Category Archives: Other History

Greenhouse Gas Emission Statistics:

I thought it would be interesting to have a look at who (internationally) were the biggest polluters or to spin it positively, the most environmentally responsible. There has been so much talk and so many failed treaties, but is it possible to remove the rhetoric and see which nations are actually in a position to be able to preach to the others?

To approach this from the perspective of individual responsibility, one of the key issues must be to separate emissions caused by industrial activity from those caused by individuals. I fully accept that this approach will attract some criticism because, of course we are all ultimately responsible for the well-being of the planet be it directly or indirectly. Anyway still worth trying.

Well, some interesting conclusions, but I can say now that I wasn’t really able to get a satisfactory answer.

Comprehensive statistical data on emissions is produced by such organisations as World Bank, UN, IMF, CIA, etc.  So what can we learn from this?

Very difficult to make any conclusions without much more analysis.  Maybe it would help to consider some places I know something about to be able better discern some answers.  So I extracted data for four countries where I have variously lived and worked, UK, UAE, Malaysia and Philippines.

These places have totally different profiles not only in terms of Greenhouse emissions but also, population, industrialisation, exports, etc. etc.   We can also get stats for GDP and service sector GDP together with population.  Still not possible to get a realistic answer but maybe we can an indication if we calculate the emissions per capita based on the non-industrialised part of the economy.  That’s about as close as we can get based on this data.

The Table is here:

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Conclusions?

Several really…..

  1. Its not possible to get a reliable answer from the available data. None of the organisations collecting this data have a core interest that is remotely close to this subject, maybe that starts to explain why the available stats are not at all focused on it.  Surely that has to change if we are to really address the related problems by getting to the real causes and monitoring any progress and if necessary to hold governments / organisations / people accountable.
  2. My statistical analysis skills are severely limited.
  3. What a hugely complex problem this is.
  4. The available stats are a good start but they don’t really cut it…..Responsibility has to start on a personal level but all the stats are directed at government level and therefore anodyne and meaningless to individuals.
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The Willys M38A1 Jeep

This is the story of my jeep.

In 2009 it transpired that my niece’s family were trying to upgrade transport and wanted to sell their old jeep, was I interested in getting it?  It had been used by them on the farm for ploughing in the rice paddies amongst other things. Here it is in its cleaned up condition ready for sale…..certainly not one careful previous owner!  Oh and there are no papers with it so no one knows much of its history.

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At this point (as a Brit) I had absolutely no knowledge of Jeeps at all. Anyway for 80,000 Philippine Pesos it seemed like a worthwhile project.

My relatives kindly drove my new jeep down from Bulacan to Mindoro and it quickly became clear that it was far from road worthy, the brakes and radiator were completely useless and the clutch not much better.  It turned out that it had stayed in second gear for most of the journey to Mindoro with a big tank of spare water on board for fear of being able to stop or boil the engine.  So I knew there would be lots of good business for the local jeep repair guys as a result.

But more interesting for me was what had I bought and what was its history?  It was obviously 40+ years old and from the sticker on the windscreen had been owned by the Philippines Telecommunications Authority in its earlier life.  The big question was whether it is a CJ5 or the militarised version the M38A1? It turns out that there are lots of differences but to a non Jeepee bloke most of them were not immediately obvious.

The identification process was not helped by the fact that the vehicle ID plate has been removed and there have obviously been some serious modifications done to it over an obviously chequered history including possibly the CJ5 badge.   But given that we are in Philippines, I would have been surprised if this were not the case – the mods include:

  • Willys 2.2L petrol engine replaced with 2.5L Mitsubishi 4DR5 2.5L diesel
  • Steering column (1980s Japanese)
  • Battery compartment sealed up
  • Doors, rear hood and steel superstructure
  • One piece windscreen with wipers at the bottom not the top
  • Wheels and tyres
  • Exhaust altered
  • The chassis number is completely different to anything I have seen listed and might have been added locally

My enquiries to the ex-military jeep owners fraternity in the US got me absolutely nowhere as it became clear they were much more interested in trying to stop me (a non Yank) proving that it was a military grade 38A1 than to try to form any objective opinion. But thankfully there are some useful sites that list the differences and there is still much remaining evidence.

The most telling of these is that the electrical system including the regulator, starter motor ignition system etc. etc. is 24V.  It is also a fact that from a driver’s perspective it is quite heavy, more like driving a small truck than something car sized.

The good news is that I have now fixed most of the serious issues and have converted (sorry not restored) as appropriate for its ongoing use to carry people and other materials.

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Anyway at this point I still do not know the exact year of manufacture although I have established that it is the M38A1 which were produced from  1952-1957. That makes my car older than me which is the first time that’s happened although I did get close once before with a 1963 MG Midget.

