Briefing Trump 

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Sap: Mr Trump,  sir,  you requested a climate briefing.

Trump: So, all these so called climate ‘experts’ – are they right or wrong.

Sap: Mostly badly wrong, sir.

Trump: All this global warming, what, just nonsense.

Sap: I believe I didn’t say that sir. I was indicating that the scientific consensus was inaccurate.

Trump: The UN conference stuff, all those scientists, they don’t know their field, or are they making it out to be worse than it is?

Sap: With respect sir, most of the IPCC are experts in their field. I don’t believe I stated that they were wrongly making a worse case scenario.

Trump: Son, we have limited time. Make your point.

Sap: I couldn’t agree more sir. The situation is somewhat worse than you may have been told.

Trump: So, your saying the planet is warming?

Sap: Sir, yes.

Trump: But we can deal with that right? The earth used to be much warmer. What are the upsides?

Sap: Can I clarify, sir. Upsides?

Trump: You know,  more plant growth, ice free poles. We can maybe get into those artic oil fields all year round. That’s a good thing, right.

Sap: That is not something I would advise on sir. The planet is warming faster than predicted, climate impacts are greater than anticipated, the situation has moved beyond our ability to mitigate.

Trump: So we adapt. We can do adaptation right. We’re talking, what, a couple of degrees. We can do that.

Sap: I indicated it might be somewhat in excess of that sir.

Trump: So what do your experts say?  This is natural change right. We’ve adapted before,  we can do it again.

Sap: We are looking at extremes beyond our ability to adapt sir. We are looking at extremes beyond human experience. This is not natural.

Trump: You trying to tell me this is our fault now. That what, we burn some oil and suddenly the whole planet’s up in smoke.

Sap: Partially sir.

Trump: You’re talking riddles. Make it make sense, son, or you’re gone.

Sap. Sir. We’ve put too much CO2 into the air. It has put the system out of balance.

Trump: So we burn cleaner. Stop pumping out so much gas.

Sap: The gasses already produced will continue to overheat the atmosphere for decades to come.

Trump: So we take it back out of the air  We can do that. Even your IPCC guys say we can do that

Sap: Unfortunately only in theory sir. Current IPCC projections incorporate such mitigations but we have no proven technology available.

Trump: So we move on that.  Big drive, big focus. Let’s get it sorted.

Sap: Sir, there are other greenhouse gasses.

Trump: So that’s our fault too?

Sap: Partially sir.

Trump: Son. Make sense.

Sap: Methane is a major issue sir.

Trump: We make that much methane? What’s that, cow farts. That our fault too.

Sap: Sir, this is not about blame. Methane occurs naturally in the earth.

Trump: You said this was our fault. Now you’re saying it’s natural.

Sap: It is a natural response to a warming planet sir.

Trump: How do we stop it.

Sap: We can’t sir. It’s locked in.

Trump: You got any other unnatural natural responses you want to tell me about, or are we done.

Sap: There’s the water vapour sir.

Trump: Steam, we’ve been pumping out steam since America was born. That a problem all of a sudden.

Sap: Sir, this is increased levels of evaporated water from the oceans. This traps heat in the atmosphere.

Trump: More clouds make it cooler right. Sorted.

Sap: Sir, clouds are condensed water vapour. Condensing water releases further heat into the atmosphere.

Trump: You’re loosing me again son.

Sap: Sir. Current assessments do not incorporate all these feedback loops. IPCC is a very conservative estimate. if you combine the effects of all these gasses then warming is way above 2 degrees.

Trump: You about done with your feedbacks. Got any others you want to throw in.

Sap: Sir,  there are in excess of 50 in total.

Trump: But some will work in our favour right.

Sap: Sir. Once the system is out of balance then the major feedbacks all pretty much work in the one direction.

Trump: OK. Tell me another one.

Sap :When the ice is gone from the artic, all the sun’s heating effect warms the oceans

Trump: But it’s cold. There is no sunshine up there.

