Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Fun Online Polls: Pies and Syria

I have been a bit out of action the last few days, so slightly belatedly: the results to last week's Fun Online Poll:

Does a pie need pastry on the top and bottom to qualify as a pie?

Yes, both 76%
No, a pastry lid is sufficient 24%


Good, we are three-quarters of the way to common sense. The correct answer is bottom and sides are most important. The upper crust, as per usual, is pretty superfluous.

Full write up over at Pub Curmudgeon's.
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Yes, we know that The Guardian have been saying that global warming caused the civil war in Syria for ages, but what's a bit worrying is that somebody who would like to be an unelected head of state is parroting this bullshit (while whizzing round in a private helicopter and living in several fully-staffed castles).

From the first article which is still rational, yes, if does appear likely that the drought in Syria was one of the indirect causes of civil unrest, as starving farmers moved to towns where people are more likely to start revolutions, that's happened quite often in history. But you can just extend this simple connection several steps in both directions.

So this is probably true:

Drought -> civil unrest

But you can't just keep extrapolating and end up with this:

Driving a car -> CO2 emissions -> global warming -> either floods or droughts, depending on what suits your argument -> civil unrest -> violent Islamists (which we've had for four decades) -> terrorism.

So is he right? Or is it more likely The Killer Cornflake Conspiracy?

Vote here or use the widget in the sidebar.

26 comments:

Antisthenes said...

I voted for the first one but it is not in my view completely correct. Certainly outside meddling was a major contributor. However "usual violent Islamic tendencies" should be changed to "usual violent human tendencies".

All religions have their violent tendency but it is not just confined to religions as we well know from historical and current events. It just happens that Islam is particularly prone to violence at this time as other religions were equally so at other times. No doubt Islam will become less violent in time and follow the path of other religions as they have become more civilised and their hold on the consciousness of their followers have loosened.

Islam has had violent times before that have been followed by more peaceful times. Let us hope that the pattern repeats itself very quickly and that the violence never returns. I do not hold out much hope though that the violence will stop quickly or will never be repeated. Islam even with the outside influence of more civilised societies is still perhaps many decades or even centuries away from achieving the level where tolerance and peaceful coexistence is acceptable or even deemed appropriate.

Curmudgeon said...

The pie poll got another seven votes after I wrote it up, but the overall result remained exactly the same :-)

L fairfax said...

Population increase didn't help. However since Ali was murdered in 661 AD there has been periodic violence between Shias and Sunnis. The fact that Alawites (not really Shia) were so persecuted that they decided a military coup was a great idea didn't help.

L fairfax said...

Here are details of the coup in 1970
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrective_Movement_%28Syria%29

Stephen Stretton said...

Yep. You can say that drought was one of the indirect contributory factors of the unrest in Syria. I don't think that 'cause' makes much sense in this context - you have a whole load of contributory factors, including for example the Roosevelt - Ibn Saud pact at Bitter Lake. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Quincy_(CA-71)#The_Quincy_Agreement
Some of these contributory factors are maybe necessary for the rise of ISIS, but it's too strong to say it's a cause and if I've said that is was then I am suitably chastened.

Stephen Stretton said...

Basically saying one thing is a cause of another can only really be said in fairly tightly controlled contexts and with a defined sense of 'other things saying the same' which is a nonsense in the current situation. There are lots of contributory factors, including drought, American policy in Iraq, long-term Saudi funding of extremists, the violent response of the regime etc. The relevant point is that because societies are 'used' to certain conditions, the impact of a one degree rise in temperature is much greater than you might expect, because it changes the nature of which parts of the world are wet and which are dry and it makes extreme events more likely. The point is not to pin the blame of Syria entirely on Climate change, but to illustrate why small changes in global average temperatures can have big effects.

mombers said...

I'd say leaving aside the climate change debate, it is a good idea to wean ourselves off oil, it comes from terrible places and the money it is sold for is used for purposes that have not exactly advanced mankind, e.g. shut up money for the Saudi population, subsidies to Venezuelans, etc.

Graeme said...

I think the best response when someone with a grand title makes a claim about climate change is to burst out laughing.

The trouble however is that the meme starts to run and along come the climate faithful wringing their hands and subjecting us to lectures about the impact of trivial temperature changes, as if we know anything whatsoever about them.

