Archive for the ‘the environment’ Category

No, I haven’t given up on gun control

Yeah, it’s a decided issue, but unfortunately the politicians need to catch up that the US needs to follow Australia.

On the other hand, the US is filled with climate change deniers. OK, filled is relative, but one of them is one too many given that the prognosis for the environment is pretty bad. It will take a culture change in the US that would make a gun ban look like giving up drinking piss–not at all difficult.

I find it interesting that two subjects that should be no brainers are a problem for people in the US. Then again, these are people who somehow believe that Russians put trump in office. Add in that my vote for Jill Stein was somehow influenced by Russian bots.

Do these people know that Russians are the other country that is having a problem with Climate Change deniers? Why would the Russians push a candidate who is addressing this issue?

I have a broad range of issues I support, but the environment is top of the pile right now since it’s one that we can’t wait on.

On the other hand, give out Darwin Awards if the gun nuts want to shoot themselves or their kids. There is a reason for the Federal Funding Freeze on “Gun Violence Research”.

As is the case with climate change denial, the facts are also “anti-gun”.

Be careful what you wish for

I make no bones about it: I hate cars.

I far prefer public transport to cars, but I currently live between two homes (the secret to a happy marriage–live separately).  I have too much crap to take on the train: toss in they are now getting crowded. Loads of other whining.

Likewise, public transportation has the same problem: especially with two dogs. Even when they in bags since you take up way more space than is acceptable. Slightly more acceptable with that much crap on a train, but not when the train is packed out.

I’m happy as heck that driving is being discouraged, but there are now too many issues to car ownership to make it worthwhile (I’ve taken up leasing the past few years for a bunch of reasons).  There’s congestion tax, parking, traffic, etc.

I live in a city which was not designed for automobile traffic and it shows. The average speed over a century ago was about 8 mph.  My new car tells me my average speed and it’s 12 mph in the city! Of course, that’s due to traffic and traffic controls.  Not to mention streets which were meant for horses, not cars.

Seriously, a trip of about 16 miles takes me an hour!

Anyway, I am currently mulling over getting rid of the car (again) for Zipcar since that takes care of most of the issues other than slow speed.

I should be happy that car ownership is being discouraged. Not to mention I’ve done pretty everything I can to reduce my carbon footprint.

But I’m not for the time being.

Market Forces for Change

Or as Lenin is supposed to have said, “When we hang the capitalists, they will have sold us the rope.”

One of the things the right and Libertarians like to push is the free market system, which they don’t really like. They like it as long as they can control the rules making it into a game of Monopoly: where they win.

On the other hand, they run scared when their market share is threatened.

The real problem is that there isn’t really a “free market system” out there.  Governmental decisions can act as market forces even if they aren’t set forth as being economically based. For example, building highways rather than public transportation has effected US society in ways which have been detrimental to its interests (or “Detroit: the city that committed suicide by favouring one industry with a very limited lifespan”).

The reason I tossed gun control in here is if the trend for fewer people to want to own guns keeps up, we will have de facto gun control.  The NRA can loosen up laws all it wants, but that may end up backfiring for it as people begin to realise that there was a reason the NRA blocked the research showing gun ownership was detrimental.

The right can continue to try to use emotion to sway people to vote against their interests, but that cannot go on for very long once people realise they have been had. Once that happens not only will people’s economic decisions change, but so will their voting decisions.

Environazis

There is a sort of smugness that comes from living a green lifestyle, but these are the people who go the extra 10 (100?) kilometres toward “reducing their carbon footprint“. Somehow, they manage to make you feel like you are living an environmentally unfriendly lifestyle because you:

* Don’t go on holiday via astral projection (reducing your Carbon Footprint by not driving a car or, even worse, flying)
* boil the water in the electric kettle more than once (these people even have solar powered kettles).
* have any non-compact florescent bulbs in your house
* your form of transportation has any connection to fossil fuels or electricity (even if it’s electric or a bicycle–rubber on the tyres)
* you throw anything into the trash and it isn’t reused in some way.
* the food you ate required any energy to raise, transport, or what have you (you should photsyntesise instead of eat).
* Don’t get your power from people on bicycles
* Even have a carbon footprint for that matter

I think you get the picture.

BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory had an episode that was along this line called The Human Power Station. In this episode they powered a house for an entire day solely through human pedal power: while the unsuspecting family inside went about their normal Sunday routine. The clip below shows what happened when the father used an ELECTRIC SHOWER: malus malorum!

This programme rubbed in how wasteful our lifestyle is (yes, you who double boil that water!) by roasting a chicken with two 60 watt bulbs. Of course, watching 80 people pedal all day to power a house makes the point of how much energy we use. We don’t realise how much literal power is needed to push our appliances. Bang did do this in a manner that was entertaining even if it did make you feel guilty for the incandescent bulbs in the fridge and cooker (do they have compact florescent bulbs (CFLs) for those yet?).

You might be able to download this episode here and it does make for fascinating viewing. Although, there were points when I wanted to roast the presenters on a solar cooker because they made me feel guilty for “wasting energy” by merely existing.

Now, I need to find some people willing to power our houses by bicycle.

