Saturday, August 08, 2009
PRAGUE — Europe’s leading human rights group began an investigation on Monday into Serb allegations that Serbian civilians were abducted in Kosovo during the Kosovo war of 1998-99 and taken to Albania, where their organs were extracted for sale before they were killed.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Europe's top human rights watchdog launched a probe Monday into Serb allegations that ethnic Albanian guerrillas kidnapped Serb civilians during Kosovo's war, then removed their organs and sold the body parts on the black market.
The inquiry, by the Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, France, is being led by Dick Marty, a Swiss senator,
who previously investigated the existence of alleged secret Central Intelligence Agency prisons in Europe used to interrogate terrorist suspects. The Council said Mr. Marty would meet this week with leading war crimes officials and human rights groups in Serbia and Albania.
Leading the probe is Dick Marty, a Swiss senator representing the Council of Europe. He is expected to meet top Serbian judiciary and war crimes officials during his two-day visit to Belgrade starting Monday.
Marty also plans to travel to Albania on Wednesday, the Council of Europe said in a statement.
After his fact-finding visits, Marty will issue a report on "inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo," the statement said.
Distrust between the two groups remains high even a decade after the war, with each side accusing the other of atrocities. Serbian war crimes investigators are now alleging that up to 500 Serbs from Kosovo disappeared during the Kosovo war. Ethnic Albanian guerrillas fought Serb forces under the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in a conflict over control of Kosovo in which 10,000 people were killed, most of them ethnic Albanians.
Serbian officials say up to 500 Kosovo Serbs vanished without a trace during the 1998-99 war. They claim at least some of them may have had organs removed
Ethnic Albanian officials in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, have strenuously denied the allegations, saying they are politically motivated and aimed at undermining Kosovo, which defied Serbia by declaring independence last year. Serbia considers Kosovo its cultural heartland.
Serbian investigators say they have evidence that at least 10 people were abducted by ethnic-Albanian guerrillas as part of an alleged underground trafficking operation in which the guerrillas made use of a network of hidden hospitals in Albania to extract organs, before dumping the bodies of victims into mass graves.
The Serb war crimes investigators say they have concrete proof that at least 10 people have been the victims of an international organ trafficking operation, but that many more may have been operated on in makeshift hospitals in neighboring Albania before being dumped in mass graves.
"Whatever the truth is, we are missing between 300 and 500 people and that is what those seeking justice must have in mind," Bruno Vekaric, spokesman for Serbia's war crimes prosecutors, said.
Ethnic Albanian officials have denied the claims. They said the allegations are part of Serbian propaganda against Kosovo's independence, declared last year with Western backing.
The allegations surfaced publicly last year in a memoir by Carla Del Ponte, the former chief United Nations prosecutor for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. In the book, Ms. Del Ponte claims, based on what she describes as credible witnesses and reports, that after NATO bombed Serbia in 1999, ethnic Albanian guerrillas transported hundreds of Serbian prisoners into Northern Albania, where they were killed and their organs “harvested” and trafficked out of Tirana, the Albanian capital.
The allegations were first made public in a memoir last year by Carla Del Ponte, the former chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor. In "Madame Prosecutor," an account of her tenure as head of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, Del Ponte said her office was tipped to possible organ trafficking.
Kosovo's government spokesman Memli Krasniqi said Monday the country's authorities welcome "any investigation into war crimes committed in Kosovo," but added that the real perpetrators should be sought in Serbia.
"Everyone knows Serbia is the one that committed crimes against humanity and genocide in Kosovo," Krasniqi said. "The allegations of organ trafficking are part of Del Ponte's imagination, inspired by Serbia's criminals."
When the book was published, ethnic Albanian officials and many analysts questioned why Ms. Del Ponte had chosen to reveal the allegations five years after her investigators examined the claims. They also noted that the inquiry had failed to provide enough evidence to form a case.
