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Banking on innovation for green shoots

Richard Black | 09:01 UK time, Friday, 29 October 2010

From the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Nagoya, Japan:

Blue-sided leaf frog

 

Maybe you thought it was all about the science of losing species and ecosystems, and the ethics of doing something about it.

But as the final phase of this meeting is making clear, it's largely about money.

Everyone here agrees that if governments are serious about halting the decline of species and ecosystems, then somehow more money needs to be spent on it.

As I outlined last week, estimates of how much more range from 10 times the current level to 100 times.

A problem occurring in the negotiations is that no-one knows how much is spent now - $3bn, maybe, if you take figures from bilateral aid - more still if you include spending by wildlife charities.

Anyway - the simple reality is that western nations are not going to be providing anything like 10 times the existing rate of funding, let alone 100 times.

So: how to raise these sums without the need to dip into strained national coffers?

The answer, in two words: "innovative mechanisms".

This'll be a phrase familiar to anyone who's followed the climate negotiations.

It generally means using some kind of market-based mechanism to raise funds - although there are exceptions, such as the proposed tax on international airline travel or international banking transactions, or the use of International Monetary Fund gold reserves to back "green loans", as financier George Soros proposed during the Copenhagen climate summit.

In the field of biodiversity, they don't all have to be international.

Costa Rica

 

Countries such as Costa Rica already generate revenue that's given to landowners to protect "natural capital", such as forests - raising it through something that's environmentally negative, in this case burning fossil fuels.

It plans to develop this "payment for ecosystem services" (PES) scheme further. Other countries around the world are following similar programmes, often without calling them PES - landfill taxes, paper bag taxes, farm stewardship schemes...

... although no country is yet implementing the full vision of PES across the board, as some groups of economists here have advocated.

Other innovative finance methods, though, would be international, such as the UN-backed REDD+ programme.

Here at the CBD, the European Union unleashed a paper illustrating another idea - the Green Development Mechanism (GDM) [497.01KB PDF].

The model is the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) - the instrument, conceived under the Kyoto Protocol, that puts a levy on carbon trading and ploughs it back into projects in developing countries that lower emissions.

The CDM has been heavily criticised down the years, notably because the bulk of the money has flowed into countries that are already developing quickly, such as China, rather than into the poorest states.

Proponents of the GDM would say - but you can learn from the CDM's experience, and do it better next time.

Perhaps; although the levels of complexity involved in accounting for environmental services across the board are at least an order of magnitude larger than where only carbon is concerned.

Whatever the pros and cons, the floating of the GDM here illustrates two simple points.

One is that as far as funders are concerned, innovative mechanisms are the only game in town if funds of this magnitude are to be generated for environmental protection.

The second, leading on from the first, is that innovative financing is going to have to deliver if the degradation of nature in its various guises is meaningfully to be retarded.

Comments

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  • 1. At 09:41am on 29 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    The first rule of any democracy is that politicians need to keep their constituents happy. The current government is already playing a dangerous game (dangerous to its own chances of re-election) by increasing overseas aid -- to countries like India, which has healthy economic growth, is a nuclear power, which has its own space programme, its own overseas aid programme, even its own aircraft carrier complete with Sea Harriers (which the UK cannot afford for its own aircraft carrier).

    It seems to me that an awful lot of money is spent on expensive foreign trips to international conventions in glamorous parts of the world.

    Let individuals who want to give money to charity give it to the charities of their choice. Forcing them to give money to the latest eco-charity sounds downright un-democratic to me.

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  • 2. At 10:01am on 29 Oct 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    Looks like a lot of reading to do Richard. I have started off by exploring your two key words 'innovative mechanisms'
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innovative_financing#Principles_of_innovative_financing_mechanisms

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  • 3. At 10:44am on 29 Oct 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    sigh.

    So this'll be two artificially generated economies that are being set up to 'fix' two problems.

    Am i the only one who see's slight issues (and rampant self interests) here?

