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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Professor Eric Wolf answers my 7 Global Warming Questions

   Following the recent conference between global warming sceptics and alarmists Dr Eric Wolff attempted to sum up the areas on which there was agreement and on which there isn't. This was posted on Bishop Hill's site and produced a lot of discussion in the comments section (in which I participated). In turn I sent Dr Wolff my list of 7 questions which I had sent originally to Simon Singh (who had asked equivalent questions from his side of the debate) then Professor Jones (head of the British investigation and producer of the "hide the decline" email), Michael Mann (US inventor of the Hockey Stick theory now proven mathematically false), Sir Paul Nurse (head of the Royal Society), Sir John Beddington (Britain's Chief science Advisor), Alan Thorpe (head of the £450 million a year warming propagandist quango NERC who, some years ago, challenged sceptics to a public debate and disappeared when the challenge was accepted), Roger Harrabin (BBC Environmental correspondent and the public face of UK warming alarmism) a number of different people at the BBC, the editors of most national & several US papers,  a number of leading MPs and every member of the Scottish Parliament, Realclimate & some other sites & last and least Ann Glover (Scotland's Chief Science Advisor and the one who said warming would increase day length). Since none of them had felt able to provide an answer supportive of the dangerous warming theory I thought they might also be indicative of points on which, if not exactly agreement, nobody on the alarmist side disagreed.

   Despite somebody else at his facility taking umbrage (& I must admit some of the questions #4 in particular, were phrased in a more argumentative manner than necessary) Dr Wolff has indeed replied and given me permission to post here. I would like to thank him for doing so in a reasoned and constructive manner. I will probably give my comments next week but, with the exception of a few words on point 7 I think his comments should stand on their own today:

1 - Do you accept Professor Jones' acknowledgement that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995?
*I have not heard this statement. However, because the climate system is inherently noisy, with alternating short runs of cold years and of warm years, there could NEVER be a statistically significant trend over just a few years. One can only determine a multidecadal trend by looking at the gradient over multi-decades. If you insist on taking trends over a decade, you will find periods with a positive gradient, a negative gradient or flat, but none of them significant. This was exactly my point about the analogy with months. There will quite certainly be a warming trend in temperature between January and July, but you will certainly find periods of 10, perhaps even 20 days, that have no, or even a negative, gradient.

2 - Do you accept that the rise in CO2 has improved crop growth by around 10% & that the consequent influence on world hunger is more beneficial than any currently detectable destructive action of alleged global warming?

*I am not an agricultural scientist, and have not looked into this, but yes, in general increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are likely to increase crop yields. The second half of the question asks me to make a moral and economic value judgement. While I may have a view on it as a citizen, this has nothing to do with the science.

3 - Do you accept that the Hockey Stick, as originally presented by Mann and the IPCC contained calculations that were inconsistent with good science and that Mann's refusal to make calculations and algorithms available for checking were inconsistent with scientific principle?

*The Mann reconstruction was a first attempt at doing an exceptionally difficult job. There are now numerous other attempts (shown in IPCC AR4) which all tell roughly the same story, but that have suggested better ways of doing some aspects of the job. This is how science works - someone does their best, then someone else comes along and shows you how to do it better.

4 - Do you accept that many claims from people and organisations on the alarmist side, from Al Gore's claim that South Sea islands had already been abandoned due to rising sea levels and Pachauri's claim that any dispute that the Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2025 was "voodoo" are wholly, completely and totally untruthful and would have to be openly denounced by anyone on the alarmist side who has any trace of honesty?

*There was clearly an error in the IPCC WGII report regarding Himalayan glaciers. This has been acknowledged as soon as the error was recognised. Even one error in 3000 pages is unacceptable, no disagreement from me on that. I am less clear why you are asking a scientist to comment on a film by a politician; I have never cited this film as a source for my science and I don't plan to.

5 - Do you accept that there are a number of geoengineering solutions which arithmetically can be shown would work (including stratospheric dust, the geritol solution or even just replacing CO2 burning with nuclear power) which would work at a small fraction of the cost of the war against fire, or in the case of nuclear, at negative cost?

