Number of the Month

November  2006

Who really wrote Stern?

Correspondence received from inveterate number watcher, Dennis Ambler:

As I suspected, Tyndall had a major input into the Stern Report, even having a "researcher" seconded to the Stern team for a year. This was the Tyndall submission and below are their inputs, including direct editing of the final report by Tyndall staff.  Tyndall submission
Tyndall researchers have made major contributions to the Stern Review.
Dr Simon Dietz completed a year-long  secondment to the Review team in partnership with
Tyndall, made possible by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Funding Council (ESRC).
Tyndall submitted 27 pages of evidence from across a range of its researchers and collaborating Universities. A number were then invited to give direct oral evidence

The Review commissioned four specific analyses:
Warren R., Hope C, Mastrandrea M, Tol R S J, Adger W. N., Lorenzoni I., (2006) Spotlighting the impacts functions in integrated assessments.
Research Report Prepared for the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. Tyndall Working Paper 91

Warren R., Arnell N. W., Nicholls R., Levy P E,
Price J, (2006) Understanding the regional impacts of climate change: Research Report
Prepared for the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. Tyndall Working Paper 90

Anthoff, D., Nicholls, R.J., Tol, R.S.J. and Vafeidis, A.T. (2006) Global and
regional exposure to large rises in sea-level: a sensitivity analysis. Research
Report Prepared for the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. Tyndall
Working Paper 96

6) Terry Barker, leader of Tyndall’s CIAS programme of research (Community
Integrated Assessment System) and Director of 4CMR, set up a project to conduct a
meta-analysis of the literature on the costs of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) mitigation with
induced technological change, funded by HM Treasury. This generated a report for
the Stern Review: 'A meta-analysis of literature estimates of the costs of GHG
mitigation with induced technological change’.

A Tyndall Briefing Note from April 2005 is available on Terry Barker’s area of Tyndall
Centre research, called ‘New Lessons for Technology Policy and Climate
Change. Investment for Innovation; a briefing document for policymakers’:

Tyndall Briefing Note 13
Terry Barker, Rachel Warren, Robert Nicholls and Nigel Arnell were asked for their
comments on various parts of the draft Stern report.
4CMR’s Director, Terry Barker, set up a project to conduct a meta-analysis of the literature on the costs of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) mitigation with induced technological change, funded by HM Treasury, employing Mahvash Qureshi for three months' full-time- equivalent research assistance, with help from 4CMR staff. Katie Jenkins assisted and Terry and Jonathan Kohler supervised. This generated a report for the Review:

'A meta-analysis of literature estimates of the costs of GHG mitigation with induced technological change'.

Finally Terry Barker read and edited the Modelling Costs Chapter of the Stern Review
They have of course opened yet another Climate "Research Centre", another example of  creating consensus by setting up new bodies but with the same people involved. This closed network is huge and growing.
Government Scientist opens Climate Change Centre January 2006
Sir David King, Chief Scientific Advisor to HM Government, was in Cambridge on Friday for the official opening if the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research in the University’s Department of Land Economy, or ‘4CMR’ as it will be known.
"Climate change is occurring and the causal link to increased greenhouse gas emissions largely caused by the use of fossil fuels is now well established. Carbon dioxide levels are now about 40% higher than at any time in the past 740,000 years at least. The inertia of the global weather system means further warming will occur over the next few decades regardless of action on emissions reduction. As a result, millions of people around the world will increasingly be exposed to hunger, drought, flooding and other serious impacts."
Sounds familiar.......
You may also find this enlightening, worth reading right through.


Your author has been bending in another place.


More photographic phenology

The Daily Telegraph print edition of today has a page width photograph of  Stourhead. The caption reads:

The gardens at Stourhead, Wiltshire, are a stunning example of the effect of this year's climatic conditions. A warm, dry start to the summer created more starch in the leaves, which has meant better colours and the wet August.

When they say climatic they mean weather.Your bending author happened to be at Stourhead (our local park) a year ago (October 27th) with a digital camera. Here are a few snaps. Click for full size. Anyway, why should that fellow in the castle have the monopoly of Wiltshire pictures?

