Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The best way to deliver “localism” is to take councils out of the equation altogether

Local government is dying:
Futures Forum: The assault on Local Government: The Strange Death of Municipal England:
Futures Forum: Local government finance: "It looks as though we’re approaching a cliff edge and no one has any idea how to stop us hurtling over it.”

And 'localism' died a long time ago:
Futures Forum: How democratic is local government in England?
Futures Forum: Localism and 'East Devon First'
Futures Forum: LOCALISM restated >>> "Power should be decentralised down to the lowest appropriate level - to councils, to community groups and to individual taxpayers"
Futures Forum: "Claims for 'localism' are a fiction from a Tom Sharpe novel" - Growing disquiet across the West Country

But maybe it doesn't matter - because local government is pretty useless anyway.

Businesses don't get much help from local government:
Futures Forum: Giving small businesses more opportunity >>> how local government can help
Futures Forum: Corporation tax, small towns and small businesses >>> giving SMEs the same 'level playing field' as multinationals

And local communities can't do much to determine their local business profile:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth: a town of charity shops and coffee shops?

But is it reasonable to ask communities to simply pick up the pieces?
Futures Forum: Communities filling the budget gaps in the Jurassic Coast
Futures Forum: Communities filling the budget gaps by filling the potholes...
Futures Forum: Communities filling the budget gaps by cutting the verges

As this sort of 'volunteerism' is not actually about giving more decision-making to communities:
Futures Forum: Volunteers in the community: 'doing jobs for free' or 'empowering communities to take local action'?

What would be needed would be real 'bottom-up' empowerment rather than hollowing out of institutions people have come to rely on:
Futures Forum: REconomy... and community-led economic development

Or as Simon Heffer put it in the Sunday Telegraph recently:

PressReader.com - Connecting People Through News

This is how East Devon Watch interpreted the same:


10 SEP 2017

Just before the last general election, Swire made one of his very rare appearances at what he called a “hustings” in Exmouth. Except no other parties were invited to participate and his one guest was Telegraph journalist Simon Heffer.

In today’s Sunday Telegraph Heffer calls for privatisation of everything that currently makes any semblance of profit, or which might make profits in future, and hiving off the loss-making tasks to unitary authorities or, in our case, the unelected, unaccountable and opaque business-run Local Enterprise Partnership.

Oh to be a fly on the wall when Swire and Heffer have their fireside chats …

He says:

“… There is too much local government. Pointy-headed theorists have banged on about localism, but all that is missing is evidence that “local” people are either capable or motivated enough to deliver “local” services. The best way to deliver “localism” is to take councils out of the equation altogether, as has been done in many cases by removing schools from their control. …

But local government will not work well until it is stripped of duties that individuals or the private sector can provide for themselves: which brings us back to social care … the government must … develop an insurance scheme that will encourage private providers to take over what threatens to become a crippling state responsibility …”

Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Comment, page 16

The Telegraph - Telegraph Online, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph - Telegraph

Unfortunately Mr Heffer neglects to explain how private providers, with shareholders mouths to feed, will be able to do it more cheaply.

What Swire’s mate Heffer thinks of local authorities | East Devon Watch

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The failure on affordable and social housing

Policies to create more affordable and social housing are not working.

In Sidmouth, plans for new housing are anything but:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: building for a lucrative market

The question is to what extent the neighbourhood planning process can help:
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood plans and social housing
Futures Forum: The limits to how developers can 'outmanoeuvre' neighbourhood planning

Maybe local councils could help:
Futures Forum: "Giving councils more power to get housing built" - by getting them to calculate ‘objectively assessed need’

Meanwhile, though, it is becoming clear that central governments attempts to help are not working:
Futures Forum: Help-to-buy "has played a crucial role in buttressing the market for housebuilders."

And, besides, a developer can always cry 'unviable':
Futures Forum: Pressure on developers to publish viability appraisals
Futures Forum: "Some developers use viability reports to wriggle out of building more 'affordable' housing."
Futures Forum: When is a development 'viable' or not?

The East Devon Watch blog highlights several stories today on the issues.

