply their minds to succession planning and ruling Council groups are no different.

I am delighted that John won. I have got to know him well over the past 2 years as he is the portfolio holder for housing, an area in which I have some professional expertise and a general interest. He is a passionate advocate of the need for affordable housing. That does not just mean homes for rent but also low cost housing to buy. It is very difficult to get your foot on the housing ladder in Elmbridge and consequently many young people and key workers are forced to live out of the borough, which in turn increases the burden on our creaking transport infrastructure. Having John O’Reilly as our leader will inevitably move this issue to the forefront of Council thinking over the next few years.

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