The General Discussion Thread

[Publish Date updated to restore to front page]

Okay as an experiment here it is. Discuss your favourite generals here!

Well perhaps… Really this is simply the place to post news-items, fun-items or whatever takes your fancy. In short just post what you want here.

It’s just another wee experiment – comments welcome.

Squonk.

[Image: General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett (Stephen Fry)]

17,284 thoughts on “The General Discussion Thread

  1. The tsunami wasn’t inevitable but an overdone. human-made disaster, and 9/11 was certainly not a surprise as Yale student Suzanne Jovin had predicated it in her senior thesis and was murdered for doing so, John O’Neill was fired as WTC security chief for still predicting it, and NSA director Michael Hayden lied when he said that it was not following the hijackers whose money and support came from Osama bin Laden.

  2. Fred, I said, “No conspiracy, Fred, I just think that you will always swallow the ‘official line’ no matter what.”

    Your response is just shite. Lol

  3. Anglo-Americans ala NATO are still trying to call the shots in East Asia.

    Mike Pompeo calling China’s development of islands in the South China Sea as illegal when it is only following a precedent it set in building a naval base off Jeju island which resulted in that ferry disaster in 2014 carrying materials for its construction.

    Then it was in the process of shooting down a joint Russian/Chinese mission to the moon when the FSB discovered how known launch details was being learned to cause an undiscoverable NATO disaster.

    Then Australian right winger as the UK representative there, Governor General Sir John Kerr, dismissed in 1975 Gow Whitlam and his reforming government without Queen Elizabeth’s knowledge or approval, action that may have profound effect upon the Commonwealth’s very existence.

  4. I’ve been surprised there wasn’t indisputable evidence of irreparable harm to our Oceans after Fuk.

    It’s possible it was mitigated by the uploading of fuel for spacecraft.

    They tend to hang around nukes not out of curiosity, but practicality.

  5. “The bald fact is, us humans need to cut back our energy consumption until we have a decent method of supplying it.”

    So you want an authoritarian government which will force everyone to use less power, throw away their technology, stop taking holidays, stop going to music festivals.

    You will oppose anything which will stand in the way of brainwashing children into thinking if they don’t overthrow the capitalist system they will die.

  6. Trowbridge: John O’Neill was fired as WTC security chief for still predicting it

    John O’Neill wasn’t fired, he was still WTC security chief on 9/11. He was recruited to the role 2 weeks before 9/11 by deeply sinister security firm Kroll Associates He was in the South Tower when the first plane struck the North Tower. He was seen by multiple witnesses to be alive and well several hours afterwards, then he disappeared and is counted amongst the victims.

  7. “I’ve been surprised there wasn’t indisputable evidence of irreparable harm to our Oceans after Fuk.”

    The Pacific Ocean is incredibly big Ben, if you are in the middle of it the nearest humans to you are likely to be on the space station.

  8. Ben, suspect there is the evidence, just not reported, although some issues can’t be kept under wraps – and even then probably because MSM are more interested in the Olympic Games to be held in Japan 2021.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=W8nD1gIA5_Q

    The fishing industry isn’t the best (!) following the disaster and I wouldn’t fancy eating any fish from there now, never mind after radioactive water is spewed into the ocean.

    The size of the ocean is irrelevant, so I’m not sure what Fred’s point is with size e.g. if he were 7ft tall, he would likely complain if someone suggested he could afford to lose a leg.

  9. Node, in my article about O’Neill he was fired by the Bureau officials below the Director for going on about the islamists still going to attack the WTC by the people you mention, for what purpose?

    None that I can see. Just spouting off to cause continuing confusion.

  10. “The size of the ocean is irrelevant, so I’m not sure what Fred’s point is with size e.g. if he were 7ft tall, he would likely complain if someone suggested he could afford to lose a leg.”

    But I wouldn’t be worried about cutting my toe nails.

  11. “So you want” blah blah blah… “You will oppose” blah blah blah…

    Stop telling me what I think.

    You’re just a troll, Fred.

  12. “Stop telling me what I think.”

    An argument against nuclear is an argument for global warming.

    You are telling me what you think.

  13. JOML: Acre-feet measurements of water dont account for depth so volume is relevant. Even terrorists have learned that city water supplies would necessitate truckloads of Agent to be added in order to significantly affect the drinking water of the population

  14. “You are telling…

    Start speaking for yourself Fred. I find your style rude and aggressive. It puts me in a bad mood, making it difficult to think clearly. If you want to know my thoughts, you can ask.

  15. And Fred, stop misrepresenting my position. I haven’t argued against nuclear power. I have argued against pressurised water reactors and their variants, because they produce far more radioactive waste than necessary, and they are prone to and have a record of melting down and blowing up. These are the same criticisms as made by their inventor. I already told you that, and I find it insulting to be ignored.

  16. JOML – “Suppose we deserve all we get”

    No we don’t. Things are done wrong and badly for political and economic reasons. Much better choices have been available in just about every field, but governments bend to short-termism and vested interests, and fail to lead in the best interests of people and planet. People vote ineffectively due to misinformation, and lack of time to remedy ignorance.

  17. Trowbridge: John O’Neill was fired as WTC security chief for still predicting it

    Would you believe Wikispooks?