*There are definitely geoengineering solutions that might theoretically work. Much more research will be needed to assess whether they can be implemented at reasonable cost and without excessive side effects. But yes, they are certainly among the options that have to be considered. My view is that all different energy options should also be considered, and may be needed: but this is again a personal view not a scientific one.

6 - Do you accept that the refusal of alarmists to denounce fraud on their side, or even its active support or covering up, detracts from the credibility of the entire movement?

*No scientist I know would accept fraud. Luckily so far no fraud has been proven in climate science. I don't know many alarmists, and I don't know what movement you are referring to.

7 - Of the alleged "consensus" - can you name 2 scientists, out of the roughly 60%, worldwide who are not paid by the state, who support catastrophic warming & if not can you explain how something can be a consensus when no member of a subset of 60% of the alleged consenting, consent?

*There are several problems with the question as written. Firstly, I assume you are asking whether people support the idea that significant warming will take place (not whether they want it to happen). I also can name only a very few scientists who would say "catastrophic". I don't really know many private companies that carry out climate science, so I am not sure how one should compare these two groups. However, I frequently speak to ordinary scientists in private companies who seem happy to accept the points I made in the left hand column of the original post on Bishop Hill, including the warming range projected in the studies cited by IPCC, which I assume is what you are asking. They are not however people who consider themselves experts on climate, so they would not expect to be making public pronouncements, nor to be asked to be part of a consensus. However, if you really want two names of people who have had a major stake in the oil industry in particular, then Lord Oxburgh (formerly Shell Chairman) and Bryan Lovell (formerly Chief Sedimentologist and Exploration Manager with BP) would be a good start.

Professor Eric Wolff FRS

British Antarctic Survey, Science Leader (Chemistry and Past Climate) at British Antarctic Survey

On point 7 Lord Oxburgh is not salaried by government but as boss of a wind turbine company does benefit from government subsidies, indeed his.“direct financial interest in the outcome” has been a cause of complaint over his appointment as chair of the climategate enquiry. I am however both surprised and heartened to see that there is general scientific agreement on both sides, with only very few scientists dissenting that claims of "catastrophe" are unwarranted (though I had, a couple of weeks ago been told something similar elsewhere). That seems to allow far more space for rational debate than many politicians and news media allow.

I welcome comments but lets keep them courteous. I am perfectly capable of giving and getting robust comments when required but this is part of a scientific discussion in which both sides are on their best behaviour.

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Friday, May 27, 2011


A combo of two images showing Mladić in 1995 (left) and today (Politika)

      This takes us back 4 major criminal wars ago. Since NATO bombed the Bosnian Serbs to enforce their "creation" of an apartheid Moslem Nazi statelet they have had another criminal war against Yugoslavia to grab Kosovo for the collection of drug lords, sex slavers, and organleggers NATO hired to portray genocidal freedom fighters and later appointed as police to dissect living people on NATO's behalf; then they had the Iraq occupation, justified on the WMD lie; now we have a war on the basis of  UN approval (an approval their charter specifically says they cannot authorise) to prevent the killing of civilians being used to .Even by the standards of the later 2 the wars against Yugoslavia were pure Nazi war crimes. Both were before the internet became omnipresent so the mainstream media had little competition to prevent them telling absolutely any lie to support what they knew to wars of deliberate racial genocide to promote Germany's continuing Nazi hatreds.

    Unfortunately Ratko seems very unwell and will probably not be able to put up the spirited counter attack that both Milosevic and have made. In 4 1/2 years of so called "trial" the sole evidence the NATO funded "court" produced against him was when US general and Democrat Presidential nominee Wesley Clark said that at an international conference Milosevic had privately taken him aside and for no reason confessed to to the "Srebrenica massacre". I don't think you have to be overly cynical to conclude that Clark was a lying, perjuring, genocidal, Nazi piece of filth and clearly Democrat Presidential timbre. A few weeks ago Paddy Ashdown was on Question Time where he said that Osama should have been taken alive and brought to trial as |Milosevic gad done because he sees such "trials" as a matter of principle.What he failed to mention (and neither did Dimbleby) was that this principled Nazi perjured himself in that "trial" to try and "convict" an innocent man - having claimed to see 2 villages being ethnically cleansed (they weren't) from a spot on the border they couldn't be seen from. Such is the judicial corruption of this NATO funded "court" where 2 of Milosevic's "judges" were British, as was the prosecutor that every single British judge who is not personally a wholly corrupt, lying, thieving Nazi animal has publicly denounced the process - that makes none of the.

