Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

White Christmas, weather anomalies, and General chaos

One of the issues in the green community is how to impress the people who doubt the reality of climate change: that is the “well, the other day it was colder in southern Florida than northern Maine” type of person.

Countries covering one fifth of the planet’s land saw record high heat. Drought altered the world’s food trade. Floodwaters inundated parts of the U.S. and Asia with frequency that defied statistical expectations. Thousand year flood events are happening every few years. It’s exactly those changes in extremes where we notice the climate change. Droughts and floods and heat waves that are outside the bounds of what we’d normally expect. The global warming component is rearing its head in that way.

Increased precipitation events, whether rain or snow, are just what computer models of climate change predict. This is because they are a symptom of warmer sea temperatures off the coast that are providing extra moisture to produce that huge amount of snow. It’s not a sign that global warming is not here, quite contrary in fact. That extra moisture and warm temperatures kept feeding severe storms in the U.S. Nor’easters soaked New England in late March; a deluge hit coastal North Carolina in October; record rains fell in Oklahoma City in June; and, in May, disaster struck Tennessee.

In 2010, the record heat concentrated in mid-Atlantic region, so not only did they have “snowmageddon” (The monster storms dumped record piles of snow on the mid-Atlantic, including Washington D.C.), but they had their hottest summer on record in the DC area.

Through October, more than 41 hundred record highs were reported around the U.S. About 15 hundred record lows were posted in the same time, a high-to-low ratio of about two point five to one. But the U.S. heat wave paled compared to what much of the rest of the world endured this summer. Moscow had never before hit 100 degrees. This summer, it hit that mark 5 times in ten days. Eighteen countries set records for high temperatures. The warm temperatures covered a record amount of the earth’s surface. Never before has 20 percent of the earth’s surface experienced all-time record highs in one year. In Pakistan they hit 128 and a half degrees Fahrenheit, which is the hottest ever recorded in Asia. And, Southeast Asia hit its highest with Burma over 116 degrees this summer.

See http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2010november/
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100310_cooler.html

On a more personal front, the UK is having snow storms which has tied up air travel in the UK since late November. While I like the concept of a White Christmas, the reality is much more of a concern. Icy roads affect much of the UK. There was an extreme weather warning today for Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders, with some 15 to 20cm (6-8in) of snow expected between 1100 and 1800 GMT. Up to 10cm (4in) are expected in other snow-affected areas, with up to 20cm on high ground. Temperatures struggled to get above -5C (23F) overnight. The BBC said there were lows of -19C (-2F) in parts of Worcestershire and Shropshire. The temperatures are likely to stay below freezing throughout the day.

Airports are knocked out all through the country. Edinburgh airport was closed until 1430 GMT and then opened for departures only on Sunday. Rail and road travel is suffering from the weather. The more personal side of this is that we sent a package out to the US on the 23rd of November and it got “lost” in the system until it appeared on the 17th. Ultimately, it was delivered on the 17th, but usually it only takes a week for small parcels to make their way between the US and UK.

But this is just a small indicator of larger economic issues related to climate change. Unusual weather causes significant negative economic impacts: Many work weeks were cut short, businesses were closed, and deliveries. Airlines had to cancel flights and then struggle to get back to normal–as was the case with other forms of transport. Emergency crews worked overtime to restore downed power lines and trees, as well as other weather-related accidents. Cleanup efforts also are quite costly to those areas with historically little expectations of heavy snowfall.

So, people can make idiotic and ignorant comments on the topic of climate change, but the ultimate upshot is that it is indeed happening. Unfortunately, people are no longer as in touch with nature to be aware of the change. Another problem is that it will take a drastic change in lifestyle for some people to reverse years of neglect toward this issue. The, there is a part of me that believes in the Gaia Theory, which holds that Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably bound to form a self-regulating system so as always to be as favourable as possible for contemporary life.

