Don’t Blame the Cows for Global Warming

It is okay, you can start eating again!

Every week it seems that some self-appointed climate fascists are instructing us that we need to stop eating and drinking in order to “save the planet”. As Global Warming has evolved into Climate Change then Extinction Rebellion, ever-more shrill instructions about how we should live our lives are issued, with the threat of dire consequences should we fail to accede to their demands. Is it only me that observes the same tone of dire-threats and moral righteousness that were so prevalent in the CND anti-nuclear armageddon protesters of a generation ago – or indeed the religious zealots of the previous millennia? Their chant was “do as we say, or you’ll burn for an eternity”, which, come to think of it, is pretty much what the anti-western-economies lot are telling us about temperature change.

Beef cattle enjoy the sunshine

Anyway, back to the topic. For a number of years, agriculture has been blamed for a very substantial proportion of UK greenhouse gas emissions, with as much as 25% of the total quoted as being sourced from farming. These numbers are grabbed by vegan enthusiasts to shriek that we all need to stop eating meat or we’ll burn in hell for all eternity. Okay, so maybe I paraphrased them a little, but the point remains.

However, the science they are using is duff. According to Prof Myles Allen of Oxford University Environmental Change Institute, quoted in the Sustainable Food Trust, the picture is much more nuanced. Back in February, we mentioned that the finger points at the methane released by cows. In the approach used by the International Panel on Climate Change, methane is treated as equivalent to carbon dioxide in its greenhouseness (like my new word?) The true picture is that carbon dioxide is chemically stable and stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Meanwhile, methane breaks down rather quickly, and so has a much smaller impact on the atmosphere. The case against cows has been extensively overstated.

Barry Gardiner, not the voice of reason

At a conference organised by the Country Land and Business Association, Labour spokesman Barry Gardiner suggested that British farming should be part of the solution to global warming by producing less food and planting trees instead. To put it mildly, this approach doesn’t pass even the most cursory scrutiny. (Ha that originally I typed “What a moronic idea!” before professionalism got the better of me). Does Mr Gardiner think that the UK population will eat less? All that his madcap scheme would achieve is more food imports. So the food production leads to the same emissions, just somewhere else in the world. Then the food is transported to the UK, with all the emissions entailed. Mr Gardiner’s scheme actually would increase global emissions. We do like the idea of more tree planting, but to claim that replacing UK food production with forests would reduce emissions is just wrong.

Summary

Agriculture is not the huge emitter of greenhouse gases that the hysterical brigade would have you think. Carry on eating healthy nutritious meat and dairy products, comfortable in the knowledge that locally sourced food has low airmiles and supports high-quality, high-welfare British farming.

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Hidden (and Expensive) Danger for Commercial Property Investors

Most office buyers will be familiar with the MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards). These are a government initiative to improve – guess what – the energy efficiency of buildings, and apply to domestic and commercial property. In essence, they prohibit the new letting of offices and domestic property unless their EPC is at least at level E. Over the next few years, it will become illegal even to continue with an existing lease if the property is not up to scratch!

How Did We Get Here?

Shiny office buildings

Since the 1960’s, office ownership has been dominated by financial institutions, who then let them to the end users. Unfortunately, as user-demands and fashions have changed, this office stock has tended to become obsolete frighteningly quickly. For example, as the 1980’s and 1990’s introduced a PC or two at every desk, floors rose during each Christmas shutdown to fit in yet more cabling underneath. Then it was the craze for open-plan offices the size of many football pitches. Now, with more co-working and less formal structures, modern users want break-out spaces and relaxation areas.

But what has not changed is the desire for glass and steel sleek designs – which need lots and lots of air-conditioning. At first, air-con was just for the much-adulated mainframe computer room, but for the last 30 years, top end offices have required high-status, high energy-using heating, air management and heating systems.

The threat of Global Warming – Climate Change – Extinction Rebellion (or whatever it is called this week) is not going away. Even if one is not 100% convinced by the evermore hysterical science, why take the chance?

What Should We Do Now?

The financial institutions are notoriously conservative when it comes to investment decisions. So they continue to favour the sleek glass and steel office buildings. And, to be fair, so are domestic house buyers. Perhaps with some justification, buyers prefer tried and tested technology for both building fabric and heating systems. Why pay more for new approaches when they are unproven and may not work very well?

Open-plan offices

So there is a vicious circle. Buyers do not demand eco-friendly buildings, so developers do not build them, so end users are not even offered the choice.

There is a further challenge too – buildings often do not even perform to the low standards enshrined in building regulations. Reports into the domestic and commercial property new build markets concluded that many structures do not meet their designers’ expectations. The most prevalent problems were cold-bridging, gaps in the insulation and leaks in air-tightness. Sadly, this is a combination of poor design and poor standards on building sites.

There is a further issue. The new technology that reduces energy requirements, such as air-source heat pumps, automatic ventilation systems and solar thermal water systems are very often operated incorrectly by badly trained building maintenance staff.

