Azara Blog: July 2005 archive complete

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Date published: 2005/07/31

Jessops prints digital photos (permanent blog link)

Jessops has a service whereby you can submit digital photos in the store (e.g. on a CD or memory stick) and they will produce paper prints for you. For example, for 6 inch by 4 inch photos, ready the next day, they say they charge the following:

photoscost
1 to 449p each
5 to 3920p each
40 to 4915p each
50£4.99
51+10p each

Unfortunately this price structure leads to a situation where sometimes it is cheaper (absolutely) to order more prints. The graph shows the cost of printing as a function of the number of photos. For example, 25 photos cost £5.00 but 50 cost £4.99. Nobody rational should ever order 3-4 or 25-49 photos, since you can order more for less cost. Jessops digital photo printing prices

Education and social mobility (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

As the last few schools closed their doors for the summer holidays this week, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly set herself some homework.

Her self-imposed summer task is to work out how the education system can deliver greater social mobility.

She will present her ideas in the education White Paper due after Parliament returns.

Yet what is social mobility? Some disparage attempts to influence social class as "social engineering".

These critics argue that education is about teaching children skills and knowledge, not about changing people's social class.

This, of course, ignores the fact that school systems have always been designed to shape societies.

After all, the beginnings of mass education in England were rooted in the church's desire, born from fear of godlessness in the burgeoning cities, to teach children to read the Bible.

So Ruth Kelly is working within a long tradition of wanting schools to be an agent of social change. Yet what exactly did she mean by talking about improving social mobility in her speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research?

Does social mobility mean the poor becoming wealthier? Does it mean them getting better jobs? Is it about exchanging one social class for another?

Or is it simply about raising the educational achievement of pupils from the poorest homes in the belief that the rest - jobs, income, and social class - will then follow.

The author, Mike Baker, goes on at length to discuss the various issues, in a reasonable way (unusual for the BBC). Unfortunately many in the Labour Party seem to want social mobility for the sake of social mobility, possibly as part of the (presumed) long gone class warfare where the rich (except for the members of the government and their families) have to be made poor by government diktat.

Date published: 2005/07/30

Science missing out on talent (permanent blog link)

Stephen Pincock, in the Financial Times (subscription service) weekend magazine, says about a conversation with a well-conversed taxi driver in Boston:

And so the conversation went on, as we threaded our way through Boston towards the train station. I was beginning to wonder whether the selection criteria for taxi drivers in Cambridge were as rigorous as those for MIT and Harvard when the driver explained that in fact he was a research pharmacist who had once worked for a big pharmaceutical company.

"But my diploma is not from the US, so they don”t recognise it here," he said, which is why he was driving cabs. He didn”t seem exactly bitter about this state of affairs, but there was a hint of anger in his voice. "You know," he said, "there is no division between scientists, but here they make a distinction."

His tale obviously isn't unique - around the world, professionals from developing countries end up doing other kinds of work. But as I jumped out of his cab into the heat of the Massachusetts summer, it made me think about what science loses when it shuts people out.

These days, young scientists are finding it more difficult to get into countries such as the US and the UK. In May, the US National Academies of Science reported that science was being harmed by a sense among international students that the US was "a less welcoming place than other places". In July, UK universities urged the government to scrap plans that would prevent international students from appealing if their visa applications were rejected.

Ultimately, science is an international business and the best thing for scientific research is to allow movement to be as free as safely possible. To do otherwise might foster interesting cab rides, but creates a big downside.

Well US universities do recognise non-US degrees, but, no doubt in common with the rest of the developed world, they probably don't recognise degrees from some unknown educational institutions, or at least recognise them enough to believe they are worth very much. It is hard to get a (research) job in science without a doctorate, and once you have a doctorate what counts most is your scientific publication list. So Pincock is exaggerating this particular problem. Of course there are many people around the world who are not in jobs appropriate to their skills, and not just in science. Some are way over-promoted (e.g. Bush), some do not get given a proper chance. The world has probably even lost an Einstein or two in the developing world due to complete lack of opportunity, or to lack of proper nutrition or health care. Science per se is not "shutting people out", it is just the way the world as a whole works.

Buy-to-let with low deposits (permanent blog link)

The Financial Times says (subscription service):

Thousands of property investors have been circumventing the tight rules on buy-to-let lending by counting discounts on new flats as deposits, the Financial Times has learnt. Banks however refuse to admit such practices take place.

Under the strict criteria of most lenders, investors can only take out buy-to-let mortgages if they have a large deposit, typically 15 per cent or more. It is understood that many members of property investment clubs have secured large loans with tiny deposits, exacerbating the risk that they will wind up with mortgages exceeding the value of their homes.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders told the FT that banks only lend on a loan-to-value ratio of 85 per cent or less on a buy-to-let flat.

Yet one large property investment club, which did not wish to be named, said it was common for members to obtain a buy-to-let loan with a deposit of about 5 per cent. This was possible because loans were measured against the original asking price, which was sometimes reduced by up to 15 per cent.

Andrew Heywood, head of policy at the CML, insisted this was rare because surveyors had to report on the actual price paid. Banks then had to lend against the purchase price or the value of the home whichever was lower.

A storm in a teacup. If investors are "circumventing" rules it is only because some banks are sometimes willing to allow that to happen, and it is up to the banks to decide their loan criteria, not the FT. Needless to say the whole buy-to-let market has contributed to the UK property bubble, and these kinds of loose loan practises happen in a bubble.

Date published: 2005/07/29

Stansted Airport launches a consultation (permanent blog link)

The Cambridge Evening News says:

Stansted Airport has launched its biggest consultation yet into plans to expand the current runway to its maximum capacity of 35 million passengers a year.

An exhibition explaining the development will be taken to 27 towns and villages between now and the end of the consultation in October.

Airport managing director Terry Morgan promised that no-one living within 15 miles of the airport would be more than five miles from an exhibition.

Stansted expects to reach its current limit of 25 million passengers a year by 2008. In the spring of next year it will submit a planning application to Uttlesford District Council to increase that figure to 35 million, which it expects to reach by 2015.

Meanwhile, in a separate phase of development, the airport plans to go out to consultation on the proposed location of a second runway in November and produce a Final Master Plan and submit plans for a second runway in 2007.