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  • 4. At 11:02am on 29 Oct 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    Are all of these big government 'eco-charities' funding for immediate ecosystem impacts or do they have long term strategies for unforeseen events? If the whole planet of governments are attempting to club together it does suggest other motives not (currently) in the general public domain. If so, I can see where the 'forcing' comes in. It looks as if we are going to have to pay for the privilege of being alive (on top of usual taxation) because there are 'too many people.' However, I would find issue with this notion should it turn out that the investments being made are for the benefit of only a small selected group and not the overall planet population.

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  • 5. At 11:45am on 29 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Richard Black.

    "Everyone here agrees that if governments are serious about halting the decline of species and ecosystems, then somehow more money needs to be spent on it."

    how unfortunate, the united cries for "more money" simply detract.

    surely, the very first step in preserving the various "species and ecosystems" would need to be the harmonisation of the legal frameworks of the various nation states involved. after all, ecosystems and species are so 'stupid', they do not even recognise our 'important' political boundaries. (how can they be so blind?)

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  • 6. At 12:34pm on 29 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    "innovative mechanisms" and "levies" are interesting euphemisms for the same thing. Tax.

    Tax, tax and tax again. It's the green solution to everything.

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  • 7. At 1:21pm on 29 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    Brunnen_G #6 wrote:

    Tax, tax and tax again. It's the green solution to everything.

    I think it's a mistake to liken this to tax. Practically everybody thinks a taxation system is necessary. Even if we call taxation 'theft', it is theft of the "Robin Hood" variety, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. The majority agree that they benefit from it. No one enjoys paying tax, but everyone agrees the money has to come from somewhere.

    But this is something different. It's a deliberate attempt to take money from people who do not think it should be taken. Everyone who wants to give money to conservation is already perfectly free to do so, and many already do. If not as much money is given as conservationists would like, that is a reflection of how little most people care about conservation, and frankly that is just conservationists' tough luck -- that is how democracy works.

    The attempt to "appeal to the experts" -- and go over the heads of ordinary people, in effect to trick them out of their money -- is much more like theft of the "Prince John" variety. Taxation is democratic, and this isn't.

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  • 8. At 3:00pm on 29 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    Biodiversity copying carbon trading?

    Just think.

    Out there is the biodiversity equivalent of Phil Jones and Michael Mann. They think they are ordinary inoffensive scientists on a modest academic salary. But in a couple of years' time they will be denounced in the Telegraph and in the top Conservative blogs for crimes against sceptics, and on the receiving end of death threats.

    Meanwhile the general public would "know" that the dodo was the exception that proved the rule. "Humans and our civilisation are good for biodiversity. End of."

    If I was a scientist working in biodiversity, and the politicians , I'd chuck the job in now. Shelf stacking in Tesco or cleaning public toilets might not pay as well but at least you get to sleep (but not at night if you're working nights, obviously).

    Because now they've had a snifter of the GDM, there's no way the City are going to let this opportunity go.

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  • 9. At 3:03pm on 29 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:


    sensiblegrannie wrote @ 4:
    "....It looks as if we are going to have to pay for the privilege of being alive (on top of usual taxation) because there are 'too many people'."

    'Paying for the privilage of being alive' - Grannie, you have done it again!
    This may well be a globalised feature of future human life on earth. There being no such thing as a free meal, allowing a smaller number of individuals to exist in key parts of the planet comes with a differential cost. Perhaps high biodiversity regions should attract the greatest privilage-to-live-there-cost, thereby causing human migration to lower cost, degraded locations. As damage correlates highly with population density this would move the Biodiversity Programme in the right direction. It would depopulate and therefore save rainforests and many many islands. What is needed is a 'Qualitative Value' accorded to each species - because the same Biodiversity statistic can compute from common species in similar ecosystems (like Kenya, Uganda, etc) as that from an aggregation of rare-on-the-world-scale species in a unique environment (like Madagascar).

    ...........
    sensiblegrannie wrote @ 4:
    "However, I would find issue with this notion should it turn out that the investments being made are for the benefit of only a small selected group and not the overall planet population."

    Grannie,
    the only small, selected group that should be the recipient of the Danegeld is the IUCN Red List. The focus on this List, combined with a replacement-sustainable exploitation practice on all exploited natural foodstocks, will protect along the way the many thousands of very rare (and many no-so-rare) but largely unknown species and microspecies.