    John O’Neill was an active and sincere expert in anti-terrorism. He was killed on September 11, 2001, where he had been told to report at his first day at work as head of security at the WTC.

    https://wikispooks.com/wiki/John_O%27Neill

  18. 1963 Vajont Dam collapsed killing 1,917 people. 1975 Banqiao Dam collapsed killing 26,000 people, 145,000 more from subsequent disease and famine, 11 million homeless. 1979 Machchhu Dam collapsed, 25,000 people killed.

    Yet no one is saying we shouldn’t build hydro electric power plants because they are dangerous. Instead they point at Dounreay and say it has a poor safety record or Fukushima with just one recorded fatality.

  19. I dont believe the vague carping of the Wikispooks article with no mention of O’Neill working for the FBI and without reading it. I had a 2002 article about him, a voice in the wilderness, in Eye Spy magazine which editor Ian Birdsall paid me nothing, and i have had articles in Wikispooks which Peter Pressland won’t even acknowledge the existence of, like the one on Cyoptome.org’ s John Young.

    Web articles are often stolen, and crooks often are the editors of publications.

  20. I’m not in favour of more hydro. I have quoted the dangers of dam failures myself.

    Fred, I have my doubts about expanding nuclear power in its current form, at a guess a hundred-fold to replace current energy needs, or maybe four hundred-fold to make enough for the poorer parts of the world to live by Western standards. In the Twentieth Century there were worries that there was insufficient uranium to last for very long; that was why breeder reactors like Dounreay were tried. Later, more uranium reserves were found, but a hundred or four hundred times as much? Enough for a long term future? I asked you about this, but you simply ignored the question.

    I mentioned developing less energy-intensive lifestyles, but you misrepresented this as a call for authoritarianism. Many people I speak to don’t like the modern, high pressure, consumerist way of life. They’d like more free time, less work, better pay and less commercialism. You yourself told me that you moved to where you are for such a life, yet you argue for neoliberal, highly consumerist capitalism as the only acceptable option.

    I don’t get it Fred.

  21. I worry about the security state that nuclear power necessitates, and the weapons proliferation risk, the terrorism risks. I worry that it’s very centralised, whereas a more distributed system would be more robust, especially when climate change causes extreme weather wreaking havoc on distribution grids. I wonder, if civilisation starts to break down, who would shut down, de-fuel and decommission these tens of thousands of reactors. I worry about the necessary enlargement of enrichment, reprocessing and geological disposal facilities. I have read nuclear bomb designer Ted Taylor’s book, The Curve of Binding Energy.

    Fred, only you know why you’re pushing so hard on this. I quite like nuclear tech; I like this little film:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QcN3KDexcU

    But I can see serious problems with trying to supply humanity’s energy needs with nuclear power.

  22. “But I can see serious problems with trying to supply humanity’s energy needs with nuclear power.”

    So what about all the bad things you say will happen if we don’t do something to reduce carbon emissions soon?

    Governments can’t force people to use less energy, not if they want to still be the government after the next election, they can build nuclear power stations though.

  23. “Governments can’t force people to use less energy, not if they want to still be the government after the next election”

    Yes, that’s precisely the problem. Governments can’t govern, lead, for the more distant future because they need to satisfy more immediate desires to get re-elected. That’s why XR are calling for a Citizen’s Assembly.

    * Tell the Truth.
    * Act Now.
    * Beyond Politics.

  24. “Governments can’t force people to use less energy…”

    But the current economic system is very effective at almost forcing people to use more energy. Your local hospital had cutbacks, forcing you, and probably others, to drive a very long way several times, and that’s an example from the public sector. The private sector is pretty much predicated on getting people to buy stuff and throw stuff away.

    “Throw it away” where? Little clues in our language – “dispose of it thoughtlessly (“throw”) away from me!” – Disperse it in the atmosphere (CO2). Throw it down a hole (Dounreay). Dissolve it in the ocean (Fukushima). But we’re everywhere now; “away” has gone.

    Meanwhile, I have a migraine. I have not yet returned a friend’s computer I’ve been solving some problems on. I haven’t yet fixed my washing machine and the laundry is accumulating, I’m out of clean socks. I’m failing; it’s my fault.

  25. “That’s why XR are calling for a Citizen’s Assembly.”

    You honestly think people are that stupid? You think sticking the word “Citizen’s” in front of something will make people accept it?

    What makes you think your citizen’s assembly will do what you tell them to do?

    We need real solutions.

  26. I think any poster who takes Node seriously should think again. He is one of the biggest trolls on the web, making grand claims about a conspiracy when the debate about it is still going or deliberately picking a fight with someone like me over a detail of one wrongly.

    FBI Director Louis Freeh was so upset over what happened to John O’Neill because of CiA’s George Tenet’s taking over domestic counter intelligence that he attended his funeral.

    And Peter Pressland of Wikispooks is so unconcerned about facts that he still has me retired living in Sweden after 8 years working here in New Haven, Connecticut, and had me write an article about space weapons for another site, and attacked it as wild speculation and blamed complaints about it wrongly as coming from Craig Murray’s doubting posters.

  27. Fred, I don’t understand your 10:34 comment:

    “You honestly think people are that stupid?”