Is this weird weather a warning of more drastic weather as the planet seeks to keep its stasis? The planet’s homeostasis is now being disrupted by our brief binge of fossil fuel consumption, which has released a huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Indeed, we have already pushed the planet over the brink, and that we will soon see remarkably rapid rises in temperature, well beyond those envisioned in most of the computer models now in use. Because the earth is already struggling to keep itself cool, our extra increment of heat is particularly dangerous, and we will soon see the confluence of several phenomena: the death of ocean algae in ever-warmer ocean waters, reducing the rate at which these small plants can remove carbon from the atmosphere; the death of tropical forests as a result of higher temperatures and the higher rates of evaporation they cause; sharp changes in the earth’s “albedo,” or reflectivity, as white ice that reflects sunlight back out into space is replaced with the absorptive blue of seawater or the dark green of high-latitude boreal forests; and the release of large amounts of methane, itself a greenhouse gas, held in ice crystals in the frozen north or beneath the sea. Some or all of these processes will be enough to tip the earth into a catastrophically hotter state, perhaps eight degrees centigrade warmer in temperate regions like ours, over the course of a very few decades, and that heat will in turn make life as we know it nearly impossible in many places.

Will the Earth make it so obvious that climate change is a reality that no one but the most foolish can ignore?

The Centre for Alternative Technology is in financial straits

I just received a message from The Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales asking for money. The Centre has been around since 1974 and I’d like to say its the oldest centre for information about green technology. If it’s not the oldest, it is one of the oldest centres, which makes me want to help pass around the hat. Thousands of people visit the Centre from around the world since it was founded. There is quite a difference between the Centre and Doncaster’s Earth Centre was founded in 1999, but went bankrupt in 2004 due to a poor business plan (The Earth Centre was used in the remake of the Survivors and now houses an airsoft centre).

The problem is that environmental issues are slipping down in their importance for the international agenda. The issues of climate change, environmental justice and biodiversity loss are loosing momentum. In Britain we watch with dismay as one environmental public body after another closes. The international climate change negotiations in Mexico in December are shakey. And all the while, across the world, people are suffering the effects of climate change, their homes destroyed and their voices drowned out. The Centre can can adjust and diversify for the long term, but in the short term it faces the looming threat of job losses and shrinking departments, just when the message of sustainability is needed more than ever.

It would be a shame to see the Centre go the way of the Doncaster Earth Centre. So, please consider giving:

http://www.cat.org.uk/donate

Ruining your Christmas spirit!

What is Christmas without alcohol? Forget putting Christ back in Christmas since he has never really had anything to do with the date, but drunken revelry–that’s another thing. Oz Clarke and Hugh Dennis tried to sample every Christmas tipple in a BBC Christmas special last year.  And the institution of Christmas drinking is enshrined in all those Wassail songs.  Too bad actual wassail is pretty revolting.  Mulled wine is far more of my fav for the season.

The problem is that the process of making alcohol is fairly environmentally unfriendly as a recent Mother Jones article, An Inconvenient Vermouth, points out. In terms of greenhouse-gas emissions, alcoholic beverage production in the US alone results in a carbon footprint which is the annual equivalent of 1.9 million households. Not great news if you want to be green and know that EVERYBODY has to start reducing their carbon footprint.  But, don’t worry about that too much since the MoJo Article talks about which forms of alcohol are environmentally friendly.

Wine, for example, is fairly environmentally friendly with most of its carbon footprint coming from transportation.  You can also be more environmentally friendly by using wine that comes in cartons rather than bottles.  Beer is fairly environmentally friendly as well with most of the carbon footprint coming from refrigeration and glass production.  Surprisingly enough, kegs are the most efficient method of packaging beer with cans coming in second.  While aluminium production is an environmental horror, cans are recyclable and cost less to transport.

The spirits industry comes in for a serious beating with Gin, tequila, and rum being the worst for the environment.  The problem is that the distillation process requires loads of energy.  American bourbons are aged in virgin-oak barrels that are used only once, most of those barrels end up being reused by other liquor makers.  And while some of those liquor makers may produce single malts, think of the energy involved in distilling the liquor and transporting it.  In terms of distillation, vodka requires more energy and water than most spirits.

Rum is made from molasses or cane juice, and its fibrous leftovers can throw off the microorganism balance in waterways. In 2001, the EPA sued Bacardi for illegally dumping 3,000 gallons of of mostos, an industrial waste from its rum processing plant, into a river near its Puerto Rico plant. Although, that does mean that many major rum distillers now treat their water. Additionally, sugarcane is also a notoriously destructive crop, producing massive amounts of wastewater and greenhouse gases. Tequila also has a pretty bad waste problem. For every liter of tequila, you get about 11 pounds of pulp and 10 liters of vinazas, or acidic waste—which ends up befouling soil and water in Mexico’s Jalisco state, where most tequila comes from. Blue agave farmers, meanwhile, have used more and more pesticides since their crops were chewed up by insects during the 1990s.

