Not to vote really should be a punishable offence. However, what will the elected politicians do for farming?
The more cynical might notice that, during the run up to an election, a large number of organisations and individuals become suddenly vocal in putting their case and asking for cash, pointing out that such additions would earn votes. Those wishing to be elected make promises which those with any intelligence take with a very small pinch of salt and then vote, not for their approved candidate but against those they like least.
For over 200 years, farming has become more and more efficient, employing less and less labour and has become a smaller and smaller proportion of the voting electorate.
The truth is that farming needs to forget the politicians (all of them) which will forget farming and, instead, get on with cutting costs (recycle wastes instead of buying mineral fertilisers), growing higher value crops and adding value to their production. However, that is still not enough, farming has to market itself and its products better. Much better and much more actively. Doing all of this will employ more labour which will, in due course, make it politically more influential.
That is a quote from “The Yellow Book” by Robert Holden. Spot on in our society where government seeks to write regulations to cover all eventualities. Now, you do not have to be very bright to understand that is impossible and what happens is the stifling of innovation and inhibition of entrepreneurial activity which, in turn, pays taxes to fund government. For “government”, read elected and, most certainly, civil service.
Logically, this observation applies to the waste industry, to the health service, welfare services, health and safety. The answer is simple. A new environmental protection Act might only have one sentence; “Thou shalt not pollute”.
Wet roads in summer are bad enough but how much worse in winter. Suppose we could avoid icy roads?
I have been a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport for longer than I care to admit and in this month’s issue of the journal “Focus”, there is a feature article on constructing roads to absorb energy from the sun and feed it back later, maybe months later. While the energy cost of constructing these roads is not small, the energy savings and the multiple advantages of not having iced roads in winter are clearly worth some thought and investigation. By the way, some of these roads already exist and they do work.
Why leave the discussion at this point without going into detail? Well, we really do have to start being a bit more innovative and bit less hide-bound by restrictive regulation and regulators. We need to strat voting for longer term thinking in the governments we elect.
As Dolly Parton said, “If you want the rainbow, you have got to put up with the rain”.
The science: In the last century, global population quadrupled. There is one way of looking at the wealth of that population and that is to label those who have cash surplus to survival and to spend on goods made elsewhere as the “consumer class”. That class was around 1.8 billion in 2010. Estimates vary but to be 5 billion by 2030 is probably not an exaggeration.
The bad news:This will need very rapidly expanding use of resources, some of which are already limited.
The good news: Technology keeps finding new materials, improving efficiency of use and we are beginning to think about circular technology. (See future issues on this blog.)
Bill Butterworth 4 April 2016
P.S. Try the book, “Reversing global warming for profit”, by Bill Butterworth, published by MX Publishing, available from all good bookshops or on line at Amazon.
There is an opportunity in the uplands to help flood control lower down.
Few in the UK can be unaware of the flooding in many parts but dramatically in the North West. What follows are discussions of why and who to blame, mixed with theories which are often held passionately as the silver bullet to cure it in future. The truth is that the solutions are complex and a belief in a single solution indicates a lack of understanding of the natural environment.
No doubt, the dredging of water escape routes, of the building of “sacrifice” areas, building of new extra drains, and all the other construction possibilities are part of the defence for future urban protection. The holding of water in the uplands in order to give slower release is the subject of what follows here.
Firstly, the farming of the area is the key to the management of the uplands, not the cause of lowland problems. More specifically, if any change is not economic for the farmers involved, then either the taxpayers come up with the cash, or it will not happen at all. So, finding a development which slows run-off and is financially attractive for farming to produce food is the only acceptable way forward that has a chance of working. There is a way to do this and it has already been done.
We already know that high organic matter soils hold water better. To put figures on it; sand will hold its own weight of water, clay twice its own weight but composts will hold 5 to 16 times their own weight. We also know that bare soil (without an established crop on it) erodes easily. So, enabling farmers to develop high organic matter soils and grow crops with a minimum of bare soil will improve matters in the lowlands. We already know much about composting urban wastes and about forestry and other crops which can reduce erosion. Composting wastes can be very profitable but there is always an assumption that compost from wastes will be spread on food-producing land. There is always a lot of paperwork, some of which may be a bit counter-productive. Suppose a group of farmers were to get together with the Environment Agency and develop an area plan to maximise the volume and type of “wastes” which could be composted and spread and, instead of lots of individual applications to spread, a Code of Practice for food and forestry land?
The Antarctic – the coldest place on earth. there is no doubt that global warming is ocurring but we still use energy.
Bad experience with shale.
Safe technology and regulation.
Government invests £30 million in testing practical procedures and performance.
“There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order. This lukewarmness arises partly from fear of their adversaries who have the law in their favour; and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything until they have had actual experience of it.”
NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI The Prince and The Discourses 1513 – Chapter 6
We know that some of the practices involved in shale exploration and production in the USA and some other places was environmentally wrong and some had serious long term consequences. We know we do not want that here in the UK. We know that all burning of hydrocarbon fuels is producing global warming at probably higher rates that we like to admit and that the consequences are likely to be serious. Most reasonable people believe that and would like to try to avoid it. We also know a few other things relevant to the shale discussion.
Some hydrocarbon fuels are worse polluters when used than others; brown coal is killing China, diesel produces significant particulates, petrol produces much Carbon dioxide per mile and so on. All do have real disadvantages. Shale gas is a relatively clean-burn fuel; it does produce Carbon dioxide but not much else.
The risks in shale exploration and production are widely aired and much discussed. (See this blog 27 January 15.)
Some of the technology for safe shale extraction is known and proven. (See this blog 4 December 14.)
Some of the technology is less well established but still potentially safe. (See this blog 5 December 14)
We live in the most inspected, the most monitored, the most regulated society the world has ever known.
The government has earmarked £30 million for research to trial, monitor and test exploration and production of shale. A small handful of universities are already spending that cash.
Machiavelli was right. Innovation and change always have detractors. However, GB has always been a trail blazer and we do now have the opportunity to lead in safe shale. Logically, as our population in the UK is expanding by something of the order of 250,000 per year, we do have to have more energy and we do need to start building its supply right now. This a matter of leadership; do we in the UK want to develop energy security and care for our own people or not?
Forgetting is one thing. Doing something is another. What are we going to give our kids?
Lest we forget
For those who stayed up and watched the service of remembrance, or watched on Sunday morning, there can be few who were not deeply moved. The ceremonies were well staged and there was a fundamental message of deep significance. That message, however, was two-edged.
There is not a lot of point in weeping without waking up to put things right. In the UK, we are very fortunate with less of the extremes that people, individuals and families, in most other counties have to put up with. There is generally a better standard of living and more stability than most places on earth. As ever, it is under threat.
We need to have a little less moaning. A little less imported ideologies, investment, imports generally. A little more of traditional British attitudes and sticking together. A little more home-produced effort, energy sources, local control, and self-respect. A land “fit for heroes” does not just happen because “we earned it” in the past tense. We have to work harder now. A little less Nimby-ism. A little more get on with it and just do it.
Bill Butterworth 11.00 am, 11th of the 11th month 15