In fact there probably was no drought in Syria. The available rainfall records are clear on that - the period 2006-11 was only 4% below the pre-2006 average. The available drought severity indices are also clear on that. There was no drought.

However wheat production did fall.

So nhow about this mas a story, based on facts rather than climatic nonsense:

Syria's population has increased rapidly since the 1960s.

Agriculture has increased and is increasingly dependent on irrigation. However, it is probably the case that groundwater started to run out in some areas.

In 2005, Assad began a liberalisation process which meant that diesel fuel tripled in price .

This made it too costly to run the irrigation pumps. So farmers started to migrate to the cities as they could not keep working their farms due to poor groundwater and expensive fuel.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anti, yes, but Islam had calmed down quite a lot for a few centuries, it flared up a bit when 0.1% of the ex-Ottoman Empire were tentatively allocated to Jewish people, then they have gone madder and madder again since 1979 Iran counter-revolution.

C, it's usually like that. The % votes barely change over the course of a week.

LF, agreed.

SS, agreed, but I refer you to G's comment.

M, finding viable alternatives to oil is a great idea. I will miss the sound of my own petrol engine is all, apart from that i couldn't care less, and I will definitely not miss the sound of other people's petrol engines.

G, aha, good background info thanks. So collectively it is their fault. Nonetheless, farming is pretty sensitive to the weather and so the 4% overall might not matter so much, if there is no rain (or cheap irrigation) at all for a few weeks at the wrong time of year the whole crop is ruined. By the same token, they've had a drought in west Texas for five years and while the farmers are none too happy about it, they are making the best of a bad job. They are not trying to overthrow the government.

James Higham said...

What then is just an upper crust on a bowl?

Mark Wadsworth said...

JH, what's the filling? The bit between upper crust and bowl?

Lola said...

M. That's all very well, but what if like me you are a bit of a petrol head.. Mmmmm 5 star. My favourite

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, wot? The naff 1980s Jackson 5 tribute band from Essex? The Jackson 5 were so awful to start with...

Lola said...

MW Nothing like nailing an ambiguity eh? 5 Star petrol - or was that before your time?

Bayard said...

Anti, yes, at the time of the crusades, Christianity was definitely more violent than Islam.

Mark, I think you'll find that allocating 1% of the Ottoman empire to the Jews was just the start of a continuous process of meddling in the middle east by France, the UK and the US that has gone on to this day. Nothing quite like an outside power removing a democratically elected head of state to really stir things up. Tom Lehrer summed up the USA's foreign policy then and now "They've got to be protected, all their rights respected, until someone we like can get elected".

L, What was 5 Star? Did it have extra lead, or was it really high in octane? I remember talk of it when I were a lad, but never saw any petrol pumps so marked. We put 4 Star in the car and 2 Star in the mower.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, by late imperial standards, we and the French weren't meddling when we divided up the Ottoman Empire - of which 99.9% by area was given to Arab/Muslim nations FFS, and the Yanks did not get involved until much later.

The Brits were just doing paternalist administration with Britain trying unsuccessfully to keep Israelis and Palestinians from each other's throats for no particular advantage to us. The Yanks took over later on trying to play referee.

Islamic violence on a global scale did not take off until 1979 Iran counter-revolution and has got steadily worse ever since. That ended centuries of relative peaceful Islam.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, always try and find other examples. The European Empires did pretty horrendous things all over the world, but the Chinese, the Indians, the south american indians and the Africans have broadly speaking forgiven us, Bear grudges, probably. Want to destroy Western civilisation, certainly not.

I'm not aware there's a pan-African movement or South East Asian extremists intent on destroying The White Man by blowing up train stations, killing tourists, raping women etc.

Graeme said...

Bayard even Terry Jones disagrees with you about your assertioj the late ners crusaders were worse than Muslims...try Baibars
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baibars

Bayard said...

"by late imperial standards, we and the French weren't meddling when we divided up the Ottoman Empire - of which 99.9% by area was given to Arab/Muslim nations FFS, and the Yanks did not get involved until much later."