So, it sounds as if this is a victory for the slow food crowd who prefer beer and wine that is locally produced.   Steer clear of distilled spirits since they require loads of energy to produce with Rum and Tequila being down right environmentally unfriendly!  It also sounds as if the best way to drink is to go to a local pub that serves locally manufactured beer or wine!  While you are at it, take public transportation to reduce your carbon footprint.  Also, using public transportation means you won’t get busted for drunk driving: making it an environmentally, legally, and financially wise decision to use public transportation.

There are ways to make the distillation process more environmentally friendly, but most distillers don’t practise them. MoJo does mention which distillers use environmentally friendly practises. I strongly suggest buying their products if you choose to drink spirits. It also might be a good idea to write your fav distiller and ask them what they are doing to cut their carbon footprint?

I leave you with Charles Dickens’s Smoking Bishop recipe which is mentioned at the End of “A Christmas Carol”:

5 unpeeled oranges
1 unpeeled grapefruit
36 cloves
1/4 pound of sugar
2 bottles of red wine
1 bottle of port

— Wash the fruit and oven bake until brownish. Turn once.
— Put fruit into a warmed earthenware bowl with six cloves stuck into each.
— Add the sugar and pour in the wine – not the port.
— Cover and leave in a warm place for a day.
— Squeeze the fruit into the wine and strain.
— Add the port and heat. DO NOT BOIL!

Serve “smoking” warm. Yield: 15 to 20 servings

Yet another quiz.

This time from the Union of Concerned Scientists

What do you know about global warming? Can you tell FACT from SCIENCE FICTION? Want a free “Got Science?” sticker?

Take the true or false quiz that pits your knowledge of global warming against public officials, media personalities, and political hacks. See if you can tell who’s “Got Science” versus who’s spreading propaganda that’s “Not Science” about global warming.

Get a free “Got Science?” sticker — no matter how well you do on the quiz. I did (5 out of 5!!)!

It’s by the Union of Concerned Scientists and CREDO, so you know it’s the real deal. Check it out: http://www.gotsci.org/?rc=gotscitaf

Good luck on the quiz!

I know enough people out there who will take this quiz. And if I can get George Monbiot to take it and spread the word…

Or is this beneath him?  Betcha he does as well as I did!

So much to be pissed at…

Let’s start with the scumbag Koch Bros. and their ilk the Cato Foundation. In particular, something from the Fair Blog: Is Nova Catering to Its Anti-Science Sugar Daddy?

PBS’s Nova is taking money from one of the biggest bankrollers of climate change denial–and, surprise surprise, the resulting programming tells viewers not to worry about climate change. But PBS’s ombud doesn’t see this as a conflict of interest–because Nova is a “consistently first-rate program,” and he trusts it.

Nova’s conflict of interest was highlighted out by Climate Progress blogger Joe Romm (9/7/10), who had previously caught the Smithsonian promoting strange climate science after getting a grant from oil billionaire David Koch (Climate Progress, 4/1/10). Koch, who’s a major funder of propaganda rejecting the science of climate change, is also one of the main underwriters of the popular PBS science program Nova–which is in itself a case of strange bedfellows. (Another major sponsor of Nova is ExxonMobil, the other top funder of science-denial in support of oil industry profits.)

Of course, you’ve got your head well lodged up your arse if you are surprised by that bit of news since the reason the right and people such as the Koch Bros and Cato hate a truly public media is that they can’t control it.

Which gets to the dickhead known as Terry Jones (not to be confused with Terry Jones of Monty Python who may be a bit arrogant, but isn’t a dickhead). The FAIR blog mentions the disproportionate bit of attention given to this fuckwit (any wonder the term “terry” means “fuckwit” in British slang: and that Terry fits the bill). FAIR points out that the Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Thomas put the blame where it mostly belongs–on the media:

I ask you: If a sad little man burns some Qurans in the woods, and the media aren’t there to film it, is it news?

Unfortunately, this asshole will attract attention like shit attracts flies. If he’s going to heaven, Hell is a super option.

Anyway, back to disproportionate attention, the Tea Party wankers, in particular the historically ignorant Dick Armey, were given an uncritical assessment from Judy Woodruff according to the FAIR blog piece: PBS’s NewsHour Throws a Tea Party. Again, not much of a surprise since US public broadcasting is pretty much commercial and reduced to extort-a-thons (“give us money or we go totally fucking commercial, you arsewipes”) at increasingly regular intervals.

