back to article You know all those resources we're about to run out of? No, we aren't

Among the more surprising things that the BBC revealed to us last week was that the UK was going to run out of coal within the next five years. Given that the island is pretty much built on a bed of coal, this is something of a puzzler. The northern end of the huge water-filled pit, showing the coal seams in the rock at Broken …

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

is it some sort of perversed variant's of Lenin's claim that "we shall hang the capitalists on the very rope they'll sell to us"?

oh, I see, MPs, v. capitalists, sorry, different breed, my mistake.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

>>"I can't even be arsed to vote. Even a 'protest' vote would mean voting for the novice buffoons instead of the grandmaster buffoons and I'd rather the slightly warped novices didn't get a crack at anything to be honest."

The biggest reason nothing changes is because people think it can't. Every vote makes real change that little bit closer. We're currently voting for who will represent us in Europe. What do we want - people who are actually engaged and active in that? Or a bunch of protest MEPs who'll just make an arse of themselves, swan around on the salary and do nothing good because they don't believe we should be in Europe in the first place?

It is important to vote. Please do so.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

Why bother building gallows? It sounds like you'll have a hammer handy, so smash their heads in with that, and spend the spare time and money you've saved down the pub.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

If you are a non-voter, you ensure that the political parties will continue to ignore you. If you do vote, they *might* do something to try and *get* your vote.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

You must vote for the least bad.

Otherwise the Extremists will get a majority, as they get near 100% turnout of their supporters.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

I can't even be arsed to vote.

Just supporting everyone else. If you don't like any of them, vote "none of the above" - ie spoil your paper. It's still better than not voting. If you don't vote, you have no right to complain about the result.

I think it would be interesting to have a "none of the above" selection on elections - I think it would win an overall majority frequently. And if enough elections went that way, perhaps politicians would start actually doing some good.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

Elections are always fun pantomimes. Usually it is dont vote for him because (labour: spend all the money, screw the economy. tory: baby eating monsters who only look out for their mates. libs: someone actually votes for these guys?) but we have had quite a political shift recently. We have the tories trying to be labour, labour trying to be libs and libs not even trying any more.

The most exciting element I have seen recently has been UKIP. Normally labour/tory attack each other and libs try to make themselves worthy of attacking (normally a lot of jumping up and down for the kiddies and idealist students). But while UKIP started off as kinda ignored (by politicians) now we have tories throwing insults (at a number of their former supporters!), labour trying not to say anything as covering Ed's screw ups takes so much effort and libs have seen the popularity of the UKIP position and decided to do the opposite (what do you expect from the lib dems?).

Normally attacks and insults work between the top parties but when they do it against UKIP it seems to highlight how bad UKIP could be but how much worse the current top options really are. Every insult seems to point out that we have bad, bad, bad, possibly bad but are untested.

Obviously you have the usual raving loony party (greens) and others but as a pantomime goes it is fun to watch. It is very true that we have and have had the governments we have voted for even if we dont want them which seems an odd way to run a democracy. To vote for what you dont want to stop other people you dont want from running the country. If people actually voted for what they wanted then at least some people would be happy. As it stands we have an unhappy electorate voting to be miserable, politics at the top which is 2 parties of the same and one trying to get in, and finally some competition who seems to finally get people interested in politics even if he is like Marmite.

It is interesting though that the recent insult against Farrage is that he is not outside the establishment but part of it. It takes a twisted mind to see that as an insult without extrapolating to the entire system we seem to be somehow 'proud' of even if it makes us miserable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

"We're ruled by arts graduates who don't merely fail to understand the problems we face, but fail to understand the importance of hiring advisers who do".

There is a logical problem here. If (like almost all of the great and the good) you don't begin to understand the fundamental principles of science and scientific research, how can you possibly decide which scientific views should carry most weight?

Climate change and nutrition are two controversial topics which Western governments have got wrong in many ways. A classic example was Senator George McGovern's public statement that "...we Senators don’t have the luxury that a research scientist does of waiting until every last shred of evidence is in". In fact, the report issued by McGovern's committee ignored virtually all the evidence and started the 35-year bandwagon of cholesterol phobia and "healthy whole grains" that is only just beginning to lose impetus.

We are so often told by politicians that they sought and followed "the best scientific advice". What I want to know is how they could possibly tell good scientific advice from bad. What I suspect is that they simply consult the highest-paid scientists they can find - who are not only liable to be out of date, but also very likely to be in the pay of commercial interests.