Sap: Sir. In the summer the sun shines all day and all night. It’s the winter ice that keeps it cool. Once the ice melts the sun just goes on making the ocean hotter and hotter.

Trump : So what we talking about overall. 3 degrees,  four maybe?

Sap: At least eight or nine sir.

Trump: OK, that’s hot. Fahrenheit right.

Sap: Celsius sir.

Trump: Pretty rough on Africa I guess. But good for say Canada, right. That place is cold.

Sap: Sir, this will severely impact food supply chains and industrial civilisation on a global level.

Trump:I don’t do pessimism son. Give me options, give me solutions.

Sap: There are no solutions. There is no upside, sir.  Advanced industrial civilisation will not survive this event.

Trump :OK. Say I believe you. We’ve got time to sort this. What are we talking, sometime next century, turn of the century worst case.

Sap: Sir. We can trace the feedback loops back ten years. The best estimate is that the planet will be uninhabitable for humans in less than ten years.

Trump: What about sea levels.  They worse than forecast too?

Sap :You are correct sir but I would suggest that sea level rise is the least of your immediate concerns.

Trump :There’s a bunker right. I’ll have a place in a bunker. And my family.  There’ll have a place too, right.

Sap: Sir yes there is a bunker sir, but you may not wish to consider utilising it.

Trump: Meaning what son.

Sap :Sir. Once the widespread collapse of modern industrialised civilisation is underway then the presence of aerosols in the atmosphere dramatically reduces.

Trump: And….

Sap: Sir, the presence of atmospheric aerosols block sunlight reaching the earth’s surface and have a strong net cooling effect.

Trump: And that goes away, right.

Sap: Yes. Estimates are for a further 3 degrees of heating.

Trump: Celsius right.

Sap: Yes. Celsius.

Trump: Totalling what exactly.

Sap: In all probability in excess of ten degrees sir  In, under ten years sir. The opportunity for complex organisms to adapt and survive in these timescales is limited at best and projections are for a near total extinction event.

Trump: So how long would I, we, whoever, need to stay in the bunker. How long until it’s safe.

Sap:  Ten thousand years, sir, before the climate might begin to recover. Several million years for any sort of environment that could support complex life forms again.

Trump: So we’re fucked.

Sap: Yes, fucked,  sir.

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Smith’s Principle Failings

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For those that care to remember, one week in on 22 October 2014,  Lord Smith of Kelvin’s Commission agreed a set of principles to guide its work toward a conclusion. Whilst the true test of the Commission’s report will be against the passage of political events, its ongoing relevance assessed against its ability to affect meaningful change from within the constraints of the current establishment, there is an opportunity to gauge whether the report stands as a success solely against its own declared intents.

