Friday, 27 November 2020

Part 4 - Indictments

 (Neil's Note: This the fourth and final extract from my submission in July to the UK government's rigged "consultation" on de-carbonizing transport).

6.    Indictments

When you piece together the story of what the green wreckers and their cronies have done to us, as I have done in this pamphlet, I expect you will go through several emotions. You will be amazed at the arrogance with which they have behaved. You will be horrified by how often, how badly, and for how long, they have lied to you and misled you. You will be angry at how those, that are supposed to represent you and serve you, have persistently acted against your interests. You will understand that they are not your friends, but your enemies. And you will want to join with other like-minded people to fight back against them.

Here are some of the things they have done to us over “climate change” and other environmental issues. I have divided the list into two parts: one for the UK government, and one for the activists, media, pseudo “scientists” and other hangers-on. It’s not nice reading.

Indictments against the UK government

1.    They failed to explain clearly to the people just what the adverse consequences to them would be, if the UK signed up to the Rio agreements in 1992.

2.    They signed up to the Rio agreements without holding a referendum, which should have been mandatory before any commitment of that magnitude could be made.

3.    They accepted, even if they did not actually demand, that the 1995/6 IPCC report should be presented in a more alarmist way than was warranted by the science.

4.    They have persistently sought to impose collective targets and limits on what people may do. Such targets and limits are unjust and tyrannical, and should never be imposed in any civilized country, least of all in a democracy.

5.    They have committed to third parties, the UN and the EU, that they will enforce these unjust, tyrannical limits.

6.    Further, they have on several occasions moved the goalposts by arbitrarily tightening these limits.

7.    They have perverted the precautionary principle, from its true form “Look before you leap,” into a general presumption that if there is doubt over a risk, government should act. In the process, they have negated the presumption of innocence, inverted the burden of proof, and required the accused to prove a negative.

8.    They accepted and acted on the Stern Review in 2006, despite its use of the most pessimistic of the available assessment models, and despite economists’ criticisms that its policy recommendations depended on controversial and extreme assumptions.

9.    They passed the 2008 climate change act without holding a referendum, which should have been mandatory before any commitment of that magnitude could be made.

10. They have made, on many occasions, very costly commitments on behalf of the people they are supposed to represent, without any rigorous justification.

11. They have promoted electricity from green energy sources, which (as they ought to have known) are not adequate to provide reliable power for a Western industrial civilization, because they must be backed up by conventional power sources.

12. They abandoned the social cost approach to cost-benefit analysis on issues involving carbon dioxide emissions. In consequence, since 2009 they have not even attempted cost versus benefit assessments on issues involving CO2.

13. All three of their 2010 inquiries into the Climategate scandal whitewashed the matter.

14. They signed up to the 2015 Paris agreement without holding a referendum, which should have been mandatory before any commitment of that magnitude could be made.

15. They allowed in 2019 an extremist and arguably terrorist green group to dictate government policy.

16. The parliament in 2019 declared a “climate emergency” without any evidence, and without even a vote.

17. They committed in 2019 to a “zero carbon” target by 2050; requiring extensive and draconian measures which clearly are against the interests of the people. The proposals have very high costs, both economic and in freedom, and offer no or almost no proven benefits.

18. Neither their plans for implementing “zero carbon,” nor the consequences to the people affected by them, have been thought through.

19. They have failed to implement a prototype scheme to prove that a zero-carbon economy would actually be sustainable.

20. They have allowed climate policies to be driven by a “Committee for Climate Change,” which does not represent the interests of the people, and is neither independent nor impartial.

21. They have repeatedly acted in bad faith towards the people they are supposed to be serving. Their attitude is arrogant, insincere and insensitive, and they lack concern for the bad consequences of their policies on the people.

22. They seek further to restrict the activities of drivers who are already paying far more in carbon taxes than the best estimated social cost of CO2 emissions from their cars.

Indictments against activists, media and academe

23. They have persistently misrepresented what the “climate change” allegations actually are.

24. They have been unwilling to enter into fair and open debate with skeptics of the “climate change” allegations.

25. They label skeptics with nasty names like “denier” or “flat earther.”

26. They have attempted, and are attempting, to suppress skeptical views.

27. They have shown ungratefulness and even hatred towards human industrial civilization, which has given so much to all of us – including them.

28. They show hatred for the free market economy; the only environment in which human beings, at our present stage of development, can flourish to the full potential of each.

29. The mainstream media, with only a few exceptions, are biased towards the alarmist side.

30. The BBC have allowed their policy on climate change reporting to be dictated by activists.

31. The BBC have violated their own charter by denying fair time to the skeptical side.

32. “Scientists” have sought to interfere with the review and publication process for scientific papers.

33. They have fudged, or dropped, data in order to produce an alarming effect.

34. They have refused to share their data for the purpose of replicating their work, an essential part of science.

35. They have conspired to delete data in order to avoid Freedom of Information requests.

36. They have conspired to get sacked at least one journal editor who published skeptical papers.

37. They have used taxpayers’ money, which had been paid to them to do science, for purposes which were not science.

38. Taxpayer-funded universities have created pie-in-the-sky plans for “zero carbon” that, if put into effect, would cause huge damage to the people who paid for them.


Thursday, 26 November 2020

Part 3 - History of the green agenda

(Neil's Note: This is the main part of my consultation response from last July. It shows up the enormity of the fraud which has been committed against us human beings, over 50 years, by the deep green environmentalists and their political soulmates.)

3.    History of the green agenda

1970 to 1992

Those of you who have studied the green agenda will already know that the driver of it, all along, has been the United Nations. This has been so for 50 years; ever since 1970, the year of the first Earth Day. The then UN Secretary General, U Thant, personally sanctioned the Earth Day idea.

In 1972, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) was started, under the directorship of Maurice Strong. Strong was a Canadian oil baron, and he had a scandal ridden career. His attitude can be summed up by the following quote, from a 1997 magazine interview: “Frankly, we may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse.” Later, Strong was implicated in the Oil-for-Food scandal of 2005, went to live in China, and died in 2015.

When the dust has settled enough that historians can write an objective history of the 20th century, I think Strong will be right up there with Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot in the race for most evil individual of the century. Stalin committed genocide in Ukraine, starting a famine that killed millions; and caused millions of deaths in other parts of the Soviet Union, too. Mao attempted genocide against the people of his country. Pol Pot did the same, but on a smaller scale. Hitler was responsible for the Holocaust against Jews and others. But Strong went further than any of them; he set out to bring down our Western civilization, world-wide.