Yes, but it's still meddling. We didn't carve up Germany into several separate protectorates, each under a compliant monarch, so why did we do that to the Ottoman Empire? Probably something to do with oil and Jewish money. Also there's definitely a smell of racist paternalism here: The Germanic countries are white Christians, they can be given a telling off and left to pay reparations. The Ottoman countries are brown Muslims. They have to have a complete new order imposed on them because they are not capable of governing themselves properly.

M, what we did to the Chinese was child's play compared to what they did to each other and had been doing so for centuries. By and large, the European powers have stopped meddling in India, the Far East, Africa and even the US seems to have given up meddling in South America, which might account for the lack of terrorism emanating from those parts of the world.

From where have the terrorists come who have bombed and killed people in the UK in the last half century? Northern Ireland and the Middle East. What do those countries have in common? (Clue, it's not their religion.)

G, from the Wiki article you linked to: "He was one of the commanders of the Egyptian forces that inflicted a defeat on the Seventh Crusade of King Louis IX of France." So after the Christians had gone on the rampage in the Middle East six times, the Muslims were fighting back. Quelle surprise! No meddling there then.

L fairfax said...

"Islamic violence on a global scale did not take off until 1979 Iran counter-revolution and has got steadily worse ever since. That ended centuries of relative peaceful Islam."
Centuries? They were attacking the west and forcing people into slavery until the French and Spanish conquered North Africa. The Turks were killing minorities until 1918

L fairfax said...

@"We didn't carve up Germany into several separate protectorates, each under a compliant monarch, so why did we do that to the Ottoman Empire?"
In 1918 Germany (which did lose land) was homogeneous, the Ottoman Empire had lots of different nationalities many of which wanted to be free of it. Some of which had only just survived a genocide attempt. I hope that answers your question.
Some Muslims have always attacked the west. What had Spain done in 711 AD?

Mark Wadsworth said...

LF and B. The fair anogy is carving up austro-hungarian empire and Ottoman empire. Both were done with reasonably good intentions, as well as reinstating Poland.

Lola said...

MW 5 star was about 103 octane - at least as Esso Extra it was. It was a wonderful chemical cocktail of extra lead and other nice things. In my Mini Moke with a skimmed cylinder head (for a higher CR) it was luverly.

You can actually still get a lead additive which we use for race fuel adding it to Shell V Power. That gets to about 103 octane.

DBC Reed said...

Although the Middle East's inhabitants could be more barbaric in recent times than the meddling Brits, French and Germans (see "The Greek Genocide" on Wikipedia), certain key events like the conversion of the British Navy to oil by the catastrophic Churchill before WW1 and the parallel development by the Germans of a railway from Basra to Berlin had structural effects.
As regards global warming although I am a sucker for lost causes (like LVT?) the argument for global dimming (see Wikipedia) gets the least support of nearly all of them (except Resale Price Maintenance which as far as I know is only supported by me in the UK and the American Supreme Court elsewhere.The Chinese are iffy).

Bayard said...

LF, I think you will find that the Muslims who attacked Spain were already in "the West" and that most of Spain lay to the east of them. However, whilst the Muslims were pushing west (and east) in the C10th and the Christians were counter-attacking in the centuries following, there is still room for Mark's "centuries of peace" between then and modern times. I don't think two spots of warlike behaviour centuries apart really counts as "always". Yes, there were outbreaks of sporadic violence during the "centuries of peace" but that was true all over the world, not just in Muslim countries. The Muslim Turks may have been killing minorities until 1918, but that was nothing to what the Christian Germans did in the 1940s, or the Christian Australians did to the aborigines in the C19th, or the very Christian white Americans did to the native inhabitants for two centuries.

L fairfax said...

"The Muslim Turks may have been killing minorities until 1918, but that was nothing to what the Christian Germans did in the 1940s"
1) Hitler was not a Christian
2) Do you really not know who gave him the idea that you can get away with genocide? (It was the Turks). I thought that everyone knew that.
"there is still room for Mark's "centuries of peace" between then and modern times"
They were attacking Europe and enslaving Europeans for centuries until the French and Spanish colonized North Africa please google Barbary Jihad, bombardment of Algiers etc.

"the Christian Australians did to the aborigines in the C19th, or the very Christian white Americans did to the native inhabitants for two centuries"
Very wrong of course. Not what Jesus would do but what Mo would do (as he did the Jews of Medina, Jews aren't even allowed to visit Medina now and when Mo arrived there were loads of them).