Castle Journal - Nadeemy Haded

Castle Journal - Nadeemy Haded

The top 10 warmest years on record in the UK have all occurred since 2002, a new analysis from the Met Office says.

Its State of the UK Climate report shows that 2014 remains the warmest year in a temperature sequence now dating back to 1884.

Despite last summer's blistering heat, 2018 only places as the seventh warmest year on record - as the statistic is based on temperatures all year round.

When it comes to the coldest years, the most recent in the top 10 was in 1963.

The patterns of warm and cold years in Britain are a clear signal of climate change, say scientists.

It comes after the Met Office confirmed this week that the UK's hottest temperature ever - 38.7C (101.7F) - was recorded on Thursday in Cambridge.

The Met Office scientist who compiled the new analysis says that the clustering of all the warmest years in the first two decades of the 21st Century is what would be expected in a changing climate.

"It's certainly what we'd expect to see. Our climate in the UK has warmed at a very similar amount to the global temperature rise, so just under 1C for the UK," said Dr Mark McCarthy.

"Under that warming climate, we would expect that the hot extremes would tend to cluster in more recent times and the colder extremes are further back in time.

"Although we do still experience colder extremes like 'the beast from the east' last spring, generally speaking the story we have is that overall it's the warmer events and these higher temperatures that are dominating."

This is the fifth such report published by the Met Office and, thanks to a project to digitise historic weather records, it has now been extended to cover the years back to 1884.

Previous versions only stretched back to 1910.

This has not made any difference to the record of the UK's warmest years, but it has significantly changed the record of the coldest years, with five of the 10 chilliest occurring in the 1880s or 1890s.

There is a significant difference between the coldest year in the sequence and the hottest - with the average temperature for 1892 just over 7C, while the average for the warmest saw an average approaching 10C.

Colder years have been in short supply since the turn of the millennium, with 2010 being the chilliest, and that only ranks at 22nd on the cold list.

Again it is not a measure of the most severe winters but of the lowest average temperature, based on levels measured all year round.

"We expect that extremely cold years nowadays like 2010 aren't as extreme as the cold years in the past, but the warm years are more extreme than the equivalent from 50-100 years ago," Dr McCarthy told BBC News

Wednesday, 31 July 2019 13:23

Car industry investment plummets in UK

New investment in the UK car industry has suffered a "precipitous" decline.

It comes at a time when businesses in the sector have been spending heavily on preparations for a no-deal Brexit, according to the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The government says it is liaising with companies to help them prepare.

The SMMT says investment fell to just £90m in the first six months of the year from £347m last year.

By contrast, firms' spending on contingency plans for a possible no-deal Brexit has now reached a minimum of £330m.

Meanwhile, production in the first half of the year fell by a fifth. During that time, 666,521 new cars rolled off production lines, compared to 834,573 during the same period in 2018.

Although that figure was affected by some manufacturers bringing forward their annual summer shutdowns, the SMMT says output has now been falling for 13 consecutive months, and the underlying trend remains sharply downward.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes told the BBC the fall in investment was the most disturbing trend, and he links it directly to fears about the UK potentially leaving the EU without a deal that would protect cross-border trade.

"Over the last seven years the UK automotive industry was a real success story. We were averaging something like £2.5bn per annum", he says.

"In the first six months of this year, it's not been half of that £2.5bn. It's £90m. It's been a massive drop off, because we have that fear of no-deal.

"The fear of no-deal is causing investors to hold back and wait and see what's going to happen", he says.

Not all investors are holding back however. In early July, for example, Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to build the first of a new range of electric and hybrid models at its factory in Castle Bromwich.

The project, which will help to keep thousands of jobs, is likely to cost close to £1bn. It was announced too late to be included in the six-monthly figures.

But while Mr Hawes enthusiastically welcomes JLR's plan, he insists the company is an "outlier", and that the broader picture is very different, where investment is effectively stalled.

The SMMT has also warned that companies in the UK have had to spend large amounts of money or tie up working capital preparing contingency plans for a no deal Brexit, at a time when the industry as a whole is investing heavily in developing electric and autonomous vehicles.

Such spending, it says, has included stockpiling materials and components, securing warehousing capacity and investing in new logistics systems.

Several major manufacturers brought forward their annual production shutdowns, to mitigate disruption around the original 31 March Brexit date - a measure which it says cannot be repeated in October.

Not all the sector's woes can be blamed on Brexit, however. Eight out of every 10 cars built here are exported, and sales in a number of major markets have declined sharply in recent months.

As a result, shipments to China fell 53.1% in the first half of the year, while those to the US fell nearly 13%. More than half of the UK's exports go to the European Union - and demand there fell by 15.6%.

 

'Existential threat'

Meanwhile outside factors have also been blamed for Honda's recent announcement that it will close its plant in Swindon in 2021, Nissan's decision to build its new X-trail in Japan rather than in the UK and Ford's plan to shut its factory in Bridgend.