From the Times:


19 SEP 2017

Government thinks 20% profit is acceptable for developers.

We all know that, as developers make their case to cut affordable homes on a development by development basis, and not on aggregate figures, they can make numbers tell any story.

Seems weird that, with this system, as so many developments don’t make enough money to fund affordable homes, their profits soar, their directors get bigger and bigger bonuses and their shareholders get higher and higher dividends.

It’s a magic money tree!

“The countryside is facing a shortfall of 33,000 affordable homes over the next five years despite builders making record profits at a time of rising rural homelessness.

Profits at Britain’s three biggest builders have quadrupled since 2012 to £2.2 billion, yet they regularly cite financial constraints when cutting affordable homes in developments. Builders miss targets for affordable homes in the countryside by 18 houses a day, research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows.

Profits at Barratt Developments, Britain’s biggest developer, increased almost sevenfold from £100 million in 2012 to £682 million last year. Meanwhile, the number of affordable homes fell from 23 per cent of the total built in 2012 to 17 per cent last year.

Developers use “viability studies” under planning laws to pressure local authorities into cutting the requirement for affordable homes. The reports are kept confidential, on commercial grounds, but documents seen by The Times show that officials from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) ruled that 20 per cent profit was a “reasonable” margin for a developer. They backed a builder’s attempt to cut the number of affordable homes at a development in Gloucestershire to safeguard that return.

Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, has said that failing to fix Britain’s “broken housing market . . . would be nothing less than an act of intergenerational betrayal”.

Research by the CPRE found that the government overruled councils fighting house builders in 17 out of 23 appeals since 2013. Matt Thomson, the CPRE’s head of planning, said developers had councils “over a barrel”. “The developers will say, ‘Either you give us the 20 per cent profit we need, otherwise we won’t build the houses’,” he said. “It’s just extortion at the end of the day.”

The charity analysed more than 60 local plans, which are council blueprints for new housing, and found that the average rural authority needed 68 per cent of new homes to be affordable. Affordable housing includes shared ownership schemes, council houses and properties owned by housing associations which are rented at no more than 80 per cent of the market rate.

In practice, the councils cut the official requirement to just 29 per cent affordable, on the ground that developers would never agree to 68 per cent. Even that has proven unachievable. Just 26 per cent of new homes in the countryside were classed as affordable over the past three years. The average rural authority is short of 46 affordable homes a year. Across 145 rural authorities in England that is a shortfall of 6,670 homes a year.

A separate report by the Institute for Public Policy Research found that 6,270 rural households became homeless in 2016, part of a 40 per cent rise in rough sleeping since 2010. The centre-left think thank partly blamed “shortages in affordable homes”.

Polly Neate, the head of Shelter, a charity for the homeless, said the crisis would only get worse “if we keep letting developers off the hook”.

The Home Builders Federation, which represents developers, said local authorities “should be realistic”. “Making projects unviable reduces overall housing supply, including the supply of more affordable housing,” Andrew Whitaker, its planning director, said.

Georgina Butler, head of affordable housing at Barratt, said the company was “absolutely committed to delivering the homes of all types that the country needs”.

A spokesman for the DCLG said almost 333,000 affordable homes had been built since 2010, more than 102,000 in rural local authorities. A funding crisis in social housing will continue unless the government “breaks with the past” to provide financial backing for new affordable homes, the head of an influential housing sector body will say today.

Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money could be saved by building social housing instead of channelling housing benefit to private landlords, David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, will tell the organisation’s annual conference.

The government decided in 2010 that no further public money would be made available to finance social housing, which provides accommodation at below-market rents to those on low incomes. Britain needs to build about 250,000 new homes a year to cope with an existing shortage and a growing population, but only 141,000 homes were built last year. About a million families are on the housing waiting list, said the NHF, which represents housing associations and social landlords.

In a report published today, the NHF says that the government is now spending “more than ever” on housing benefit to accommodate people in private rentals instead of cheaper social homes, which cost £21 a week less per person. The amount of housing benefit channelled to private landlords almost doubled in the last decade to £9.1 billion. “This is poor value for the taxpayer and has a knock-on effect on everyone struggling to rent or buy,” the NHF said.”

