Category Archives: ENVIRONMENT

MENTAL HEALTH AND THE SPACE AROUND US

For those of us who suffer from depression, we do not need to be told that our environment affects our wellbeing. Yet time and again we are reminded that policy makers don’t share the knowledge that the rest of us have.

We have a housing crisis in this country that affects the wellbeing of millions of people.  From the shortage of housing that has been an abdication of the responsibility of governments over the past 30 years, to the way houses are built and the lack of social housing in general.

It is well know that housing in the UK has the smallest footprint of any domestic dwelling when comparing them with our comparable European neighbours.  Some would say “size does not matter”, but when combined with the poor building practices of the construction industry in the UK and poor design, the chances of people getting from their housing not only what they want but what they need is slim.

Our environment and surroundings are key to people’s wellbeing.  Studies have shown that poor housing or homelessness can contribute to mental illness or make coping with periods of mental illness more difficult. This is further compounded by the fact that poor housing and homelessness tend to go hand in hand with other forms of social exclusion like poverty.

Architects and commercial companies, at the pinnacle of the hierarchy within our construction and design industry, have sometimes been the worst to blame for this abdication of responsibility for a good environment within our homes. Housing has become a way of getting as many featureless boxes on a patch of ground as possible, to earn as much money as possible, rather than concentrating on the quality of the homes they produce.

Using solar gains in an intelligent way when buildings are built is key, not only to allow a substantial amount of light into a property, which obviously helps mental wellbeing, but also allows heat gains and can reduce heating bills.

Our housing is too small; too dark; badly insulated; expensive to heat and often poorly designed.  We are years behind our European counterparts in Germany or Denmark for example, and while the government pontificates, our housing crises continues unabated.

The scandal of the past 30 years is coming home to roost.  Mental Health problems are on the rise for many reasons, and the improvement of housing conditions and the availability of good quality housing to ALL would be just one small CHANGE that would help mental wellbeing.

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David Cameron Ditches His “Green” Credentials

It’s funny how the veneer of politician’s promises and posturings suck so many into the path of follies heaven.  David Cameron, like Tony Blair before him, is a master of saying it well, but meaning very little.

Zac Goldsmith must be wondering what on earth he is doing after the latest party conference season.

The announcement from the Conservative Party of ensuring that the UK will go no faster than anyone else in Europe to reduce carbon emissions, just about ends their bid for the “green” vote in the UK.

With a road building expansion on the horizon, increasing the speed limit on motorways (exactly the opposite to green policies to reduce the speed limit) and the loosening of planning controls making “sustainable development” or “economic benefit” the main objective of any consideration of planning applications, those defending the environment in various respects must be in a tail spin.

Add all this new bluster to the debacle that was the big “Forest sell off” that never was and some may be wondering which party really is speaking up for either rural Britain or the environment.

It has been a highly amusing rise to mediocrity for the environmental evangelist Cameron.  He who stated soon after becoming leader that all houses should put wind turbines on the side of their houses  . . . . . before someone pointed out, a little late, that they don’t work on the roofs of houses!

Then showing how much of a new man he was by cycling to work, while the gas guzzling car carried his parliamentary papers behind him.

Those who fell for this nonsense must be pretty sick right now, but then again they only have themselves to blame.  Cameron was always a charlatan when it came to green policies with a naked act of trying to show how touchy feely the Conservatives are –  re branding with a tree, and a few well spoken titbits to titillate the some time middle class environmentalists was all that was needed.

Priorities dear boy is what we are told makes this government different.  They pick the right priorities for the UK’s future.  With that in mind, it is highly efficient and environmentally friendly, not to mention a very good use of resources to bribe councils with £250 million to   .    .     .     .   yeah wait for it – an extra bin collection.  Great.

My advice for Zac is give it up mate, you made a pact with the devil and now you have to look at yourself in the mirror and simply admit – you got it wrong.

CLIMATE CHANGE, DENIALISTS Vs WARMISTS : Has the documentary died a death?

This week we saw another BBC documentary about climate change ,”Meet the sceptics”; that purported to go on a journey with the sceptics with an open mind and come to a reasonable and unbiased conclusion.

Guess what, it failed.  Even before the documentary was shown it was being criticised by the sceptic community and those who feel the BBC itself are biased anyway. (see Delingpole – http://bit.ly/hpFJ6s, Ben Pile – http://www.climate-resistance.org/2011/02/mythologising-monckton.html, Biased BBC –http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/)

Last week we had the airing of another documentary, “Horizon: Science Under Attack”, by Sir Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society.  This again met derision from the sceptic community.

A few years ago we had “The great Global Warming Swindle”, aired on Channel 4, again meeting derision from those that are convinced that climate change exists and that humans are contributing to it’s cause.

