Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Everything you've ever been told about Global Warming is probably untrue. From Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth to news reports from the popular media outlets and even public classrooms which, in chicken little fashion, are screaming - the sky is falling. But is it really?
This documentary, which contraditcs these claims and has been described by some as the most explosive film of the year and the definitive answer to Al Gore features interviews from some of the Worlds leading scientists, climatologists and former environmentalist like: * Dr. John Christy, Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama * Dr. Philip Stott, Emeritus Professor of Biogeography, University of London * Dr. Paul Reiter, IPCC & Pasteur Instititue, Paris * Dr. Roy Spencer, Principle Research Scientist University of Alabama * Dr. Patrick Michaels, Department of Environmental Science, University of Virginia * Dr. Syun-lchi Akasofu, Director, International Arctic Research Center * Dr. Fredrick Singer, First Director, U.S. National Weather Satellite Service * Dr. Richard Lindzen, IPCC & Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) * Dr. Tim Ball, Former Professor of Climatology, University of Winnepeg * Dr. Niz Shaviv, Professor of Physics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem * Dr. Ian Clark, Professor Department of Earth Sciences, Univertisy of Ottawa * Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Green Peace * Dr. Paul Driessen, author of Eco-Imperalism: Green Power Black Death
The Great Global Warming Swindle blows the whistle on what may be the biggest swindle in modern history. Proponets of man made global warming warn that climate change is the greatest threat ever to mankind, and, if we do not change our ways and reduce CO2 emissions - polar ice caps will melt, coastal areas will flood and hurricane like Katrina will become common.
With nearly Gestapo like tactics we are commanded not to question the edicts of the ICCP (oops, sorry, the IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). There is absolutely no room for doubt because there is a "scientific consensus." Anyone who questions the data or conclusion is an enemy of the state and humanity.
Well, this is exactly what this well documented film does! Our challenge - watch this film and make up your own mind.
"The Great Global Warming Swindle should be seen by everyone interested in the global enviroment, especially those who have seen the Al Gore movie." Professor William M. Gray, meterologist.
Professors Paul Hardaker and Chris Collier, both Royal Meteorological Society figures, criticised fellow scientists they accuse of "overplaying" the message.
The pair spoke at a conference in Oxford today entitled Making Sense of Weather and Climate and organised by Sense about Science, a scientific trust set up to help dispel the myths surrounding polemic issues such as climate change.
They sparked controversy after saying statements made by the highly respected American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) were not justified.
The AAAS said last month: "As expected, intensification of droughts, heatwaves, floods, wildfires, and severe storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems and societies.
"These events are early warning signs of even more devastating damage to come, some of which will be irreversible."
Professor Collier said that while he is not sceptical that such events could happen, it is important to be "honest" about the scientific evidence behind projected future impacts.
He said that while there is "no doubt" that climate change is happening and is to an extent man-made, it is not yet proven by isolated climatic events such as the Boscastle floods.
He said: "I think the AAAS are including everything in one pot and I think there is a time to do it.
"There is always a danger of crying wolf. We have to be careful as scientists that we present the facts and don't exaggerate things because it can undermine credibility in the long term."
Professor Hardaker warned against the "Hollywoodisation" of weather and climate seen in films such as the 2004 smash hit film The Day After Tomorrow, which depicts terrifying consequences after the melting of the Arctic ice shelf.
Such films, he said, only work to create confusion in the public mind.
"I don't think the way to make people pay attention is to make them afraid about it," he said.
"We have to help them understand it and allow them to make choices - because the impact of climate change is going to mean we have got some quite difficult choices to make both in policy and as members of the public.
"Unless we can understand the science behind it, we can't be expected to get our heads around making these difficult choices."
Presenting events such as the shutting off of the Gulf Stream, creating a cooling effect, and the rise of temperatures together could be "confusing", he said, unless it is made clear that the former is far less likely than the latter.
He said the scientists should avoid being forced to make wild predictions about the future in response to climate change sceptics such as those seen in Channel 4's recent programme, Global Climate Swindle.
He said: "We must be careful not to sensationalise our side of the argument or Hollywoodise the argument otherwise you end up in an ever increasing cycle of claim and counter-claim.
"We have to be clear about what our level of understanding is and to be clear about where we are making judgements based on understanding."
Their comments were backed today by other leading figures in the debate.
Dr Peter Stott, manager of understanding and attributing climate change at the Hadley Centre for Climate Change, said he believes scientists have to make it clear there is a long way to go until we know how bad climate change will be.
He said: "There is a lot more research to do to understand about exactly what effects its going to have on you and me in the future."