In 1982, the UN put forward a Resolution called the World Charter for Nature. This included extreme and totalitarian statements, like: “Activities which might have an impact on nature shall be controlled.” And: “Where potential adverse effects are not fully understood, the activities should not proceed.” The Charter was passed in the UN by 111 votes to 1, with 18 abstentions. The USA was the only country voting against.

In 1987, a new UN report was published, titled Our Common Future. This is the document, which set in motion the green political juggernaut that has had a huge adverse effect on the lives of all good people in the Western world. Unsurprisingly, Maurice Strong was on the commission that produced it.

Our Common Future raised alarms about fourteen issues: Desertification. Clearing of forests. Species loss. Acid rain. Global warming, due to human emissions of CO2. Ozone layer depletion. Loss of coral reefs. Military proliferation and the threat of nuclear war. Toxic and nuclear waste disposal. Increasing incidence of disasters. Population growth. Poverty. International economic inequality. And what they called “the interests of future generations.”

On many of these issues, much progress has been made in the intervening decades. Poverty in the third world and population growth in the West, for example, have both been much reduced. So have emissions of serious pollutants like sulphur dioxide. The ozone layer has recovered. Desertification and forest clearing are no longer major problems. Things are getting better on several of the others, too. And claimed recent loss of species and of coral reefs have not been proven beyond doubt to be either real problems or caused by humans. Haven’t we done well?

Of these issues, three are today being actively pushed. Acid rain has been re-badged as air quality. Species loss is still being hyped, as shown by the name of extremist group Extinction Rebellion. And the global warming scare is being hyped hardest of all.

As to transport, Our Common Future focused mainly on cars in third world countries and cities. The agenda to force people in the West out of our cars came later. And interestingly, Our Common Future fails to mention air transport at all.

In 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established. It’s a UN organization. Its mission statement is: “to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations.” It has prepared five major reports so far; the first in 1990, the most recent in 2013. Superficially, it looks as if it should be independent and unbiased. But of course, being a UN organization, it is not.

Our Common Future led to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, to whose extreme agenda politicians like then UK prime minister, John Major, signed up without consulting the people. As I like to put it, they sold us all down the Rio. In particular, they signed up to a binding Framework Convention on Climate Change, and to Agenda 21 (which has since morphed into Agenda 2030). They also signed up to the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, stating 27 principles intended to achieve something called “sustainable development.”

The Framework Convention on Climate Change led to the yearly “Conference of the Parties” (COP) meetings, about which you will have heard so much. As to Agenda 21, it includes demands such as: “Significant changes in the consumption patterns of industries, governments, households and individuals.” And “Favouring high-occupancy public transport.” This was where the agenda came in of seeking to force drivers in Western countries out of our cars. Moreover, Agenda 21 was to be implemented at the local government level. So, it passed under many people’s political radar. A clever trick, no?

Climate change

Soon after Rio, the UK spin machine went into overdrive. Our TV screens showed (staged) pictures of rural roads chock-a-block with cars. Of traffic jams in foggy weather, complete with smoking exhaust-pipes. Of the aftermaths of accidents. It was hard, even then, to avoid thinking that we drivers were being set up. And organizations that should have defended us, like the Automobile Association, abdicated their responsibility. Worse, they even took part in the witch-hunt, blaming us for destroying the environment by driving our “gas guzzlers”.

Around the same time, there were attempts in parliament to set binding targets for reductions in road traffic. The first of these was made in 1994 by a Welsh nationalist MP, with a bill that had actually been written by Friends of the Earth and the Green Party! Not exactly independent or unbiased, then. And not representing the people, either.

A Road Traffic Reduction Act followed in 1997, followed by several attempts to set explicit national targets or limits for road traffic.

Meanwhile, things were happening at the IPCC. The IPCC reports are supposed to summarize the peer reviewed scientific literature on the subjects they cover. But parts of the reports – including the keynote Summary for Policymakers – are approved line by line by government officials. In the 1995/6 report, part of the Summary was re-worded in a more alarmist way at the behest of governments. And the technical reports were then updated to match. That is not peer reviewed science!

On now to 2002, and one of the most egregious examples of dishonesty by the UK government in this whole sorry story. That is, their perversion, indeed inversion, of the precautionary principle. Which, at its root, is “Look before you leap,” or even “First, do no harm.”

The Rio Declaration had included a statement (Principle 15) on the precautionary principle. “In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities.  Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” Now, I find that idea bizarre. For, if you don’t have a high degree of scientific certainty about the size and likelihood of a problem, how can you possibly assess whether or not a proposed counter-measure is cost-effective?

But the Interdepartmental Liaison Group on Risk Assessment’s 2002 report – Ref [[1]] – twists this into the following: “The purpose of the precautionary principle is to create an impetus to take a decision notwithstanding scientific uncertainty about the nature and extent of the risk.” “‘Absence of evidence of risk’ should never be confused with, or taken as, ‘evidence of absence of risk.’” And “the burden of proof shifts away from the regulator having to demonstrate potential for harm towards the hazard creator having to demonstrate an acceptable level of safety.”

Do you see what they did there? They abandoned all pretence of presuming us innocent until proven guilty. They said, in effect: “If in doubt, government should act.” So, we are all guilty, until we prove our innocence. That’s if they even allow us an opportunity to do that, of course.

Moreover, they have inverted the burden of proof.  They demand that we, the accused, must show that everything we are doing is safe. They require us to prove a negative, that we are not causing a problem. Which, in general, is impossible. And even if we’re not actually causing any risk at all, they can use the ‘absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’ trick to find us guilty anyway!

In, say, a murder trial, such bad faith ought to lead to immediate dismissal of the case, and prosecution for perverting the course of justice. How much worse, then, is conduct of this kind when our whole human civilization is on the line?

On to 2006, and the Stern Review. This was an (apparent) attempt to provide a cost versus benefits analysis for policy action or inaction on reducing CO2 emissions. But of the three tools (called integrated assessment models) Stern had available to him, he chose the one which gave by far the most pessimistic estimate of the social cost of CO2. He also made other assumptions, which resulted in a grossly exaggerated estimate of the cost of not taking action. One economist commented: “the Review's radical policy recommendations depend upon controversial extreme assumptions and unconventional discount rates that most mainstream economists would consider much too low.” Again, bad faith by the UK government.

Then, of course, there’s the BBC. In 2006, the BBC held a meeting of what they claimed were “the best scientific experts” to decide their policy on climate change reporting. When the list of attendees was eventually unearthed, it included only three scientists; all of them alarmists. It also included the Head of Campaigns for Greenpeace. Not surprisingly, the BBC has continued to maintain a strongly alarmist stance.