    Good one Grannie! Keep going!

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  • 10. At 3:38pm on 29 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Myself #8

    One of these days I'll learn to proof read. My

    " If I was a scientist working in biodiversity, and the politicians , I'd chuck the job in now. Shelf stacking in Tesco or cleaning public toilets might not pay as well but at least you get to sleep (but not at night if you're working nights, obviously)."

    should be

    " If I was a scientist working in biodiversity, and the politicians went for this GDM "panacea", I'd chuck the job in now. Shelf stacking in Tesco or cleaning public toilets might not pay as well but at least you get to sleep (but not at night if you're working nights, obviously)."

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  • 11. At 3:41pm on 29 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    bowmanthebard #7.

    using 'Robin of Sherwood' to illustrate your argument was a stroke of genius -- using one myth to justify another ("Taxation is democratic").

    taxation is anything but democratic, those who can afford to pay less of it (Lord Ashcroft types come to mind); and even when not employing accountants and other specialists to reduce tax bills, taxation (particulary indirect taxation) impacts more on those on lower incomes (VAT for instance accounts for a higher proportion of disposable income among those earning less than the national average). Robin Hood? robbin' blind, more like.

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  • 12. At 3:50pm on 29 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    GeoffWard #9.

    "As damage correlates highly with population density.."

    but no mention of the consequences of resource exploitation using industrial methods?

    "..depopulate and therefore save rainforests and many many islands."

    the damage is not caused the indigenous populations adhering to traditional life-styles.

    "The focus on this List, ... will protect.."

    not unless every single one of the 200+ nation states signs up and enforces legislations.

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  • 13. At 3:56pm on 29 Oct 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    The greatest swindle in history designed and implemented by the banks has impacts beyond the financial industry. The politicians continue to defend and protect the bankers and the rest of the world suffers because of these decisions.
    There are NGO's that purchase lands for the purpose of protection and this is what will continue. Most do not trust governments to protect lands as developers and industries always develop loop holes in the regulatory process. The current model that professes that economic development is the only thing of value will continue to place areas in danger. The growth model requires continued development. Governments want taxes and development is the foundation of the tax systems. We have reached a point where new governmental models are needed. The corrupted leglistaive model has proven that the benefit of the few is raised above the social good. It will change or it will collapse. History shows that it is more likely to collapse before it will change.

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  • 14. At 4:54pm on 29 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    jr4412 #11 wrote:

    taxation is anything but democratic, those who can afford to pay less of it

    That's very true; perhaps I should have said "the idea of taxation is democratic". Of course the reality falls short of the ideal, and that ought to be fixed as much as possible. But even in an ideal democracy, in which each political party had its own ideas about how revenue should be collected and spent, almost everyone would still agree that it should be collected from the richest, and spent on the poorest.

    There are eco-charities already, and the amount of money people want to channel to these charities is already decided by the amount of money they already actually send to them.

    The green movement wants much, much more than that -- they want to take away the decision-making powers that ordinary people already have over where their money goes, and take matters into their own hands.

    I'm a bit surprised this central injustice of the green movement hasn't had more attention. Perhaps the fault lies with sceptics who have been far too "charitable" by likening green money to tax. It's much more like the (traditional) church collecting tithes, and then spending the collected money on something tithe-payers themselves clearly don't want!

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  • 15. At 5:00pm on 29 Oct 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    GeoffWard thanks
    I was wondering which GeoffWard you are as there are several contenders. I would like to think you were the one from London University.

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  • 16. At 5:22pm on 29 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #14

    "I'm a bit surprised this central injustice of the green movement hasn't had more attention."

    How many times do I have to point it out? Carbon trading is not trusted and not liked by much of the grass roots of the green movement, and has been criticised by some of the green movement's biggest players, including Hansen, Lovelock, and Friends of the Earth.

    Here's Friends of the Earth giving it a good kicking.
    http://www.foe.org.uk/resource/press_releases/carbon_trading_05112009.html


    "Perhaps the fault lies with sceptics who have been far too "charitable" by likening green money to tax."

