Monday, 11 January 2010

Winter waffle from climate change deniers and a scandal in Scotland

“Welcome to 2010,” said the presenter on the telly. And what a wintry welcome it’s been. I have a young family (along with my own still youthful delight in all things snow), so we’ve enjoyed the start to the year with plenty of sledging (highly professional video here ;-)), snowman (and snowwoman and snowchildren) making, and the occasional icicle attack.

During all that frivolity, it’s easy to forget the negative impact that sustained snow and ice can have on all sorts of sections of society, from the old and infirm to loads of small businesses that grind to a halt even though they simply can’t afford to. In short, it has been a challenging few weeks for many people and organisations and most will be keeping their fingers crossed that the current thaw continues. Even the outdoor sector, which has seen a boost in sales thanks to the cold weather (Berghaus down jackets and hats and gloves have been flying out of stores), will be welcoming the improved weather as it will now be easier for people to get to the shops to buy warm kit in anticipation of more seasonal weather.

Of course, there are people with a particular agenda who have tried to use the ‘big freeze’ to propagate their message. Yes, predictably, the “global warming, what global warming?” lobby is working overtime. Oh dear. Well, I’m no climate change expert, so I’ll leave it to the more qualified and articulate (as far as I can tell) to put them in their place, such as the LeftOutside blog.

I found my way to LeftOutside thanks to Graham Linehan, a prolific, thoughtful and entertaining/informative tweeter under his username @glinner. If you use Twitter, he’s well worth following and was behind the successful ‘#IlovetheNHS’ Twitter trending topic last year. And his pithy take on Richard Littlejohn's attitude to climate change made me smile.

On the general subject of climate change denial, this is worth watching too.
32,000 leading scientists – really?

Meanwhile, it seems that some of the UK’s most beautiful landscape is going to be sacrificed on the altar of green energy. Or is that the altar of small-minded corporate gods? The proposed Beauly-Denny power line in the Scottish Highlands is, according to Cameron McNeish (outdoors man, campaigner and editor of Scotland based outdoor magazine TGO), “like taking a razor blade to a Rembrandt”. Those words make for a very quotable comment, but also offer an insight into the massive furore caused by the Scottish Government’s approval of the plans. Muriel Gray, writing in The Herald, hits the nail on the head with her exploration of the hypocrisy at the heart of this whole issue. Money talks. And I am clearly not alone in being somewhat perplexed by the stance of Friends of the Earth.

I’m sure that the Beauly-Denny area looks absolutely stunning at the moment. It seems to me that the financial savings of choosing the pylon option are nothing compared to the subsequent real and fundamental cost to the landscape and all those who currently enjoy it. I notice that, at the same time, the “Live it” visitScotland commercial has started appearing on television again. I wonder how long it will be before someone comes up with a spoof version featuring the pylons and a “Vandalise it” strapline. If only I was remotely competent with a video camera and editing suite...