Stourhead1.jpg (611484 bytes)

Stourhead2.jpg (766042 bytes)

Stourhead3.jpg (852407 bytes)

Stourhead4.jpg (761667 bytes)



Just at our darkest hour, when the new godless religion seemed to be sweeping all before it, a major newspaper has produced a two-page broadsheet article telling the truth about the global warming hoax. It is, of course the Daily Telegraph and the article is:

Climate chaos? Don't believe it

By Christopher Monckton


Not only does he debunk the claims of the congenitally fraudulent UN IPCC (many of us have done that) he details how the conspiracy was penetrated.  

Next, the UN abolished the medieval warm period (the global warming at the end of the First Millennium AD). In 1995, David Deming, a geoscientist at the University of Oklahoma , had written an article reconstructing 150 years of North American temperatures from borehole data. He later wrote: "With the publication of the article in Science, I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. One of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said: 'We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.' "

 Furthermore, he appends a pdf document with his references and calculations, making the whole exercise a triumph of reason over prejudice. No doubt Viscount Monckton is in line for the usual character assassination that follows telling the truth about the scaremongers.


And there’s more

This from Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday. It did not seem to have made their web site, so here is a scan of it.



 Noises off

        I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs
       By the known rules of ancient liberty,
       When straight a barbarous noise environs me
       Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes and dogs:
Milton, Sonnet XII

Your bending author (who is not a member of any political party) gave a talk on the tenth of the month to a UKIP meeting in Dorchester on the subject of Science at bay. It turned out to be unexpectedly stimulating. Now that the Conservative Party has closed its collective mind following the Green coup, UKIP is the only party still in listening mode. The audience were appreciative and unfazed by politically incorrect truths.

It was also a pleasure to meet the new party leader, Nigel Farage, a rarity among politicians, who tells it how it is and not how he imagines you want to hear it. A Green Curtain has descended across British politics, behind which real debate is no longer encouraged.

One of the brave souls who defy the commissars of political correctness is Christopher Monckton, whose diatribe part two is published in the Sunday Telegraph. Nothing much to argue with in that, though this paragraph struck an odd note:

In that context, the few femtowatts you will save by not leaving your television on standby don't matter. It is not that energy efficiency, renewables and recycling will not make enough difference. They will hardly make any.

It’s true that they don’t matter, but to one who has worked on microwatt sensor systems powered by light it seems remarkable that anyone should bother to try to reduce the power so far, and it is energy rather than power that is the crux of the argument. As your bending author remarked in another place, the telling phrase ‘lost in the noise’ has simply got lost in the noise. Even a watt is hardly going to keep your big toe warm, let alone bring a catastrophic end to civilisation.

Funny old world.

PS things are still a bit chaotic at Numeric Towers, following the illness of people and computers, and the backlog of e-mails requiring reply is growing rather than shrinking.  Especial apologies are due to those who have generously given real support. With any luck we will catch up soon.

Only half the story

 Michael Henderson rightly laments the lost culture in Woe to a nation that idolises Beckham and ignores Auden, but characteristically of journalists he omits the other of C P Snow’s Two Cultures, namely science.

This week we had one quotation from The Great Leader that sums up the total vacuity of his approach to life, the universe and everything, “We need celebrity scientists to inspire young people.”  In his crazed world nothing has any validity unless it is endorsed by a “celeb”. For him the pinnacle of human culture is to be found in the pelvic thrust of a rock star. Half a century ago young people would be inspired by the very idea of science. They would enter a long apprenticeship, knowing they would have to strive and suffer to master the tools of their trade, such as differential and integral calculus. Then, at last, they could appreciate the real beauty of their subject. Modern kids understand this – you do not become a master of the skate board without a history of cuts and bruises – but the establishment educationalists feel the need to wrap everything up in a cloak of fun.  When everything is fun nothing is fun.