More recently (2018), the BBC likened allowing climate change skeptics to speak to “letting someone deny last week’s football scores.” Even though their own guidelines say: “We are committed to reflecting a wide range of subject matter and perspectives… so that no significant strand of thought is under-represented or omitted.” In the murder trial analogy, this amounts to denying us the right to speak up in our own defence, and to have our witnesses – including experts – heard at all.

Next, to the 2008 UK climate change bill. They did make a token attempt at a cost benefit analysis. But if I recall right, there was a factor of 7 uncertainty in the costs, and a factor of 12 in the putative “benefits,” of taking action to reduce CO2 emissions in order to mitigate climate change. If we could believe the figures in the first place! Such numbers are useless for making any kind of objective decisions. Yet, the politicians just went ahead anyway, without consulting the people. Bad faith, no?

Before the second reading of that bill, I sent “my” MP (Jeremy Hunt) a nine-page letter, with 20 references. In that letter, I set out the relevant facts as logically as I could. I urged him to fully inform himself on the issue, and, having done that, to vote against the bill. He never even deigned to acknowledge that letter, let alone respond to it; even when I reminded him almost two years later. And, of course, he voted for the bill. He showed no interest at all in my legitimate concern. That isn’t democracy. At the very least, he should have replied: I have passed on your letter to <XXXX>, who is better qualified to answer your questions than I am, and will reply to you within <YYYY> days.

And so, we were forcibly embarked on a never-ending round of green taxes and more green taxes. Of five-year “carbon budgets,” a Soviet-style idea both ridiculous and dictatorial. Of energy policies that favour solar and wind, both of which supply power that is far too intermittent ever to be able to generate base load for a Western industrial country. Of idiocies like converting Drax power station to burn wood chips imported from the USA. Of green lies, fabrications, scares and hype; though I myself am now immune to that stuff, having stopped watching TV ten years ago. And of more and more crazy and totalitarian proposals, culminating in this “zero carbon” nonsense.

In 2009, the UK government committed another outrageous dishonesty. Prior to that year, they used – at least in theory – a social cost approach to valuing the effects of CO2 emissions when considering policies. Though, as the Stern report showed, they were not above fiddling the numbers to suit their own aims.

The government’s page on this subject – Ref [[2]] – says: “The SCC (social cost of carbon) matters because it signals what society should, in theory, be willing to pay now to avoid the future damage caused by incremental carbon emissions.” Yes, indeed. A social cost approach is by far the best (indeed, probably the only) basis for objective assessment of the costs of damage against the costs of taking steps to avoid that damage.

But in 2009, the UK government abandoned any attempt or pretence at trying to work out how big the CO2 problem really was. As the government’s page says: “the new approach will set the valuation of carbon at a level consistent with the UK’s short and long-term greenhouse gas emissions targets.” Cynically paraphrased, their argument seems to have been: “We know we can’t do a credible cost-benefit analysis that justifies any political action on this. But we’re already committed to political action. So, we’ll make up numbers to match the commitments, and hope that no-one notices.”

Abandoning the social cost approach, in my view, was an act of atrociously bad faith. Particularly because more recent research has suggested that when the beneficial side-effects of CO2 emissions, such as increased plant growth, are taken into account, it’s possible that the true social cost of these emissions might even become negative. That is, CO2 emissions would become a nett benefit, not a nett cost. If that were so, all arguments for restrictive action on CO2 emissions would be blown right out of the water. And the totalitarians obviously don’t want that, do they?

2009 was also the year of the Copenhagen COP meeting. At this meeting, the politicians were aiming to reach binding agreements to keep global temperatures below some completely arbitrary limit. But not long before the meeting, “Climategate” happened.

Climategate was a release of e-mails from a climate research unit at the University of East Anglia. These e-mails showed, to those who bothered to look, that alarmists had interfered with the review and publication process for papers on which the IPCC was supposed to rely. They had dropped, spliced or misrepresented data to produce alarming effects. They had refused to share data to allow others to replicate their work. They had plotted to delete data to evade Freedom of Information requests. They had conspired against journal editors who published skeptical papers. And more. Whatever they were doing, it was neither science nor honest. And so, since taxpayers had paid for them to do honest science, these “climate researchers” were committing fraud against us.

The UK government commissioned no less than three inquiries into Climategate. First, a parliamentary committee, which seemingly chose to avoid the most important questions. Second came the Oxburgh inquiry. It did not interview any critics of the CRU. It claimed that it would assess the quality of CRU’s science; but the papers it chose to look at did not cover the controversial areas, and did not address work done for the IPCC. Yet the UK’s chief scientist at the time described Oxburgh’s inquiry as “a blinder well played.” The third review, by Muir Russell, examined the CRU’s scientific practices, but not the science itself. It avoided answering the important questions, and the ones it did investigate were largely irrelevant. So, the outcome of all three inquiries was no more than a whitewash. Bad faith, bad faith, bad faith.

In 2015, there was another COP meeting, in Paris. At which, the politicians again sought to reach a binding agreement to keep global temperatures below some completely arbitrary limit. Not that anyone has ever proved beyond reasonable doubt that restrictions on CO2 emissions, large or small, would actually achieve this target or any other. If we don’t know what caused the earlier warm periods, how can we know that another warm – or cold – period might not kick in again, without human intervention?

The “limit” touted prior to Paris was 2 degrees Celsius above “pre-industrial levels.” (Whatever that means.) But in 2015, it looked, before the El Niño which started in that year, as though global warming had stopped, and was not going to reach 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, or anywhere near it. So, they arbitrarily lowered the limit from 2 degrees to 1.5! That was moving the goalposts, no? Yet another example of extreme bad faith.

The mad parliament

The UK parliament of 2019 showed itself, by its conduct, to be the most atrocious in many centuries. I dub it the mad parliament.

On April 30th of that year, minister Michael Gove met with Extinction Rebellion, a green activist group that had been carrying out disruptive protests over the previous several weeks. Later in the year south-east England’s anti-terrorist police, in my view rightly, included Extinction Rebellion in a list of extremist organizations; though they were eventually forced to withdraw this. But Extinction Rebellion proved their extremism and destructiveness in February 2020, by digging up a famous lawn at Trinity College, Cambridge – my college.

On May 1st, the day following that meeting, the parliament declared a “climate emergency.” Without any hard evidence that such an emergency existed, and without even taking a vote.