(1) form a substantial and cohesive package of powers, enabling the delivery of outcomes that are meaningful to the people of Scotland.
FAIL: even the use of the word ‘package‘ seems a little strong, let alone the bolt on adjectives: ‘substantial and cohesive‘. At best this is a rattle bag of initiatives, tinkering away at the fringes of the devolution debate, its proposals are in no way greater than the sum of the constituent parts. There is no underpinning logic, no central driven concept, no overarching framework, no foundation vision, to inform the assemblage. Its a policy pick and mix, without reference to Scottish culture or history, or to the current needs of the Scottish people. In this context, how can meaningful outcomes be enabled.
(2) strengthen the Scottish devolution settlement and the Scottish Parliament within the UK (including the Parliament’s levels of financial accountability).
FAIL: The accountability for roadsigns is undeniably strengthened. Meanwhile, on another planet, the words devolution and settlement do not easily collocate. There is a sliding scale from subjugation through to independence, finding and fixing a point that can withstand the vicissitudes of the historical narrative is a significant challenge. Placing two words next to each other in the hope that their confluence can add meaning does not provide an answer of any particular significance.
(3) aim to bring about a durable but responsive democratic constitutional settlement, which maintains Scotland’s place in the UK and enhances mutual cooperation and partnership working.
FAIL: Who, pray, is to be responsive to whom, and by what mechanism?
(4) not be conditional on the conclusion of other political negotiations elsewhere in the UK.
FAIL: The Report cannot be enacted into meaningful legislation before the 2015 General Election. Its proposals will be subject to the machinations of the Westminster political machine as the UK parties jocky for advantage through the pre-election campaign and into post election brokering. How is it possible to claim that the Report can stand apart from this process. It will be a bargaining chip, an item of trade, to be sliced and diced and haggled and parred, its constituent parts devalued, de-contextualized, demeaned. If there is a vestige, a ghost of coherence in the Report, there will be none remaining once its true conditionality has been tested in the fire.
(5) not cause detriment to the UK as a whole nor to any of its constituent parts.
FAIL: Even before the ink was dry, the foundations of the UK state sunk a little further into the sand. Pick any aspect of latent nationalism within the current confines of the UK, and this report has fueled the fire.
(6) cause neither the UK Government nor the Scottish Government to gain or lose financially simply as a consequence of devolving a specific power.
FAIL: The Report appears artfully constructed to enable no loss to the UK Government as a consequence of a policy decision on the part of the Scottish Government. All else has the clarity and consistency of mud.
(7) be implementable; be compatible with Scotland’s and the UK’s international obligations, including EU law; and be agreed with a broad understanding of the potential associated costs.
FAIL: The proof will be, by necessity, in the pudding. But that the wheels are already coming off the bandwagon, will do doubt be found to be significant.
Lord Smith of Kelvin, even measured against your own terms, you have failed. Scotland condemns you to the footnotes of the future history of an independent Scottish Republic.

Smith Commission Submission – blogged for my smarter, more susscint partner

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Dear Lord Smith of Kelvin,

I appreciate that the commission has screeds of opinion to read through and will therefore be as brief as possible.

I believe the cobbled together last minute “vow” has left all participants in an invidious position, from which little robust
legislation can follow. I believe your own interests in the energy
sector leave you less than impartial. The leaderless Labour Party in
Scotland, already a lack lustre contributor, is now surely comprised to the point of non-participation. I am also disappointed that not one open public meeting has been held. Further I have no expectation of the next UK Government honouring any agreement.

Notwithstanding my profound reservations I wish to argue for federalism i.e. the UK Government keeps control of defence, foreign policy and currency regulation. Post- referendum two acts of the Scottish Government have illustrated the palpably ridiculous nature of the implementation of the currently devolved powers: the franchising of Scottish train services to a foreign public body when they could not be franchised to a Scottish public body and the plastic bag”tax” relying on a “gentlemen’s agreement” on charitable distribution of income from sales, and the VAT receipts going directly to Westminster from a solely Scottish initiative.

I believe all attempts to devolve chunks of this and bits of that
without scrutiny from constitutional and fiscal experts will inevitably
lead to more ridiculous outcomes. For every time any new devolved powers fail to deliver logical, fair and workable solutions the Union will be further weakened. If “the settled will of the Scottish People” is, currently, to remain within the the Union, then I believe only federalism can achieve this.

If, as mentioned previously, the next Westminster Government does fail to honour the “vow” I expect you Lord Smith to be a public, vocal defender of any agreement the Commission can reach. By accepting the Chair of the Commission I believe you have committed yourself to fighting for increased autonomy for the Scottish people for as long as this takes to achieve.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah K. Grant M.A. (Hons)

My submission to the Smith Commission

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Scotland will stand as a nation once more. The devolution journey stands testament to a return from subjugation. Only as a nation can Scotland’s destiny be manifest. Only governance of Scotland by Scotland can define the settled will of the Scottish people.

I do not support the Commission’s remit to amend the terms of Union. Fundamentally, the Union of Parliament and Crowns should be broken.

I refute that the Commission can any longer aspire to meet the expectations of the Scottish People. The agreed set of principles agreed to underpin the Commission’s deliberations too tightly bind the scope for any re-organisation of the financial levers to determine the budget of the Scottish Parliament. Without free scope, then there can be no substantive or extensive new powers.