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Flame

Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

Voting for UKIP in the European Elections is a terrible idea even if for some reason you think it's a good idea to turn our back on the £17bn trade per month we do with the EU (or think that would not be impacted by withdrawal).

The European Elections are to choose our MEPs. Even if you want to withdraw it makes no sense to in the meantime send people to represent us who are standing on a platform of non-participation. That's like saying you don't think we should be driving somewhere so you're going to let the five year old in the back take the wheel.

Stay in the car or get out. But don't stay in the car and take your hands off the wheel.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

@Tom Welsh

An arts degree teaches you to write essays. A science or engineering degree teaches you to do sums.

There are too many innumerate but opinionated people in politics and journalism.

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Facepalm

Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

Wrote :- "The biggest reason nothing changes is because people think it can't. Every vote makes real change that little bit closer .. It is important to vote."

I don't agree. Why should I indicate approval of anyone I don't agree with? By not voting, perhaps the politicians might try to find out next time what WOULD make me vote.

Example is those rock-solid Labour constituencies in the Welsh Valleys. Labour never did anything directly for them because the leaders knew they had their votes whatever they did.

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Holmes

@h4rm0ny - Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

h4rm0ny wrote :- "Voting for UKIP .... is a terrible idea even if for some reason you think it's a good idea to turn our back on the £17bn trade per month"

Fantastic figures like that seem to assume that all trade with the EU will cease. (Anyway, looking at all the BMWs and Peugeots around I would think most of that trade is to the UK's disadvantage.) But most of what I see is made in China, Taiwan and other non-EU places, and they seem to have no trouble trading with the EU as non-members.

But does everything have to be only about economics? Back in the 1960's the UK banned live animal exports on cruelty grounds; with EU membership that had to be allowed again. OTOH the EU is run by nutters who want to ban anything that they dream of being the slightest human health risk.

The EU banned creosote for example. Fine for sunny climates like Spain and Italy, but I have about 500 yards of fencing to maintain in the damp Welsh hills and must now do so without creosote, and the alternatives are significantly more expensive and less effective (they are "safe", you see). OK, if you want the economics - did the EU consider the extra time it takes me to earn that extra expense (time lost from my life) compared with, probabilistically, the average shortening of my life due to creosote poisoning (assuming for the sake of argument I *can* somehow be poisoned by it?) Of course not.

Nigel Farage may be a nutter too, but so are most early adopters. They thought Ghandi (who people love quoting these days) was a nutter when he wanted India to leave the British Empire. Even if the UK left the EU, you don't seriously think Farage would become the Prime Minister do you?

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

I'd rather that there was a box labelled "none of the above".

At least this way the politicians won't decide that with a majority of returned results in a voting area, that they have a mandate to do whatever they feel like and screw the entire electorate. Given that a winner may have only 40% of the votes and only 40% of the people in an area might vote, that means that only 16% of the voters in the area approve of them.

So mandatory voting and a box labelled "none of the above" please. We shouldn't have to vote for the one that we least dislike.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

To misquote Robert Heinlein: There may not be anybody you want to vote for, but you can be sure that there is somebody that you want to vote against.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse @ h4rm0ny

> Even if you want to withdraw it makes no sense to in the meantime send people to represent us who are standing on a platform of non-participation.

By the same logic, no-one in Scotland should have voted SNP. Yet doing so got them first devolution, then a referendum.

Also by the same logic, it makes no sense for any British republican ever to vote for any MP, as they all swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch. But we actually have plenty of republican MPs, who work, where necessary, to limit the power of the Crown.

Secondly, UKIP's MEPs don't just sit on their hands in the EU Parliament refusing to do anything because they think they shouldn't be there. The EU has policies, some of which are more expansionist than others. UKIP work to limit the power of the EU over the UK and to restrict its scope and its remit. Whether you agree or disagree with them, there is nothing inherently irrational about voting for secessionists.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse @ Squander Two

That's a fair reply and supportable.

I guess depending on how they do, we'll get to see empiraclly which of us is closest to right.

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Re: @h4rm0ny - I would argue the situation was even worse

>>>>h4rm0ny wrote :- "Voting for UKIP .... is a terrible idea even if for some reason you think it's a good idea to turn our back on the £17bn trade per month"

>>Fantastic figures like that seem to assume that all trade with the EU will cease.

