Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Why did Chris Brennan not get efficient care?

Chris Brennan (from family archive)


The coroner says that "neglect" by staff in a psychiatric unit at Bethlem Royal Hospital, South London, contributed to the death of 15-year old Chris Brennan.

The coroner noted under-staffing, which contributed to low morale and poor performance.

It is easy for lawyers to pronounce after hours, days or even weeks of deliberation on medical decisions that are taken in sub-optimal conditions.

Psychiatric services are a neglected part of the NHS, which is underfunded overall.

Here are the bare bones of the situation in the NHS, dug up by Dr Clive Peedell of the NHS Action Party:

Those deductions add up to at least £10 billion a year, about 8% of the notional NHS budget.
This deficit, happening year on year, are bound to have an effect on services, and Jeremy Hunt's idea of stretching an already overstretched 5-day service out to 7 days, without offering extra resources, is simply going to make the situation worse.

Coroners are going to see a lot more cases like poor Chris Brennan, unless and until people start to camp outside local Conservative Party Association HQs.

Why climate change "scepticism" is not science

Climate change "scepticism" is an a priori argument; it stems from absolute belief in the free market, and belief in the principle is so strong, it can allow the believer to override a complete body of science.

One of the features of mature science is that it builds a coherent picture of the systems it is studying.

For example,  in the case of scientific medicine, we have a clear idea of how the human body functions - how respiration, hydration, nutrition, metabolism, reproduction, perception and excretion work together in a unitary system to produce a living human person. There are areas of uncertainty in medicine and human biology because that is the nature of science, but the uncertainty is at the periphery where the specialist scientists are working; alongside the peripheral uncertainties, we still have the central certainty that if there is a pulse, breathing, good colour and verbal responses we can be pretty sure that the patient is not dead.


Coherence is one of the ways we know that climate science is right and climate scepticism is wrong. This is important, because some journalists and broadcasters seem to think that science happens when people use long, perhaps incomprehensible, words and can refer to papers. It is not. Climate science creates a coherent picture of the planet in the following way:
  1. The greenhouse effect is real 
  2. CO2 is a greenhouse gas
  3. We have already increased CO2 levels by 40%
  4. The earth surface temperature has already risen by nearly 1*C
  5. Already we are seeing weather changes in terms of heatwaves and floods. 
  6. If we continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere, we, our children and our grandchildren are going to suffer significantly
Climate sceptics on the other hand just have a number of criticisms and talking points that they raise over and again: climate is not changing, it is changing but not because of CO2, it is due to the Sun, it is due to volcanoes, it is due to the little ice age, cloud cover will cool us down, it is due to cosmic rays etc etc. There is no consistency, no attempt to construct a coherent picture of the world. 

The only fairly constant concept in the climate science sceptic armoury is that the free market is an inviolable principle, and if anthropogenic climate change were true it would mean that the free market will have to be replaced with measures to end the free market in carbon fuel. 

The sooner that the mainstream media grasps this reality, the safer we will all be.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The climate has always changed. But then, so has the economy.



Most climate change "skeptics" deny that climate is changing because of our CO2 emissions because they think that to change from a carbon-based economy to a solar based economy would be a total catastrophe. In fact it wont: energy is energy, wherever it is sourced, and in fact renewables are coming on much faster than I for one ever expected.

But the real irony is that the deniers whose present mantra is "The climate is always changing" is that they don't understand is that the economy has always changed and always will change. The global economy has , over the centuries, been powered by muscle, wind, water, coal, oil, nuclear and now it will be powered by the sun (with a bit of help from hot rocks).

Friday, September 09, 2016

Is climate change causing increasing migration?

It is ironic that the Daily Mail gets angry about migrants, but denies that man-made CO2 affects our planet's energy balance. The Mail must agree that Syrians are fleeing a war. A study by Richard Seager of Columbia University shows that climate change is a factor in the Syrian conflict, primarily through drought affecting food production, driving country people into towns and thereby increasing community tensions.

Also,food prices are pushed up by climatic changes, and food prices rises are often a trigger for uprisings.

One broad estimate of numbers is that 200,000,000 climate refugees will be created by 2050. This is just an estimate, but the International Organisation for Migration does not doubt that a significant number will be created.

The Daily Mail needs to try some joined-up thinking.


Thursday, September 08, 2016

"The climate has always changed"

The commonest statement from climate change deniers at the moment is "The climate has always been changing and therefore the present change has nothing to do with our CO2 emissions".

This is like a 60-a-day smoker who says "I've had loads of coughs in the past and they have always cleared up, therefore this present persistent cough has nothing to do with my smoking habit".


The scientific facts are:
  1.  The greenhouse effect is real 
  2. CO2 is a greenhouse gas
  3. We have already increased CO2 levels by 40%
  4. The earth surface temperature has already risen by nearly 1*C
  5. Already we are seeing changes in heatwaves and floods. 
  6. If we continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere, we, our children and our grandchildren are going to suffer
  7. One of the problems is that migration is going to increase hugely.
Point 7 is there because it seems, sadly, that migration is the only thing that the people who make the  "climate has always changed" argument seem to worry about.