Monday, November 28, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 28.11.16


Education: Some illumination! It seems that the PP's LOMCE is currently in force but that it's overwhelmingly unpopular with teachers, pupils and parents due to its 'learning-by-rote' nature, right-wing bias and manner of 'weeding out' weaker students at a very young age, giving them little or no chance to flourish later in life. Being in the minority, the government has been forced to agree to a task force charged with drawing up a report which will serve as the foundations of a new Basic Education Law, to substitute the LOMCE. But this will take at least 6 months and will be followed by widespread 'discussion'. The - very valid - objective is an all-party pact which will avoid the law changing every time the government does. But is optimism justified? Meanwhile, the LOMCE seems to be in suspense, as teachers decline to comply with it. Bit more here.

Income Inequality: As in just about everywhere in the world, this is up in Spain over the last few years. Recent recent economic growth notwithstanding. In fact, it's worse here than in any other OECD country apart from neighbouring Portugal. But no sign of a real revolution yet. More on this sad situation here.

Global Warming: As regards man's culpability in this, Christopher Booker is - according to your standpoint - either a nutcase or an enlightened sceptic. The article at the end of this post is an amusing attack from him on a humungous British scheme to harness water power in Swansea Bay.


Fishing: Nice to see that nearby Vigo is the biggest fishing port in Europe, with a turnover of €3.5bn a year. Most of it probably legal. When it comes to the value of respective fishing industries, Spain is easily the European leader:-
Spain: €9.3bn
Greece: €8.0bn
Italy: €6.5bn
UK: €2.6bn
France: €2.4bn
Portugal: €2.4bn

The UK industry, it's claimed, was far bigger before the country entered the EU. Or the EEC as it was back than, I think.


Google Maps: Like me, you're probably used to finding that places are not exactly where Google says they are. But this one takes the biscuit - A bread shop in the middle of Pontevedra's urban by-pass.  Just where that idiot dropped his camera into the river and then went in after it. Switching to either Street or Satellite view doesn't provide any sort of explanation, by the way. But you can see my house up in the hills, in the distance . . . 

Turrón: For the past 11 months, I've been buying a supermarket's surplus stock of last Xmas's turrón(nougat). Especially the brittle almond variety like the sort I used to enjoy in Iran. Until recently, the discounted price was €1.80 but last week it rose to €1.90. Is this simply because next Xmas is now near?


British humour only???


Criminality and Gullibility:I wouldn't have thought that anyone could be worse than David Miscavige, the leader of the Scientologist 'Church'. But then I read about Jim Humble, the founder of the Genesis II 'Church' of Health and Healing. Astonishingly, he gets away with promoting bleach as a cure for just about everything, including HIV, cancer and even autism in kids. Humble claims he's a billion-year old god from the Andromeda galaxy. And is probably quite rich. Didn't totally waste his time in the Scientologists, then.

Business in Russia: Nice comment in Private Eye, when reporting on a failed diamond-based investment in Russia: The usual Russian plan was to ensure they got the mine and the foreign partners got the shaft.

Clarification: The site I cited yesterday didn't seem to work for some. It's that of The Tiger Lillies. If this link doesn't work, just search them on FB. It works for me . . . 


The crazy Swansea Bay tidal scheme has re-emerged from the deep:  Christopher Booker

Of the three massive political riddles now overshadowing Britain’s future, at least two, Brexit and public spending, are widely discussed. Much less in view is the third: our suicidally climate change-skewed energy policy. For a moment, with the arrival at Number 10 of Theresa May’s new joint chief of staff  Nick Timothy, who once described the Climate Change Act as “a monstrous act of self-harm”, there seemed a brief flicker of realism.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) was scrapped. The ludicrous Hinkley Point nuclear project was put on hold. But then back it came again, and speeches by our energy ministers, Greg Clark and Nick Hurd, suggest that little has really changed.

Indeed, there has lately been the strange re-emergence of the one “green” energy project even crazier than Hinkley. Last year I was writing about the crackpot plan, like something out of Swift’s Academy of Lagado, to spend £1 billion on harnessing the tides of Swansea Bay to produce a ridiculously tiny amount of the most expensively subsidised electricity in the world, averaging just 57 megawatts (MW). 

For the same £1 billion, the newish gas-fired power station at Pembroke down the coast can generate nearly 40 times as much power without a penny of subsidy.

The Swansea Bay project was backed by David Cameron and George Osborne. Planning permission was rushed through. Then last winter, Mr Cameron got cold feet. He put Swansea on hold, setting up an “independent” review into its viability. But the man put in charge of that review was a former Decc minister, Charles Hendry, who had expressed enthusiasm for tidal power as far back as 2008. 

Now he has handed in his report, leaks suggest that he is looking favourably not just on a modified version of the Swansea plan but on five even larger schemes proposed by the same developer, Mark Shorrock, who likes to call himself “the Brunel of tidal energy”. These include an £8 billion tidal lagoon for Cardiff Bay, which would supposedly generate far more power than Swansea.

Welsh politicians and the BBC have gone into overdrive puffing these schemes, which it is said could make Wales “the hugely lucrative hub of a global tidal lagoon industry”. But the claims reported for them are wildly exaggerated. For £1.3 billion, the modified Swansea scheme, according to the BBC website, could generate “enough clean energy” to meet “11 per cent of electricity consumption in Wales”. But a quick check on the facts would have shown that its average output, now reduced to 48MW, would meet only 2.8 per cent of Welsh consumption.

Even wilder is the BBC’s claim that Cardiff Bay would provide enough “low-carbon energy to power every home in Wales”. As usual when reporting on any form of intermittent renewable energy, the BBC plays the familiar trick of relying just on their theoretical “capacity”, as if they are working flat-out all the time. The actual output of tidal turbines, which operate at full power for only a few hours a day, is less than a fifth of their “capacity”. 

Meanwhile, across the sea in Cornwall, there is continuing anger over plans by Mr Shorrock to reopen a disused quarry on the Lizard peninsular, to provide the huge quantities of stone needed for the vast breakwaters to house his turbines. This in itself would be a colossal project, involving a jetty from which 10,000-ton barges would operate 24 hours a day, shipping millions of tons of Cornish stone across to Wales. 

But so far, no one has seen the environmental impact assessments required by law on what damage  all this might do to protected sites in the surrounding area, including a major offshore marine conservation zone. Irate local residents have already won one High Court judicial review against Cornwall council over part of this scheme, and a second is due in the High Court in January.

Similar serious environmental concerns have been raised, not least by the head of the planning inspectorate, over the threat posed in Swansea Bay to feeding grounds for wading birds, spawning grounds for fish and the blocking of access for eels to local rivers.

All this is now awaiting the publication of Mr Hendry’s report, originally promised for earlier this month. But at the last minute, to the fury of Welsh MPs, it was then postponed to “the end of the year”. If his findings have been as predicted, even our “green” ministers may be understandably finding it tricky to concoct any plausible case for approving what he recommends.

1 comment:

Perry said...

Brass monkey weather is on its way.

Search This Blog