    No. For many sceptics "tax" is far more of a bogey word than "trading".

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  • 17. At 6:32pm on 29 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    jr4412 @ 12 replied to my #9:

    (1) "As damage correlates highly with population density.." .....'but no mention of the consequences of resource exploitation using industrial methods?'
    Unpopulated and inviolable would be my prefered option.

    (2) "..depopulate and therefore save rainforests and many many islands.".........'the damage is not caused the indigenous populations adhering to traditional life-styles'.
    The traditional lifestyle has been responsible for the the first human mass-extinction (12,000-10,000 b.p.) using stone-age weapons. Today's traditional lifestyle uses rifles. The 'noble savage' of the 'Golden Age' is an illusion.

    (3) "The focus on this List, ... will protect.." .....'not unless every single one of the 200+ nation states signs up and enforces legislations.'
    Many nations have distinct ecosystems within their national borders; transboundary migrations present bilateral etc threats/opportunities. Highest inducement should be reserved for nations with the most valuable biodiversity assets.

    Yes, 4412, there are *obvious* impracticalities; Grannie and I were indulging in a wee bit of lateral thinking. Conventional 'conference-thought' is very limiting.

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  • 18. At 6:38pm on 29 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    Grannie, yes - first degree & doctorate res. via London Uni., but there are more modern London Geoff Wards - I am one of the pre-internet decrepit ones ;-)

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  • 19. At 6:46pm on 29 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    @16. At 5:22pm on 29 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    How many times do I have to point it out? Carbon trading is not trusted and not liked by much of the grass roots of the green movement, and has been criticised by some of the green movement's biggest players, including Hansen, Lovelock, and Friends of the Earth.

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Well, ain't that just a great big slice of TS? Of course the "grass roots" aren't happy with cap and trade, it doesn't help move society back to the dark ages, so it's a bad thing.

    As for Lovelock, puh-lease. Try mentioning someone with a shred of credibility left to his name.

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  • 20. At 7:17pm on 29 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @Brunnen_G #19

    You almost sound as if you approve of carbon trading.

    Incidentally, if you had looked at the Friends of the Earth link, you would have seen that they identify a sub prime like bubble as being a big problem with carbon trading.

    My personal big problems with it include the potential for corruption, the difficulty of policing it or maintaining affordable and effective carbon prices, and the way that existing carbon trading seems to siphon off all the money to the speculators rather than investments in green technology.

    Personally I don't want us going back to the dark ages, and I know I'm not alone. I remind you that the sort of investment that was supposed to be funded by carbon trading also helps with energy security. (Tragically that "energy security" line can be used by the City to prop up carbon trading.)

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  • 21. At 7:48pm on 29 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    I'm not a fan of carbon trading in the slightest, but my reasons are different. I don't like it because it's a colossal waste of time and money to fix an imaginary problem and little more than an obvious sop to the green lobby.

    As for not wanting to return to the dark ages, I'm afraid that's the only outcome of giving greenies everything they want.

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  • 22. At 7:50pm on 29 Oct 2010, CanadianRockies wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 23. At 9:02pm on 29 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #16 wrote:

    How many times do I have to point it out? Carbon trading is not trusted and not liked by much of the grass roots of the green movement

    I didn't even know I was talking about carbon trading. To be honest, I don't even understand how carbon trading works.

    All I was trying to do was point out a crucial difference between taxation and taking money from people to channel into conservation. Everyone accepts taxation as necessary. It's form of coercion, sure, but in effect the (majority) poor coerce the (minority) rich. With the green movement, it's the other way around: the (minority) conservationists coerce the (majority) not-interested.

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  • 24. At 9:17pm on 29 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    @23. At 9:02pm on 29 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    All I was trying to do was point out a crucial difference between taxation and taking money from people to channel into conservation.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    There's not much difference. In both cases, money is taken from you without you getting a say in the matter to be spent in ways you may or may not disaprove of.

    For example, I was totally opposed to the invasion of Iraq. Yet statistically a small proportion of the money I paid in tax would have went to fund that fool's errand.