Interestingly, on May 2nd Sky News published the results of a poll – Ref [[3]] – of a random sample of their subscribers. 56% said they would be unwilling to drive significantly less to protect the environment. And 53% said they would be unwilling even in principle to significantly reduce the amount they fly. Clearly, the politicians had lost the plot, and were completely out of touch with the people they were supposed to be serving.

In June, the government put forward, and the parliament passed, a bill to introduce “a target for at least a 100% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (compared to 1990 levels) in the UK by 2050.” (At least 100%? Maybe more? Crazy). Select committees also initiated a scheme of “citizens’ climate assemblies,” one of the demands put forward by Extinction Rebellion. It’s amazing that those who are supposed to be serving the people kow-towed to a disruptive extremist group, but never even bothered to ask us the people what we thought. What a bunch of con artists.

Where did all this panic come from? A report – Ref [[4]] – was published in May by the Committee for Climate Change (CCC). This report recommended “a new emissions target for the UK: net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.”

Now, the CCC is supposed to be an independent and impartial advisory body. But in my view, it’s about as impartial as Extinction Rebellion. There are mugshots and bios of eight CCC members at the beginning of the report. There may well be conflicts of interest for several of them between their outside careers and investments, and being on a supposedly independent advisory board. And when you supplement the bios with a few morsels from Wikipedia, they tell a story. I’ll let you, my readers, fill in the details for yourselves; but I will point out that one of the eight is an economist called Paul Johnson. Johnson was one of the reviewers of the 2009 decision to abandon the use of the social cost of carbon. And he supported that change.

One upshot of the bill was a report – Ref [[5]] – published last November by five UK universities, using the collective moniker “UK FIRES.” I confess that when I first found out about this, if I hadn’t been given the link by a reputable source, I would have thought it was just a sick joke. But sadly, it’s real. And, after just a single pass through the diagram summarizing the proposals, I could see that the whole idea is a nightmare. The proposals read like the edicts of a crazed, ultra-conservative dictator; and they make Soviet five-year plans look like a cake-walk. In analogy to Mao Tse-Tung’s genocidal Great Leap Forward, I dubbed them the Great Leap Backward. And the ideas in the more recent “setting the challenge” document, to which I am responding, are just more of the same.

But this parliament was crazed in more ways than just seeking to destroy our economy and our freedoms for the sake of nothing more than a pack of green falsehoods. They tried to stop Brexit, several times. This went against David Cameron’s written promise that the government would honour the result of the Brexit referendum. They tried to stop a newly appointed prime minister discharging promises which he had made to the people. And they even tried to prevent him calling a general election in order to resolve the situation.

Species extinction

The mention of Extinction Rebellion calls to mind one of the two other issues from Our Common Future which are still active. Namely, species loss.

No-one knows for sure just how many different species there are on planet Earth. The best estimate I could find was 8.7 million multi-cellular species. What this means is that the claim that species extinction is a real problem can only be justified by reference to examples of particular species, which humans have extinguished. Further, any species that was killed off by humans must have been killed off by one or more individuals or groups of humans.

Now, my view is that, if there is a problem for which I am not responsible in any way, I have no responsibility to do anything about it; on the same basis that innocent people should not be punished for crimes they did not commit. So, my demand to environmentalists is: Name and describe a species to whose extinction I contributed, and say what I did, and approximately when, to contribute to the extinction. I’ve never had an answer from even a single one of them!

Air pollution

Since cars are the major subject of this consultation, I’ll end this chapter with a brief mention of the other issue which green activists have been trying to use to force us out of our cars. Namely, air pollution. Here, as with climate change, there is a sordid backstory. I cover that backstory in the talk here: [[6]]. Of particular note are the commitments to the UN’s Gothenburg protocol in 1999 and 2012, and the EU emissions limits set in 2016.

[[1]] United Kingdom Interdepartmental Liaison Group on Risk Assessment (UK-ILGRA), 2002: The Precautionary Principle: Policy and Application.

 [[2]] UK government: Collections: Carbon valuation, Last updated April 11th, 2019

 [[3]] Sky News, May 2nd, 2019: Majority of Brits unwilling to cut back to fight climate change, poll finds

 [[4]] Committee on Climate Change, May 2019: Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming

 [[6]] Neil Lock, August 22nd, 2019: The War on Cars.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Part 2 – The climate change allegations

2.    The climate change allegations

“Climate change” is the phrase, with which the accusers usually identify their claims. These words replaced, some years ago, the original moniker of “global warming.”

But if you ask yourself “what, specifically, are they accusing us of?” you’ll find that “climate change” is an over-simplification. Indeed, it is a mis-representation. Here, again, is my best statement of the allegations. “One, that emissions of carbon dioxide gas from human activities are causing, and will in the future cause, a large and unprecedented increase in temperatures on a world-wide scale. Two, that this will have catastrophic consequences on the planet as a whole, and so on human well-being.”

At first sight, this looks like a really easy issue to clear up. All we need do is look at the facts of the case, and judge according to those facts. Either the alarms are justified, or they are not. And that decision can be made objectively, using hard, factual evidence and honest, unbiased science. There should not be any clash of values between alarmists and skeptics. There should not be any need to bring politics into it, or to resort to dirty tricks or name-calling.

In a sane system, and particularly in a democracy, would you not expect that the facts of such a case would have been debated freely and fully, in a forum accessible to the general public, under impartial moderation, with all points of view reported in the media? So that everyone can make up their own minds on the issue, and have their views fully taken into account? I have never heard of any such debate.

No; governments press on with destructive, freedom-killing schemes like “zero carbon,” and even seek to bring forward their implementation dates. While the scares and hype of the alarmist point of view are trumpeted all over the media. Meanwhile, skeptics are largely ignored, and attempts made to suppress our voices. Even suspecting that the climate change allegations might be flawed is enough to get you labelled “denier” or heretic.

Meanwhile, many ordinary people seem to think the whole issue is unimportant, and prefer to tune out all the hubbub. Polls have consistently shown that climate change doesn’t rank high at all on most people’s list of problems that need solving. Indeed, it often comes dead last. There is a huge disconnect here between the political class and the ordinary people they are supposed to be serving.

Evaluating the allegations

If an objective auditor were asked to investigate these accusations, he would need to elucidate, using only hard evidence and logical deductions, answers to four questions:

1.    Is it warming on a global scale, and if so, by how much?

2.    If there is significant global warming, how much of it is caused by human emissions of CO2; and how much more warming should we expect in the future from that cause?