I have to admit sympathy for the public broadcasters, but there is only so much the listening public can do. Those who do contribute are feeling more and more like we are being shaken down.

And for the shitheads who do listen but don’t contribute:

Yes, you are a bunch of fucking leeches. I hope the stations do go commercial and then you won’t be so fucking smug because you will REALLY be listening to the same shit they broadcast on Faux News. Then, I hope that you will truly feel guilty that you didn’t contribute to your local public radio station.

Of course, you will probably get on the internet and leech on the BBC and Radio Nederland while the rest of the US suffers from the shit which passes for a media in the USA.

You are truly slime.

Next extort-a-thon: give something, give anything.

But try and shut them up by giving something!

Seriously, the US needs a public media outlet otherwise it is indeed “500 channels and nothing’s on”.

Now cough up and contribute!

You know who you are!

You can never have too many Indian Restaurants!

I know this is an old story, but The finance minister of Bangladesh, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, complained about climate adaptation funding levels – and called for industrialised nations to start opening their doors to global warming migrants back in December 2009.

The thing is that most of the Indian Restaurants in the UK are run by Bengalis.

The other thing is that Yanks are uptight about having Hispanics coming into the US, nevermind the US conquered half of Mexico during the Mexican-American war. That partially explains why there are so many Hispanics in the US. Another reason being that Central and South America have poor economies and, well, the US is the “land of opportunities”.

But, that’s not my point here. My point is that global warming will create a new type of refugee: those fleeing the effects of climate change. This will include people who live on Island countries such as Micronesia and places such as Bangladesh. Hell, it should even include anyone who is dim enough to live in New Orleans, which happens to be below sea level!

Personally, I welcome the influx of Bengalis, especially in the US. The US does not have its share of Indian restaurants!

And you climate denying yanks can learn to love curry!

George, are you asking a rhetorical question?

George Monbiot asks in his blog post: Monckton’s climate denial is a gift to those who take the science seriously

Does Viscount Monckton possess so little self-awareness that he couldn’t spot the contradiction between the standard of argument he expects of others and his own behaviour? Or does he take his followers for morons?

We know the answer is that his followers are morons. Monckton doesn’t even have the common courtesy to treat even his followers with any respect since he knows they are dim enough that they will swallow every word he spews since Monckton’s rantings bolster his follower’s idiotic opinions. They can cite Monckton’s “expertise” and “wisdom” to deny reality.

The problem is that the arguments of climate change deniers can be comforting to those who refuse to make the changes to their lifestyles which combating climate change requires. We can hope that the BP well disaster hastens the reduction in availability of petroleum products which will catch the US public unaware.

Nothing like denying reality.

Anyway, It seems that the reason why are right-whingers so obsessed with climate denialism is that most of the debate has been driven by environmental organisations and lefties for decades, while most of the denialism has been led by big corporations funding front-groups and thinktanks to save their own skin. Naturally, right-whingers would rather ignore the science and be persuaded by corporations than accept lefties are on the rational side of the argument.

I think this goes to my comment that the US definition of conservative means an idiot who is so brainwashed by big business as to believe any nonsense spewed at them if it is not something a “liberal” would believe. Thus any idiotic idea, for example ensuring that the insane, criminals, and terrrorists are ensured ready access to firearms is portrayed as a “conservative idea (which even some liberals have been forced to admit)” and an infringement of “rights”. And even though any person with any shred of intelligence would find this to be a laughable proposition, the “conservatives” in the US have accept this as gospel to be considered “true” conservatives: which means that Kenneth Clarke (specifically his comments here) and David Cameron are not conservatives by the US definition.

Likewise, liberals believe in climate change, therefore it must be a lie.

Posted 14/06/2010 by lacithedog in Climate Change, global warming

Dealing with climate change deniers

It amazes me that some people are so fucking dim that they are missing climate change

Emily Flake explores the intricacies of various “reasons” for actively denying reality in this cartoon.

I can’t take someone seriously if they are that much of a cretin.

Posted 14/06/2010 by lacithedog in Climate Change, global warming

I realise that George Monbiot is discussing climate change, but..

