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« Neil responds to Nucc | Main | Low-sensitivity model outperforms »
Monday
Jul222013

More slipperiness from Baroness Verma

From Hansard:

Lord Donoughue: To ask Her Majesty’s Government by how many degrees they forecast global temperatures will be reduced, compared with a baseline case of what would happen without intervention, as a direct result of the emissions reductions mandated by the Climate Change Act 2008 by (1) 2050, and (2) 2100.

Baroness Verma: The United Kingdom's 80% emissions reduction target for 2050 is derived from estimates of the UK's share of the global effort needed in order to keep the increase in global average temperature to below 2 Degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UK does not have emissions reduction target set for 2100. The UK's emissions reductions alone would result in a small but crucial proportion of total global emissions reductions, as all countries need to contribute to achieving the 2 degree goal. It is vital that we show leadership and demonstrate that the shift to a low carbon model is achievable in order to influence other major emitters to take action.

The beauty of asking a question to which the answer is a number is that this kind of evasion is patently obvious. No doubt the question will be put again in due course.

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Reader Comments (64)

Fay Tuncay@4:22

hmm... high fashion - that mean she's as climate clued up as the dotty Dame Westwood? that would go some way to explaining things... doesn't excuse her or those that appointed her though.

Jul 22, 2013 at 7:15 PM | Registered Commentertomo

@Don Keiller excellent work.

We must ask the Baroness of High Fashion is it true?

Britain’s £400+ billion CO2 sacrifice will lower global temperatures by 0.03C

Jul 22, 2013 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterFay Tuncay

@ jferguson and Richard Drake

'Perverted science' - take a look at this article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2000:

http://www.cmaj.ca/content/163/9/1176.1.full

Jul 22, 2013 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Billy L,
your URL is denied me. ??

Richard Drake, I'm not so certain "perverted science" encompasses Blitzkreig given its at least initial effectiveness. I am thinking of Chesterton's "Eugenics and other Evils"

respects to each of you

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:39 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

jf: You could well be right on that. It's complicated by the fact that Winston himself supported some of eugenics, in his earlier days. But I'm by no means an expert on that. But WSC was a man of his time and that was a big intellectual craze at that time. I've found Thomas Sowell especially helpful in sorting through the issues there, by the way. They did have data to explain but they misinterpreted it. They neglected culture and got obsessed with (what became) genetics. Very bad move.

What has always fascinated me is how Churchill recognised the evil in Hitler so early. One of the great truisms of the War for me is that AH didn't have a clue about what drove WSC but in the reverse direction there was real understanding. And for me without that the War would have been lost.

Hitler's anti-semitism was something WSC would have no truck with, from the earliest days. It obviously combined in a horrible way with eugenics in Nazi theory and practice and WSC rejected that utterly, whereas some of the upper-crust in the UK were not as admirable.

Anyway, on the Blitzkreig you could be right. What was the referent for perverted? It would be nice to know. Thanks for the feedback.

Jul 23, 2013 at 12:18 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard,
What you write makes me wonder if Churchill had known someone like AH - recognized a type. And if so, who might he have been? i don't know how the Manchester biography of him is regarded over there, but it certainly gave me a clear view of the man. I do hope it was Churchill that I got this clear view of.

Jul 23, 2013 at 3:52 AM | Registered Commenterjferguson

I cannot understand why the media have not picked up on such a block buster as the cost and the answer to the question. If the question were re-phrased using the value arrived at by Don Keiller above e.g. Will the noble baroness confirm that etc and mention in the question the value of 0.03C then the figure will appear in Hansard. I am sure if the "man on the Clapham Omnibus" knew the true story there would be a sudden change in policy. So I think it is really important to push this one.

Jul 23, 2013 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

@ jferguson

Here's the text:

The Nazi war on cancer Robert N. Proctor Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; 1999 380 pp US$49.50 (cloth) ISBN 0-691-00196-0 US$16.95 (paper) ISBN 0-691-07051-2

But if we fail, then the whole world … will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister … by the lights of perverted science.

— Sir Winston Churchill, June 18, 1940

Historians of Nazi medical science, that “unfolding monstrosity,” in Robert Proctor's words, that worked its way from “racial hygiene, sterilization, and racial exclusion to euthanasia, abusive experimentation, and the Final Solution” are faced with the unanswerable question of how such evils were possible. But at least they have the comfort of an unambivalent moral response. In The Nazi War on Cancer, an impressive sidebar to his Racial Hygiene: Medicine under the Nazis (1988), Proctor grapples with a more slippery demon: Nazi programs in health promotion that are oddly consonant with the values of today.