Firstly, the fantastic figures are official statistics. I'll dig them out if they're in dispute. Secondly, you cut off my sentence mid-way through which then went on to say ("even if you think withdrawing from the EU wont impact that for some reason") . Or words to that effect. A little sly I feel to remove my counter-argument so that it appeared I hadn't already given my answer to what you then wrote, I feel. But anyway, of course that figure will be impacted. And yes, of course the degree is a matter of debate but the sudden imposition of tariffs and restrictions on transfer of money and employees when our competitors within Europe for all that trade suffer none of those disadvantages? Pretty substantial I would say. Far from going to do us good.

>>(Anyway, looking at all the BMWs and Peugeots around I would think most of that trade is to the UK's disadvantage.)

I don't think you get how trade works. It happens when something is to a mutual benefit (otherwise it's known as exploitation). If British people are able to buy a car cheaper / better than they would otherwise, that is a net benefit / saving. To argue that they should be penalized in order to push that money into British car manufacturers is to introduce inefficiency into the model and effectively say that British buyers should be subsidizing British car manufacturers. Trade increases efficiency. That's why it happens.

And unlike UKIP I actually AM proud to be British and I actually do believe we can be competitive. UKIP do not. That is why they want what you have just outlined - raise the drawbridge to protect British industry from competition. Unfortunately unless you have a massive army to leverage to back up inequitable deals (like the USA does), that also has the effect of closing down any benefits. And trade is a net benefit by definition. You don't see the Germans closing up their trade borders in fear of competition.

We used to have some of the best manufacturing in the world and we can again. But that opportunity is hamstrung if we're sandwich between two giant trade blocks and have to sell at a disadvantage to everyone.

The point of the £17bn figure isn't to say that it will all be lost. It's to show how large our relationship with Europe is and that all of that would be negatively affected by withdrawal.

>>But does everything have to be only about economics?

No, but it tends to be where I come from since it's something I know a bit about and because it affects everyone in this country. Regarding your other point:

>>"Back in the 1960's the UK banned live animal exports on cruelty grounds; with EU membership that had to be allowed again."

Then back in the 1960's you would have found me arguing on your side. (Well, on this particular issue). But these days EU laws on animal welfare and human rights are both pretty strong. Indeed, there have been a number of cases where the EU Human Rights act has protected British citizens against our own government.

Things change.

>>"OTOH the EU is run by nutters who want to ban anything that they dream of being the slightest human health risk."

Yes, but so is the UK.

>>"The EU banned creosote for example. Fine for sunny climates like Spain and Italy, but I have about 500 yards of fencing to maintain in the damp Welsh hills and must now do so without creosote"

Honestly outside my area of expertise. I would say so far as I can comment it sounds a better reason for changing this specific rule rather than rejecting EU membership. I'd also say (I don't know if this is possible) to get hold of some creosote from somewhere and just do it anyway. The important thing about laws is not to get caught, imo.

>>"Nigel Farage may be a nutter too, but so are most early adopters. They thought Ghandi (who people love quoting these days) was a nutter when he wanted India to leave the British Empire"

I would not like to argue that the same actions are appropriate when the specifics are very different. Do you really want a list of Similarities vs. Differences between the two cases. I guarantee that British control of India is far more disimilar to UK membership of the EU than it is the same. Obviously you're not making a serious case with that particular point, but I feel obliged to respond properly, nonetheless. I'm a fairly big admirer of Ghandi, btw. Even though he was a lawyer.

>>"Even if the UK left the EU, you don't seriously think Farage would become the Prime Minister do you?"

Only in my nightmares. His brand of populist detail-light positive-sounding campaigning translates very badly into actually running the United Bureacracy of Great Britain. However, that's not what I'm arguing is a risk. I'm arguing two things - that we should stay in Europe for our own good and that for as long as we are in Europe, UKIP are not competent people to manage our presence within it.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

>>"I don't agree. Why should I indicate approval of anyone I don't agree with?"

A person who will not vote has low demonstrable worth. They may become a voter if motivated, but the opportunity cost is low. If they do not see any differences worth choosing for between such divergances as the Greens, the Tories, LibDems, Labour, SNP, whoever, then they're likely only going to be motivated to actually vote by extreme differences. And few sensible people want to adopt extreme positions for two reasons - they're usually a bad idea and unless you live in the Weimar Republic or similar, they're guaranteed electoral failure.

Ergo, if you don't vote, you're not worth pandering to.

