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Brown Towns 13 May 2007

Posted by David in Comment, Environment, Labour.
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David Dimbleby is in the Sunday Telegraph with his new book, How We Built Britain. I find it rather alarming that he finds the Lloyd’s Building “a work of genius” as it’s well known as London’s most depressing building to work in (with huge numbers of depression cases), something he just about alludes to with talk of it having “no natural light” but narrowly avoids – as do most supporters of modernism, who can dismiss any evidence of their architectural cult’s never ending failings confidently and callously with unbelievable ease.

But Dimbleby’s biggest mistake is when he says “The modernist architects adopted a rational approach to the problem, studying the way people seemed to lead their lives and designing houses to match, rather than offering the kind of houses people thought they wanted.” Whilst he is right that “it was a mistake”, modernists never designed buildings for the way people actually lead their lives – rather they designed buildings for the way they felt they people should lead their lives. Modernism has a huge, left wing and totalitarian history to it; un-human in scale, unnatural in material, inflexible in design, they are “machines for living in” designed by planners who see people as cogs in the machine (a la Modern Times) rather than human beings. Which leads me to Gordon Brown…

Gordon Brown, stepping out from the shadows, has announced plans for five new carbon neutral towns. Now, after getting over the shock of the term “new towns” – so gloriously epitomised in Milton Keynes and Crawley – we have to ask, where? How can you just build five “new towns”? Apparently brown field sites will be used, but there aren’t that many. Once again, more countryside will be destroyed.

The Original Green Tory? 22 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Environment.
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As I frequently tell people, environmental conservation and conservatism have a long history together. Vote Blue, Go Green, shouldn’t be considered alien – we have and always have been the party of the countryside and real environment. After all, which Conservative gave the following speech?

For generations, we have assumed that the efforts of mankind would leave the fundamental equilibrium of the world’s systems and atmosphere stable. But it is possible that with all these enormous changes (population, agricultural, use of fossil fuels) concentrated into such a short period of time, we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself. Recently three changes in atmospheric chemistry have become familiar subjects of concern. The first is the increase in the greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons—which has led some to fear that we are creating a global heat trap which could lead to climatic instability. We are told that a warming effect of 1°C per decade would greatly exceed the capacity of our natural habitat to cope. Such warming could cause accelerated melting of glacial ice and a consequent increase in the sea level of several feet over the next century. This was brought home to me at the Commonwealth Conference in Vancouver last year when the President of the Maldive Islands reminded us that the highest part of the Maldives is only six feet above sea level. The population is 177,000. It is noteworthy that the five warmest years in a century of records have all been in the 1980s—though we may not have seen much evidence in Britain! The Government espouses the concept of sustainable economic development. Stable prosperity can be achieved throughout the world provided the environment is nurtured and safeguarded. Protecting this balance of nature is therefore one of the great challenges of the late Twentieth Century.

Find out here. The author later expressed regret for the negative things environmentalism has been used to promote, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used to promote good things.

Blair’s King Canute Climate Change Act 15 March 2007

Posted by David in Comment, Environment, Labour.
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King Canute strode out towards the sea somewhere along the English coast, arms wide and decried in loud tone “the tide shall not cometh back” – or words to that effect anyway. Shortly later Canute was neck deep in the big blue wet thing known as the sea, presumably red faced had it not been Britain, where the sea never rises above ‘mildly cool’ and the wind is always ‘bracing’.

 

I’ve always felt sorry for Canute, he only did it to prove he was not almighty and powerful to his sycophantic court of yes men, yet this act of modesty has been twisted into one of arrogance, as if Canute really believed – like his court – that he could stop the sea. It might even be all made up, a kind of sneer smear by an author, journalist or tourist board looking to profit out of Canute tourism. I suppose at least his sea had plenty of cod fish stocks, the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy being some 940-ish years away, but that’s little compensation for being wrote into history as a person so arrogant about his powers he tried to stop the tide.

 

But one person I do not feel sorry for is Tony Blair. Tony Blair strode out towards the dispatch box somewhere along the House of Commons, arms wide in irritating hand gestures and decried in trendy vicar like tone “the CO2 emissions shall be cut by 60% by 2050, this be legally binding” – or words to that effect anyway. Whom this act is legally binding upon I don’t know. I don’t think the environment can be taken to court, nor can the entire country, which includes the legal system itself. Blair will be 97 by 2050, and can hardly be responsible for future government failings. But then the government in 2050 can’t be responsible for past government failings can it? And we can’t trial every government minister to have served between 2007 and 2050, can we? And what’s the sentencing guideline?

 

So basically – as Canute was trying to show us – we cannot legislate away CO2, just as we can’t sadly legislate for good weather or for all people to be nice or the tide to stop coming in. The Climate Change Act – like the 20% EU CO2 cutting target and the King Canute Prohibition of Inward Coming Tidal Waters Act 1030AD(ish) – don’t actually achieve anything. They’re just talk, and talk’s cheap.