Wednesday, June 27, 2007

blair today, gone tomorrow

The lying scumpig scuttles off to his new job 'preparing the Palestinians for negotiations with Israel'. In other news, Sir Alex Ferguson's best mate gets job coaching Chelsea before a match against Manchester United.

But now he's gone, what comes next? Jim Bliss says

I saw Gordon Brown’s celebratory wave and read his Let the work of change begin sound-bite. I looked closer at the photograph… “Haaaang on”, I thought to myself, “isn’t that the bloke that’s been sat behind Blair — smiling and applauding — at every important policy announcement for the past ten years?”

“It bloody well is, y’know!”

Just how will we remember Blair himself? Fortunately, he's given us some guiding thoughts. Writing in what is sadly the last issue of the defiantly not online No Quarter magazine, Mr Blair tells us that

History, rather than the immediate future, will be the judge of my actions.

As I stand down after ten years in office, there are some people who argue I should now be judged on the decisions that I made during that time. There are many who are calling for a rigorous and unsentimental debate over the merits of my various actions. There are even those who are demanding that enquiries be launched, investigations undertaken and reports written on the potentially damaging impact that my legacy will have on future governments.

To these people I say, hold on a minute. Let us take a step back. Let history decide whether I was right or wrong. Let us not go down the road of assessing the observable impact of my actions - for that is the wrong road to take. Instead, let these actions go unquestioned for a sustained period of time. Britain is a nation that is proud of its history, and this pride is founded on the resolve not to question our actions too deeply; it is my hope that my legacy will be accorded the same treatment.

I have never claimed to have a monopoly of wisdom, but one thing I have learned in this job is that you should always try to do the right thing, not the easy thing. And the thing to remember about the right thing is that it may seem entirely wrong at the time, and indeed for a long time afterwards. But that does not mean that, at some speculative point in the future, these actions might not prove to have been very right indeed. It is this point in the future that I urge you to stay focused on.

Some might say to this, when does history begin? Surely history is created with each passing moment? These questions are fundamentally misguided. Making history is a lot like making a cake: the ingredients may have been mixed together and placed in the oven, but if we keep checking on it every few minutes we are going to be disappointed by what we find. Instead, we must have the patience and resolve to let it rise up in its own time. In the same way, we must not remove my actions from the oven of history until they are fully baked.

So, as I stand down from the leadership I would say to the country, do not launch any inquiries, do not set up any committees, and definitely do not publish any independent reports for the time being. History will take care of that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


To make truly mad alcoholic drinks, you need to be really dedicated. The demands of modern capitalism mean profit takes precedence over all other concerns, so if it takes a long time, they won't do it. Hence all these pissy weak beers coming out like Beck's Vier, Peeterman Artois and - you what? - the 2% Carling C2, which appears to be a soft drink for those who find Carling too strong and full-flavoured.

Seriously, what is wrong with everybody? I understand the invention of Guinness Extra Cold; it's for people who like the brand but don't actually like the beer, so need it superchilled to remove all flavour. Why would you need flavourless diluted piss like Fosters extra cold?

The promotion says it's pretend beer for when you need to be seen with a pint but can't actually have one. Mind you, the same promotion calls it 'the great tasting mid-strength lager'.

'Mid', as any user of the English language will tell you, means that which is in the middle, neither the top nor the bottom. As opposed to that whose value is lower than any other. Rather than being a lunchtime pint, I suspect it's more to do with the fact that you can brew it inside of a day and get the gear making a new batch, maximising profit.

At the other end of the scale lie the drinks that can never repay the time invested, so they can only be made by those with all the time in the world going spare and no concern for monetary reward. Monks. All those insanely strong thick beers from Belgian trappists. Is it just a coincidence, or is there a shared etymological root with 'Belgium' and 'bludgeon'?

In the UK, we have our own. Buckfast Tonic Wine.

The label starts you worrying even before you unscrew the cap. "The use of the words 'tonic wine' does not imply health giving properties".

It's made in a a big monastery in a small village, Buckfastleigh in Devon. They import continental wines and do something secret and weird to them, probably involving rituals from books like the ones Giles from Buffy keeps on the upstairs shelves.

What comes out is a lunatic thing that makes the drinker howl like a werewolf drag queen being boiled alive.

