Weekend Open Thread

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"Weekend Open Thread"

Opine away. Or pine away. Or pie away? Or pi away? Or”¦.

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87 Responses to Weekend Open Thread

  1. John McCormick says:

    In a world of peak oil, assuming current US average gasoline price for 87 octane will remain above $3/gal and steadily rise as world demand for oil increases,I would like to know what amount of carbon tax would equate to $3, $4, $5/gal pump price. After a few cups of coffee, I’ll try to calculate.

    Anyone got an answer? Anyone interested?

    John McCormick

  2. Deborah Stark says:

    From this morning’s Boston Globe:

    4/16/11
    Take it to climate court?
    Global warming lawsuits are a misuse of the judiciary branch

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2011/04/16/take_it_to_climate_court/

    Maybe it’s time to set up a dedicated climate court…

  3. http://makemesustainable.com/ is a website that calculates your carbon footprint and helps you track your efforts to reduce it. It’s a useful tool for making a somewhat abstract concept more concrete.

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    What few foresaw however, was that changes to our surface climate would impact the movement of the large crustal plates that cause the continents to drift and that form mountain ranges and cause earthquakes.

    “We are showing for the first time that the opposite also is true, that the pattern of climate is then able to affect back in a feedback mechanism the motion of tectonic plates.”

    http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/560158/scientists_find_link_between_global_warming_and_earthquakes/

  5. Prokaryotes says:

    Climate Change Director

    Job Type Full-Time
    Career Level Mid
    Job Category Marketing/Communications/PR, Policy/Planning, Project/Program Manager, Research/Analyst
    Industry Government
    Company British High Commission
    City Singapore
    Country Singapore

    Promoting a low carbon, high growth global economy is one of the key policy goals of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and its missions overseas. To promote the climate change agenda, the FCO has a regional network of staff whose priority is to promote low carbon growth in South East Asia. http://www.eco-business.com/jobs/climate-change-director/

  6. 350 Now says:

    To borrow Conservation International’s slogan about tropical deforestation: Lost there, Felt here.

    Gains from the federal budget environmental battles shifting to state level losses:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/16/science/earth/16enviro.html?_r=2&hp

  7. Michael T. says:

    Bjorn Lomborg made an appearance on Letterman this past week:

    Bjorn Lomborg – Cool It (DVD) *Interview (Apr.12/11)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWLXBpousUI

  8. Chris (from Vancouver) says:

    Thanks Helena (#4) for the link, I really liked it. Hardly a mention of the environment at the two national leaders debates this week. Jack Layton said it a couple of times, but no direct questions and comments. It’s all about growing the economy.

    In 2002, Stephen Harper referred to the Kyoto climate change accord as “a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations” and the science behind it as “tentative and contradictory.”

    In 2006, he again expressed doubts, saying, “We have difficulties in predicting the weather in one week or even tomorrow. Imagine in a few decades.”

  9. Mark says:

    Two excellent Letters in the Boston Globe on Senator Scott Brown’s EPA votes.

    The first letter asks the Senator who campaigned on the premise that the Senate seat was the people’s seat – to remember that he has a responsibility to protect the people’s air.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/letters/articles/2011/04/16/its_the_peoples_air_senator/

    The 2nd letter was written by the President of the American Lung Association.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/letters/articles/2011/04/16/environmental_law_requires_support/

  10. Mark says:

    The Scottish Nationalists election manifesto aims to make Scotland 100% renewable by 2020. Currently they are the party in government there and their laudable ambition is attracting flak

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/14/snp-scottish-election-manisfesto-alex-salmond

  11. Helena says:

    @Chris: Yeah, I’m finding it very frustrating. I was waiting throughout the whole debate for some question about environmental policy and there was nothing. It’s strange because the other party leaders should have ample attack material on Harper in this department. It seems like banning Elizabeth May from the debate effectively put climate change out of the picture.

  12. slect says:

    The French government will very likely scrap plans to develop tar sand exploration. Massive demonstrations by those potentially harmed by fracking operations have played a significant role in bringing about this change of mind.

  13. Joan Savage says:

    Jeffery T. Iverson, “The Fight to Save Wine from Extreme Weather” time.com

    “If there were any climate-change doubters in the wine industry, it seems they are now as rare as a 1921 Château d’Yquem….”

    And further down,
    “For Chilean wine producer Concha y Toro, too, the motto is “Adapt or die.””

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2064971,00.html

  14. Michael T. says:

    January-March 2011 is the 11th warmest on record with anomaly of 0.49 degrees C (0.88 degrees F) above the 1951-1980 average:
    http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/Temperature/T_moreFigs/2011vs2010+2005.pdf

  15. Brad Pierce says:

    Stopping obvious tax evasion would an easy source of billions per year for climate and clean energy research. According to a recent article in The American Interest

    California, in severe budget shock, is losing taxes from residents who set up Nevada shells to “own” businesses that operate in California. On
    a larger scale, corporations and individuals use a web of shell companies nested within each other to move un-taxed profits out of the country. Aside from the money drained from the economy and Treasury — about $70 billion each year, by most estimates —

    http://thekomisarscoop.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Shells-Shams-and-Corporate-Scams-by-Lucy-Komisar-in-The-American-Interest.pdf

  16. Matt Briggs says:

    1) T-shirt—“Consumer”crossed out,”Restorer” written in with accompanying imagery of saving energy, shifting to renewables, expanding forests, changing agriculture…to reverse carbon emissions.
    2) “We Can Fix This”—with accompanying imagery of the emissions consequences of burning carbon for energy—one idea is a globe with one half fossil fueled and one half restored (we have our try at it in our Key Art at DeepGreenMovie.com)

  17. Michael T. says:

    Death toll from severe storms rises to 17

    BOONE’S CHAPEL, Ala. – Vicious storms and howling winds smacked the Deep South, killing at least seven people in Alabama including three family members whose homes were tossed into nearby woods.

