The deafening sounds of silence

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Some remarkable news hit the wires this past week but, not surprisingly, it has been completely ignored by  the mainstream media. What has happened is that scientists have finally proven that the theory of anthropogenic global warming is nothing more than misguided nonsense. Of course, true scientists would never say it quite as bluntly as I do but then this is my opinion and is not subject to peer-review.

The original news broke in Nature when preliminary results of an experiment dubbed CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets were unveiled. Conducted by scientists at CERN, Europe’s high-energy physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, the experiment attempts to replicate atmospheric conditions by filling a custom-built chamber with ultrapure air and chemicals believed to seed clouds: water vapour, sulphur dioxide, ozone and ammonia. They then bombard the chamber with protons from the same accelerator that feeds the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle smasher. As the synthetic cosmic rays stream in, the group carefully samples the artificial atmosphere to see what effect the rays are having. You can read about it here.

To understand what it all means, however, one must refer to sources who are less reticent about interpretation of the results of the experiment. Over at the Financial Post, Lawrence Solomon is unequivocal: “New, convincing evidence indicates global warming is caused by cosmic rays and the sun — not humans,” he writes.

Another interpretation takes the form of a video clip on the LaRouche Political Action Committee web site. Presented by Oyang Teng of the LaRouche Basement Research Team. Suggesting these experiments have proven the fallibility of current climate models, he says that, “…rather than revise current models, it’d probably be better to scrap them altogether and rebuild climate science on a whole new basis of actual experimental work.” You can watch the clip here.

Today there are indisputably more than a handful of genuine climate scientists – as opposed to the politicians and sycophants who make up the UN’s IPCC – who feel thoroughly vindicated for their opposition to the IPCC-sponsored climate orthodoxy. But being proper scientists, they probably won’t say “I told you so”, so I’ll do it on their behalf by quoting the title of the first Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report on the subject: “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate”.

Perhaps now we can consign to the annals of history, the completely idiotic idea that man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) is the cause of climate change. In years to come, we will probably be look back on that idea in a similar way to how we  now look back on the era of bleeding patients in western medical science: It’s as crude and as misguided.

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Part 3: A case for African Textiles

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Photograph: Ivan Naude

The previous articles in this series postulated the creation of a sustainable and world-class textile industry in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors’ case made provision for every step in the process, from growing the cotton plant to producing the dyed and finished fabric – on the African continent. All that is left is the garments themselves. In the final instalment, Andrew McLachlan and Brian Bakker consider the development of an African apparel industry.

What of an African apparel industry?

Unfortunately, the idea of developing an African apparel industry is nothing new. Africa has had a long and undistinguished history as far as the making of final garments is concerned, virtually all of them spectacularly unsuccessful. Certainly, there are isolated pockets of the apparel production industry that have survived and even thrived. However, there is nothing approaching the scale of what would be needed to produce enough garments for local markets – let alone produce enough quality apparel to satisfy the demand from international markets.

Among those countries in which garment making has been tried, Lesotho and Swaziland illustrate how business success can be achieved at the expense of basic human labour rights. Both countries welcomed Taiwanese investors and made concessions such as long-term tax breaks in the pursuit of employment opportunities for the local communities. All to no avail: Promises were not kept and today the garment manufacturing industry in those countries is a shadow of what it could have been.

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Part 2: A case for African Textiles

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The previous article in the Transforming Africa [first published in African trader magazine] series presented the case for a continent-wide textiles industry in Africa, created by Africans for African markets. The article hypothesised the establishment of a knitting, dyeing and finishing plant to achieve that. In this instalment, Brian Bakker and business analyst Andrew McLachlan consider the entire cotton value chain, with particular reference to the supply of raw cotton to the plant.

Can Africa spin its own cotton?