Our Recommendations

  1. End users need to demand (and pay more rent for) green office buildings and eco-friendly houses. This will happen much more quickly with central advice and raised standards awareness. When this happens, financial institutions will push developers to meet that market gap, and house-buyers will encourage the house-builders to step up. Mark this page – it is one of those rare situations where we call for government intervention to encourage user demand.

  2. Existing buildings need to be up-graded. We already have the vast majority of buildings that will be around in 2050. Unless they are improved, it is hopeless trying to reduce emissions.

  3. Handover certificates for completed buildings need to confirm that energy standards have been met in the flesh rather than just in the design. Promising much than they deliver sounds like the construction industry’s very own “dieselgate”

  4. Building owners need to ensure that operating staff have the training to understand the systems they operate.
  5. Commercial and residential landlords need to prepare themselves for the present and soon to strengthen MEES regulations.

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Don’t Let Sadiq Khan and Uber Destroy Our Black Cabs

In London we have a world-class licenced taxi service. The iconic black cabs are famous globally for their knowledgable route-finding (Ha, knowledgable because they’ve all passed “the knowledge” – by going to Knowledge School!)

A new ‘electric’ cab

The vehicles are specially built for the job, with access for wheelchair users and the visually impaired. Their tight turning circles (the cabs not the wheelchairs) make them invaluable parts of the London mass-transport system. Taxis have the advantages of being allowed to use bus-lanes, and having street-wise route calculation! We have a strong community of cabbies who strive to offer a safe, friendly, professional and clean service. In their spare time, charitable endeavours such as outings for veterans and disadvantaged children are undertaken. Ha, this sounds like a plug for cabbies, but they really do deserve our support!

And yet they are under threat, not only from Uber, but from London Mayor Sadiq Khan too.

A campaigning cabbie

Uber is a loss-making business, and yet still contrives to ensure that its drivers earn less than the minimum wage. They were banned in London, and only continue due to legal shenanigans. (Expect a further article on the prospects of Uber as a public company in the very near future).

Yet because it is so easy to become an Uber driver, thousands of unqualified people have done so, clogging up the streets of London. One of the more vocal taxi drivers – yep, that’s quite a high level of vocality – Dale Forwood commented “us taxi drivers spend 3 to 4 years doing the ‘Knowledge’ of London, which enables us to offer a professional and safe service. However, since Uber London were licensed in 2012, the strictly-regulated taxi trade has struggled to compete with this unregulated app. The app allows drivers to virtually ply for hire, taking much of our work.”

Vocal cabbie Dale Forwood

Read more of Dale’s comments in the Taxi-Driver’s “Badge” magazine  and listen to her podcast at on www.cabchatshow.uk

And how does Sadiq Khan respond to these 50,000 Uber drivers causing such congestion in town – by closing certain streets to taxis! Where is the logic in that? Did he miss the memo perhaps?

We understand concerns about pollution – and London taxi drivers are doing their bit by changing over to LEVC Co Electric Black Cabs. This will take time – there is a limited production rate at LEVC – and the cab-drivers need to save up too. Each new cab costs £65,000! So the cab fleet cannot be changed instantaneously, but the cabbies are going in the right direction. (Ha, see what I did with “going in the right direction”?)

In the meantime, we all have to travel around London, so why not choose to use safe, trustworthy and qualified drivers in cabs made for the job? If hailing a cab with a mobile app is important to you, there are plenty from which to choose. We recommend Taxi App UK (https://www.taxiapp.uk.com/ ) which is set up and operated by licenced cabbies.

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Why The Green Belt Is Bad For The Environment

Green Belts in England

The Green Belt system was created by that great reforming Post-war Government. And like that administration’s other much-loved offspring, the NHS, the general public has massive affection for it.

Fourteen cities in England are restricted from ever greater sprawl by green belts. That has to be a great thing right? We all love our green and pleasant land, so what is not to like? Well quite a lot actually.

  1. By limiting a city’s growth outwards, the inevitable effect is increased population density; more stressful living in ever smaller dwellings and more congestion – and the pollution from more people concentrated in a restricted area.

  2. This increased pressure on land use means that existing green spaces within the city will be slowly lost to development. And so the crammed-in population – who have very little access to the greenbelt farmland – have less natural environment than in a larger, less constrained conurbation. The city loses its lungs.

  3. Limiting the size of a city will increase land prices as people and businesses compete for a scarce resource. So lower added-value work leaves the city to cheaper environs – and the lower skilled are thus forced out too. You really can’t get the staff, dear.

  4. This same increase in land prices, plus the congestion of a termite-hill city, encourages people to commute away from the city, out across the green belt to towns and cities which would otherwise be way beyond the commuter zone.

    For example, thousands of people commute into London every day from places as far away as Southampton, Oxford, Coventry and Peterborough. There may be a small element of wanting to live in these places anyway (though not Coventry and Peterborough, obviously). But the real reason is economic. Away from London, a larger house with a garden is so much cheaper that the pain and expense of commuting remains attractive. Imagine all the extra pollution, greenhouse gases and lost productivity from these long-distance travellers.  All the London Green Belt has achieved is to move the growth that would have occurred around London to be spread over the whole south-east of England.