Some minor modifications made by November 1953 after Willys Overland was acquired by Kaiser in 1953 and became Willys Motors so this narrows it down to 1953 – 1957.  Some further details and old pictures of this model as follows:

  • This model is known as the ’round-fender’ Jeep that would eventually become the CJ5.
  • 101,488 units manufactured (80,290 domestic use / 21,198 foreign sales)
  • The M38A1 was modified as a platform for the 106mm recoilless rifle and was quite different that the CJ5, having a stronger chassis and reversed front spring shackles, in addition to the military accoutrements such as standardized GI instruments and a 24 volt electrical system.
  • Ford of Canada built the M38A1 CDN version as did Kaiser-Jeep.
  • Finally, an affiliate of Kaiser in Holland assembled M38A1 jeeps in Rotterdam using US-made parts.
  • The M38A1 military jeep was replaced in the 1960s by the M151 jeep.
  • In the US Military it was known as the quarter Ton Jeep since its inception in 1941 as one of the preparations for the USA’s entry into WW2
  • Quarter Ton was the payload, this model actually weighed 1.2T in its original form with a design payload of about half a Ton.

1952 Willys M38A11955m38a1small1975 Model SWB J26 Mitsubishi Jeep which is based on the CJ3B

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The history of the Jeep is another long story in its self, originally commissioned by the US army in 1941 it involves many famous American car brands including Bantam, Willys, Ford, Kaiser, AMC and Chrysler.

Although probably not related to this particular Jeep the M38A1C was the version equipped with the M40A1 and M40A2 recoilless rifle. These were used extensively by the USMC including in Vietnam, the Dominican Republic and Egypt.  Its design included a parallel mounted M-8C .50 cal. spotting rifle. Rounds provided were HEAT, high explosive plastic-tracer (HEP-T), and antipersonnel-tracer (AP-T) (flechette) rounds.

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This is a serious weapon, it is 3.4m long and weighed 209kg and has a range of 6,870m and can pierce 400mm of armour. It is the same weapon as the six that were fitted to the Gavin ONTOS tank.  I was interested to know whether such a big calibre weapon could really be recoilless when mounted on a relatively small Jeep? There are many youtube  of it being used, mainly in testing / marketing demo as it still features in the armoury of many militaries around the world and the answer judging by the videos seems to be yes!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjXutT92BwM

Time for more New Forests?

The New Forest in Hampshire England exists thanks to King William 1st (William the Conqueror) who, following his punch up with King Harold at the battle of Hastings in 1066 decided he wanted to designate an area to stock with game so that he could hunt deer and boar.

Most of the area of the present day New Forest along with several other forests including Epping, Dean and Windsor were decreed to be Royal parklands in 1079 and duly written into law with harsh penalties for anyone taking the deer and boar. Several villages were relocated for the same purpose.

The name is a good example of early migration of French into the English language. Originally it was declared ‘Nova Foresta’ and is listed in the Domesday book as such. ‘Foresta’ in the French of the time meant ‘open forest ’ whereas denser woodland was, ‘parcus’. The old meanings have since become reversed  in modern day English.

Its not clear why but this particular forest, became known as ‘the’ New Forest.

It has since been designated a National Park and is one of the most beautiful. After almost a thousand years, its not exactly new, but nevertheless demonstrates the long foresight of the royal family in response to the usual question ‘what have the Royals ever done for us?’

Maybe a new ‘New Forest’ or two are well overdue what with all the trees getting lost in other places?

No Love Affair with Sea Food?

At one time eating fish in England was not only much more popular, it was effectively ones religion.

Since early Christian times the eating of red meat (or the flesh of warm blooded creatures) was outlawed on ‘religious days’.  In the medieval Christian calendar such days were not just Fridays but Wednesdays and Saturdays, Advent and Lent, and other special holy days which collectively amounted to many days throughout the year.

Over the years, to deal with the uncertainty of what was and was not acceptable, families had become accustomed to eating fish on all of these days instead of meat. As a result fish, was a significant part of the diet and possibly equal to the sum of all other meats for many.

The Reformation in the 16th Century dramatically and abruptly changed this. It started when Henry VIII declared that the English church would no longer be subject to governance by the Pope but would be a ‘Church of England’.  This marked the start of a Cold War with Spain that intensified in the reign of Elizabeth I. Many were accused of treason for being too closely allied to Roman Catholic ideology to the extent that they were subverting the authority of the Queen and government in expectancy of a future Spanish backed Catholic government.

After the brutality under the short reign of Catholic Queen Mary, the English warmed to Queen Elizabeth’s objective of a Protestant state with toleration of other religions. She made clear that she saw no need “to make windows into men’s souls” hence most were loyal to queen and state above religious details. As as a result it became no longer fashionable to conform to the Roman Catholic ‘Fish Days’ indeed to eat fish on the religious days carried a risk of being suspected of not being fully English. Therefore eating meat on what were formerly ‘fish days’ became the Vogue. On the other hand to not do so was seen as somewhat of a statement and was what we would now refer to as ‘Politically Incorrect’.