But the SMMT is worried that Brexit fears are preventing new investment from coming in to replace the jobs and work being lost.

Last week, Mr Hawes wrote to the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, urging him to reach a deal with the EU that allows parts and finished cars to cross borders freely, without being subject to tariffs or onerous customs controls.

A no-deal Brexit, he warned, would be an "existential threat" to the industry, and simply should not be an option.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: "The UK automotive industry remains one of our great success stories.

"We are at the forefront of designing and manufacturing cutting-edge vehicles, and we continue to talk to industry, including the automotive sector, in the run-up to exit day to ensure they are prepared and can maximise the opportunities of our exit from the EU."

 At least 52 people have been killed in a prison riot in Brazil which saw rival gangs battle for five hours, officials say.

Gang members from one prison block invaded another part of Altamira jail in Pará state, local media reported.

Officials giving a news conference said 16 of the dead were decapitated. Other reports said part of the prison was set on fire, suffocating many.

Two prison officers who were taken hostage have since been freed.

The violence began at around 07:00 local time (10:00 GMT), and ended at around noon, officials said.

Video reported to be from the prison carried by Brazilian media showed smoke billowing from at least one prison building, while another clip appeared to show inmates walking around on the rooftops.

The two rival gangs involved have not been named by authorities.

Violence in Brazilian prisons is not uncommon. The country has the world's third-largest prison population of some 700,000 people, and overcrowding is a widespread problem.

Clashes between rival gangs are frequent, as are riots

 

The pound sank to a 28-month low against the dollar as Boris Johnson's government toughened its rhetoric on Brexit.

Sterling dipped 1.1% to $1.2242 and €1.1004 respectively.

The currency could fall further, according to analysts at ING Group, as traders appear to have been betting on a last-minute deal being reached.

Many business lobby groups have asked that no-deal be withdrawn as an option to keep investment flowing into the UK.

The pound dropped after "the events over the weekend, where the current stance of the new government became clear", said Petr Krpata, a currency strategist at ING Group.

Michael Gove, who is in charge of planning for no-deal, has said the UK government is currently "working on the assumption" of that very outcome.

He said his team still aimed to come to an agreement with Brussels, but writing in the Sunday Times, he added: "No deal is now a very real prospect."

Mr Krpata says ING Group's assumption is that an early election will take place and that the pound will sink as low as €1.05 and $1.18.The last low for sterling was $1.2049, reached in January 2017. The record low was $1.0545 from March 1985, just before G7 powers acted to constrain a particularly strong US currency.

During a visit to Scotland, Mr Johnson said the existing withdrawal agreement negotiated with European leaders was "dead" and had "got to go".

EU member nations have said renegotiating the deal is not an option.

A group of cross-party MPs who've been on a fact-finding trip to Canada predict the UK will fully legalise cannabis use within five to ten years.

Canada became the first G7 country to allow recreational use of the drug in 2018.

Of the three politicians in the group one had a significant shift in his position.

Labour's David Lammy now backs legalisation, against his party's official stance.

Mr Lammy, alongside Conservative Jonathan Djanogly and Liberal Democrat Sir Norman Lamb were all filmed on their journey for a Newsbeat documentary called Legalising Cannabis: Canada's Story.

Currently cannabis is designated as a Class B drug in the UK and anyone caught with it could face up to five years in prison.

However, there has been a shift in approach towards medicinal cannabis products, which can now be legally prescribed to some patients.

The decision to relax those rules followed an outcry over two boys with severe epilepsy being denied access to cannabis oil.

It's argued that where cannabis has been legalised for medical use, authorised recreational use often follows.

"I want the market legalised, regulated and taken away from crime gangs," said Tottenham MP David Lammy after returning from visiting Toronto.

"For young people not to be criminalised by use and properly educated.

"I want to see the strength of the stuff reduced, labelled and properly organised in this country."

The Liberal Democrat Party already officially backs legalising cannabis in the UK.

MP for North Norfolk, Sir Norman Lamb led that policy decision.

Whilst in Canada he wanted to legally sample cannabis oil to try to help him sleep.

But he was very aware that such a product would be illegal in the UK.

He may be the only serving British MP to ever openly take a cannabis product on camera.

"Taking this oil is purely for sleeping for relaxation, I will take it before bed and before my flight home."

It's different to the cannabis oils available legitimately in the UK because it contained THC, the compound that gets users high.

"I was really anxious because I was chairing the technology and and science select committee and I was travelling back over night, and I thought if I get back with no sleep it will be a challenge."

He said he did not feel high but it did help him fall asleep.

"I slept incredibly well.

"I took the drops and I slept very well on the plane home, I actually slept through breakfast."

The trip was organised by a UK based campaign group, Volte Face, which wants the UK to legalise the drug.