He said that while he welcomed a growing public awareness about the dangers brought about by films and headlines, informed debate was vital.
"I think it is important that having said there is a problem, it would be unfortunate if people got the impression that there's nothing we can do about it because there is a lot we can do to change the future of climate change," he said.
Professor Tim Palmer, of the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts, called for better technology and computers to be developed to help climatologists to predict the future more precisely.
He said: "There are still big scientific uncertainties such as how is the weather going to change with global warming.
"My personal view is that we do need to start thinking in an international way."
Tracey Brown is the director of Sense About Science, which has also produced a booklet bringing together key scientists to help explain in layman's terms the main issues in the debate.
She said she "sympathised" with the professors' comments, saying uncertainty can often be "manipulated" to generate outlandish ideas about the issue.
"It's very important for scientists to be clear with the public - we have learned that lesson with many scientific issues," she said.
But she added that it was important not to downplay the potentially "catastrophic" results of climate change.
She said: "The kind of figures were are talking about here today show that weather is already a bigger killer than global terrorism. What seems a small change on a graphic can have catastrophic effects on people's lives.
"It's not shock tactics to talk about it as a killer."
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
In resorts such as Val d'Isère which caught the harshest of this week's blizzards, the snow is banked 1.5m deep in the streets. Parts of the town were temporarily closed to pedestrians because of the high risk of avalanches.
Many European ski resorts have had the heaviest snowfall for a decade
Val and neighbouring Tignes have already enjoyed more snow in December than in any year since 1981 and seem set to beat all records by New Year's Day.
Following the storm pisteurs have struggled to open lifts and skiing has been strictly limited in recent days on safety grounds.
However, as the skies clear and the sun comes out this weekend skiers and snowboarders everywhere are in for a rare holiday treat. Those resorts in parts of Austria and Switzerland that missed out on the latest storms still have piste conditions that vary from "good" to "excellent".
Even Andorra which has suffered from rising prices and two disastrously poor winters has plenty of cover along with other destinations across both the Spanish and French Pyrenees.
Grand Valira, the principality's biggest area, has no new snow, but a respectable 70cm in the valley and 140cm on top.
Italy is currently offering some of the best skiing in the whole of Europe. Courmayeur and Champoluc in the Aosta valley benefited particularly well from falls earlier this week and Cervinia has a mighty 300cm of cover up on the border with Switzerland.
Further east, the Trentino resort of Madonna di Campiglio reports 30cm more snow and a snowpack that now varies between one and two metres deep, depending on altitude.
In the main Dolomites the snow cover is fantastic too – although they missed out on the really heavy snow that fell further west. At San Cassiano, in Alta Badia, the snow is up to 155cm deep in the valley and 230cm on top.
In Switzerland, Zermatt has around half a metre in town and 260cm up on the glacier. Vernier missed out on the biggest fall but still has 40cm in town and 130cm on Mont-Fort.
The west of Austria also has great snow, with St Anton and the Arlberg region receiving the best of it. In Lech, The snowpack on the Flexen Pass above Zürs is 120cm while Lech has 65cm in the village.
Popular Obergurgl has more than 250 cms up the mountain and 75cm down below. However, further east, Kitzbühel reports 64 per cent its lifts open and a snow depth of only 55cm on the upper slopes and 20cm in the resort. However more snow is forecast.
Resorts across Eastern Europe are opening up this weekend for the Christmas holiday, although snow cover is lighter here. Bansko in Bulgaria has between 25cm and 45cm.
Across the Atlantic conditions vary. Whistler has had a poor start to the season so far with only a handful of runs open. Last weekend the resort celebrated the opening of the new Peak-2-Peak gondola, but it has largley been over-shadowed by the collapse of the tower on the separate Blackcomb Excalibur gondola on Tuesday, which injured 10 passengers.
The gondola is not expected to reopen this season and much more snow is needed to bring Whistler up to speed.
Big White and other Canadian resorts have fared better. Revelstoke and Kicking Horse both have lots of new snow, but temperatures are as low as –30C making skiing a chilly experience.
In the United States conditions in the Rockies continue to improve with Colorado now in good shape for this time of year – and more snow on the way. Some of the best skiing is to be found in California where Mammoth saw 88cm fall in the last storm.
If you are skiing in snow-heavy Europe over the holiday, the avalanche risk will remain high and you should take extra care. Never consider leaving marked pistes without a qualified local guide.
It is generally assumed that the atmosphere and the oceans have grown warmer during the recent 50 years. The reason for this point of view is an upward trend in the curve of measurements of the so-called 'global temperature'. This is the temperature obtained by collecting measurements of air temperatures at a large number of measuring stations around the Globe, weighing them according to the area they represent, and then calculating the yearly average according to the usual method of adding all values and dividing by the number of points.