    In Alabama’s Washington County, about 50 miles north of Mobile, a mother and her two children were among those killed, said state emergency management agency director Art Faulkner. One person was reported dead in Mississippi’s Greene County.

    Combined with earlier reported fatalities in Arkansas and Oklahoma, the confirmed death toll had risen to 17 by early Saturday — the nation’s deadliest storm of the season.

    Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110416/ap_on_re_us/us_severe_weather

  18. espiritwater says:

    Seems to me that we may have to get rid of fascist government before we can do anything effectively about climate change. “Democracy” no longer works. Al Gore said something about a civil war between those trying to save the planet and those hell bent on destroying it… Maybe, maybe.

  19. espiritwater says:

    Lord, help us, it has begun! One climate catastrophy after the other! (And this year is supposed to be mild compared to next year!)

  20. espiritwater says:

    Parkayotes… According to an article I read, collapse of West Antarctica will cause the earth’s axis to shift. Then..

    “Large scale crustal displacement, as a result of the shifting in the earth’s axis.’

  21. bill says:

    Watch your Future melt.

    Science vs wishful thinking.

    Climate: Crops and kids wilting in the heat.

    Science will hurt your brain. Better to not think.

  22. Alan Sangster says:

    Prokarotes@6: The article which you highlight suggests that there may be a link between global warming and earthquakes. However, as an engineer it seems more likely to me that if there is an anthropogenic influence on tectonic plate movements it is more likely to come from blasting the tops of mountains, digging great holes in the crust and extracting huge volumes of material from the crust such as coal and oil before pumping it into the atmosphere. This is rather like knocking bits off the superstructure of a huge tanker on autopilot. One should not be surprised that such recklessness will result in small changes in air and wind resistance eventually producing an unwanted change of course.

  23. Colorado Bob says:

    Denos said instead of seeing some runoff by now, the mountains are continuing to accumulate snowpack, with the SNOTEL (SNOwpack TELemetry) site at Mount Timpanagos at the highest level ever recorded.

    “We need to get hot soon and start melting some of that low elevation snow, instead of having all the snow at all the elevations come down at once,” Denos said.

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705370534/New-storm-adds-to-flooding-concerns.html

  24. William P says:

    What would you say the odds are that the US and industrial world will stop or even significantly slow growth in CO2 emissions?

    Let’s be honest and not place hope before experience. Its not going to happen despite all the good efforts like this blog.

    Those of us who care about earth, who care what happens to humans, their history and what they have created, who care about their extended families and themselves need to start thinking about if and how this climate destruction can be survived.

    There are ideas out there about this. Waiting until mass chaos breaks out is, admittedly, what we humans usually do.

    But, let’s put our collective shoulder now to coming up with survival plans for the maximum number. The great UK climate scientist James Lovelock (The Vanishing Face of Gaia) for one believes some humans can survive in polar regions.

    Are we up to this shift in thinking? Or are we more comfortable continuing to spin the fantasy that mankind will somehow do a turnaround on CO2?

    Everything is riding on our answer to these questions.

  25. Pumpkincurry says:

    “But, let’s put our collective shoulder now to coming up with survival plans for the maximum number. The great UK climate scientist James Lovelock (The Vanishing Face of Gaia) for one believes some humans can survive in polar regions.” – William P.

    I agree that finding long-term survival niches may be the only reality at this point. My question is: if the polar regions are getting hotter far faster than any other region now, will they continue to heat up after all the ice is gone? Will they be at some point hotter than the middle of the earth?

    That’s impossible, right?

  26. Joan Savage says:

    Allan Sangster (#25)

    The popular press versions are picking up on one researcher, who is claiming credit, but that’s not the whole picture, as the work has been ongoing for years by many researchers to develop the baseline information. The initial idea to study the effects of erosion on plate tectonics goes back decades, and was sound enough to merit funding!

    Like the Vostok ice data, what’s relevant news is that there is a baseline of pre-anthropogenic correlation between surface climate and tectonic shifts, to which one can compare contemporary weather and the earthquakes along the edges of tectonic plates.
    e.g. Increased weathering of the Himalayas by heavy monsoons shifts the distribution of mass.

    I wouldn’t be so prickly about it as “news,” except that geologists and environmental scientists have known about this phenomenon for years.

    Correlating climate change’s increases in monsoon intensity to continental erosion to earthquakes, does merit public attention, of course, and it should be quite a moment if this ever gets a hearing in Congress.

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    More Crimes against Humanity

    Toxic Chemicals Injected Into Wells, Report Says

    WASHINGTON — Oil and gas companies injected hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals into wells in more than 13 states from 2005 to 2009, according to an investigation by Congressional Democrats.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/science/earth/17gas.html

    Will the people responsible for these long lasting crimes put on trial?

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    @Alan Sangster

    Climate forcing of geological and geomorphological hazards

    Periods of exceptional climate change in Earth history are associated with a dynamic response from the solid Earth, involving enhanced levels of potentially hazardous geological and geomorphological activity. This response is expressed through the adjustment, modulation or triggering of a wide range of surface and crustal phenomena, including volcanic and seismic activity, submarine and sub-aerial landslides, tsunamis and landslide ‘splash’ waves glacial outburst and rock-dam failure floods, debris flows and gas-hydrate destabilisation. Looking ahead, modelling studies and projection of current trends point towards increased risk in relation to a spectrum of geological and geomorphological hazards in a world warmed by anthropogenic climate change, while observations suggest that the ongoing rise in global average temperatures may already be eliciting a hazardous response from the geosphere. Papers included in this issue review the potential influences of anthropogenic warming in relation to an array of geological and geomorphological hazards across a range of environmental settings. http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/site/issues/climate_forcing.xhtml

    Each single nuclear plant will be soon a potential fallout/contamination threat, because the northern hemisphere is about to wake up!

