Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monk(ey)ton Business in the Oz Media

The paragon of virtue, Christopher Monkton, has been strategising with the rich and powerful in Australia concerning the establishment of a blatantly right-wing media presence on our shores. Guess what? Gina Reinhardt, that paragon of environmentalism, subsequently acquired a position with Channel 10 and is fishing for a leading stake in Fairfax Media. There is even talk of an Oz version of that oh-so-balanced misinformational news outlet, Fox News.

How it could be worse than our existing offerings from Limited News may be debatable, but the talk of giving Andrew Bolt and Jo Nova starring roles should be enough to wake the rest of us from our slumbers.

I would be shaking my head in disbelief, if I wasn't frozen with fright.

Institute of Public Misinformation

Here is an interesting article following the link between Australian climate denialism and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a radical right-wing think tank. Here is one of the links from that story, in clickable form, that shines even more light on the good ol' boys at IPA.

Deliberate misinformation and denialism is a healthy industry in Oz. Remember the tobacco industry misinformation about smoking and lung cancer? It's the same tune on a new fiddle.

IPA staff and researchers get a regular gig on The Drum, both on-line and on TV. Treat what they say with due caution.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Professional Misconduct?

We hear much concerning the so-called 'scientific debate' about global warming (or climate change, if you prefer - I don't mind which). One celebrated case concerned a paper by Soon and Baliunas, published in 2003. The resulting furore saw the resignation of half the editorial staff at the journal Climate Research. Sadly, people like Prof. Richard Lindzen, who know better, continue to misrepresent the science and economics surrounding the subject.

Bottom line: the number of qualified climate scientists disputing AGW is very small and those have a habit of making childish mistakes in their publications. Be very careful about the credentials of anything you read on AGW, because disinformation is thick on the ground.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Apocalypse Soon?

I encountered this interesting lecture by Guy McPherson today. It runs for about 48 minutes, so you will need some time to spare.

I feel his predictions are on the alarmist side of reality, but I am not convinced of that. My personal take is that the decline will not happen for another couple of years at least and probably more. However, the future we are headed for will look something like the picture he paints.

I found it interesting, if unsettling. Your mileage may vary.

Friday, January 27, 2012

China Is Acting On AGW

One of the current arguments against climate change action by Australia, is that we won't make any difference unless China gets on board and the implication is that China is ignoring AGW. The truth is that China is well aware of the potential damage to its economy and is already spending money on mitigation and reduction projects. This item at Reuters gives a clear idea of what China understands and what they are currently doing. Expect more action from them as time passes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

BBC Climate Wars

In 2008, the BBC produced an engrossing three-part series, tracing the history of the climate change science of the twentieth century and discussing the so-called "sceptical" debate. If you have three hours to spare, I highly recommend watching it.

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Rock And A Hard Place

Sometimes, you trip over knowledge you can't ignore, but you would have been more comfortable not knowing. So it is with this essay by David Roberts. As a realist and a true sceptic, I recognise that the outcomes described are probably accurate, but they make me want to grab my Teddy and hide under the bed.

To quote from the referenced paper by Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows,
avoiding dangerous (and even extremely dangerous) climate change is no longer compatible with economic prosperity.
Hands up all those who think there is a snowball in Hade's chance of the rich and powerful in the developed world giving up their great god "Economic Prosperity", even when it is no longer compatible with survival of the species.

No Teddies were harmed during the filming of this post, but I cannot help thinking they might not have a very happy future.

NOTE: People with more than one imaginative brain cell should pour themselves a stiff drink before reading the linked article. Seriously.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Learning Every Day

I just read a very thought-provoking essay here, concerning what the world will look like after Peak Oil. The take-home message is that we are now living in the early days of what the world is coming to.

It was doubly interesting to read the essay, considering I had just posted this comment at Australians Living Simply. We do, indeed, live in interesting times.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fake "Skeptic" or Realist?

One of the memes relied upon by those who deny the concept of Anthropological Global Warming (AGW), is that there has been no warming since some cherry-picked year. Currently, the cherry-pickers choose 1998 as their start point. 1998 was a year of extreme El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) activity and the global temperature was higher than normal. Subsequently, global temperatures returned to their normal trend of slow increase from pre-1998 levels, but it was not until the late naughties that temperatures again approached the 1998 level. AGW deniers claim that there has been no warming since 1998, so Global Warming has stopped.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only has surface temperature continued its climbing trend, but vast amounts of heat are being stored in the oceans, dramatically increasing total global warmth.

Here are a couple of graphics from Skeptical Science (http://www.skepticalscience.com) which show how cherry-picking obscures the long term trend and how global temperature has continued along its merry way.