Source: Times (pay wall)


Times leader column attacks housing developers and the government
In "Affordable and Social Housing"
"Gentrification of the countryside"
In "Local Plan"

One thought on “Developers, magic money trees and (un)affordable housing”

Paul F says:
19 Sep 2017 at 10:34am

This entirely misses the point – or rather two points.

1. If a development is not viable with the affordable housing required, then it’s simply NOT VIABLE. So don’t develop the land – or sell the land off to a smaller developer with lower overheads and lower profit expectations who can develop it viably.

2. A Viability Study is something that a developer should undertake BEFORE submitting their planning application. Once the PA is approved, then the motto should be “a deal is a deal” and if the developer suddenly realises that the development is not viable, then tough.

The concept is that the private sector accepts the commercial risks – it is neither the government’s job nor the local planning authorities job to give developers a guaranteed profit.

Indeed, I will even go so far as to suggest that this government guaranteeing a profit margin to developers has the appearance of corruption given that developers are major donors to the Conservative Party.

(Note: I call them sponsors or investors rather than donors. If you are a property developer or a multi-millionaire businessman looking for tax-cuts, a multi £100k donation to the Conservative Party is by far the best “investment” you can ever make by possibly two orders of magnitude.)

Developers, magic money trees and (un)affordable housing | East Devon Watch
Affordable homes shortage blights the countryside | News | The Times & The Sunday Times


19 SEP 2017

(see also post below)

“Anyone who has fielded rival bids for a kitchen extension is likely to be familiar with the pattern: once contracts are signed and work is under way the winning bidder finds ways to cut costs or otherwise boost profits. Committed to the project, the client’s options are to sue or surrender.

In the multibillion-pound business of updating and expanding Britain’s housing stock, the equivalent of the kitchen extension is the mixed-used development that includes affordable housing to be let or sold at below-market rates.

Affordable housing is in critically short supply. This drives up prices in precisely the areas where buyers and the broader housing market need them to come down. It forces low-income families to live farther and farther from places of work, especially in the southeast, and it is storing up trouble for a weak Conservative government with little traction among voters aged under 40.

This is a government that has promised 1.5 million new homes by 2022. In principle almost all these homes are to be built by the private sector. In practice developers are being allowed to game the system by promising generous allocations of affordable housing only to dilute those commitments once planning permission has been granted and building is under way.

Examples of this underhand but technically legal approach are legion in cities. It has now spread to rural Britain too. The country’s biggest builders are rowing back on affordable housing commitments to the extent of 18 much-needed rural homes a day, leading to a projected shortfall of 33,000 affordable homes in the countryside as a whole by the end of this parliament.

The government should be acting to fix the problem. Instead it is making it worse, siding with developers against local councils in 17 of 23 appeals by builders seeking to cut the number of affordable housing units for which they have had to budget since 2013. Worse still, the process is shrouded in secrecy because it hinges on “viability assessments” that developers are allowed to keep confidential unless a court demands wider access.

These assessments should be open to public scrutiny as a matter of course. Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, claims to have adopted an “honest, open and consistent” approach to assessing local housing needs. It is none of these things.

In the housing plans that all local authorities are required to produce, the average requirement for affordable housing in rural areas is 68 per cent of the total. Under pressure from builders that share has fallen to 29 per cent, even as the companies post record profits. Those of the country’s three largest housebuilders have quadrupled since 2012.

Britain is a crowded island. Space for new homes is at a premium. Demand for land reliably outstrips supply. Landowners sell to high bidders who seek guaranteed generous profit margins to protect against downturns in a market that they are helping to overheat.

This is a classic market failure that might warrant state intervention in the form of publicly funded housebuilding to balance supply and demand at the lower end of the property ladder. This government has ruled that out, however, cutting public spending on social housing by 97 per cent since 2010 and on affordable housing by half in the same period.

At the same time, as the head of the National Housing Federation tells its annual conference today, housing benefit payments have risen by 51 per cent over the past two decades, to £25 billion a year, to help to cover inflated private sector rents.

