Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Ten years ago, global warming experts were considered a bit crazy, worth mention in a small byline on p. 197 of your local rag. Now, global warming is front page day after day. To counter this, the pundits are out there calling the scientists a bunch of conspiracy theorists. One of them, Melanie Phillips, was caught out on the BBC when asked if she realised that her sources were industry funded. No, she was rather clueless on that one, but it made her sound important to put people down and quote some 'experts'.
However, it is not just those taking dosh from big business who muddy the waters. It seems now every anarachist and journalist is out there claiming to be an expert as well, and when they do a halfway job, they end up discrediting the work of others who have spent far more time and effort than themselves. It seems that from the ranks of anarchists, we have George Monbiot raging against the day without all the facts, and he gets put in his place by those who do. Weighing in to the Guardian on 30 January, he bashes that other idiot George, aka W, and thus starts off on a roll. However, he would be wise to cut it short, as after taking aim at so ridiculous a figure, he then descends into folly. Whilst he questions W's motives in calling for biofuel production, telling us, as if we did not already know, that W just might be funneling public funds to his buddies who have farms, he calls these moves "quixotic solutions." He then, as is common practice in the Guardian, alludes to maize and rapeseed as the crops which will provide the material for this. (Which, BTW, is cellulose, the most common compound in the vegetable kingdom). Their rival paper, the Independent, is prone to the same error. Rape seems to be what they believe would be used, then they realise it cannot supply such great amounts of cellulose as the stems are flacid, then someone writes in that this just won't work. The Independent science editor Steve Connor ought to know better, but he goes on about maize, ignoring other, better crops for biofuel. For one thing Steve, maize, or corn as it is known in North America, does not grow in Canada or in parts of the UK.
But getting back to that other would-be science editor, George of the Guardian, it is interesting to note that he repeats a very serious bit of misinformation that has been put forth repeatedly (including by one letter writer to the Independent), which is to say that using plants for biofuel would raise world food prices.
Assuming, perhaps, that the farmers are going to sell the edible parts of their maize, if that is what they are going to use, or the seeds from their rape, to the fuel producers. Of course not. Henry Ford, when he produced ethanol from hemp and other common crops, did not use the edible parts; rather, he created a secondary market for the waste parts, which for hemp, was the hurd, the inner core. Maize stalks and cobs can go into the pot for fuel after the kernels have gone into the pot for food, and the same example is mirrored in so many hundreds of other crops. George Monbiot shows himself a cut below that other George whom we all so loathe. Ironically it is GW, not GM, who is doing something, however selfishly, about producing biofuel.
But GM is not alone in this practice. Examine for a moment the usual eruption of irony spewed forth by Johann Hari in the Independent, who writes on so many subjects he might pass for an all-knowing genius if he could just get them right. His diatribe on 25 January bashes global warming deniers. Again, if he knew when to stop he might be a genius. Like Monbiot, he goes on to display a certain ignorance and weakness in debating style. He picks on a number of obviously wrong counter arguments, but does not mention at all the fact that Greenland was arable in the Middle Ages or, of more recent application, the facts put forth by Piers Corbyn (brother to MP Jeremy Corbyn). Much as I support the argument for global warming, I do not do so by suppressing the counter arguments, which can quite often be of great value to the whole picture. Picking and choosing your facts is how so many journalists work, but to present a holistic picture we must listen to all sides and form our opinions after we have listened.
Again, I might emphasise that I am well into the global warming camp and work to reduce pollution. However, if that warming is partly caused by the sun and other forces other than man-made pollution, we need to know that as well and act accordingly.
Another aspect to all this is that a rush to judgment on this complicated issue seems to be the style of those who stand to profit from or tax the carbon credit schemes. Much of this is newly foisted on the public and just because someone like George M or George W comes out and shoots their mouth off on a subject, does not mean we all ought to take their word as final. That is insanity.
Instead, I stand for sanity, demanding to hear all sides of the arguments, even those sides I do not like. There may be points in their thesis that have been overlooked, and the opposition can add to the campaign.
But getting back to hemp, what bothers me enough to write this much is that all these 'experts' and pseudo-scientists writing in these supposedly progressive papers ignore the hemp issue; years of giving them the information on hemp have, I think, been wasted, as the advertisers of these papers include car manufacturers (yes, the Guardian is in the business of advertising 4x4s after Monbiot rants against their use) and cotton growers.
If they were more intelligent, they would look at the plethora of information about hemp, which is one of, if not the, fastest biomass producers on the planet. You may just want to bring this to their attention, and you can do by emailing them at: or Don't bother with Mr. Hari, his phone does not take incoming calls and he does not respond to facts put to him by email.

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