I do not uphold the view that the Commission process can be chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin independent of the influence of his vested interests. Lord Smith of Kelvin is Chair of Scottish and Southern Energy. Public statements from this Company claim prior to the referendum maintained a defined neutral stance and a promise to work constructively with the Scottish and UK governments whatever the result. This does not mean however, that the Company does not have vested interest in maintaining their position in the UK energy market. The 2014 annual report lists as one the principle risks in the Company’s risk management register that legislative and regulatory change resulting from a positive referendum outcome for ‘yes’ could potentially disrupt the status-quo of the UK single energy market and the Company undertook to “engage constructively with the Scottish and UK governments in that event. Its approach is to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of its networks and energy supply customers in particular, while safeguarding the interests of investors”. This surely is a vested interest. Any discussion of further extensive devolved powers for Scotland may surely include the control and regulation of the portion of the UK energy market located within Scottish territory and the independence of the Commission chair is therefore compromised.

On 19 September 2014, shares of Weir Group rose 1.86 percent to 2,680 pence per share. The Weir Group is a significant oil and gas services firm. Investors were influenced by the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum. The House of Lords register of members interests states that Lord Smith of Kelvin holds shares in Weir Group. The Weir Group Annual Report for 2014 shows that the share holdings by Lord Smith of Kelvin as at 1 Jan 2014 are at a significant level of 163,400 shares. These holdings are in part connected to Lord Smith of Kelvins tenure as chair of Weir Group up to 31 December 2013. Of significant public debate in the weeks following 19 September 2014 has been the award of major ‘fracking’ licences within Scottish territory by the Westminster government. On 14 December 2013, whilst Lord Smith of Kelvin was chair of the Weir Group, the Company’s chief executive announced that the Company was well placed to use its expertise to exploit new fracking operations in Scotland. This surely represents a vested interest. Any discussion of further extensive devolved powers for Scotland may surely include the control and regulation of licences for ‘fracking’ operations located within Scottish territory and the independence of the Commission chair is therefore compromised.

I challenge the legitimacy of the Labour Party as participants in the process as they can currently lay no coherent claim to representing the inclusive engagement of a proportion of the Scottish People. The Labour Party, as part of the Commission, has conspicuously undermined the legitimacy of its active participation. The Labour Party is a participant in the Commission based on their status as a party, on both the Scottish and UK stage, who have historically played a significant active role in the public sphere with respect to both the strength of the union and the devolution of the Scottish nation. As such they claim legitimacy to express views on behalf of the people of Scotland and the wider UK and as a representative of the UK establishment and it would be hoped that in this respect they can participate in attaining the facilitation of an inclusive engagement process across Scotland.

However, the party’s submission is not a considered document that engages with the will of the Scottish people who actively participated in the referendum debate in the months leading up to 18 Sept 2014.

The Labour Party submission is no more than the Scottish Labour’s Devolution Commission Report published in March 2014. Whilst this report is the summary of an involved and considered process, the pre-referendum period moved forward the relevant debate in many areas that cannot by default be reflected in the submission.

A brief example may suffice to illustrate: the protection of the NHS in Scotland was a significant point of campaigning for both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps, with information disseminated, frequently contradictory, on funding models. The prospect of a new international trade deal (TTIP) was cited as a major potential threat which would potentially undermine the current independence of the NHS in Scotland. The ‘vow’ made by the main Westminster party leaders, frequently cited as a major factor in the referendum outcome, devotes a paragraph to the funding model for the NHS in Scotland. The NHS is not mentioned in the Labour Party submission to the Smith Commission.

Almost as if Scottish Labour wished to reinforce their disdain for the Commission through the poverty of its submission, the lack of re-analysis of the post referendum devolution debate is trumped by the covering letter, which in large part is a cut and paste of the main paragraphs of the forward to the Devolution Commission Report.

The fundamental lack of respect shown to Commission by Scottish Labour as demonstrated by the submission only of a regurgitated out of date report and a self plagiarised introductory letter fatally flaws the credibility Scottish Labour’s participation.