  29. Joan Savage says:

    I think I condensed too much. The comparison to Vostok (and Greenland) ice cores is mostly about the pre-anthropogenic baseline pattern.

    Ice cores do include information from which to make inferences on tectonic shifts, and sometimes on erosion if there is dust in the ice.

  30. Edith Wiethorn says:

    Here’s a real-life case-in-point question on climate issues communication. i would appreciate any more
    experienced input on evaluating the climate-science position of the following consulting company:

    http://newenergycities.org/

    Some of our truly exemplary community leaders have selected this group to design & lead our overall
    regional energy policy. We have a Climate Summit workshop coming up with them next month – that is, the consultants & County/City officials & selected citizens. I could probably get invited due to prior community development work.

    My study of their website earlier this year shows me they have city clients in Oregon, which I know to have some visionary & rigorous progressive policies in place. Oregon sets stunning, quantified goals & then exceeds them.

    But I still come away with the feeling that what they are describing is a clean-energy, theme-park, feel-good approach that has no driving motive – rather, it’s a higher-aesthetic-tide-floating-all-boats kind of rise. Their 20-year timeline to shining visualizations seems … comfortably liesurely. I have expressed this impression in open meetings to dedicated, civilized economic development stakeholders.

    Regional scope is good. The individuals in this group have good credentials & seem to be generally & sincerely on track. I plan to ask them in writing specifically what climate science has their attention. And I would first appreciate any input whatsoever from Climate Progress people this weekend. Over to you …

  31. scas says:

    With the Canadian elections coming up, I was thinking of getting a custom tee shirt made that says “Fukc Nature, Vote Conservative”. Good idea or would I become a target?

  32. scas says:

    I’m tired of sitting around watching earth burn. Maybe someone can invent an exercise machine that sequesters carbon. Tighten those buns as you save the planet.

  33. Frank says:

    every car sold in america now has an mpg rating sticker on it; isn’t it time for the environmental movement is america to UNITE around legislation that will mandate the requirement for a btu of purchased energy per square foot per heating/cooling degree day on every building, residential or commercial???

  34. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    espiritwater #21, if Gore did speak of a ‘civil war’ between those who wish to save humanity and those who are destroying it, then he is, in my opinion, absolutely correct, and it’s good to see a notable figure speak this unspeakable truth. That fraction of humanity euphemised as the Right, ie the fabulously wealthy and totally parasitical caste who control capitalism, and the dullards, opportunists and misanthropes who worship them and their ethos of greed and animosity to all others, have been slowly shaping humanity in their image over the centuries. Today we have reached the crisis, and whether it is the healing crisis before humanity recovers, or is the prelude to the rapid descent into species death, is in the hands of those living. I do not think there is time left to even hope that those yet unborn can make a difference. If the destroyers, the graspers, the ‘sharp elbows’ and the ruthless accumulators continue to call the shots for the next one or two decades then all is lost. As has become usual lately, the increasingly disastrous news from science, from observation and from day to day existence is being met by increasingly ferocious lying, increasingly frantic efforts to make things even worse by extracting that last ounce of profit from ever more polluting fossil fuel sources and more prevarication, more dissembling and more subterfuge from utterly morally corrupt politicians. And where ‘Green’ politics is making some progress, too little and probably too late, it is being met by a concerted campaign of intimidation, vilification and wretched propaganda from the debased bedlam of Rightwing media.
    We’ve simply treated the planet without respect. We’ve gone on destroying, polluting and abusing its life-supporting systems as if there was no tomorrow, and with absolute disrespect for life. In the end our lack of respect for life, our morally insane insistence on substituting the dead stuff of money, possessions and capital for the living world, was bound to harm us as well. We’ve grown, in our hubris, to imagine ourselves such demi-gods that the rules of life,( its responsibilities as well as rights), on this planet, did not apply to us. After all we created the God who made all this, in Our image,then granted ourselves ‘dominion’ over it all, then we destroyed the forests, exterminated the great beasts, enslaved and tormented billions of other living creatures for our pleasure, and, near the end, exterminated all our fellow men who had evolved a different life practice that promoted sufficiency, respect for life and the ethos of living with Nature, not in perpetual war with it.
    I would make so bold as to assert that our one slim hope of surviving into the future depends absolutely on totally repudiating the assault on life that has reached its apotheosis in late capitalism. We need to remove the destroyers and accumulators from power, forever, live within the planet’s bounds and seek growth in being, rather than having. How to achieve that in twenty years in the face of the violent, and it will be violent, resistance of the pathologically greedy, is the question of questions. At least there exists a huge volume of philosophical and ethical discourse from all cultures over millennia, outlining the hideous consequences, moral and spiritual, of the sickness of greed and avarice. It’s not as if we weren’t warned of what would inevitably follow if we allowed our basest appetites to rule our nobler instincts.

  35. Mike # 22 says:

    “In Defense of Academic Freedom Against Denialist FOIA Inquisition Tactics”

    via WabettRun

    http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2011/04/15/in-defense-of-academic-freedom-against-denialist-foia-inquisition-tactics/

  36. 6thextinction says:

    Prokaryotes #30

    The documentary “gasland” states that in 2005 vice president cheney exempted corporations from responsibility for clean up of any contamination caused by hydrofracking, as well as other environmental practices and results.

    viewing the movie may encourage viewers to take action beyond contacting their “representatives” to overturn these exemptions.