For the likes of Blair, life is just one of those so-called reality TV shows. Celebs are created overnight just by virtue of gratuitous publicity, not by arduous preparation. The country elects a leader who is someone who has never run anything. He has not yet made those great mistakes in life from which everyone learns, so he makes them while he is doing the most important job of all.

There is another thing that occurs. Your bending author has quoted the likes of Auden and Yeats in these pages and the related books. How often do people like Michael Henderson quote the likes of Boltzmann or Bernoulli?  Furthermore YBA is thoroughly familiar with the considerable contribution that David Beckham has made to the beautiful game, though totally disdainful of the media razzmatazz with which he has surrounded himself. Auden, Boltzmann and Beckham have all greatly contributed to the culture by total dedication to their craft. The difference is that Beckham and Blair have made themselves multimillionaires, not by achievement but by hype.



One of the slides put up at that Dorchester talk read “Salt – the weirdest scare of all.” There is a substantial scientific literature establishing that the only dangerous salt diet is a low one, while the evidence offered by the scaremongers is ludicrously inadequate. Yet they persist and have successfully wooed our political masters, so now the bans are beginning. One again the Telegraph is alone in publishing a more truthful account.

The weirdness of this campaign comes with the question cui bono? OK, a professor and his mates get their names in the newspapers and get to walk with ministers, but is it worth all that trouble? There is not even any political correctness prestige, as there was the case with the tobacco zealots, whom they seem so anxious to emulate, even down to the growing numbers of imaginary corpses.

Your bending author gets a mention in the Telegraph piece, but the affiliation ascribed is likely to offend statisticians at Southampton .

 On the sixth day God created suckers

In January 2003 we mentioned yet another free energy scam called Genesis World Energy. Readers of our Forum will know that this story has at last reached its dénouement, with the imprisonment of the perpetrator. Intrepid number watcher John Lichtenstein has been following the case. We used to remark on the ready supply of suckers, but now that most of the world appears to have fallen for the global warming scare any such comment would seem to be inadequate.

John moves in distinguished circles. His co-contributor appears to be the great-great-grandmother of the usurper of the English throne.  


Tell me the old, old story

You have to admire the chutzpah. It is the hoariest old cliché in the annals of junk science, yet the professors of panic have disinterred it, scarcely bothered to give it a polish, and presented it to the hoards of lazy media types, who immediately give it front page treatment.  Naturally, the BBC give it full coverage on all channels, but it is a disappointment that the Telegraph, so near of late to becoming an organ of truth, should put it on the front page.

Yes, they are still grovelling around in the world’s largest data dredge, the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study. They are still producing low levels of significance, still aiming at the same old targets, yet going into finer and finer detail. They now claim to distinguish between the effects of hamburgers and salami. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.


A fable for our times 

At Samizdata.

The nature of computing

Your bending author, on recently experiencing the trials and tribulations of a major crash on the desk-top PC, has been reminiscing on computing long ago. That first experience of computing was on a Ferranti Pegasus. The eighth of these to be made was delivered to Northampton Polytechnic (later City University ) in 1957; so at the start of a research assistantship there in 1959 one had the rather rare privilege of access to state of the art computing. Even graduate electronic engineers were not entrusted with sole access to the machine and had to have a mathematics lecturer sitting in.

The program was written as a series of numbers (unless you used the autocode, which was easy, but made poor usage of the limited memory). It was punched out on five-hole paper tape. First you had to load the secondary boot strap, also on five-hole tape, by operating the primary bootstrap, a rotating multi-way switch, which took the machine through the basic instructions to read the bootstrap tape.  It all seemed rather miraculous at the time, though the power was considerable less than a modern pocket calculator and the speed was about a millionth of that of a modern PC.

The great merit, compared with modern times, was that you had total control of the machine, with no operating system getting in the way. If anything went wrong it was your fault.

