Saturday 30 October 2021

"Oh no, they won't!"

From This is Money, spotted by Mombers:

Forecast rises in interest rates could force landlords to raise rents to meet mortgage affordability criteria, or risk being trapped on higher rates, according to a buy-to-let expert. This is because interest costs across the life of a buy-to-let mortgage would more than quadruple, going from £115 a month in interest now, compared to £479 with the rise in one example.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast a worst-case scenario whereby a 'wage spiral' or energy price shock would require the Bank of England to increase base rate to 3.5 per cent in 2023 to curb inflation.


Rents are the Maypole around which house prices dance. Current selling prices and/or what people are prepared to borrow is the Net Present Value of the rental income (for a landlord) or the rent saved (for a first time buyer).

More prosaically, prices will settle at approx. the level where the monthly mortgage payments are about the same as the rental value. So sure, if there is a big interest rate hike, selling prices will fall (all things being equal) so that new buyers' monthly mortgage payments are still approx. the same as the monthly rent.

Landlords can't 'pass on' that fall in value any more than they can 'pass on' higher interest rates, a tenant would just move out and rent from a new landlord who had bought at the new lower price/higher interest rate.

If old landlords could 'pass on' higher interest rates and rents went up, then madness would ensue. The new landlords would be able charge the new higher rent, even though their interest payments were still based on the old lower rents i.e. they would be making a super-profit from Day One which would be competed away almost immediately.

Wednesday 27 October 2021

When being wrong has never made you look so stupid.

From The Evening Standard:

Half of over-50s have had Covid booster jab... At least 6.1 million booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been delivered across the UK.

Half? Really? Clearly, there are about 30 million over-50s in the UK, so that's nowhere near half.

Some outlets read and understood the NHS press release, for example the North West Mail:

NHS delivers Covid booster to half of eligible people aged 50 and over

The key word here is "eligible" i.e. over-50s with underlying health issues, who care for elderly parents, NHS workers and so on.

When being wrong has never felt so right.

At the very least, the correct answer should be "All four answers" but strictly speaking, it would be "All five answers" because the answer "All five answers" is itself correct.

Monday 25 October 2021

They own land, give them money!

(You know, we really should be numbering these posts)

The latest government initiative in their campaign to redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich implement green energy measures is battery farms.

Landowners are being offered up to £50,000 per acre per year to have containers full of batteries sitting on their land. The current agricultural rent is about £120 per acre per year. Where's the money coming from? the government's Green Levy, i.e. higher energy bills for the likes of you and I. The best tax may be the tax that other people pay, but it's even better when they don't know that they are paying it.

Sunday 24 October 2021

Weekly deaths England & Wales to October 2021

Here's the chart based on ONS data.

In April and May, we were undershooting the 2015-19 average, it's crept up since then and we are now about 1,000 deaths/week above that average, which is roughly equal to the official number of daily Covid deaths. Will 'they' panic and impose another lockdown? The SNP are probably gagging for it, but I'm not sure anybody would comply.

Monday 18 October 2021

The eighteen-year cycle

From WalesOnline

Sunday 17 October 2021

Why is there no Greenhouse Effect in the desert?

The GHE is calculated by working out the effective/expected temperature of 'the surface' of a planet by just looking at how much radiation it absorb (i.e. incoming solar radiation minus the amount reflected) and plugging the number (240 W/m2 average for Earth) into the clever formula.

The 'surface' means 'whatever the sunshine hits first', which on Earth is mainly clouds; or all clouds in the case of Venus. So you are actually calculating the expected temperature of the clouds; the Alarmist trick is to compare/confuse that 'surface' (from the point of view of incoming radiation) with what we mere mortals consider to the the surface i.e. land and oceans, which are of course a lot warmer because of the gravito-thermal effect (unless you go to the top of Mount Everest, which is above the clouds and hence no GHE there either).

The clever formula works much better when applied to Mars or the Moon, which have little or no clouds. The actual surface temperatures are pretty close to the calculated effective temperatures (if you adjust for solar angle and night-time cooling; but there's also little or no atmosphere so you don't need to worry about warmth being transferred from Equator to Poles or from day side to night side).

Luckily, on Earth there are also places with little or no clouds; they are called deserts. The Sahara straddles the Tropic of Cancer, so it gets peak 1,361 W/m2 sunshine at midday during the summer months. Divide that by the sq root of two to get average during a 12-hour day = 962 W/m2; halve that for the 12-hour night = 481 W/m2; then knock off one-fifth reflected = 385 W/m2.

Plug 385 W/m2 into the formula and you get an expected average temperature of 287K. Deserts have a large diurnal temperature range, just like The Moon (they cool down fast during the night because there is no cloud blanket), of (say) 40 degrees. A typical desert near the equator is just above freezing just before dawn and 40 degrees hotter in the early afternoon, so the average actual temperature is about 293K.