Wanna see how smart you REALLY are?

Take Bang Goes the Theory’s Brain Test Britain. I did mention that I like taking tests. I’m not sure why, but I do. I should have been tested enough in school to be petrified of anything like a test. But isn’t life a test anyway?

Bang Goes the Theory is according to presenter Dallas Campbell, a show for “anyone who is remotely curious about life, the Universe and pretty much everything.” It’s a science show where they do more than just experiment. The only special episode I caught was where they powered a house inhabited by a “nuclear family” for a day by 80 bicyclists. Which may sound odd to you, but was absolutely fascinating in how much energy it takes to run our appliances. It also pointed out ways to cut back on energy use. Which although switching lightbulbs may seem like a small thing, as someone told me at the Centre for Alternative Technology combining just a lightbulbs worth of energy can add up. That is made more apparent when you watch a team of bicyclists power a house!

Unfortunately, Season one is over. So, you would have to wait until season 2 in 2010 to catch the show

Anyway, these are all sorts of weird little tricky tests to see if training your mind will improve it. They are sort of Kim’s Game in spirit where you guess where things are. Also, they had one test where I had to put things from high to low, which sounds simple until you have to deal with negative numbers along with written (six) and numeric (6) numbers. One test gave me grief when I had to count items going into a box ancd compare them to items coming out. My internet connection screwed up that test. Also, there was one test/game where I had to do simple math calculations whilst balloon floated up, but I couldn’t figure out which balloon I was supposed to be calculating.

If training your mind isn’t enough, there are weird little science challenges that take me back to the quickie radio electronics class I was subjected to in the army (What was ohms law? (V=IxR)).

Fun! fun! fun! Now, I can’t wait for the annual Financial Times Christmas Quiz!

The nightmare summit for the Climate

George Monbiot’s take on the Mayor’s Summit for the Climate. Boris Johnson is called the new face of Thatcherism, but I compare him to the Beano’s Denis the Meanace. Boris is intensely likable as the video shows.

And willing to foil an attack on a woman with differing political views from feral kids! So much for armed resistance or the myth that the British “just stand by and watch”. No, Boris swoops by on his bike to save the day! A conservative who endorsed Barack Obama with the praise “Unlike the current occupant of the White House, he has no difficulty in orally extemporising a series of grammatical English sentences, each containing a main verb (Telegraph Column, Oct 21, 2008).”

Why can’t US Conservatives be like this? Instead, they have Sarah Palin!

Alas, I am sorry that Boris couldn’t save the day in Copenhagen.

Goerge Monbiot said something interesting in his post This Is About Us: “The talks at Copenhagen are not just about climate change. They represent a battle to redefine humanity.”

The summit’s premise is that the age of heroism is over. We have entered the age of accomodation. No longer may we live without restraint. No longer may we swing our fists regardless of whose nose might be in the way. In everything we do we must now be mindful of the lives of others, cautious, constrained, meticulous. We may no longer live in the moment, as if there were no tomorrow…

The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate. Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around, accusing those who would impede them of communism, fascism, religiosity, misanthropy, but knowing at heart that these restrictions are driven by something far more repulsive to the unrestrained man: the decencies we owe to other human beings.

Quite true, the issue is no longer just about the climate and the environment, but how we cooperate with each other.

Society cannot function if there are no more laws making a return to the “laws of nature”. Humans have removed nature from the world and created society. As George Mnbiot says “this a battle to redefine humanity, and they (the expanders/unrestrained) wish to redefine it as a species even more rapacious than it is today.”

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?

Climate Change–More doing Sweet Fanny Adams

I have this weird feeling that Copenhagen will be just another clutter fuck.

Not that the Climate Skeptics will be the ones fucking things up, it seems that the third world wants more give from the developed nations. Of course, the Third World is correct. I mean Bangladesh is suffering from climate change. Maybe we should allow the displaced Bangladeshis to immigrate to the US. There are three reasons for this: one the US is partially responsible for nothing happening regarding global warming, they’re muslims, and the US needs more Indian Restaurants.

OK, the last one is my bias for Indian food (which is probably another post) and most Indian Restaurants in the UK are owned by Bengalis (people from Bangladesh). Anyway, this quote from the Daily Kos got me going on this:

Immediately after a UK poll showed decreased belief in global warming, the government organized a billboard campaign to set the record straight. There has been silence from the U.S. government. However, the issues of intentional deception by global warming deniers to confuse and mislead the public about the existence of global warming and liability for damages are now before the courts in the 5th and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

For some reason, the US has been controlled by the Carbon based energy industries (Coal and Petroleum) who have pretty much screwed up the debate on lots of issues I find dear (Public Transportation, alternative energy, and the environment). In particular, alternative energy industries need to be investigated. The US has been brainwashed that there will always be cheap fossil fuels, which will be another blow to its economy that will make the credit crisis look like the roaring 20s.

Let’s say there are time when I wish I had a more important position in the world. But I look at my friends who do have these positions and say “fuck it”. Especially when it comes to the United States.