It's part sponsored by a big North American cannabis company called MPX.

Newsbeat put it to its boss that it was trying to use its money to influence British politicians.

"We're moving it away from organised crime to a legitimate commercial industry," Scott Boyes MPX CEO told us.

"We've had a lot of UK investors invest in our company and we're moving into six countries.

"A lot of the money we have raised has come out of the UK, so I don't consider it interfering with other people's politics and a lot of the expenses have been born by themselves."

Sir Norman Lamb and David Lammy decided to fund their own flights and accommodation.

But the MPs also realise Canada's experience has not been without problems. In the documentary we hear from Piper Courtenay whose title is Cannabis Editor for a weekly newspaper.

She describes how technically illegal, but often described as "grey", cannabis providers still thrive.

The limits on fully licensed products mean there's still a market for things like edibles and other cannabis products.

Around half of the cannabis bought in Canada still comes from illegal sources.

"It's certainly better than the legal product I have tried so far, because they genuinely care about growing good craft cannabis," she tells us.

All three MPs on the trip believed that the UK would follow Canada's lead and legalise cannabis for recreational use in the next decade.

 

But Conservative MP for Huntingdon, Jonathan Djanogly was, perhaps unsurprisingly given his party name, the most conservative with his predictions.

"I think we have got a lot to learn before the legalisation of recreational cannabis, which I think will happen at some point," Jonathan Djanogly told us.

"I think we're on a 10 to 15 year cycle which would mirror what has happened in Canada."

The other MPs felt it would happen sooner and closer to five years.

However, The government has told Newsbeat it "has no intention of changing the law" when it comes to legalisation.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "the legalisation of these substances would not eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade, nor would it address the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery they can cause to families and society.

Hong Kong protests: China condemns 'horrendous incidents'

China has condemned the recent anti-government protests in Hong Kong as "horrendous incidents" that have caused "serious damage to the rule of law".

"We hope that... people will stand firm in defence of the rule of law," a spokesman for the government's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said.

Hong Kong has seen eight consecutive weekends of anti-government and pro-democracy protests.

There were violent clashes over the weekend between police and protesters.

In a rare statement the spokesman condemned "the evil and criminal acts committed by the radical elements" in Hong Kong.

"We call on the general public of Hong Kong to be aware of the grave nature of the current situation," he said.

As a former British colony, Hong Kong has its own legal and judicial systems, and has been promised "a high degree of autonomy" from the Chinese government, except in foreign and defence affairs.

 

How did we get here?

Demonstrations began when the Hong Kong government introduced a controversial bill that would have enabled extraditions to mainland China.

It sparked huge protests as critics feared the bill would undermine Hong Kong's freedoms, and be used to target political activists.

The row intensified as police were accused of using excessive force on anti-extradition bill protesters.

Tensions increased further last Sunday, when suspected triad members descended on a subway station in Yuen Long, beating protesters, passersby and journalists with sticks.

Demonstrators accused the police of colluding with the triads - claims denied by the police.

The authorities say they have arrested 12 people over the attack, including nine men with links to triads.

 India is now home to nearly 3,000 tigers, a third more than it had four years ago, according to the latest tiger census.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who presented the findings on Monday, said the tiger population had risen from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018.

He added that India is "now one of the biggest and most secure habitats of the tiger".

India is now estimated to be home to around 70% of the world's tigers.

India counts its tigers once every four years - it's a long, arduous task that involves forest officials and scientists trekking across half a million square kilometres (193,000 sq miles) looking for evidence of the tiger population.

Mr Modi said the results of this tiger census would make "every Indian happy".

This is a major conservation success, correspondents say. By one estimate, between 1875 and 1925 alone, some 80,000 tigers were killed in India. Bounty and sports hunting were rampant - kings and officials killed tigers in their thousands, using guns, spears, nets, traps and poison. By the 1960s the number of tigers had dwindled precipitously.

But a number of government initiatives - including a ban on hunting and awareness drives in villages - to streamline tiger conservation are said to be behind the increase of the population. A strict wildlife protection law implemented in 1972 made it virtually illegal to kill or capture wild animals even when "problem animals" were involved in severe conflict situations. Under pressure from global conservationists, India also upped investments to hire more forest guards and improve protection of reserves.

The results began to show in 2006, and since then there has been a healthy uptick in tiger numbers.

But there has also been an increase in human-tiger conflict recently and one reason is that India has too many tigers and too few forests that can sustain them unless more protected reserves are added.According to one estimate, big cats breed and live in only about 10% of India's total potential tiger habitat of 300,000 sq km (115,830 sq miles). Animal density in many of these forest areas is high, and surplus tigers sometimes venture outside for food, bringing them into conflict with people who live nearby.

Conservationists say conflict with humans is largely restricted to the edges of protected areas, forests and plantations - and that unless India expands tiger reserves, such conflicts will increase

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