OK, that's six degrees warmer than expected and these are only back of an envelope calculations, but it's nowhere near the much vaunted 33 degree Greenhouse Effect, despite there being more CO2 than average above the Tropics (the troposphere is thickest over The Equator and thinnest over The Poles).

[We could also dispense with the whole concept of averaging sunshine over 24 hours and look at the hypothetical peak radiation of about 1,000 W/m2 at midday in summer, plug that into the formula and we get peak temp of 364K = 91C. Temperatures get nowhere near that, but to the extent they do, that might explain the 6 degree discrepancy?]

The answer to the question in the title is of course "Because there are no bloody clouds over the desert, and the Greenhouse Effect on Venus or Earth is purely down to clouds and their altitude!", just in case you were wondering.

Saturday 16 October 2021

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (490)

One objection that often floats about is that while you can establish reasonably reliable relative values for generic types of land and buildings - urban homes, factories, offices, retail premises, farmland etc, there will always be a few outliers.

I agree, things like stately homes and theme parks in the middle of the countryside (or ski-runs in the Cairngorms or whatever outlandish examples people come up with) aren't bought and sold very often. It's difficult to say what they'd sell for or rent for, and how that would be split between building value and location value.

So what?

Even with conceptually simple taxes like income tax, there are endless grey areas. Who is and isn't UK resident? Where's the line between a gift out of gratitude and a payment for services? What's a taxable dividend and what's a non-taxable return of capital? If a shareholder also works for a company, is the money they get from the company dividend, wages or a loan?

There are thousands of pages of legislation, guidance and legal cases on all these issues; it's sometimes impossible to understand why a Tax Tribunal decided that somebody's receipt from a certain source was taxable or not, and sometimes they decide the opposite way round to what you'd initially expect, given the basic facts. But they are the Tribunals and I'm not.

Nonetheless, the bulk of what you'd think is taxable income is actually taxed; some people wriggle through loopholes; others have to pay tax on stuff where the sensible person would assume it's non-taxable. Some tax is never paid and HMRC just writes it off. Overall collection rates about 90% of theoretical receipts. And we accept this as 'good enough'.

Conversely, LVT assessments for 98% of land by value are a doddle i.e. developed land in urban areas where there is plenty of data on rents and selling prices. Farmland is about 2% by value, that's not too difficult either (the tax would be tens of pounds per acre per year at most, unless we just exempt it). And collection rates will be very high - who cares where the owner lives? If they run up massive arrears, the land and buildings just get auctioned off and they get the balance.

As to stately homes and theme parks, valuers just have to make up some general rules or haggle on a case-by-case basis. If they end up getting the benefit of the doubt and are under-taxed, so what? Most of the stately homes which the National Trust owns were given away by owners who couldn't afford the running costs, and even with their membership and entry fees most of them aren't particularly profitable, so they can't be worth much, possibly next to nothing i.e. not worth taxing.

Sunday 10 October 2021

"Now we're short of bus drivers!"

From The Daily Mail:

The driver shortage across the UK has now spread into the bus network as public transport staff swap bus routes for work as truckers.

The wage increase promised to attract new HGV hauliers has led public transport staff to make a change, impacting the number of journey's on offer and resulting in the axing of others. Bus drivers can earn £32,500 on average, but can now earn up to £78,000 behind the wheel of a lorry instead.

Well of course, this was bound to happen. Anybody who's mastered the skill of negotiating buses through congested cities and along narrow country lanes (as well as the stress of idiot passengers and trying to stick to the timetable) will master lorry driving within a couple of days.

So then wages for bus drivers will go up a bit, and more people will train up to be bus drivers, ex-bus drivers will go back into bus driving etc.

In free markets, this sorts itself out, usually much sooner that you'd expect. And on another bright note, my assumption that the petrol queues would fizzle out after two weeks appears to have been correct. I went for 'two weeks' because that is the typical gap between visits, there is of course a wide spread.

Friday 8 October 2021

"Was the switch to green fuel behind the petrol crisis?"

Asks The Daily Mail:

Retailers have blamed the spiralling petrol crisis on the government's switchover to greener fuel. Industry leaders said they had been 'emptying their tanks as fast as we could' ahead of the rollout - which left them short during the recent panic buying. They demanded an inquiry into the forecourt chaos that has left pumps dry across the country...

Crowd behavious is unpredictable and something must have triggered it somehow, so it's not implausible. Like people who are trampled to death in stampedes at open air gatherings, there must have been a first person who pushed too hard or tried to squeeze in where they didn't fit.

However, in answer to the question, I think on balance "no", because the timeline doesn't fit. E10 was introduced on 1 September and we (i.e. I and all the other motorists in the queues on 24 September) first saw reports of shortages the day before, i.e. 23 September, so that's a three-week gap, in which time surely the petrol stations would have handled the transition.

