Energy and global warming news for January 5, 2011: Scientist proves conservatism and understanding of climate science aren’t incompatible; House Energy Chair Upton (R-MI) shows up at an oil industry event

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"Energy and global warming news for January 5, 2011: Scientist proves conservatism and understanding of climate science aren’t incompatible; House Energy Chair Upton (R-MI) shows up at an oil industry event"

Scientist proves conservatism and understanding of climate science aren’t incompatible

According to the conventional wisdom that liberals accept climate change and conservatives don’t, Kerry Emanuel is an oxymoron.

Emanuel sees himself as a conservative. He believes marriage is between a man and a woman. He backs a strong military. He almost always votes Republican and admires Ronald Reagan.

Emanuel is also a highly regarded professor of atmospheric science at MIT. And based on his work on hurricanes and the research of his peers, Emanuel has concluded that the scientific data show a powerful link between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

“There was never a light-bulb moment but a gradual realization based on the evidence,” Emanuel said. “I became convinced by the basic physics and by the better and better observation of the climate that it was changing and it was a risk that had to be considered.”

As a politically conservative climatologist who accepts the broad scientific consensus on global warming, Emanuel occupies a position shared by only a few scientists.

In much the same role that marriage and abortion played in previous election cycles, denial of climate change has now become a litmus test for the right.

The vast majority of Republicans elected to Congress during the midterm election doubt climate science, and senior congressional conservatives “” Republican and Democrat “” have vowed to fight Obama administration efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

That’s why scientists such as Emanuel rattle the political pigeonholes. Some are speaking out, using their expertise and conservative credentials to challenge what many researchers consider widespread distortions about climate change.

Texas Tech atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian who travels widely talking to conservative audiences and wrote a book with her husband, a pastor and former climate change denier, explaining climate change to skeptics.

A physicist by training, John Cook is an evangelical Christian who runs the website skepticalscience.com, which seeks to debunk climate change deniers’ arguments. Barry Bickmore is a Mormon, a professor of geochemistry at Brigham Young University and the blogger behind Anti-Climate Change Extremism in Utah, where he recently rebuked Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) for his climate views and posted editorials mentioning his Republican affiliation.

Incoming Energy chairman Upton shows up at oil industry event

Spotted at an American Petroleum Institute event Tuesday previewing the oil industry’s agenda for 2011 was Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Upton is planning this year to aggressively challenge the Obama administration’s energy agenda, including efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and impose new regulations on the oil industry.

API, the country’s most powerful oil-and-gas industry trade group, is unveiling its “State of American Energy” report that, in part, calls on Congress to “reject new energy taxes and turn aside unnecessary regulations on oil and natural gas development.” An API spokesman says Upton was an invited guest to the event held at Washington’s Newseum.

Natural disasters caused big losses for insurers in 2010

Leading reinsurer Munich Re said Monday that extreme natural catastrophes in 2010 led to the sixth-highest total loss for insurers since 1980 and showed evidence of climate change.

Severe earthquakes, floods and heat waves last year led to $37 billion in insured losses, according to Munich Re’s annual review. Total economic losses, included those not covered by insurance, rose to $130 billion from $50 billion in 2009.

Out of the last 100 years, 2010 was one of the most intense for storms, with 12 of 19 tropical cyclones attaining hurricane strength. Floods caused by monsoons in Pakistan caused $9.5 billion in damage.

“The high number of weather-related natural catastrophes and record temperatures both globally and in different regions of the world provide further indications of advancing climate change,” Munich Re said in a statement.

Texas sues EPA over air permitting takeover

Texas filed yet another legal action against the federal government before the new year, charging a recent takeover of the state’s air permitting program violates the Clean Air Act.

The suit is the latest in an ongoing power struggle between the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which took an unprecedented regulatory takeover of the Texas program Sunday. The federal agency had given Texas, and 12 other states, about a year to implement new permitting procedures meant to regulate greenhouse gases, but it intensified efforts after repeated disputes.

In September, the state filed four motions in the U.S. Court of Appeals to stop the guidelines on cars and other emitters, charging the agency based rules on flawed climate data and that changes would harm the local economy.

Shell’s offshore Arctic plans dealt another legal blow

Shell faces another setback in its plans to drill for offshore oil in the Arctic, this time from a federal board that sided with Alaska Native and environmental groups and kicked air quality permits back to the Environmental Protection Agency for further review.

