Thursday, 28 March 2013

Wigging Out

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Wigging Out

Consider the humble full stop. For centuries it has told rambling schoolchildren when to breathe and given hack writers an easy way of depicting suspense. Why mention this? Well, the coming post is going to be principally about Donald Trump and I find myself burdened with so much scorn and distaste for the man that for the remainder of this blog post after the current paragraph I will be replacing our old friend the full stop with the phrase "shitwig". Principally so I can make some serious points about Donald Trump while reminding you, dear reader, that he's also a total clown. However I appreciate that might be somewhat awkward to read, so I will be colouring my shitwigs gold, thus - shitwig So if you see a golden shitwig, remember (a)  that it's the end of a sentence and insert a mental pause, and (b) Donald Trump is an idiot with a shit wig. All clear? I'm not entirely sure how this is going to work out, but at this point I'm sort of invested in the concept so go with it (normal service will be resumed next time). Right, here goes...

My utter contempt for Donald Trump goes back several years, to the point where he first stepped out of his helicopter in a suit made principally out of haggis and alcoholism, proclaiming himself Scottish and proposing to construct a golf course on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) shitwig His planning application was first considered by Aberdeenshire Council then, latterly, by the Scottish Government shitwig I contacted my MSP, Kenneth Gibson of the SNP, pointing out that a site doesn't become of less scientific interest because a wealthy guy promises to inject a billion pounds into the Scottish economy shitwig I like to think of myself as a pragmatist and a billion pounds is a lot of money for a small country in a time of economic difficulty, but at heart I'm a beardy conservationist and these sites are given classifications for a reason shitwig The response I got - that the area was "sand dunes, mostly" caused me some alarm shitwig What caused me more alarm was a report I read on some beardy conservationist website that Trump has basically left a trail of half-finished luxury resorts around the world, promising golf courses and hotels but absent-mindedly forgetting to build the actual hotel bits shitwig 

So it was with mixed feelings (principally joy with a bit of sinking dread - more on the dread later) that I read, joyfully, the joyous news that planning permission has been granted for an 11 turbine windfarm and technology testing ground off the Aberdeenshire coast and visible from Trump International Golf Links on the Menie Estate shitwig This made me a happy hippy for three main reasons:-

(1) Regular readers will know that I like wind power and wind turbines, and support fully the Scottish Government's ambitious, but achievable, renewable power objectives;

(2) I hate NIMBYism generally but in the context of wind power I especially hate it ("Yes we need to be sustainable, but not if it ruins my view! rabblerabblerabble") and too often it is given too much weight; and

(3) The Scottish Government has stood up to a man who has proven, in his time in Scotland, to be something of a cross between massive lumbering idiot bully and massive lumbering idiot baby, and it makes me happy to see him throw all of his toys out of his pram shitwig

Take, for example his media comments in the light of the news reports this week about the granting of planning consent for the wind turbines:

"This was a purely political decision" - no Donald, it wasn't shitwig It was another element of the clearly stated Scottish Government policy to put Scotland at the forefront of renewable power, both in terms of capacity and in terms of innovation, in the EU shitwig What probably didn't help you, however, was your short-termist approach post-planning approval for your resort - thinking you had gotten all you needed from the SNP, you stopped being so pally with them, and now they don't have any reason to do anything to help you out any more shitwig

"As dictated by Alex Salmond, a man whose obsession with obsolete wind technology will destroy the magnificence and beauty of Scotland " - call me naive but this decision had nothing to do with Alex Salmond - it's not in his portfolio. I would also take issue with the definition of the technology as "obsolete" shitwig A study by Scottish Renewables in April 2011 put the Scottish renewables capacity from operating facilities at 4419 Mega-Watts (MW) and potential additional capacity from projects in development at a further 8500MW, with another 15000MW being scoped out shitwig (

Hardly reeks of obsolescence, does it? 

"Likewise, tourism, Scotland's biggest industry, will be ruined" - no it won't shitwig This is such a ludicrous statement from a supposed business genius that I can almost not be bothered countering it shitwig Windfarms won't ruin Scottish tourism on the simple basis that the landscapes which most tourists come to Scotland to see will not be touched by windfarm developments shitwig With the greatest of respect to the Aberdeenshire coastline it's not a patch, landscape-wise, on areas like Glencoe, Glen Nevis, the Cairngorms or Loch Lomond - ergo tourists will not be deterred from visiting Scotland for the scenery shitwig In addition I would struggle to believe that someone would refrain from visiting an allegedly international calibre golf course because there are some wind turbines in the sea up the coast shitwig Ironically the only tourists likely to be deterred from visiting the area are tourists who might have been interested in the SSSI - but, errrm, you stabilised the sand dunes reducing their unique appeal, didn't you?