   The complete lack of evidence against Milosevic  combined with his ability to prove, time and again, that it was the NATO powers & their (ex-)Nazi allies whom were guilty of war crimes made a credible guilty verdict impossible. Milosevic was then poisoned, continuously over a long period of time, with rifampicin, which appeared to be an undetectable poison. Despite the limited number of suspects, bearing in mind that he was in solitary confinement in NATO's jail in the Hague, being cared for by ICTY staff mainly taken from the CIA and Britain's SIS the Dutch police decided that murder was not something they wished to investigate. This also deprived Milosevic of the chance to re-examine Asgdown, also formerly of the SIS, on his perjury.

   The Radovan Karadzic "trial" has, if anything, gone even worse. 3 years later the prosecution case hasn't yet finished and not only has not one of them laid a glove on him but he has got a number of prosecution witnesses to acknowledge that it was the Moslem Nazis, not the Serbs, who started the war and who intended genocide and got others to so contradict themselves that there is no possible doubt they were lying.. Indeed in their eagerness to convict him one of the documents the Moslem Nazi government submitted and Karadzic noticed, was a, fairly specifically, a direct order to mass murder civilians. Fortunately for the prosecution the judge refused to allow it as evidence. In such circumstances a real court would immediately dismiss all charges - when ge gets on to his own witnesses they may wish they had, but murdering 2 men they can't convict might seem a little to difficult to ignore.

    Also the world is not the "uni-polar" hegemony it used to be and it is not as easy as it used to be for NATO to ignore Russia, China, India and even Brazil when bombing small countries. Add to that the fact that it is now known by everybody except those reliant on our media and accepted by the Council of Europe, that the obscene monsters we appointed as police in Kosovo were allowed/authorised to dissect at least 1,300 innocent civilians, while still alive, to provide organs for western hospitals and that these police, now nominally a puppet government, are still doing it with the total support of NATO. This is a crime even Hitler didn't descend to. Whatever one says about Gaddafi nobody remotely honest can claim he is 1,000th as evil as our genocidal "police" or the panoply of NATO leaders who held command authority over them.

   The "charges", such as they are, against both Karadzic and Mladic largely come down to (1) besieging Sarajevo and (20 the alleged "Srbreniska massacre".

   The former is inherent in there being a war. If Serbs are "guilty" of preventing the enemy marching through their lines then equally the Moslems and the Croats are equally guilty yet they face no similar charges. In fact the Moslems and Croats were infinitely more culpable because the Serb objective was simply to retain their right to live in the areas where they were a majority and ultimately for those areas to be allowed to remain part of the Yugoslav nation they had belonged to. The objective of the Moslem leader Alia Izetbegovic, was infinitely nastier. If the BBC is in any way whatsoever to be trusted then Izetbegovic was a "moderate Moslem committed to a democratic, multicultural state". In fact he was a ex-Nazi, in his youth an auxiliary of the SS Handzar Division, a unit so murderous that even other SS officers complained to Berlin that it was bringing dishonour on the reputation of the SS and it was ultimately transferred to Russia. Nor was he repentant of his Nazism - shortly before taking power he had published his Islamic declaration "there can be neither peace nor coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions" which leaves no other option but open genocide. Of course the BBC and all British journalists knew this but the government wanted them to lie so they lied. Another accusation over Sarajevo is of sniping at civilians and 3 market place mortarings. In fact the most enthusiastic snipers of Sarajevo's residents, not all of whom were Moslem, were our Moslem Nazi allies, in the knowledge that this would produce pictures, no questions asked, for the evening news - on one occasion the French peacekeepers stopped this by telling Izetbegovic that they would start counter fire against the snipers in his party HQ building if he didn't stop. It stopped, our media dutifully censored any mention and in due course it started again. There were also 3 alleged market place mortarings which the western powers (& their "court") blamed on the Serbs. In fact in the first 2 cases the fall of shot pattern showed they must have come from inside the Moslem Nazi lines. In the 3rd case nobody actually saw any bombing. The bodies were found in autopsy, to have been dead long before the alleged but unheard explosion. Shortly before there had been a short cease fire and exchange of bodies which the Nazis used to set up this fraud.