The order by the Environmental Appeals Board invalidates Shell Offshore Inc.’s permits for both the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. It said the EPA had failed to adequately consider the impact of nitrogen dioxide emissions during drilling operations on nearby communities and that the agency erroneously determined when a drillship, the Frontier Discoverer, would be subject to air quality issues.

The appeal was filed by the Arctic Eskimo Whaling Commission, the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, the Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice on behalf of other groups.

Flirting With Disaster

In early 2009 a team of terrorists managed to enter a nuclear-power plant in the American South armed with machine guns and grenade launchers. After breaking through chain-link and barbed-wire gates, they battled with the plant’s guards. Those terrorists who weren’t killed were able to disable a critical component of the plant’s operating hardware. A meltdown of the reactor core looked imminent, as did the release of radioactive material from waste-storage pools located on-site. The surrounding area faced catastrophic fallout.

Everything up to that point actually happened””sort of. In reality, the attackers were a group of highly trained government operatives””including security consultants and military members on leave””posing as terrorists. Every three years, such teams “attack” each of the country’s 104 nuclear-power plants to find weak spots in security. The raids are carefully choreographed: plant managers are given two months’ notice to prepare the guards, and the intruders follow a prearranged script to evade them. Still, eight times out of roughly 100 attempts over the past five years, the mock terror teams have successfully broken through those defenses.

Environmental Economist Joins White House Staff

Nathaniel Keohane, most recently the chief economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, has moved to the National Economic Council at the White House to help direct environmental and energy policy. He replaces Joseph E. Aldy, who is returning to the faculty at Harvard University.

Mr. Keohane, an early and vigorous proponent of the market-based system of cap and trade to control greenhouse gas emissions, will be joining a White House bracing for an onslaught from Republicans in Congress determined to undo much of the administration’s environmental agenda.

In his new role, he will likely undertake economic analyses in defense of domestic and international environmental policies and will work with the major agencies involved in carrying out the administration’s agenda.

Two Policy Measures that May Change The Face Of U.S. Sustainability

When the clocked struck 12:01 on New Year’s, two important green regulations went into effect that may have a long term influence on green building and renewable energy. If successful, either of these regulations would do more to change the green industry than any legal challenge to LEED’s legitimacy (see the continued coverage of the Gifford v. USGBC case here and here):1. CALGREEN

As I have said before, green building practices are becoming code, and California has (as usual) taken the lead. California is the only state to have a state-wide green building code, CALGREEN (PDF), which went into effect on January 1, 2011. If California successfully implements this mandatory green building code without siginificant impact on building rates or building costs, look to other states and municipalities to follow. Implementing green via building code is being made significantly easier throught the creation of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) which integrates with the ICC construction codes already in place in most jurisdictions.

An interesting question that has been bandied about is what a green construction code will do to LEED. California will be an interesting laboratory. Will developers still seek LEED certification for their buildings when all new construction must be green? How sensitive is the customer base to “green” vs. “more green?”

2. EPA Regulation Of GHG Under the Clean Air Act

EPA limits on greenhouse gases for power plants which also went into effect January 1 (a quick fact sheet from the EPA is available at this PDF). When cap-and-trade or cap-and-tax died in Congress last year, the EPA continued its plan to regulate GHG via the Clean Air Act. There is significant controversy over these limitations, and legal challenges have been filed. On Wednesday, December 29, 2010, the Fifth Circuit Court refused to stay the regulations, and on Thursday December 30, 2010, Texas filed a petition to the Court of Appeals in the Federal Circuit to stay the regulations. If the EPA regulations on power plants remain in place, more GHG regulation of other categories will follow, creating the same massive shift in the priority of green tactics to manage GHG emissions that cap-and-trade would have had.

US, Chinese companies partner in solar plant

A U.S. company said Wednesday it wants to start construction this year in China of one of the world’s biggest solar power plants after forming a partnership with a major state-owned utility company.

First Solar Inc. announced plans in 2009 for the facility in northern China’s Inner Mongolia region. The company said it hoped to break ground in mid-2010 but a pre-feasibility study was not approved until September and regulators delayed approval of higher payment rates for solar-generated power.

Floating City For Haiti Proposed By Architects Post-Earthquake (PHOTOS)

While Haiti is still picking up the pieces after last year’s devastating earthquake, the good news is that fascinating ideas about how to rebuild the island nation with a safer, more sustainable infrastructure are still pouring in. One of the latest proposals, from architect E. Kevin Schopfer and Tangram 3DS, caught our eye with its vision of Haiti reborn with a beautiful floating city. Dubbed Harvest City, the collection of islands would be a fully-functioning community where 30,000 residents could grow crops, promote industry and start a new life.

