Climate change could be a benefit for the economy

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This weather last week was rather good from my selfish point of view, dry in the main showers towards the end of the week, and at night; what could be better?

The grass has really bulked up in the silage fields over the last 10 days as very large leaves have grown on the ryegrass plants, dwarfing those which went before.

By the time you read this we will be cutting silage for the second time this year (6 weeks to the day since the first cut), but this time it will all be compacted into ‘Ag-Bags’; large plastic tubes which will be sealed and netted to protect them from the crows.

I have not put grass into ag-bags before, but we used them last year for maize at Ripley and apart from serious damage to some bags from the resident Parquets (which have been reduced in number now) it has done a terrific job. We will make this cut of grass fairly dry as it will pack better in the bag and there is less water being carted about.

We have been shooting crows this week in order to discourage them from eating the feed around the farm and from flying into the buildings making a mess. There are so many of them now after a good breeding season this spring, but they will have to find somewhere else to feed as they are not welcome here in such huge numbers.

We have some huge rookeries in our woods and the sky darkens as they fly over in the evening on their way back. They built nests in a new area close to the farm buildings this year and I should have discouraged that, and I am now suffering as a result. They will need to find somewhere else to nest next year, further away from the cows and their feed.

As the RSPCA is taken to task by government and others over its advert in national papers last week with more than 80 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority over the sensational and grossly inaccurate claims made by the charity, I see that in Wales there is concern over an increase in new herd breakdown with bTB following the start of the intensive vaccination programme.

Chief Vet Christianne Glossop insists that there is no reasonable basis to connect the increase of new breakdown to badger vaccination, and I am sure that she is right in her claim that ‘cattle herd incidence is characterised by short-term variations within longer term trends’. I hope we can all agree to wait and see what those long term trends are, and that the same fair play will be given to the pilot culls.

When you consider that Glastonbury Festival, Wimbledon and the British Grand Prix are all on this weekend, the weather is glorious. It has rained a little for all three events last Friday, and there is more rain arriving early this week for Wimbledon, but what a weekend they are all having weather-wise.

This is very different to last year, when the jet stream was stubbornly sitting further south bringing torrents of rain. This year the Azores ‘high’ looks set to push more summer weather our way and the prospects are looking good given that late June and early July is often the pivotal time which determines the weather for the rest of the summer. According to the Met Office, if the Azores high can position itself in a favourable position after the solstice, it bodes well for July and August.

A government report this week will discuss the merits of global warning and for a change will show how the economy could be boosted by a warmer climate. The National Adaptation programme published on Monday by Defra suggests that farming, forestry and tourism will all benefit from warmer summers, whilst shipping will profit from shorter sea routes caused by melting of the ice caps.

Our health could benefit according to the report, as we spend more time outdoors where exposure to sunshine will boost our vitamin D levels. It does of course mention the threat from storms, floods, droughts and other extreme weather events too, but the overall result looks to be in our favour as crop yields increase, growth rates increase and more tourists arrive. Al fresco living would encourage more activity, keeping us all fitter; an added bonus. Light that BBQ sport.

As Government is set to pay businesses for not using electricity, all our domestic bills will go up to compensate for that. The reason is that we have not built enough capacity for generating electricity, but talked about the oncoming crisis for years. What is it about this country? In France for example it seems they just get on with things and seemed not to have ruined the country in the process.

Here, major government infrastructure projects, future power requirements, growing our own food; none of it seems to happen as we listen to small protesting groups, with spineless politicians frightened to mention never mind get on with major projects. It is therefore refreshing to not only hear Boris Johnson talking about such issues, but also Owen Patterson tackling issues such as bTB in cattle, GM food and other issues without flinching.

Nick Clegg and Cameron are caught in the age old media trick of ‘Would you feed GM to your family’ and they dither. Why don’t they just say that they have been to the USA – haven’t you? Blair was caught out with the MMR vaccine in the same way, but John Gummer fed Cordelia (his daughter) a British beef-burger at the height of the BSE problem when he was Secretary of State which got rid of the media instantly, although some criticised him for it.

I long for a Prime Minister and government who will actually get on with things instead of floundering around trying to please everyone. Maybe we are not capable of being governed in that way anymore? Do get the government we deserve? We must have been very very bad in a previous life to deserve this and statistics show that in West Sussex we are living longer which means we will endure more of it!

Never mind, things are much worse in Australia. First of all it is winter there and its summer here, but their first lady Prime Minister has just been ousted by a coup within her own party! Julia Gillard was skating on very thin ice when I was there in February as her popularity sank and the man who she ousted in a previous coup Kevin Rudd plotted behind the scenes. The ice got thinner over the last couple of months and she decided to jump! She challenged Kev to a contest and she lost; badly. She set a condition for the ballet that whoever lost must leave politics, and now she is gone.

The staunch Republican and feminist lost support amongst women after some ill-judged attacks and some publicity stunts which did not go well; needless to say she was never that popular with the majority of Aussie blokes. Kev is now promising to be a nicer bloke, acknowledging the brutality of his profession and asking for a kinder and more gentle politics. He has got his work cut out as over a third of the cabinet resigned following the result.

Gwyn Jones