Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Prize for most misleading headline...

... goes to the Daily fail for: Drivers face a 50 per cent rise in fuel duty to make up tax shortfall from 'green' cars. Is it just me or does this headline look at first glance to mean that those nasty 'green' cars being pushed by the government are actually going to make motoring much more expensive?

Clearly I'm not the only one as some of the Fail's readers show. Ollie from Ashford says;
"Let the Green Party stump up the monies"
And a very bright Bev for Dorset cries;
"Green! Green! The government use it to rob, steal and lie. The next tax will be exhaling tax hold your breath to reduce carbon emissions." 
So what is it really all about? Well a read of the actual article reveals that an RAC report calculated that as people, (and these people can be Daily Fail readers too), swap to hybrid and electric cars there will be a loss of government tax revenue through drivers taking advantage of current tax breaks, paying less road licence and purchasing less petrol, leaving the Treasury with a shortfall by 2029.
But isn't that the same as blaming people who give up smoking for increasing our tax burden by not buying cigarettes?

No one who spends half a moment to think about it would believe that the current tax breaks on buying 'green' cars will still be in place if they become the vehicle of choice, and it would seem likely that government policy will alter over time as motorists pay less tax to address the the balance in some way to cover any shortfall if it is needed. 
So there is no real indication that motorists per se will be paying any more tax in real terms as they do today, just that the tax may be on other things. In fact in the article Paul Johnson from the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggests replacing the current system of fuel taxation with, 'A national system of charging related to mileage and congestion'. Sound like a idea worth looking at to me, and perhaps should have formed part of the headline used rather than one that appears to some as anti green.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Hitler Liked Dogs. Do You?

I have been following the news of Heartland's ill judged ad campaign. I'd say ill judged only if you consider shooting yourself in the foot while it is in your mouth, ill judged.  Didn't they learn anything from the not funny satirical 10:10 ads?

By pretty much suggesting that those who accept the science of global warming are like serial killers and terrorists they have managed to alienate supporters and funders alike. Drink giant Diageo who owns brands like Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Mo√ęt & Chandon and gave Heartland $10,000 over the past two years say they have no plans to work with the Heartland Institute in the future. State Farm an insurance company has also announced that they were severing all ties with the Heartland Institute.This company gave $114,000 in 2010, $230,000 last year and $95,000 this year according to Heartland's leaked fund-raising plan. Ouch!

'my participation in the upcoming Heartland conference has now become untenable.' With her book being advertised on the same Heartland web page she believes her ' reputation has been harmed'. She also reports;

'Ross McKitrick said in an a strongly-worded letter to Heartland yesterday:
You cannot simultaneously say that you want to promote a debate while equating the other side to terrorists and mass murderers.'
Perhaps more can be learned about the ethics and morals of those who appear to see nothing wrong with this sort of campaign. Enter stage left my Member of the European Parliament, Roger Helmer. He became an MEP on a Conservative ticket before defecting to the more extreme right UKIP party who has for a deputy leader Mad Monckton. Helmer has been mentioned on my blog before;
Who voted for this idiot?
Rape victims share responsibility for the crime!
Winds of Change?

Helmer is still down to attend this Heartland conference as a breakfast speaker;
"Breakfast - May 23, 2012: SPEAKER, Roger Helmer, European Parliament, Great Britain - $39.00 "
By all accounts this insidious Ad campaign is no barrier to him giving his speech. According to Leo Hickman;
'He confirmed he was still attending, adding:
I am delighted that the Heartland campaign for the Chicago climate conference has succeeded in its purpose and attracted the attention of the Guardian.'
So with Helmer and his conservative opinions in mind I thought I'd give Heartland a few suggestions for alternatives to their posters. This ones for Rog;

 But Heartland's ads are really a reverse version of the Appeal to Authority. Choose someone who is noteworthy in some respect and use them to promote something unrelated. I can't see dairy farmers being too pleased to see this around the country;

Or, as the title of this post suggests, dog breeders liking this;

But to really show the absurdity and irrationality of this add campaign, suppose an environmental group had commissioned this;

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Catholic Church Still Abusing Children

In what I consider to be a hugely immoral act, the Catholic Church in Britain has written to nearly 400 state-funded Catholic schools asking them to get pupils, some as young as 11, to back a petition against gay marriage. Students in at least one school were shown a presentation on religious opposition to government plans to let gay couples marry in civil ceremonies.

This is wrong for several reason;
  • First it amounts to teaching children that gay relationships are wrong because the creator of the universe says it is so.
  • Second it puts immense peer pressure on to kids who see gay relationships as a personal choice and acceptable between consenting people, and would not normally support such a homophobic position. It will put these children in line for bullying and name calling if they have to courage to openly not to support this vile petition.
  • Thirdly, after stigmatising homosexuality, and a time when children are discovering their own sexuality, it will likely make the inevitable few who are naturally gay deny their own sexual nature and as something condemned in the eyes of others.

Do children really need to be used as pawns for the Catholic Church in this way?

The Catholic Church - no church, invented marriage. People were jumping the broom long before Christ or even Abraham. One wonders at the priorities of such people that they appear much more concerned about allowing certain types of adults to call themselves married and receive the benefits of such an arrangement as soon as possible legislation allowing it is discussed, but are painfully slow in reacting to claims of abuse of children levelled at their own people.Where is the petition for school children to sign against their own grooming by church authority figures?

As the title of this posts states, I do not think it is an over reaction to state that this is the abuse of children. It is an abuse of the authority that the parents have given, it encourages discrimination against others based on their sexuality, and it indoctrinates them to believe that inequality is not just justified but an requirement. This mental abuse can be as psychologically damaging as that inflicted by physical abuse.

I personally have a child still in Catholic education. They were unaware of this in-equality petition in their school and I hope that their school has the courage to overrule the Catholic Education Service on this matter and no child gets put into a position of being asked to sign it. My own child already says, unbidden by me, that they would not sign such a thing. This makes me proud but I would not criticise them if they did sign it out of pressure, but I will criticise the Catholic and School authorities if they put my child - any child, under this pressure. It is child abuse, pure and simple.