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47 Responses to Energy and global warming news for January 5, 2011: Scientist proves conservatism and understanding of climate science aren’t incompatible; House Energy Chair Upton (R-MI) shows up at an oil industry event

  1. fj3 says:

    New Nanomaterial Could Charge Electric Vehicles 40 Times Faster
    http://inhabitat.com/new-nanomaterial-could-charge-electric-vehicles-40-times-faster/

  2. fj3 says:

    . . . it was shown that for China and India, and other countries with a similarly high CO2 intensity, unless power generation becomes dramatically less CO2 intensive, Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) will not be able to deliver a meaningful decrease in CO2 emissions and an increase in the penetration of BEVs could actually lead to higher CO2 emissions.

    http://bit.ly/ewIDMg

    Energy Policy
    Volume 39, Issue 2, February 2011, Pages 803-811
    Special Section on Offshore wind power planning, economics and environment
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03014215

  3. catman306 says:

    Climate change vs. global warming
    What’s in a name.

    Human greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming, which in turn is causing climate change. However, because the terms are causally related, they are often used interchangeably in normal daily communications.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/whats-in-a-name.html

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    Upton updates climate change views

    Fred Upton, incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is rewriting the views expressed on his congressional website — including his assessment of global warming.

    On Tuesday evening, Upton’s environmental views appeared to be a work in progress. There was nothing but the word “environment” and blank space under the Environment heading on the site’s Issues tab.

    An aide said the recent changes were merely an update reflecting Upton’s new role as chairman of the full committee. “The discussion about energy policy that appeared on the site offered a detailed analysis of a whole host of issues that fell under the jurisdiction of the subcommittee Fred was the top Republican on for the last Congress,” spokesman Sean Bonyun said on Tuesday. “While websites are regularly updated, Fred’s positions have not changed.”

    http://www.congress.org/news/2011/01/05/upton_updates_climate_change_views

    Disconnected from Reality …

  5. Prokaryotes says:

    Ratcliffe coal protesters spared jail sentences
    Judge says activists who planned to shut down a coal-fired power station near Nottingham acted with ‘highest possible motives’

    Environmental activists who planned to shut down a coal-fired power station near Nottingham were spared jail today after a judge declared they acted with “the highest possible motives”.

    The campaigners were convicted of planning to break into Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in what would have been one of the most audacious protests by green activists in the UK.

    “You are all decent men and women with a genuine concern for others, and in particular for the survival of planet Earth in something resembling its present form,” he said.

    “I have no doubt that each of you acted with the highest possible motives. And that is an extremely important consideration.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/05/ratcliffe-coal-protesters-sentence

  6. Jeff Huggins says:

    Inconsistency Watch: Which Way Will They Have It?

    (And One Big Reason Why The Media – and We – Are Failing)

    According to the report about Upton and the API:

    “API, the country’s most powerful oil-and-gas industry trade group, is unveiling its ‘State of American Energy’ report that, in part, calls on Congress to ‘reject new energy taxes and turn aside unnecessary regulations on oil and natural gas development.’”

    The API rejects new energy taxes. No surprise there.

    But ExxonMobil is the largest (by far) American-headquartered oil company. You can bet that they have some HUGE influence over API policy. Yet you (or at least the public) might not know this: ExxonMobil’s Chairman and CEO, Rex Tillerson, says that he favors a carbon tax. For example, in his speech titled ‘finding innovative, long-term solutions for global energy and environmental challenges’, delivered to participants in the GCEP program at Stanford on February 17, 2009 – almost two years ago – Tillerson said:

    “One of the areas where government can provide needed stability is by implementing simple, transparent, and predictable policies to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions. Throughout the world, policymakers are considering a variety of legislative and regulatory options. In our view, assessing these policy options requires an understanding of their likely effectiveness, scale and cost, as well as their implications for economic growth and quality of life.

    Consistent with that view, we believe that a carbon tax would be a more effective policy option to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions than alternatives such as cap-and-trade. Pricing carbon through a direct and transparent tax could incentivize the search for lower-emissions energy solutions while also providing the stability and predictability industrial companies need to make long-term, capital-intensive investments in equipment and research.