It forecast that the earliest date for a second runway to open would be 2013.

The airport already has permission for additional buildings and infrastructure which will meet most of its needs for 35 million passengers - more than the number using Gatwick, which currently stands at 32.2 million. Heathrow caters for 67.7 million passengers annually and Luton has more than seven million.

Another fatuous consultation foisted on the public. 99% of the people responding will be against the airport just because they live nearby and are NIMBYs. The 99% of people in East Anglia who will benefit will not be consulted and will not be particularly bothered by the consultation one way or the other. Will Stansted Airport pay any attention to the views submitted? Hopefully not, but that just shows how pointless the exercise is, it is just intended as a marketing exercise. This is one reason why infrastructure developments cost so much in the UK, vast amounts of money are wasted on non-infrastructure costs. (Another reason is that land is expensive because the ruling elite refuse to allow most of it to be used for anything except for industrial agriculture.)

Ban on hunting with dogs upheld (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

Pro-hunt campaigners have lost their second High Court challenge to laws banning hunting with dogs.

The Countryside Alliance tried to use European human rights laws to overturn the ban in England and Wales.

They said the ban robbed people of the right to work, destroyed businesses and ruined people's social lives. Opponents of hunting say it is cruel.

The ban was upheld by two judges on Friday but the pro-hunt group plans to appeal against the judgement.

The ban was forced through the House of Lords last year using the Parliament Act after MPs repeatedly voted in favour of outlawing hunting with dogs.

Lord Justice May and Mr Justice Moses ruled the Hunting Act had "a legitimate aim" and was proportionate.

They said: "We consider that there was sufficient material available to the House of Commons for them to conclude that hunting with dogs is cruel."

In any case, there was "a reasonable basis" for deciding that "taken as a whole, hunting foxes with dogs causes more suffering than shooting them".

The judges said there were "two irreconcilable opposing views" which were both reasonable. A majority of MPs had then decided it was necessary to pass the ban.

It was "reasonably open to the majority of the democratically-elected House of Commons to conclude that this measure was necessary in the democratic society which had elected them", added the judges.

At a hearing earlier this month, Countryside Alliance lawyers argued the ban was in many ways "sectarian" and would cause "devastation" to rural communities.

Amazing that the judges were so rational. Unfortunately the European human rights legislation is used as an excuse for all sorts of challenges in the courts, because the litigants have no other real case, and this just degrades the meaning of "human rights". Fortunately here it did not work.

Date published: 2005/07/28

IRA says it is giving up the armed struggle (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

The IRA has formally ordered an end to its armed campaign and says it will pursue exclusively peaceful means.

In a long-awaited statement, the republican organisation said it would follow a democratic path ending more than 30 years of violence.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the move was a "courageous and confident initiative" and that the moment must be seized.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was a "step of unparalleled magnitude".

"It is what we have striven for and worked for throughout the eight years since the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

Hopefully the good news it seems to be.

New US-inspired climate pact (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

The US and five Asia-Pacific states have announced a surprise pact to cut greenhouse gases which falls outside the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

China, India, South Korea, Japan and Australia and the US account for nearly half of world greenhouse gas emissions.

The US-led initiative would tackle global warming with new technology supplied to countries most in need.

Critics say the new compact undermines Kyoto and is likely to be ineffective because it is non-binding.

The pact will allow signed-up countries to set their goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions individually, with no enforcement mechanism.

The signatories argue it complements, rather than weakens, the 1997 Kyoto agreement, which imposes targets on industrialised countries to cut their emissions.

Mostly a public relations exercise, so Bush and John Howard can pretend they are doing something without having to do anything. Although of course technology is indeed part, if not most, of the solution to the problem.

Date published: 2005/07/27

Teaching union grammar school vote (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

A teaching union is voting on whether to call for grammar schools to be reintroduced across England.

Comprehensive schools and a "one-size-fits-all" policy do not deliver high-quality education, the Professional Association of Teachers will hear.

Teacher Peter Morris says standards have fallen and discipline has worsened since the end of selective secondary education in most areas of England.

The PAT's annual conference in Buxton, Derbyshire, will vote on the issue.

Mr Morris said: "We all have different strengths and weaknesses."

"Not everyone on this planet was born to be a brilliant academic. But there are some people in this country who are born to be brilliant academics."

"We must face up to the reality that children who are academically gifted should be given the same level of encouragement as those children who are slow learners."

Most 16-year-olds today would not gain good grades in the old O-levels, which were replaced in the 1980s by GCSEs, he said.

Mr Morris, from Bishop Gore Comprehensive School, Swansea, said: "Perhaps even more importantly standards of discipline have dropped with the introduction of comprehensive education."

"If a teacher spends too much time with low achievers then the high achievers become disruptive. The converse too is true."

To blame the alleged drop in discipline on comprehensive education is a bit silly. But the general message is fairly obvious and will not please the anti-intellectuals who run the Labour Party (all themselves members of the elite, of course, in particular usually products of Oxbridge or the equivalent, but mostly of mediocre intelligence). What you need most for a decent education are committed teachers and committed parents. (Well, a bit of money does not hurt either.) Unfortunately the Labour Party loves social engineering so has to believe that instead tinkering from above is what you need. (The other political parties are not much better.)

Cycling allegedly booming in London (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

Cycling is undergoing a surge of interest since the London bombings, as commuters decide to head to work under their own steam. Could they be avoiding the threat of terror only to face a more everyday danger on the roads?

Two hours after the bombings on 7 July, a man walked into a bike shop in London Bridge.

"He said 'I'm never going on the Tube again. Sell me a bike,'" recalls Travis Lindhe, manager of On Your Bike, where sales have increased from three bikes a day to 15 ever since.

A cyclists' organisation, the London Cycling Campaign, reports a 10 to 30% increase in use of bike stands at three points in central London, although it says this news is hardly a cause for celebration, given the circumstances.

Fear has driven primary school teacher Stephen Thorpe, 45, on to the saddle of his new bike for his journey from Bow, east London, to Kennington.

