Let’s start at the top, with Climategate. A great mass of original material is hacked or leaked from a key UK Climate Research Unit.


Those who want urgent action of different sorts on climate change are exhibiting unease, insisting that it is all a fuss about next to nothing and that the science is ‘unquestionable’. Which is fine, except that a heck of a lot more questions are buzzing around at the moment.


Climate-change sceptics proclaim a huge victory, arguing that this material shows all sorts of unprofessional/unethical behaviour on the part of leading climate researchers, not to mention uncertain data on which key climate warnings have been based.


John Redwood deftly describes the rival camps and sub-camps. BBC’s Martin Rosenbaum looks at Freedom of Information angles.


Bishop Hill (no bishop nor hill he) has been busy explaining the issues in simple terms. Plus doing some digging himself.


Former diplomat and ex-Greenpeace climate and energy consultant Stephen Tindale checks out Conservative policy on Climate and finds some things to like.


For a post-Yugoslav neo-Stalinist contrarianist’s view, there is always self-indulgent Slavoj Zizek railing against ‘naturalising nature’. Quite.


My conclusion? It boils down to a hard choice between adapting to climate change as and when and where it happens, or trying to muster the resources now to ‘mitigate’ the changes and somehow stop the climate changing as pessimists fear. But if the pessimists are right, isn’t it too late anyway?


Pedant-General (over at Devil’s Kitchen) gives an eloquent account:


  • the worse the climate situation is, the greater the cost of mitigation and the more attractive it is to go for adaptation. This is the oddity with the Stern Report. If his numbers are correct, we’re either doing enough for mitigation already or we shouldn’t be doing it at all. As the shrieking gets louder, the costs of mitigation inevitably rise and the argument gets stronger AGAINST mitigation.
  •  Finally we get to the politics and the Bjorn Lomborg position. Even if it is all ghastly, there are many more important things to do with our resources. Millions really actually will die from preventable water-borne diseases, malnutrition and malaria and we really actually can do something about those. Buggering about with the climate, although it definitely will be expensive, is desperately uncertain both in terms of its effectiveness and the lives it will save. That’s not a good trade off.

One argument against Adaptation is that we have run out of room. Philobiblon points out that a mere 6000 years ago there was a thriving human culture in an area now submerged off the East Coast of England called Doggerland (not to be confused with where we alas now live, namely Doggingland):


… the rate of sea rise in the 20th century – 20cm, “may be higher than at any time since the loss of Doggerland” (and they note that between 18,000 and 5,500 BC sea levels rose by more than 140 metres.) And they note the huge, human, difference: “Ultimately, the Mesolithic communities of the great plains were flexible and mobile. Suffering there must have been, but the communities moved and adapted.


Modern society does not have that luxury…Unlike the inhabitants of Doggerland, we have nowhere else to go.”


Even more recent civilisations on our ever-shifting shores have been and gone, including the Romans. Diamond Geezer swings by London’s only visitable Roman Villa and is impressed by the way it is run.


The (I think) winning argument for leaning towards Adaptation is that for better or worse it is what in fact is going to happen, so let’s get on with it intelligently?


* * * * *

Another area where we the public are able to press our noses against the grimy window of policy and peer in at what really happens is the new Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq. Even if those deep dark Blairish manoeuvres over Iraq are as nothing compared to the deeper and darker goings-on in Jersey.


So far a series of not-so-silent FCO Knights (Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Sir William Patey, Sir Peter Ricketts, Sir Christopher Meyer) have been giving their views to the Committee, which itself includes another FCO Knight, Sir Rod Lyne. Yes Sir!


David Hadley reminds us that another reliable witness from an even loftier position plans to set the record straight.


Natalie Solent shares with us her brisk submission to the Inquiry.


* * * * *

Climate and Iraq are all about the limits of government behaviour in a democracy, and also about how citizens in a democracy make their concerns felt.


For example, when should the police keep DNA samples? The Heresiarch ponders.


As I always say when training young diplomats, “it’s not enough to be Right – you also have to be Convincing”. How about British government attempts to stop us file-sharing? Sufficiently Unconvincing that a busy petition is being organised against them.


If governments don’t (yet) decide everything, citizens themselves hammer out their ideas. Not always … nicely, especially when it comes to the role and impact of Muslim communities.


Intellectual Muslim has shut up shop for now under pressure from uncontrollable security threats and obscene input & sabotage by external individuals wishing to undermine the integrity of our site and the credibility of our content.  


Woe to the UK Blogosphere, Anna Raccoon too is giving up:


… the world of blogging is fuelled by petty jealousies, vitriol, feuds, unsubstantiated allegations, apostrophe police, and a whole host of people who in another age would have been happy twitching their curtains and writing letters in green ink. I have watched in horror as several new forums have descended into a cesspool of hatred and nastiness, and you know what? I got up this morning and decided that I just didn’t have the energy anymore, or the thick skin, to do it any longer.


Here is Anna on equality of domestic violence to show us what we’ll miss.


Over in Switzerland they now and again ask people what they think. This time the idea of minarets is proving unpopular.


Yet here in the UK the government uses our money to subsidise Islamist radicals. The BBC discovers something amazing about Imams and shares their discovery with us. The Spittoon is unimpressed with the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s negative views on the symbolism of wearing a poppy for Remembrance Day.


British Christianist media are attacking official attempts to edit out Christmas in favour of a denominationally neutral ‘Winterval’ – or not. And us usual the Daily Mail is under attack, this time for suggesting that too many foreign babies are being born in the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.


* * * * *

Politics! And Law!


Two Doctors take to task Labour’s Tom Harris MP over proportional representation.


Conservative ideas are getting scrutiny as election day looms. Ruscombe Green looks at their policies on rewarding recycling and thinks local. The Daily (Maybe) thinks that the Conservatives hate Europe incoherently.


Another former diplomat (FCO lawyer to be precise) turned Conservative + blogger is Dominic Raab, now the Tory candidate for Esher and Walton. All politics being local, what about the impact on local roads of planned gas works?


Meanwhile, over in Spelthorne, Graeme Reid fears that the process of selecting a new Conservative candidate is jinxed. Liberal England does not like the Conservative choice for Richmond Park, wealthy Zac Goldsmith.


Are magistrates pushing too many cases up to a higher level unnecessarily? Yes, says The Magistrate’s Blog.


* * * * *


To conclude with nice things.


Your Christmas gift problems solved, far from the beaten track, with two books: War with the Newts and Jan Maclure’s Escape to Chingking (Christopher showed that resistance should be to death, and that death was fine so long as it came out of patriotic ethical effort and not from giving up.)


Two fine buildings: Kilburn School of Needlework and the church of Saints Mary and David, Kilpeck


Finally, to a question that really matters, and one close to my own heart as I am the proud owner of a Linn hifi system (including a feisty Sondek LP player): which sounds better, the Beatles’ Help on vinyl/mono or remastered stereo? Andrew Hickey decides, with some aplomb.

Update from Andrew Hickey: I was comparing the remastered mono with the remaster of the original 65 stereo on the same CD. I prefer mono to stereo, but also prefer vinyl to CD, but only have the mono Beatles on CD… it’s a hard life…

My Bad. But read his analysis anyway – a model on how to look at such things.


* * * * *


Next week’s BBRU is hosted by Philobiblon. Contributions to britblog [at] gmail [dot] com, please.