Bucky drinkers keep out

The makers surely realise it attracts the more, er, insistent type of drinker. The availability of Buckfast seems inversely proportionate to the proximity to Buckfastleigh Abbey. They know full well what it does to people and they don't want it anywhere near them.

Find it in Devon? No chance. By Birmingham it's in a few choice offies, but you have to know where to look. In Glasgow it's practically delivered with the milk.

And so it is that we come to Berkeley Street in Glasgow city centre and find this enchanting alfresco scene.

Some radge bugger's been getting their bits out and pissing on the pavement, and they've also deposited their empty bottle of, oh, what a surprise...

empty buckfast bottle in a pissed-in corner

Monday, June 18, 2007

cow powered trains

Two years ago there was a report of a new exciting public transport project in Sweden, powering a train on biogas.

What exactly is biogas? The manufacturers explain

Biogas is formed by the decomposition of micro-bacteria in organic material in an oxygen-free environment, a natural process that occurs in swamps, and marshes, for example. In biogas plants, this takes place under control-led conditions in a digestion chamber.The gases formed in this process, mostly methane and carbon dioxide are collected. For use as an engine fuel, the methane content has to be boosted to around 97%, which is done by removing most of the carbon dioxide.

All good, nice natural process, no net carbon emissions, tralala. Hang on, what's the organic material? (You're way ahead of me here, aren't you?)

A later, more detailed report tells us.

Inside the abattoir at Swedish Meats in Linkoping, the cows stood patiently, occasionally nuzzling the lens of our camera.

From there, it was a short walk past the white-walled butchery, down the steps to the basement where the raw material for biogas, slid greasily down a chute.

Still bubbling and burping, and carpeting you with an acrid stench, came the organs and the fat and the guts. Enough, from one cow, to get you about 4km (2.5 miles) on the train.

In an earlier post I conceded that - as long as the insane intensive farming of cattle continues, and if we ignore all animal welfare concerns - using the waste parts of livestock as biomass has some merit.

But the Swedish biogas is made out of 'organs, fat and guts'. These things are largely edible. They are not the waste products left over from the food industry. This means the biogas manufacturer is growing cows specifically as biomass. That is obscene. Surely the cow's methane contribution to climate change whilst alive way outweighs supplying 4km worth of non-fossil train fuel.

The train runs on the 116km Linkoping-Vastervik line. That's 29 cows per journey. There are equally insane and yet much more sustainable ways to do it.

Wouldn't it be possible for a team of 29 cows to pull the train that distance, giving the train company the advantage of reusing the cows and the cows the advantage of carrying on living?

Or how about giving each potential passenger their own cow to ride the journey, which they can leave at the other end, like a bovine version of Amsterdam's white bicycles?

Friday, June 15, 2007

humans as biomass

Using cows as biomass is insane. But superb anti-corporate pranksters The Yes Men told oil executives to go one further.



Conference organizer fails to have Yes Men arrested

Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC) representatives delivered an outrageous keynote speech to 300 oilmen at GO-EXPO, Canada's largest oil conference, held at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta, today [14 June].

The speech was billed beforehand by the GO-EXPO organizers as the major highlight of this year's conference, which had 20,000 attendees. In it, the "NPC rep" was expected to deliver the long-awaited conclusions of a study commissioned by US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. The NPC is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, who is also the chair of the study.

In the actual speech, the "NPC rep" announced that current U.S. and Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive exploitation of Alberta's oil sands, and the development of liquid coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of people who die into oil.

"We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said "NPC rep" "Shepard Wolff" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men), before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process brought it to life.

"Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production," noted "Exxon rep" "Florian Osenberg" (Yes Man Mike Bonanno). "With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left."

The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit "commemorative candles" supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an "Exxon janitor" who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles after his death, and all became crystal-clear.

At that point, Simon Mellor, Commercial & Business Development Director for the company putting on the event, strode up and physically forced the Yes Men from the stage. As Mellor escorted Bonanno out the door, a dozen journalists surrounded Bichlbaum, who, still in character as "Shepard Wolff," explained to them the rationale for Vivoleum.

"We've got to get ready. After all, fossil fuel development like that of my company is increasing the chances of catastrophic climate change, which could lead to massive calamities, causing migration and conflicts that would likely disable the pipelines and oil wells. Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."

"We're not talking about killing anyone," added the "NPC rep." "We're talking about using them after nature has done the hard work. After all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year. That's only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel."