"You wake up in the morning and think 'I've got to get on the Tube and I'm taking a risk,'" says Mr Thorpe, who used to cycle part-time. "I was half an hour behind the Liverpool Street bomb, which was a very frightening experience. "

"But when I ride to work I don't have to worry about being a potential bomb victim."

Traffic hazards are not such an issue because his route is on towpaths and quiet streets, he says.

Such great logic. Unfortunately you can be a bomb victim no matter where you are. And watch the cyclist - car accident rate rocket as all these novice cyclists decide to cycle to work. You are much more likely to be killed by a car than a bomb. Thirty years ago people who cycled to work were often just those working class enough not to be able to afford to own a car. Now people who cycle to work are often just those middle class enough to afford to live that close to their workplace.

Date published: 2005/07/26

Blair talks tough on terrorism (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

Tony Blair has vowed not to "give an inch to terrorism" and said Iraq was no excuse for the London bombings.

He acknowledged Iraq was being used to recruit terrorists, but insisted the roots of extremism were much deeper.

He said 11 September 2001 was a wake up call for the international community, but argued some people "then turned over and went back to sleep again".

The prime minister was speaking to reporters after talks about new terror laws with Tory and Lib Dem leaders.

He said: "Let us expose the obscenity of these people saying it is concern for Iraq that drives them to terrorism. If it is concern for Iraq then why are they driving a car bomb into the middle of a group of children and killing them?"

"We are not going to deal with this problem, with the roots as deep as they are, until we confront these people at every single level - and not just their methods but their ideas," he added.

"11 September for me was a wake up call. Do you know what I think the problem is? That a lot of the world woke up for a short time and then turned over and went back to sleep again."

No, the problem is that Blair is still deluded about his illegal war in Iraq. And he might not consider the war in Iraq to be a "justification" for terrorism, but the suicide bombers might well believe otherwise. It does not have to be a "concern for Iraq" which drives them, only hatred for a technologically superior West which has invaded an Islamic country. As usual Blair is trying to divert attention from the real issues.

GM crop impact on the environment (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

Scientists have urged caution over a study which may have found a so-called "superweed" growing at a site where GM crops had been trialled.

The charlock, a relative of oilseed rape, failed to shrivel up when daubed with the herbicide used to manage a biotech crop grown in the same field.

The creation of wild plants that pick up the traits of engineered crops has long been feared by anti-GM groups.

But researchers said their work showed the chances of such transfer were slim.

What is more, they argued, the study reinforced the view that the environmental impact was negligible.

"Herbicide-tolerant weeds tend to under-perform compared with wild type, so unless all its competitors have been sprayed out with the same herbicide, it won't thrive," commented Dr Les Firbank, who led the consortium of scientists on the recent UK Farm-Scale Evaluations (FSEs) of genetically modified plants.

"There's lots of evidence for that," he told the BBC News website.

The study was conducted by Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) researchers.

It looked for any evidence that a genetic trait in an oilseed rape, engineered to be resistant to a particular herbicide called Liberty, would pass to near-relatives growing wild in the field or at the margin.

The degree to which such transfer is possible informs the debate about superweeds, which some have claimed could upset ecological relationships in the countryside and so harm biodiversity.

The CEH team collected more than 95,000 seeds of wild relatives in and around the FSE trial sites and grew them up in greenhouses. These plants were then sprayed with Liberty (a glufosinate ammonium) to see if they had acquired herbicide tolerance - through their parents being pollinated by the GM rape.

The scientists found just two plants, of Brassica rapa or turnip rape, that showed resistance to the treatment; a rate of 0.000021.

But Brassica rapa is a very close relative of farmed oilseed rape and the discovery of some gene flow is not a huge surprise, say the scientists.

The CEH team also toured fields, daubing Liberty on the tissues of weeds and looking for the expected signs of die-back.

The researchers found just one weed - what they believe was a charlock (Sinapis Arvensis) - which showed no reaction to the application.

DNA analysis on a leaf sample confirmed the gene trait from the engineered oilseed rape was present, but when the researchers returned the following year to the same field they could find no herbicide tolerance in seedlings of the charlocks growing there.

Nonetheless, anti-GM group Friends of the Earth believes the existence of just one tolerant charlock should merit major concern.

It said that if GM oilseed rape were grown commercially, herbicide-resistant weeds could become widespread.

FoE argued that farmers would then have to use more and more damaging weedkillers to get rid of them, with knock-on impacts on the environment.

"The government's trials have already shown that growing GM crops can harm wildlife. Now we're seeing the real possibility of GM superweeds being created, with serious consequences for farmers and the environment," commented FoE's GM campaigner Emily Diamand.

No doubt if they spent such time and attention looking at conventional farming (including so-called organic farming) they would also find some similarly small effects. And the FoE response is the typical politically motivated one expected. They hate GM technology so according to them, all studies, no matter what they show, allegedly prove that GM is a disaster for the world.

Date published: 2005/07/10

Mount Everest and greenhouse gas emissions (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

Conqueror of Everest Sir Edmund Hillary has urged world governments to protect the Himalayas from climate change. The World Heritage Committee, which supervises protection of sites of special interest, meets this week. Environmental campaigners, backed by Sir Edmund, want the committee to put the Sagarmatha National Park in the Himalayas on its danger list. This would mean governments are legally bound to protect it - which, they say, means cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

This all sounds very worthy, but if the real implication of putting it on the danger list is that governments have to cut greenhouse gas emissions to protect it, then this is ridiculous. Are these campaigners really saying that, say, power stations are going to have to close and people will have to go without heating in winter in order to "save" Everest? (They probably are, they are the comfortable middle class in action.) Well obviously what this is really all about is an attempt to enforce emissions cuts via the back door, but presumably a legal case based on Everest would be dubious at best.

Brazil signs drug deal with Abbott Laboratories (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

Brazil has decided not to break the patent on a key HIV/Aids drug after its US manufacturer agreed to reduce the drug's price over the next six years.

The Brazilian government and Abbott Laboratories reached the agreement after 10 days of talks.

Brazil had said it would start making a cheaper generic version of the drug, Kaletra, increasing pressure on the manufacturer to cut its price.

As part of the deal, Brazil will have access to Kaletra's next new formula.

Brazil currently pays Abbott $107m (£61.3m) a year for Kaletra, which it provides to patients for free.