    It’s because I think people aren’t stupid that I support the call for a Citizens’ Assembly.

    “You think sticking the word “Citizen’s” in front of something will make people accept it?”

    The proposal is for an assembly chosen by random selection from the population, like jury service. This is called sortition.

    “What makes you think your citizen’s assembly will do what you tell them to do?”

    The proposal is to teach incoming members critical thinking, and for the assembly to be informed from expert scientific and academic sources.

    “We need real solutions.”

    I wholeheartedly agree. James Hansen testified to Congress in 1989, yet the existing political systems are still failing to halt the problem.

  28. Fred, thanks for The Faulty Science, Doomism, and Flawed Conclusions of Deep Adaptation; excellent article:

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/faulty-science-doomism-and-flawed-conclusions-deep-adaptation/

    The authors’ first four points make a decent summary:

    – 1. There is an unprecedented global climate and ecological emergency. If governments do not undertake enormous measures to mitigate climate change, then some form of “societal collapse” is plausible — albeit in varying forms and undoubtedly far worse for the poorest people.

    – 2. Policymakers and society at large are not treating this grave threat with anything approaching sufficient urgency.

    – 3. The climate crisis is dire enough in any case to justify urgent action, including mass sustained nonviolent disruption, to pressure governments to address it swiftly.

    – 4. However, neither social science nor the best available climate science support Deep Adaptation’s core premise: that near-term societal collapse due to climate change is inevitable.

    I haven’t actually read Deep Adaptation, but the Open Democracy article is excellent in its own right, with several linked articles I hope to read.
    – – – – – – – – – –

    I might get to watch your YouTube link about Small Modular Reactors too, but I’m only one person and I find your adversarial style very demanding. I think the General Electric / Hitachi PRISM reactor, and its derivative the Stable Salt Reactor may be promising as well. Both claim to help utilise and thereby break down “spent” fuel, something I think should be done anyway, if it can be done well.

  29. “Citizens’ assemblies and their context, deliberative democracy, have pages at Wikipedia”

    I know about them already and I don’t know I would consider them democracy, with democracy you have accountability, they are an attempt to replace democracy, to replace a well tried and tested system which has evolved over centuries with an untested hare brained scheme of Roger Hallam’s for no other reason than he thinks it will produce what he wants.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YHk_6Hi_IU

  30. What Roger Hallam wants and what XR might actually achieve are entirely different things, and XR is an international movement.

    “to replace a well tried and tested system which has evolved over centuries…”

    Fred, come on! Hansen testified in 1989, emissions rise faster year on year, we’ve had nearly two decades of Arctic ice loss! We cannot just carry on as usual, time has nearly run out, the “tried and tested system” has consistently failed for over three decades. Even the article you linked says:

    The climate crisis is dire enough in any case to justify urgent action, including mass sustained nonviolent disruption, to pressure governments to address it swiftly.

  31. So let’s talk of ways to reduce carbon emissions not ways of overthrowing the capitalist system.

  32. Strange that people can visualise the end of civilisation more easily than they could the end of capitalism. Capitalism does not allow for any form of coorporation. Capitalism did not defeat the Nazis in WW-II, socialism did.

    We need full worldwide coorporation in order to arrest and then possibly reverse climate change. That is not going to happen under a system where any given player can pop up and take advantage of everyone else’s sacrifices, particularly when industry is free to off-load their costs onto the commons indefinitely.

    Read Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything” for a very good discussion of this. (She is a bit wordy and labours points at times, admittedly)

  33. Fred, thanks for yet another Mallen Baker vid. His argument seems to be that the current political system can’t be improved on much. But seeing as it has consistently failed to address climate change for over thirty years, I disagree.

    I see that Mallen Baker also has failed to make much difference, failing to get elected as a Green Party MP and then joining the Liberal Democrats. He then got involved with the Prince of Wales and now seems to be doing OK for himself as a speaker at corporate events and a sort of consultant / coach. His personal comfort within the existing system does not endorse that system.

    I’m bored with his patronising, finger-wagging approach, and so far he has offered no positive suggestions.

  34. Anyone who says governments haven’t made a difference isn’t old enough to remember life before the Clean Air Act.

  35. Fred, you’ve presented yet another either-or, and I haven’t said anything about “overthrowing” anything. In fact, if you stop talking about “overthrowing the capitalist system”, there won’t be anyone mentioning it.

    Try not to take Roger Hallam so seriously; he’s just one person, same as Baker and Shellenberger.

  36. “…before the Clean Air Act.”

    Yes, and the Montreal Protocol that controlled ozone-depleting chemicals including CFCs. Governments can change things (or they could), but in the case of greenhouse gas emissions they have failed to for thirty years, and are still failing.

    The fact that politics has steadily moved to the Right and capitalism has become increasingly neoliberal presumably has much to do with this. The Clean Air Act was 1956, during the “post-war consensus”. Those post-WWII governments did many great things, but almost all their gains have been eroded.