   Throughout our media knew that the Moslems were open Nazis who make bin Laden look moderate (he never claimed to wish to kill the majority of the population of his own country), but they have a cushy job which you don't keep if you aren't willing to tell absolutely any lie the government want. Incidentally, our then employee bin Laden provided most of the Mujaheddin fighters the "Bosnia & Hercegovinian nation" depended on - flown in by the US. This is confirmed by one of the very few honest British journalists testifying at the Milosevic "trial" that bin Laden had been ushered into the presidential office - at which point to outraged judge disallowed questioning.

  Regarding the "Srebrenica massacre" - there certainly was a massacre. At least 3,800 Serb villagers, mostly women, children and old people because the men were in the army. in surrounding villages were deliberately murdered, many beheaded- an act of deliberate genocide - by the forces of the Moslem Nazi commander. Much of these murders were done after Dutch NATO "peacekeepers", who as part of the peace deal claimed to have disarmed the Nazis, instead allowed them through NATO lines to carry out their genocidal raids. Despite the fact that General Morrillion, the ranking NATO officer in Bosnia, testified to this in the Milosevic "trial", Nasir Oric the Moslem Nazi leader was never charged for this, though he did spend a few months in jail for other atrocities before returning to run his "nightclub".A number of the Dutch ordinary soldiers have offered to testify for Karadzic when the "trial" gets round to his defence, which may be part of the reason the "trial" is going slowly.

Although numerous, widely varying figures have been given of Moslems allegedly killed after the subsequent capture of Srebrenica only 1900 bodies have been found, many of them near where the Serbs, whose bodies are officially unidentified, were murdered. Considering that of the garrison numbered at the time as 7,500 - 7,000 are now known to have reached Moslem lines (including Orac), many hundreds of allegedly dead have been spotted on current voters roles while anything up to 11,000 are officially killed the paucity of bodies is amazing. Indeed apart from these, far to few, bodies there is virtually no evidence for this alleged massacre except the word of the Moslem Nazi President Izetbegovic - who said it shortly after the US "    Clinton said that if there were 5000 casualties, he could intervene. So Izetbegovic produced the myth of the Srebrenica Massacre of 8000 and Clinton bombed Serbia."

  None of this is seriously questionable. The facts are all as stated and proven beyond reasonable doubt. It is just that all the NATO leaders, eager to placate our German allies, who have a visceral racial hatred of Serbs for playing a decisive role in stopping them in 2 world wars, were personally and deliberate participants in war crimes and genocide. Eb=very last one of them is an obscene, murdering Nazi war criminal who, if the law were enforced as it was at Nuremberg, would dangle at the end of a rope. In the same way almost every western journalist at the time knowingly participated in these obscenities. Every judge who did not object to the perversion of "courts" is also complicit. When you are guilty of murder, on a level of evil, though not pure numbers, to match anything Hitler did what do you do. The temptation is to blame the victim and say of Mladic's arrest “It serves as a warning to members of regimes around the world who are or may be considering committing crimes against humanity. They were reminded yesterday that they will not be able to hide from the long arm of justice. There is no expiry date on such terrible crimes and international justice will pursue them wherever they may be." and hope that it does not apply to them.

Other threads about these events are available on the Yugoslavia annual section on my index.