3.    If there is significant warming, from whatever cause, what would be the likely consequences for human civilization?

4.    If there are significant likely negative consequences of warming to human civilization, what are the costs and benefits (to all the parties involved) of: (a) “adaptation,” that is, reacting to problems only as they arise? Or (b) “mitigation,” that is, putting in place schemes which might abate some of the human-caused problems?

To the first question: Is it warming? Yes; it has been warming since the 17th century, and is still doing so today. Before that, it was cooling down from the Mediaeval Warm Period. And before that, it was warming. That is what climate does; it changes. Always has done, and always will. Even without any human intervention.

But is there evidence of anything unusual, above and beyond what we have seen in the past, in the variability of the temperatures in recent decades? My own answer is the Scottish verdict: Not proven.

To the second question: How much of this warming is caused by human emissions of CO2? My answer is: Probably some, but it’s very uncertain how much. There are other factors in play; and some of them are unknowns. For example, we have no clear idea of what caused the Mediaeval Warm Period. As to the future, such “evidence” as we have is provided only by computer models, and they are – to say the least – dubious.

To the third: What would be the effects of significant warming on human civilization? I answer: Unsure, but given that human civilizations have flourished in past periods of relative warmth – Minoan, Roman and Mediaeval warm periods – I would expect that a moderate warming (say, 2 to 4 degrees Celsius over a century or so) would actually be beneficial overall. To me, the only credible downside of such moderate warming is a bit of sea level rise; but we should be able to deal with that. After all, the Dutch have been doing it successfully for many centuries.

As to the fourth question, I find the reactive approach (adaptation) far better, because you don’t waste resources on problems that are not real. The pro-active approach (mitigation) is not only far more expensive, but risks not producing any benefits, or making problems worse, or even having side-effects that create new problems. So, my view is that action should only be taken to solve “problems” when it is clear that there is a real problem to be solved.

Where is the proof of our guilt?

The “zero carbon” agenda, and the transport proposals being made as a result, will without doubt cause economic and lifestyle damage, inconvenience and loss of freedom to a lot of people. So, where is the justification for them? What have we done, to deserve such treatment? Why should any of us accept any restrictions, without first seeing hard, objective, incontrovertible evidence of what it is that we are supposed to have done wrong, and why it was wrong?

In a country like the UK, supposedly based on the rule of law, a charge such as causing catastrophic global climate change ought to be tried under due process of law. Ought it not? With all sides telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

And we have human rights, too. If accused of a murder, for example, each of us must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. So, it’s up to the accusers to substantiate their case beyond reasonable doubt. We also have the right to fair judgement by an independent and impartial tribunal. And each of us has the right to speak up in our own defence, and to call whatever witnesses, including experts, we find necessary for our defence.

Moreover, how much stronger should the safeguards be, when the future of our entire civilization is at stake? Should not the charges be debated and assessed, objectively and rationally, in an open and honest forum, free from all political, emotional or media bias? Should not those involved in the assessment, on all sides, be required to give their evidence under oath, on penalty of perjury or worse if they lie, fabricate or mislead? Should not the charges themselves, and the conduct of those promoting them, first undergo a thorough audit by independent, honest, unbiased parties? And if the case is not proven beyond reasonable doubt, should the charges not be dismissed? Or if there has been any misconduct at all by the accusers in the case, shout the charges not be dismissed with prejudice?

Now, I for one see no hard, objective, conclusive evidence being put forward that we humans are causing catastrophic global warming through our emissions of carbon dioxide gas. Where is the evidence? Not theories, not computer models, not what-ifs, not guesstimates with huge error bounds and uncertainties. Just evidence: observable facts, and rational deductions from them, which can be independently verified.

Where, for example, are the millions of climate refugees our accusers claim? The thousands of polar bears, and hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of coral reefs, they claim died because of human-caused global warming? Where is the proof, beyond reasonable doubt, that weather is getting worse on a global scale as they claim, and that the cause is human emissions of CO2? And where is the proof, beyond reasonable doubt, that global sea level rise is accelerating abnormally, and for that same reason?

I’ll give you a cautionary tale from the past. In the early 1980s, damage to trees was discovered in several German forests. This took on the name Waldsterben. Claims were put forward that this was a new problem. That it was caused by increasing levels of many different air pollutants, at the time branded as “acid rain.” That all species of trees were hit by it. That it developed very rapidly, and many trees would die of it within 10 years. And those making these claims urged that immediate action must be taken.

After more than a decade of research, forest scientists concluded that this was not a new problem at all. Similar damage had been observed as far back as the 1920s. It had different causes in different tree species; for example, a fungus attacking the tree roots of spruce. And apart from some damage caused by sulphur dioxide from eastern European communist industry, there was no correlation between the damage to trees and the level of air pollution. By about 1993, Waldsterben as a scientific theory had gone the same way as phlogiston.

But for more than a decade, alarmists were allowed to push their claims and to demand action. It is well said that “a lie can get halfway around the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” And in the last month, indeed, there have been fresh reports of damage to Swiss forests; this time, claimed to be caused by heat stress due to climate change! Though people with forest knowledge are suggesting that the real culprit is a bark beetle. Could this be Waldsterben déja vu?

Would a zero-carbon economy be sustainable?

The Rio Declaration, to which the politicians signed up back in 1992, was supposed to ensure that development based on it would be “sustainable.” Now, I understand this word to mean “capable of being sustained,” or otherwise “able to endure into the future.” So, I ask: Would the zero-carbon economy, which the politicians seem to think is so necessary and urgent, actually be sustainable? Would it be able to endure into the future? Or would it, if put into practice, fail; for example, leading to widespread starvation like Stalin’s holodomor, or people freezing to death?

More generally, should not any contemplated political action, on the kind of scale the zero carbon advocates seek, first be tried out on a small scale, to check that it would have no negative effects? And would not failure to prototype the effects of such a proposed action be an egregious violation of the true precautionary principle, “Look before you leap?”

It’s amusing to think how we might create such a prototype. Set aside a suitable zone, and run an experiment there to find if a zero-carbon economy is sustainable or not. Require all those – activists, politicians, bureaucrats, corrupt academics, celebrities, media figures, and all the rest – that have promoted or supported the zero-carbon agenda, to go live in that area. Monitor that the zone doesn’t emit any more CO2 than comes in. And though they may trade with people outside the bounds of their zone, the zone must be economically self-sufficient. They have to prove that a zero-carbon economy can survive and prosper without subsidies, grants, or gifts of money or goods from outside – including from government. (Especially from government!)

