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Peter Rhodes on the next catastrophe, the cost of zero-emission limousines and some quackers subtitling

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

The next catastrophe?

DID the sight of Jeremy Corbyn doing a gym routine in a public park ring any historical bells? Some civil servants have allegedly questioned the Labour leader's health. The response from Labour was 30 minutes of Corbyn doing press-ups and jogging in London's Finsbury Park. I was reminded of Mao Tse Tung's famous swim in the Yangtze River in 1966.

ACCORDING to the communist spin-doctors back then, 73-year-old Mao swam 15 kilometres in 61 minutes, prompting the incredulous headline in the South China Morning Post: "Mao Tse Tung for the Olympics?” Comrade Jez for the Commonwealth Games?

JAGUAR Land Rover is saving thousands of jobs with a new range of electric vehicles, but only if the Government plays its part in the green revolution by bringing "giga-scale battery production to the country." It is all rather vague but it sounds like some 18th century engineer promising to build lots of of barges - so long as the Government digs the canals. The price of electric vehicles is already subsidised from taxation which effectively means taking money from the poor to provide the rich with glittering, zero-emission limousines. Amid all the JLR rejoicing, the Financial Times points out soberly that: "The extent of government support for the Jaguar project is not yet known." So while we should be happy at the news of any security in the motor industry, let's be told exactly how much each job is going to cost us.

BAD new for the catastrophe brigade, those zealots who are never happy unless they have some imminent disaster to be unhappy about. They've had a good time lately with governments solemnly voting that we are in a "climate emergency" and Extinction Rebellion frightening the life out of millions of kids who seriously believe they have no future. But a remarkably upbeat study in Science magazine now suggests that we can not only halt CO2 emissions but reverse them to levels not seen since the 19th century, simply by planting trees. It would be a massive undertaking, creating forests the size of the United States. The programme would also include a vast expansion of renewable energy. But it could be done. There is room today for the word despised by the catastrophe brigade - optimism.

THE dilemma for the doom-mongers is that if the threat of carbon emissions can be lifted, what new Armageddon can they embrace? I'd put my money on the soil-depletion nightmare. This is the one that says Earth's topsoil has been so terribly exploited by industrial farming that before long it simply will not produce crops. The chirpy little war cry for this apocalypse is: "Only 60 more harvests."

SUBTITLES may have transformed TV viewing for the hard-of-hearing but don't you sometimes suspect the subtitlers are having a laugh? A recent repeat of Endeavour (ITV) featured a view of a pond and many ducks with the helpful subtitle: "Quacking."

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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