If you do vote, whoever you vote for, your value has just rocketed. NOW you're worth pandering to. Even if you're likely to vote for a particular party regardless, there's enough targetable edges around any party's support base to make it worth pursuing you. And by pursuing you, I mean catering to your needs / desires. Even if your party wont get elected, your support of them increases pressure on rivals to adopt some of those policies. Neither the Tories nor New Labour give that much of a shit about the environment. But they both look at the 5-6% the Greens get and think "maybe I can get some of that". So even though we're unlikely to see a Green Party prime minister, each person voting for the Greens helps move Britain toward Green Party politics. (Which unfortunately doesn't include nuclear power but that's a rant for elsewhere).

Basically, a non-voter is a potential resource with a low-chance of realization. An active voter is a confirmed resource worth appealing to. You have to think past just the next election. Humans got where we are by the ability to envisage different futures. Focusing on each election as if it's a unique event that will never happen again is an obvious mistake. Yet people do it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

If you look at all the candidates standing in your constituency, you may well not approve of any of them.

But look again and decide if there are some that you disapprove of more than others? If yes, then by definition you approve of some more than others and - IMHO - that's the basis of deciding who to vote for. Every vote for one one party/person decreases the share of the vote for every other party/person.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

"Why bother building gallows?"

Quite, that's for the long drop painless method. The short drop tap dancing on air method takes longer, is more painful, and only requires a beam to throw the rope over. Economy and efficiency in one move.....

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@h4rm0ny again

> I actually do believe we can be competitive. UKIP do not. That is why they want what you have just outlined - raise the drawbridge to protect British industry from competition.

UKIP's policy is to trade with the world, not just the EU. I don't think "raise the drawbridge" is a fair characterisation of that.

> the sudden imposition of tariffs and restrictions on transfer of money and employees when our competitors within Europe for all that trade suffer none of those disadvantages? Pretty substantial I would say. Far from going to do us good.

I agree, but it's not fair to mention those tariffs and restrictions without also mentioning the tariffs and restrictions imposed by the EU on any trade with non-EU countries, which would disappear if we left.

My personal position is that none of this policy argument actually matters unless the EU has a democratic mandate, which it currently doesn't. When you elect an MP, you lend that MP your power so that they may use it at Westminster; you don't give it to them; it is not theirs. So they're supposed to hand it back at the end of their term. No MP or British government had the remit to hand any of that power to the EU, so they should not have done so. If the EU were the single greatest thing in history, right about everything, better than Westminster in every way, the fact would still remain that the British people had not chosen to seat their power there. So let's have a referendum to settle the matter. If the EU is as great as you say it is, your side should win easily.

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Re: @h4rm0ny again

>>"UKIP's policy is to trade with the world, not just the EU. I don't think "raise the drawbridge" is a fair characterisation of that."

It is because being a member of the EU doesn't stop us "trading with the world", it gives us a boost in our trade with some parts of it. And that's not just European countries, btw. The EU has trade agreements with many other countries which we benefit from because we are part of the EU. Our trade with countries from Israel to Mexico to Iceland(!) would be affected if we withdrew from the EU because of beneficial trade agreements between those (and a bunch of others) and the EU.

You see being part of the EU gives leverage. There is a reason why every significant trading country is signed up to be part of some trade block, whether that's the EU, the North American Free Trade Association, the Common Economic Space of Russia and Friends, South Asian Free Trade Area.. et al. They all have might, leverage.

You want to know what happens to a country trying to trade on equal terms with a much more powerful trading block? Look at the USA's relations with minor trading partners historically. Or perhaps you think the Chinese or the Russians would be more inclined to play fair.

Large international free trade areas and trading blocks don't happen because people think "oh what the Hell, it sounds like a lark".

So yeah, it is exactly "pulling up the drawbridge". The best way to trade is to remove barriers to trade. To think otherwise is nonsense.

>>"I agree, but it's not fair to mention those tariffs and restrictions without also mentioning the tariffs and restrictions imposed by the EU on any trade with non-EU countries, which would disappear if we left."

Such as? I'd be very interested to know of any such cases so they could be weighed against the overall gains. And as I pointed out a moment ago, we actually get trade benefits with other countries because we can negotiate with them as part of the EU. Do you suppose we are in a stronger bargaining position of "UK with China" than "EU with China" ?