Average without meaning
"It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth", Bjarne Andresen says, an an expert of thermodynamics. "A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate".
He explains that while it is possible to treat temperature statistically locally, it is meaningless to talk about a a global temperature for Earth. The Globe consists of a huge number of components which one cannot just add up and average. That would correspond to calculating the average phone number in the phone book. That is meaningless. Or talking about economics, it does make sense to compare the currency exchange rate of two countries, whereas there is no point in talking about an average 'global exchange rate'.
If temperature decreases at one point and it increases at another, the average will remain the same as before, but it will give rise to an entirely different thermodynamics and thus a different climate. If, for example, it is 10 degrees at one point and 40 degrees at another, the average is 25 degrees. But if instead there is 25 degrees both places, the average is still 25 degrees. These two cases would give rise to two entirely different types of climate, because in the former case one would have pressure differences and strong winds, while in the latter there would be no wind.
A further problem with the extensive use of 'the global temperature' is that there are many ways of calculating average temperatures.
Example 1: Take two equally large glasses of water. The water in one glass is 0 degrees, in the other it is 100 degrees. Adding these two numbers and dividing by two yields an average temperature of 50 degrees. That is called the arithmetic average.
Example 2: Take the same two glasses of water at 0 degrees and 100 degrees, respectively. Now multiply those two numbers and take the square root, and you will arrive at an average temperature of 46 degrees. This is called the geometric average. (The calculation is done in degrees Kelvin which are then converted back to degrees Celsius.)
The difference of 4 degrees is the energy which drives all the thermodynamic processes which create storms, thunder, sea currents, etc.
Claims of disaster?
These are but two examples of ways to calculate averages. They are all equally correct, but one needs a solid physical reason to choose one above another. Depending on the averaging method used, the same set of measured data can simultaneously show an upward trend and a downward trend in average temperature. Thus claims of disaster may be a consequence of which averaging method has been used, the researchers point out.
What Bjarne Andresen and his coworkers emphasize is that physical arguments are needed to decide whether one averaging method or another is needed to calculate an average which is relevant to describe the state of Earth.
Reference: C. Essex, R. McKitrick, B. Andresen: Does a Global Temperature Exist?; J. Non-Equil. Thermod. vol. 32, p. 1-27 (2007).
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The judge says that Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” promotes “partisan political views” and contains “nine scientific errors” that are not supported by mainstream scientific consensus.
But he went on to say that the government could still send the film to schools—only if teachers warn pupils that there are other opinions on global warming.
Without informing students about other views on the subject, the government would have been breaching education laws, the judge says.
The Oscar-winning documentary was distributed along with four other short films to 3,500 U.K. secondary schools in February. Gore’s film was also sent to schools in Wales and Scotland.
The case was brought by school governor Stewart Dimmock, from Dover, a father of two, who is a member of the New Party. "I am elated with today's result, but still disappointed that the film is able to be shown in schools,” Dimmock says.
The nine errors alleged by the judge include:
- Gore's assertion that a sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of ice in either West Antarctica or Greenland “in the near future". The judge said this was "distinctly alarmist" and it was common ground that if Greenland's ice melted it would release this amount of water - "but only after, and over, millennia".
- Gore's assertion that the disappearance of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa was expressly attributed to global warming. The court says the scientific consensus is that it cannot be established the snow recession is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.
- Gore's reference to a new scientific study showing that, for the first time, polar bears had actually drowned "swimming long distances - up to 60 miles - to find the ice". The judge said: "The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm."
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Last Monday - on ABC Radio National, of all places - there was a tipping point of a different kind in the debate on climate change. It was a remarkable interview involving the co-host of Counterpoint, Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Anyone in public life who takes a position on the greenhouse gas hypothesis will ignore it at their peril.
Duffy asked Marohasy: "Is the Earth stillwarming?"
She replied: "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years."
Duffy: "Is this a matter of any controversy?"
Marohasy: "Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued ... This is not what you'd expect, as I said, because if carbon dioxide is driving temperature then you'd expect that, given carbon dioxide levels have been continuing to increase, temperatures should be going up ... So (it's) very unexpected, not something that's being discussed. It should be being discussed, though, because it's very significant."
Duffy: "It's not only that it's not discussed. We never hear it, do we? Whenever there's any sort of weather event that can be linked into the global warming orthodoxy, it's put on the front page. But a fact like that, which is that global warming stopped a decade ago, is virtually never reported, which is extraordinary."