  37. catman306 says:

    @scas, it’s already here, the bicycle. Transportation, exercise, and they keep the fossil fuel needed to move 2 or 3 tons of vehicle in the ground as Nature intended.

    I’m getting a battery powered electric assist front wheel for my mountain bike ’cause I’m old and burned out and there’s some killer hills around here.

    And if you’re under 40, you may have never heard this song about TMI
    Face the fire, where fire could be nuclear or fossil fuel
    This is the original version which was finally uploaded to YouTube on Jan 1, 2011. It has no references to the Japanese tsunami. It’s picked up 1000 views in 2 weeks!
    I hope they’re playing it in Japan.

    Face the Fire, Dan Fogelberg 1979
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAp2v3r-QZc

  38. Mickey says:

    In terms of the Canadian election, not much on the environment or climate change, mind you it seems when the economy is strong environment is a bigger issue while when more fragile it is less of an issue. At this point, I think is pretty much a foregone conclusion the Conservatives will win the most seats but it still is too early to tell whether it will be a majority or minority and also if the opposition will form a coalition as they tried to do in late 2008 or not.

  39. catman306 says:

    I hope the geomorphologists have thought about how the worldwide sea level rise adds millions of tons of water for every centimeter of rise but how all of that extra stress on the crust only occurs where there are oceans and none of it occurs where there is dry land. And do they consider that a large sea level rise can occur in a geological instant? Major changes in forces happening over a very short time scale sounds like the recipe for frequent large earthquakes.

    I don’t see sea level rise mentioned in Prokaryotes’ quote.

  40. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Thanks Mulga for another exquisite, sparkling piece. I am hoping that the world’s remaining Aboriginal peoples can come together in great force at the UN’s summits to take their world back before it’s too late, ME

  41. Vic says:

    John McCormick @ #2 ,

    Here’s some Australian treasury estimates of how a carbon tax would impact on petrol prices. Remember that one Aussie dollar roughly equals one US dollar, and that Aussies are even more gluttonous in their fossil fuel use than USA. 

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/carbon-tax-shouldnt-cause-pump-pain/story-fn6ck51p-1226032889166 

    $10/tonne tax = $0.025 per liter. 
    $30/tonne tax = $0.075 per liter. 
    $40/tonne tax = $0.10   per liter.  

    Translated into the average Australian family’s weekly fuel bill increase,

    $10/tonne tax = $1.20 per week.  
    $30/tonne tax = $3.60 per week. 
    $40/tonne tax = $4.80 per week.

    These imposts are so low I feel the government should’ve just brought them in by stealth. Nobody would have noticed.
     
    Of course, these targets are designed to bring about a mere 5% reduction in Australia’s emissions, and now appears to be ushering in a massive increase in coal seam gas infrastructure, as if that was the answer to the problems we face.  What happens when all our shiny new gas wells achieve a 5% cut ?  We’ll have done all our dough and still have 95% of the work left to do.  

  42. paulm says:

    Looking more and more like climate change does impact this….

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/16/3193477.htm
    Aftershocks continue in north Queensland

  43. Lewis C says:

    Joan at 29/. & Prokaryotes at 30/.

    the political impacts of the news of the destabilization of the geosphere will be profound once that news is given credence by governments worldwide – which of course is still some way off.

    With the USGS adamantly denying any significant increase, (despite their own website data showing major increases in major and mega events since 1980) the US position seems likely to be characteristicly tardy.

    By contrast in Europe we have the world’s leading re-insurance house, Munich Re, that has long taken the climate issue very seriously, not least its consequences of raised seismic activity. They employ one Prof. Bill McGuire of Aon Benfeild Hazard Research Centre as the chief advisor on the scientific assessment of seismic threats. It follows that the European govt.s are thus likely to be more open to acknowledging and acting on this threat.

    As has been oft repeated, the quake that cut off grid power to the reactors at Fukushima was a magnitude 9.0, and one of the sixteen largest in recorded history, of which five have occurred since 2004. The odds of a fifth quake on that scale in seven years have to be pretty extreme.

    Other news around the Fukushima disaster was relatively unimpressive – for instance :-
    – Tepco’s serial incompetence in failing to raise the sea defences despite scientific warnings in 2001 and again in 2007 meant their overtopping by the tsunami was not news, it was predictable given a magnitude 9 event and associated tsunami.
    – Tepco’s failure to have water-tight doors on the basement back-up generator rooms equally predictably meant they’d be flooded by such a tsunami – or, more plausibly, Tepco’s failure to replace the stock of diesel fuel annually meant it would go stale and gum-up the fuel-injector systems after running fine for an hour or two.
    – Tepco’s failure to bring in replacement generators immediately (by naval landing craft if necessary) was not predictable in the absence of some swingeing official assessment of Tepco managerial competence – the idea of Tepco squandering a vital week restoring grid power, while the absence of power for the system’s pumps generated a cascade of serial explosions, fires, leaks, and massive volumes of contaminated water and areas of wind-borne contamination – seems really far-fetched. Yet corporate incompetence is not news to governments – even to those that propagandize ‘free market’ solutions – From bitter experience it is plain that the larger and more complex an organization is, the more likely it is that a top-down hierarchical structure will become incoherent in the event of a shock on a scale to injure its credibility and reputation.

    Within a few days of the quake, ten govts overturned their established energy-portfolio plans for nuclear plants and halted or terminated licensing processes – i.e. before the full extent of the Fukushima disaster had occurred. These included Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, Israel, Venezuela, Mexico, Taiwan, China and, later, Japan itself. Russia has also now declared that any plants failing a general inspection “will be closed” – as opposed to “will be upgraded,” while France has declared that it won’t export plants to nations with less than Japan’s technical capacity to handle a nuclear accident – (which has to be unique as a sales pitch).