If the government insists on staying out of the housebuilding business itself it must at the very least make affordable housing quotas binding, and high enough to house those unable to get on the housing ladder any other way. The alternative is a property-owning democracy that founders for want of property to own.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

Times leader column attacks housing developers and the government | East Devon Watch
Country Unfair | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

And from the Guardian:


19 SEP 2017

Owl says: But why is everyone surprised? This is the free market in operation – what Conservatives have ALWAYS believed in. This automatically favours “survival of the fittest” which most often means the most wealthy. Nothing new there. Just get wealthy – problem solved.

Unfortunately, those low down in the pecking order seem to think that, if they vote Conservative, they will be helped to become rich. That isn’t how it works – the rich like their exclusivity and power. Sharing that power with more people isn’t in their interest as it dilutes both – less exclusive, more power-sharing = not a good idea.

Wise up everyone: if you want change in a Tory constituency or in the country, hold your nose and vote for whoever in your constituency is most likely to come second, and make them first. Change IS hard – but it is desperately needed if we are to do the right thing by all generations.

David Orr, National Housing Federation:

““… The prime minister is right that we’ve not paid social housing enough attention. After the tragic fire at Grenfell, this crisis can no longer be ignored. The government must be bold and make a break with the past by making money available to build genuinely affordable homes.

“There’s more than a billion pounds that remains unspent on Starter Homes. Let’s put this money to use and let housing associations build 20,000 of the genuinely affordable homes the nation needs.”

Orr, who is chief executive of the federation, is expected to argue for a complete shift in government policy. Since 2010 the government has overseen a massive reduction in the provision of homes for social rent, instead focusing on “affordable” rents, which can be as much as 80% of the market value.

A report by the federation, produced to coincide with the conference, says the amount of capital committed by the government to homebuilding has fallen from £11.4bn in 2009 to £5.3bn in 2015.

In combination with this, the decision to stop public funding for social rented homes led to a decline in construction of these from 36,000 starts in 2010/11 to slightly over 3,000 the next year. The report says the only new social rent homes now are coming either from previous funding commitments or through cross-subsidies within housing associations projects, amounting to just under 1,000 starts in 2016/17.

It says the increase in rented housing stock has instead come from the private sector, with a 57% rise in real terms over the past two decades. The federation says private rents are on average £21 per week more expensive than their social let equivalents, meaning that over the last 20 years the annual spend on housing benefit has risen from £16.6bn to £25.1bn.

There is another cost, the report says. “Not only is it 23% more expensive to house someone in the private rented sector than social housing, but none of that money increases the supply of new homes. Social landlords do reinvest in new homes, building a third of all new homes last year including for social rent from their own funds, but the same does not happen in the private rented sector.”

In his speech, Orr will argue that this is an unsustainable situation. “It is absurd that we’re spending less on building social housing than we did in the 90s – there are even more people today on housing waiting lists than then, despite increasingly stringent criteria. We know we need more, better quality social housing. And yet, rather than putting public money into building the homes we need, we are propping up rents in a failing market. Ultimately, this is poor value for the taxpayer and has a knock-on effect on everyone struggling to rent or buy.”

John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, said: “Conservative ministers have washed their hands of any responsibility to build the homes families on ordinary incomes need. Ministers try to hide their failure to build more affordable homes by branding more homes ‘affordable’. The Conservative definition of affordable housing now includes homes close to full market rent and on sale for up to £450,000.

