Another Referendum

And I’m not referring to the mutterings about Indyref 2 that the SNP are, inevitably, making. They’re as much a one-trick-pony as UKIP and one of these days I’ll do a post about the screw-up they are as a government. Scottish NHS barely getting by, police quitting in droves, education standards plummetting, teacher numbers falling, universities losing staff, GP practices closing…. but that’s another post, another day.

This time it’s the EU referendum, if Cameron ever puts his money (sorry, that should read ‘our’ money) where his mouth is and if the EU doesn’t implode (or explode) first under the current stresses of migration and Eurozone crisis. In a way, I’d be quite pleased if it fell apart by itself since that would save us all the trouble of arguing the issues and falling out amongst ourselves. As a survivor of the Indyref, I know from experience that a referendum is a bitterly divisive process when it involves something that ordinary people care about. The AV referendum back in 2011 was dry technical stuff that only constitutional anoraks got heated about – the rest of us didn’t really see the point of getting worked up about which way to mark a ballot paper.

I will say straight out that I don’t like the EU. I never voted to enter it (I wasn’t old enough) and I would dearly love, for many reasons, to be able to vote to get out of it. Like the Indyref last year, however, there are reasons being advanced both to stay in the EU and to leave it. Some may be specious works of fantasy, as were many arguments last year. Rather than put my brain on the shelf and let my emotions mark the ballot paper, I intend to work through all the reasons on both sides that I can find and come to a reasoned, balanced decision, rather than being blackmailed or brainwashed into things by someone else’s blarney. Or even my own heart.

I think each of the many issues deserves its own post (or, indeed, several) and, in any case, writing about each one will help me get (or keep) my own head straight.

Without further ado, then – the issues as I’ve come across them and thought of them so far (and I may add others if, as and when I come across them):

Sovereignty – the right of a nation or state to govern itself without outside imposition or interference. Leading on from sovereignty, ever-tighter Union and the Euro monetary policy, the woes of the PIIGS and the nature of a federal state.

Business arguments – both for and against. The balance of trade with the EU and outside it, free markets and the common market. The role of Business As Usual in exacerbating climate change, globalism and whether we should abandon current economic/fiscal theories in order to survive.

Immigration, Migration and Border Controls. The right to travel freely, Schengen, etc. A contentious subject that needs discussion on many levels. Involved in this are not just racism, human rights, religion, infrastructure and the Welfare State, but also health, law and order, global overpopulation/overshoot, planetary limits, resources, climate change and a great deal of futurology.

I will try to be objective about each subject but no promises. I am, after all, already biassed and know it, and I’m also a survivalist and an environmentalist so I’ll be approaching each topic from those directions, not from the the normal sheeple perspective.

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Climate Catch Up: just in case you thought it was over….

It ain’t.

In fact, the state of the climate is more worrying than ever, as the rate of climate change would appear to be accelerating rather than remaining steady. In other words, it’s getting worse, faster (more details here and here). This, in turn, will cause an acceleration in all the other problems we can already see starting, and which we should expect to get much worse in the next few years – increasing migration, decreasing crop yields, more droughts, more heatwaves, etc.

Globally, we’ve just had the hottest July on record, and those records go back to 1880. July 2015 has been the hottest of all those months, so the hottest month of the last 1,627 months..

Global average sea temperatures were 0.75 degrees C above average, too – the largest departure from the average ever recorded.

If that wasn’t bad enough, it’s almost certain that temperatures will continue well above average for the rest of this year and into 2016, thanks to what started out as a limp-wristed wimp of an El Nino but has now developed into what’s been called a Godzilla El Nino, with worse expected before this time next year. El Nino conditions tend to produce record global high temperatures anyway – which is why 1998 still ranks as one of the hottest years on record, thanks to a monster El Nino that year – but with global temperatures already well above average, nobody seems to know quite how bad the Godzilla of the Pacific might be, this year or next.

Both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice are below average extent at the moment – it’s high summer in the arctic and sea-ice is approaching its minimum, with both the North-West Passage and the Northern Russian Coastal Route open as seaways. In the Antarctic, though, it’s now the depths of winter, yet sea-ice is slightly below average (National Snow and Ice Data Centre has the details).