    So why did so many sober governments flip their policies on so momentous an issue even before Fukushima had really gone bad ?
    – Public opposition was a significant factor only in Germany, which also took the most drastic of action against nuclear.
    – Between the arrival of the tsunami and the decision points a few days later there was no identifiable ‘News’ to justify the spate of parallel decisions to step back from nuclear.
    – It can thus be argued, with some confidence, that the news of a magnitude 9.0 quake, being the fifth of historic scale in seven years, was itself the trigger for those decisions by affirming governments’ prior undeclared concern over the hypothesis that climate destabilization has begun to destabilize the geosphere.

    If anyone can point to other ‘News’ that had such rapid and momentous effect, I’d really like to see a post on it.

    Regards,

    Lewis

  44. scas says:

    @40 catman306 – I actually already do have an electric bicycle and it goes great. What I was thinking of was some sort of stationary exercise machine that sequestered carbon, or maybe as a hobby or for exercise crush and disperse silicate rock over vast tracts of land. Get 7 billion people doing this for a few hours a day, and replanting trees, and we could probably make a noticeable dent in atmospheric CO2.

  45. Michael T. says:

    Hansen recently gave a lecture entitled “Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Its Implications”

    James Hansen GISS Lunch Seminar 2011-04-13
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EV3zKjwC9Y&feature=channel_video_title

  46. paulm says:

    Youth of the earth rise up. It is one of the only hope we have of tackling a 3C+ rise. I think most of our effort should be focused at awakening the youth movement….

    Power Smart, Power up
    http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/14078578

  47. a face in the clouds says:

    Prokaryotes, I thought you might interested to know that a number of people in the Austin area have been sickened by the wildfire smoke blowing in from NW Texas.

    http://www.kxan.com/dpp/health/wildfire-smoke-may-affect-your-health

    Smoke from a large cluster of fires made a beeline for Austin ahead of a cold front Friday. Southerly winds have since pushed the smoke out of the area. However, it seems there is a good deal of lingering suspicion over the number of people sickened. These were unusually large fires, but I’ve seen worse smoke from past fires and there were no reports of such widespread illness. In fact, we just recently got a lot of smoke from the annual agricultural burn-offs in Southern Mexico, and I am unaware of any significant rise in health problems.

    Incidentally, I had sore lungs for a day or so. I’ve lived down here forever and can’t remember reacting to wildfire smoke this way. The soreness ended rather abruptly when the winds shifted to the south. I’ll live, but I too am suspicious.

  48. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Lewis # 45. An hypothesis born of acute observation. Count my bet in, ME

  49. Geoff Beacon says:

    I would like comments on what I have been told:

    The world has about one person per two hectares of land.

    Before the famine in Ireland, potatoes and a cow could feed 20 to 30 people per hectare.

    Chinese families could feed themselves on 1/16th of a hectare. That is about 50 people per hectare.

    Permaculturists can grow food almost anywhere (e.g. Sepp Holzer in the Austrian Alps, Geoff Lawton in the Jordanian desert)

    What’s the biological barrier to feeding only one person for every two hectares of land, when 50 per hectare may be possible?

    There appears to be no “scientific” work in the UK on this but plenty aiming to feed the world on internationally traded monoculture produce.
    Anyone know of good research anwhere? Peer reviewed if possible.

  50. Joan Savage says:

    Estimates of human mpg as compared to fossil mpg

    This started out as a slogan idea and grew a little, so I’m risking a edited cross-post and leaving the good judgement to Joe.

    I don’t have all the data, and web calculations should be scrutinized. Supposedly, a 175 lb cyclist at 15 mph burns 34 calories per mile, and thus would be able to go 914 miles on the calorie-content of a gallon of gas, 31,000 calories of fossil energy.
    http://auto.howstuffworks.com/question527.htm

    Bicycles are used to haul loads so for that the mpg would be comparatively less. If a wiry little 98 lb cyclist is pulling a 600-pound load on a two-wheel cart, at 5 mph, what is the equivalent mpg?

    For cyclists without loads moving at 10 miles an hour, the range of calories per mile is around 29 (160 lb cyclist) to 43 (240 lb cyclist).

  51. Joan Savage says:

    Geoff (#54)

    One biological (or ecological) barrier that comes to mind is inherent in your phrase, “Before the famine…”

    Farming decreases biodiversity. Having only a few food species, like potatoes and a cow, makes an environment vulnerable to perturbation, and is a precursor of famine.

    Regarding the permaculturists who try to retain biodiversity, check out how many hectares they need in the Alps to prepare all the nutrition for a family, including every calorie, amino acid, vitamin, mineral.

    Most of the per hectare calculations are desk-jockey estimates based primarily on calories.

  52. Clare says:

    I use textiles as my vehicle for ‘discusing’ climate change issues.
    Two from my Antartica series are in a new exhibition which recently opened here:
    http://www.quiltmuseum.org/current-exhibits.html
    In Kentucky USA, this museum is visited by thousands each summer, I just hope a few may be open to reading my statement accompanying my pair of quilts with ‘black warning flags’ you can see in the last view of their ‘Celebration’ exhibition.

    My statement reads:
    In Antarctica, black marker flags are used to mark ice cracks and other danger spots on the Ice.

    Sea ice is a dominant seasonal feature on the Earth and much of this ice forms annually.

    The sea ice effectively doubles the size of Antarctica each winter, acting as an insulating blanket. In early summer the ice acts as a reflector of sunlight.

    This dynamic process means sea ice plays a vital role in balancing the heat of the atmosphere and oceans, and maintaining global temperatures within a comfortable range.