The reason why a textile knitting, dyeing and finishing plant serving Africa first, and the rest of the world second, could not currently succeed is because the vast majority of cotton in Africa today is grown under contract for overseas markets. What it means is that Africa would have to dramatically expand its cotton production and avail itself of ginning and spinning facilities in order to produce enough spun cotton to supply such a hypothetical textile finishing plant. That’s a big task, given that Africa’s contribution to the cultivation of cotton has decreased considerably over the last five years. More

Part 1: A case for African textiles

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This is the first in a series of articles that suggests a better future than past for the continent. Appropriately, the series is published in African Trader magazine, with this article appearing in the September/October 2010 issue.

Be warned, it’s quite long but I believe that it presents the business case  for a new, internally focused (at least initially) textiles industry in Africa. This one deals with the part of the production chain that produces finished and dyed fabric from spun cotton. I’ll post the others articles in the series in the coming weeks. As always, comments are welcome.

A case for African textiles

A current perception is that Africa simply cannot compete on price with Asia when it comes to manufacturing textiles. But perception doesn’t necessarily equal reality, Brian Bakker discovered. More

More on the fracking debate

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Following Ivo’s post yesterday there has been some interesting reaction – just scroll through the incredible list of comments, some of it useful and adding to the debate but some of it simply vitriolic. That we can do without but then it’s an emotive subject – particularly for those who believe in their own self-righteousness.

Nevertheless, there were two responses I felt worth sharing. The first was Fracking the Karoo emotions out of control by Guy McLaren, which seems largely to agree with Ivo and concludes thus:

“I support Ivo’s contention that we should not allow a few wealthy eco warriors with more money than sense to prevent growth in South Africa. These are the very same people that would rather kill an ecosystem that cull a few elephants.”

The second is one of the few anti-fracking posts I’ve ever seen that takes a reasoned approach rather than resorting to blatant emotional blackmail. Posted by Hendirk Mentz, Response to ‘Karoo fracking scandal exposed!’ tries to argue against fracking but is remarkable for the author’s own admission that he “cannot flaw [the] economic logic [of Ivo’s argument] and because I’m new to all of this cannot dispute the evidence…”

Despite that, however, it’s worth a read because it highlights two different perspectives of the debate.

Lunatics to the left and right

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Colour me cynical but ever since they were caught red-handed corrupting scientific process to stoke the panic about “climate change”, I’ve been suspicious of the holier-than-thou green brigade – or, as my friend Ivo calls them, the ecomentalists. So when some of the usual suspects started making noises about “fracking up the Karoo“, I was suspicious.

Unfortunately, I haven’t have much time for personal crusades lately so I wasn’t able to ferret out the truth. Fortunately, Ivo did find the time and you can find the results of his investigation in his column about the subject on The Daily Maverick.

In typical fashion, the picture alongside misrepresents the situation by showing the fracking zones directly beneath underground aquifers. As Ivo points out: “Ordinary boreholes are seldom more than 100m deep. Major water supply boreholes may go to 300m. Drinkable water aquifers may occur as deep as 500m, but below this, the water is typically brackish.

“These shallow water supplies contrast starkly with typical shale gas operations at depths of 2,500m or more.”

But that’s not all that perturbed me this morning. In the other lunatic fringe here in Mzansi, we have the ANCYL, which released its “we want everything and we want it now” economic policy document yesterday. Steven Grootes has also written about it on The Daily Maverick.

Has the whole world gone crazy? I feel like I’m stuck in the middle of a song: “…clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you…”

Nuts. Between them, these idiots are doing their very best to constrain this country’s already limited growth prospects. With the “official” unemployment rate standing at 25% of the economically active population and the real rate estimated at around 44%, that can only end badly. We need to create jobs; We can’t do that without direct foreign investment. And if either of the lunatic fringes have their way, FDI is exactly what we’ll lose. I wonder how long it will take our people to lose their patience after that.

Climate change religion

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I’ve long been of the opinion that anthropogenic global warming alarmism is more religion than science. It has all the hallmarks: a convincing narrative, plenty of symbolism, beliefs that cannot be scientifically proven, and practices that are supposed to give meaning to the convert’s life.

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