    To ensure revenues raised from this tax are indeed directed to investment, and to assist those on lower incomes who spend a higher proportion of their income on energy, a carbon tax should be offset by tax reductions in other areas to become revenue neutral for government.

    It is rare that a business lends its support to new taxes. But in this case, given the risk-management challenges we face and the alternatives under consideration, it is my judgment that a carbon tax is the best course of public policy action. And it is a judgment I hope others in the business community and beyond will come to share.”

    A link to the speech, shown in its entirety on ExxonMobil’s own website, is here:

    http://www.exxonmobil.com/corporate/news_speeches_20090217_rwt.aspx

    So how is it that the API rejects new energy taxes (including, apparently, a carbon tax) but that ExxonMobil says that it would favor a carbon tax?

    After all, Tillerson indicates that his basis of choice is a policy’s “likely effectiveness, scale and cost, as well as their implications for economic growth and quality of life”. He says that “we believe that a carbon tax would be a more effective policy option to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions than alternatives such as cap-and-trade”. He says that “given the risk-management challenges we face and the alternatives under consideration, it is my judgment that a carbon tax is the best course of public policy action”, which seems to be quite a clear statement, at least from that standpoint. And he adds that, “And it is a judgment I hope others in the business community and beyond will come to share.”

    Well Mr. Tillerson, it seems that you haven’t been able to convince your counterparts in the API, or have you even tried, or are you all merely trying to fool us?

    And what about my other point: Why are the MEDIA – and WE – failing?

    Because the media, and we, are utterly failing to make the public aware (in clear and simple terms) of these sorts of inconsistencies and of the various other shenanigans of the oil industry and the API! How many people in the public understand that ExxonMobil (supposedly) favors a carbon tax or has at least said that it does? How many people know that the API’s apparent stance on this is different from ExxonMobil’s? How many people understand the absurdity of that situation? How many people understand the absurdity of ExxonMobil’s own statements when they are compared with each other and with ExxonMobil’s actions? Indeed, how many people care if they are being lied to, and punched, at the same time?

    Given all of the ExxonMobil PR pieces and advertorials in The New York Times, has The New York Times covered the fact that ExxonMobil presumably favors a carbon tax? Has The Times followed up with Tillerson to get the clear details? Has The Times done a revealing article that identifies, explores, and sheds light on the difference between the “no energy tax” stance of the API and the “carbon tax is best” stance of ExxonMobil?

    And (if I may ask or suggest) has ClimateProgress pointed out this huge discrepancy in a clear way and in a way that virtually requires/demands that the issue be covered by any media outlet that claims to be credible and responsible on this topic, i.e., The New York Times?

    The API says “no energy tax”. But ExxonMobil says that it prefers a carbon tax as a policy to reduce GHG emissions. The GOP leaders (who are supported by the API and, you can bet, by ExxonMobil) don’t even admit the reality of global warming, but ExxonMobil seems to do so (if you actually look at Tillerson’s talks). Is there an important story there? Apparently, The New York Times doesn’t seem to think so! And, for a helpful eye-opening read, read “Challenged By Carbon”, by Bryan Lovell.

    The API and ExxonMobil won’t change unless they are firmly prompted to change by public sentiment, by public action, by political action, and by intense transparency and light-shining. But we are failing to bring about those things! Why? And how do we get much better? Let’s get our act together, people.

    Cheers for now,

    Jeff

  7. Prokaryotes says:

    Ice collision creates floating Antarctic climate lab

    The ice breakaway, or calving, was the result of a collision with a 97km iceberg and had nothing to do with climate change. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/ice-collision-creates-floating-antarctic-climate-lab/story-e6frg6nf-1225981987668

    What a statement, ofc it is part of climate change, lame article.

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    Worse to come as the waters just keep rising

    THE unfolding disaster in Queensland is expected to worsen before it improves, with torrential rain predicted over the next two days, and many towns and cities remain in suspense as they wait for floodwaters to peak.
    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/worse-to-come-as-the-waters-just-keep-rising-20110105-19gb6.html

  9. Prokaryotes says:

    Several die in Guadeloupe floods after torrential rains

    At least four people have died after torrential rains on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.

    Some 20cm (7.9in) of rain have fallen across parts of the island over the last two days.