I will be sending a much shortened version of this (ubder 25%) as a letter inviting them to cut more if they wish. I don't think it would be realistic tom hope for any part of the British or American press to report more than 25% of the truth and even 1/8th is probably pretty optimistic. We shall see.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Economics 101A - Keynes got it wrong, Me and Adam Smith got it right

     Keynes said that the way out of recession was spending money, even in such apparently foolish ways as burying bottles full of £ notes and letting the free market employ people by digging them up. Actually a lot of the Roosevelt new deal was of this nature (eg paying farmers to produce milk and then throwing it away). This worked, but only in the short term. As soon as it was stopped the US economy went back into recession in 1937 when this pump priming was cut.
File:US Unemployment 1910-1960.gif
What is usually thought to have ended the Great Depression was World War II where governments around the world mutually engaged in stocking up productivity by spending on a scale that would make burying millions of bottles full of money look restrained by comparison. They also killed a lot of people but we will leave that aside. So if wartime spending was all that was happening then, as soon as the war was over, there should have been the grandaddy of all Depressions. After all by then not only was the pump-priming gone but there was an enormous national debt to drag the economy down.

 There wasn't. The returning soldiers got jobs and the factories built to manufacture tanks turned over to manufacturing cars and washing machines.

My suspicion is that what really caused the post war boom was not the government money spent in digging holes but the government money spent in pushing the technological envelope (bigger aircraft, jet aircraft, thousands of air[ports, mass production of vehicles, & ships, netter electronics, radar, even the beginning of computers). Unfortunately it seems to be only during wartime that government has an incentive to spend money on real promotion of progress rather than the more bureaucratic policy of digging holes, or nowadays the more bureaucratic & comfortable policy of spending money on environmental impact studies of building holes.

Keynes example was wrong, (though only in the long term) because he had picked the least useful government "investment" he could - deliberately so because he was trying to make a point, that deficit spending can have a real effect in smoothing out a recession.
"If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez faire to dig the notes up again . . . there need be no more unemployment. . . . It would indeed be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing." .........John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory, p. 129.
Friedman has since proven that the extreme cut-back in the money supply whenn the Depression stated did worsen it. So Keynes wasn't nearly as Keynsian as most of his followers think, nor Friedman quite as market orientated. He was correct that building houses would be netter but not totally so. Houses may trun out to be built in the wrong places or in a more old fashioned and thus expensive way than could be done. Though with our institutionally backward building industry who would notice? What is needed is for the money to be spent on pushing the technological envelope. Good research always pays off socially but, partly because its results are unforseable, it is difficult to get the investment. Keynes never thought of X-Prizes though Adam Smith did.

The lesson for today being -  if we want deficit spending, to create jobs in a recession and clearly every government does, the best way to do it is to reward entrepreneurs not by simple makework projects but by rewarding them for pushing the technological envelope.
If Obama's next $ trillion stimulus or our "quantative easing"were to be put into guaranteeing X-Prizes to produce real promotion of progress it would have all the advantages of WW2 without the bad stuff. (If Japan had done this in response to their banking crash in the 1990s they would be selling Mars by now. China take note)

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Comparing How the BBC Slant the Little they do Report

  Recently I wrote of how BBC party political censorship means they give 40 times more coverage to the Green Party than to UKIP. I did not then look at how that coverage was slanted so lets see by taking the top 6 links to BBC news on each:

1 Total, UKIP mention is 2 paragraphs, obviously edited near the end "UKIP MEP Nigel Farage said: "We want to make it clear that not a penny more of British taxpayers' money should be spent on Euro bail-outs...and we regard giving £40m a day to Brussels for our membership of this union is giving us bad value for money. "So from that little lot you get a fairly big shopping list of real, good, sensible cuts that could be made and we could perhaps keep a few more local libraries open." The TUC, who weren't there, got the last word.
2 A fair review of Welsh LDs being suspended in which the UKIP member, who was a major protagonist gets reasonable mention.

3 The existence of one UKIP councillor in North Norfolk is mentioned in passing, as it would have to be since all the other parties are. Then the existence of Green councillors elsewhere gets a sub-headline mention.
4 another local council election where the UKIP leader is allowed a few words.

5 Welsh Assembly elections "But there was no breakthrough for either the Green Party or UKIP, which had each hoped to secure an AM through the regional list vote." Note the ordering there though UKIP got more votes than the Greens.

6  Another council election story "UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the party, which currently has just 19 councillors, was putting more effort into the campaign this year than at previous polls." The Greens get the last line and get more supportive coverage (ie they don't mention their low numbers and even more importantly say what the Green policies are (against cutting spending).