What are we to do with the fact that it was under Hitler's regime that a causal link between smoking and lung cancer was first made, that Nazi anti-tobacco campaigns were ahead of their time, that Nazi physicians identified and attempted to control exposure to carcinogens such as asbestos, pesticides and food additives, advocated an organic, vegetarian diet high in fibre and low in fat, were the first to promote breast examination and that, the destruction of the Jewish intellectual and scientific community notwithstanding, managed to conduct a certain amount of “good” science, notably in epidemiology?

Of course, as Proctor reminds us, “Nazism took root in the world's most powerful scientific culture.” By the 1930s Germany was in the lead of cancer research, and the German language was its lingua franca. Germany also had the highest cancer rates in the world, and the Reich disliked the implications of this for economic productivity, military prowess and the protection of the “germ plasm” of a master race. Thus, “Cancer to many seemed to be a political disease, requiring a political solution.”

Solutions were attempted on the front of public health, in education campaigns, disease registers, mass screening programs and legislation. All of these efforts drew on the essence of Nazi ideology, which might be described as a counterfeit of reasonable desires: beauty, freedom, health, vitality. Proctor calls Nazism “a vast hygienic experiment designed to bring about an exclusively sanitary utopia ... . [A]sbestos and lead were to be cleansed from Germany's factory air and water, much as Jews were to be swept from the German body politic.” The metaphors were powerful and replicated themselves in false and murderous equivalences: Judaism was a cancer, cancer was like the Jews. Survellaince, detection, control, eradication: these were activities applicable to diseases and to people equally.

Proctor's account is a disquieting case study of how public health concepts are tied to ideology and, with apparent innocence, can support malign sociopolitical agendas. It also demonstrates, as Churchill was aware on the eve of the Battle of Britain, that science is blind to the motivations of its practitioners. Serving any master, any purpose, it marches on.

Author - Anne Marie Todkill

Jul 23, 2013 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Thanks much, Billy L.

Jul 23, 2013 at 5:43 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Thanks, Billy - great quote, I shall follow it up. You are one erudite dude. :)

An interesting aspect is the emphasis on purity, which replicates a dominant theme in many religions. Carried to extremes, it is of course counter-intuitively harmful. For example, while clean water is a very desirable thing, the only way to deliver it to large numbers of people is to use an "evil" chemical "impurity" such as chlorine. Enviro-nuts in affluent societies often bang on about the dangers of tap water, which is scientific nonsense but appeals to the purity meme that so often accompanies fervent and intolerant ideologies and religious beliefs.

Jul 24, 2013 at 3:19 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Thanks from me too BL. Worth a lot more thought than is normally given to it. But the quote from Churchill this time is incomplete and leaves out something important that I've been thinking about after what jferguson wrote:

But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

The bit in bold I think may help to identify - or at least delimit - what Churchill was thinking of when he said 'perverted science'. More anon.

Jul 24, 2013 at 3:53 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

"Nazi anti-tobacco campaigns"

No unlike the current ones, then (plain packs, bans on e-cigs, etc)...

Every WW2 film I've seen has the SS smoking happily, usually while deciding the fate of some hapless captive. Don't tell me Hollywood got it wrong?

I bet they liked the odd steak, too.

Jul 24, 2013 at 10:03 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Richard,
I cannot see how the Dark Age Churchill suggests could be made more protracted by any form of "perverted science" I can imagine. It could have been darker certainly assuming he was referring to the various AH eugenics based actions, but protracted? I think this was Churchillian poetry. There must be other examples, assuming this is one, of his speeches being tailored to how they sounded with less attention to what they actually meant.

I googled this and found a number of unlikely assertions about what he might have meant that assumed knowledge he was unlikely to have had in 1940. So my take on this is Churchillian poetry, and nothing we can apply to our present mess.

Too bad, too. It was a wonderful sentence.

God, how I wish we could spend more than our annual week in London. Our visit to civilisation, we call it.

Jul 24, 2013 at 10:46 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

jf: Talking of Manchester, which I haven't read, this discussion has made me begin Warlord, Carlo D'Este's biography of Churchill the soldier. Great to have an informed American view and from the early chapters it looks terrifically insightful.

For my money the most important question on this thread was:

What you write makes me wonder if Churchill had known someone like AH - recognized a type. And if so, who might he have been?

Exactly the way my mind also goes. But also, like so much of the best of BH, two or three steps off topic! I was wondering if we shouldn't do two discussions spinning off this thread therefore: Lessons from Churchill, including the issue you raise there, and Perverted Science, to go deeper into that idea, starting from but not limited to the intended meaning of the statesman in the House of Commons in June 1940.

But I won't create those now, because I may not have much time to give to them myself for a while. Thanks again for some stimulating interaction.

Jul 29, 2013 at 9:20 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

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