    A French government spokesman said that President Nicolas Sarkozy had expressed “solidarity” with the victims’ families.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12123070

  10. Prokaryotes says:

    Storm causes havoc in Lithgow

    Heavy rain has swept through Lithgow, west of Sydney, closing roads, causing a roof to collapse and flooding buildings on the main street.
    Several people have also been evacuated from their homes after the storm hit about 4:00pm (AEDT).
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/01/05/3107057.htm?site=sydney

    Looking at the lack of climate action, Australia should ready to evacuate the entire place … maybe they can go back to the UK.

  11. Prokaryotes says:

    Icy rains force 58,000 to evacuate in southern China

    BEIJING: Torrential icy rain across five provinces in southern China has forced 58,000 people to evacuate from their damaged homes, causing economic losses of $203.8 million, the ministry of civil affairs said on Wednesday.

    Freezing rain has pummeled the provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan, Chongqing, Sichuan and Guizhou in the past few days, killing one person and causing more than 1,200 houses to collapse, the ministry added.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/Icy-rains-force-58000-to-evacuate-in-southern-China/articleshow/7221056.cms

  12. Michael T. says:

    Repeat of a negative Arctic Oscillation leads to warm Arctic, low sea ice extent
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    Arctic sea ice extent for December 2010 was the lowest in the satellite record for that month. These low ice conditions are linked to a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, similar to the situation that dominated the winter of 2009-2010.

  13. MarkB says:

    I think Emanuel’s comments should be highlighted in a separate post.

    “I’ve always rebelled against the thinking that ideology can trump fact,” said Emanuel, 55. “The people who call themselves conservative these days aren’t conservative by my definition. I think they’re quite radical.”

    This can’t be said enough.

  14. malcreado says:

    Floating city for Haiti…bet that would make hurricane season interesting. What they really need is renewable energy like solar and wind so they stop cutting down their trees to make charcoal to cook food. There is a lot of under utilized land but it is largely degraded from erosion.

  15. Prokaryotes says:

    Dead Birds Fall From Sky In Sweden, Millions Of Dead Fish Found In Maryland, Brazil, New Zealand http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/05/dead-birds-fall-from-sky-_n_804591.html

  16. Colorado Bob says:

    The situation in South Africa is beginning to follow the pattern else where.

    Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) — Eskom Holdings Ltd., the state-owned utility that supplies most of South Africa’s electricity, said heavy rain is affecting the volume and quality of coal supplied to four or five of its power plants.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/01/04/bloomberg1376-LEJONO6TTDS001-1799HROSFPKJMS5PRO88JNULD2.DTL#ixzz1ABuH95Yb

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    MANILA – THE death toll from landslides and floods in the Philippines rose to 25 on Wednesday, with those trying to profit from the disaster by salvaging flotsam becoming victims themselves, officials said.

    http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/SEAsia/Story/STIStory_620770.html

  18. Colorado Bob says:

    MANILA, Philippines – The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Wednesday said 452,999 persons have been displaced after continuous rains since Dec. 29, 2010, caused massive flooding in many parts of Southern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, affecting 527 barangays (villages) in 19 provinces.

    http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/296804/floods-displace-452999-persons-19-provinces

  19. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Prokaryotes #8, you’re correct to note this story’s lame but typical, almost reflex, incantation of ‘it has nothing to do with climate change’, but this story was in The Fundament aka The Australian, the very epicentre of fanatic denialism in this country. The ideological uniformity of even the lowest hack in FoxNews Ltd with that organisation’s ideological positions is positively Pavlovian. Every article is twisted to suit the organisation’s Manichean ideological positions. The Fundament long ago ceased presenting news or polite, rationally argued opinion, from a range of views. These days, and for some years, it is like its US cousin Fox News, a bellicose and often incoherent, rage-filled propaganda sheet. They have openly declared their intention to ‘destroy’ the Green Party and leading environmentalists, Tim Flannery in particular, are ridiculed and vilified at every opportunity.

  20. Peter Sergienko says:

    Re: Item #1, what policy solutions do these conservative scientists propose to address the problems that they concede exist? If they have any, let’s get them on the table. If they have none, they should be pressed to develop solutions or to work with conservative policy makers to do the same. Getting these folks into the solutions business strikes me as a very high priority for climate hawks.

  21. David B. Benson says:

    Another way to convert CO2 into elemental carbon + syngas

    RADIAL COUNTERFLOW SHEAR ELECTROLYSIS
    http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2009/0200176.html

    requires electricity, which should come from wind + solar + nuclear.