The Critique
The most common accusation is that the documentary makers are not up front about the documentary they are making, whether it will be balanced or whether it is a polemic.  Another complaint is that much footage is taken, generally many hours worth, and the documentary makers pick and chose the comments to fit into the slant of the programme they are making.  Cherry picking comments and footage to fit a pre-conceived agenda and quoting people out of context.

Indeed many complaints and judicial goings on have been in action by the competing sides.  Lord Monckton tried to get an injunction to stop the airing of “meet the sceptics”, to have a 3 minute or 500 word statement from him put into the programme.  It was denied. (Press, Association, http://bit.ly/ii3lQf)

The British broadcasting regulator Ofcom received 265 complaints about the “great global warming swindle”, one of which was a 176-page detailed complaint co-authored by a group of scientists.

Ofcom ruled  that the programme had unfairly treated Sir David King the IPCCand Professor Varl Wunsch.  Ofcom also found that part 5 of the programme (the ‘political’ part) had breached several parts of the Broadcasting Code regarding impartiality. ( See BBC report – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7517444.stm)

Previous documentaries have received similar criticism, “Earth : The Climate Wars”, also was accused by various people from the sceptic’s camp including Lord Monckton and others. One complaint was partly upheld with regards to  Dr William Nierenberg represented in the programme.

Whether its the met office, IPCC, Fred Singer, Al Gore or Lord Monckton, it makes little difference.  The criticisms come thick and fast, minds are made up and any documentary that tries to air the differences and come to a conclusion is accused of bias, unfairness and cherry picking.

Are the criticisms fair?
The nature of any documentary is to collect a lot of footage and information and then edit it into a coherent piece showing what they have found.   The argument by some that “oh they took 3 hours of footage and only showed 2 minutes”, is a ridiculous one in that it is obvious that they are not going to make the entire documentary based on your interview.

There also those who just see Channel 4 or the BBC as being Biased.  This is also a ridiculous critique.  These are not monolithic, borg like (sorry about the star trek reference!) organisations with a conspiracy against the world.  A little common sense would be appreciated.

It never amazes me to hear the blogging keyboards’ deafening cries of BBC bias. Every government, left or right of the political spectrum claims BBC bias when it suits them, as do each side of the climate change and religious divide.   If they all think the BBC is biased I would say that shows them doing a good job rather than a bad.

Much of the debate goes on in the sphere of the internet.  The internet is a fantastic tool in life and like any area of life it can be perverted and corrupted.

With climate change it is hard to get sanity into the arguments, it is mostly frequented with polemic sites and bloggers who misrepresent facts to suit their arguments.  Columnists do the same.  The few that reference the information aupon which they base their point of view are the only ones really worth taking notice of, but it doesn’t seem that many care to check where the arguments come from.

Then there are the insults and extreme language used.  I have no problem with extreme language in its context, it makes a point, but to use it as a matter of course just becomes a sad reflection on how low some commentators have to stoop.

Whether its Lord Monckton calling peaceful protesters “Nazis” on the recent “meet the sceptics” documentary;  James Delingpole inferring that Caroline Lucas has a fascist agenda or Melanie Philips accusing Mohammad Sawalha of anti semitic language. ( http://www.5rb.com/newsitem/Melanie-Phillips-apologises-for-libel)

Indeed if you have the misfortune to participate in the comments pages of many of these sites you will soon come up against the blogging tirade. I’ve been called a Bloshevik, “warmist”, and fascist this week alone!  That particular comment did amuse me.

The Science
As the bloggers, documentary makers and judiciary get hot under the collar, the science moves on like before, quietly doing it’s job trying to assess what is happening with our climate.

Sadly, whether the consensus is right or wrong, the battles will go on in the political sphere, and it seems the sceptics have the upper hand at present.  The armageddon tactics of those believing in global warming have alienated many people.  The world economy is now in crisis and will be for years to come, so any appetite for quick action on the climate change threat has fallen down the agenda.

The two sides of the fence are unwilling to countenance the others’ arguments and bury their heads in the sand. All the documentaries do is show the divisions rather than confirm or deny the science. Perhaps we should face the prospect that to have a one hour documentary on such a complicated issue is now pointless.

When it comes to climate science, have we seen the death of the Documentary? . . . . . . . . . Perhaps it is the same as the question, “is the warming of the earth as a result of human activity?   .    .     .     . Probably.


JAMES DELINGPOLE, CLIMATE CHANGE SKEPTIC: Is he for real?

I hate the word denial.  Those self righteous environmentalists who insist on using provocative language to stigmatise individuals who have a different point of view.  Ideological rhetoric is the route of all ignorance.