Duffy then turned to the question of how the proponents of the greenhouse gas hypothesis deal with data that doesn't support their case. "People like Kevin Rudd and Ross Garnaut are speaking as though the Earth is still warming at an alarming rate, but what is the argument from the other side? What would people associated with the IPCC say to explain the (temperature) dip?"
Marohasy: "Well, the head of the IPCC has suggested natural factors are compensating for the increasing carbon dioxide levels and I guess, to some extent, that's what sceptics have been saying for some time: that, yes, carbon dioxide will give you some warming but there are a whole lot of other factors that may compensate or that may augment the warming from elevated levels of carbon dioxide.
"There's been a lot of talk about the impact of the sun and that maybe we're going to go through or are entering a period of less intense solar activity and this could be contributing to the current cooling."
Duffy: "Can you tell us about NASA's Aqua satellite, because I understand some of the data we're now getting is quite important in our understanding of how climate works?"
Marohasy: "That's right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you've got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you're going to get a positive feedback. That's what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite ... (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they're actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you're getting a negative rather than a positive feedback."
Duffy: "The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?"
Marohasy: "That's right ... These findings actually aren't being disputed by the meteorological community. They're having trouble digesting the findings, they're acknowledging the findings, they're acknowledging that the data from NASA's Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they're about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide."
Duffy: "From what you're saying, it sounds like the implications of this could beconsiderable ..."
Marohasy: "That's right, very much so. The policy implications are enormous. The meteorological community at the moment is really just coming to terms with the output from this NASA Aqua satellite and (climate scientist) Roy Spencer's interpretation of them. His work is published, his work is accepted, but I think people are still in shock at this point."
If Marohasy is anywhere near right about the impending collapse of the global warming paradigm, life will suddenly become a whole lot more interesting.
A great many founts of authority, from the Royal Society to the UN, most heads of government along with countless captains of industry, learned professors, commentators and journalists will be profoundly embarrassed. Let us hope it is a prolonged and chastening experience.
With catastrophe off the agenda, for most people the fog of millennial gloom will lift, at least until attention turns to the prospect of the next ice age. Among the better educated, the sceptical cast of mind that is the basis of empiricism will once again be back in fashion. The delusion that by recycling and catching public transport we can help save the planet will quickly come to be seen for the childish nonsense it was all along.
The poorest Indians and Chinese will be left in peace to work their way towards prosperity, without being badgered about the size of their carbon footprint, a concept that for most of us will soon be one with Nineveh and Tyre, clean forgotten in six months.
The scores of town planners in Australia building empires out of regulating what can and can't be built on low-lying shorelines will have to come to terms with the fact inundation no longer impends and find something more plausible to do. The same is true of the bureaucrats planning to accommodate "climate refugees".
Penny Wong's climate mega-portfolio will suddenly be as ephemeral as the ministries for the year 2000 that state governments used to entrust to junior ministers. Malcolm Turnbull will have to reinvent himself at vast speed as a climate change sceptic and the Prime Minister will have to kiss goodbye what he likes to call the great moral issue and policy challenge of our times.
It will all be vastly entertaining to watch.
THE Age published an essay with an environmental theme by Ian McEwan on March 8 and its stablemate, The Sydney Morning Herald, also carried a slightly longer version of the same piece.
The Australian's Cut & Paste column two days later reproduced a telling paragraph from the Herald's version, which suggested that McEwan was a climate change sceptic and which The Age had excised. He was expanding on the proposition that "we need not only reliable data but their expression in the rigorous use of statistics".
What The Age decided to spare its readers was the following: "Well-meaning intellectual movements, from communism to post-structuralism, have a poor history of absorbing inconvenient fact or challenges to fundamental precepts. We should not ignore or suppress good indicators on the environment, though they have become extremely rare now. It is tempting to the layman to embrace with enthusiasm the latest bleak scenario because it fits the darkness of our soul, the prevailing cultural pessimism. The imagination, as Wallace Stevens once said, is always at the end of an era. But we should be asking, or expecting others to ask, for the provenance of the data, the assumptions fed into the computer model, the response of the peer review community, and so on. Pessimism is intellectually delicious, even thrilling, but the matter before us is too serious for mere self-pleasuring. It would be self-defeating if the environmental movement degenerated into a religion of gloomy faith. (Faith, ungrounded certainty, is no virtue.)"
The missing sentences do not appear anywhere else in The Age's version of the essay. The attribution reads: "Copyright Ian McEwan 2008" and there is no acknowledgment of editing by The Age.
Why did the paper decide to offer its readers McEwan lite? Was he, I wonder, consulted on the matter? And isn't there a nice irony that The Age chose to delete the line about ideologues not being very good at "absorbing inconvenient fact"?