“Public concern about housing is around the highest level for 40 years. Millions of families are struggling with high housing costs. Faced with this, ministers have turned their back on the way they can help most – by building low-cost homes to rent and buy.” …”

Another savage attack on government failure on affordable and social housing | East Devon Watch
Social housing crisis can no longer be ignored, says housing chief | Society | The Guardian
Sajid Javid promises social housing review following damning report | The Big Issue
Housing money wasted 'propping up rents' - BBC News

Sidmouth Walking Festival: Saturday 23rd - Friday 29th September

Sidmouth is developing into a "festival town":
Futures Forum: Festival town Sidmouth

The Valley has been putting on a walking festival now for three years:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Walking Festival: Saturday 27th September to Thursday 2nd October (2014)
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Walking Festival: Saturday 12th to Thursday 17th September (2015)
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Walking Festival: Saturday 17th to Sunday 25th September (2016)

An walking is clearly very good for you:
Futures Forum: Take a walk: it's good for you!
Futures Forum: Oh, go take a walk... in Sidmouth

This weekend sees a return of the Festival:

Sidmouth Walking Festival 

Sidmouth and East Devon Walking Festival

Saturday 23rd - Friday 29th September 2017

Sidmouth has some wonderful scenic walking both coastal and inland.

Join us for a fabulous week of free guided walks; discover the wonderful scenic coastal walking of Sidmouth and the hidden gems of East Devon.

There are three walks each day; shorter special interest expert led walks, circular walks which take in our seaside towns and beautiful countryside, and the East Devon Way linear walks.

Five daily walks cover all of the 40 mile East Devon Way, walking from Lyme Regis to Exmouth through East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. For these walks there is coach (£6) transport from Sidmouth to take you to the start and collect you at the end.

The whole week is perfect for a walking and exploring holiday.

All walks are free of charge but limited and must be booked in advance through the Sidmouth Tourist Centre 01395 51644. Coach transfers are £6 payable in advance, payment details from sidmouthwalkingfestival@gmail.com

Information is also available on Sidmouth Walking Festival Facebook page and East Devon AONB

All walks are led by experienced local walkers who enjoy sharing this wonderful area with our guests.

To download a printable version of the leaflet click 

Climate change: A Carbon Tax Won't Stop Hurricanes

The political debate around the 'causes' of the spate of hurricanes continues:
Futures Forum: Climate change: and 'good governance'

There is the science:

And there are the 'sceptics' who say that 'there are no grounds to claim that global warming has increased rainfall or hurricane activity':