"Likewise, we will be bringing a lawsuit within the allocated period of time to stop what will definitely be the destruction of Aberdeen and Scotland itself" - I can't help but imagine / hope that Donald fervently believes that during the installation of the first turbine, a drill will breach some sort of sealed chamber and awaken a leviathan or maybe even some sort of Godzilla-like creature, who (cranky from being awaken from his slumber - we all get like this, don't we?) will vent his rage on the beautiful granite of Aberdeen  shitwig Or maybe he thinks that the turbines will inadvertently act as propellers, lifting Scotland from it's moorings and causing us to skim awkwardly over the North sea until we crash-land in the Norwegian fjords shitwig Meanwhile, back in the land of the sane, I'm sure the citizens of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire (which incidentally boasts over 50 golf courses which are not run by lunatics) are quaking in their boots shitwig I know I'm petrified, here in Glasgow, about the destruction of the land I love by some wind turbines 200 miles away from me shitwig

But I did mention dread before shitwig Slight dread, but dread nonetheless shitwig It has now been three and a half years since planning consent was granted for Trump International Golf Links: amidst all the fanfare regarding the launch of his golf course, it is interesting to note that ground has not yet been broken on the hotel or any of the promised luxury houses shitwig I mentioned previously that there are allegedly a series of Trump-backed half-built resorts around the world and if one were cynical, one might think that the posturing around the wind turbines was a smokescreen to prevent the costly development of the hotel and luxury housing ancillary to the  Aberdeenshire golf course shitwig The dread, therefore stems from the fact that the Scottish Government may have allowed a SSSI to be compromised for a mess of pottage shitwig shitwig shitwig

(N.B. Twitterers, if you too share utter contempt for Donald Trump I would suggest following @martiandtrump on twitter - deliciously described as all the charm of Donald Trump without any of the words. Always makes me chuckle)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

We Don't Need No Education...

Ah, so this is where I left it...

Greetings, and apologies for the massive delay since my last blog post. I would like to be able to say that the gap was the result of some horrendous illness or maybe a non-fatal accident, but really it's down to being overly busy and over-estimating how often I'd be able to sit and compose something halfway legible about climate change.

But here we are, and apologies dispensed with it's time for a punchy little post about education.

Michael Gove

Sorry, I had to stop typing for a moment there as I involuntarily shudder whenever I think about that man. Let's refer to him as he-who-must-not-be-named

Sorry, I had to stop typing for another moment there as J.K. Rowling's solicitor was on the phone. Nice chap.

Right, so the rubber-featured man-baby that is in charge of Education in England and Wales has been in the press this week for suggesting that climate change isn't really all that worthy of a place on the syllabus if you are under 14. The mind boggles, just as HIS facial features do in a gentle breeze. Surely, surely, surely, being a Minister in the "Greenest Government Ever" ((c) D. Cameron) he would think that climate change - which is a pretty pressing issue, all things considered - should be introduced to the minds of the young from an early age? I mean, there are so many pluses to this:-

(1) Basic societal change - if you teach children something at a young age, they are likely to stick with it in adulthood. Children can also teach adults stuff (crazy, right?) and may ask parents to justify behaviour that they, the children, have been taught to be incorrect.

(2) Basic educational worth - there has been the development, in Scotland, in the last few years of Curriculum for Excellence. Now while this is much-criticised by some (many) in the education sector, it does at least have the laudible aim of introducing topics which cut across several subject areas, making lessons more holistic in approach. This would seem to promote a 'deeper, narrower' learning approach as opposed to a 'shallower, broader' approach.

(3) Future technological advancement - Technology is a phenomenal tool in the task of mitigating the impacts of climate change. And if children are not exposed to this at an early age, surely their ability to think of innovative responses at a later, professional, stage in their lives will be stunted?

Sarah Lester agrees:-

"The negative implications of removing climate change in this way from the curriculum is that we face the threat of creating a generation of students who do not understand the issue and who are unwilling to reduce their energy demands or emissions. By not educating children on this topic and the potential behavioural responses we risk not having the public support to meet our legally binding target of 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In my opinion the Government will undermine a generation of young people and lessen the impact of their voices calling for environmental responsibility and global action on climate change." Daily Telegraph, 19th March 2013,

The DfE argues that the topic would still be taught at GCSE level in Geography or Chemistry, but this fails to consider the fact that at this stage children are selecting topics with a view towards future careers - so would not automatically have the exposure to a topic that has pretty grim significance for all humans. A basic understanding of the facts of climate change shouldn't have to be earned alongside details of the process for refining petrol, or glacial movement in 1960s Switzerland.


On another note, because I promised last time, let's have something positive to dispense with the doom and gloom.

This might raise eyebrows a bit but hey ho. Highland Councillors have indicated approval for a massive windfarm (up to 339 turbines and covering 11 square miles, making it one of the largest in the world) in the Outer Moray Firth. It is estimated that this could generate up to 1,500MW of electricity and power up to 1 million homes. As Scotland has a population of approx. 5,250,000, this would be a significant step towards 100% of Scottish electricity need being met by renewable sources (although with a proposed completion date of 2020 may be cutting it fine to meet the Scottish Government's target of 100% generation by 2020). Whether you love or hate windfarms, from a climate point of view this is good news, and good to see Scotland providing genuine leadership to the world on this fundamental area.