1 Entire page is given over to the Green representative (with photo)saying outlining the programme he is standing on. BBC predicting, though unnamed "sources" that a Green candidate will win in NO. He didn't. About the EU Parliament regularly moving between Strasbourg and Brussels. Green quoted "Ending the shuttle could cut 20,268 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, the Green Party says.". No UKIP mention on this EU story which does tend to support the parties main raison d'etre. UKIP are the second British party in the EU Parliament, Greens are nowhere but still the Greens get the coverage. Listing of winners in NI. Green, properly, gets a mention. Perhaps the disproportionate coverage of NI is because the BBC there are more hard working - it would be churlish to suggest candidates don't get listed when there are UKIP or BNP winners. NI again. Results as they happen. Green candidate not elected.
 So lets compare
Where article is largely given over to them UKIP 0  Green 1 - bias towards the greens
Where over a few lines is given to them UKIP 1  Green 2 - bias towards the greens

Involving national politics rather than just a local/regional result UKIP 1 Greens 1 - equal
BBC prediction of success that doesn't happen UKIP 0 Green 1 - bias towards the greens

Where the party is allowed to say what its policy is UKIP 1 Green 2 - bias towards the greens

BBC broadly actually supportive UKIP 0 Green 3 (1,2,3) - bias towards the greens

So out of 6 instances the Greens get 5 1/2 and UKIP 1/2.

11 to 1. Not solid maths but a good indication (in fact I think it underplays the BBC bias in ways not so easily measurable like on air interviews).

If any allowance is put in for BBC support of the main Green policy - fighting alleged catastrophic warming having had 10s of thousands of hours of supportive propaganda - and opposition to UKIP's main policies (zero hours having been given to allow warming sceptics to put their case and it feels like zero to eurosceptics. Lets limit that to counting as the same level of bias again though I think the bias ratio is clearly far greater than that.

So effective coverage of the Greens is  biased in a ratio of 4840:1 [ 40 X 11 X 11]  in favour of the ecofascists and against UKIP.

Of course maybe somebody will wish to argue that democracy and freedom are not being perverted because even if the BBC were giving 4840 times more coverage to UKIP they wouldn't be likely to pick up any more votes, let alone the 9 times more they would need to form a majority government. Anybody think that??

 I will send this to them and see if any of them wish to dispute that this wholesale party political propaganda, rather than the "balance" the BBC claims, is how they really behave.

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Monday, May 23, 2011


   The Skye Bridge is regarded in Scotland as an example of what is wrong with the Public Finance Initiative (PFI) which involves government not running public projects but contracting with the private sector to pay for them and then leasing the properties back from them and being granted ownership after something like 20 years. In fact the Skye Bridge was not like that - the contractor was merely given the right to build the bridge and collect tolls from travellers. I also wish to argue that the debacle was entirely the fault of government.
In 1989 Conservative junior minister James Douglas-Hamilton announced a bidding round, requested tenders to construct a toll bridge..... The PFI plan was accepted, and received support from local MP Charles Kennedy and the local council in the full knowledge that it would be on a high-toll basis for a limited period. Although the bridge itself was built with PFI, the approach roads were the responsibility of the Scottish Office, which paid £15 million for the roads and associated improvements, and to cover the costs associated with decommissioning the ferry. ....  When the Bridge contract was first awarded, the partnership estimated it would cost around £15 million, although delays and design changes added significantly to the cost (to around £25 million
  After the bridge had been completed there began a long political campaign against these tolls, though this had never been an issue when the alternative was not having a bridge.
The bridge, and the toll protest, became a continuing political issue. Following the 1997 General Election, the Labour-run Scottish Office introduced a scheme whereby tolls for locals were subsidised (the scheme cost a total of £7 million). Following the creation of the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Labour Party joined in coalition with the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who had made the Skye Bridge toll abolition one of their priorities. With responsibility for Scotland's road network transferred from Westminster to the Scottish Executive, increased political pressure was placed on the toll's future. On 3 June 2004, Jim Wallace, the Enterprise Minister in the Scottish Executive announced that he hoped the bridge would be bought out, and tolls abolished, by the end of 2004. In line with this, on 21 December 2004, Scottish Transport Minister Nicol Stephen announced that the bridge had been purchased for approximately £27 million, and toll collection immediately ceased. During the preceding decade £33.3 million in tolls had been collected. Figures obtained by the BBC under freedom of information laws showed the consortium's operating costs on the bridge during this period had been only £3.5 million.