The ethnic Albanian guerrillas fought Serbian troops loyal to late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in a conflict over ownership of Kosovo that claimed at least 10,000 lives. The bloodshed ended after NATO pummeled Serbia with airstrikes and sent in peacekeepers in June 1999. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders declared independence from Serbia in February 2008.
Now of course both parties are lying, censoring & distorting to protect those guilty of war crimes 7 genocide since they are leaders of the US & all the western European countries. Both parties DIRECTLY & DELIBERATELY LIE SAYING it happened "during the Kosovo war in 1998-9" when in fact it happened after NATO took over. Both parties say this was done by the KLA/Albanian geurillas when in fact by then they had been deliberately signed up as "police" by NATO & so this obscenity was carried out by NATO employees acting under direct NATO command. It being under such direct command makes seniors prima faci guilty & it is up to them to show that they either could not reasonably have known of it or that they took all practical steps tp prevent it. No NATO official has even attempted to make such a defence. Under the occupation agreement NATO undertook to disarm the KLA & run a secure non-racist & clearly rearming the KLA, providing them with police uniforms & sending them out to commit genocide & worse was a deliberate act immediately the a
greement & making all those involved guilty of genocide & worse.
The NYT's "distrust on both sides" is clearly an attempt to muddy the waters as
in "Nazis & Jews still distrust each other with each side accusing the other of atrocities" but I would bet a significant sum the NYT have never said that.
There is also a downplaying of numbers - del Ponte said 300 had apparently been taken to the Yellow House & that 1,300 were "missing" but eventually told the relatives they were certain they were dead.
The NYT mentions del Ponte having said she was informed about his by "credible witnesses"> What she actually said was "reliable journalists" & I suspect the NYT know this. The Red Cross have also confirmed that they knew about this in 2000 but refused to say exactly who they mentioned it too, or indeed what efforts, if any they made to find where the organs went (or to be balanced the Red Cross have refused to say what efforts they made to cover it up). AP's "balancing" claim about the Serbs having killed 10,000 Albanians during the war is, of course, merely one in a very long string of Nazi lies, from 500,000 at the beginning of the war downwards. NATO hired a Spanish forensic team who declared the total in Kosovo to be about 2,000, overwhelmingly killed by NATO bombers & missiles & in the campaign of open genocide by the NATO organised & armed KLA.
Clearly had it been useful at the time AP & the NYT & by extension all western journalists are wholly & completely corrupt animals who would have been willing to say that the Jewish Holocaust was the result of the Jewish world conspiracy & anyway didn't happen in any significant numbers & anyway that nice anti-communist Mr Hitler had absolutely no involvement whatsoever in it. If it became convenient they still would.
Friday, August 07, 2009
In discussion on a private space launcher advertising satellite payload launches at $8,000 (£5,000) sized 13.5cm long. 8.7cm diameter, Jerry Pournelle said:
A long time ago (after announcement of the Shuttle but well before any Shuttle ever flew) NASA had a $10,000 satellite program. (It was called fast getaway or some such). It was announced at a AAAS meeting, and that evening Poul Anderson and I came up with the notion of the Light Perpetual Institute which would offer eternal rest and light perpetual by lofting ashes into orbit where they would be ejected by a spring; the solar wind would carry at least some portion of the ashes out of the solar system, so that light perpetual would indeed shine on the remains, so long as you define light perpetual in a reasonable way. We made preliminary efforts to form the Institute, and NASA was of course horrified. NASA subsequently changed its regulations to forbid that or indeed any other purely commercial enterprise associated with the Getaway Specials, and of course, once the actual cost/flight of the Shuttle was determined, the entire program was abandoned.I assume a tube that size could hold several sets of ashes (I must admit I don't actually know) & for a lower cost option you could send only 10% of your ashes across the universe & scatter the rest in a favourite place. I think that this has commercial possibilities matching space tourism but lets see:
I expect it could still be made to work given the cost of funerals now, but it would take a good bit of capital and a lot of ingenuity to get a private launch program allied with someone experienced in the funeral industry, plus regulatory specialists. Not something a couple of science fiction writers could throw together. Oh. Well.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
This is a mea culpa. Way back before he became the beloved leader I thought Brown might be sensible. this was because he had been the boss of Kate Barker when she produced the sensible housing report which said that if we didn't want a shortage we should build more & because he had been lukewarm, metaphorically, on catastrophic warming & because Bliar, as a genocidal, child raping, organlegging Nazi war criminal, wasn't suitable for the job.