>>"My personal position is that none of this policy argument actually matters unless the EU has a democratic mandate, which it currently doesn't. When you elect an MP, you lend that MP your power so that they may use it at Westminster; you don't give it to them; it is not theirs. So they're supposed to hand it back at the end of their term. No MP or British government had the remit to hand any of that power to the EU, so they should not have done so. If the EU were the single greatest thing in history, right about everything, better than Westminster in every way, the fact would still remain that the British people had not chosen to seat their power there. So let's have a referendum to settle the matter. If the EU is as great as you say it is, your side should win easily."

I agree with democratic mandate. What I have been showing is that EU membership is overwhelmingly a net benefit, not arguing that people should not have a choice. I would hope that much is obvious and your passage above is a complete tangent to our current discussion.

It does contain a couple of innaccuracies. What the UK joined was the EEC and we did have a referendum on whether we should be in it. There was a 64% turnout and a strong 'yes' vote. Now it's grown into the EU since then and I'm in favour of a referendum on principle. But I find your position that people will necessarily vote for what is best laughable given any slice of modern history you care to pick. As I said - what I'm showing here is that EU membership is a net benefit. Of course I'm not against choice. I am against UKIP not because they want a referendum, but because of the outcome they want. They wouldn't be campaigning for a referendum for people to vote to stay in.

I'll also say, for obvious reasons, that we can't keep having referendums on whether to stay in or not. And I'm sure you'd agree with that.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

So mandatory voting and a box labelled "none of the above" please.

No and Yes.

My view is that the vote of a person who doesn't want to vote is not worth counting, and at worst they might distort the results. Not voting means they've chosen to accept whoever is chosen by those who do vote. I'd go further. Postal votes are too easily stolen or cast without thought. Return to the old system where you have to walk to a polling station unless you can show why you can't (away from the constuituency on polling day, or infirm. I would add being over seventy, and living more than a mile away from your polling station, as acceptable reasons for obtaining a postal vote).

But when I choose to exercise my vote, I'd definitely like to have "none of the above" as a choice. Further, if "None of the above" won the election, there would have to be another election a reasonable time (say two months? ) later, in which none of the candidates who were rejected the first time would be allowed to stand.

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Re: @h4rm0ny again

@ Squander Two

"UKIP's policy is to trade with the world, not just the EU. I don't think "raise the drawbridge" is a fair characterisation of that."

I get very confused when people opposing UKIP start quoting UKIP's ideas but say something entirely different. I dont understand how people claim UKIP aim to pull up the drawbridge because (as you caught) they want to trade with the world and not just through the EU. The last report I read about the EU trade deals suggested the EU got no better deals for the UK than the UK got before.

Another one is the racism card and wanting to ban immigrants. Last I checked UKIP wanted to have fair and balanced immigration from the world (a point that upsets the BNP) and not unlimited from the EU at the expense of the rest of the world.

Reading about the recent elections the tory party are starting to sound schizophrenic. We have them calling UKIP swivel eyed loons and generally insulting the voters as just flirting with UKIP but belong to the tories. Then we have them saying UKIP voters have genuine concerns and are sending a clear message to them. Unless the message is that the electorate would like more flirty swivel eyed loons then it seems the established parties are very disorganised at opposing the clear message of UKIP (regardless of peoples like/dislike for them).

I dislike the EU problem that the gov think it is good for us but know we wont vote for it. If its so good then surely it can be explained and demonstrated and people will vote for it.

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Re: @h4rm0ny again

OK, well, firstly....

> But I find your position that people will necessarily vote for what is best laughable

Sorry, that was irony. I couldn't agree with you more on this point.

> I would hope that much is obvious and your passage above is a complete tangent to our current discussion.

Well, yes. My point was just that, until there's a referendum, arguing about the pros and cons of the EU seems to me to miss the point. It's like saying "Labour are brilliant at running the country, so we don't need to have general elections any more." And, when discussing UKIP, that's the point: who cares how effective they are within the EU Parliament?

I know a lot of Scots whose attitude to the SNP is "I'll vote Yes, and, once we've got independence, the SNP's job is done and they can fuck off." The SNP only have one policy that matters, which is why their supporters don't care that the rest changes with the wind and frequently makes no sense. There's a bigger fish to fry first. Or, since it's Scotland, probably a pizza.

> I'll also say, for obvious reasons, that we can't keep having referendums on whether to stay in or not. And I'm sure you'd agree with that.

I absolutely would agree. The EU don't, though. The Irish tried voting No and were told to have another referendum and get the right answer next time.