Last night I witnessed why so many in the blogosphere who refuse to accept scientific evidence on a number of subjects, clearly deserve little respect.

A few months ago I witnessed James Delingpole on Newsnight  stating the whole problem with climate change science is that the peer review process; the way science has progressed over the last century is flawed and cannot be trusted.  That it is not real science, it is flawed and was about politics and not science and that the whole of science had been discredited by the so called “climate gate”.

George Monbiot, uncharacteristically remained calm and tried to have a coherent argument with someone who found difficulty even entertaining the idea of having respect for science. He intimated that James Delingpole did not even read the peer reviewed source material which James did not deny.

It was a crazy conversation but one that stayed with me until this evening.  On Horizon: Science Under Attack, I saw the same individual, Mr Delingpole,  stuck for words as he explained that he did not read the original source material;  he did not read peer reviewed scientific studies because he did “not have the TIME”.  That he relied on other people in the blogosphere who read this material and analysed it for him and gave a point of view!!

This is a man who writes for the Times, Telegraph, and Spectator. Who has written several books :  How to be Right: The Essential Guide to Making Lefty Liberals History,[1][2] and Welcome to Obamaland: I Have Seen Your Future and It Doesn’t Work. Obviously from a specific very narrow political perspective.

I understand that he is stating he was quoted out of context.  That Paul Nurse took 3 hours of footage and took the section that best fitted with his argument. The problem with this is that  the footage that I saw on Newsnight was LIVE!  And corresponded with the ignorance shown on the Horizon programme.

Lets be clear, I am not someone who wants people to live in a cave, tree hug for a living, or wishes to call anyone a DENIER.  But I do expect people to accept the science and to at least read it in order to come to a conclusion!

James Delingpole, my advice is to read more original source and think for yourself.

http://jamesdelingpole.com/

http://www.monbiot.com/


Do the Police have a split personality?

The Police are one of the most important institutions in our democracy. They uphold the democratically made laws which make up our complicated constitution under very difficult circumstances trying to adhere to human rights issues and public concerns. They have to deal with financial constraints and political interference. Yet most people support the police up and down the country when it comes to protecting communities and individuals.

This good will people have is suddenly thrown away however when it comes to the Police handling of demonstrations. Over the past few years, time and again the Police make themselves look, well, thuggish and dishonest.

At climate camp, attended by families, children and lots of well meaning people the Police employed disgusting tactics to police the event. Using unlawful means of stop and search and misusing anti-terrorism legislation. Using loud noise to disrupt the camps lawful activities and brutal behaviour to police crowd control.

The Police even engaged in disgraceful politicking by preparing press conferences attributing finding chains and knives in the surrounding area and without any evidence whatsoever attributing them to the climate camp. They didn’t mention the childrens toys confiscated at the gate of the climate camp so obviously a threat to security!

At the G20 demonstrations we had again the use of brutal behaviour used against people doing nothing more than sitting down and singing! Hitting people in the face and trampling over people. The assault of a man leading to his death and what appears to have been a cover up with an inept (or corrupt?) autopsy hastily convened.

Kettling the favoured tactic by Police to constrain crowd behaviour does exactly what it says on the tin. It creates the conditions where pressure is exerted which leads to the frustration and the release of that pressure sometimes leading to violence.

The government does it’s best to politicise the Police which dates back to the miners strike of the 1980’s and beyond. Amazingly members of the Police manage to have removed their identification numbers when policing these demonstrations which we are supposed to believe is not deliberate.

For democracy to work effectively, we have to facilitate demonstrations and Police tactics need to evolve to deal much better than they have done in recent years. The scenes we have seen over the past few years puts ordinary people off from demonstrating and this is a crying shame for our society.

It now transpires that there WERE UNDERCOVER POLICE at the G20 demonstrations when previously this was denied. Members of the press and of the crowd demonstrating were adamant that there were and the Police flatly denied this. Now they have been proved to have lied over this. This again undermines the public’s confidence. (Londonnet)

I am not some lefty tree hugger who goes to each and every demonstration for a day out (not that I have a problem with lefty tree huggers!). But I believe it is every persons right to demonstrate peacefully and for the reputation of the Police to be upheld and to be seen in a good light by the general population and for democracy to function properly.

This split personality of the Police needs addressing. The next 2 years I fear will be the most socially turbulent we have seen since the early 1980’s. Demonstrations will become commonplace and anger will be running high. Effective and trustworthy policing allowing our democratic rights to be facilitated is essential.

Londonnet, (2009), Police now admit undercover cops were at G20 protest, [online], Loondonnet website, available at http://www.londonnet.co.uk/news/2011/jan/police-now-admit-undercover-cops-were-fatal-g20-demo.html