Ed Lines

THAT’S a relief. The planet, saved by 196 politicians simply signing a piece of paper at last week’s UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

I’m not sure David Attenborough’s polar bears will be dancing a jig on their melting ice caps just yet though. And I doubt the residents of Cumbria broke off from mopping out their flooded homes to raise a glass of cheer at the news.

But still, China and Russia agreeing with America. The UK agreeing with France and Germany. Something needs doing and we’re all going to do it. It’s a result, if only a symbolic one.

It should mean the beach in Benidorm, circa August 2099, will be a baking 32 degrees Celsius as opposed to a scorching 33.5 degrees.

Not that I expect to be pondering over whether to slap on the factor 50 or ‘go for the burn’ by the turn of the next century. I don’t like what I see in the mirror now, so I really don’t fancy having a face like a melted welly looking back at me in 80-odd years, no matter what miracles medical science will be capable of by then.

How much of a difference to changing weather patterns Paris will make, if any, I haven’t a clue – but if it does nothing except shut the climate-apocalypse mob up for a while, it will have been worthwhile in my book.

Am I a climate change ‘denier’ – which in the modern Politically Correct world, is perhaps worse than being a Holocaust denier?

I wouldn’t say that. The planet’s weather certainly seems to be changing – but engines and power stations weren’t pumping out millions of tons of CO2 before or after the last ice age.

Whatever did create mountain ranges, ocean canyons, and separated not just the UK from mainland Europe but Canada from Russia, Australia from South Africa/South America and formed our deserts and ice caps, it wasn’t anything to do with a dodgy emission reading on Volkswagen cars.

The world has been having its weather cycles for 4.5 billion years and, to put things in scale, we’ve been ‘measuring’ it for the daily equivalent of about a thousandth of a second. But hey, man knows everything…

STILL, the faces of the open-toed sandal boys will be a picture if, in 2099, the planet has been carbon free for 40 or 50 years as agreed at Paris, but that beach in Benidorm isn’t just a searing 43 degrees, but six feet under water. Oops.

And imagine the irony if the genius of the day produces science ‘proving’ that the problem all along wasn’t too much CO2, but too little!

(And as much as I may be talking uninformed rubbish, most science is basically today’s best guess – until a smarter guess comes along).

And what if, by 2099, mother Earth’s winds have died down to the point of not being able to extinguish a candle, let alone turn one of those monstrous wind turbines defacing the nation?

At least the blokes in the solar power industry will be having it large I suppose – because of course that’s the real agenda here. The people making the most ‘green’ noise about climate change are the people making money and careers out of it. Ever was it thus, ever shall it be.

I regularly drive past the new mega turbines at the junction of the M1/A1M and I confess, in my luddite ignorance, to not ‘getting’ them.

Most days there’s barely a breath of wind. Not a leaf moving on a tree. Yet two or three will be turning away – while a couple will be still. What’s that about? Do they put the brakes on? Or when there’s no wind, do they switch them on at the mains? (Bit of a contradiction, that).

And when it is windy, why are some turbines as still as a Buckingham Palace sentry?

We know it gets too windy for them and also that the government subsidises companies to turn them off when the grid’s at capacity. All of which makes zero sense, unless you’re Tim Yeo, the disgraced former Tory minister who was chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, while trousering fortunes from numerous ‘green’ companies.

No? What’s wrong with that? Must be just me then.

True, the world needs to live more responsibly, cleanly and efficiently. That’s sensible and I’m glad those countries found rare agreement.

Do I think it will make a blind bit of difference, either to emissions or mother Earth running an occasional cold or fever? Not really. But I do know the ‘sustainable energy’ racket will run and run.

WATCHING Shaker Aamer, the recently released Guantanamo prisoner, my ‘dodgy-detector’ hovered around the 5/10 level.

Softly spoken, smiling, with a direct look and an apparent disarming honesty, he should go into politics. Maybe not. If he is a genuinely nice guy that would quickly corrupt him.

If Mr Aamer can get professional doubters like me to warm to him, then he has a gift – this despite him admitting to being a ‘pal’ of hate preacher Abu Qatada, knowing hook-handed fanatic Abu Hamza, having ‘possibly’ been in Osama bin Laden’s house, and even ‘possibly’ at al Qaeda’s Battle of Tora Bora, with the Americans.

That’s a lot of unfortunate coincidences when wondering why the Americans kept him banged up in Camp Gitmo for 13 years.

But Shaker Aamer’s 5/10 trust-rating from me makes him a full 4/10 higher than I would give any US military/intelligence functionary, and 3/10 higher than any British authority, from a Chief Constable to the head of MI5 and our Prime Minister.

How Aamer can smile, reflect  so articulately and without apparent rancour about his experiences in a place that will be a stain on America’s flag for centuries, I really don’t know.

Most of us would be bitter haters of the west now if we weren’t already – which he was – and that makes him all the more remarkable.

His story will make for interesting following.

WE BID farewell far too soon to another fallen troop this morning (Friday) at St Paulinus RC Church, with the funeral of my cousin Brian Pepper. Sixty-three. It’s no age.

If you know the four Pepper brothers, you know all about laughing out loud. And although at times like this it’s customary to write tender homilies about the deceased, if you knew Bri, you know he wasn’t quite that kind of bloke. I can only ever picture him with two expressions on his face – creased hilarious laughter (usually at someone’s misfortune) or red-faced, indignation of the infuriated type. Bri went from freezing to boiling in a heartbeat.

He and wife Jackie had been together since meeting as not much more than kids, working the holiday seasons down in Devon. I can only think they endured as long and as well as they did because they both verged on being barking mad.

The Peppers got their side-stitching humour from their mum, my auntie Mary, one of those old-school women who could create Disneyland out of a bag of rags, a washing line and an imagination. I don’t know where Bri got his ‘mean streak’ (meant in the nicest sense) – possibly from growing up in a tough neighbourhood where nothing came free and little came easy.

I was a late starter at rugby and got a painful lesson the first time I played for the Gate Inn – today’s Thornhill Trojans – against a Dewsbury Celtic team featuring ‘our Bri’ down on Savile Town’s rugby field, back when locals were still allowed to use it. At one point I ran back to cover a loose ball, unwisely exposing my ribs and kidneys to Brian Pepper’s onrushing and well-aimed knees. I don’t think I breathed or slept right for a month. I was peeing Shiraz for a week.

“But … but we’re family!” I wheezed in distress, a little later. He couldn’t contain his glee. “In which case you don’t need to thank me for teaching you not to drop on a ball like that, our Danny! You were wearing the wrong coloured shirt, kid!”

Tough life, tough love. No quarter asked and none given. Tell Gabriel to get his elbow up if he’s being tackled by Brian Pepper in the celestial Sunday morning league – otherwise he will get his lug warmed, whether he’s an Archangel or not...

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