It’s not all bad news, though. Following the Pope’s recent declaration in favour of taking care of our poor battered environment, Muslim clerics are now standing up for the biosphere, too, with a recent gathering of top clerics from 20 Muslim countries calling on all 1.6 billion Muslims in the world to work to reduce climate change and transition to a zero-carbon economy by the middle of the century.

What effect China’s current economic belly-flop will have on their carbon emissions, I don’t know. It’s probably both good (less pollution from a less-active economy) and bad (less money to plough into greener initiatives and pollution clean-ups) but I expect, as always, that it’ll all be clear with hindsight.

And now back to everyday life….

TANSTAFFL

This stands for There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

Particularly when a politician or a political party starts offering “free” anything, remember the money has to come from somewhere. If you’re not paying for it up front, then where are they skinning the money from out of sight?

A few “free” things that get my goat.

“Free” university tuition. Here‘s a hint that not all Scotland’s universities are happy with this. I’m particularly suspicious when it comes to comments like

“opposing government policy isn’t always welcomed”

Is this a hint that free speech is being stifled?

You can’t have something for nothing. I’m not against the state shouldering tuition fees – I did my degree back in the old days when every local authority in the UK paid tuition fees, and my daughter’s away in Glasgow at the moment, fee-less. If you want a top-class education system, however, then you have to pay for it somehow. If students aren’t paying for it, then you have to fund it to the same level via public funds…. in other words, every tax payer takes a share. I’m perfectly happy, as a tax payer, knowing that I’m paying a few quid towards the education of the next generation, including Michelle. But when you see that tuition fees aren’t being paid by students and you discover that the government isn’t paying enough either…. well, then there’s only one outcome. The quality of the university education is going to suffer. As a parent, that’s not good enough.

Here’s another nice “free” offer from the Scottish Government. “Free” childcare for every child between 3 and 4 for 16 hours a week. Except it appears a lot of parents have to pay for their childcare because the council-funded places aren’t opening the right hours, or simply can’t handle that many children. Next year it’s going to include 27% of all 2 year olds, as well – at least in theory. Yet Scotland has less provision for nursery places under the “free” childcare that the Nats are bleating about, than England does without it. And where’s the money coming from? Local authorities raise their money from the Council Tax and the Scottish Government hasn’t allowed a rise in that for 8 years now. Holyrood’s providing £329 million to fund the expansion…. hang on a minute, there’s only 5.3 million people in Scotland and not all of them are taxpayers! Say we assume that it’s falling equally on all tax payers, and there’s a national average of 72.5% employment for those between 16 and 64, which is 63% of the population, then we’re looking at…. (bear with me, maths isn’t my favourite subject….) 2.43 million taxpayers, so each tax payer will be paying an extra  £135.39 for the “free” childcare that these children aren’t adequately receiving, on top of whatever we’re already paying, which I haven’t been able to track down yet.

“Free”. Yeah, right.

So, as all the politicians get revved up to offer bread-and-circus in one hand and smoke-and-mirrors in the other to fool the mugs into voting for them in May, just remember, if they’re busy saying “it’s free!”…. they’re lying.

TANSTAAFL!

In other news, no wonder the Russians are feeling their oats and flying bombers around our coasts with increasing frequency, just look at the way the EU’s busy arguing amongst itself! Brussels says Greece’s loan application is a positive move, and a couple of hours later Germany tells Greece where to go, with hints that it’s because the German finance minister has taken a huff at the Greek finance minister’s negotiation style.

Anyone would think Germany wanted Greece to turn to Russia for a bail-out. Wouldn’t that be an interesting twist? Part of the EU busy baiting the Bear over the Ukraine, part of the EU extending the begging bowl to the Bear and part of it (us) being wagged as the tail of the US dog-of-war.