This all had a serious impact on the English fishing industry and several attempts were made by the government to invigorate it by boosting market demand for fresh fish. For example Edward VI in 1547 reinstated fast days by Royal Proclamation but to little effect.  Also a Statute was introduced in 1563 to enforce fish eating on Wednesdays in addition to Fridays and holy days but most of the intrusive provisions were removed before the Bill was passed.  By this stage parliament would not be drawn into a religious debate, the issue was political and economic rather than religious but still the strength of feeling was such that it was not considered appropriate to make any positive obligation to return to old eating calendar.

For a seafaring nation with so much coastline there is still remarkably little fish to be seen in the national cuisine. There is of course one big exception to this; Although much less popular now, Fish and Chips which as a high street take out food is seen as a national dish, however it is generally reckoned to date back only to the mid 19th Century.

Ironically in the 21st century now that tastes for sea food have become more popular following international travel, the oceans have become depleted and sea food for most is considered a luxury due to its price as well as its availability.

The Early Days of Royal Bank of Scotland

William Paterson was co founder of the Bank of England in 1694 and after returning to his native Scotland in 1696 was also instrumental in founding The Royal Bank of Scotland.

One of RBS’s first investments was in a company to undertake ‘the Darien Project’ which was an expedition in 1698 which was to establish a settlement in Panama and ultimately facilitate an overland trade crossing of the isthmus to the Pacific Ocean. This was to be Scotland’s launch into international trading and many individuals, companies and institutions invested, possibly to the tune of more than a quarter of Scotland’s wealth.

The settlers were blockaded by the Spanish and the settlement ultimately had to be abandoned due to want of provisions and loss of life due to tropical disease.

The financial ramifications precipitated the Act of Union which was concluded in 1707 on the basis the English crown compensated many of those whom had become bankrupt as a result of the Darrien venture.

It turned out that this wasn’t the first ill-judged business decision by RBS.

Moderation of the French Language

The Académie Française exists as a cultural authority with the principle aim of preserving the French language. It was created, back in 1635, partly to counter pernicious Italian influences on the French language and culture with the intention of regularising the use of the language within France and the different areas of French influence. In later years one of its stated aims has been to counter the influence of Anglo Saxon words on the French language.

The Académie, through issue of its official dictionary, limits new words entering the dictionary and if necessary provides suitable French versions, it also advises of pronunciation, syntax, correct usage of words and removal of words which have become obsolete through lack of use. In essence French is a prescribed language as a result.

This is all seen as an anathema to the principles of English, where new words and usages are positively welcomed and any control in this day and age at least, is admitted to be both impossible and functionally pointless.

The English language has always been completely free to evolve and expand and continues to do in several directions at once. English dictionaries by contrast to the French equivalent are not prescriptive but are essentially attempting to catalogue words that are already in use at any given time.  A good English dictionary will also inform of the root and history of the word from which it is often possible to discern a more accurate definition in order that it can be most effectively applied.

Culture is one of the main planks of French governance and stability and the French language is still considered an essential part of this. In the era of ever encroaching Euro influence maybe language is one of the few remaining examples of separate French identity and culture.

The Problems of Demography and Population Control

China has a long history of population control since at least the early 1960s. Before 1979 it was achieved largely by propaganda and persuasion that small families were a good thing and necessary for the economic wellbeing of all. After 1979 the ‘One Child’ policy was introduced which imposed fines on families and abortions on women flouting the rules together with forcible removal of children in some cases. Even though there were many exceptions of either illicit additional children or officially permitted second children the policy is said to have resulted in a population reduction of between 200 and 500 million although thee result of the policy is not really known because the rate of population increase was already in decline when the rules started to be enforced.

Recently the rules have been relaxed on the basis that if at least one parent is a single child the couple can have two children. However this is not expected to increase the average family size much above the current 1.5 which is comparable to declining population numbers for most of Europe. It appears that over the years in China , the virtues of a small family have been well and truly embedded in one way or another.

For 35 years China has operated a strict policy for families to have one child only. This is distinctly different to recommending that families have less children or even no children. So broadly speaking the majority of the Chinese population must by now be from sole child families.  Any place with a heavily declining population must also be heading for a situation where ultimately all will have been raised as only children. However at the present time nowhere else comes statistically close to China for either the total number or geographical concentration of only children.

The anthropologists and demographers don’t seem to be able to agree on what for the human species, was the average family size in natural conditions. And anyway what are natural conditions? Clearly its very complex subject and the answer is likely to be a function of many factors including, perceived and actual affluence, general health and child mortality, means to control birth, education, fertility rates, race, climate, cultural influences etc. etc. But certainly a figure of 2.1 – 2.2 is needed to avoid population decline.

Given that the psychologists tell us that people raised as only children tend to exhibit characteristics such as being overly headstrong , sensitive to disapproval and reluctant to partake in joint decision-making maybe this should give pause for thought?

But it does look as though as a planet we are headed toward population decline and in view of the above, there has in evolutionary terms, at best been a somewhat dramatic change to the past model of family structure and possibly also a long term impact on the psychology of the human race.