Then, let’s just leave them there; and get on with our own lives in our own ways. If they succeed in the experiment, we’ll see them in 2050. If not, it will both prove them wrong and serve them right; and all human beings worth the name will say “good riddance.”

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Diary of a Wasted Month – Part 1 – Introduction and Background

 (Neil’s Note: Four months ago, in July, I spent very nearly a whole month writing a 58-page response to a UK government consultation on “de-carbonizing transport.” As I suspected at the time, and has since become obvious, all the effort I put in was entirely futile. The so called “consultation” was never meant to be what it purported to be; it was merely a rubber-stamping exercise, and gave the politicians an excuse to bring forward yet further the timescale for banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars in the UK. This is typical of the politicians and bureaucrats, that have no interest at all in what the people they are supposed to be “serving” either think or want.

While I did publish the paper as a PDF on another site, I haven’t yet put it on my own blog in the more accessible HTML form. So, I have selected some of the most important chapters and sections, and will now publish them here, so readers can begin to grasp something of the magnitude of the fraud that is being committed against all good people in the UK. This is the first instalment).

1.    Introduction and Background

In this chapter, I will outline my case against the “zero carbon” agenda and policies derived from it. I’ll begin at the foundation, with the question “what are we here for?” My answer to that question is: to build and to spread civilization. Next, I’ll ask: what are reasonable expectations for us to have about how a modern, democratic government will behave towards us? Then, I’ll look at our enemies, that want to stop us doing what is natural to us. And specifically, at the green wreckers that want to force us back to a pre-industrial age. Finally, I’ll ask: How well is government, and the UK government in particular, living up to our reasonable expectations?

Building civilization

What are we here for? An age-old question. The traditional answer, often given by the religious, is that we are custodians of planet Earth. I can see where they’re coming from; but I think we’re far more than that. As I see this matter, the Earth’s resources – whether animal, vegetable, mineral, or of other kinds – are not there merely to be conserved. They are there for us to use wisely, in order to fulfil our potential; our human potential.

When I look back through history, I see an often-repeated pattern of human progress: the building of civilization. I look back to ancient Athens. I look back to Rome. I look back to the time, shortly after the first millennium, when – partly, perhaps, because of warmer weather due to what we now call the Mediaeval Warm Period – commerce started to grow across southern Europe. I look back to the Renaissance, to its re-discovery of the legacy of Greece and Rome, and to the voyages of discovery it set off. I look back to the Enlightenment, and to the new values it brought; I’ll discuss those in more detail in the next section. I look back to the civilized countries which were founded explicitly on those values, and in particular to the success of the American revolution.

I think of the Industrial Revolution, and the entrepreneurial spirit and great improvement in living standards which it brought. I think of the energy revolution, which has enabled us to keep warm in winter, and cool in summer. I think of the transport revolution, which has enabled us to travel, globally and locally, in comfort and at reasonable cost, where and when we want or need to. I think of the technology and computer revolution. I think of the communications revolution and the Internet. All these things have made us able to live in a more civilized way. So much so, that they have brought us close to the threshold of world-wide human civilization.

Thus, my answer to “What are we here for?” is: To build and to spread civilization. As individuals, living in just, honest civilization can enable each of us to develop our particular talents and creativity, to be the best we can be. And as a species, it can enable us to fulfil our human potential.

Reasonable expectations of government

Government is a necessary evil, wrote Tom Paine in his famous 1776 pamphlet “Common Sense.” I agree with him on both points. Governance is necessary in any civilized community. But if not constrained to behave within reasonable bounds, it becomes an evil; a drain on us, and a danger to us. So, I’ll ask: What standards of behaviour ought people in a modern democracy, such as the UK, reasonably be able to expect from those who govern them?

The modern idea of democracy has its roots in the Enlightenment of the late 17th and 18th centuries. What has since become the UK was the birthplace of the Enlightenment. Englishman John Locke, and his scientist friends such as Anglo-Irishman Robert Boyle, were followed by Scottish thinkers like David Hume and Adam Smith. As a result, Enlightenment ideas spread to the rest of Europe, and eventually to almost all of the world.

There are differing viewpoints on what the Enlightenment was, and what it did. But here is a list of some of its key values: The use of human reason, and the pursuit of science. Greater tolerance in religion. Freedom of thought and action. Natural rights, natural equality of all human beings, and human dignity. The idea that society exists for the individual, not the individual for society. Government for the benefit of, and with the consent of, the governed. The rule of law and justice. A desire for human progress, and a rational optimism for the future.

In any system based on these ideas, I think, you should expect government always to be reasonable towards the people it governs. You should expect it to be respectful of the facts in any matter. And you should expect government always to seek and to present the facts truthfully, accurately and honestly. And it should never present mere theories or hypotheses as if they were facts.

Moreover, you should expect government to serve the people, not to rule over them. You should expect it to act for the benefit of the governed, not for the benefit of particular vested interests or political factions. And you should expect it to act for the benefit of all the governed, that is every individual among them – real criminals excepted, of course. You should expect it to respect your rights and your dignity as a human being; provided, of course, that you behave as a human being. You should expect it to allow maximum freedom of action, thought and choice (economic, personal and social) for everyone, consistent with living in a civilized community. You should expect it to apply the same rules to everyone, including itself. You should expect it to refrain from picking winners and losers, except on the basis of how individuals behave. And you should expect it to look kindly on activities which improve human capabilities, convenience, comfort and happiness.

In a system that claims to be a democracy, I think you should expect government to keep to additional standards of good behaviour. Since those elected into power (whether you voted for them or not) are supposed to be your representatives, they ought to be on your side. They ought always to support the interests of the people they “represent” against encroachment by other political interests. For example, MPs in rural areas ought to champion the car as the best means of transport for people in their areas, even when it is pooh-poohed and threatened by the big-city slickers.

And if you’re an honest person, who always strives to act towards others in good faith, government must always act with integrity and in good faith towards you. You should be able to rely on everyone in government being truthful, honest and transparent towards you, and the rest of the public, at all times. You should expect this to apply also to anyone who is receiving taxpayers’ money. Bad faith towards the people ought to mean end of career for anyone in, or funded by, government. And beyond that, government should have procedures to prevent anyone in it, or funded by it, defrauding the people, or otherwise acting in bad faith towards the people.