Protected Countryside

Despite the positive image, and just like the NHS, the law of unintended consequence looms large over the green belt. We don’t want to see it abandoned, but it does need to be slackened off a notch or two.

Time for the Green Belt to be reformed.

Karate – Not that sort of Green Belt
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Vegans Huh? Let’s Have “Meat and Milk March”!

Beef Cattle enjoying the grass in Herefordshire

The greatest thing about Vegans is how they are always so keen to keep their views to themselves, and never ever ever try to tell you of their choices. Of course they would never try to change anybody else’s behaviour by making hectoring and emotionally-loaded arguments. God forbid that they would adopt a smug morally-superior tone in any conversation about meat-eating that you managed to prise out of them!

A Healthy Drink of Milk

Over the millennia, human beings have evolved to be omnivores. Or if you are a Sunday kneeler, then God created men and woman in his own image to be the top of the food chain. Either way, food derived from animals should be part of our diet. Protein from meat and dairy products is healthy and essential to human well-being. Although it is claimed to be technically possible to access all of a body’s required nutrition from plants, in reality it is not feasible. Which leaves veggies thin and pasty. Pasty as in the colour, not as in Cornish pasties, obviously.

Meat and dairy products are necessary for a healthy balanced diet. A little bit of what you fancy does you good eh? And it is healthy to eat a mixed diet too.

So what to do if one of your close friends or family becomes radicalised into a vegan zealot?

Ah, a lovely meal
  1. Adopt the approach of my aunt when my uncle succumbed. If the family had steak chips and peas…….. my uncle was given chips and peas!

    A Vegan Meal
  2. Never let a day go by without some fried food – bacon, burgers, steak, sausages. Always have that beguiling aroma around the house. (Yes, you are allowed to use rape-seed oil, although lard is equally good!)

 

We also need to raise the delicate issue of flatulence. When a work colleague tried veganism (briefly, thank God), suddenly his farting became copious AND extremely potent. It was disgusting.

Now I have heard it claimed that methane expelled by cattle is a major source of greenhouse gases. But before everyone is forced to go vegan, surely lots of research should be undertaken on diets to reduce the farts. Then if it works for the vegans, we could try it on the livestock too!

The positive impact of livestock farming on the environment also should be highlighted. In many areas of UK, the land is unfit for arable production, and grazing is an essential part of the habitat management. Even in arable areas, the eco-warriors tell us that mixed farming must be re-introduced to maintain soil organic matter and fertility. Presumably that is different eco-warriors than those who would have us forsake meat.

It is time for all reasonable people to stop acquiescing to the radicalised, politicised vegan zealots. Let’s have Meat and Milk March to reaffirm the healthy life-enhancing properties of traditional tasty food!

Hereford Cattle basking in the sunshine

PS. I’m not sure who first crafted the idea of vegans being way too outspoken about their personal dietary choices, but I’m happy to acknowledge their brilliance. If anybody knows the origin, please tell me!

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Still Still It’s a Fig-Leaf Deal Brexit. Peak Brexsteria is Over

Twenty days ago, we wrote “Brexit – Now It Will Be a Fig-Leaf Deal on 29 March”.

Eleven days ago, we wrote “Still It’s a fig-Leaf Brexit”.

Today we are writing “Still Still It’s a Fig-Leaf Deal Brexit”.

Next week we’ll compose “Still Still Still It’s a Fig-Leaf Deal Brexit.”

Groundhog Day

What did John Logie Baird write about It’s Deja Vu all over again? And at least in Groundhog Day, Bill Murray had Andie MacDowell to hold his attention. We have nothing so exciting to contemplate. However, it is hard to feel any rising panic in the air about Brexit. And yet that seems to be Mrs May’s tactic: frighten the country into agreeing her Deal. Her approach has failed. Is it just me, or has the country gone past peak Brexsteria?

 

With Brexit we continue to have the intractable Northern Ireland issue. The EU considers integrity of its market as sacrosanct. The UK holds its territorial integrity as indivisible, and Parliament will not agree to an endless submission to external rules. Each side expects the other to blink first. Neither side will give way, as they would each rather blame the other side and have no deal than break their principles. This has been clear to all observers since about June 2016.

More Air Travel for Ministers

And yet Theresa May continues to scuttle off to Brussels. This week she even has her ministers going all over Europe as well. What a disaster for climate change! All those wasted gallons of jetfuel.

Yet the politicians have to be seen to be doing something. Which is why they will pull a fig-leaf deal out of the hat at the last minute. Food will continue to be imported, planes will carry on flying and numerous protocols will be established so that life carries on without too much impact. – and the politicians can take the credit for “saving us”! That is the Fig-Leaf deal Brexit.

 

Yogi Berra

PS. OK, we know it was Yogi Berra with the Deja Vu comment. Just seeing if you were awake.

 

PPS. Does anyone know if the cartoon character was inspired by Berra’s name? We need to know these things!

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