Sunday 2 February 2014


The Towy this morning - you can't actually see its normal banks

I got absolutely soaked yesterday walking west up the Towy Valley but it was better today walking east, though I needed my wellies to trudge on the valley floor much of which is still under water. You can see how the river changes its course over the years as it finds a quicker route and digs away at the banks during the floods. Presumably the familiar pattern of meandering and stranded oxbow lakes is caused as much by flooding as by routine erosion - I can't remember as I gave up geography aged 12 (it was that or Greek).

While I am walking I hear on the news that it has been the wettest January since 1767 - clearly they say an indication of global warming (sorry I mean "climate change" - since it got colder they have moved the goal posts and kept their options open).

On that logic there must have been a lot of greenhouse gas around in the mid-late 18c. That would have been all the smoke and soot coming out of those up-and-down pumping steam engines - they didn't invent steam engines which could actually turn a wheel until the 1780s.

For the record I am not myself a "climate change denier" (a cleverly coined, pejorative label sounding a bit like "holocaust denier") but a neutral observer with no knowledge of these things - it's all Greek to me (as it were).

What I observe is that there are vested interests of big business on the one side and shouty environmentalists (and, increasingly, other big business) on the other, debating about what remains circumstantial evidence (nothing wrong with circumstantial evidence but it tends to leave things somewhat unresolved); I also observe that "respectable" institutions have been caught out telling porkies or making false claims about the science. Humankind probably is affecting the climate but it is very hard to tell how much, whether for net better or worse, and whether it is worth trying to do anything about it.

But step forward the Prince of Wales to arbitrate this difficult matter. This week he addressed a conference of "sustainability entrepreneurs" (story here) where he called the sceptics "headless chickens". An odd choice of words as the expression is usually used about the people who are panicking. Right or wrong the sceptics are surely saying that we should not panic. Still, you get where he stands on this.

But then the Prince of Wales also campaigns vigorously for precious NHS resources to be expended on homoeopathy instead of (for example) mental health. Now that is one debate where the science is completely clear. There is no more evidence for the effectiveness of homoeopathy than there is for witchcraft or tarot cards.

Listening to my tiny mp3/radio while out walking - multitasking in action