  22. Prokaryotes says:

    Add Middle Tennessee to the list of places where flocks of birds have shown up dead. Earlier in the week, birds were found dead in Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and Texas. http://www.wsmv.com/news/26379609/detail.html

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    Now East Texas also reports hundreds of dead birds

    Texans are observing hundreds of dead birds on an East Texas bridge, according to a breaking report by KLTV in Tyler. This latest discovery compounds the mystery of recent reported discoveries of dozens, hundreds, even thousands of dead birds and fish documented in the southern United States as well as dead wildlife reports in other parts of the world this week. Around 200 birds were found dead on a Hwy 155 bridge over the Lake O’ the Pines, this morning.The cause of death of the birds identified as American Coots is unknown. http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/7800408-now-east-texas-also-reports-hundreds-of-dead-birds

  24. Prokaryotes says:

    Sinkhole partially swallows car in LA County
    It’s not clear what caused the ground to give way, but Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Gavaghan says it may have been caused by saturation from the recent rains. Running water could be seen at the bottom of the hole.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/01/04/state/n214634S34.DTL

    And the record breaking rain onslaught is due to what?

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    Mulga Mumblebrain said “The Australian, the very epicentre of fanatic denialism in this country. ”

    Beside this australian people seem quiet stupid.

    Study Shows Link Between Morbid Obesity, Low IQ In Toddlers
    University of Florida researchers have discovered a link between morbid obesity in toddlers and lower IQ scores, cognitive delays and brain lesions similar to those seen in Alzheimer’s disease patients http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060901164136.htm

    Obesity in Australia has been described as an “epidemic”[1] with “increasing frequency.”[1][2] The Medical Journal of Australia found that obesity in Australia more than doubled in the two decades preceding 2003,[3] and the unprecedented rise in obesity has been compared to the same health crisis in America.

    Professor Paul Zimmet at Monash University, who conducted the aforementioned study of diabetes rates among Asian immigrants, released figures at the Diabetes in Indigenous People Forum in Melbourne, estimating the rate of diabetes from poor diet at 24% of all Torres Strait Islanders,[10] and remarked that unless extra steps are taken with these groups, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders will die out within 100 years.

    The current ALP government under Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants to tackle the obesity problem in Australia by giving tax subsidies which would fund gym memberships to people who wish to lose weight.[15] Her watchdog group, the National Preventative Health Taskforce, also wants to target childhood obesity by banning ads for junk food during the daytime when most children’s television programs air.[15]
    In August 2008, the government of New South Wales announced that it would pay for morbidly obese patients to receive weight loss surgery, the first state to make such an announcement http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_Australia

  26. paulm says:

    Hot-car deaths rise for children in 2010
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-01-05-hotcars05_ST_N.htm?csp=usat.me

    [JR: Gonna do a post on this because of one quote in that story.]

  27. Biff says:

    Be very careful about labelling the Australian floods as solely due to climate change. CC may have played a part but the variability of the Australian climate means these type of events are not uncommon.

    Throw in the construction of new homes that completely ignore the flood risks identified in the past and you have the recipe for what is unfolding. Homes used to be built on stilts in these regions for a reason:

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/oldtimers-on-a-high-when-water-levels-rose-20110104-19f1o.html

    [JR: No one said “solely.”]

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    Biff said “Australian climate means these type of events are not uncommon.”

    There have been reports from residents in the upper Brisbane River that flood waters were as bad as in 1974. Without the dam, this water would have flowed down the Brisbane River at around the same time as flows from the Lockyer and Bremer – compounding local flooding. http://media-newswire.com/release_1137581.html

    If you compare the past you need to factor in the current state and developments.

    In March last year, St George and its satellite towns experienced what was said to be a once-in-a-century flood event, which peaked at 13.39 metres.

    “The information we had originally was 14 metres on Saturday, and possibly that could creep just above that on Monday or Tuesday,” http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/st-george-peak-revised-downward-20110106-19glv.html

    The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says thunderstorms over Queensland’s southern inland will dump at least 50 millimetres of rain over most parts of the region, further affecting the area around the town of St George.
    It’s not just the 2,500 people in St George or the 500 people in Surat, it’s actually the thousands of other people who are out on isolated properties out in the area and Dirranbandi which is virtually cut off now,” he said.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/01/05/3106483.htm?section=justin

    So last year was already once in a century flood event, and the following year – this year it tops it …

    “Well you can’t attribute a single event to climate change.” But there is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms and it’s unfortunate that the public is not associating these with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change. And the prospects are that these kinds of things will only get bigger and worse in the future. http://climateprogress.org/2010/06/14/ncar-trenberth-global-warming-extreme-weather-rain-deluge/

  29. Biff says:

    Point taken, Joe.