Moreover, government and its agents must respect your human rights, and always follow due process of law. In particular, if government makes an accusation against you and threatens actions against your interests, it must allow you full procedural rights. Such as: A clear statement of the accusation. An objective and impartial tribunal to judge it. The right to speak up in your own defence; to call witnesses, including experts; and to have your side of the case heard in public. And the presumption of innocence, until the accusation has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Beyond this, government must never take any action that unjustly harms the governed. To this end, it must do honest, objective, accurate analyses of the costs and benefits of any proposed actions, and make them public. And it must never make costly commitments on behalf of the governed, without rigorous justification.

In particular, if someone’s actions cause an externality, such as pollution, the compensation they must pay to the victims must be fairly and objectively assessed, according to the social cost of the externality. That is, the total cost to all those affected by it. Moreover, their liability must be restricted to their particular proportion of it. And the compensation ought to be routed to the victims, in proportion to the damage each has suffered. Government should take out only as much as is necessary to support the assessment of perpetrators and victims, and the routing of the compensation.

And if it seems that a problem may require some people to make lifestyle sacrifices, then three things must happen first. One: good, true, clear, objective, quantitative reasons must be provided. Two: the need for sacrifice must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. And three: the amount of the sacrifice must be kept to the absolute minimum.

The enemies of civilization

But there are some among us, that don’t want us to advance our human civilization, to make it better and better.

Some of them, usually at the top of the social pyramid, are happy with the system as it is, and want to keep everything that way. These are often called “conservatives.” They fall into two main groups. The less virulent ones are merely selfish. They enjoy the pleasures of being at the top of the heap, but don’t have a strong desire to harm other people. More malign conservatives want to manipulate the system for their own benefit, and don’t care about the consequences to other people. The Tory landowners that schemed to make the Corn Laws in 1815 are an example.

Other enemies of civilization go further, and want to impose, by force if necessary, their particular vision of the world on as many people as they can. History shows that when these extremists get political power, the consequences are appalling. Think of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot.

Even more extreme are those that want to reverse our human progress, and force us all back and down to an earlier age. Deep green environmentalists fall into this category. And I’m not surprised that their current targets for repression and eventual suppression are three of the areas where we have made the biggest advances in the last 200 years or so: industry, energy and transport.

Deep green environmentalists have been scheming for more than 50 years now, seeking to force on to the people of the West their tyrannical vision. For those of us who value earned prosperity, honesty, individual justice and freedom of choice, that vision is virulently opposed to our own. They hate the free market economy, and want to destroy our Western industrial societies. And they seek to suppress the individual human being, and his and her freedoms, independence and chances of happiness.

The core of their belief system seems to be that humans are not special; that we are mere animals, no better than any other species. And that the good of something they call the environment takes priority over the good of human beings. Indeed, extremists among them take the view that we should not be having any impact on this environment at all. You can’t get any viewpoint more extreme, or more conservative, than that! Of course, it also invites the reply: If you are mere animals, where do you get the right to tell us human beings what we should do?

They seek to implement their goals through corrupting governments. They worm themselves into positions of power, both direct and advisory. They inject their hateful ideology into what ought to be government for the benefit of the governed. They brook no opposition. They are undemocratic; they do not care about the wishes of the people. And when they achieve one goal, they simply re-group and go for something even more extreme.

Over the last 50 years or so, the environmentalists have become expert at lobbying politicians and governments, and at trumpeting and hyping (mostly untrue) scares and alarms. They have infiltrated government and universities. They permeate virtually all the mainstream political parties in the UK and in other Western democracies. And the mainstream media are, with only a very few exceptions, strongly on the alarmist side. It has become commonplace for those of us skeptical of the alarmist propaganda to be denied a voice, and labelled with nasty names like “flat earther” or “denier.” There are even moves afoot to classify what they call “climate change denialism” as a hate crime.

In many ways, the green movement is like a religion. And an extremely intolerant one, at that. If you disagree with their dogmas, or you don’t want to make any sacrifices for them, you’ll get branded a heretic or worse. If you are succeeding in attracting others to your skeptical views, they will probably try to “de-platform” you. Although they don’t use much physical violence (yet), there is a lot in common between the green extremists and ISIS in the Middle East.

They want to throw away the progress and betterment in our civilization, which we have made over two centuries. And they want to do it gladly. For me, the green wreckers, and the politicians and others that support their schemes, are traitors to human civilization. They deserve to be expelled from our civilization, and denied all its benefits.

How well has government performed?

So, how well have Western governments in general, and the UK government in particular, performed in dealing with environmental issues, and “climate change” in particular? How well have they measured up to our reasonable expectations of how democratic government should behave towards the governed?

My answer is: Atrociously. And in this pamphlet, I’ll give my evidence for that assertion.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

COVID-19: a (sad) tale of 14 countries

In this article I’ll compare the history to date of the COVID-19 epidemic in fourteen European countries, including the UK. I chose the countries with an aim of making them representative of Western Europe as a whole. I excluded island countries other than the UK and Ireland; and I excluded very small countries such as San Marino, Andorra, Liechtenstein and Monaco. Here are the countries I picked, in alphabetical order:















In hindsight, I might perhaps have added Norway as well; but fourteen should be enough.

The COVID data I used came from Our World in Data at, and runs up to October 31st. But many of the graphs I show will stop short of that date. For example, any graph which requires (centred) weekly averages in its calculation cannot go further than October 28th, because to calculate the centred weekly average for October 29th would require data for November 1st.

Stop Press!

In the last few days, the article I originally planned has been overtaken by political events, as posturing European governments indulge in a game of “COVID copycat” ( Ireland has been back in lockdown since about October 21st. The UK will, in effect, be going back into full lockdown from November 5th. Belgium and Germany, will be doing the same from the 2nd, and France is already there. The Netherlands is already in partial lockdown. Austria, Portugal, Italy and Spain, too, are locking down further; and Denmark has already done so, if relatively lightly. Switzerland already has “a range of new COVID measures” – which include making people wear masks outside! Even Sweden is now implementing local lockdowns. As far as I can tell, only Luxembourg has not yet followed the copycat trend; and even there, there is talk of a “lockdown lite.”

It’s particularly exasperating that the UK has decided to go the national lockdown route. A few weeks ago, they brought in a “tiered lockdown” system, in which individual areas could be put under restrictions appropriate to the situation in their particular area, while leaving people in less badly affected areas under far lighter restrictions. This seemed to me a very sensible way to go. After all, epidemic control is, by the nature of epidemics, a local matter. And it doesn’t make sense to confine people in Cornwall, say, to their homes because of a serious situation in Leeds, or even in Bristol. Moreover, slightly different rules in different areas would have created an opportunity to collect hard data on what works and what doesn’t.