  37. I know Fred, but XR happens to have started in Britain, which is where I happen to live. Plus Britain’s per-capita emissions are still many times that of the vast majority of countries. Plus it depends what you count; Britain imports a lot, so the emissions for that production is really Britain’s, but it isn’t counted that way. Plus Britain is a powerful country, economically and militarily; it’s supposedly a “world leader” that “punches above its weight”. Indeed Britain does use its military to control much oil production; it has a naval base in Bahrain, and it’s disgustingly cosy with Saudi Arabia. Plus many fossil fuel companies are based in Britain; it was BP, British Petroleum, that had democracy overthrown in Iran. Plus the City of London is hugely powerful in finance, which determines what gets invested in. Plus Britain already used its own and many other countries’ carbon budgets because it’s where the Industrial Revolution started; Britain owes a carbon debt to most of the rest of the world. Plus Britain is the poodle closest ally of the US, the biggest emitter of the lot, by far.

    But anyway, XR is an international movement:

    https://rebellion.global/groups/#countries

  38. And dividing emissions up by countries is just another “blaming and shaming” exercise leading to yet more procrastination, like complaining that only those people with zero carbon footprints have any justification for taking action – nothing will ever get done that way, and indeed that precisely is a major reason for the failure of the emissions treaties, all the countries squabbling over which of them is more to blame, each refusing to do much before some other does more.

    So in Britain XR is pressuring the government to lead by example, and simultaneously setting the example to people in other countries of how to pressure their governments.

  39. “How are the communist countries doing?”

    China leads the world in decoupling emissions from economic growth, by a factor of about five I think over the next best. China’s emissions are rising, but its economy is expanding many times faster, which is encouraging seeing as China manufactures so much for the rest of the world. China has greater growth in renewables than all other countries put together, I think. And they have a very interesting nuclear programme, developing some of those reactor concepts that the West abandoned for commercial reasons.

    Cuba’s done quite well as well, I think.

  40. Capitalism is not the problem.

    If only people could regulate their behavior there would be no need for regulations or incarceration. Imagine what we could do for society without the need for law enforcement.

    Imagine what progress could be made if currency werent the prime motivator for advances in medicine/pharma

    Imagine if research on botanical remedies had been funded properly from even 50 years ago.

    Adam Smith tried to mitigate the human avarice of Hobbesian concerns with the fantasy that some ‘Invisible Hand’ would temper greed through a divine method unseen and unknown.

    Trumpkin Bumpkins want even more deregulation for big bizness as though their success lifts all boats and they are responsible owners who do the right thing without constraints. Sure thing.

    It’s like their Nirvana is China with their unregulated bizness paradise.

    USSR showed how corrupt Socialism is little different from Capitalistic corruption because the Corruptor is Us

  41. “Imagine what progress could be made if currency werent the prime motivator for advances in medicine/pharma

    – Imagine if research on botanical remedies had been funded properly from even 50 years ago.”

    Many pharmaceuticals are of botanical or other biological origin; often they look for interesting molecules in traditional remedies. Pharma isolate or synthesise the active substance or a variant of it, and patent it, so that they own the rights to it.

    But why do you say that capitalism isn’t a problem, when you also say “Imagine what progress could be made if currency werent the prime motivator”? I thought that currency being the prime motivator was the essence of capitalism.

  42. Clark: I suspect you are on the Spectrum. Its disconcerting when I strive for clarity and I get a response that is obtuse.

    Either you are being deliberately dense to guard your predisposition or you are terminally myopic. Please use some of that huge brain power to open a new nerve pathway. We’ll get along better

  43. Good morning to you Ben, and best wishes; this is a difficult time.

    I didn’t mention the things I agree with in your comment, July 15, 21:59 – actually, most of it. I’d list them now, but the words aren’t flowing for me yet this morning, so for now I’ll just wish you well.

  44. I dont need agreement, Clark

    I prefer you take the time necessary to comprehend before you bust out a comment.

    “why do you say that capitalism isn’t a problem?”

    I said it was a problem..its just not THE problem

    Get your ducks lined up before you shoot at them.

  45. Ben, I don’t regard capitalism as the problem either.

    The problem you referred to, “even more deregulation for big bizness”, I saw that coming thirty years ago. The “invisible hand” works – to an extent. Competition does push prices down and quality up (thinking of Phil, whom I miss, this is closely related to what Marx described as the falling rate of profit, which impacts badly upon workers). But for competition to work the competitors have to be reasonably equal. If some of them are hugely larger than others, the big ones can afford to buy out the small ones. The biggest ones grow, with the small ones getting eaten.

    So the system guaranteed that the largest would grow to rival and eventually exceed the power of national governments. This has happened.

    I agree that corruption stems from an aspect of human nature – again thinking of Phil, like a gene, the extent that corruption is expressed depends on the environment, in this case the social environment. My experience is that people have become noticeably more selfish as politics has moved to the right during the course of my lifetime. I hate it now; I don’t even like going out in public any more. Everyone always feels right and justified, criticism is regarded as abuse, and employees are more loyal to their employer than to decency or the public.

  46. Here, Clark – you might be interested in this:

    https://www.counterhate.co.uk/

    There’s a report there on the very profitable industry working to promote anti-vaxxer conspiracies and win fortunes for hucksters, tech giants and further the aims of ideologues. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry.

    It’s ticked up a bit with the C-19 arrival, gaining new recruits, reinforcing the denialism of existing dupes.

    I would suggest the likes of Node read it, but he’s far too clever to have his mind changed by facts, reason or logic.