He succeeded to the job 27th June 2007. The years on the graph above runs from April to April so the line turns up about October. Just time for him to get back from his hols & Parliament reopen.
On the other hand since David Miliband was trying to nerve himself up to run at the time it could have been much worse.
Graph c/o Taxpayer's Alliance
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
I just wrote on the growth of private enterprise space prizes (7.3 fold increase in 10 years = 22% annually). I also wrote on the fact that the world space industry (ok that is a contradiction in terms) amounts to $257 billion annually. The 3rd leg of this stool is how fast is it growing.
aggregate space sales of the companies surveyed increased 44% (10-15% annually) for the 2003-2006 period. Domestic non-defense sales grew 63%, primarily in the space services and ground equipment segments. Domestic defense sales grew by 29% - pdf p23That 63% of non-defence sales amounts to an increase of 17.6% annually.
In Britain our space industry is growing at what the government clearly feel a very healthy rate:
The entire UK space sector currently contributes £6.5 billion to the UK economy, supporting around 68,000 direct and indirect jobs. The recession busting trends of the space industry has enabled it to successfully ride the downturn, and it is also predicted to grow by an average of 5% per year until 2020.5% a year would mean our space industry would be worth £11.1 bn by 2020 whereas if we could just match the US rate it would be £38.7 bn, such is the spectacular effect of compound growth. If we could improve on the US rate by 10%, which should be fully achievable if we put in a proportionately substantially greater effort than the relatively little the US is doing, we would manage £95 billion ($156 bn) by then. This is more than half the entire current commercial space effort worldwide.
So what is required? We need space X-Prizes. The official primary remit of The British National Space Centre is to "win an increasing share of the global market in space systems, services and applications in the race to develop tomorrow's economy". This is an entirely market orientated requirement which would clearly be served by X-Prizes or other encouragement of commercial ventures & is negated by the fact that they actually just send their £275m annually to Europe where ESA will achieve virtually nothing with it. I have previously called for that money to be put into a British X-Prize Foundation & in light of yesterday's article about US private enterprise X-Prizes have devised this which involves a minimal amount of new government cash & a massive increase in investment.
SPACE X-PRIZE FOUNDATION ACT
1 - Set up a British X-Prize Foundation, run by independent Commissioners appointed for expertise in science, engineering & venture capital not politics or civil service, to award prizes for space & in due course other technology achievement prizes. Also a Register of independent technology prizes, carrying out the functions of the Charity Commission for such prize funds, including ensuring the prize money is there.
2 - Government undertakes to provide the foundation with the £275 million currently given to ESA & to increase that proportionately to either twice the current rate of space industry growth or 10% more whichever is the lower.
3 - Government to allow tax rebates of 3 times the basic tax rate as Giftaid for donations to the Foundation or other science & technology prizes. This rate to be raised or lowered by not more than 5% annually to keep receipts paralleling those promised under section 2. Rebates to be by the Foundation & register issuing vouchers to be immediately honoured by in the simplest possible way to ensure every income tax payer can benefit.
4 - All Corporation Tax paid by space related sections sections of companies & 50% of income tax by employees in such sections tom be zero rated for a period of 25 years.
5 - The Foundation, with the full cooperation of the civil service to draft, at least annually, legislation to repeal or alter existing regulations which are economically damaging to space industry. Such legislation to be presented to Parliament unless the government finds them unreasonable & all reasons for finding them so, to be published.
6 - The foundation be allowed to announce prizes based on cash in hand & cash expected over the subsequent 5 years initially & 6 years after 1 years working. In the event of a shortfall, either due to several prizes being won very quickly or a downturn in the expected rate of growth, government shall guarantee loans on outstanding liabilities but no further prizes to be announced until the fund is back in surplus.