This is probably hard for fox, who always go along with the 'official line' which is why they started off by saying that 'some scientists were quieted and that they weren't allowed to be alarming enough', but it's interesting... Believe it or not, fox is the one to watch here.
Many people who used to be 'green' and subsequently usually democrat, after watching the "global warming swindle" just don't know where to stand!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
The first, on May 21, headed "Climate change threat to Alpine ski resorts" , reported that the entire Alpine "winter sports industry" could soon "grind to a halt for lack of snow". The second, on December 19, headed "The Alps have best snow conditions in a generation" , reported that this winter's Alpine snowfalls "look set to beat all records by New Year's Day".
Polar bears will be fine after all. Photo: AP
Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.
First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.
Ever shriller and more frantic has become the insistence of the warmists, cheered on by their army of media groupies such as the BBC, that the last 10 years have been the "hottest in history" and that the North Pole would soon be ice-free – as the poles remain defiantly icebound and those polar bears fail to drown. All those hysterical predictions that we are seeing more droughts and hurricanes than ever before have infuriatingly failed to materialise.
Even the more cautious scientific acolytes of the official orthodoxy now admit that, thanks to "natural factors" such as ocean currents, temperatures have failed to rise as predicted (although they plaintively assure us that this cooling effect is merely "masking the underlying warming trend", and that the temperature rise will resume worse than ever by the middle of the next decade).
Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a "scientific consensus" in favour of man-made global warming collapsed. At long last, as in the Manhattan Declaration last March, hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world's most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that "consensus" which was only a politically engineered artefact, based on ever more blatantly manipulated data and computer models programmed to produce no more than convenient fictions.
Thirdly, as banks collapsed and the global economy plunged into its worst recession for decades, harsh reality at last began to break in on those self-deluding dreams which have for so long possessed almost every politician in the western world. As we saw in this month's Poznan conference, when 10,000 politicians, officials and "environmentalists" gathered to plan next year's "son of Kyoto" treaty in Copenhagen, panicking politicians are waking up to the fact that the world can no longer afford all those quixotic schemes for "combating climate change" with which they were so happy to indulge themselves in more comfortable times.
Suddenly it has become rather less appealing that we should divert trillions of dollars, pounds and euros into the fantasy that we could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80 per cent. All those grandiose projects for "emissions trading", "carbon capture", building tens of thousands more useless wind turbines, switching vast areas of farmland from producing food to "biofuels", are being exposed as no more than enormously damaging and futile gestures, costing astronomic sums we no longer possess.
As 2009 dawns, it is time we in Britain faced up to the genuine crisis now fast approaching from the fact that – unless we get on very soon with building enough proper power stations to fill our looming "energy gap" - within a few years our lights will go out and what remains of our economy will judder to a halt. After years of infantile displacement activity, it is high time our politicians – along with those of the EU and President Obama's US – were brought back with a mighty jolt into contact with the real world.
I must end this year by again paying tribute to my readers for the wonderful generosity with which they came to the aid of two causes. First their donations made it possible for the latest "metric martyr", the east London market trader Janet Devers, to fight Hackney council's vindictive decision to prosecute her on 13 criminal charges, ranging from selling in pounds and ounces to selling produce "by the bowl" (to avoid using weights her customers dislike and don't understand). The embarrassment caused by this historic battle has thrown the forced metrication policy of both our governments, in London and Brussels, into total disarray.
Since Hackney backed out of allowing four criminal charges against Janet to go before a jury next month, all that remains is for her to win her appeal in February against eight convictions which now look quite absurd (including those for selling veg by the bowl, as thousands of other London market traders do every day). The final goal, as Neil Herron of the Metric Martyrs Defence Fund insists, must then be a pardon for the late Steve Thoburn and the four other original "martyrs" who were found guilty in 2002 – after a legal battle also made possible by this column's readers – of breaking laws so ridiculous that the EU Commission has even denied they existed (but which are still on the statute book).
Readers were equally generous this year in rushing to the aid of Sue Smith, whose son was killed in a Snatch Land Rover in Iraq in 2005. Their contributions made it possible for her to carry on with the High Court action she has brought against the Ministry of Defence, with the sole aim of calling it to account for needlessly risking soldiers' lives by sending them into battle in hopelessly inappropriate vehicles. Thanks not least to Mrs Smith's determined fight, the Snatch Land Rover scandal, first reported here in 2006, has at last become a national cause celebre.
May I finally thank all those readers who have written to me in 2008 – so many that, as usual, it has not been possible to answer all their messages. But their support and information has been hugely appreciated. May I wish them and all of you a happy (if globally not too warm) New Year.