Oddly enough, I actually have a high enough opinion of Putin’s nerve, guts and brinksmanship to think he’ll dance a smart line and avoid outright war (this does not imply, by the way, that I approve of him, his morals, his ethics, his methods or his ambitions…. just that I think he’s one smart, savvy, ruthless and clever son of a female dog. The West has nobody with Putin’s political skills, though plenty who can match his bad qualities.) Russia nipped the Crimea off very neatly and made the West look like a bunch of blundering buffoons on the world stage, I suspect they’ll succeed in the Ukraine as well. Particularly as the EU is busy attacking its own members.

Too bad for the Ukrainians. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania next?

Who’d a Thunk it?

Look out for formation-flying pigs! At last, the weight of the evidence and the severity of the crisis is hitting home for Big Business – and the ones with the biggest stakes in the denial game, too!

Some big companies have been active in climate change mitigation and adaptation schemes for some time – Apple, for instance, is a high-profile company which has for some time acknowledged climate change and sought ways to reduce its reliance on  fossil fuels. This week, Bloomberg reports Apple has invested $850 million in ensuring that it will be powering all its offices, machines, stores and data centres from solar sources for at least the next 25 years.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, one of the world’s biggest oil companies, had acknowledged the urgent necessity of dealing with climate change, reducing the world’s reliance on oil and switching to natural gas as a less polluting alternative, along with more renewables, and even called for governments to set carbon prices to discourage the use of fossil fuels.

Today, in reports from the Guardian and Telegraph, I note that British Petroleum, another massive multinational oil company, has stepped up to the plate. Increasing energy demand is not compatible with fighting climate change, its Energy Report has declared, and carbon emissions are ‘unsustainable’! BP, too, would like carbon prices, please.

Well, woo-hoo!! Finally, the emperors of carbon production are looking in the mirror and noticing a certain draftiness around their nethers! BP and Shell are two of the five biggest oil companies in the world – the others being ConocoPhillips, Chevron and ExxonMobil. When you consider the massive investment these companies have in exploiting any fossil fuel they can lay hands on, even two out of five ain’t bad (apologies to Meatloaf for misquoting!)

This is a long way from fixing any problems, but at least the big players are beginning to admit there are problems. If they withdraw their funding for climate change denial thinktanks and propagandists (and they should!)  then the artificial and false “controversy” over whether climate change exists and will be a major existential challenge for humanity should begin to die down. With their financial clout, these companies also have the ears of politicians and have for many years been stridently arguing that jobs now are more important than TEOTWAWKI for the next generation.

Maybe, just maybe, we can look forwards to getting to grips with the adaptation and mitigation measures our grandchildren need us to put in place.

Bad News for California….

…and the rest of the lower end of the US, by the looks of the graphics in yesterday’s Guardian article.

The NASA study which is the base of the article indicates that “quite soon” would be a very good time for Californians, in particular, to sell up and move northwards quite a way, before word spreads and property prices plummet. Over on Weather Underground, on the same subject of drought in the Sunshine State, it would appear we have a perfect example of the frog-boiler in progress.

I’ve probably used this metaphor before here, I quite like it and tend to use it in many places I go online. For anyone who hasn’t met it before, it’s a thought experiment (I hope…. I like amphibians!) whereby you take a frog or frogs and toss them into boiling water. They immediately leap out. Take the same frog(s) and place in cool water, then turn up the heat slowly, they adjust to the changing temperature and float peacefully around in the pan while boiling to death.

It would appear some Californians are oblivious to the bubbles in the water around them. It’s the worst drought in 1,200 years, groundwater is so low entire counties are having bottled water shipped in because the wells are all dry, snowpack is in very short supply in a state that relies on snow for 30% of its water, and people are celebrating because they can cavort about in shorts getting a tan in the middle of winter?

Not that this is a uniquely Californian outlook on dangerous situations, mind you. If you look around, you can see it in practically every aspect of life. Sheeple will sleep-walk peacefully into tyranny, war, starvation, rising sea levels, dangerous air pollution and many other things that an outside observer, seeing the more advanced state of events, immediately categorises as blatently stupid, provided you turn up the heat gently.