  Thereby proving how wicked the capitalist bridge builders had been in ripping off both travellers and the government. Getting, according to some calculators £15m from the government initially + £33.3m in tolls + £27 m selling it back to them for building costs originally promised as £15m + £3.5m operating cost - a difference of £56.8m.

    The alternative way of looking at it is that the government's £15m contribution was nothing to do with the contractor. It didn't go to the contractor but to government building of roads and a government bail out of a government owned ferry (Caledonian MacBrayne's) for not keeping their monopoly position. That the increase in the contractor's building costs from £15m to £25m for "

   An alternative is looking at what the free enterprise or pure governmental costs could have been. Assuming the "  delays and design changes" were entirely the fault of government, an assumptio0n that those living in Scotland will not find improbable, it could indeed have been done for £15 million. On the other hand had government done it a decent rule of thumb would be that cost would have diminished with the square of distance covered by the longest span so comparing it to the new Forth Crossing (250 m compared to 1006 m) we should have expected it to cost {£2,300m X (250/1006)^2] about £142 million. So even with all the political stramash, involving a total reversal of their policy, for reasons unconnected to economic reality, the bridge cost roughly half what it would if the whole project had been run by government, or at least Scottish government.. That is, of course, assuming they hadn't simply blown the money and left us with nothing.

   This is not to say it couldn't have been done far better simply by giving the contractors £25 million to build the bridge and road approaches, with"enterprise zone" rights to ignore government's ability to impose "delay and design changes" (see #45 here). That is what a competent non-parasitic government would have done

   Or they could have spent £20 million hiring Norwegian companies to cut a tunnel. I will admit that with this bridge being relatively short that would not have been so obviously and overwhelmingly a better course.

  And regarding more competent government. John Swinney said we should build a new Forth Bridge because the option of a tunnel could cost £6.6bn. (#78 here) whereas as this unpublished letter of mine, sent to most Scottish papers, says 
I think congratulations are due to the builders of the Hindhead tunnel in Surrey which, on 15th May, had its first walk through by members of the public. At 1.1 km this dual carriageway under the "Devil's Punchbowl" site of special scientific interest it is only about half the length that a Forth tunnel would be. It is also much more expensive than Norwegian tunnels are since they cost about £5 million per km. On the other hand this completed British tunnel costing £371 million seems to be considerably better managed than our government manage considering that Holyrood was told that a forth tunnel could not possibly be built for under £6.6 billion.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011


Professor Laffer (of curve fame) on how to end unemployment

Americ'a ruling class, political correctness and why we don't need them

Dan Hannan on why the American Revolution was a conservative attempt to retain liberties and why the Tea Party is the same

UK excess winter deaths, which could be massively reduced by cheap nuclear power

Accumulated economic growth 1990 - 2006

 Regardless of the indicator, the larger the city, the more innovative the “social capital” it produces. For example, if the size of a city doubles, then, on average, wages, wealth, the number of patents, and the number of educational and research institutions all increase by approximately the same degree, about 15 percent

Is schizophrenia a delayed effect of post birth illness? "Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25, but the person who becomes schizophrenic is sometimes recalled to have been different as a child or a toddler—more forgetful or shy or clumsy. Studies of family videos confirm this. Even more puzzling is the so-called birth-month effect: People born in winter or early spring are more likely than others to become schizophrenic later in life. It is a small increase, just 5 to 8 percent", “The birth-month effect is one of the most clearly established facts about schizophrenia,”

California heading for bankruptcy

Study done to prove we need positive discrimination to get more women on boards finds "that when a board had a 10% increase in the number of women, the value of the company dropped. The bigger the change to the structure of the board, the bigger the fall in returns."

Why Obama's Luddite policies are responsibly for high energy prices - by Sarah Palin

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