> There is a reason why every significant trading country is signed up to be part of some trade block.

I agree. Are you not aware of the huge diplomatic fight that had to take place in order for the UK to keep buying New Zealand lamb and butter on the same nice terms we always had after joining the EEC? The EEC's position was that we had joined one trade block so we had to leave the other one, and that stuff from New Zealand should have huge bloody great import tariffs stuck on it, which -- if we hadn't fought back hard enough and wangled a special exemption -- would have been devastating for New Zealand's farmers. The alternative to being in the EU is not being in no trade block at all, as you seem to be implying.

That aside, the EEC was a trading block, which was OK, whilst the EU is a supranational federalisation project, which is a whole other thing. It's not fair to conflate the two. Most nations join trade blocks without giving up sovereignty and becoming satellite states. You can join a trading block without someone suggesting that you should stop writing your own foreign policy.

And you're raising practical reasons why you believe that leaving the EU and trying to trade with the whole world will effectively amount to pulling up the drawbridge. That may or may not be true, but it is not the same thing at all as UKIP wanting to pull up the drawbridge because they're protectionists, which was what you said before. For comparison, a lot of Labour's policies really screw the poor, but that doesn't mean they want to.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

I've been investing in lampposts for nearly 20 years - I was hoping to sell them at a profit, but if you're willing to do the equivalent job for free, then I'll just have to donate them to a worthy cause.

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Re: they're going to be long gone from their post before

I wouldn't say that exactly. Maybe on your side of the pond, but I doubt it even there. We have idiots who manage to stay on the high salary plus retirement benefits public dole for 30+ years. They're always in office when it hits the fan. They're just good at shifting the blame.

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Re: It is because being a member of the EU

No. I was looking at a Venn diagram of your EU arrangements the other day. It's positively Byzantine. Withdrawing from the EU doesn't necessarily withdraw you from the EU Trade arrangements, only the harmonization bits that are driving so many Brits to fits. By all means, keep the trade agreement, but kick the world government without representation to the curb. It works even less well for you than your monarchy did for us on this side of the pond.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

That may all be true, but sadly science graduates show no evidence of being any less clueless. Rigid specialisation in any subject tends to produce graduates who are clueless about the world outside their own specialisation which itself may be proceeding on unsound foundations. After all, universities receive funding only for politically-correct "scientific" research and staff are accordingly required to be politically correct.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

Primus Secundus Tertius wrote

"There are too many innumerate but opinionated people in politics and journalism."

True. But there are also too many people who may be numerate but lack the capability of putting their statistics in context.

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Re: @h4rm0ny - I would argue the situation was even worse

Nuke wrote "The EU banned creosote for example. Fine for sunny climates like Spain and Italy, but I have about 500 yards of fencing to maintain in the damp Welsh hills and must now do so without creosote, and the alternatives are significantly more expensive and less effective (they are "safe", you see). OK, if you want the economics - did the EU consider the extra time it takes me to earn that extra expense (time lost from my life) compared with, probabilistically, the average shortening of my life due to creosote poisoning (assuming for the sake of argument I *can* somehow be poisoned by it?) Of course not."

I think the restrictions on creosote sales are crazy. But it doesn't mean that you can't get or use creosote. Sales of creosote are restricted, not banned. I haven't found any difficulty in buying it -- usually in 25 litre drums. And if you're not unduly worried about complying with regulations, old engine oil diluted with kerosene does much the same job. Don't drink it. Wear gloves and protective clothing so that it doesn't end up over your skin.But anyone without enough sense to take sensible precautions isn't fit to let loose in the community anyway.

Incidentally, Royal Mail have taken to opening packages containing new engine oil (perfectly legal to send by mail, though it's illegal to send old engine oil by post) and disposing of them as illegal. Did you ever hear of anyone sending OLD engine oil by post?

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I would argue the situation was even worse

Assuming that they ARE graduates. Maybe only literate, able to read the sports page. Or..

Oh, yes, they do know how to play "get the quango" but..

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Coat

Now the only resource left to worry about

Is barium-cobolt-nitride.

I understand we get it from pigs.

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Re: Now the only resource left to worry about

Guano . . . we did run completely out of guano just in the past century. And we have been struggling to make gunpowder and nitrogen based fertilizer ever since. Or maybe we have found a substitute sources of nitrogen.