I think that would do it.
The only immediate net cost to government is 2 of the 3 times normal income tax rates (the 1st is already refunded for all charitable donations. With income tax at 20% that is [£275m x 20% x 2 / 130%(from every £1.30 of taxes collectible only about £1 is not avoided or spent in the collection)] £85 m million. The £275m of direct payment under section 1 comes from money previously given to ESA. The reduced taxes under 4 would, under the Laffer curve, be expected to be at least matched by increased economic activity both in these companies & spin off activity. Note that because space is the same distance from all countries & involves no significant use of local natural resources it can move fairly easily to any country with an advanced education & technological infrastructure. That makes it particularly easy to attract via tax breaks.
The prize money investment would be [£275 x 2] £550 million in the first year. Assuming, conservatively that space industry growth continues at 5%, meaning the fund increases at 10% that would be £605m in the 1st year, & £665m, £732m, £805m &£886m subsequently totalling £4 billion ($6.6 bn). This would immediately fund Jerry Pournelle's proposal for a commercial orbital shuttle & for a commercial space station. If the rate of growth in space industry increased, as it could hardly fail to do, the fund allocation would increase which, together with each new year's allocation would see a fast, self financing, exponential growth in technology investment. For example if growth went up to the US level of 17.6% the allocation in the next 2 years would be £1.34 bn &£1.47 bn plus revaluation of the intervening years. Since this could only happen if there was a fast growth of the space economy following the introduction of this programme payments in subsequent years would be likely to be less than the increases to the Exchequer from economic progress.
What would be the total extra economic investment in the British economy from this programme? Well according to the article discussed yesterday "Since SpaceShipOne took the Ansari X PRIZE in 2004, public and private investors have spent more than $1.5 billion to develop this nascent industry" for a space X-Prize investment of $88 million. That is a ratio of 17:1. There may be other reasons for that much investment but it was done without the subsequent tax reduction in section 5 so it is not unreasonable to stand by that (indeed it would not be unreasonable to go beyond it but I won't). At that ratio we get British commercial investment of £68 billion, which is not a bad return for government spending of £85 million. While this could be opposed by Luddites opposed to any form of economic growth I don't think it could be sensibly opposed by anybody else, unless they could dispute the figures here by more than a hundredfold.
Other countries - the figures here are scalable. Scotland at 8% of UK GNP could, for a similar level of effort, do this by putting up £22 million as equivalent to the ESA contribution & running the charitable refund through the rates system. 8& of $6.6 bn is $528 million which would just finance a commercial shuttle according to Pournelle's most recent figures. This also applies to any developed country & a lot of US states with GNP down to $213 billion annually which includes Hong Kong, Czech Republic (both 40) & Ireland (34). Singapore would have to make marginally more effort but, noting both their technophilia & equatorial location, can see them doing so.
Japan, Germany, China, France, Italy & probably Russia could match the full programme. The USA could do so with ease. Whether they have the gumption to do so is questionable but certainly somebody is going to. The future & untold wealth is out there for any country progressive enough to reach for it.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
by Jonathan Bays, Tony Goland, and Joe Newsum
The use of prizes by philanthropies and private businesses to encourage innovation and achieve social benefits is burgeoning. A McKinsey study of prizes worth more than $100,000 suggests that the aggregate value of such large awards has more than tripled over the past decade, to $375 million. Moreover, the role of prizes is changing: nearly 80 percent of those announced since 1991 have been designed to provide incentives for specific innovations rather than to reward excellence in general. An understanding of the characteristics of effective prizes and of how they are evolving would be useful for not only philanthropists but also public- and private-sector players hoping to harness their potential for innovation.
To learn how prizes are meeting the goals of the philanthropies that finance them, and how their effectiveness might be improved, we studied 219 prizes, each with a value of $100,000 or more; interviewed about 100 experts on innovation, prizes, and philanthropy; and surveyed the sponsors of 48 major awards. Further, we conducted in-depth interviews with the sponsors and administrators of 12 public, private, and philanthropic prizes that have particularly interesting strategies, designs, and management practices.