  47. Interference with US elections?

    US interference with elections!

    https://www.thecanary.co/uk/2018/09/28/investigation-slams-guardian-cooperation-with-novice-reporter-linked-to-us-regime-change-machine-2/

    So why might the US want Assange incarcerated for life?

    https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WL0609/S00877.htm

    Cablegate: Mrs: “We Want to Bring Ortega Down”
    Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 10:33 pm
    Cable: Wikileaks
    Ref: 06MANAGUA1961

    https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WL0611/S00926/cablegate-dora-maria-tellez-concerned-about-fraud-possible.htm

    Cablegate: Dora Maria Tellez Concerned About Fraud, Possible
    Thursday, 2 November 2006, 12:38 am
    Cable: Wikileaks
    Ref: 06MANAGUA2434

  48. Well, knock me down with a feather.

    It turns out that Covid19 deaths have been over-reported. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has ordered an urgent review into how Public Health England (PHE) calculates daily Covid-19 death figures. “According to a note on the Government’s website, the review means it is “pausing” the publication of the daily death figure “while this is resolved.”

    “ PHE does not appear to consider how long ago the Covid test result was, nor whether the person has been successfully treated in hospital and discharged to the community,” they said.

    “Anyone who has tested Covid positive but subsequently died at a later date of any cause will be included on the PHE Covid death figures.

    “By this PHE definition, no-one with Covid in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness.

    “A patient who has tested positive, but successfully treated and discharged from hospital, will still be counted as a Covid death even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later.”

    https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/uk/matt-hancock-orders-review-of-daily-death-figures-for-covid-19-in-england/

  49. I think we’ve known it all along, Node, it was pretty obvious but in the beginning it was considered important to get people complying with lockdown and an exaggerated mortality rate was considered beneficial.

    Now the important thing is getting people working again getting people out and about spending money and they are realising how short sighted they were in the beginning. Even telling people wearing masks makes shopping safe now isn’t getting them out onto the High Streets.

    Exaggerating the problem to control people into doing what you want them to do invariably has unintended consequences in the long term whether it is COVID19 or Climate Change.

  50. Glenn “I would suggest the likes of Node read it”

    Why? We once had a long discussion about vaccines and nothing I said then would justify your remark. You finished up by saying you respected the consideration behind my views.

    Since then I’ve never said anything about vaccines on this or CM’s blog, except to register strong concern about the likelihood of compulsory covid vaccines. I believe most sensible people share that concern. Do you?

    You have no grounds to repeatedly label me as an anti-vaxxer but we both know why you do it.

  51. Glenn, thanks for the link. I’ve been looking around the site. So far, I have impressions but no conclusions. I’m troubled by the polarisation that is creating the problems it addresses. Difficult times.

  52. Fred.

    If the figures were exaggerated to make people take the problem seriously, then what are the true figures, ie what it the true extent of the problem? Why, at this stage, do we not know the true figures to within a factor of ten? The future of the world literally depends on these figures and nobody is making any effort to determine them. In fact, just the opposite – nearly every country in the world changed its laws on registering deaths in ways that make it impossible to determine them.

  53. “Why, at this stage, do we not know the true figures to within a factor of ten?”

    That’s not remotely so. We have the figures of death from all causes, from multiple countries, and the peaks are clearly visible in the curves. Something caused those peaks. There are multiple different environments in which death and cause of death are recorded; a large proportion of these have a high degree of accuracy about whether covid-19 was the cause or not, eg. deaths in hospital where staff know what kind of treatment was required, lung scans, blood analysis and specific covid-19 testing were performed, the Diamond Princess where everyone was tested multiple times.

    Node’s source is a political source.

  54. Node’s linked Evening Express article is actually sourced from the Daily Mail site, which includes a graph:

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8529269/Daily-death-toll-INFLATED-fewer-40-people-dying-day-UK.html

    The difference between the two curves is not very great, certainly nothing remotely approaching a factor of ten.

    The Daily Mail’s headline spin “INFLATED” is probably contradicted and certainly not confirmed by the data given in the body of the article:

    Covid-19 deaths from Department of Health: 45,053
    Covid-19 deaths from National statistical bodies: 55,216
    Total excess deaths: 65,249

    Regarding my remark above: – “Node’s source is a political source.”

    Checking the source articles I see that the section Node quoted is from a couple of Oxford University statisticians, not from the Health Secretary as I had mistakenly inferred from Node’s comment.

  55. I keep being told that the only figures that matter are the excess deaths statistics, like that tells the whole story. Well there are other figures which tell a different story. It is hardly controversial to say that statistics can be manipulated (“Lies, damn lies, and statistics”) so it is not sufficient for you to declare these ones are right and those ones are wrong. At the very least we need an explanation for the discrepancy.

    The Italian Institute of Health issued a statement saying only 12% of Italy’s reported Covid19 deaths actually listed Covid19 as the cause of death. British figures concur (I can’t lay my hands on them right now but they were from UK gov). That’s a possible inflation of 8.5. Additionally, there are false positive tests, false diagnoses when tests weren’t done, and more. This supports my ‘factor of ten’ uncertainty claim.