Abbott has agreed that Brazil can treat more patients with no overall increase in costs, in effect reducing the price of the drug and saving the government more than $250m over the next six years.

The manufacturer had said Brazil enjoyed the most generous pricing agreement of any country outside Africa.

It argued that if patents were broken, pharmaceutical companies would be deterred from investing in further research.

Brazil has reached similar agreements with pharmaceutical companies in the past after threatening to break patents.

Kaletra is one of the most widely used anti-retroviral drugs, which are essential to the treatment of HIV.

The case is being followed closely in the developing world, where about 36 million people have the HIV virus.

The government's last-minute change of heart is sure to anger HIV campaign groups, says the BBC's Steve Kingstone in Sao Paulo.

They had urged Brazil to break the patent, arguing that this would be legal under World Trade Organization rules and would help bring down worldwide prices for anti-retroviral drugs.

A hard problem this. Everybody wants cheap drugs and nobody wants to pay for their development. But the patent regime is not ideal. And at least the government of Brazil is willing to play hardball with the drug companies, unlike the governments of America and Europe.

Date published: 2005/07/09

Iraq and the London bomb (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

Home Secretary Charles Clarke has said there is no evidence the attacks on London were carried out because of the UK's role in the Iraq war.

He said the bombers wanted to destroy the "very essence of our society".

Mr Clarke said: "There is no evidence [it] had anything to do with the Iraq war... of course it may have done and we'll have to see."

Anti-war MP George Galloway has said Londoners "had paid the price" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Clarke told the BBC that any conflicts or wars could increase tensions, but said those tensions could exist anyway.

He said: "The fact is that the people who make these kind of attacks are about destroying the very essence of our society: our democracy, our media, our multicultural society and so on.

"That's not about Iraq or any other particular foreign policy issue, it's about a fundamentalist attack on the way we live our lives."

Well Clarke is mostly making sense, but in a too-clever-by-half fashion common amongst Westminister politicians. The British presense in Iraq certainly increased the likelihood of a terrorist incident, whether or not one believes it was the real justification or just a convenient excuse.

At least Clarke is on better ground that Blair. The BBC recounts an interview with Blair which touched on the Iraq theme:

[ Blair ] argued the "worst terrorist atrocity" - the 11 September attacks - came before the Iraq war.

What Blair was trying to do (which the BBC fails to mention) is to imply, like Clarke, that the London bomb could not just be seen as a reaction to British involvement in Iraq, since 9/11 happened before it. What is he talking about? Why should the reasons for the London bomb and 9/11 be the same? Nobody except Bush and Blair try to link Iraq and 9/11 (this is of course one of the many fatuous reasons given for launching the illegal war against Iraq). Is Blair just tired (probably) or is he going off the deep end?

Date published: 2005/07/08

G8 ends with a whimper (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

The G8 leaders have promised a "new dialogue" on climate change.

Their communiqué, released at the end of the Gleneagles summit, states that global warming is a "serious long-term challenge" for the entire planet.

And the nations promised to act with "resolve and urgency" to reduce the gas emissions thought responsible - but they specified no targets or timetable.

Instead, the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says the G8 countries will meet in November for further discussions.

Environmental action groups expressed their disappointment at the outcome of the summit. They said the Scottish event had been a "missed an opportunity".

The so-called environmentalists are, as usual, taking the piss. The G8 summit is nothing but window dressing and the idea it would ever have produced a complete change of direction is at best stupid. And what with the London bomb nobody really cares about the G8 any more in any case (until the next one), and the so-called environmentalists and other G8 lobbyists have lost their big free soap box which they have been enjoying the last few weeks.

Humans blamed for mass extinctions in Australia (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

The first humans to arrive in Australia destroyed the pristine landscape, probably by lighting huge fires, the latest research suggests.

The evidence, published in Science magazine, comes from ancient eggshells.

These show birds changed their diets drastically when humans came on the scene, switching from grass to the type of plants that thrive on scrubland.

The study supports others that have blamed humans for mass extinctions across the world 10-50,000 years ago.

Many scientists believe the causes are actually more complex and relate to climate changes during that period, but, according to Dr Marilyn Fogel, of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, US, chemical clues gleaned from the eggshells suggest otherwise.

"Humans are the major suspect," she said. "However, we don't think that over-hunting or new diseases are to blame for the extinctions, because our research sees the ecological transition at the base of the food chain.

"Bands of people set large-scale fires for a variety of reasons including hunting, clearing and signalling other bands.

"Based on the evidence, human-induced change in the vegetation is the best fit to explain what happened at that critical juncture."

Well it's a nice simple message of the kind beloved of most of the current generation of scientists (humans are to blame for everything), but the evidence is thin and it's unlikely the story is as simple as suggested (it never is).

Date published: 2005/07/07

London gets hit by bombs (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

A series of bomb attacks on London's transport network has killed more than 30 people and injured about 700 others.

Three explosions on the Underground left 35 dead, two died in a blast on a bus and another died later in hospital.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the bombings had "the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda-related attack".

Prime Minister Tony Blair promised the "most intense police and security service action to make sure we bring those responsible to justice".

Mr Blair, who had returned to London from the G8 summit in Gleneagles, condemned the terrorists and paid tribute to the stoicism and resilience of the people of London.

"They are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do," he said in a televised statement from Downing Street.

Well we all knew this was coming. Presumably al-Qaeda (or whoever) would claim they are doing this because of British involvement in Iraq, but of course this will not change UK policy there one iota. The only real impact will be that Blair and his government will seek even more dictatorial powers. Blair claimed in the past that he wanted the dictatorial powers because people would blame him for not preventing it if there was a terrorist attack in the UK, but of course nobody has now that it has happened. Needless to say, the media has spent the entire day talking about the bombings. But in Cambridge, a mere sixty miles away, life continued as if nothing at all had happened.

A14 upgrade will increase traffic in Cambridge (permanent blog link)

The Cambridge Evening News says:

The proposed A14 upgrade could have serious impacts on the level of traffic coming into Cambridge.

Projected figures show traffic using Huntingdon Road - one of the city's major arteries - could increase by more than 40 per cent if the A14 were improved.