To this should now be added the confusion of who speaks for the Labour Party in Scotland. The submission was sincerely submitted by the then Leader of Scottish Labour, Johann Lamont. Scottish Labour are now led only by appointed proxy and Johann Lamont’s resignation statement laid clear the domination and control of Scottish Labour by the UK National Labour Party based from Westminster. Who now do Iain Gray MSP and Gregg McClymont represent within the Commission, their party’s submission is clearly from a Scottish Labour leader no longer in post whose office was made untenable by UK office bearers. Do they speak for the people of Scotland as representatives of Scottish Labour, or for the national Labour Party who have now acted to weaken their mandate to speak for this devolved region with independent voice. A new leader of Scottish Labour will not be in post until later in the year and this will leave the Commission with key participants devoid of a clear participatory mandate until such time that the timelines for the Commission conclusions would render a credible and coherent involvement from Scottish Labour redundant.

Notwithstanding these qualifications, at this time, the Smith Commission defines our immediate horizon on the journey to defining the Scottish nation. It is with these caveats that I wish my submission to be considered. I do not regard myself qualified to comment on the broader range of devolution issues that may be considered with the Smith Commission remit, however I request that the submission below, as it answers to an area of expertise in which I can claim some knowledge and authority, is considered by the Commission.

I hold relevant qualifications and experience in the management of Human Resources within the Scottish Food Manufacturing Sector. It is my wish that the Commission consider in detail the devolution framework required to sustain a skilled and secure workforce to support the needs of the Scottish nation.

Scotland needs a fully devolved accountability to manage the nation’s labour market. Such levers include but are not limited to an integrated approach to; migration, primary, further and adult continuing education funding and structure; apprenticeships and vocational and professional training; minimum wage levels and wages boards; in-work social security benefits; child care, flexible working and parental care provisions; powers to nationalise industrial sectors or enter into state/private joint ownership arrangements to ensure employment protection; equality legislation and protection from discrimination in employment; health and safety at work provisions; legal protection for workers in employment and redundancy legislation; legislation and access information and consultation at work; open access for workers to conciliation processes and employment tribunals; and an employee relations framework including freedom of association and collective bargaining arrangements that balance the power relationships between employers and employees, and gives fair scope for collective bargaining processes and the positive contribution of organised labour to represent the interests of the nations workforce at company, sector and national levels.

I would propose that Scotland maintains full participation in and adherence to the EU employment directives and has devolved powers to remove Scotland from opt out provisions built into the UK’s adherence to the EU social chapter of the Maastricht Treaty, specifically, the opt out from the working time limits in the EU Working Time Directive. Scotland should have devolved power over the UK opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, specifically as this relates to UK labour law and the right to strike.

The Labour Party submission proposes devolution of the responsibility for the operation of employment tribunals and their procedural rules and also for enforcement of equalities legislation. Whilst these proposals are worthy in their own right they are limited in imagination and scope. I propose that all employment legislation (including that which relates to access to and functioning of employment tribunals) and equalities legislation should be matters fully devolved into the Scottish legal system.

The Scottish Socialist Party submission proposes devolution provisions in regards to the Scottish labour market under the sections titled ‘Power to Protect and Sustain Jobs and Services’ and ‘Power to Eradicate Poverty’. I support these suggestions without qualification.

The Scottish Green Party submission proposes devolution of authority with respects to the Human Rights Act. I support these proposals in so far as they provide continued protection in employment for Scottish workers. I also support the proposal to extend the Labour Party proposals such that trades union legislation becomes a devolved matter.

The Scottish Government proposals include the devolution of all employment and employability policy and for all equality policy. I support these proposals.

I respectively request that the Smith Commission take forward the individual party and government submissions insofar as they relate to provisions to devolve control and management of the Scottish labour market as a co-ordinated consideration which is extended and integrated as required to ensure that the people and government of Scotland can control the mechanics of securing and sustaining a skilled and secure workforce to support the needs of the Scottish nation.