Security guards then dragged Bichlbaum away from the reporters, and he and Bonanno were detained until Calgary Police Service officers could arrive. The policemen, determining that no major infractions had been committed, permitted the Yes Men to leave.

Canada's oil sands, along with "liquid coal," are keystones of Bush's Energy Security plan. Mining the oil sands is one of the dirtiest forms of oil production and has turned Canada into one of the world's worst carbon emitters. The production of "liquid coal" has twice the carbon footprint as that of ordinary gasoline. Such technologies increase the likelihood of massive climate catastrophes that will condemn to death untold millions of people, mainly poor.

"If our idea of energy security is to increase the chances of climate calamity, we have a very funny sense of what security really is," Bonanno said. "While ExxonMobil continues to post record profits, they use their money to persuade governments to do nothing about climate change. This is a crime against humanity."

"Putting the former Exxon CEO in charge of the NPC, and soliciting his advice on our energy future, is like putting the wolf in charge of the flock," said "Shepard Wolff" (Bichlbaum). "Exxon has done more damage to the environment and to our chances of survival than any other company on earth. Why should we let them determine our future?"

Text of speech, photos, video here.
GO-EXPO statement here.
Press conference before this event, Friday, Calgary here.

About the NPC and ExxonMobil
About the Alberta oil sands
About liquid coal

Thursday, June 14, 2007

cows as biomass

RWE Npower, not content with being the largest CO2 emitter in European power production, decided they'd move into more eco sources by, oooh what? Offshore windfarms? Rooftop solar panels?

Nope. Burning palm oil.

Brother George Monbiot's done not one but two whole articles on why biofuels for cars are worse than fossils.

Burning down tropical forest so that the trees release their carbon, then draining the peat soils so they decompose and release their carbon means palm oil is at least ten times worse than burning fossils!

Amazingly, the message is getting through. Even as biofuels try to take hold, the truth is coming out. RWE Npower, despite successful testing of burning palm oil in a Kent power station, decided not to go ahead on environmental grounds.

When I first signed up to Yorkshire Electricity's green tariff years ago, I was sent a welcome pack. It explained that most of their green electricity was coming from a power station in Lincolnshire that burned biomass.

What kind? Fast growing coppiced willow? Miscanthus grass? Again with the 'nope'.

Remember how the BSE crisis meant those pellets made of ground up cattle couldn't be used as animal feed any more? The processing plants didn't stop making them. They simply started selling them as biomass.

Surely this was some squeamish stop-gap whilst the meat industry readjusted? Once more, nope.

Via - gadzooks! - Meat News I bring you this story of a brand new meat-fuelled power station being built in Scotland. [UPDATE: That Meat News page has been taken down, but here's the owner's announcement about the power plant]

Yet it must be said that there is some level at which it makes sense. I mean, the meat industry is producing the cows anyway, and rather than tipping the unwanted bits into landfills or somesuch, isn't it better to do something useful? The Scottish power plant - within the utterly fucking insane barbaric obscene world of modern food production - has a logic to it.

But doesn't this then prolong the obscene and unsustainable cattle farming by giving it higher dollar for the remains?

It's like like the unjoined-up thinking some veggies use to justify wearing leather because 'it's only a by-product'; it ignores the fact that slaughterhouses make about a fifth of their money from sale of hide. And I don't see those same veggies eating black pudding, which is only made from by-products.

But there's some bigger picture stuff to consider. Rather like the palm oil, we need to look at where we source our biomass; even if the cows are local, what are they fed on and where did it come from? Soya grown on ex-Amazon forest is widely used. Factor in not only the poor land use but the deforestation or other displacement of trees and it can't be a good thing.

I've been deep in there with climate change maths lately, and I'm sure there's some figures to be worked out.

Cattle are serious contributors to climate change. Their digestive systems release huge quantities of methane (which is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2). If a cow grazes, burps and farts for several years, what's the climate impact?

What is the energy derived from burning that cow, and how much CO2 does it save by not being a fossil source?

My guess is that the energy benefit is much, much less than the flatulence detriment. It's a whole new facet to the climate cost of meat.

And that's before we discuss what biomass crop could've been grown on the pasture if the cow hadn't been there, and how much more energy we'd have got from that. Surely a cow - which shits out most of the grass it eats - is less efficient than simply burning that grass directly.