...the expansion of prizes in areas such as science, engineering, aviation, space, and the environment. By contrast, prizes related to the arts and humanities represented one-third of the total a decade ago but make up less than 10 percent today.
When are prizes more effective than other kinds of philanthropic instruments? Our research suggests that three conditions are paramount: a clear objective (for example, one that is measurable and achievable within a reasonable time frame), the availability of a relatively large population of potential problem solvers, and a willingness on the part of participants to bear some of the costs and risks. Teams competing for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE to develop spacecraft capable of entering space and returning safely twice within ten days, for instance, spent more than $100 million in the pursuit.
If one or more of these conditions can’t be met, potential prize givers should consider alternatives such as grants or a combination of prizes and other instruments. Indeed, some prize sponsors have adopted a portfolio approach to social change. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, for instance, offers a $5 million prize for a retired head of state who provided effective leadership in Africa and publishes a quantitative index of African governance. The index builds on the publicity generated by the prize to start a wider debate about the importance of good governance, a debate intended to prompt important changes in public attitudes as much as individual behavior.
... Since SpaceShipOne took the Ansari X PRIZE in 2004, public and private investors have spent more than $1.5 billion to develop this nascent industry.
...Our research also revealed a critical (and often neglected) area in the development of prizes, measuring their impact and making appropriate changes in response. An organization sponsoring a prize aiming to strengthen a particular community, for example, could periodically examine collaborative projects resulting from the new networks created. But in our survey of prize administrators, only 23 percent of them annually evaluated the impact of their prizes. Sponsors should regularly appraise prizes by measuring their impact and revise them when they fall short of meeting the broader goal, whether it’s generating investments for a winning proposal or sustaining a newly created community of participants.
Ultimately, the ability of prizes to mobilize participants and capital, spread the burden of risk, and set a problem-solving agenda makes them a powerful instrument of change. They offer a valuable form of leverage to sponsors that use them as part of a well-designed strategy.
The accompanying graph shows that from 1997 to 2007 prizes have increased:
Total in million $s ------- 74 --- 315 (x 4.3)
Space/Aviation ------ 12 ---- 88 (x 7.3)
Science/Engineering 18 ---- 88 (x 4.9)
Environment ------------ 6 ---- 77 (x12.8)
Arts ----------------------- 27 ---- 30 (x 1.1)
Other --------------------- 12 ---- 33 (x 2.8)
At that rate by 2017 we will have combined space prizes of $640 which is definitely in the ballpark of Jerry Pournelle's statement that 2 prizes for an orbital shuttle, $500,000 for 1st, $250,000 for 2nd, would do it.
This article, combined with the fact that government, which could fund all this out of petty cash, does nothing useful in this field makes me rethink a bit on the whole idea of funding X-Prizes & government's competence at promoting progress. I will proceed on that tomorrow. The most useful government X-Prize I have seen is the £0m Scottish Saltire Prize which, being for a commercial sea turbine is an interesting mixture of innovative thought in pursuit of a useless political goal.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Guest article from ANDY NIMMO
1 • There’s no doubt that the sooner a space elevator is built the sooner costs of going to and from space will come down. With an elevator, a tourist trip to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) will take 5 hours at present fast elevator speeds and has been estimated to cost per person the same as a trans-oceanic air flight instead of millions of dollars as at present. However, my own personal estimate places it at more like $25,000 a head, which is rather more than trans-ocean flights but still much less than anything orbital by rocket.
2 • At the same speed a visit to geosynchronous orbit would take a week and the estimates say will cost a similar price to a round the world air trip including hotels.
3 • A 20 tonne elevator car could take 200 people (including staff – cooks, stewards, waitresses and barmen) or 100 plus 6½ tonnes of cargo or 13 tonnes of cargo if there aren’t passengers. With only 50 people including staff it could also carry 10 tonnes of cargo.