The figures were requested by county councillor Julian Huppert and supplied by W S Atkins, a consultant for the Highways Agency.

They reveal an average of 13,835 vehicles travelled along Huntingdon Road, which leads to and from the A14, on an average day in 2003.

For 2025 the projected figure is 15,876 - an increase of 14.8 per cent - if the Structure Plan proposals were implemented (guided bus, Northstowe development and A428 improvement) but not the A14 upgrade.

The projected figure for 2025 with the Structure Plan proposals and A14 upgrade is 19,894 - an increase of 43.8 per cent on the 2003 figure.

Coun Huppert, who sits on the Cambridge traffic management area joint committee, said: "I am really quite worried. I think it would be very bad for people in Cambridge. We certainly do not need a huge increase in cars coming into the city.

"I am concerned about the safety record on the A14 and I would not say stop the whole scheme, but we need to have something that does not create more suffering."

Let's see, the widening of the A14 is supposed to add more traffic to the road. Yet a county councillor is amazed that this might mean more traffic on one of the roads connected to the A14?? Perhaps this is why local politicans seem to be constantly amazed that shutting down Silver Street has reduced the amount of traffic on Silver Street. And interesting that only (the posh) Huntingdon Road is mentioned, after all, who cares if the plebs along Histon Road or Milton Road or Newmarket Road see more traffic, as long as the rich residents of Cambridge can live in peace.

Date published: 2005/07/06

London gets 2012 Summer Olympics (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

The 2012 Olympic Games will be held in London, the International Olympic Committee has announced.

London won a two-way fight with Paris by 54 votes to 50 at the IOC meeting in Singapore, after bids from Moscow, New York and Madrid were eliminated.

Apparently both Finnish members of the IOC voted for London. Presumably Chirac's gratuitous insult of Finnish food (as being even worse than British food) did not help. Petty politics aside, you have to wonder if the UK can manage to stage this Olympics without major screw-ups. The transport system is a joke and they are sticking the Olympic village on a brownfield site in a part of London most people consider to be a dump, with most of the major facilities still to be built. The last big London project was the Millennium Dome, and that was a financial fiasco, and with no lasting impact in Greenwich other than a big unloved circus tent. The UK could have done most of the planned infrastructure projects without the Olympics, but the politicians are addicted to glory, and the Olympics is the biggest show in town.

Software patents rejected by European Parliament (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

European politicians have thrown out a controversial bill that could have led to software being patented.

The European Parliament voted 648 to 14 to reject the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive.

The bill was reportedly rejected because, politicians said, it pleased no-one in its current form.

Responding to the rejection the European Commission said it would not draw up or submit any more versions of the original proposal.

Hi-tech firms supporting the directive said it was vital to protect the fruits of their research and development.

Opponents said, if passed, the bill would lead to the patenting of software which would jeopardise the prospects of small firms and open source developers.

The vote on Wednesday was on the more than 100 amendments made to the original bill.

The original bill was written to give EU-wide patent protection for computerised inventions such as CAT scanners and ABS car-brake systems. The bill would have also given the same protections to software when it was used to realise inventions.

Software is already protected by copyright.

The rejection looks like the end for the bill as the European Parliament will also move to stop the version of the bill that has already been approved in the 25 EU member nations becoming law.

The bill was intended to sweep away individual EU nations' patent dispute systems in favour of one common procedure.

"Patents will continue to be handled by national patent offices ... as before, which means different interpretations as to what is patentable, without any judiciary control by the European Court of Justice," said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, representing the EU head office at the vote.

Hopefully no bill ends up being a better outcome than the dreadful bill that was proposed. This is just about the first time in its history that the European Parliament has actually done something useful.

Date published: 2005/07/05

Increase in UK fuel duty postponed (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

The increase in UK fuel duty due in September is being postponed again, the government has announced.

Fuel duty is due to rise at least in line with inflation every year but Gordon Brown used his Budget in March to defer the rise.

Now the Treasury says it will review whether to raise the tax in the autumn pre-Budget report.

The tax was frozen last year because of "volatility in the oil market". Oil prices have since risen further.

Fuel duties have now been frozen since October 2003.
...
The government's general policy of imposing an inflation rise in fuel duty is designed to meet environmental commitments.

Friends of the Earth said it was extremely disappointed by Tuesday's decision, saying the cost of motoring had fallen by 6% in real terms since Labour came to power in 1997.

A spokesman said traffic levels had risen in the same period and road transport accounted for 22% of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions.

"Coming just before the G8 summit, this sends the wrong signal about tackling climate change," he added.

Of course Friends of the Earth (FoE) hate cars, so you have to take anything they say on this front with a pinch of salt. The fact that road transport allegedly accounts for 22% of the UK CO2 emissions is neither here nor there, it just means that an awful lot of the economy uses road transport. Formula 1 accounts for less than 1% of the UK CO2 emissions, does FoE consider that to be a better form of activity?

There is often a similarly idiotic criticism of the use of cement in the construction of buildings, using absolute numbers which are meaningless if you don't at the same time consider the bang for the buck that you are getting. Most construction uses cement so obviously the absolute numbers are high.

And why is it a disaster that the cost of something has fallen in real terms? Perhaps this is just an extremely efficient form of economic activity, bringing economies of scale to the market. (In spite of all the idiotic health and safety regulations constantly foisted on the car companies.)

Well, obviously, a lot of the cost of driving is down to the arbitrary tax rate leveled by the government on petrol. Petrol is more expensive in the UK than almost anywhere else in Europe, and driving is the only economic activity in the UK which more than pays a fair level of carbon tax. So it's not as if car drivers are getting away with murder. On the contrary, it is rail commuters who have successfully externalised much of their costs and in particular who do not pay a carbon tax. (They get away with this because most of the media, in particular the people who work from the BBC, benefit from this subsidy, and these people also have the same comfortable middle class anti-car mentality as the FoE.)

In a similar vein, the so-called environmentalists complain that when roads are built people just come out and use them. How dreadful. Imagine government using money for something that its citizens will actually use, what a quaint concept. Perhaps only roads that nobody will use should be built. Put a six-lane circular motorway in the middle of the Highlands of Scotland, with no entrances and exits, and no doubt the FoE will go to bed happy.