When Pegasus retired a few years later, our research group were allowed to turn it into a laboratory on line computer. We were able to make some of the earliest demonstrations of real-time digital filtering, measurement by correlation with pseudo-random stimuli and other unheard of techniques. In its old age it became a bit unreliable, because the silver plated contacts did not like the corrosive atmosphere of London at the time, and your bending author became a familiar sight haring up three flights of the famous helical staircase hoping to get to the laboratory before it stopped. When that happened you had to go down again and jiggle all the circuit boards.

Things are different now. After the recent crash, it was necessary to call in an expert (not in digital electronics but in Gatesian psychology) to put the system together again. When things go wrong nowadays, as often as not, it is due to some quirk in the operating system.

In those olden times you had to understand all the minutiae of any process you were implementing, including computer models. Now you can save a lot of time by trial and error and you can implement glib algorithms that might or might not do what you think they do.

We have gained so much with the power of modern computers. This piece was typed into a machine that has far more computing power than the whole world had in 1960. But we have also lost something – the imposed rigour that forced you to do it right.


The petition

Your bending author has signed here.

The story so far

The Number Watch comment on the award of the Olympic Games to London was headed Potential for disaster. Here is a progress report.

Our rush out and buy section

A new way of buying water here.

While German number watcher Thomas Pauli, draws attention to this device for fending off those dreaded sub-atomic particles. At 2.8 kW is should keep a room warm as a bonus.

Our masters’ voice

Tim Worstall, echoed by the Englishman, does not think a lot of this contribution from on high.

Too right Tims!

Let us look at a few of the claims.

We have a citizenry which can be caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government," Mr Taylor told the audience. 

Like "teenagers", people were demanding, but "conflicted" about what they actually wanted, he argued.

They wanted "sustainability", for example, but not higher fuel prices, affordable homes for their children but not new housing developments in their town or village.

This is the logical fallacy of the false dilemma. They want sustainability because it had been advertised to them unceasingly. They want affordable homes for their children without an explosion of new housing developments. They cannot have both because the Government has completely failed to moderate an unsustainable rate of unproductive immigration and has refused to consult the electorate about it.

"What is the big breakthrough, in terms of politics, on the web in the last few years? It's basically blogs which are, generally speaking, hostile and, generally speaking, basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are.

Venal is awarding yourselves huge rises in salaries, expenses and (above all) pensions at the public cost, while standing by as the Chancellor steals everyone else’s.

Stupid is writing this sort of stuff and expecting to get away with it. They could before blogging. Stupid is caricaturing the electorate as recalcitrant teenagers, who are not capable of self-government, because they refuse to be bamboozled by this sort of hogwash.

Mendacious is fabricating reports on WMD from nothing and, for that matter, almost everything else our Great Leader tells us. Mendacious is putting up a defence for policies as though they were your own, when they have been imposed by the unelected EU Commission, because you have surrendered the powers of our elected Parliament.

Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that "leaders are out there to shaft you".

Can’t argue with that. They are and they have done, incessantly. Media is a plural noun.

"It seems to me this is something which is worth calling a crisis."

Can’t argue with that, either.

"I want people to have more power, but I want them to have more power in the context of a more mature discourse about the responsibilities of government and the responsibilities of citizens," Mr Taylor told delegates.

i.e. doing what they are told.

Technology should be used to encourage elected representatives to communicate better with voters, he told delegates.

Like this, for example, which costs this.

He is leaving Downing Street next week, after three years, to become the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (RSA).

Poor old RSA! Your bending author gave up his other fellowships for economic reasons, but kept this one out of sentiment. Now it has fallen prey to the religious maniacs of the eco-theocratic movement.

Heaven help us!



Al the Obscure

The riposte to the Monckton articles on global warming by Al Gore contains a lot of verbiage and not much evidence. Politicians will love it, but some of us simpletons will be confused. Number Watch has had access to the super-computer at the Metropolitan University of Nether Wallop to provide a translation of some of the more difficult passages.


As written


At stake is nothing less than the survival of human civilisation

One day Chicken Little was walking in the woods when -- KERPLUNK -- an acorn fell on her head 

"Oh my goodness!" said Chicken Little. "The sky is falling! I must go and tell the king."