    A similar situation exists in the Arctic but without any continental landmass at the North Pole. There the floating sea ice is of varying ages and in recent years has been dramatically decreasing in extent & thickness with each summer. Which in turn then limits its capacity to reform again each winter.

    Scientists study this complex interaction as they race to understand the Earth’s changing climate and weather systems.

    Clare

  53. Florifulgurator says:

    Looks like commenting does not work. Too much ad overload?

  54. Florifulgurator says:

    Darn indeed (drop that router.tlvmedia.com !). My writing is lost! Wrrrr…

  55. Florifulgurator says:

    #16: thanks for the link!

    “With wine, we can taste climate change.” – Gregory V. Jones

    Some denialists still babble about vineyards in medieval England. Meanwhile, viticulture is a good hint that warming has surpassed the medieval optimum. I’ve compiled a list of some of the currently northernmost vineyards in Europe. (See link for links, incl. clickable coordinates.)

    * Eventyrvin and Lerkekåsa Vineyard, Telemark county, Norway. 59°40′N 09°19′E
    * L’Esprit d’Edvard Munch, Vestfold county, Norway. 59°25′N 10°25′E
    * Blaxsta Vineyard, Södermanland County, Sweden. 59°03′N 16°35′E

    59°N is north of Scotland (Orkney Islands).

    * Vinhuset Halls Huk, Gotland Island, Baltic Sea, Sweden. 57°56’N 18°44’E
    * Gute Vingård, Gotland Island, Baltic Sea, Sweden. 57°09′N 18°19′E

    Any additions? Canada?

  56. dbmetzger says:

    resignation has settled in…
    Japan Announces Nuclear Crisis Plan
    New images from the stricken Japanese nuclear plant have been released as its owners announced a new crisis plan to combat further contamination. http://www.newslook.com/videos/305091-japan-announces-nuclear-crisis-plan?autoplay=true

  57. Sailesh Rao says:

    Adapted from “A Few Good Men”
    Jessep (Jack Nicholson): You want answers?
    Kaffee (Tom Cruise): I think I’m entitled to them.
    Jessep: You want answers?
    Kaffee: I want the truth!
    Jessep: You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has wells. And those wells have to be dug by men with drills. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Alberta and you curse the Exxons. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Alberta’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives…You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that well. You need me on that well.
    We use words like progress, comfort, luxury…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ‘em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very energy I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a drill and start a well. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!
    Kaffee: Did you order the clearcut?
    Jessep: (quietly) I did the job you sent me to do.
    Kaffee: Did you order the clearcut?
    Jessep: You’re goddamn right I did!!

  58. 350 Now says:

    @62 Sailesh! Awesome interjection of words that pack a punch! Thanks for your time doing this!

    It is painfully obvious that we can’t handle the truth….

  59. Anna Haynes says:

    Who is available in Northern California to give talks to the public on climate change, including about the disinformation effort?

    The only person I’ve seen talk up here was showing D’Aleo&Monckton graphs; and it needs to be someone nonlocal.

    Does Climate Central have someone to give talks?
    (And do they deign to acknowledge that they have evil twins, mission-statement-wise, that provide a antimatter variant of Sound Science – or do they instead take a stance of non-engagement with the epistemological enemy?)

  60. 350 Now says:

    Anna @64: Visit Gore’s The Climate Project US website at
    http://us.theclimateproject.org/presenter_search and click in the search box to find a presenter near you…

    This new website (with searchable presenters) has just been up a month or so.

  61. paulm says:

    taking the wind out of nuke sails…

    Wind: More Reliable, Predictable, than “Lumpy” Nuclear power
    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=208531652499954&id=139434822741700

  62. 350 Now says:

    Another thought on Sailesh @62:

    Q:….What is the four letter word describing the quote below?
    “Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that well. You need me on that well. We use words like progress, comfort, luxury…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ‘em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very energy I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! ”

    A:…. I-R-A-Q

    For follow up, watch soldier Robin Eckstein at time stamp 1:55:45 on this DOD-DOE press conference:
    http://blog.energy.gov/blog/2010/07/27/white-house-forum-energy-security-update

  63. paulm says:

    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=109039445846922&id=187700434593711
    Historic Tornado Outbreak: 3 Days, 241 Tornadoes, 14 States, 17 Dead

  64. 350 Now says:

    Wind turbine bites the dust… No one is irradiated…
    “The most recent reports indicate that so far the only casualties are a wide swath of grass and possibly a family of voles.”

    http://www.grist.org/list/2011-04-14-wind-turbine-suffers-catastrophic-failure-no-one-is-irradiated

  65. Anna Haynes says:

    Thanks 350#65; but not ideal, since “trained activist presenter” is likely not “expert”; plus does the ACP presentation address antiscience? and do they have answers for common objections?

    (I’ve just now submitted a msg with these Qs to The Climate Project, & a request/suggestion for an online video of a sample presentation.)

  66. Anna Haynes says:

    And 350, a my-two-cents suggestion – if you have a human-type name, maybe you could use it? It feels strange to engage in dialog with an institutional entity.

  67. catman306 says:

    Joan Savage and others up thread may want to hear Bob Edward’s interview with documentary producer Tom Shadyac. Mr. Shadyac’s documentary “I Am” discusses what is wrong with the way humans have become so competitive when just now we need to become more cooperative.