Leadership in the United States requires quite a bit. Unless we are going to have a military take over. Not that I would mind that: Wes Clark as President, Paul Eaton as Secretary of Education, and a few others.

Seriously, one needs a thick skin since politics seems to require that one is a virginal saint, and I doubt some of them would qualify. “Ah, so you heard the voice of the Lord as you were tending your field…”. Additionally, I think there is a serious need to educate the public. Although most US citizens seriously qualify as special needs children.

Yeah, even you people who listen to NPR! That’s only slightly better than Fox news. If you aren’t a member of your local station, you are contributing to the fact that it is beholden to “underwriters” which is a fancy way of saying advertisers. Or as the one person said during an extortathon: “You’re a leech, you’re taking our services without contributing.” How unbiased is the info you get from NPR if its subsidised by something like the “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation”? You think you’re going to hear any anti-microsoft pieces? Tell me what’s Ubuntu, you smug NPR listening oik?

Yeah, I like the BBC, but I listened to Radio Nederland during the last Iraq invasion! Speaking of Radio Nederland, They have a piece on Copenhagen: how to make your voice Heard! I may start listening to RNW again since NPR does suck.

Anyway, I have my blog to let off steam.

Sweet Fanny Adams = Fuck All

How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming


Grist has a piece on how to deal with climate change skeptics. There are four separate taxonomies; arguments are divided by:

* Stages of Denial,
* Scientific Topics,
* Types of Argument, and
* Levels of Sophistication.

There is another version at Skeptical Science

You can take a test at National Geographic

Whatever, it’s pretty obvious that global warming is happening, but some people will deny anything.

You can read the Economist Article, Climate change: Mail-strom (Nov 26th 2009) here. There is a related Economist article–Climate change: A heated debate (Nov 26th 2009) as well that you can read here.

You can find refutation material about “SwiftHack” here.

Another method is in this super video, but you need to watch it all the way through.

Just remember what Douglas Adams said in “the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“:

People who argue that black is white get killed at the first zebra crossing

It’s not easy being green!


Just in time for the Copenhagen Summit.

Let’s start with my carbon footprint. I have no effing idea what exactly the number is! I assume it’s low since Ilive an environmntally friendly lifestyle. It was small when I estimated it.

I no longer have a car. I’d love to say it was due to various green reasons. In reality, I did that after it was broken into in an allegedly secure garage. Although, various other green reasons (convenience of public transportation, cost of running the thing, the fact that I usually walk, and so on) did factor in to the decision.

I recycle so much that my house feels a bit like Alice’s Restaurant where they “didn’t have to take out their garbage for a long time”. Well, I have to, but I am recycling all this paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and whatever else can be recycled.

I haven’t flown in ages, preferring trains to planes. High speed trains are the thing anyway!

I am amazed that people can be scammed about Global Warming:

In the climate field, there are a number of issues which are no longer subject to fundamental debate in the community. The existence of the greenhouse effect, the increase in CO2 (and other GHGs) over the last hundred years and its human cause, and the fact the planet warmed significantly over the 20th Century are not much in doubt. IPCC described these factors as ‘virtually certain’ or ‘unequivocal’. The attribution of the warming over the last 50 years to human activity is also pretty well established – that is ‘highly likely’ and the anticipation that further warming will continue as CO2 levels continue to rise is a well supported conclusion. To the extent that anyone has said that the scientific debate is over, this is what they are referring to. In answer to colloquial questions like “Is anthropogenic warming real?”, the answer is yes with high confidence.

Anyway, it seems that James Hansen, who heads the earth sciences division of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, is critical of so-called “cap and trade” plans that would allow industries to continue burning fossil fuel as long as they offset their excesses by purchasing credits that would go to reducing carbon emissions elsewhere. He says that wouldn’t do the trick. What needs to be done is a shift in the sources of energy production from carbon based (coal and petroleum) to renewable sources. “Energy isn’t the problem, carbon is the problem.”

The science behind climate change isn’t a fad and it isn’t new. You might be surprised that it started back with Joseph Fourier. Of course, some people doubt evolution as well: “It’s just a theory”.

This video is super, but you need to watch it all the way through.

Hey, I’ve supported the Centre for Alternative Technology for nearly 30 years! I am sorry thet The Earth Centre in Doncaster is no longer fucntioning as a similar site. The Earth Centre’s most famous bit was that it appeared in the remade version of the BBC television series Survivors (2008 & 2009). I wish that alternative and ecology education centres were much more common.

Anyway, it seems that a lot of people are dragging their feet on the environmental movement because they are being conned by a highly charged right wing media machine. Contrarians employ such rhetorical devices such as arguing that the “science is settled” (what science is ever settled?). They are pushing public policy solutions that ignore the unsettled parts of the science namely all the uncertainties around the scope and net impact of AGW and downplay the tremendous costs and risks associated with such policies and the highly debatable long term benefits of keeping the environmental status quo.

Anyway, I haven’t been too impressed with the US leadership, in particular, Barack Obama. The British government has been slightly better. For some reason, the right wing fringe elements are not as powerful in the UK as they are in the US (Lord Monckton aside. But the whole world needs to get on board here as the future of the planet is at stake.

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!