Thursday 7 October 2021

"Heat rises" and other Alarmist fairy tales...

Sorry to come back to this, but it has been bugging me for days.

Joseph Postma posted a video on YouTube. He is top man and a "climate denier" but he has sadly fallen into the Alarmist traps of:
a) ignoring clouds, and
b) assuming that the Sun warms land and oceans and that they in turn warm the troposphere from below.
So he fights the Physics deniers on their chosen territory, splitting hairs over radiation theory and thermodynamics and so on, all of which are actually largely irrelevant.

I pointed out in the comments how the Greenhouse Effect actually dictates surface temperatures (cloud temp is fixed by sunshine; add on lapse rate x altitude of clouds = surface temperature) and a self-appointed Guardian Of The Galaxy (a True Believer and regular commenter at Science of Doom) tied himself in knots trying to come up with killer arguments. Apart from the usual ad hominems and meaningless jargon/waffle, the best he could come up with was this:

"The Sun heats the Earth and the lower atmosphere is heated by the Earth's surface... No physics supports top down warming when heat naturally rises."

Let's do the last stupid statement first. In everyday life and on a small scale, sure, hot air (from a fire, for example) moves up vertically. That's only because hot air wants to expand, so becomes less dense than the surrounding air, so gravity pulls the denser air down in its place and this in turn pushes up the less dense air. It's the density that is key - you could put a helium balloon in the freezer for a bit, it will still float upwards in much warmer air.

'Heat' itself doesn't rise, and certainly not 'naturally'. 'Heat' doesn't really do anything, it just a measure of thermal energy that moves from a hot object to a cold object. Put some polystyrene between them, hey presto, much less 'heat'.

When hot or warm air rises and expands, its temperature falls. It has the same amount of energy as before, but it gains as much potential energy equal as it loses in thermal energy. That is key to this, the TOTAL energy.

People always forget potential energy (mass x altitude x gravity), because it's not much practical use. You have to convert it to kinetic energy first to be able to harness it, i.e. allow water from a high reservoir to fall through turbines to generate electrical energy.

Now the first stupid statement, "The Sun heats the Earth". The Sun warms up whatever it hits first, which is clouds for two-thirds of sunshine. And it warms them the same as anything else, you can calculate the likely end temperature (effective temperature) using the Stefan-Boltzmann equation and it's around 255K.

Let's say one-third of the sunshine actually directly hits Earth at ground or sea level, plus a bit more that gets through clouds, call it half in total, This is only sufficient to warm land and ocean surface to 234K. That can't warm something that must be at least 255K, can it?

[Question: if 'back radiation', which is emitted in all directions, can significantly increase the temperature of the land and ocean surface below it, why doesn't it increase the temperature of clouds above it by a similar amount? As a result of which they'd all evaporate?]

Third stupid statement: "The lower atmosphere is heated by the Earth's surface". They are to all intents and purposes the same temperature and are both warm for the same reason.

What actually happens is that clouds are a certain altitude and the Sun warms them to a certain temperature, which of course warms the surrounding air to the same temperature. Clouds are high up, so that air also has a lot of potential energy. Energy likes to spread out evenly, so the air lower down, which has less or no potential energy, has more thermal energy to balance it out.

That PE - TE trade-off is the whole basis for the dry lapse rate, which = gravity ÷ specific heat capacity, and is observed in real life. The Gas Laws just show that low and high temperatures will never equalise. Pressure falls faster than density as you go up, so temperatures have to fall as well as you go up. Temperature is proportional to pressure ÷ density all the way up.

To use a simple maths analogy, Dave is six inches taller than Jack; Jack is six inches shorter than Dave. That doesn't tell us how tall either is. If I tell you the height of one, then you know the height of the other.

The lapse rate also works in both directions; cloud temp is fixed and surface temp is simply cloud temp + their altitude x lapse rate. It would be one heck of a series of coincidences if it worked the other way round and the surface temperature magically adjusted itself to be whatever is required to give a cloud temperature that is exactly what you would expect if you calculated cloud temperature on the basis of the sunshine they receive.

The Guardian Of The Galaxy then played what he thought was another trump card, saying that clouds are below freezing (duh, I kept saying that) and so they can't warm the land or ocean surface. It's not as simple as "clouds warm the surface", it's to do with energy (in all its forms) trying to spread itself out as evenly as possible. I think the fancy term is 'entropy'.

And doesn't this nuke the Alarmist claim that radiation from cold things (CO2) makes a warm thing (the surface) even warmer? As any fule kno, CO2 absorbs/emits radiation mainly at 15 microns, if you plug that into Wien's Displacement Law, that's equivalent to radiation from a blackbody at about 200K (minus 73C).
Is this really so difficult to understand?