I find a lot of the topics I discuss here can have comments made along the lines of

There is one question that no one who denies manmade climate change wants to answer: what would it take to persuade you? In most cases the answer seems to be nothing. No level of evidence can shake the growing belief that climate science is a giant conspiracy codded up by boffins and governments to tax and control us. The new study by the Met Office, which paints an even grimmer picture than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will do nothing to change this view…

Perhaps we have to accept that there is no simple solution to public disbelief in science. The battle over climate change suggests that the more clearly you spell the problem out, the more you turn people away. If they don’t want to know, nothing and no one will reach them. There goes my life’s work.

George Monbiot, The Unpersuadables

It is amazing how people will see what they want to see and remain fixed in their beliefs.

Or as George also says:

Tell people something they know already and they will thank you for it.
Tell them something new and they will hate you for it. 

Why I don’t trust polls

From The New Internationalist site:

 

Nohopenhagen

I knew that I was being far too optimistic that anything would come of this. How could anyone hope that the world’s population could agree on anything no matter how much of a threat it is.

At least we cannot blame the US for screwing things up.

It seems the third world was far more of a problem. China engaged in fence post sitting to say it wasn’t really developed and didn’t have to reduce its emmissions.

Chinese Communism is a very weird thing. It’s more like state capitalism. And it’s gone insane.

I expect a “Yes, Minister” moment where they come up for a reason for the Secretary of the meeting quitting to be replaced by the Danish PM.

The only good point, Obama is limited to a three minute speech (as are the rest of the world’s leaders). It would have been more fun to limit Bill Clinton to three minutes.

Climate Change

The latest Private Eye Cover. No further comment necessary.

Just in case you feel inclined to trust Monckton

George Monbiot, had a post published on the Guardian’s website, 10th December 2009 about Lord Monckton, the Climate Change Skeptic. This is a dude who believes that action on climate change is a conspiracy to create a communist world government!

Needless to say, Monckton has joined the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Monbiot says this become the last refuge of a marvellous collection of cranks and fabulists. OK, I’ll forgo the Ambrose Bierce thing here since you probably get my point.

Monckton delivered a speech in October to something called the Minnesota Free Market Institute where he said that:

• He has read the treaty that will be signed at Copenhagen next week. That’s quite a feat of clairvoyance.
• The treaty says that “a world government is going to be created”.
• Greenpeace is “about to impose a communist world government on the world” and President Obama, who sympathises with that aim, will sign up to it.

These are not the first of Viscount Monckton’s interesting statements. He has claimed, in a letter to two US senators, that he is a member of the House of Lords.

Monckton says that he won the Falklands war for Britain by persuading the British government to use biological warfare. Gee, that’s news to me since I was there (the Falklands).

Monckton said something in a Scotsman interview that indicates his casual attitude towards the truth:

“I was selling the house anyway and they asked me if I would be willing to tell people I was selling the house because I was afraid somebody might solve the puzzle too fast. I said ‘yes’. They said, ‘Don’t you mind being made to look an absolute prat’, and I said, ‘No – I’m quite used to that’. History is full of stories that aren’t actually true. We sold shed-loads of extra puzzles and I made an handsome profit – and I sold the house as well.”

this quote was reprinted at http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/09/just_in_case_you_feel_inclined.php

Somebody say something about people being duped by climate skeptics?

Just in time for Copenhagen

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George Monbiot has a super piece called The Real Climate Scandal:

Even if you were to exclude every line of evidence which could possibly be disputed – the proxy records, the computer models, the complex science of clouds and ocean currents – the evidence for manmade global warming would still be unequivocal. You can see it in the measured temperature record, which goes back to 1850; in the shrinkage of glaciers and the thinning of sea ice; in the responses of wild animals and plants and the rapidly changing crop zones.

No other explanation for these shifts makes sense. Solar cycles have been out of synch with the temperature record for 40 years. The Milankovic cycle, which describes variations in the earth’s orbit, doesn’t explain it either. But the warming trend is closely correlated with the accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The impact of these gases can be demonstrated in the laboratory. To assert that they do not have the same effect in the atmosphere, a novel and radical theory would be required. No such theory exists. The science is not fixed – no science ever is – but it is as firm as science can be. The evidence for manmade global warming remains as strong as the evidence linking smoking to lung cancer or HIV to AIDS.

I’m not sure who introduced me to George, but thank you. His columns are super. I may have picked him up from the Guardian or Andrew could have turned me on to him.

I’m glad George’s still alive!