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Saturday, November 28, 2009


since 1990, Phil Jones has collected staggering 13.7 million British pounds ($22.6 million) in grants. The major amounts came from HEFCE (6.6 million pounds) and NERC (2.7 million pounds).
Britain has a truly stupendous budget deficit of £175 billion a year. Various Conservative politicians are on the lookout for parts of our overall budget of about £700 billion that can be cut. Large areas of cuts that would not hurt the famous "front line services" by the Taxpayer's Alliance among others. I have suggested how it could be done previously. Much of it boils down to finding quangos that are particularly useless or even economically negative. So lets look at these candidates:

HEFC - The Higher Education Funding Council for England is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (previously the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) in the United Kingdom, which has been responsible for the distribution of funding to Universities and Colleges of Higher and Further Education in England since 1992. It was created by the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.

In 2007-08 HEFCE allocated £7.1 billion in public funds from the UK Government to universities and colleges in England to "support them in delivering high quality education, research and related activities". It only funds the institutions and does not give grants or loans to individual students.

So since this has been given to Professor Jones as boss of the CRU which is only tangentially part of the University of East Anglia & as such it is not going for eduction they seem, at the very least, to have been pushing the envelope of their remit. They are giving so much money, so easily for "research" which has been conducted unscientifically, fraudulently & so poorly as to be scientifically worthless, allegedly "losing" the data on which it is based. Professor Jones is on record as saying of that data "Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it" & then, following an FoI enquiry, that it had been lost. At the very best that means his alleged findings are worthless & no sort of science.

When an organisation has enough money both to spend on things which are not its remit & which turns out to be wasted onn junk then there is something wrong. If they are doing their main job adequately then they have a lot too much money to play with & as a rough estimate I would expect an accountant with experience in restructuring companies in bankruptcy would cut it by a minimum of 1/3rd without doing significant harm to its real remit. Digby Jones would probably put it very much higher but lets move cautiously.

So that can be £2.4 billion saved.

Of course this assumes that there is not an overall government conspiracy to produce fake scares & that they are merely serving as a conduit for such fraud. But again lets be cautious.

NERC Natural Environment Research Council is a British research council that supports research, training and knowledge transfer activities in the environmental sciences. Budget £400 million. The Natural Environment Research Council delivers independent research, survey, training and knowledge transfer in the environmental sciences, to advance knowledge of planet Earth as a complex, interacting system.

This is clearly a misuse of the word "independent" since it is dependent on NERC payment, NERC's website is long on pictures of polar bears & quotes of how "the climate change issue is every bit as serious as the press make it out to be" which if scientific would be the question not the answer. However working down through layers of information for press, policymakers, other bureaucrats etc. etc. what they have actually done for that £400 million comes down to :

Role of forests in storing carbon becomes clearer (Trees in African rainforests are getting bigger and are trapping more carbon)
Arctic sea ice is receding and thinning
Effectiveness of iron fertilisation in doubt
Bumblebees benefit from varied landscapes
Algae adopt Cheshire Cat defence
DNA study illuminates ageing in swifts
Solving the riddle of the smell of the sea
How do predators know where to look for food?
Keeping moorland carbon underground
Researching a sustainable path to bioenergy
Carbon capture and storage in China
Probing the causes of the Sichuan quake
Forecasting floods across the nation
UK rivers still too acidic for sensitive species (waterways are recovering from acid rain)
Identifying looming tipping points
Quantifying effects of man-made atmospheric nitrogen on the ocean
Taiwanese typhoons bury carbon at sea
World's biggest digital geological mapping initiative
From molten metal to blood clots
Tougher ozone controls needed
Protecting plants without pesticides

Of these the first is an expected beneficial effect of more CO2 though I bet it doesn't say that. Arctic ice is not receding. Carbon capture is not a technology in non-laboratory use anywhere & is just the next eco-hype to avoid nuclear & draw attention away from the failure of windmills. Acid rain is simply another eco fake scare. "Looming tipping points" presuppose everything about warming is already proven.

For £400 million a year this doesn't look like much particularly since this is 1 1/2 times what is needed to make Britain the world leader in the industrialisation of space. I know that most, though not all eco-fascists want us not to spend money in space until we have solved every problem on Earth but surely spending money on giving bees a better view should not take such an absolute priority over supporting one of the world's (well humanity's) fastest growing industries currently worth $6 billion a year to us but which could be doubled just as a start.

I have previously dealt with NERC when in 2006 its boss Alan Thorpe challenged climate sceptics in the Guardian & elsewhere to a public debate & then went into purdah when the challenge was taken up. The challenge indicates this grant giving body had eschewed any attempt at scientific impartiality, the vanishing indicates he wasn't expecting to have to back up the challenge & knows perfectly well it cannot be factually supported.

I very much doubt if any of the "research" NERC is supporting is adding anything significant to the sum of human knowledge & some of it is clearly subtracting. If any part was it could get funding for conventional sources. NERC appears to be a bureaucracy which exists purely to push its own eco-fascist agenda.

Abolishing it would save £400 million without coming within even hailing distance of any front line service.

And These 2 make up £9.3m of the £13.7m. I do not know where the rest came from but with £2.8 billion saved if I was the minister I would be looking at the donors of the rest. If they were proportionately equally useless that would allow savings of another £1.3 billion. That's a total of £4.1 billion. Not going to balance the budget on its own but in practice no less than the total cuts suggested by the Labour or Liberal Democrats have produced.

Science is vital to the growth of our society, more vital in my opinion than any political debate between "socialists" & "capitalists" (who are usually neither). Government should be prepared to fund it even, indeed particularly, in a recession. Nonetheless the investment is only beneficial if it is directed to improve the science. However there is strong evidence that government funding, as presently done, has a net negative effect. Funding designed to "prove" catastrophic global warming clearly has so in spades as well as being intellectually & morally corrupt & damaging to all the basic principles without which science is replaced by what Richard Feynman called cargo cult science. Such patronage by those without understanding may be the difference between Renaissance Italy & the post Renaissance period.

I do think government should promote real research, but not by directly acting as gatekeeper to what and who gets funded. It should:

1 - Fund an X-Prize Foundation or indeed several for different branches of science
2 - provide special assistance to individuals & small businesses seeking to register international patents & copyright
3 - Abolish the employer's National Insurance contribution, or for self employed the entire amount, for researchers involved in technology research.*

1 & 2 don't workm until we have actually achieved the technology promised & so would cost nothing for several years. Then it would still be highly profitable almost no matter how large the investment. Jerry Pournelle had this to say, in testimony to Congress, on real technology investment.

Knowledge gained through the X programs helped U.S. aerospace firms to dominate the world industry. In the 1970’s US high technology, particularly aircraft, were the largest single cash export of the nation. They were very important in making up the deficits in our balance of payments.

*HT Mark Wadsworth for #3

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