    These 'innovative mechanisms' are just another way to to jack money from people and it on yet another fool's errand.

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  • 25. At 9:26pm on 29 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    That should read "spend it on"

    Damn lack of proof reading...

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  • 26. At 10:12pm on 29 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    bowmanthebard #23: All I was trying to do was point out a crucial difference between taxation and taking money from people to channel into conservation.

    Brunnen_G #24: There's not much difference. In both cases, money is taken from you without you getting a say in the matter to be spent in ways you may or may not disaprove of.

    The vast majority of the electorate accepts that taxation is necessary, and accepts the larger details of the way the money is spent: on the poorer rather than the richer. The electorate have their say (in the larger details) when they vote in an election. I accept that coercion of individuals is involved, but taxation policy remains democratic, because majority opinion rules. In a democracy, majorities often coerce minorities, but that is not always bad.

    However, the same cannot be said for green policies. The idea is not to respect majority opinion -- which is already plain -- but instead to overrule it by appealing to force majeure.

    Some spending has to be centralized; for example, individuals cannot give money to the defense force of their choice. That is not the case with money given to conservationism. People can freely give to conservationist charities already, as indeed they do. The amount they give is -- and should remain -- their individual choice.

    Let us no longer legitimize an anti-democratic movement by calling it "taxation". Taxation is a legitimate and necessary (although imperfect) democratic process.

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  • 27. At 11:02pm on 29 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    GeoffWard #17 wrote: weasel words.

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  • 28. At 11:13pm on 29 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    bowmanthebard #14.

    not sure I agree entirely with your idealised description of taxation; personally, I dislike indirect taxation, and direct taxation should be a fixed percentage of income/wealth (no exceptions, no concessions, no loopholes), and the money raised should be spent on communal requirements rather than 'the poorest' (although that would be much better than spending it on allowances for the wealthiest ;)).

    "The green movement wants much, much more than that -- they want to take away the decision-making powers that ordinary people already have over where their money goes, and take matters into their own hands."

    can you give one or two concrete examples please?

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  • 29. At 11:35pm on 29 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    bowmanthebard #26.

    "The electorate have their say (in the larger details) when they vote in an election."

    another myth, look at Trident for example:

    "A BBC survey of Labour backbenchers found 64 out of 101 who responded opposed renewal."

    "By a margin of 58 to 35 per cent, people believe that the £25bn renewal of the Trident programme should be abandoned.."

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  • 30. At 00:12am on 30 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    "That is not the case with money given to conservationism. People can freely give to conservationist charities already, as indeed they do. The amount they give is -- and should remain -- their individual choice."

    On this we completely agree. I resent any part of my taxes going to solve the "problem" of CO2 and I get absolutely no say in the matter.

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  • 31. At 10:02am on 30 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    bowmanthebard #26: The electorate have their say (in the larger details) when they vote in an election.

    jr4412 #29: another myth, look at Trident for example

    It depends how large are the details we're talking about. The Labour Party of Michael Foot was simply unelectable, because of its unilateral disarmament policy. The Conservative Party of Margaret Thatcher was electable, not least because of its more robust defense policy. Perhaps a majority want to get rid of Trident -- although it's hard to say from just one survey -- but any intelligent politician would hesitate to get rid of all weaponry, because of its unpopularity. Popular opinion is making the big decisions here, however indirectly.

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  • 32. At 12:36pm on 30 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    jr4412 wrote @ 27:
    "GeoffWard #17 wrote: weasel words."

    Weaselly refuted then.... your turn.

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  • 33. At 12:54pm on 30 Oct 2010, Robert Lucien wrote:

    #29. At 11:35pm on 29 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    bowmanthebard #26.

    "The electorate have their say (in the larger details) when they vote in an election."

    another myth, look at Trident for example:
    --------

    Trident is a particularly complicated case. I'm hugely in favour of us having nuclear weapons and a deterrent, but that does NOT mean that I'm in favor of Trident in any way.