What's the kilowatt hours per acre for cattle? What acreage would we need to power the UK with them? Again, I'm only guessing but I suspect the numbers would be ludicrous.

(And all this, of course, makes no mention of how being chopped up and burned is really nasty to the cow.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

thou shalt deceive the vulnerable

When the UK reduced the age of homosexual consent, there were a lot of bigots who opposed it. An argument that came up repeatedly in the House of Lords was the idea that someone young might be tempted to experiment with homosexuality and get drawn into a life of it, whereas if it remained illegal until later it wouldn't happen.

There are a number of hilarious assumptions here. Illegality prevents people engaging in sexual activity. Sexual orientation isn't to do with inner desire but with habit. Your sexuality is something you choose as a teenager like a career. Once that's done, it's set in stone and never alters or develops. Homosexuality is some later aberration from the earlier, more natural state of heterosexuality. People are snared by homosexuality from a life of the more proper straightness.

As if there wasn't endless heterosexual propaganda everywhere and queer people being made to feel confused and ashamed of their orientation.

If they really believed that peer pressure influences orientation then they should be arguing for the age of homosexual consent to be lower than hetero; people, irrespective of what they feel, grow up being encouraged to be straight. That's where the pressure is, thus it would be wise to make them abstain until they've had a go at the other options. But logic doesn't hold any sway over the fervour of the bigot.

Why am I going into all this? Because I see the same pattern of thinking at work elsewhere.

As the previous post discussed, MP Ann Winterton (who voted against equal ages of consent, by the way) argued that women are pushed into taking a decision to have an abortion. The truth of the matter is that many women get the opposite pressure.

For all her talk of needing to defend 'girls' being railroaded into abortion, there's an orchestrated campaign out there to trick and coerce women into not having abortions.

You want to talk about the abuse of vulnerable pregnant women? A friend of mine was referred by her doctor to Alternatives Crisis Pregnancy Centre. There are a lot of these kind of places, offering free pregnancy testing and free counselling. Groups like Life and CARE, and in Eire there's CURA. They are actually Christian anti-abortionists, though they like to imply that they're just kind, impartial advisors.

Life Pregnancy Care Centre say the give 'non-directive counseling'. The offer comes just underneath their logo of a foetus and the slogan 'pro-woman pro-child pro-life'.

Most of them aren't that blatant. My friend wasn't told in any way - either by the GP or the people at Alternatives - that they were anti-abortion. She believed she would be getting practical information about how to get the abortion she had thoroughly thought through and wisely decided to have.

Fortunately, she's a kickass intelligent woman and saw what Alternatives was about. How many others are less aware, more confused (again, I mention the hormones) and are pushed into a bad decision to have a baby?

At the Association of Presbyterian Churches' 2003 conference, Catherine MacInnes spoke about her work in the Crisis Pregnancy Centre.

we must remember every abortion involves a mother, father and child who are made in the image of God

If your counsellor not only believes the foetus is a human equal to you or indeed themselves, but that the Good Lord is telling them to save it and may well punish them in the afterlife if they don't, do you think you'd get helpful non-directive advice? From someone who gives speeches to the Association of Presbyterian Churches, people who talk about 'the holocaust of abortion'?

MacInnes explained that Crisis Pregnancy Centre also go into schools to talk to children and 'give them correct information and encourage them to abstain from sexual relationships outside of marriage'.

Right at the bottom of CARE's About Us page they say they're 'helping to bring Christian truth'.

If they want to believe in God and that every foetus, sperm or indeed hazelnut is a life equal to a person's, fine, let them get on with it. But, as God himself has said,

'the whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?'

That higher standard should surely include not lying to people. The deliberate absence of their anti-abortion stance in their promotional material is deeply deceitful. It preys upon the vulnerable and ruins lives.

Until they've found a happy home for every miserable unloved unwanted unadopted child on earth they should shut the fuck up and let women choose abortions.

Ann Winterton is glad that 'the United Kingdom is still, thankfully, a predominantly white, Christian country'. The colour of someone's skin is a non-issue for most of us, but if the lying anti-abortionists are her kind of Christianity, I'd call it a curse that need curing.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

save the unborn, kill the living

Vicious Tory scumpig Ann Winterton was up on her hind legs in parliament this week, pushing for a bill to ensure that women who go for abortions have a seven day period between the request and the operation.