To begin with, there is a reason why new scientific research is peer-reviewed and then published in journals such as Science, Nature, and the Geophysical Research Letters, rather than the broadsheets. The process is designed to ensure that trained scientists review the framing of the questions that are asked, the research and methodologies used to pursue the answers offered and even, in some cases, to monitor the funding of the laboratories — all in order to ensure that errors and biases are detected and corrected before reaching the public.

Only trust journals with editors of impeccable Green credentials and a track record of suppressing politically incorrect submissions.

If this were true, the entire global scientific community would owe Monckton a deep debt of gratitude for cleverly discovering a gross and elementary mistake that had somehow escaped the attention of all the leading experts in the field. But, again, this charge is also completely wrong, and it appears in this case to spring from the Viscount's failure to understand that these complex, carefully constructed super-computer climate models not only have built into them the physical law he thinks that he has discovered is missing, but also many others that he doesn't mention, including the fundamentally important responses of water vapour, ice and clouds that act to increase the effects of extra carbon dioxide.

The only evidence we have is computer models with feedback.

And, despite Viscount Monckton's recycled claims about the so-called "hockey stick" graph (an old and worn-out hobby horse of the pollution lobby in the US ), this faux controversy has long since been thoroughly debunked. The global-warming deniers in the US were so enthusiastic about this particular canard that our National Academy of Sciences eventually put together a formal panel, comprised of a broad range of scientists, including some of the most sceptical, which vindicated the main findings embodied in the "hockey stick" and definitely rejected the claims that Monckton is now recycling for British readers.

Art, history, archaeology, entomology and many other disciplines are still all wrong – the Mediaeval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age never happened. Those courageous Canadians, the McCritics, never happened; they never published in peer-reviewed journals and have been consigned to the dustbin of  science as cranks. The US House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Dr Edward Wegman, Professor of Statistics at George Mason University , who chairs the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, also never happened.

Scientists have also carefully examined the real-world evidence (temperature change as measured by air balloons, ground and satellite measurements, proxies like ice cores and tree rings, for example) and have found that the models do indeed match the observations.

Fortunately, the models have so many disposable parameters that they are infinitely tunable to match any available data.

See the law of Computer Models.

Scientists will continue to pose questions and answer them in the peer-reviewed literature — and I urge the public and policy makers in Britain to rely upon the best advice from your premiere institutions, ranging from the outstanding British Antarctic Survey, to the Royal Society, the Met Office and the Hadley and Tyndall Centres for the decisions that must be made.

Here is a partial list of institutions that have succumbed to a Green coup.

And today, although there are differences between the platforms, both of the UK 's largest parties have issued strong statements about the need for action — and your nation has largely avoided the partisan bickering and downright denial that has stymied action in America . This bipartisan comity is essential to rise to the challenges presented by such a complex problem as the climate crisis.

Spot the difference if you can, but in addition to myself two of the greatest of modern physicists are the leaders of New Labour and the symbol formerly known as the Conservative Party.

We have the opportunity here to avoid needlessly bickering with one another on the editorial pages, and instead join together to experience what very few generations in history have had the privilege of knowing: a generational mission, a compelling moral purpose, a shared and unifying cause, and an opportunity to work together to choose a future for which our children will thank us instead of cursing our failure to protect them against a clear and present danger with equally clear and devastating future consequences.  

Let us go back to the Inquisition, suppress the heretics and save the people’s souls whether they want it or not.

By rising to meet this historic planetary emergency, we have the opportunity to become not the selfish and self-destructive generation, but the next Greatest Generation. 

Then who should appear on the path but sly old Foxy Woxy.

"Where are you going, my fine feathered friends?" asked Foxy Woxy. He spoke in a polite manner, so as not to frighten them.

"The sky is falling!" cried Chicken Little. "We must tell the king."

"I know a shortcut to the palace," said Foxy woxy sweetly. "Come and follow me."