    Filmmaker Tom Shadyac flourished in Hollywood directing the hit comedies Ace Ventura, Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty. Then a near-fatal bike accident broke Shadyac’s fairytale spell, and when he recovered from his coma, he set out to rediscover life and sort out “what’s wrong with the world.” For his documentary called I Am, Shadyac interviews great thinkers such as Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

    You can listen here:

    http://www.bobedwardsradio.com/bob-edwards-weekend/

  68. 350 Now says:

    Re Anna @72 – As I posted earlier today on another thread, I’m not connected to 350.org But it was there at Bill McKibben’s website that I, as an amateur naturalist, learned of the importance of 350ppm CO2. No other site had gently guided me to this understanding… I’ve always been wildly interested in eco sanity and currently lead many lay groups to the “water trough and help them drink” who are otherwise quite closed minded to climate change. My real name is distinctive and thus I prefer not to use it here; that way ill-meaning trolls cannot google me. Believe me, I am a nobody. Have you also done the same $0.02 cent suggestion to Prokaryotes, lizardo, beam me up scotty, tst, Darth, polymerase, Scrooge or Mulga, and the hundreds that use only their first name, to use their human-type names? What a bizarre request. But if it bothers you this much, I’ll try to comment now as Sunshine.

    Re your comment about the presenters at The Climate Project. As volunteers, they pledge to give ten public presentations each year on climate issues using Mr. Gore’s slides – at no charge. Are they experts? Many are. Many are deeply committed volunteers who are not scientists from all walks of life. To continue the “lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” metaphor above – regarding the free TCP presenters – Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and count his teeth…

  69. Sunshine says:

    A poignant cartoon:

    http://www.claybennett.com/pages2/theaters.html

    [JR: Except no one went to Lomborg’s movie.]

  70. Sunshine says:

    JR – Good one! Although– this two-theatre Clay Bennett cartoon was in his online collection during the Bush years, so it was likely playing on the anti-Gore sentiments then and W.’s reassuring lies….

    What a hoot that Lomborg’s film only grossed $62K acc to IMDB; likely a huge loss for those investors…

    What did you think of Richard Alley’s “Earth – the Operators’ Manual” on PBS? I thought it was terrific and am grinding my teeth on the technical stuff in his hard back book.

  71. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Another little earthquake off the coast of WA. Two Aussie quakes in a week? – tectonic rebalancing or mining/drilling? ME

  72. Darc54 says:

    ME@78 First post on this site so please forgive the new guy. ME I have wondered some of the same things that I have seen in your posts, but the one thing that I keep thinking about in my mind is the isostatic rebound of areas such as Greenland. How can we melt off 2 million tonnes of ice on a glacier in one part of the world and the not expect to see movement amongst the other tectonic plates. Just a thought and if you had come across any info on this relationship.

    Thank you
    D54

  73. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    mark #77, the age of climate refugees is certainly dawning. The only problem is that the UN forecasters were a little premature in their estimations, and crass in their PR, if this narrative is true, which is rarely the case with denialists. The Club of Rome was pilloried by the Rightist cornutopians for years, until their predictions came true, today, and actually pretty close in time to their predictions. Many of the climate refugees, so far, are internally displaced, as with the millions still suffering inside Pakistan after the floods, but with nowhere really to flee to. Many of the refugees from climate destabilisation, as with the peasants fleeing the deepening drought in northern Mexico, are described as ‘economic refugees’ when they flood into the slums of Mexico City or cross the Rio Bravo to Aztlan. The worsening food production crisis will sorely test the tendency of all people to stay at home until the bitter end, whereupon the denialist industry will move on to new lies, new dissembling and new smears, and probably begin a campaign to demonise climate destabilisation refugees, fomenting hatred being their strong suit and preferred modus operandi.

  74. Anna Haynes says:

    Sunshine #74, thanks.
    :-)

    (from the earlier name, I _did_ think you were speaking for 350.org)

  75. Anna Haynes says:

    Re finding a climate scientist to give public outreach talks in Northern California, I’ve just now sent a query to Climate Central (which has a Palo Alto office) asking if they can recommend someone, who’ll cover a) the science, b) intelligent dealing with uncertainty, c) the disinfo effort, and d) effective vs ineffective actions/solutions.

    If there’s no climate scientist available to do this outreach, what does that say? (besides “this state of affairs is insane”)

  76. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Darc54 #79. I am not a physical scientist but I do practice open systems thinking and as the Earth is an open system, it seems quite sensible to me that any major change such as many of those we are seeing that involve changes in temperature and pressure will have systemic consequences.

    I have seen other postings scattered around this blog that implicate our activities in increased tectonic activity and there was a statement to that effect from the Royal Society not so long ago. While I am wary of reading too much into what may simply be a coincidence, they are occuring at the same time as continuing strong aftershocks in Christchurch and NE Japan, so it is starting to look like another case of Wooops a daisy, ME

  77. espiritwater says:

    Mulga, I agree with you, 100%, as usual, except for one major point: we didn’t create God; He created us! Unfortunately, humans have become some wrapped up in this “play” they (many) don’t know their rear ends from a hole in the ground! Just because ignorant people are destroying the earth and have some weird notion that it’s in accord with “the scriptures” doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist. It simply means they’re clueless!

  78. Daniel says:

    This is insane. One year after Horizon, BP President Carl-Henric Svanberg says:

    “Most would agree that the world can withstand a few degrees of warming”

    Source: http://www.svd.se/naringsliv/bp-laker-saren_6101009.svd
    Needs Google translation.

  79. sylas says:

    For mark #77, in relation to a story at “American Thinker” about the UN supposedly trying to cover up a failed prediction of 50 million climate refugees by 2010…

    The story about climate refugee predictions is all over the usual blogs at present, but the actual basis of the whole thing is as thin as dishwater and does not support the headlines.

    I have particular no stake in this issue, and no properly formed opinion on the numbers of people being displaced at present by shifting climates or other environmental issues. What makes me angry is the idiotic framing of the matter by “AmericanThinker” and whole pile of other bloggers and commenters who are taking up the topic without checking the background.

