When global warming deniers swarmed this site, the ‘hockey stick graph’ was their major obsession.
The end of the hockey stick illustrates the sharp rise in global warming in our times. The "hockey stick" graph was the result of the first comprehensive attempt to reconstruct the average northern hemisphere temperature over the past 1000 years, based on numerous indicators of past temperatures, such as tree rings. It shows temperatures holding fairly steady until the last part of the 20th century and then suddenly shooting up
There had been some criticism of the methodology employed in the graph. Gleefully the GW-deniers cult devotees seized on this to claim that GW was a hoax.
Of course this is unscientific and irrational. The fears on GW rest on the conclusion of thousands of studies. New Scientist returns to the hockey stick issue this week. The magazine has a great reputation for their objectivity. Their conclusion is the hockey stick graph is valid. Independent evidence, from ice cores and sea sediments for instance, suggest the last time the planet approached this degree of warmth was during the interglacial period preceding the last ice age over 100,000 years ago. It might even be hotter now than it has been for at least a million years.
Further back in the past, though, it certainly has been hotter - and the world has been a very different place. The crucial point is that our modern civilization has been built on the basis of the prevailing climate and sea levels. As these change, it will cause major problems. This is so much more important than the irrational views of right wing conspiracy theorists who swarmed in here to mouth their ignorance.
In fact, later studies support the key conclusion: the world is warmer now than it has been for at least 1000 years. But of course Sarah Palin knows better.
Former American police officer from New Jersey, Jack Cole startled me awake this morning on the BBC Today programme. He worked as an undercover narcotics officer for twelve years, investigating everyone from street drug users to international "billion-dollar" drug trafficking organisations.
But having retired, his disillusionment with the US drugs policy saw him set up LEAP, which now boasts 10,000 members including police, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens, and FBI agents. All believe in legalization,
After fighting this corner for 20 years, I have come close to giving up. Now legalization/decriminalization is becoming a mainstream issue. The realization that the drugs laws do not work is spreading.
I recall vividly in 2002 that David Cameron argued that the British government should initiate discussion with the UN about possible legalization of drugs..
As a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee he accepted that "many sensible and thoughtful people" have proposed legalising all or most presently illegal drugs." The Committee very generously praised the pioneering work that Peter Lilley and I had done in promoting the case for legalization against the odds. Our allies on the committee with Chris Mullin and David Cameron.
The committee could not bring themselves to take the a bold step of advocating legalisation, but they came close to it. Tony Blair’s strategy unit did recognized that the drugs laws are killing people. That report was held under wraps until a FOI report exposed its good sense. But Blair was too timid to act.
It’s time for a new Commons probe.
Beware salesmen selling equity release schemes was the message I wished to preach tonight.
I had a great evening tonight at Caerleon pensioners' weekly meeting. Royce Gardener was presented with a handsome certificate to mark his brilliant record of volunteering. He has achieved something we would all love to emulate. He was a policeman for 31 years. He has now been living off his police pension for 32 years.
About five years ago, I complained to the Chief Constable because of his tottering budget. Gwent police had the expense of the worst sickness record in Britain. But retired local police lived longer than anywhere else in Britain creating another financial burden. A unfathomable conundrum. Things are far better now and sickness levels are normal.
This month’s copy of the Mature Times had a back page advert encouraging equity release schemes. In the late 80s, I campaigned against the anxiety and ruin that they inflicted on the elderly. Plausible slick salespeople buttered up the elderly and reaped their fat commissions. When disaster strikes, they were long gone.
It is a tempting offer to ‘release the capital in your house’ to spend your kids’ inheritance. The catch is the home owners no longer have a stake in the place so, even if the value has increased in the intervening years, when it comes to the sale, they see none of it.
Or perhaps a person could borrow a sum to augment their pension, or gift to the children, secured against the total value of the home. But the interest accrues at an alarming rate, doubling every decade. Someone may borrow £50,000 against a £200,000 home. If they live for another 22 years, as the average British male does, the interest will have quadrupled.
The Guardian today reports “that older people are turning to equity release in droves. A few weeks ago, Norwich Union revealed it has more than doubled the number of quotations it gives for such products since the beginning of the year, while Prudential noted it had seen a similar rise in the first half of this year compared with 2007.
This process earned a deservedly poor reputation following the mis-selling scandals of the late 1980s, which lured many retirees into negative equity and bankruptcy.”
There is better protection now with FSA. But these schemes are still a poor dangerous choice for most pensioners.