    People talk about wasting money, well Trident doesn't just wast money it is one of the biggest wastes of money in the UK's history. (Way above even things like Cross Rail or the proposed new high speed rail network.) Its vast, obsolete, and hugely inefficient, next to useless in a real war. And the only reason I can see that we are keeping it is to lubricate the political wheels with America.
    It takes about five or ten seconds to design a deterrent that would work - at about a hundredth or even a thousandth the cost. - (Take predator drone, insert nuclear warhead, repeat.)

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  • 34. At 1:07pm on 30 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    Robert Lucien #33 wrote:

    next to useless in a real war

    The idea is not to use it in a real war by deploying it, but to use it by threatening to deploy it, thereby preventing a real war.

    I mention it because the word 'use' has many uses. Preventative medicine is used when people are not sick.

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  • 35. At 1:26pm on 30 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    bowmanthebard #14: The green movement wants much, much more than that -- they want to take away the decision-making powers that ordinary people already have over where their money goes, and take matters into their own hands.

    jr4412 #28: can you give one or two concrete examples please?

    What do you think Harrison Ford, Richard Black, and all the other celebrity jet-setters and their hangers-on have been discussing at their international conferences for the last decade? Why not simply let voters decide? -- Because the Holy Inquisition has deemed that the voters want the wrong thing!

    Back in the real world, some of us have children whom we want to be able to attend college. We will fight tooth and nail to prevent a single penny of our money being spent on this pseudo-scientific, Hollywood-inspired, scientifically illiterate c***!

    Honestly, have you ever heard Bono, Harrison Ford or Richard Black utter a single sentence that expresses an interest in -- let alone the slightest understanding of -- genuine science? They're authoritarians, not questioners. They hate questions, hate doubt, hate complication.

    The rich narcissists of this green movement love popularity above all else. Hence the self-importance of the reports of their big-shot conferences. How ironic that they are fast becoming the least popular people on the planet! Sorry -- I meant "their" planet, as they seem to have appointed themselves as its guardians!

    I can hardly wait for these "saints" to go marching down the gangplank!

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  • 36. At 3:25pm on 30 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #31

    "The Labour Party of Michael Foot was simply unelectable, because of its unilateral disarmament policy. The Conservative Party of Margaret Thatcher was electable, not least because of its more robust defense policy."

    If we are talking about the 1983 general election, I remember a lot of people saying that the disarmament policy made Labour unelectable. But when it came down to it, I think the punch up in the Falklands made far more of a difference.

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  • 37. At 4:18pm on 30 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #36:

    I remember a lot of people saying that the disarmament policy made Labour unelectable. But when it came down to it, I think the punch up in the Falklands made far more of a difference.

    Maybe so, but isn't the more "usual" outcome of winning a war that the wartime Prime Minister loses the next election? I think the Falklands was an exception, because it made a lot of people think that a defense budget is not an "option".

    I fear the current government thinks it is, and I expect another invasion of the Falklands any day now.

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  • 38. At 5:34pm on 30 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #37

    "isn't the more "usual" outcome of winning a war that the wartime Prime Minister loses the next election? I think the Falklands was an exception, because ..."

    The Falklands War was short and "sweet". When a typical wartime prime minister loses the next election it's at least partly because people are fed up with war; its expense, its casualties, the way it just dragged on, and they just want to move on. But the Falklands never had those sorts of political costs. This allowed Thatcher to become a rose tinted spectacles version of Churchill. (I even remember the Spitting Image puppet of her smoking a cigar, although that had multiple connotations.)

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  • 39. At 6:42pm on 30 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #37

    "expect another invasion of the Falklands any day now"

    Unlikely.

    Argentina can't afford a repeat of 1982. (1982 only happened because some diplomat screwed up explaining to Argentina that there were circumstances when Britain might give the Falklands away to Argentina, but no circumstances when Britain would allow an invasion by Argentina.) And despite Cameron looking like a soft touch compared to Thatcher, if Argentina does invade, Cameron will repeat 1982, he won't be able to afford not to, and Argentina ought to know that.

    Oh, and this time there's possible oil money to help pay for Cameron imitating Thatcher. So Cameron copying Thatcher could be self financing.

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  • 40. At 6:43pm on 30 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke wrote:
    "....I even remember the Spitting Image puppet of her smoking a cigar, although that had multiple connotations."