UK North-South divide in cancer (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

New cancer maps reveal people in the north of England and Scotland are far more likely to get certain cancers than those living in the South.

The Office for National Statistics "Cancer Atlases" for the 1990s show an obvious North-South divide for cancers.

Scots and Northerners are more prone to lung and stomach cancer, which appear to be linked to smoking and alcohol use as well as socio-economic deprivation.

Cancer prevention experts said the data showed deprived areas needed targeting.

The ONS estimates that over 25,000 of the cancers and 17,000 of the cancer deaths could be preventable - around three quarters by helping smokers quit and drinkers cut down on their alcohol consumption.

The incidence and death rates for cancers of the lung, larynx, lip, mouth and pharynx - all known to be related to heavy smoking and alcohol intake - were lower than average in the south and midlands of England, but higher than average across the north of England and Scotland between 1991 and 2000.

Geographical patterns for bladder, kidney, oesophageal (gullet) and stomach cancers were similar.

Scotland also came out worse for colorectal cancer, along with Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Rates of cervical cancer were higher than average in the north of England, urban west midlands and, again, in Scotland, but were not related to local cancer screening differences.

There was little geographical variation in the incidence and death rates of breast, ovary and prostate cancers, however. The ONS looked at 21 different cancers overall.

The incidence of all cancers combined in Scotland, England and Wales rose gradually over the 1970s and 1980s then levelled off in the 1990s to over 270,000, partly due to better diagnosis, says the ONS.

Hardly a great shock. And hardly a shock that the "experts" want more money targeted on deprived areas, you did not need to do any research to hear them say that, just turn on Radio 4 any day of the week. Fortunately the BBC was not stupid enough this time around to suggest that the "solution" was for everybody to move to the south of England (that would be confusing correlation and causation, which the BBC does all the time).

Date published: 2005/07/04

NASA smashes probe into a comet (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

US space agency (Nasa) scientists are celebrating after seeing a probe crash into the heart of a comet.

The washing machine-sized "impactor" collided with Comet Tempel 1 at a relative speed of 37,000km/h, throwing up a huge plume of icy debris.

The probe's mothership, the Deep Impact spacecraft, watched the event from a safe distance, sending images to Earth.

"We hit it just exactly where we wanted to," said an ecstatic Dr Don Yeomans, a Nasa mission scientist.

"The impact was bigger than I expected, and bigger than most of us expected. We've got all the data we could possibly ask for."

In addition, the BBC says:

One of the big surprises about Monday's impact was the unexpectedly large amount of material excavated by the collision between Tempel 1 and Deep Impact's projectile.

It had been thought that the impact would excavate as much material in 15 minutes as the comet usually discharges in a month.

"I would say it's more like a year," commented Professor John Zarnecki, a space scientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes.

Scientists made some early interpretations. Firstly, the comet's crust is probably weaker than expected.

Professor Zarnecki said it also suggested the material in the comet was probably brittle, a bit like breeze block. Dr Coates likened it to compacted snow.

Dr Schwehm said he thought that a build-up of gases just beneath the surface might have contributed to the large impact.

"When it was triggered by the impactor, they just came out," he said.

But scientists allayed fears that the impact might throw the comet off course, perhaps on a collision course with Earth.

"It was like mosquito hitting a 747. What we've found is that the mosquito didn't splat on the surface; it's actually gone through the windscreen," explained Professor Iwan Williams of Queen Mary, University of London.

Well this mission can be considered to be either a great technological triumph or a massive act of vandalism. It's quite possible (unless NASA can prove otherwise) than in N million years the course of the comet will have been sufficiently changed that it comes back and splats Earth instead of missing it (if we are extremely unlucky), or vice versa (if we are extremely lucky). The fact that the impact was like a "mosquito hitting a 747" is neither here nor there, small differences now add up to big differences in time. A 747 can be piloted to change its course, it is not so easy with a comet.

Craig Venter wants to construct a bacterium (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

Craig Venter - one of the scientists behind the sequencing of the human genetic code - aims to construct a living organism from a kit of genes.

It would be a biological milestone were he to succeed and would open a debate about the nature of "life".

Dr Venter's company will work out the minimum number of genes a bacterium needs, synthesise the genetic material and then put it in an empty cell.

Ultimately, designer bacteria could be used for industrial tasks, he claims.

Dr Venter has been this way before when initiated a project in the late 1990s to determine the minimum number of genes required to sustain a lifeform.

At the time, the work prompted ethical discussions over the limits to which humans should try to manipulate a living organism.

"Our sequencing of the first genomes, including the human genome, set the stage for this next great phase in understanding biology, which will ultimately enable us to pursue applications that will improve the environment and transform several industries," says Hamilton Smith, a Nobel laureate and co-founder of Synthetic Genomics.

Synthetic Genomics intends to construct an organism with a "minimal genome" that can then be inserted into the shell of a bacterium.

Initially, Dr Venter plans to replace the genes in the 517-gene Mycoplasma genitalium, and then alter the bug so that it is tailor-made for certain industrial uses, such as cleaning up pollution or even removing greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

Two years ago, Dr Venter impressed the scientific world, and alarmed the public, when his team synthesised a genome to create the bacteriophage phiX174.

Although other researchers had constructed a virus from the genome up before Dr Venter, the Maryland scientist has long held the aim to construct the first man-made bacterium; this is a far more complex task.

Currently, Synthetic Genomics is removing the genes, one by one, from M. genitalium to identify the right gene set for the organism to survive in a controlled environment.

It is work that builds on research Dr Venter and colleagues at The Institute for Genomic Research (Tigr) published in 2002.

Once that has been done Synthetic Genomics will attempt to synthesise the genome and then "add the desired biological capabilities", before inserting the genetic construct into an environment "that allows metabolic activity and replication", the company says. In other words, the company would try to create the first semi-artificial cell.

Amazing stuff, and it's obvious the religious nutters of the world are not going to like this at all, especially when scientists move onto even more complex organisms.

Date published: 2005/07/03

Cambridge Matters: recycling for the city (permanent blog link)

The city of Cambridge has an unfortunate tendency (as do all other bureaucracies) to produce endless streams of junk mail for its citizens. The latest arrived this week, "Cambridge Matters: recycling for the city". Needless to say, the most likely first destination in most households for this magazine is the recycling bin.