    There certainly are UN reports around that address that topic, and matter of “climate refugees”, or displaced persons, is being discussed in papers and conferences and bodies like the UN. No sign of any hiding or withdrawal of reports is apparent; and no particular reason to think anyone is particularly embarrassed.

    What was removed is a graphic from a database of maps and graphics, maintained at http://maps.grida.no/
    The description of the database states:

    The maps and graphics library was launched in early 2006, replacing some older web-pages which had not been updated in a long time. The entries in the database represent the most important graphics produced by UNEP/GRID-Arendal, especially from the last five years. The graphics are prepared in projects and publications, funded by partners and donors – such as UNEP or the World Bank.

    A cached copy of the database record has been shown, which shows where the map in question was produced and used.

    The map itself was produced by Emanuelle Bournay for “La Monde Diplomatique”, and it shows regions of the world that are now subject to environmental stresses.

    2009 the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) reports were produced. You can find them at http://www.agassessment.org/. If you look on page 20 of the synthesis report, you will find Figure SR-P2; which is the graph by Emanuelle Bournay, used with permission. The UN was one of the bodies associated with that report, and this, I guess, is how the map ended up in the database.

    That report does not make predictions about numbers of refugees, and nor even speaks anywhere about numbers for 2010. It does, however, include as a reference a paper by Norman Myers, which does give this as a possibility. That paper by Norman Myers is also listed in the now deleted database record, and also on the map itself produced by Bournay, where it is given as a data source.

    The paper by Myers is a brief conference paper; it is not a report of any larger body, let alone the UN. The conference paper is in turn based on a journal article by Myers, in 2001, in his individual capacity as an academic at Oxford University. Both are available online, the journal paper being made open access by the journal, the “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (B)”.

    Conference paper: “Environment Refugees: an Emergent Security Issue”. (2005) http://www.osce.org/eea/14851
    Journal paper: “Environmental refugees: a growing phenomenon of the 21st century”, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 29 April 2002 vol. 357 no. 1420 pp 609-613. http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/357/1420/609 (open access)

    Neither of these are in any sense UN reports. Norman Myers is, however, widely cited on the subject by pretty much anyone who is writing about people displaced by changes to the environment.

    There are other UN reports you can find which mention numbers of climate refugees, and the 50 million figure is widely used. The thing is — none of these are being hidden or withdrawn, and they don’t have any link to the map deleted out of the database.

    Writing up all of this takes a long time, and does not grab a headline as strongly as “Failed UN cover-up”, or “UN embarrassed”, or “UN botches their attempt to hide falsified prediction”.

    The thing is — the spin of the headlines is all nonsense, and only detracts from the ongoing and serious matter of identifying and assisting persons displaced by environmental changes, and how they should be defined or classified.

    As a final point, Myers numbers for 2010 are not based on “global warming” projections. Myers bases his estimates on what is happening right now, and identifies population pressures and the big factor for a possible doubling of the numbers from 1995 to 2010. Myers ALSO raises the spectre of a further increase as the planet heats up by mid century. But that’s not the basis of the 2010 numbers.

    Many blogs are speaking as if events disprove this because there are no such refugees. That’s just silly. Estimates of numbers of displaced persons right now due to environmental factors are invariably in the many millions. The number 25 million estimated for 1995 (Myers, again) is widely used, as are similar estimates by the International Red Cross/Red Crescent. Myers speaks (in 2001) of the possibility of that doubling by 2010; whether this is the case depends very much on how the notion of “environmental refugee” is defined. For example, Myers includes people who are displaced within their own country, not only those who cross national borders. The matter of defining this category of persons in deed continues to be actively discussed by many different bodies and stake holders, including the UN of course.

    Finally, as to why the map was removed from the database — I have no idea. But I can guess. The map itself was NOT produced by, or for, the UN. It is copyright to Le Monde Diplomatique. It was used by permission in one report that the UN was very much involved with, but my guess — and it is only a guess — is that the real reason for deletion from the database is to do with ownership and copyright of the image. It isn’t actually an image that fits the database description, and that strikes me as a much more credible reason for it being removed.

    Cheers — sylas

  80. Richard Brenne says:

    Anna Haynes – I’m sorry if I’ve come to this conversation too late to help you, but my favorite climate scientist speaker in the Bay Area is Ben Santer at Lawrence Livermore. He does the outside audit of the 12 largest climate models and has found that the average has proven more accurate than any of the models alone. He’s in a class with Jim Hansen (Manhattan), Kevin Trenberth (Boulder), Susan Solomon (Boulder), and Joe Romm (Washington, D.C.), Michael Mann and Richard Alley (both Penn State) for getting the big picture best. If you want energy solutions and knowledge about the disinformation campaign and the big picture and understanding of policy, I’d choose Joe, but plate tectonics might deliver him to the Bay Area too slowly, so I’d choose Ben Santer among climate scientists there (before his passing, Stephen Schneider was of course excellent as well).

    Ben suffered one of the earliest vicious attacks on any climate scientist and can speak about disinformation in detail. Many if not most climate scientists don’t want to be seen as advocates, even if they believe in certain solutions personally. If you wanted the Bay Area’s best clean energy advocate, I would choose Richard Heinberg, a fellow (duh) with the Post-Carbon Institute in Santa Rosa.

    Both are world-class thinkers, Ben’s a lifelong mountain climber and Richard’s the most credible Peak Oil (and Peak Everything, the title of one of his books) and energy expert in all facets I know, and a trained and wonderful violinist to boot, though there’s no reason one would want to.

    And 350Now is a ray of sunshine on this and countless other posts, and like many of CP’s greatest posters (she forgot listing the legendary Wit’s End) chooses not to use her real name. And I apologize for choosing the wackiest moniker of all.

    – Richard Brenne