Frankly, I think the frogs probably have it over humanity when it comes to perception of danger.

TTIP of the Iceberg

After yesterday’s glance at Scottish politics, today I thought I’d have a look at international politics. Not the obvious stuff like the not-so-cold war that’s been running between the US and Russian in Ukraine for quite a while now, nor the current mess called the Middle East, which is only the latest manifestation of several thousand years of idiocy at work.

Closer to home. Within the EU. But not something that writing to your MEP can affect, nor will anyone get a chance to vote on it (for those who thought we lived in a democracy).

TTIP. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

It’s dressed up to look like a free trade agreement on trade tariffs between the EU and the US. Hidden away within the weasel words, however, are the clauses that will ensure that European citizens (including us in the UK, unless by some miracle the sheeple come to their senses and force the politicians to exit the EU – I’m not holding my breath) will be fed GM food, like it or not; forced to accept US levels of toxic ingredients and pollution (EU standards are much tighter) and watch US companies take over our public utilities and health services (though admittedly the Chinese currently own most of the UK water companies). TTIP will also remove the curbs on banking greed that caused the 2008 crash, in line with US legislation, and re-introduce the internet censorship that the European parliament threw out only a couple of years ago, to allow the US federal agencies free access to all the “private” data in Europe. And on top of all this, if any EU government tries to introduce legislation that might reduce the profits of US companies, TTIP gives those companies the right to sue governments to recover thoir ‘lost’ profits. There’s an article in the Independent from last October that sums up the clauses that should have every EU commissioner before a firing squad for even allowing the paperwork to sit on a table in front of them.

There is a European Citizens Initiative – a sort of petition demanding EU parliamentarians do something – though what they can do when the Commissioners are all working away in favour of it, I don’t quite know. But what the H, I’ve signed it – if we don’t bother saying anything, then TPTB have every justification to say they thought we were happy for them to go ahead.

I’m not.

This will almost certainly go through, because the big US companies want it and they can afford to buy off the politicians both sides of the Pond. When it does, I expect to see job losses (the US has much less stringent worker protection, so it’ll be cheaper to outsource work to the US), a massive handover of national sovereignty (what little we haven’t already handed to Brussels) to US multinationals and a huge step backwards in environmental protection, pollution control and food standards.

The only way to control what you eat will be to grow your own – and don’t forget that the US companies like Monsanto are the ones who tried to ban the sale of all seeds that aren’t produced by them, unable to grow except when doused in their pesticides, even in our own back gardens! I wonder how long it’ll be before that legislation is re-introduced and you get prosecuted for growing your own food? It’s been going on for years in the States, and if (when) the morons in Brussels dump TTIP on us, the door will be open for it to happen here too.

State Ownership of Scottish Children to Start before Birth!!

Another unashamed delve into the filth and social control that is Scottish Politics.

Some time ago I mentioned the Named Person policy here, whereby all children born or resident in Scotland will be under the guardianship of a State employee until they’re 18, regardless of their parents’ wishes. Today it’s come to light that the guidelines on instituting this process have taken the Big Brother even further. Now the Named Person job starts at 7 months of pregnancy!

So, if you planned on anything a bit different for your child’s birth, or had strong feelings about vaccinations, or, when you get down to it, thought that it was “your” child to begin with…. now you know. It’s not. It’s only your foetus until 7 months, then wave goodbye to freedom, some State appointed busybody can tell you what to do with yourself from then on. Presumably they’ll move in and do the cooking after the birth so you’re eating the right diet while breastfeeding, too.

For crying out loud, SNP, George Orwell was writing a satirical novel, not a  manifesto!

UK Knife Law – Locking Blades

A petition was brought to my attention the other day and I’m going to share it here in the hopes of gathering a few more signatures.

UK law states than nobody may carry a knife in public without good cause if the blade is more than 3 inches in length, or if the blade locks open. Now, this particular quirk wasn’t written into the Act of Parliament governing offensive weapons, it stems from a judge mistakenly deciding that ‘lock’ knives were dangerous, which just shows how little some judges know about knives.