Johnson and co could perfectly well have used the tiered system to implement full lockdowns in just those places that needed them. But instead of using common sense and adding a “tier four” to the new system, they have caved in to extremists like the SAGE committee, that seem to want to lock people down for the sake of locking people down. Now we are in danger of a situation, where even those in relatively unaffected parts of the country are likely to be forced into a period of lockdown every few months or even every few weeks. That may make the cases figures look better; but in terms of beating the virus, it’s a no-no. For, absent a vaccine, we are going to have to get to the herd immunity threshold. But to lock down people in areas where there are relatively few cases will mean it takes longer – perhaps, years longer – to get there, and beat the virus. Indeed, someone with a nasty agenda, looking to prolong the agony caused by the virus and to prevent the economy ever fully recovering, would find this strategy very attractive.


Here is a cases per million population comparison over the whole period of the epidemic, up to October 31st. These are the raw data from Our World in Data.

To help readers separate the strands of spaghetti from each other, I’ve also provided a list of the cases per million population in order, reported up to 31st October.

Another way of looking at the cases data is in terms of daily new cases (weekly averaged) per million population.

In the early part of the epidemic, all countries’ daily new cases started on something like a logistic distribution curve, and then peaked and came down more or less slowly. But now, the story is far more complex. There is a second wave of new cases, starting when the first wave had not yet quite died down. But the onset of the second wave, and its size (so far) in comparison to the first, are very different from one country to another. The onset of the second wave varies from late June (Spain, Luxembourg) through July (France, Belgium) to, arguably, late August (UK) and even late September (Austria). And the second wave, in terms of cases, is significantly bigger than the first. Those who have been saying “the epidemic in Europe is all but over,” I think, need to take another look at the data.

Moreover, according to the Blavatnik School of Government’s “risk of openness” index – which, if I understand right, is their interpretation of the World Health Organization guidelines – all these countries except the last four are above the 200 new cases per million per day threshold, at which the “risk of openness” index automatically becomes 100%. So, above this threshold, no unlocking is recommended under any circumstances.

Whether this threshold is a sensible one is, of course, a moot point. It depends very much on how many infections there are which do not turn into cases, and on what percentage of infected is required to reach herd immunity. In any case, getting to herd immunity at under 200 new cases per million per day would take… a long time.

There’s a third way of looking at the new case data, and that is in terms of weekly new case growth. I plotted the weekly percentage growth in new cases (which are already weekly averaged) for each of the countries. Warning: this spaghetti is very brightly sauced!

Now, this graph requires some interpretation. The January/February “zeroth wave” is on the far left. Then, the first wave kicks in, starting in late February. Growth was exponential for a few weeks; then some semblance of “normality” was restored. By the middle of April, new cases were on a downward trend in all 14 countries. Which continued for a while. But since then, there has been a slow but inexorable increase in the weekly new case growth, to the point where it is now positive in almost all the countries.

Now, that green line that drops away at the bottom right of the graph is actually a significant feature. That must be the effect of the Irish government’s lockdown measures introduced during October, which include mandatory restrictions on travel and mandatory closures of workplaces. This is the first hard evidence I’ve seen that lockdowns – draconian ones, at least – actually do have a significant effect on the spread of the virus!


Here’s the corresponding deaths per million population comparison:

Deaths from the second wave are now detectably increasing in several of the countries. But an even better view is given by the daily deaths (weekly averaged) per million population.

Deaths per case

A third metric which is interesting is the ratio of deaths to cases, with the cases offset by a suitable margin to allow for the time lapse between first symptoms and death. A statistician named Wood has calculated that in the UK at least, this time lapse follows a log-normal distribution, with a mean of 21 days and a standard deviation of 12.7 days. So, after trying several options, I decided to use an offset of 21 days, the mean of this distribution. I also decided to start my graph at 21st August, as prior to that the figures either oscillate wildly, or are badly marred by adjustments.

Through August, most of the countries’ deaths per case ratios were going down. This suggested that the virus was getting weaker. From September, though, the ratio started increasing again in several countries. Why Italy is such an outlier, I don’t know.

To compare these recent deaths per case figures with those for the first wave, here are the cumulative deaths per case figures for the epidemic as a whole.

See that big gap in the middle, above the green Irish line? That, I think, may well be “the care home factor.” Those countries above the gap, that didn’t properly protect the people in care homes, lost a lot of these people very quickly. And the only country to start badly, yet get on top of it relatively quickly, was Sweden.

Comparing these percentages with the earlier ones, in many of the worst affected countries the recent deaths per case ratio is now a factor of 5 or more below the overall deaths per case throughout the epidemic. This suggests either that the virus has got weaker, or that the people it is affecting now are generally healthier than those it hit earlier in the epidemic. The improvement in Sweden is particularly noticeable, from about 6% to around 0.5%.


Another important skein of data is the tests carried out. Here is a graph of cumulative tests carried out per 100,000 population for 12 of the 14 countries. (I chose to use tests per 100,000, because that allowed me, when looking at individual countries, to plot them on the same graph as cases per million). France and Sweden are excluded, because they do not report cumulative test counts. It seems, also, that the Netherlands has not reported any testing data since the end of September. I wonder why?

Clearly, Luxembourg and Denmark are well ahead of the rest in testing roll-out. In Luxembourg, essentially the whole population has been tested, many of them more than once.

Another way of looking at the relation of cases to tests is to plot the ratio of cumulative new cases to cumulative tests through the course of the epidemic:

The general trend is that cumulative cases per test reached a bottom at some point in September, although in Spain this happened much earlier, in early August. Since then, the trend has been upwards. A higher case to test ratio might represent either a shortage of test kits, or better targeted use of limited tests, for example using a track-and-trace system. Or, perhaps, a real increase in the incidence of the virus among the population.


Here is a graph of the Blavatnik School of Government lockdown stringency percentages for the fourteen countries over the course of the epidemic to October 31st.

The UK is conspicuous for having been the first or second heaviest locked down country of the 14 continuously from June 8th to October 13th. Though as at October 31st, it comes in merely sixth. But by the time the Blavatnik data filters through from the latest round of lockdowns, the graph above will be much further to the right, and the order will be different.

I had planned to look in more detail at each country’s COVID history. But given that governments right now seem to be playing the game of “anything you lock down, I’ll lock down harder,” I think it’s probably better to wait a month or so, to see what effect these actions have. We might even get, at last, some real idea of which policies actually have a measurable effect and which don’t!