    Jane, you're a naughty, naughty girl.

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  • 41. At 7:07pm on 30 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    39. At 6:42pm on 30 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:
    @bowmanthebard #37: expect another invasion of the Falklands any day now

    JaneBasingstoke #39: Unlikely.

    Ooh, I love it when our intuitive powers of prediction are tested! Mano-a-mano!

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  • 42. At 10:18pm on 30 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #41

    To test our predictions we'd need a period of time during which you think such an invasion likely. Otherwise 50 years from now, you'll just be going, "any day now obviously means any decade now, it's still going to happen, just not yet".

    I qualify my prediction - it explicitly affects Conservative led governments. A Labour Prime Minister would not be nearly as hurt.

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  • 43. At 10:59am on 31 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #42 wrote:

    To test our predictions we'd need a period of time during which you think such an invasion likely.

    I predict it will happen within the lifetime of the current government, probably at the point at which the Harriers can be regarded as well and truly out of commission. Less than a year, say.

    The (suggested) presence of oil makes the invasion more, not less, likely, because who wants to be seen to be fight a "war for oil"? -- Not the sort of people who want us to be seen to "hold our heads up high" internationally, by raising overseas aid by 40%.

    (I don't think either side is motivated by "greed", by the way.)

    By the way, I recommend again David Aaronovitch's article in last Thursday's London Times entitled "Predict what you like. You'll probably be wrong".

    Just for the heck of it, I predict that David Aaronovitch is about to "come out" as an AGW sceptic -- I don't think a person can consistently write an article like that and continue to defend AGW, as Aaronovitch has been so far.

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  • 44. At 2:02pm on 31 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #43

    "Harriers"

    Firstly I'm not so sure that the Harriers are going.

    I think they were put up by someone wanting to tell Cameron "we're scraping the barrel in Defence, so here's the ghost of Thatcher Past, to scare you into lettting us keep a lot more money".

    That someone may have their eye on a soft target like the department of the Environment. That could pay to keep Cameron's votes, sorry, I mean the Falklands, sorry, I mean the Harriers, sorry, I mean the Defence budget.

    Some might suggest trimming Trident. But we must pay our fair share of Trident. Without us paying our fair share of Trident we would be downgraded from 2nd rate ally to freeloader. This would mean we would have drastically reduced Intelligence from the Americans, especially satellite Intelligence. We would probably face some sort of economic sanction as well, costing our economy more than we save. And that's not including any boycotts by angry members of the American general public.

    Secondly I think we could probably hang on to the Falklands without the Harriers. But only if we get the strategy right. Last time we made it more difficult for ourselves by letting the Argentineans invade first.


    "Not the sort of people who want us to be seen to "hold our heads up high" internationally"

    I don't think you quite get the Tory mindset. Cameron may be a moderate Tory, and I'm pretty sure he's using the presence of the Lib Dems as an excuse to introduce stuff he'd like to see anyway but that the Hard Right would otherwise veto. It's one thing to crank up aid overseas. But Cameron cannot override mainstream Tory feeling that "the Falklands are British. Full Stop".


    "greed"

    To the Argentinean general public they are "Las Malvinas", and so obviously Argentinean. To the British general public they are "The Falklands", and so obviously British. Both sides lost people in the 1982 war and that gives both sides even more of a claim.

    Previously politicians in both countries stoked these attitudes and did very well out of that stoking, at least while they were winning. I don't think today's politicians are doing the same. Instead today's politicians, and I think this applies as much to the Argentineans as the British politicians, find the Falklands situation forced on them by their respective publics.

    If the oil situation changes, then this may change. But it would take a lot of potential oil money to make the public feelings take a back seat.


    "Aaronovitch"

    Not particularly impressed by his commentary on the Iraq war. And not particularly desperate to enrich Murdoch by looking for that article behind the Times pay wall.

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  • 45. At 4:00pm on 31 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @GeoffWard #40

    Tragically I wasn't veering into "Carry On" territory, only referencing the "fat cat with cigar" archetype. But then you knew that, you naughty man.