Realist vs Denier view of global temperature.
Figure 1: BEST land-only surface temperature data (green) with linear trends applied to the timeframes 1973 to 1980, 1980 to 1988, 1988 to 1995, 1995 to 2001, 1998 to 2005, 2002 to 2010 (blue), and 1973 to 2010 (red).  Hat-tip to Skeptical Science contributor Sphaerica for identifying all of these "cooling trends."

Where is the Heat Going?

Figure 2: Total global heat content, data from Church et al. (2011)

I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to who is telling the whole story.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Carl Sagan Speaks

Found this quote today and it exemplifies why I keep - sceptically - chipping away at the resistance to the truth of AGW:
The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counter-intuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true. Carl Sagan

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Taking no prisoners

Dr Michael Mann does not take insults lying down. As co-author of the much-maligned but true Hockey Stick graph, he has had to put up with extensive attacks and smear campaigns. Clearly, from this evidence, he is not inclined to put up with it any more. Follow the link and click on 'Recommend', to show you support the idea of truth, justice and (God help us) the American Way - whatever that is.

The removed original article from Hertzberg in the Vail Daily can still be found in Google's cache here.

The Clock Ticks Away ...

I was interested to see this article in one of Australia's pre-eminent daily newspapers. It may not indicate that the Main Stream Media is 'getting' Peak Oil, but it is a step in the right direction. If we are at a time of Peak Growth, perhaps we are also at Peak CO2? We can only hope.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year Dishonours

For a naturally conservative person like me, it is alarming to note the rise of the Radical Right in Australia and, more worryingly, in the USA.

In spite of the growing weight of evidence that business cannot carry on as usual, the world is being held hostage to the political and commercial ambitions of a vocal minority, exemplified by the Tea Party in America and supported by an apparent tendency for white male conservatives to deny climate change (see McCright and Dunlap (2011)[pdf])1. This far-right lobby has no time for science which does not secure and increase profit margins for the uber-rich individuals and corporations that depend upon fossil fuels. Googling 'koch brothers' brings up significant information about two of the wealthiest men in the USA. Googling 'koch brothers climate change' leads to pages exposing an apparent tendency of these men to fund political agendas opposed to any regulation of fossil fuel industries. That, in itself, is perfectly alright: everybody should be able to support politicians and commentators who support their views.

The down side is when the political funding is large enough to allow scientific nonsense to be marketed to a naive population through the main stream media, notably the News organisations headed by Rupert Murdoch (see Wikipedia and 'How Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. cashes in on both sides of the climate fight'), and through the public opinions of political figures. It is significant that the Tea Party is apparently funded through Kock largesse (see Romney Campaign Memo: The Koch Brothers Are The ‘Financial Engine Of The Tea Party’). In the Republican party, it seems to be anathema to publicly advocate a position supporting the theory of human-caused (anthropogenic) global warming, or AGW. Several leading figures have actively changed their positions in the last few years - REMEMBER WHEN JOHN MCCAIN BELIEVED IN GLOBAL WARMING?.

There are signs that the moderates in the Republican party are becoming disenchanted with the anti-science stance of the radical right, but campaigns depend upon funds and funds depend upon backers, notably backers of the Tea Party. Major fossil fuel organisations spend huge sums lobbying for political influence. To quote The National Journal, "In a recent Pew Research Center poll, only 43 percent of Republicans – and only 31 percent of conservatives – said they believe there is solid evidence of global warming. That compares to 77 percent of Democrats. So the topic is tricky for GOP presidential candidates."

All this is happening in a context of an increasing rate of change in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, CO2 being the long-term threat to the atmosphere in the hole we are digging ourselves, and while the oceans are at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history, according to marine scientists [report][pdf][more].

So the question remains: "Can the Republican right wing suspend the laws of physics long enough to get their eventual candidate elected to the Presidency and, if so, what will be the result for the rest of the world?"

Looking into my crystal ball, I dimly perceive a diminishing of the role of the EPA, a total block on any attempt at starting a carbon cap-and-trade economy and an increase in the rhetoric denying there is any need for, or point in, action on climate until the rest of the world follows suit - in other words, never. This non-leadership means we will be doomed to more of the same global politics, under which we resemble a bus full of passengers heading for a cliff, with the driver looking back at us, instead of putting on the brakes, and saying "Don't worry - we can evolve in time to avoid any effects of a crash."

Looks like we will all be growing wings in the near term. Harp, anyone?
1 McCright, A.M., Dunlap, R.E., Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States. Global Environ. Change (2011), doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.06.003