4 • In a paper called “The Space Elevator Feasibility Condition” posted on the Spaceward Foundation website in early December 2008, Ben Shelef (CEO of Spaceward who run the annual international space elevator games) shows that a tensile strength of 30 GPa-cc/g would be strong enough to create a useful Space Elevator provided the Climber power system can generate at least 1.5 kWatt/kg. A gigapascal or GPa is a billion newtons (force) per square metre (cross-sectional area of the material sample).
5 • Several years ago now Dr. Bradley Edwards (the present world expert) created 70 GPa nanotubes and in February this year Professor Windle of Cambridge University created a chain of 10 GPa nanotubes 29 km long in one day. Over 3 years we could build an Elevator now, --- if we used chains of Edwards-type nanotubes and had the funds!
6 • Dr. Edwards has estimated that the first Elevator would cost $6 billion, but that thereafter they’d cost $3 billion each as their cables could be taken up by the first then moved once in geosynchronous orbit. The reason my estimates are greater than his are that he is just considering a basic elevator hung from geosynchronous orbit with the cable extended to provide the counterweight. Edwards’ cable would be non-conducting with power beamed up by lasers that do not yet exist with sufficient power.
7 • I believe that the initial use of an elevator will be to take tourists to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and the only way to keep a station there where they can get off and on to take rocket taxis to orbiting hotels (from where rocket ships to the Moon would take a little over 2 days) will be by having that station suspended around the elevator cable by similar cables. My counterweight would be a Solar Power Station (SPS) that would beam power down to the cars with my cable also electrically conducting as the Japanese have proposed. This requires no non-existent lasers. The cost of mine plus the SPS and the cables suspending the LEO station etc., would be around $50 billion. To repay this over 25 years would cost round $20,000 per head per round up-and-down trip whereby charging £25,000 this would still provide interest on loans and the operating company with a worthwhile profit.
8 • Earth is in a credit crunch and there are only two ways out of it, either more poverty or more new resources to back more real new money. If access to the resources is known in advance quantitative easing can be translated into borrowing against taxation on the future funding whereby higher taxes and poverty will no longer be necessary.
9 • There are enough more new resources off Earth in our Solar System to make everyone on Earth wealthier than Bill Gates in real terms. Even though that won’t happen, we could totally eradicate poverty all over our planet and everyone would gain greatly from this.
10 • The greatest cost of access to space resources is the cost of getting to and from LEO or of taking cargo up and down.
11 • While remaining on Earth humanity carries all its eggs in one basket, so space settlement is imperative to the continuation of humanity, but such settlement will only become viable with space elevator economics.
12 • Elevators will make space economic. Until the first is built space will remain an exorbitant expense, yet as soon as that first elevator is built humanity will flood out into our Solar System and it will get developed. There will be no more credit crunches for a thousand years.
Afterword: I must admit to having been sceptical about Andy's enthusiasm for near term space elevators but am impressed with; (A) "Several years ago now Dr. Bradley Edwards (the present world expert) created 70 GPa nanotubes and in February this year Professor Windle of Cambridge University created a chain of 10 GPa nanotubes 29 km long in one day" - this definitely takes us into the area of doing it now; (B) that he gives a higher cost to orbit (sect 1) than his source which shows he is not being uncritical.
$6 billion to build one is nothing for something giving us access to the universe. It is a quarter the cost of the Eurofighter or 1/4% of the British GNP for 1 year or 1/25th of America's or 30% of what EDF recently paid for British nuclear, largely to get sites which already have permission to host nuclear generators rather than for an engineering reason. This last shows it need not be a government programme, though also & unfortunately that politicians are probably still in a position to veto it.