A folding knife with a lock is SAFER than a folding knife without a lock! The lock stops the blade snapping shut on your fingers while you’re working with the knife.

Anyway, as it stands, we’re all forced to avoid carrying the safest folding knives and have to make do with much less safe non-locking folders, and this petition merely asks for a review of the law with regard to carrying small locking penknives. Please, if you’re a UK citizen, consider signing the petition! We’ve only got until the end of March 2015 to put 10,000 signatures on the petition and force the Civil Service to respond – 100,000 signatures and it has to be considered by a back-bench committee. It’s hard enough trying to maintain any rights against the natural tyranny of politicians – no opportunity for exercising a democratic right should be overlooked!

SNP – Scotland, No Privacy.

I make no apologies for this utterly political digression from climate change issues. The political situation, legal situation and other factors of the country also play a large part in the thinking of any prepper worth the name.

I dispair of the stupidity and sleep-walking acceptance of Orwellian (and draconian) government interference in private lives in this country. There was Kenny MacAskill’s lunatic plan to force air-rifle owners to register and licence their weapons (thankfully, since he was turfed out as Injustice Minister that seems to have gone on the back burner!) but there’s two more pieces of legislation that Orwell would have been proud of on the cards here at the moment.

Firstly, there’s the Named Person policy, which comes into force next year. Sounds innocuous, masquerades as ‘protection for children’ but is the slim and innocent end of a very big wedge.

In principle, it’s simple. Every child under 18 in Scotland will have a ‘named person’ responsible for their welfare. Well, heck, that’s a parent’s job, right?

Except here the word of a social worker, headteacher or doctor will overule the wishes of the parents, with legal force behind it. Merely because they think a child could be doing better, the Named Person will be able to access any relevant data on the child and his/her family (and I’ll come back to data issues in a minute!) and order changes to the way that child is raised/medicated/educated or whatever.

And how many paedophiles have been unmasked recently amongst the ranks of doctors, teachers, social workers, politicians? The very people who are now being handed ultimate authority over every child in Scotland?

Admittedly, there are some dysfunctional families and some adults with kids aren’t fit to have charge of a pushchair, let alone the contents, but the scope for abuse in this legislation is stunning. A lot of home-educating families I know in Scotland are now planning on leaving this beautiful country – not because they’re abusing their children, but because their children will automatically fall under the ‘named person’ guardianship of their local headteacher – a person manifestly unlikely to appreciate that home education will almost invariably produce a young person who is years ahead of their classroom educated ‘peers’ in every intellectual and social field you can measure. Home-ed kids learn to think for themselves, which immediately puts anyone in the government system against the concept.

And what about the ridiculous situation that 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote in elections, but will still be ruled by a state-appointed guardian?

Yesterday a legal challenge to this policy was thrown out by a judge. The challenge was backed by a coalition of various organisations and individuals and claimed that the legislation contravened the European Convention on Human Rights (as the Guardian, indeed, suggested last year) –

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks

I’m just glad my daughter (home-educated after the age of 14) is beyond getting caught up in this, as she’s now in her 20s and away at university.

The second piece of Orwellian meddling by the Scottish Government is in the field of data collection. They plan on establishing an ID database on which every citizen in Scotland will be identified by an ID number and all their data accessible via that number. Allegedly it’s ‘only’ an extension of the existing NHS central registry, which holds information on about 30% of Scotland’s population, but the SNP (does it stand for Snooping Nosy Parkers, I wonder?) wants it not only to include everyone and all their details, but to be accessible by every government agency, including the quangos such as the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

So, in theory, if you drive into the Cairngorms the CCTV will pick up your numberplate and by the time you reach the visitor centre the staff will know your name, address, date of birth, whether your Council Tax is up to date and when you last had a flu jab.

Why do people continue to vote for these intrusive, controlling meglomaniacs? Could it be because the education system teaches them not to read, write, and certainly not to think?

Just imagine what would have happened if the referendum had gone the other way last September. By now, the signs on the border would read: Welcome to Independent Scotland. No knives, no guns, no kids, no privacy, no land ownership, no freedom. Have a nice day.