Gore style

The French poet and mathematician Raymond Quenaud wrote a book called Exercices de style, in which he retold the same trivial story 99 times in different styles. Each style had a name, such as noble or operatic. Many years ago, long before its decline, BBC radio produced a wonderful English version, which still stays in the mind. After writing the piece above, your bending author spent a sleepless night wondering what name you could give to the style of Big Al. It is clearly something special when, for example, computer models become these complex, carefully constructed super-computer climate models. Anyway, how does he know? Has he deconstructed the code? Euphuistic does not quite seem to fill the bill.

The result of all this cogitating is that the best description of the Gore style is restaurant-modern, as in the following example:

As written


Delicious, white, flaky, ocean-fresh cod, dipped in our uniquely formulated batter, deep-fried in carefully selected oils to an appetising golden hue, accompanied by Scottish-grown Maris Piper potatoes, carefully cut into long, square-section pieces, deep-fried and served piping hot for maximum taste.

Fish and chips

Note: If you are American, for chips read French-fries.

Note2: The riposte to the riposte is a humdinger. 

One more spasm in the death of a culture

Reading, once one of the finest universities, is the latest to set about closing its Physics Department. An institution of higher education without Physics and Mathematics has no right to call itself a University. As Blair’s Britain slides giggling into the morass of subculture that is exemplified by so-called reality TV, the nation that once dominated the list of great inventions, the Nobel prizes and almost every other measure of scientific achievement is bowing out. The Great Leader, while continually mouthing his slogan “Education, education, education!” with characteristic insouciance presides over the death in his domain of the most fundamental of all sciences.

It is also a triumph for Thatcherism; Kenneth Baker made the money follow the student and thereby turned higher education into a market. National manpower planning was put into the hands of 17 year olds. The key sentence in the BBC report is –  He also highlighted the lack of demand for physics courses. Why should a student opt for a demanding course, when there are easy options that produce a degree with hardly any effort at all? It is human nature to follow the path of least resistance.

It is all summed up by that monstrously vacuous statement by the Great Leader “We need celebrity scientists to inspire young people.”  Even thirty year ago it was concepts such as “science” that inspired young people, now it has to be “a celeb”.

If only there were a hint of hope!


At home with the Blamerons

Drawn by Tilly.

Murdoch most foul

It is hard to find oneself in agreement with Richard Branson, even if he can only bring himself to say it more than a decade too late and then only when it affects his own business.

Here is what Number Watch said back in March 2001:

Poll Position

There is nothing like election fever to produce a rash of dubious numbers, as Americans have recently discovered.  The Presidential election generated a bigger electronic postbag at Number Watch than any other topic, though it seemed politic largely to refrain from comment.

Now it is the turn of the British to go through the trauma. Mind you, we have a much simpler and less stressful system. We employ an individual to choose our governments for us, one Rupert Murdoch. All we have to do in return is grant him a few monopolies and the right to debauch our culture. He has now announced his choice in his Newsletter to the nation (The Sun) and we are to have a further period of New Labour government. So there will be plenty for Number Watch to write about in the next few years.

Murdoch was granted The Times as a reward for appointing Margaret Thatcher, as announced in the notorious headline It was the Sun wot done it! Furthermore, a side effect of the monetarist clampdown was to undermine the inchoate quality satellite service BSB and let it be swallowed up by the tacky Sky. The present political leaders now feel obliged to grovel to Murdoch whenever he makes a progress through Britain . New Labour talked about “getting him on board”. He is now so powerful that they dare not challenge his latest piece of effrontery. Not satisfied with a total satellite monopoly and a dangerously large proportion of the newspaper industry, he now has a finger in the terrestrial commercial TV pie, just enough to prevent it reorganising itself to be able to compete for football franchises and other areas of Murdoch near-monopoly.