Andy suggests Sao Tome, an island group off the west African coast as a site. I would love it to be Ascension Island but physics requires it to be almost exactly on the equator. What we can say for sure is that there are a whole range of systems which should work to get us to orbit (in energy terms "halfway to anywhere" in the solar system) for a commercial cost. When you can solve an engineering problem more than one way it is a cert at least one of them will work. Odds on they all will & we should be trying them all.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
I recently ran across an article(s) that Thorpe, whom it turns out is an ex-2000AD comic writer who now seems to make his living writing eco-scare stories for children which make their money not by sales but by being given grants to write them. This is not that unusual - Paul Ehrlich who has prophesied all sorts of catastrophes over the last 40 years, none of which have come true still gets $250,000 grants to write new books & James Hansen gets the same from the Heinz Foundation (Sen Kerry) despite being a government employee. I suspect Thorpe gets much less but you can see where the money is. Anyway his article is here & also here so due for a fisk in bold.
"The debate on whether modern climate change is caused by human behaviour or due to natural cycles is for some highly emotive, because a great deal of vested interest and money depends on the outcome. Indeed as pointed out above
The sceptics can be divided into two camps: those who base their arguments on a good and transparent understanding of the science and economics; and those who don’t, instead attacking the proponents on personal grounds. And they do get extremely vituperative. I would like to be able to say the same about alarmists but, as Thorpe ably demonstrates, fabrication & vituperation is all they bring to the debate
I recently collaborated in an elaborate hoax – called “a spoof that puts the fun back into lying about science” by desmogblog – that was intended to smoke out the latter sort. It was so successful it was syndicated across 600 radio stations in the US. Also on the Guardian, BBC etc indeed at the time I said that the fact that it was a hoax would greatly increase the chances of the BBC reporting it & was promptly proven right. Note however the disparity between 4 sceptical bloggers, & no newspapers (it was denounced within 30 minutes & papers have a much longer lead time) reporting the hoax & 600 radio stations plus papers & TV reporting the hoax from the alarmist side - I think this indicates the disproportionate media coverage on warming.
A client wrote a fake paper, purporting to ‘prove’ that rather than fossil fuel burning it was the previously undetected emissions from undersea bacteria which were responsible for the last 140 years’ increase in atmospheric concentrations. The term "client" suggests this was Thorpe's baby rather than him simply being a front man for somebody as prominent as, for example, fellow Guardian journalist George Moonbat, however he acknowledges he couldn't write it
We said it was from a fake ‘Journal of Geoclimatic Studies’, based at a fake Institute of Geoclimatic Studies at Okinawa University, in Japan. We had a fake Editorial Board, back issues, editorial and other papers.
The 4000 word paper itself, Carbon dioxide production by benthic bacteria: the death of manmade global warming theory? contained graphs and numerous references, and was launched on its own website late afternoon on 7 November. (It has since been taken down.)
Within a few hours, the blogosphere was ablaze with the news, and a number of bloggers fell for the scam. However, we had deliberately made it fairly transparent, and easy to see that it was not a genuine paper. After all, a simple ‘whois’ look-up revealed my name as the domain owner, and Googling the contributors or the institution drew a blank. "number of bloggers" is 4 worldwide which is less impressive than he implies, I doubt the "deliberately made it fairly transparent" since clearly (A) a lot of work went into it & (B) Thorpe acknowledges he wasn't up to doing it
I took several calls from Science magazine, Nature, and Reuters news agency. These were genuinely interested in the process and I passed on their contact details to the writer. who has nonetheless not outed himself or been officially outed
Well-known sceptic Benny Peiser posted the paper to his discussion group, but an hour later (to his credit) sent a second message saying that it appears he was duped. Neil Craig at ‘A Place to Stand’ said “this paper could not be more damaging to manmade global warming theory”. this is a killer because I didn't actually come up with that remark. Officially he did. I said on his blog "You quote me, Neil Craig at 'A Place to Stand "this paper could not be more damaging to manmade global warming theory" - now this comes from various newspaper articles which, in turn, are rewrites of the Reuters report in it which does indeed quote me as saying this. However a more careful reading of my post would have shown that I was not claiming this as my view but was instead taking it as a quote from your own article. You are therefore quoting the quote of the quote of myself republishing your quote, which you apparently didn't recognise." Despite this he has still requoted the quote of the quote .... which incidentally, since he clearly didn't recognise the words, suggests that he hadn't even read "his" hoax before downloading it
‘Reason Magazine’ posted the story and then tore it down, as did quite a few others.