Migration

We’ve always been a nation of immigrants.

The first humans arrived here in the UK (on foot) sometime before 8,000 BCE, probably ambling over from the French/Spanish coastal plains as the ice retreated at the end of the last Ice Age, in search of mammoths to hunt.

The Celts arrived from the Belgium/France direction sometime around 750 BCE, bringing the Iron Age with them along with the ancestor of Scottish, Irish and Manx Gaelic. Another batch arrived about 500BCE, speaking a different dialect that went on to become Welsh, Breton and Cornish.

The Romans arrived in 55BCE. They came, saw, conquored, left around 450 years later, but left us our first evidence of cross-cultural marriage: the tomb of a Palestinian-born Roman soldier at one end of Hadrian’s Wall, his British-born wife’s grave at the other.

The Anglo-Saxons arrived, possibly before the Romans, certainly some came while the Romans were in residence, more again after the Romans left.

The Normans, famously, turned up in 1066AD.

I could go on – the first British Jewish community arrived in 1066AD, the Roma arrived sometime about 1500AD, etc.

The point about all these invasions, settlements, immigrations and arrivals is that they arrived in moderate numbers. A few dozen here, a hundred there. They settled down and became part of their communities – albeit, in the case of the Normans, as lords and masters. We’re used to economic migrants, asylum seekers, people looking for safety and security here after leaving somewhere worse off. We’ve also produced plenty of migrants of our own – Canadians, Americans, Patagonians (Welsh-speaking Patagonians, even!), Australians, New Zealanders, and so forth.

More recently, we’ve started to see increasing unhappiness in the UK with the current migration situation. It’s not as if we native-born British are exactly a minority in our own country – latest census data suggests we still form the overwhelming majority of the population, about 91.7%. Yet we still don’t like to see headlines like illegal immigrants quadruple in 3 years or Home Office loses 174,000 illegal immigrants. I certainly don’t like it when people arrive from other countries in search of that ‘better society’ and promptly import all the religious, legal, social, etc values of the society they’re fleeing, then insist that we extend tolerance to these values. If you want to come to the UK to work, settle, raise your family, become part of the British community, then fine. If you want to bring your own language, religion and so forth, keep ’em to yourself and off the street. (And anyone who wants to go off and become a terrorist, just stay there. You’re not welcome here and I deeply resent paying for your luxurious stay in a UK jail out of my taxes.)

Yet if we’re having trouble with the current rate of migration, what’s it going to be like in a few decades, when potentially “hundreds of millions of people, perhaps billions of people would have to move” from environmentally unsustainable countries because of climate change? It’s not just a few Inuit villages sliding into the sea as the permafrost melts, or Tuvaluans as their islands are inundated – it’ll be the entire population of the Tropics as the temperatures rise beyond endurance, crops fail and water supplies run low.

People who face death by thirst, starvation or inundation by rising waters don’t really have many choices. They can stay where they are and die, or they can migrate to somewhere that they believe may be better. How many choose to sit and die?

Which means, of course, that all the places currently wrestling with increasing migration are going to see the problem go exponential in coming years. Europe already has an ‘under siege’ mentality developing as thousands of North Africans head across the Mediterranean on anything that floats, and despite the hundreds who die trying, they still prefer to risk it than stay in their own countries in poverty. How hard will they try when it’s a matter of life and death, not just more money?

How do we handle that many immigrants? They won’t accept being told to go home (I wouldn’t, under those circumstances!), they won’t wait patiently for paperwork before arriving, they won’t allow themselves to be rounded up and repatriated.

We’re in a slightly better position here than most of Europe, at least in theory. We’re an island. If things get desperate, we can at least consider blowing up the Chunnel, stopping cross-channel ferries and grounding aircraft. They’ll have to swim to get here, or build boats – you can walk to mainland Europe from Africa or Asia, just as our distant ancestors walked out of Africa and settled the rest of the world.

They’ll still get here, though, and then what? My imagination’s vivid enough to see what’s coming. Don’t politicians have imaginations?