Imagine what would happen to Michael Gove's face if he stood beside 339 wind turbines going full pelt - it'd be like a lava lamp.

Challenge to all who read this - do something sustainable this week. Whether it's get the bus one day rather than drive, or make a point of making a meal from local ingredients (by which I don't mean ingredients purchased locally, but ingredients which originate from local sources - so the 'Greggs' down the street from your house doesn't count).

Take it easy, and I promise it wont be so long before I post again.

Pete of the Trees

Friday, 30 November 2012

That All-Important First Blog Post...

Studies have shown that it's important with any form of writing to grab hold of your audience with your opening sentence. My guess is that starting with 'Studies have shown...' was a risky strategy! I'll have another go.


Better? You might think that that is some form of grand-standing on my part, based on the desperate need to have unknown persons in the internet ether read my ramblings. While that may be true, the four word sentence in capitals above is also true, from a climate perspective at least.

It's a difficult area of modern life to feel positive about, for a number of reasons. (I should add, before I go any further, that this is not all going to be doom and gloom. I am scene-setting, there will be some nice stuff later - pictures of squirrels dancing and salmon on holiday.) 

Take, for example, the laudible efforts of the Scottish Government to play its part in limiting Scotland's contribution to world carbon emissions. There are some really stringent national targets in there, and targets set out by statute (legally binding). 3% year-on-year reductions, 42% reduction from 1990 baseline by 2020 and a staggering 80% reduction from 1990 baseline by 2050 (

So far so hippy, right? Except for the news this July that Scotland had failed to meet it's 3% reduction target on the basis of 'exceptionally cold weather'. (

Now let's stop there for a moment. As anyone who lives in Scotland will know, it can be exceptionally cold here in the middle of August with the sun beaming down on you, so I would have thought that any target-setting would factor in the inherent difficulties caused by living in a country which is prone to snow in May.

Let's look a bit closer - the figures produced here are the first figures to be reported under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. Essentially, we've missed the first target (in darts terms, the equivalent of missing the board completely and hitting a spectator in the eye). Now, as anyone with any working knowledge of climate change adaptation will tell you, the first few years of meeting targets should be the easiest. You are moving from the old structure to the new: you have at that stage the highest possible level of action to take and a number of quick wins within reach, whereas 20 years down the line you will be looking at the more technologically and socially difficult mechanisms to implement. So failure to meet the first 3% reduction target does not bode well.

(I should note, in fairness, that since 1990 Scotland's emissions have reportedly fallen by 21% - but I'm looking specifically at achievements in terms of the targets set out in the 2009 Act (paragraph 1.3 of

There are so many facets to cover with climate change - hundreds, if not thousands, and I'm not going to cover them all in this first post. What I am going to do though is set myself a rule. For every piece of negativity I post, I'm going to put something positive up to balance it out - I guess it is important to keep the positivity going, as if we all get all gloomy about climate change then everyone will throw in the towel. Even if we are all f*cked, there are a number of things we can do which will at least minimise the impacts climate change has upon us, even if those impacts are going to be more severe than we would wish.

So, positivity. Again, I'm going to stick with UK policy here (although future posts will globe-trot).

The Green Deal is something that so few people know about, and which should be highlighted more. (

Essentially, the Green Deal is a scheme under which any homeowner can have energy efficiency improvements made to their homes by energy companies at no up-front cost. Costs are then repaid through additions to energy bills. But think about that - if you have cavity wall insulation, proper insulation in your loft, double-glazing... what are your basic energy costs going to be? Crucially, the green deal sets out that if you move from that property you no longer pay for the improvements - the payment obligation transfers with the property. The DECC are also looking to oblige energy companies to improve the energy efficiency of homes of the most vulnerable and of the poorest members of society.

Again, let's have a wee look at this. Ipsos Mori have estimated that by 2016 almost half of the Scottish Population could be living in fuel poverty ( Fuel poverty occurs where a household is spending more than 10% of it's post-tax income on heating (current definition, although moves are afoot to redefine). That's almost half of Scottish households spending an inordinate amount just to make sure that their families are warm in this inclement climate. And of course, this figure will disproportionately include pensioners and people on low incomes.

So the Green Deal could be an excellent response to this, and something that I would urge any readers to avail themselves of, to flag up to friends and family, to make themselves a tshirt with 'I heart Green Deal' on. Not only could it help address fuel poverty, but it can also help reduce energy demand, which is one of the largest causes of climate-changing emissions in the world. Reducing fuel poverty and climate change emissions in one fell swoop sounds pretty worthy to me.

Next blog: looking at the upcoming Conference of Parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Oh, and because I promised...