    Prok, that may very well be the case but it’s also the case that Australia’s history right from English settlement has been characterised by often extreme weather variability. Because these floods seem so dramatic and because Australia is coming off a long drought it will appear to the casual observer that this cannot be natural or normal. But even the poet Dorothea Mackellar wrote about “a land … of droughts and flooding rains” over 100 years ago.

    Given that the exact relationship between the El Nino/La Nina oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole is still being researched (Indian Ocean warming maybe linked to AGW) and that we know this type of flooding has happened many times before, I would be inclined to go with the situation normal scenario for now.

    As for St George, anywhere that gets flooded and then has major rain a year later is going to flood again very easily. On the positive side, this is exactly the sort of rejuvenation the Murray-Darling basin needs and indeed gets periodically. It was only a year ago we were lamenting the slow death of the Basin due to the crippling drought. Australia’s environment will be far better for this flood, it’s obviously just very unfortunate that people are caught up in it given the way land use has changed in Queensland.

  30. Prokaryotes says:

    Spill report: It could happen again
    ‘Failure of management’ and regulators given blame for disaster
    WASHINGTON — The lethal well blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year resulted from a “failure of management” and could happen again without significant reform of the offshore drilling industry and the federal agency that oversees it, according to the presidential commission investigating the disaster.
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/7367856.html

  31. Prokaryotes says:

    Flood-hit Queensland braced for fresh storms

    More heavy rain is forecast for eastern Australia, threatening flash floods for communities where hundreds of homes are already under water.

    Forecasters predict central and southern Queensland will be worst hit by the latest deluge which will last into the weekend.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12124805

    Double whammy can’t describe the deluge onslaught, as it seems coordinated by nature herself, to take out the coal mines at last.

  32. Prokaryotes says:

    State disaster co-ordinator Ian Stewart described the forecast as “worrying”.

    “We’re watching the rain patterns very, very carefully,” he said.

    With natural disasters declared across an area of a million square kilometres, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the flooding was unprecedented in her state and had now directly affected 40 communities.

    As this would change anything … according to Anne Bligh the next deluge will come in 50 or 100 years. I wonder where she gets this information from – seems like a lot of wish casting going on in New Antlantisland.
    Anne Bligh and all the other government workers should start with action on climate change. First task acknowledge the threat from dangerous civilization destroying climate change.

  33. Prokaryotes says:

    Incredible!

    The Major of Rockhampton is on Record to connect the Dots with the recent onslaught of the Deluge!

    Brad Carter: “The Thing we need to appreciate, we are starting to see the impacts of climate change in this region!”

    Hopes Some Queensland Flood Waters Have Peaked http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kSYSF60K7Y&feature=player_embedded

    Where is the sissy rest of the Aussie media on the reason why there is this record breaking deluge???!

  34. Colorado Bob says:

    Biff @ 29 –

    If Australia was sitting there a lone experiencing these types of rains that’s one thing . But world wide I promise you in the course of the next week we will see more reports, where excessive rain fall drives people from their homes. I’ve been watching this for some time now , see #10 & #12 on this thread, those are fresh reports just today.

  35. Colorado Bob says:

    By the way rains are back in Australia –
    Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Bryan Rolstone said the storm hit Brisbane about 7.30pm. It lasted only two hours but dropped 92mm in Ransome, 64mm in Chandler, 44mm in Mansfield and 82mm in Bowen Hills.

    Many other suburbs received 20-30mm.

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/flash-flooding-hits-brisbane-20110106-19gji.html

  36. Colorado Bob says:

    Heavy rain continues in Ra

    Meanwhile, the Nadi Weather Office confirmed that a trough of low pressure lies slow moving over the Fiji group and flash flooding of low lying areas is expected in places where continuous heavy rain will be experienced.

    http://www.fijivillage.com/?mod=story&id=06011166ef29f9a5ecb27f7a6fccbe

  37. Colorado Bob says:

    Johannesburg – Floods in KwaZulu-Natal claimed five lives by Wednesday as heavy rains continued to soak large parts of the country.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Floods-5-dead-scores-displaced-20110105

  38. Colorado Bob says:

    TORRENTIAL rains that fell for hours in Pretoria on Tuesday night left hundreds of shacks in Extension 6 informal settlement flooded, causing serious damage to the belongings of residents.