Whatever the theory, in practice most women wait an awful lot longer. I've known women wait two months, volatile, anxious and miserable as their bodies go hormone haywire.

But Winterton says that's not the case.

Whenever an attempt is made to change the law on abortion, MPs and the press are inundated with ludicrous claims from abortion groups. One such claim is that women are being kept waiting for abortions, and that any amendment, however minor, will cause that wait to be even longer. In fact, the latest figures show that 67 per cent of abortions are carried out before the 10th week of pregnancy, and 89 per cent are undertaken before 12 weeks.

Am I missing something? How does the fact that most women are waiting between two and three months mean they're not being kept waiting?

But, ever the good evangelist, Winterton doesn't let the facts get in the way of her anti-abortion stance.

Doctors 'refer girls for abortion'. Silly me, I thought it was women who got pregnant. But 'women' doesn't make people sound half as vulnerable or unable to take a serious adult decision, does it?

It's about giving 'help' (interesting term for an obligation) to those who want to 'want to keep their baby'.

A bit of elementary medical jargon for you here. 'Baby', as you might already know, is a technical term that means a human that's been born. 'Abortion' is terminating a pregnancy a long time before birth. Thus, nobody aborts a 'baby'.

But damn, 'foetus' just sounds too insubstantial. Later on, she calls them 'pre-born infants', which is rather like calling a hazelnut a pre-born tree and saying anyone who eats them is guilty of deforestation.

There needs to be action taken to undermine a the 'hardcore group of doctors' (what does that mean? I imagine white coats with studs and Hells Angels insignia).

Oh but she just loves the ickle children, right? No, she wants to see them physically assaulted by adults. In 1986 she was one of the few who voted to retain corporal punishment in schools. In her world, whoever has the power maintains it by use of violence.

From here in the middle of 2007, it seems now like we rushed into the Iraq war, with parliament practically tripping over itself to send troops in. Actually, the build up went on for months and months, with several parliamentary attempts to hold back.

On 25 November 2002 there was a vote to wait until there was a UN mandate. Ann Winterton, though, voted to press ahead.

On 26 February 2003, when people were very loudly going 'hang on a minute, this is a fucking war you're committing to on very dodgy grounds', there was a vote in parliament saying that 'the case is unproven'. Winterton voted against it and for a motion 'to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction'.

A month later there was another parliamentary vote for those who believed 'that the case for war against Iraq has not yet been established, especially given the absence of specific United Nations authorisation'. Winterton, again, voted against peace. On the same day, she voted yes to war. Or, as the vote put it, to 'use all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction'.

Now we're sure Iraq has no WMDs, is she asking for the troops to come home? Yeah, right.

In March this year, she voted for replacing Trident. Seems it's OK for us to have illegal weapons of mass destruction to threaten the world with.

She has consistently voted against gay equality; against equal ages of consent, against civil partnerships and, most pertinently, against gay couples adopting.

There are thousands of unwanted children desperately needing love and guidance in a secure family. Winterton would rather they go further down the road to miserable isolated shitty lives if they can't be loved by a heterosexual family. Fuck you all, she cries. The sanctity of life begins at conception and ends at birth.

She holds the distinction and, presumably, some kind of record for being sacked not once but twice by the Tories for publicly telling racist jokes.

She apologised for the one about throwing Pakistanis out of trains that cost her a frontbench post, but refused to do the same for one about the deaths of Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay.

It's interesting to note both jokes involve killing people; further evidence of the way the sanctity of life ends at birth. The right to life doesn't seem to apply so much to those who are actually alive. To this day she is in favour of capital punishment.

When you see David Cameron's cuddly touchy-feely front, look over his shoulder and see who's in his gang.

Friday, June 08, 2007

hendrix's contagious afro

Style is not universal. It is individual and organic. What looks good on one person may not look good on another.

Please god, why didn't somebody tell that to Mitch Mitchell and, especially, Noel Redding as they lovingly eyed up Jimi's afro?

I suppose if Jimi told you to put your hand in the fire...

Hendrix's contagious afro

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

the carbon cost of meat

Another post up elsewhere. This time it's about the climate change impact our diet has, how the government knows it and yet says they have no role in encouraging or enforcing any dietary or lifestyle changes.

A recent UN report found that livestock production has a greater effect on climate than all transport emissions combined.