    Additionally, your excess mortality figure takes no account of deaths caused by lockdown rather than the virus. We know there are some, probably many, but there is no attempt to establish the proportions.

    Why is there such complacency about the lack of hard facts in a matter of global historic importance?

  56. A common cause of death in Britain is pneumonia yet pneumonia is never found in an otherwise healthy person, it is a secondary illness which attacks bodies weakened by another cause. Is pneumonia the real cause of death or whatever weakened the body? Someone who dies of pneumonia while they have COVID I would say should be part of the COVID statistics.

    Deaths caused by lockdown are deaths which wouldn’t have occurred if it hadn’t been for COVID so I would count them as meaningful.

  57. Someone who dies of pneumonia while they have COVID I would say should be part of the COVID statistics.

    What about someone who gets run over by a bus while they have COVID? Look, the Italian Ministry of Health are better qualified than either of us to decide cause of death. They’ve been doing it for decades before covid. They were so concerned about their reporting method exaggerating the danger of covid that they issued a statement specifically to correct that false impression: “only 12% of Italy’s reported Covid19 deaths actually listed Covid19 as the cause of death.”

    Deaths caused by lockdown are deaths which wouldn’t have occurred if it hadn’t been for COVID so I would count them as meaningful.

    You wouldn’t if you were trying to find out the health impact of covid. Why are you so complacent about the lack of hard facts in a matter of such importance?

    I’m going out now for the weekend.

  58. “What about someone who gets run over by a bus while they have COVID?”

    The number of people being run over by buses should be about the same during the COVID epidemic as in previous years, maybe less because there are fewer buses and people about which would count as lives saved because of COVID19.

    The reason why excess deaths is so meaningful is because it doesn’t matter if the cause of death was being run over by a bus or not.

  59. I remember when excess deaths, or lack of them, mattered to people.

    I remember back in March when fewer deaths this year than in the previous 5 years was presented here as evidence that COVID was not a real threat.

    Suddenly they don’t matter any more.

  60. Fred, 16:31 – well said. Thank you.

    However, 11:41 – regarding “Exaggerating the problem [of] Climate Change”, I really think you should take the risks more seriously:

    Last November, the world’s most prestigious science journal, Nature, published a study by eminent climate scientists warning that nine major ‘tipping points’ which regulate global climate stability are dangerously close to being triggered. These include the slowing down of ocean circulation in the North Atlantic, massive deforestation of the Amazon, and accelerating ice loss from the West Antarctic ice sheet. Any one of these nine tipping points, if exceeded, could push the Earth’s climate into catastrophic runaway global warming. There could even be a ‘domino effect’ whereby one tipping point triggers another tipping point which, in turn, triggers the next one and so on, in a devastating cascade.

    – Given the normal custom of academics to use sober language, the warning statements in the pages of Nature were stark:

    – ‘The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel [our emphasis] political and economic action on emissions.’

    – The researchers are clear that:

    – ‘we are in a climate emergency and [our study of tipping points] strengthens this year’s chorus of calls for urgent climate action — from schoolchildren to scientists, cities and countries.’

    – In short, there is ‘an existential threat to civilization’ and ‘no amount of economic cost–benefit analysis is going to help us.’

    – Scientists have been sounding the alarm for some time that we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s long biological history. But this time the cause is not a natural calamity, such as a huge volcanism event or an asteroid strike, but human ‘civilisation’. Worse still, the careful evidence accrued by biologists in study after study indicates that the global mass loss of species is accelerating. In 2017, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reported that billions of populations of animals have disappeared from the Earth amidst what they called a ‘biological annihilation.’ They said the findings were worse than previously thought.

    – Earlier this month, a new study revealed that five hundred species of land animals are likely to become extinct over the next two decades. Gerardo Ceballos, an ecologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and lead author of the paper, declared:

    – ‘We’re eroding the capabilities of the planet to maintain human life and life in general.’

    – While humans continue to destroy species and natural habitats, Ceballos and his colleagues warn of a ‘cascading series of impacts’, including more frequent occurrences of new diseases and pandemics, such as Covid-19. He summarised:

    – ‘All of us need to understand that what we do in the next five to 10 years will define the future of humanity.’

    – But the crucial window for action is likely much shorter than that. And it is not just the ‘usual suspects’ of Greens and wild-eyed radicals who claim so. According to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, the world has just six months to avert climate crisis. This is the timescale required to ‘prevent a post-lockdown rebound in greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe’.

    – Samuel Alexander, a lecturer with the University of Melbourne and research fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, told Voice of Action that the looming end of organised human society would not be a single event. Instead, we are approaching a stage:

    – ‘where we face decades of ongoing crises, as the existing mode of civilisation deteriorates, but then recovers as governments and civil society tries to respond, and fix things, and keep things going for a bit longer.’

    – He added:

    – ‘Capitalism is quite good at dodging bullets and escaping temporary challenges to its legitimacy and viability. But its condition, I feel, is terminal.’

    – Meanwhile, Steffen believes that current mass protests, such as Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion, are not yet a sign of collapse but one of ‘growing instability’. Alexander concurs, saying that it is a sign of ‘steam building up within a closed system’. Without large-scale grassroots action and radical shifts in government policies, we are ‘likely to see explosions of civil unrest increasingly as things continue to deteriorate’. However, he offered hope that, with sufficient public pressure, the future could still be ‘post-growth / post capitalist / post-industrial in some form.’