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Re: Now the only resource left to worry about

"been struggling to make gunpowder and nitrogen based fertilizer ever since"

Suggest you Google Nitric acid and Ammonia synthesis. Massive scale industrial processes, 10s of millions of tonnes annually (Ostwald & Haber ) that only use nitrogen, hydrogen to yield all the nitrates and nitrogen-based fertilizers you could want.

Guano is a very good source of phosphates but (from Wikipedia) "The importance of guano deposits to agriculture elsewhere in the world faded after 1909 when Fritz Haber developed the Haber-Bosch process of industrial nitrogen fixation, which today generates the ammonia-based fertilizer responsible for sustaining an estimated one-third of the Earth's population"

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Re: Now the only resource left to worry about

That explains a lot. I've put ammonia on my plants, and they turn brown. So I got the strongest nitrogen mixture I could (it's a liquid, must be strong because it smokes, and really smokes if I try and add water), and that made my plants crumble. Also seemed to kill the grubs, which is a plus. I thought about the Nitric Acid, but the brown smoke from it and the stains I got seemed scary. I'll take the white smoke and grey spots on my hands using the pure nitrogen (cheaper than the miracle gro).

The pure liquid nitrogen seemed to work best. Now if you'll excuse me, I just got a call from the fire department. Saying there was an explosion in my shed.I didn't know the stuff was flammable! I got 12 litres of it, used about half, and put the rest in a sprayer. Had to close it tight.. dang thing kept smoking.. I didn't want to lose any. Although if it smokes, maybe I should've known. Wow... my hands are stinging now...

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@Chemist

I would suggest you google sarcasm.

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Deja Voodoo

This kind of "Everything is going to run out. We are all doomed" nonsense comes up all the time.

I remember reading such a prediction for the first time in OZ magazine in around 1970. The 2nd or third issue after the Schoolkids one if memory serves.

If that article had been correct by now we would all be wearing synthetic garments and eating food from chemical plants... oh ... hang on a sec...

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Roo
Black Helicopters

Tin Foil Hat Deployed

If the facts don't fit the arguments it's a fair bet that there is another agenda in mind. In times gone by resource scarcity has been engineered in order to achieve control over a population. The resource exhaustion story appears to be driven by ruling classes, so it seems possible that they are seeking greater leverage and control over the plebs.

As to why they want more leverage over plebs - perhaps they are worried that the Far East is going to turn their political & financial empires upside down...

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I enjoyed this article, so thanks.

Slight concern you mentioned recycling in a possibly negative light, unless there is a particular reason that it is a bad thing to recycle metals?

Material control is what makes people money, so their agenda will be to control it. We can look outside of metals and look at De Beers as a good example for this.

Would be interested to also see the numbers behind coal, gas and oil examined similarly please.

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I divide recycling into three types

There's profitable recycling: that's great, the profit is the evidence that value is being added. I once recycled nuclear fuel tubes into MAG alloy wheels for buy racers for example. Made enough to buy a house outright. That sort of thing (and thus melting down old cars to make new ones, collecting copper scrap etc) is just great.

We can recycle absolutely anything if we expend enough energy on it. We could turn old tower blocks back into virgin Portland cement if we wanted to. But that would be insane. Better to go dig up more Portland and put the rubble into that nice new hole we've got.

And there's a middle group, where the recycling itself isn't profitable, but there's some other concern that makes it so. I'm involved in cleaning up a radioactive dump for example. Not worth it for the metals that can be extracted/recycled. But everyone would rather not have thorium laden dust blowing around and if it's got to be cleaned up then why not extract/recycle to defray costs?

What worries me about "recycling" rather than recycling itself is that people claim that we're running out of things, when we're not, and therefore argue that we've got to do a lot more of that second, wasteful, type of work. Got no problems at all with the first sort, indeed make my living some years doing it. And the third type is fine as well, as long as we look carefully at those other reasons. But, as above, the wrong reasons can mean that we get pushed into doing the third type, the type that makes us all poorer.

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There are two potential problems with recycling, that may only apply in certain cases (The upsides are obvious.)

1) Sometimes it's much cheaper to extract more virgin material than to recycle old. Or it may be cheaper in simple monetary terms, but require lots of energy, which may cause environmental damage down the line (e.g. greenhouse gasses) meaning what you save now you pay for later.

2) Maybe the intention isn't to actually get the public to recycle, but to set them up as the scapegoat when (possibly artificial) shortages occur. "See, we told you to recycle, but you didn't. Now we have a scarcity, so you must pay more. No, it's not us being incompetent/greedy, it's you being too lazy to recycle."