Is there a proper physicist who can see a flaw in this logic - the approach reconciles even better on Venus with 100% cloud cover so we don't need to make adjustments for that sunshine which directly hits the land or ocean surface like on Earth. If surface temperatures there were purely due to 'back radiation', its atmosphere would have to amplify upwelling surface radiation several hundred times over. Our Alarmist twat insisted, unprompted by me, that "Radiative fluxes do not add, they average" which is not only contradicts his whole thesis (that 'back radiation' multiplies itself) but is complete bollocks anyway, radiation is far more complicated than that.

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Sounds like a massive rent seeking scam to me.

From The Guardian:

Countries and organisations planning to host events at vital UN climate talks in Glasgow next month have said they fear that increased costs at this year’s event will cause problems for developing nations.

Multiple participants said that the cost of renting Cop26 pavilions – event spaces for hosting workshops, panel discussions and keynote speeches during the conference – is considerably higher than it was at Cop25 in Madrid, with some saying it had increased by as much as 30%.

Organisations say they were told that a combination of Brexit and the pandemic were to blame for the high costs. It comes after the Financial Times reported that one organisation was quoted nearly £500,000 for its space.

The total rental value of such a site relates purely to how many 'customers' you can meet and how much money your wring out of them and/or how much 'greenwashing' you need to do. Sure, post-Brexit, wages for skilled labour have gone up (that was an argument FOR Brexit) but the real costs come off the total rental value to give a lower pure rent. If the real costs were more than the total rental value, nobody would want to exhibit.

So neither Brexit nor the pandemic were to blame, the rents here are a function of how much money is sloshing around the whole 'environmental-industrial complex'.

(As Treasurer for the Labour Land Campaign, I had to sign off a payment for our stand at this year's Labour Party conference, that was a couple of grand just to have a table with leaflets for two or three days. If - big if - they can drum up a hundred new members chipping in their sub's for a couple of years, it was worth it, in purely commercial terms.)

Monday 4 October 2021

"Fuel issues persist in south but 'over' elsewhere"

Says the BBC.

That's hardly surprising. We in the South East are the most inconsiderate and irrational people in England, from which I do not exclude myself :-)

I think I beat The Daily Mash by a few hours.

Sunday 3 October 2021

I misunderstood the first headline

From The Dail Mail, via MSN:

Minister calls petrol crisis a lesson in abandoning fossil fuels

I initially thought that somebody had seen sense and admitted that the petrol crisis is a good lesson in the futility and nigh-impossibility of abandoning fossil fuels, but I was sorely disappointed:

Environment minister Zac Goldsmith has said the ongoing petrol crisis is a 'good lesson' in the need for the dependence on fossil fuels to end.

But hopefully I haven't misunderstood the second headline, hinting that IDS actually cares about welfare recipients::

Ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith launches a last ditch attempt to save £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift as he urges Boris Johnson to keep the extra cash in place over the winter.

Go IDS! If they want to cut the welfare bill, the first priority must be to phase out Housing Benefit for private tenants.

Saturday 2 October 2021

Vaccine effectiveness

The COVID vaccines were supposed to be 90% effective against dying from COVID. Trouble is, there's lots of other things you can die of. According to statistics published by the ONS, you are more likely to die early if you have been vaccinated. Why this should be is another matter, but the stats seem fairly unequivocal. Analysis of the statistics by Norman Fenton and Martin Neil shows that the death rate of those who have been vaccinated is now far higher than we would expect for the time of year, even allowing for the skewing effect of age.

Unless, of course, someone sharper-eyed than me can spot a flaw in their reasoning.

Friday 1 October 2021

"Venus calling"

You might have noticed that I'm not doing so many posts on the Greenhouse Effect anymore, that's because I have finally worked it out and there are few questions left unanswered.

I stumbled across a good article by Clive Best in which he arrives at the same conclusion as I have:

... the radiating level on Venus is set at 260 [degrees K at] 50 km up in the atmosphere because [the clouds at that altitude are] directly heated by the sun. So Venus' surface is heated through convection from above and not directly by CO2 greenhouse effects.

Just remove the word "directly" from "and not directly by" and we're good. Note: Clive still believes in the GHG myth despite all the evidence to the contrary which he presents so eloquently. And I'm not sure it really is 'convection', it is something slightly different which I refer to as the 'gravito-thermal effect', but hey.

So the bottom line question is that if you were to replace 90% of the CO2 molecules on Venus with an equal mass of N2 molecules would the surface temperature change ? I don’t think so – the surface temperature would remain exactly the same.
On a related note, I had a spat in the comments (on YouTube, no less) with a devout Believer who came up with crap like "heat rises" (he doesn't know what 'heat' is) and thought he could score a point by saying "although the sun warms the clouds, they are still below freezing" - I had clearly stated that the cloud cover on Earth is, very approximately, 255K, which as any fule kno is -18 C. FFS.