Today I was a bit late driving to work. So I managed to catch the beginning of a phone-in on Radio Scotland. It was about global warming and especially about heavy rain. Apparently our heavy rain is happening at the same time as the worst drought in Australia, and they're both caused by global warming. Now if you can explain that to me I'd be very grateful.

On Saturday I was at a 60th birthday party of an old friend I first met at Edinburgh University in 1965. It was wonderful seeing people I hadn't seen for years. There were 12 of us who studied Geography all these years ago.

We talked about how things had changed. They'd changed that much we were even complaining about the noise from the band! The Professor at Edinburgh University at the time was a certain Wreford-Watson. He was one of these gloomy climate experts. He predicted we were all heading for an ice age because of pollution from industry that created some problem in the atmosphere which would cut out the sun's rays and it was going to get a lot colder. Actually this view still prevailed in 1976. One of that year's best sellers was all about whether we could survive the new ice age which had already probably begun.

In 1972 the Club of Rome predicted the World would run out of gold by 1991, mercury by 1995, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992 and gas by 1993. Oh dear! In 2004 John Kerry who ran against George Bush said the US had the worst economy since the days of Herbert Hoover which was obviously rubbish. The growth in 2004 added the equivalent of the GDP of Taiwan to the US GDP.

Yesterday, headlines claimed the oil price went up, because we were running out of reserves or something. That's funny, because the Jack No 2 Well, 170 miles south west of New Orleans, has just discovered an oil field with 15 billion barrels of oil. That's a 50% increase in proven US oil reserves.

Funnily enough, this triggered a wave of gloom in the US. Apparently more oil means more cars, more global warming, more air pollution, more road deaths and more suburban sprawl. That's economists for you. They're just never happy. If housing data weakens, as it did on Monday, that's a sign of a bursting house bubble. If housing data strengthens, as it did on Tuesday, that's also bad because interest rates will have to rise. You can't make it up.

An economist came to see me 15 years ago because he was worried about the recession and felt there was no point investing in shares. He described his financial affairs as a bit of a fairy tale. Grimm was probably the word he was thinking of! Actually we're fine - just fine.


Alan Steel
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This article is the personal view of Alan Steel. Please check the appropriateness to your individual position with your adviser before taking or refraining from any action.