    Occurs to me. Some people visiting this thread may not be aware of the Thatcher Spitting Image puppet.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qTaERA9yoA

    More Thatcher spitting image clips, including the infamous "Vegetables" scene starting at about 1:50.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4agXi15LfS0


    @bowmanthebard

    Don't know if you can get iPlayer where you are. Last night's "Have I Got a Bit More News for You" described the dead stag as "The Exmoor Emperor, a giant read stag thought to have been the biggest wild land-animal in the UK, who has controversially been shot by a man with a very small *****." (starts about 30:49 in).

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  • 46. At 5:46pm on 31 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #44 wrote:

    To the Argentinean general public they are "Las Malvinas", and so obviously Argentinean. To the British general public they are "The Falklands", and so obviously British.

    And if we drop the idea of original sin, the sovereignty of any territory is a matter to be decided by the people who live there, and not a matter to be decided by anyone who lives anywhere else.

    I mention it because once again, so many of us assume that rewards and punishments are inherited. Many people on both sides think there is an "historical entitlement" to territory.

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  • 47. At 6:13pm on 31 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #44: Firstly I'm not so sure that the Harriers are going.

    I wish I could share your doubts. The Tornado is a poor aircraft, called a "fighter-bomber" but in real terms it's just an offensive weapon -- an old-fashioned bomber with no defensive capacities worth talking about. By contrast, the Harrier is a very effective fighter, thanks to its ability to "vector in forward flight" (=VIFF). The Tornado is much more recent than the Harrier, and looks more "macho" than the Harrier, which has a delicate, starling-like appearance (because of its negative dihedral). I imagine that such superficialities as age and looks played a part in the decision.

    By the way, as an example of the lack of familiarity ministers tend to have with their, er, briefs, when Geoff Hoon was defense secretary he once gave a press conference in front of a painting of a "Super Etendard" -- the very aircraft type that launched Exocet missiles (and killed many of "ours") during the Falklands War. These guys usually just don't have a clue.

    bowmanthebard #43:Not the sort of people who want us to be seen to "hold our heads up high" internationally

    JaneBasingstoke #44: I don't think you quite get the Tory mindset.

    I don't think George Osborne quite gets the Tory mindset, as he was the one who defended the increase in overseas aid with the words 'we can hold our heads up high'!

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  • 48. At 10:46pm on 31 Oct 2010, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #46

    "And if we drop the idea of original sin, the sovereignty of any territory is a matter to be decided by the people who live there, and not a matter to be decided by anyone who lives anywhere else."

    Actually those attached to the idea of Original Sin would also have to acknowledge that self determination is a UN recognised human right.

    I was once in a house share where one of my housemates was Spanish. She didn't seem to get that it isn't Britain driving the "no" to Gibraltar being returned to Spain, it is the actual inhabitants of Gibraltar. My impression is the Argentinean general public have the same misunderstanding about the Falkland Islanders.


    "so many of us assume that rewards and punishments are inherited"

    Um, well many rewards and some punishments are inherited. Unless you squabble too much over the Will in which case the rewards just end up going to the lawyers.

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1023


    @bowmanthebard #47

    "I wish I could share your doubts."

    I didn't say they would succeed. Only that it looks like they might be trying, and they might have some sort of effect. After all when the Guardian opened an article on the subject for comments the very first comment was about the Argentineans. The Ghost of Thatcher Past has a long reach.


    "Tornado"

    Well to me that would suggest they ought to keep some of both. Or are they also slashing Tornado numbers, or contractually committed to maintaining Tornado numbers?


    "Tory mindset"

    Er, my point about the Tory mindset is that there is far more wiggle room with overseas aid than there is with the sacrosanct Falklands. Especially as there is then actual wiggle room as to where and how the aid is deployed.

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  • 49. At 6:10pm on 01 Nov 2010, CanadianRockies wrote:

    Well, I see my comment #22 "was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules."

    Here's the ultra-short sanitized version:

    "But as the final phase of this meeting is making clear, it's largely about money."

    Duh.

    "as financier George Soros proposed during the Copenhagen climate summit"

    Hmmm.



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