A Carbon Tax Won't Stop Hurricanes

Some say man-made global warming is increasing the strength and frequency of hurricanes, but it isn't.
In the midst of a severe hurricane season and the destruction wrought by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, many people are claiming that man-made global warming has intensified rainfall and hurricanes. However, comprehensive facts show that rainfall and hurricane activity are well within the bounds of natural variation, and there is no cogent evidence that they have increased over the past century.
Moreover, the United States contains only 1.9 percent of the world’s surface area, and the earth’s climate oscillates widely over time and place. Hence, focusing on US-area hurricanes that occur within a single year easily distorts the issue of climate change.
The Claims
While Hurricane Irma was razing the Caribbean and barreling toward Florida, climate scientist David Hastings told the Washington Post, “Hurricane Harvey and Irma should resolve any doubt that climate change is real.” Likewise:
  • CNN’s Ron Brownstein reported during Hurricane Harvey, “There is no doubt that climate change, particularly because of warming the ocean waters and the gulf waters, makes storms like this more common.”
  • Meteorologist Eric Holthaus wrote in Politico that “climate change is making rainstorms everywhere worse, but particularly on the Gulf Coast.”
  • The BBC’s Laura Trevelyan stated, “Of course we do have a changing climate we do have warming waters. With more warming waters, you get more moisture coming into the atmosphere, and what hurricanes absolutely love is moisture because that gives them rainfall. And that’s what’s happened in this situation with Hurricane Harvey.”
In the same vein, FactCheck.org science writer Vanessa Schipani asserted that global warming “makes intense storms like Harvey more likely to occur.” In support of this statement, she declared that:
  • “A warmer world leads to greater moisture in the atmosphere, which leads to greater precipitation, which leads to more intense storms.”
  • A 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report “found that scientists are ‘virtually certain’ (99 to 100 percent confident) that there has been an ‘increase in the frequency and intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones since the 1970s’ in the North Atlantic Ocean.”
  • One of the “key findings” of a draft report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program is that “human activities have ‘contributed to the observed increase in hurricane activity’ in the North Atlantic Ocean since the 1970s.”
  • The same report says that “studies that have looked at this question have come up with a ‘fairly broad’ range of contributions for humans, but ‘virtually all studies identify a measurable, and generally substantial, [human] influence,’ it adds.”
The claims above paint a distorted picture of reality by ignoring the most relevant and comprehensive facts about this issue.
Global Rainfall Trends
Contrary to the notion that global warming has caused more rain, the authors of a 2015 paper in the Journal of Hydrology studied rainfall measurements “made at nearly 1,000 stations located in 114 countries” and found “no significant global precipitation change from 1850 to present.”
The paper also notes that previous studies had analyzed shorter timeframes and found rainfall changes that some people had attributed to global warming, but those results were generally not statistically significant and “not entirely surprising given that precipitation varies considerably over time scales of decades.”
Beyond total rainfall, many climate models predict that global warming will cause the rain to fall in shorter periods, and thus, with more intensity. Yet, even according to the IPCC—which has engaged in deceitful actions to exaggerate global warming—evidence for such an outcome is highly questionable:
Since 1951 there have been statistically significant increases in the number of heavy precipitation events (e.g., above the 95th percentile) in more regions than there have been statistically significant decreases, but there are strong regional and sub-regional variations in the trends. In particular, many regions present statistically non-significant or negative trends, and, where seasonal changes have been assessed, there are also variations between seasons (e.g., more consistent trends in winter than in summer in Europe).
This issue becomes even murkier when looking at the bigger picture, because apparent changes in rainfall intensity sometimes vanish when examining longer timeframes that better account for natural variations. For example, the International Journal of Climatology published a paper in 2015 about extreme rainfall in England and Wales that revealed, “Contrary to previous results based on shorter periods, no significant trends of the most intense categories are found between 1931 and 2014.”
Global Storms and Hurricanes
A “tropical cyclone” is a circular wind and low-pressure system that develops over warm oceans in the tropics. Cyclones with winds ranging from 39 to 73 miles per hour are called “tropical storms,” and those with winds exceeding 73 miles per hour are called “hurricanes.” Technically, there are different names for cyclones with hurricane-force winds in different areas of the world, but for the sake of simplicity, this article refers to them as hurricanes.
The datasets below, which were originally published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in 2011, show that the global number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes have not increased over the past four decades:

Corroborating this data, the IPCC reported in 2012, “There is low confidence in any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (i.e., intensity, frequency, duration), after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.”
In spite of these facts, a national scientific poll commissioned by Just Facts shortly before the 2016 presidential election found that 44% of Trump voters and 77% of Clinton voters believed that the global number and intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms have generally increased over the past 30 years. This sharp disconnect between reality and perception accords with a flood of global warming-related misinformation spread by the media and environmental groups.
North Atlantic Storms and Hurricanes
In the North Atlantic region, where hurricanes Harvey and Irma formed, tropical storm and hurricane activity has  significantly increased over the past four decades. However, this trend fades in the wider context of variation over the past century. As explained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.
NOAA states that North Atlantic tropical storms show a “pronounced upward trend” since 1878, but this is because these records are “relatively sparse” in their early decades. After NOAA adjusts for the “estimated number of missing storms,” the trend in storm activity is “not significantly distinguishable from zero.” Furthermore, NOAA notes that the upward trend in the unadjusted data,
Is almost entirely due to increases in short-duration (<2 day) storms alone. Such short-lived storms were particularly likely to have been overlooked in the earlier parts of the record, as they would have had less opportunity for chance encounters with ship traffic.
With regard to the most intense storms, NOAA reports that “the reported numbers of hurricanes were sufficiently high during the 1860s-1880s that again there is no significant positive trend in numbers beginning from that era…. This is without any adjustment for ‘missing hurricanes.’”
Even more relevant to the implications of Harvey and Irma, NOAA notes that the record of North Atlantic hurricanes that reach land are “more reliable” than for the entire North Atlantic, and they “show a slight negative trend beginning from 1900 or from the late 1800s.” In other words, the most reliable data shows the opposite of what many media outlets are reporting.
NOAA emphasizes that one cannot logically assess hurricane trends based only on those that reach land because they are “much less common” than the full number of hurricanes that form at sea. This highlights the absurdity of drawing conclusions based on hurricanes that make landfall, much less hurricanes that make landfall in one region in a single year
After reviewing the data above, NOAA states, “In short, the historical Atlantic hurricane record does not provide compelling evidence for a substantial greenhouse warming-induced long-term increase.”
Similarly, the very same 2013 IPCC report cherry-picked by FactCheck.org states, “No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.” This is word-for-word the same as stated by NOAA.
“Scientists Say”
Three times in her FactCheck.org article, Schipani used the phrase “scientists say” as if she were citing the universal opinion of scientists. Given the contents of her article, a longer but honest rewording of this phrase would be that “some scientists who have previously misled the public about global warming say so, but some scientists disagree.”
For example, Schipani quoted climate scientist Michael Mann—creator of the notorious hockey stick chart and inventor of a “trick” to “hide the decline“ in temperatures—as though he were an unquestionable authority. Mann claimed that global warming may have caused Hurricane Harvey to stall over Houston and drop a devastating amount of rain in this location. However, Schipani failed to inform her readers that some other climate scientists, like Roy Spencer, disagree with Mann and write:
I don’t know of any portion of global warming theory that would explain why Harvey stalled over southeast Texas. Michael Mann’s claim in The Guardianthat it’s due to the jet stream being pushed farther north from global warming makes me think he doesn’t actually follow weather like those of us who have actual schooling in meteorology (my degree is a Ph.D. in Meteorology). We didn’t have a warm August in the U.S. pushing the jet stream farther north.
Similarly, Schipani uncritically cited:
  • The IPCC, whose scientists wrote an array of incriminating emails in which they said things like, “I tried hard to balance the needs of the science and the IPCC, which were not always the same.”
  • Kevin Trenberth, an IPCC lead author who participated in a press conference where he misrepresented the facts about global warming and hurricanes. As a result, Chris Landsea, a scientist who Trenberth had tasked to draft a chapter on Atlantic hurricanes for the IPCC, quit the IPCC and stated, “I personally cannot in good faith continue to contribute to a process that I view as both being motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being scientifically unsound.”
  • The U.S. Global Change Research Program, which cited a certain paper as evidence that climate change is causing more floods, while in reality the paperstates, “In none of the four regions defined in this study is there strong statistical evidence for flood magnitudes increasing with increasing” greenhouse gas levels.
In Conclusion
Certain media outlets have linked Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to global warming by ignoring wide-ranging facts and cherry-picking timeframes, geographical locations, report contents, and the opinions of scientists. As explained in an academic book about analyzing data, “One of the worst abuses of analytics is to cherry pick results. Cherry pickers tout analysis findings when the results serve the purpose at hand. But, they ignore the findings when the results conflict with the original plan.”
Webster’s College Dictionary defines science as the “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.” By this standard, there are no grounds to claim that global warming has increased rainfall or hurricane activity.

A Carbon Tax Won't Stop Hurricanes - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world

Monday, 18 September 2017

Would you rather live next to a wind farm or a fracking site?

A question posed earlier today by the 10:10 campaign group:

Together, we’re pushing back against a story told by politicians who insist wind is not popular, despite their own figures telling us that 73% of the public support onshore wind.
Would you rather live next to a wind farm or a fracking site?
If you’re thinking wind farm, two thirds of the British public agree with you. New Blown Away polling has just revealed that 65% of the British public would be happy to live next to a wind farm… and a massive 61% of us don’t want to live near a fracking site.
Yet the government says they’ve banned onshore wind because people don’t want it. And at the same time, they’re forcing fracking on communities who have explicitly rejected it.
Can you help us call the government out?
Would you rather live next to a wind turbine... or a fracking site?
Together, we’re pushing back against a story told by politicians who insist wind is not popular, despite their own figures telling us that 73% of the public support onshore wind.
Let’s share the real story - that we want to see new wind power, not fracking, in our neighbourhoods.
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Forward to a friend
Read our blogpost about the poll results here

10:10 - the campaign