I make no apology for re-using a couple of key facts and figures from the Virgin biofuels post - it's hosted on a different site so reaches a substantially different audience, and they are utter gobsmackers. (The facts, not the audience. Although they may well be pretty darn jaw-dropping in their own right).

So, tootle over to The Sharpener and size up The Carbon Cost of Meat.

[No Comments on this post; the place to leave them is over at The Sharpener]

Friday, June 01, 2007

branson's biofuel bunkum

I've joined another group blog.

UK Watch trawls a mix of good UK anti-capitalist sources, not just the big media but also places like Red Pepper and Corporate Watch, saving you a lot of legwork and feeding you lashings of progressive radical politics.

They recently launched a blog section and I was flattered to be asked to be one of the contributors. The gang currently comprise about 15 activists, authors, anarchists, academics and possibly some other people whose defining characteristics begin with a.

As with my posts over at The Sharpener, I'll put a notice here any time I stick something up there.

Just put my inaugural UK Watch one up, a weep-into-my-hands at Virgin's announcement that they're looking into making biofuels for their aircraft, called Branson's Biofuel Bunkum.

[no comments on this post; the place to leave them is over on UK Watch]


UPDATE 2 APRIL 09: As UK Watch is offline, I'm republishing the posts from there on their poInter-posts here.



Virgin and Boeing announce they are looking into biofuels for aircraft.

There is every reason to think they’ll be unsuccessful. Let’s hope they are. Flying emits colossal quantities of CO2. A jumbo jet emits more in a minute than a household’s electricity does in a whole year. But still, kerosene is far better for the environment than biofuels.

Virgin are “planning to test a range of biofuel sources over the next year, including soya, vegetables and newspaper.”

The newspaper thing is surely not to be taken seriously, so let’s move on to the others. As with biodiesel and ethanol for cars, you have to ask where they are thinking of growing it. To grow oilseed rape for the UK’s cars would take around five times the UK’s arable land; we can safely assume we’d need at least several UKs for our planes.

Meanwhile, the forests we’d clear to plant this stuff need to stay up to slow the warming process.

The big soya growing region is Brazil. One of the main causes of Amazon deforestation is soya production, mostly for livestock feed. Imagine how that’d expand if we were to grow our plane fuel too. Taking down the Amazon forever for a brief luxury of a holiday flight; a whole new meaning to ‘Virgin rainforest destruction’.

Deforestation is a serious contribution to climate change; it is responsible for around 18 percent of emissions, more than all transport combined. Swapping oil for deforestation is not a move to carbon neutrality. In all likelihood, it’s far worse.

A recent study of the impact of biofuel found, “even when you exclude emissions for factors that go hand in hand with production, such as transport and fertilization, the emissions when using palm oil are at least 10 times higher than when coal or mineral oil is used”.

The crunch is worsened by the increasing population; there are 6 billion of us now, by 2050 there’ll be 10 billion people and every one of them will need to eat. That will mean more wild land goes under the plough, exacerbating climate change.

But at least feeding people is essential to their wellbeing. A week in Barbados is not. Yet when there’s competition for arable land between feeding the poor and fuelling the rich, the poor will starve. Biofuels are an industry based on the obscenity of feeding vehicles instead of people.

The science is clear. If we want to have a good chance of avoiding runaway climate change, we have about 25 years to reduce global emissions by 60%. We need to be well on the way within the next few years.

At present, there are very particular problems with biofuels in planes. Biodiesel forms a gel at the kind of low temperatures planes are subjected to. So we’re looking for an unknown breakthrough technology to be discovered, developed, mass produced and have totally replaced the current global fleet in the next decade or so. It’s simply not going to happen in time.

Aviation, unlike electricity generation or food production, is the one industry that has no technology to help us climb down from the precipice. It’s the one industry that needs to be all but eradicated. Fortunately, also unlike food and electricity, it’s an industry we can all readily live without.

If Branson were to ground his fleet until the fuel existed, I’d take him seriously. But in pinning hopes on veggie pie in the sky ideas whilst keeping burning oil at a gargantuan rate, he’s clearly not bothered about reducing emissions in the necessary timeframe.

He’s just like carbon offset companies selling spurious conscience-clearing, Heathrow Airport announcing the new eco-friendly terminal or BP putting solar panels on a handful of petrol stations. It’s a decoy to make us feel like they’ve got the problem in hand so we don’t decry them as the climate criminals they are.