Polly morphism

Under the Boy David, the symbol formerly known as the Conservative Party has rapidly progressed from strange, through rather weird to downright bizarre. The latest shock horror from its inner establishment is a proposal to adopt as guru the notorious Polly Toynbee, the doyenne of DAISNAID. Number Watch has refrained from  commenting on that lady’s excesses, as they are adequately covered by the likes of the Tims (Worstall and castellan), which is a bit of luck as your bending author is close to the threshold of tolerance for the amount of twaddle exposure in one day. Polly, almost uniquely, has a web site devoted to her factual errors. The Proposal to adopt this hypocritical champagne socialist had our Boris somewhat bemused. Her writings, as opposed to her lifestyle, exemplify everything the Conservative Party has always been opposed to.

Where next for Stuntman Dave's shape-changing – Marx and Lenin?

Footnote: The next day, a headline even a nasty old cynic thought he would never see: Cameron invites Toynbee to join conference.


Poll – 41% of the English don’t understand what is going on.

Other results in the Sunday Telegraph.

Dangerous behaviour

The Telegraph, following its brief flirtation with Big Al, is back on the truth jag. This time it is Four big fat Myths. If it goes on like this Scottish New Labour will be looking for a way to ban it.


It’s only weather

One swallow does not a summer make.

Simon Barnes in The Times had a fit of the terrors on November 18th.  It is odd enough that a man who purports to be a nature watcher has never seen an out of season butterfly, but even odder that he should react to the phenomenon as though he had been attacked by a pterodactyl.

In the same issue of The Times there was a photograph of autumn trees in Swaffham, with an article suggesting that the autumn had only just started: this despite both the Telegraph and the Mail having shown the traditional pictures from Stourhead on the second day of the month. The Times never gives up on its ratchet reporting of the weather and it is a rare edition that does not have a bit of weather propaganda somewhere. Your bending author went out and took a photograph of the bole of that tree on that same day, just to show that in the warm South West the fall was already over.

There was an amusing letting-the-cat-out-of-the-bag in Gardeners’ World on BBC TV, which is normally a haven of global warming. The programme was about roses and they had flashbacks to programmes earlier in the year. They showed new beds of roses being planted in the winter and then the return to the same site in June to see all the blooms. Unfortunately there weren’t any. As reported in these pages, the first half of the year was unusually cold. It was the year without a spring. The media establishment are now trying to persuade us that this is going to be a record warm year, just because we had an Indian summer. The first law of journalism is operating at full spate.

Simon Barnes had an even weirder episode later in that article. Not only is he worried about earlier springs, which in our case we did not have, but he is horrified that the South Africans are going to upgrade an airport, thus displacing millions of swallows. The reasoning is not entirely clear. Is it that they need the airport buildings? If so, what did they do before they were built (a short time ago in evolutionary terms)? Or is it that South Africa is such a small country that the area of an airport will rob it of enough space for swallows to thrive? The eco-theologues have a logic of their own that is hard for one with a simple scientific training to follow, but they seem to be able to start an argument from any given point and always end up with catastrophe.

Anyway, we have had a bit of weather this month in England . This is a shock to the media, for whom weather always comes as a surprise and presages disaster. Here is a picture from your bending author’s back garden on November 25th.

It has never been under water before. Obviously it is all caused by global warming and we are all doomed. On the other hand, it could be just a rainstorm of an intensity rarely seen outside the tropics, but which has a return period in the UK of the order of ten years.

Footnote: Just in case amnesiac readers did not get the message, arch propagandist Paul Simons took it up the next day. He evidently lives in a different country from your bending author and correspondents to Number Watch and our Forum. Note that the tree reflected in the above photograph was completely bereft of leaves on the 25th


Number of the month – 50,000

It is only right that the man of the month should produce the number of the month. Yes, it’s Big Al and this is the number of his DVDs that he cannot give away.  What a pleasant change to have some cheering news on the climate front! The immediate response from the alarmist community is – wait for it – a conspiracy theory. This involves, of course, Exxon Mobil, so the Big Fight is between Big Al and Big Oil.

Meanwhile, here is some helpful advice on what to do with the unwanted discs, spotted by number watcher Chuck Redman.



Note: The policy of Number Watch has now been amended and financial contributions are solicited to enable it to continue an independent existence.




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