The main point of the magazine is to warn people once again that starting in October the ordinary waste will only be collected once every two weeks, instead of weekly as now. And we will be given a blue box for plastic recycling, to go along with the black box for newspaper, glass and cans, the green bin for organic waste, and the black bin for other waste. This kind of effort is being repeated all over the world. Whether it actually does any good has never been demonstrated by the city, but it is certainly something the chattering classes who run Cambridge believe in. Indeed it is stated blithely in the magazine that the new system "shifts the focus away from the outdated approach of landfill and towards the more sustainable approach of recycling". Well anybody who uses the word "sustainable" obviously has no real justification for their statements.

Of course there is the usual selection of patronising commentary one expects from government propaganda. For example, did you know that washable nappies "come in lots of cool colours"? Oh, that's alright then, the lack of colour was the one thing that was stopping people from using them. And did you know that "not all packaging exists solely to ensure that your goods make it home in one piece, some packaging also provides a great opportunity to carry advertising directly into your home"? Thanks, we didn't know that, so that's why the plastic bag says "Sainsbury's" on the side.

There is also the usual flurry of statistics for the sake of statistics. Did you know "that emissions of the powerful greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide have fallen by a huge 41% since 1990"? Unfortunately the blurb fails to mention exactly whose emissions. But hey, it's 41%, and that's impressive. (And a number that high makes one suspicious that they are also leaving out some other relevant point of information.)

There is also the usual confusion between correlation and causation: "If you live less than a quarter of a mile from a landfill site, your home is worth on average £5500 less than a similar house situated further away. It is calculated that the value of UK housing stock has been reduced by £2.48 billion due to landfill." Well, needless to say they do not put landfills next to Buckingham Palace or in Kensington and Chelsea, or on Latham Road, they put them in relatively poor rural areas where the locals can be safely ignored by the powers that be. It is hardly surprising that their homes are worth less, even ignoring landfill. Of course it has got to be the case that your home is worth less if there is a landfill next door, but how much has been caused by the landfill (rather than just correlated with it) is another question. And your house is also going to be worth less if you are right next door to a huge recycling centre. Or indeed an industrial warehouse. Maybe we should ban all those as well. And if the city is willing to state the landfill harm so explicitly, then perhaps they should offer compensation to the people of Milton who live near the city landfill site and "recycling" centre (i.e. dump).

Hydrogen-powered aircraft (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

A US company says it has successfully completed test flights of a potentially environment-friendly aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen.

Liquid hydrogen stored on board and oxygen extracted from the air are combined in fuel cells. The electricity generated drives the propellers.

California-based AeroVironment says a full tank of hydrogen would keep the unmanned plane in the air for 24 hours.

Planes using fuel cells might help curb greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

The aircraft, called Global Observer, looks more like a glider than a conventionally-powered plane, with its wingspan of over 15m, small fuselage slung underneath and extended, "dragon-fly" tail.

Along the front edge of the wing is a line of eight propellers.

Hopefully only the start for what sounds like a promising new technology, but do not expect Ryanair to be using these planes in the near future. (And what will the so-called environmentalists find to complain about next with air transport if this technology takes off?)

Date published: 2005/07/02

Individual carbon quotas (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

Plans to limit energy use by giving everyone an individual carbon allowance are being considered by the government.

The "domestic tradable quotas" scheme could help the UK comply with the Kyoto Protocol, think tank the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research suggested.

The plan would see people issued carbon units - each equivalent to 1kg of greenhouse gases - to use when buying products such as flights and petrol.

A government spokesman said plans were at the earliest stage of consideration.

Environment minister Elliot Morley told the Daily Telegraph the government could "think the unthinkable".

The scheme would see people and businesses able to buy or sell extra rations.

This idea has been around for some time already and is hardly "unthinkable". Economists in particular love this idea because it will keep them permanently employed into the forseeable future calculating the tax rate on individual items.

And tax on petrol and VAT are already crude carbon taxes. (To a first approximation, the more something costs, the more energy was used producing it, so the more environmental damage it has caused. This is only a first approximation since, for example, the current belief is that non-carbon energy causes less environmental damage than carbon energy, although that could be wrong. And unfortunately most products and services have a long and complicated energy history, so to calculate the carbon versus non-carbon use properly is tricky.)

The throw-away comment in the article, that these carbon units are to be used "when buying products such as flights and petrol" is unfortunate. We should have a carbon tax on all products, not just ones considered politically incorrect by the current ruling elite. Train and bus passengers should pay a carbon tax. People heating their homes should pay a carbon tax. People buying food should pay a carbon tax. Otherwise this proposal is just middle class stupidity (i.e. par for the course).

And not only businesses but all organisations should be covered. For example, academics do not get paid much in direct salary, but they spend much of their time swanning around the world going to conferences, and the environmental damage this causes should be accounted for by their organisation. Unfortunately some organisations (such as the civil service and universities) are paid for by the State, so any additional tax would ultimately not be paid for by the people responsible but by the taxpayer. One way to make this explicit would be to allocate organisation taxes down to the individuals in the organisation (say in proportion to one's salary and benfits, but you also need to take into account shareholders). It is one's total carbon use, as both a consumer and a worker, that really matters.

Climate change sceptics (permanent blog link)

The Financial Times says (subscription service):

Thanks to greedy environmentalists and corrupt scientists, the world is in the grip of a dangerous mass delusion that driving cars and using electricity is causing global warming. Unless these mendacious "experts" are stopped, the leaders of some of the globe's biggest economies will pour trillions of dollars into useless schemes that exist merely to feed the enviro-industrial complex. Only a few (American) voices speaking out against a dangerous (European) orthodoxy can save us from global chaos.

If this sounds like the plot of a thriller, it's because it is: in Michael Crichton's latest bestseller, State of Fear, environmental groups grow so fat on middle-class guilt over pollution and the destruction of small furry things that they fasten on the alarmist theory of global warming, or climate change, as a means of screwing even more money from gullible donors.
...
Yet given the mounting evidence that global warming does exist, how can the sceptics remain so firmly convinced otherwise?