    – Graham Turner, a former senior Australian government research scientist, observed:

    – ‘I think if we all manage to live a simpler and arguably more fulfilling life then it would be possible still with some technological advances to have a sustainable future, but it would seem that it’s more likely … that we are headed towards or perhaps on the cusp of a sort of global collapse.’

    – He fears that the public as a whole will only demand change once ‘they’re actually losing their jobs or losing their life or seeing their children directly suffer’.

    – One positive practical step that people could take, he says, is to push for changes in the law governing corporations:

    – ‘so that corporations don’t have more legal rights than people, and are not compelled to make a profit for shareholders.’

    https://voiceofaction.org/collapse-of-civilisation-is-the-most-likely-outcome-top-climate-scientists/

    – Meanwhile, Siberia, of all places, is undergoing a prolonged heatwave, described by one climate scientist as ‘undoubtedly alarming’, which is driving 2020 towards being the globally hottest year on record.

  61. Fred, the above are not what the IPCC estimate to be the most likely scenario, but they are not ruled out by the IPCC, and they are serious scientific positions. If Roger Hallam or Rupert Read get a bit worked up and possibly overstate, I think you should be more understanding, and take into consideration the thirty years of procrastination due to organised denial, distortion and conspiracy theory that has been well funded by the fossil fuel lobby.

    Yes, people are getting desperate. They’re prepared to superglue themselves to things and get arrested. But not without reason. OK, the collapse of civilisation and consequent gigadeath may not be the most likely scenario, but it’s such a horrendous outcome that a 10%, even a 1% chance of it must be avoided like the plague. People wouldn’t get on buses or aircraft if they had only a 99% chance of surviving.

    Mallen Baker says that XR are trying to “overthrow capitalism”, but there are plenty of pro-capitalists in XR. Another way of looking at is that XR is trying to save capitalism from itself.

  62. Node, 16:01 –

    ‘…the Italian Ministry of Health […] issued a statement […]: “only 12% of Italy’s reported Covid19 deaths actually listed Covid19 as the cause of death.”’

    Node, what was the date of that statement? I’ll bet you it was before the big peak in the Italian death rate, and they no longer stand by it. So when you get back, please post the date of the statement.

  63. “Fred, the above are not what the IPCC estimate to be the most likely scenario, but they are not ruled out by the IPCC, and they are serious scientific positions.”

    Better get building those carbon neutral nuclear power stations then.

    The reason they are not what the IPCC estimate to be the most likely scenario is because none of the very comprehensive climate models to date have predicted it. They all predict a slow gradual incremental warming unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced with no foreseeable points of no return.

    I’m sorry if this does not provide the sense of urgency needed to spur the masses on to revolution but it is the scientific reality at this moment in time.

  64. “I remember when excess deaths, or lack of them, mattered to people”

    And I remember when those who wanted no action on climate change kept saying “those are just climate models”. They said that for decades.

    But it makes no difference. Even the IPCC says we need to take drastic action.

    “They all predict a slow gradual incremental warming…” …in human terms. On geophysical timescales, it’s the blink of an eye, something that’s never happened before:

    https://xkcd.com/1732/

    And the results occur 100 to 300 years later than the emissions that cause them; greenhouse gases act like blankets that we can’t take off when we get too hot. The changes being reversible is absolutely no help if civilisation breaks down before they can be reversed.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency

    William J Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Thomas M Newsome, Phoebe Barnard, William R Moomaw

    BioScience, Volume 70, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 8–12, doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz088

    Published: 05 November 2019

    Extracts:

    Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency

    Exactly 40 years ago, scientists from 50 nations met at the First World Climate Conference (in Geneva 1979) and agreed that alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act. Since then, similar alarms have been made through the 1992 Rio Summit, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and the 2015 Paris Agreement, as well as scores of other global assemblies and scientists’ explicit warnings of insufficient progress (Ripple et al. 2017). Yet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are still rapidly rising, with increasingly damaging effects on the Earth’s climate. An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis (IPCC 2018).

    The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle. The most affluent countries are mainly responsible for the historical GHG emissions and generally have the greatest per capita emissions (table S1).

    Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament (figure 1). The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected (figure 2, IPCC 2018). It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity (IPCC 2019). Especially worrisome are potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature’s reinforcing feedbacks (atmospheric, marine, and terrestrial) that could lead to a catastrophic “hothouse Earth,” well beyond the control of humans (Steffen et al. 2018). These climate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.

    Economy

    Excessive extraction of materials and overexploitation of ecosystems, driven by economic growth, must be quickly curtailed to maintain long-term sustainability of the biosphere. We need a carbon-free economy that explicitly addresses human dependence on the biosphere and policies that guide economic decisions accordingly. Our goals need to shift from GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence toward sustaining ecosystems and improving human well-being by prioritizing basic needs and reducing inequality.

    Conclusions

    Mitigating and adapting to climate change while honoring the diversity of humans entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems. We are encouraged by a recent surge of concern. Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations. Schoolchildren are striking. Ecocide lawsuits are proceeding in the courts. Grassroots citizen movements are demanding change, and many countries, states and provinces, cities, and businesses are responding.