    “Now I am building another shack so that we can sleep tonight. We are crossing our fingers that the rain will not fall tonight because we have not slept well since it started two weeks ago.”

    http://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/2011/01/06/rain-leaves-shacks-flooded

  39. Colorado Bob says:

    WEDNESDAY, JAN 5

    Freezing rain will continue to pummel the southern provinces of Guizhou and Hunan for a week, with heavy snow forecast to hit Hunan today.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE7040N020110105

  40. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Prokaryotes #27, the question of obesity illustrates the death of Australian society under the hammer blows of the ‘free market’ nicely. The childhood obesity epidemic has been worsening for decades. On several occasions almost the entire paediatric medical, public health and nutritional establishments have made representations to Government to do something, starting with banning junk food advertising. Under the late, unlamented, Howard regime, the relevant Minister, Tony Abbott, now leader of the Opposition, and one whose intellectual level is captured beautifully by his observation that ‘(Anthropogenic) Climate change is crap’, dismissed these rather impassioned pleas quite peremptorily, almost contemptuously. As far as Abbott was concerned, childhood obesity is caused by slack parents and greedy children, and must be tackled by increased exercise. As ever profits come first, social solutions are rejected and the focus instead is on ‘individual responsibility’. Needless to say, in our ‘democracy without choices’ the so-called Labor Government that succeeded Howard maintains the same position. Prime Minister Dullard saying that she will act on junk food advertising is a joke, because at the first whiff of grapeshot from the junkfood and advertising industries, she will turn tail and run for her life. The Labor Party here, which apes your sad, pathetic, hopeless Democratic Party, has, like the Democrats, stood for nothing for decades now, but the naked pursuit of power, to be used, not for social progress, justice and equality, but to service the insatiable greed of the rich. In any case, any good market absolutist, neo-liberal economist can show you, with pretty diagrams and complex equations, that fat children are a real ‘market opportunity’ for the private health-industrial complex.

  41. Prokaryotes says:

    A New Ark for Humanity

    Floating Hotel Could Defy Rising Sea Levels
    The rising sea waters caused by global warming have inspired a Russian architect to design a hotel that could be built on water as well as land. The eco-friendly “Ark” could be constructed in just a few months anywhere in the world, the designer says.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,737887,00.html

    If there are no real action to combat climate change, this is the future.

  42. Sou says:

    @29 Biff says that these types of floods in Australia are not uncommon. This is not so, or at least not until recently.

    Minor flooding is common, major flooding used to be rare but occasional, the floods we’ve had this season are not only uncommon but unprecedented in the scale and intensity of precipitation.

    According to BOM “Based on preliminary numbers, 2010 was the wettest year on record for Queensland. The Northern Territory, New South Wales and South Australia experienced their 3rd wettest year on record, and Victoria experienced its 5th wettest year on record…. Northern Australia had its wettest dry season on record, measuring an average of 190 mm of rainfall, compared with the previous record of 176 mm in 1978…September was a particularly notable month for rainfall, coming in as the wettest on record for northern Australia with an average of 51 mm, well above the previous record of 33 mm set in 1906.”

    http://www.bom.gov.au/announcements/media_releases/climate/change/20110105.shtml

    Here is a list of the major floods in Queensland – see 1958, 1974, then 1992, 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010-2011.

    http://www.bom.gov.au/hydro/flood/qld/fld_reports/reports.shtml

    If it were a once-off it would be tragic for those affected, but not be quite as disturbing in the whole scheme of things. It’s the increasing frequency, the record precipitation and the scale of these events that appears to confirm what Australia’s climate scientists are saying – it’s going to get wetter up north with climate change and the intensity of rains is increasing.

  43. Prokaryotes says:

    Biff, you are beyond naive with your happy painting of the civilization destroying floods. Maybe tell your dream stories the residents which lost everything and face deadly threats now from poisonous snakes and mosquito plagues.
    These are the worst floods in recorded history and it destroys livelihoods and it destroys Australia. Biff you sound pretty much like someone working for Big Oil or Dirty Coal with no accountability or responsibility or whatsoever. In a not so far future, people like you will put on trial for crimes against humanity.

  44. fj3 says:

    Good article
    Chemistry: The trials of new carbon
    Researchers have spent 25 years exploring the remarkable properties of fullerenes, carbon nanotubes and graphene. But commercializing them is neither quick nor easy.
    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110105/full/469014a.html