The theory of global warming has been around for decades. Once an arcane area understood by only a few specialists, it has now become part of mainstream scientific thought. The theory runs thus: carbon dioxide, along with a few other "greenhouse" gases such as methane, can affect the Earth's climate because they absorb infrared radiation, thus trapping on Earth heat that would otherwise dissipate into space. This is known as the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse gas that causes most concern - because it makes up an ever-larger part of the atmosphere - is carbon dioxide: a colourless, odourless byproduct of burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas.

In the pre-industrial mid-18th century, carbon dioxide made up 280 parts per million of the Earth's atmosphere. Today, it comprises 375 parts per million and rising, higher than at any time in the past 420,000 years, which is as far back as we can measure reliably. And the temperature of the Earth's surface rose by about 0.6 deg C during the course of the 20th century.

Few scientists quibble with these basic facts. According to the mainstream view of global warming, when the Earth heats up under the influence of greenhouse gases, the effect on the climate is dramatic. It leads to droughts, heatwaves, storms and floods. Because excess carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for at least a century after it is produced, the cumulative effects of the gases that have already been emitted would continue to exert a malign influence on the climate even if we stopped burning fossil fuels immediately.

But to do that would require an unthinkable disruption to the world economy. Therefore the only reasonable solution to global warming is to try to cut our emissions of greenhouse gases gradually, while attempting to find new, low-carbon, energy sources, such as wind, solar and nuclear power. That idea underpins the UN-brokered Kyoto protocol on climate change, which requires developed nations to bring down their emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012 to an average of 5 per cent below 1990 levels.

Yet sceptics continue to argue that either the world isn't heating up or if it is, the problem is not necessarily caused by humans. Either way, it isn't anything to worry about.
...
The science in this case is probably not going to get any clearer until some form of catastrophe has occurred. Yet in order to believe that the sceptics are correct, one must disbelieve the national science academies and the foremost climatologists of the developed world. One must believe that the most respected scientific journals are joined in a conspiracy to hide evidence proving the sceptics right. And one must believe Michael Crichton's science-fiction is actually closer to fact.

Of course so-called environmentalists do survive because of middle-class guilt (and government subsidies). (It is not a coincidence that their campaigning is very similar in tone to that of the American television evangelists. The world will end in eternal damnation if you do not donate to us, now.)

And most scientists do have to toe the conventional scientific line or they will soon be out of a job. This is true not only in climatology but in all other scientific disciplines. (Try getting a job in theoretical high energy physics between 1985 and today without working on some aspect of String Theory.)

And hardly any scientific theory lasts more than a generation or two, and in a hundred years the scientists of the day will laugh at the climatologists of today. (Just read the physics books from 1900 to have a good laugh.)

And the (vocal) climatologists would have a bit more credibility if they didn't spend half their time making political instead of scientific statements.

So you don't have to believe in a conspiracy to question the sociology behind the currently conceived conventional wisdom, it is just the way the world works.

Having said all that, the overwhelming evidence is that climate change is happening for the reasons usually given. The real question is what to do about it. We should be aiming to bring the living standard of the poor of the world up to that of the rich, not lower that of the rich to the poor.

You can guarantee that if by a miracle we had a carbon-free economy tomorrow the so-called environmentalists would still be complaining. After all, carbon-free energy still allows mankind to change the environment (build homes, grow crops, be tourists, etc.). The real problem, which is usually ignored, is that there are too many people on the planet.

Date published: 2005/07/01

Justice O'Connor retires from Supreme Court (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the US Supreme Court and a crucial centrist, is to retire.

Ms O'Connor, 75, has often cast the deciding vote on the nine-member court, leading some US commentators to call her the most powerful woman in America.

She is the first Supreme Court justice to retire since 1994, giving George W Bush his first chance to name a judge.

The former Arizona politician was nominated by Ronald Reagan to serve on the court and took up her seat in 1981.

In a statement at the White House, President Bush praised Ms O'Connor as a "discerning and diligent judge", who has earned universal respect.

He said he would consult with senators to find a successor, and said he would be "deliberate and thorough" in his search.

The president's nomination to the court must be approved by the Senate.

Speculation has mounted that Mr Bush will now nominate a conservative to the court in an effort to tilt the balance of opinion on the bench.

"Speculation has mounted"? Who is the BBC trying to kid, they are trying to portray Bush as some kind of reasonable person who will engage in long and sincere discussion on the matter. It's obvious he is going to appoint a loony idealogue to the position. The Supreme Court was always going to be the biggest casualty of the Bush re-election. He can screw up the US economy. He can screw up the world environment. He can screw up world peace. But all those can be fixed within a matter of a decade after he leaves office. Unfortunately his pick (or picks) to the Supreme Court will ruin America for a generation and more. The crazies not only run the White House and Congress, they are now going to run the Supreme Court.

Scotland tries carbon sequestration (permanent blog link)

The BBC says:

The world's first industrial-scale clean energy power plant to generate "carbon-free" electricity from hydrogen could be built in Aberdeenshire.

The £330m project will split natural gas into hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

The hydrogen will fuel a new power station to be built near the existing power station at Peterhead.

The carbon dioxide (CO2) will then be liquefied and piped underground for storage in BP's Miller oil field where it can also help to recover more oil.

Oil giant BP PLC and its partners Royal Dutch/Shell, ConocoPhillips and Scottish & Southern Energy PLC are planning to build the 350 megawatt power station, which could come on stream in 2009.

BP said the project would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by the power generation by more than 90% and would provide carbon-free electricity to the equivalent of a quarter of a million UK homes.

Initial engineering feasibility studies into the project have been completed and the partners will now begin detailed design work to make sure the project is economically viable.

The carbon dioxide would be exported through existing pipelines to the Miller oilfield which is due to cease production in 2006/7.

The injection of carbon dioxide could increase oil recovery by up to 40 million barrels and extend the field's life by 15-20 years, BP said.

Norway's Statoil company has buried carbon dioxide under the North Sea since 1996.

The UK Government recently announced £25m of funding to develop carbon sequestration.

It's good that someone is trying out this technology, it won't be all the solution to carbon excess but it could definitely play an important part.

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