    As the Alliance of World Scientists, we stand ready to assist decision-makers in a just transition to a sustainable and equitable future. We urge widespread use of vital signs, which will better allow policymakers, the private sector, and the public to understand the magnitude of this crisis, track progress, and realign priorities for alleviating climate change. The good news is that such transformative change, with social and economic justice for all, promises far greater human well-being than does business as usual. We believe that the prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home.

  65. “They all predict a slow gradual incremental warming”

    Is this even true? I thought IPCC modelling reports synthesized a median from a large number of models, each producing a large number of runs with variations in parameters, and a few such runs produced far more extreme results – ie. extreme change was shown to be possible.

    When modelling a complex of many non-linear systems, it would be exceedingly odd if none of the models produced discontinuous output.

    Fred, your assertion looks to me unreasonable, extremely unlikely, so by the conventions of logical positivism I think it is up to you to substantiate it, or retract. Prove to me that none of the models produce large, rapid change.

  66. And while you’re at it Fred, you have to check whether those models incorporate the feedback paths that result in large, rapid change…

    A model can be designed to be linear or non-linear, depending on the use it is to be put to. Models for predicting regional changes from global changes will have been designed to be linear, or their output would be too unpredictable to base local policy upon. Such models are deliberately incapable of simulating tipping points.

  67. Here is one of the simplest mathematical models. It is called the logistic difference equation. It is a population growth model, not a climate model. It is unrealistically simplistic for almost any physical system, but it illustrates (1) sensitive dependence upon initial conditions and (2) that change in a single parameter can fundamentally transform the behaviour of the entire system.

    x is the variable, representing the population. r is a constant, representing the growth rate. x is started between 0 and 1. Here’s the system:

    New value of x =
    existing value of x times r times (1 minus existing value of x)
    Repeat.

    or in short, repeat the following, substituting in the new value of x each time:

    x <= xr(1-x)

    You'll find that this extremely simple system has wildly varying behaviour depending on the value of r. Low values of r lead to values of x that stabilise. Higher values of r lead to a population that eventually oscillates between two values of x. Higher still leads to four repeating x values, higher still to eight x values and so on, until, above a critical value of r, x varies chaotically between limits. If r exceeds 4, limits are exceeded, x heads for infinity and the simulation cannot be continued, ie. the system breaks down catastrophically.

  68. NB: in

    x <= xr(1-x)

    I have used <= to look like an arrow pointing left, meaning "take the value calculated on the right and substitute it into the value on the left", rather than "the value on the left is less than or equal to the value on the right".

    Note to Ben: rather than a symptom of autism, this comment reflects my long experience that when commenting on blogs, any ambiguity that can be misinterpreted, will be misinterpreted; a variant of Murphy's law.

  69. Clark: I agree those missing italics was an error in communication that could NEVER be overcome even with the context of my comment.

    But I do wonder why, when I have made clear on many occasions
    I am a moderate, not a capitalistic conservative, that your reflexive action is to conclude I am a Capitalist with a capital ‘C’. Did I miss a hyphen or fail to italicize somewhere?

    Let me repeat with alacrity: I curse BOTH ends of that spectrum of Right and Left as a political argument.

    But both capitalism and socialism need each other to make deeply flawed humanity work socially and economically.

    I hope that’s the last time I have to repeat myself

  70. Ben, I didn’t conclude that you’re a capitalist. I interpreted “the problem” as the problem under discussion at the time, which is, why is it proving so hard to stop the ecological and climate crises?, and got a bit confused.

    “both capitalism and socialism need each other to make deeply flawed humanity work socially and economically”

    That’s pretty close to my own position. Expanding a bit, I don’t see the point of governments of the Right, because capitalism will zoom to the Right far more than is healthy, completely of its own accord. One of governments’ primary functions is to prevent that, and to apply handicaps eg. increasing taxation to corporations in proportion to how big and powerful they get, to give the smaller fish a chance, or innovation and commercial diversity will be throttled. The governments we’re currently putting up with do the opposite.

    Anyway, what’s up, friend? If I seem autistic to you, you seem tetchy to me. Actually, I can probably guess; the US president is a moron who’s helping a virus more than the people he’s meant to serve, and it’s getting scary. The US figures are simply appalling; the richest, most powerful nation that ever existed, bristling with nukes, military bases all over the world, and it can’t, or rather won’t even protect its population from 32,000 base pairs of RNA.

    I was shopping in town today. I put on my mask before entering each shop, of course. Less than one in ten were doing so. But then Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens recently Tweeted:

    “the primary purpose of enforced muzzle wearing in public spaces (which protects nobody against anything) is to humiliate the wearer and make him or her accustomed to unquestioning obedience to authority”.

  71. “the primary purpose of enforced muzzle wearing in public spaces (which protects nobody against anything) is to humiliate the wearer and make him or her accustomed to unquestioning obedience to authority”.

    That’s my conclusion as well, clark. No one can tell or suggest they do something that is considerate of others because it infringes on their Freedumbs as I describe their ignorant, stupid and crazy behavior.

    It separates the two camps definitively as those who favor property over People versus those who place People as priority.

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