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recycling of metals

Recycling isn't always a good thing

it isn't just 're-using' the metal, it requires obtaining the thing that the metal is in (logistics), stripping it out of the thing, isolating the metal you want, processing it for new use (simplified).

So, you then have 2 scenarios:

1. Recycling/Reprocessing metal A requires less resources / pollutes less than digging up and refining from scratch.

2. Recycling metal A requires MORE resources / pollutes MORE than digging up and refining from scratch.

If its 1, then recycle away :D.

If its 2, then be careful of recycling away, as you are polluting more than you have to, but at the same time you get that warm fuzzy feeling from recycling and saving the planet (so you think you are doing good, but you aren't).

There is a question of where to put the thing with the metal in it after it is no longer required wanted (like an iphone 4s now that iphone 5 is out).. if scenario 1 and 2 are roughtly the same you may make the suggestion that scenario 1 is better as it cuts down on needed space for landfills. Or you could make the point that if we put it somewhere with others like it then we will have a known source of materials in the future...

Philosophical question: If at some point in the future we start to mine landfills for materials, are we then recycling previously abandoned waste, or are we extracting ore from the ground, or both?

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Re: I divide recycling into three types

Depends on where you live. I've watched teams of workers dismantling old ships by hand in India. It was a messy, hard business, but when you have areas of acute poverty, recycling what we in the UK or USA would leave to rot makes economic scene.

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Re: I divide recycling into three types

Also sometimes we recycle when re-use or dumping is better.

Glass:

We are NEVER going to run out of sand etc.

It is no harm to fill a hole in the ground.

It may take more oil etc to recycle than make new glass.

If colours are mixed in the waste glass it's a problem.

Reuse can save energy.

Paper may also be problematical. It's interesting that you have to now pay paper factories to take old paper. Also there are different kinds of paper made:

Kleenex / Kotex type stuff isn't really paper

Wood pulp based paper

Rag based (presumably it matters if Cotton, Linen, Wool etc and if a mix)

Paper with surface finishes (glossy magazines, inkjet photo paper).

I presume this why unsorted waste paper has negative value.

It makes sense to recycle Lead Car & Truck batteries. Possibly in recycling Lithium batteries (but primary are 4 technologies and rechargeable are different). But is there really value in recycling an unsorted mix of Layer, Alkaline, Zinc Carbon, Zinc Chloride and Zinc Air batteries?

I don't know but I'm suspicious.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I divide recycling into three types

The back of my mind tells me that the chemical process turning Portland Cement into concrete is pretty much one-way. These people seem to agree with me.

Other than that, though, agreed !!

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Re: I divide recycling into three types

I agree - recycling for recycling's sake (especially giving incentives to make it financially viable, when it isn't) seems stupid to me.

Landfill is not a long-term problem surely, mining rights are already being sold for landfill sites, and as technology progresses this will probably only become more widespread.

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Re: I divide recycling into three types

We can recycle absolutely anything if we expend enough energy on it. We could turn old tower blocks back into virgin Portland cement if we wanted to. But that would be insane. Better to go dig up more Portland and put the rubble into that nice new hole we've got.

Was that meant in jest? Seriously, living next to a site where an old concrete building is being replaced by new concrete buildings, I saw the old concrete being crushed(*) (to reclaim the scrap iron rebar), screened into appropriately-sized rubble, and used as ballast in new concrete.You can't recycle concrete 100%, but they do a lot better than they used to.

(*) first stage was more like "eaten" by something that looked a lot like a robot T-rex.

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Re: I divide recycling into three types

f colours are mixed in the waste glass it's a problem.

Not exactly. Slightly contaminated clear glass comes out green. Worse contaminated glass comes out brown to black. You see all of these being used as packaging. We use far too much clear (virgin) glass in order to advertise its contents. Things keep better in brown glass - it protects the contents from photo-degradation.

There are also good uses for the lowest grades of contaminated recycled glass. It makes the coloured chips that are used to mark roads (bus and cycle lanes) and the high-grip surfaces in locations where sharp braking is most likely to be required. It's also blended into insulation materials (rockwool).

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Re: I divide recycling into three types

"We could turn old tower blocks back into virgin Portland cement if we wanted to."

In Sheffield they demolished a crappy long-estate block of flats and ground it up into hardcore for the new bypass that was being built at the same time.

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