More interesting were the personal emails we got, ranging from the congratulatory to the insulting, including this one from journalist and environmental health campaigner Theo Richel: “Usually we skeptics are accused of deliberately causing confusion, now we catch you doing it. Bit like what Michael Crichton predicted in his Climate of Fear, environmentalists would do. Great visionary skeptic that man. So I’ll gladly keep you as an example of the journalists who need fiction to prove their point. And then fail.”
I happen to think Theo is a reasonable man. He, like me, believes, that we need sound scientific evidence on which to base policy. He, like me, is sceptical of some of the claims of the environmental movement, who do often exaggerate and scare. I have personal experience of this having been at the heart of the MMR vaccine debate, where I presented the balanced viewpoint on the Department of health’s immunisation website as its editor. He, like me, thinks that policy should be made on the basis of proper risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis (return on investment), if we are to deal with real-world economic choices. "as its editor" - again we see the money trail. Does anybody think he would have had this government job, or the Guardian job (a fakenewspaper funded by government advertising) let alone the grants grants for scaring kids, had he been a sceptic?
We’ll have to agree to differ on our attitude to Michael Crichton. who made a living without grants
But I’m a satirist, and a fiction writer by trade as well as a journalist. (And, yes, I can tell the difference.) Sometimes fiction and satire can reach places facts alone can’t – in the right context. Whether we can be said to have failed depends on what we set out to achieve.
For me, the point is that entrenched opinions lead to trading insults and a lack of self-critical rigour when it comes to examining the facts – the basis of the argument. a hoax not tending to make serious discussion of facts more difficult?
What the hoax showed is that there are many people willing to jump on anything that supports their argument, whether it’s true or not. quite the opposite - it showed that despite the very best efforts of whatever senior & scientifically literate people he was fronting for only 4 bloggers "jumped on the bandwagon" & I for one went to great lengths to hold up my hands that I had been hoaxed - for a few hours. Compare & contrast with the Hockey Stick fraud which was adopted for years by the IPCC & supported by Nature & other publishers & for which they have not held up their hands even long after it was it was rumbled
What we wanted to emphasise is that it’s necessary to achieve scientific validity using the peer-review model. Proper climate science makes every attempt to do this, and is a constantly evolving and self-refining process, as all science is. Nature used the peer review process to suppress publication of the proof the Hockey stick was a fraud. What Thorpe means is that the hoax was deliberately perpetrated for the purpose of enforcing eco-fascist control over publication
So, when commentator posted on my blog – sarcastically – “….And we do all have to go with the “scientific consensus” don’t we?” – I can only say, if we haven’t got the scientific consensus then what have we got? Indeed, a need to lie & fabricate perhaps?
I regret to say that though he got asked to write various articles & presumably got paid for them, not a single one of the 600 radio stations, newspapers, BBC etc even talked to me, the single most prominent blogger in the entire world :-) to fall for it. Strangely, though his article mentions me by name my blog is not among those his article links to. In further reporting on this I said "I just heard somebody on BBC Radio Scotland talking about the supermodel who demands to be paid in Euros not realising that it has already been proven a hoax so I guess I can be pleased to have been able to match their journalistic standards" Since the BBC have yet to acknowledge that piece of stupidity I was clearly being hard on myself saying my error in any way matched their journalistic standards.
Incidentally the grant Thorpe gets for writing eco-scare books to frightenn kids comes from Powys Arts Forum which lists itself as "an independent organisation and registered charity working to enhance arts activity across the county of Powys"
& that "It is wholly independent though it enjoys a close working relationship with the Arts & Culture department of Powys County Council and the Arts Council of Wales" which screams government funded fakecharity. Thus we see 3 separate lines of funding all of which descend from the taxpayer. While I am sure Mr Thorpe would deny being employed by the government to front for eco-fascist lies but that is clearly exactly the case.