Monday, April 29, 2013

Last time CO2 was this high, our ancestors were using stone tools

Caught this in yesterday's SMH:

Carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere are on the cusp of reaching 400 parts per million for the first time in 3 million years.  The daily CO2 level, measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, was 399.72 parts per million last Thursday, and a few hourly readings had risen to more than 400 parts per million. ''I wish it weren't true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400 ppm level without losing a beat,'' said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US, which operates the Hawaiian observatory.''At this pace we'll hit 450 ppm within a few decades.'' The 450 ppm level is considered to be the point at which the world has a 50 per cent chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. Any higher and the odds of avoiding searing temperature rises of 4 or 5 degrees by the end of the century become prohibitively risky. The rise in greenhouse gases corresponds with the extra amount of CO2 known to have been emitted by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. More greenhouse gases means more heat builds up at the Earth's surface. The last time CO2 reached the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere - in the Pliocene era - temperatures rose by between 3 and 4 degrees and sea levels were between five and 40 metres higher than today. Carbon dioxide levels have been rising steadily since constant measurements began at the Hawaiian observatory in 1958, when the level was about 317 parts per million.

So I looked up what the Pliocene Epoc looked like for our species, and it seems that we had not even evolved into Homo Sapiens, at that stage:

 By the end of the Pliocene Epoch, the subsequent extinctions of Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis were almost contemporaneous with the appearance of Homo ergaster, a species some anthropologists argue is one of the earliest identifiable direct ancestors of Homo sapiens.
 Man made global warming deniers want to send us back to the caves.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Research point to drier dry areas

Fresh off SkS'press, climates are expected to dry out in the already arid parts of the Southern Hemisphere.

Dead Ahead: Less Rainfall for Drought-Sensitive Southern Hemisphere Regions? (via Skeptical Science)
Posted on 27 May 2012 by John Hartz This is a reprint of a news release posted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on May 18, 2012. Increasing aridity could lead to major problems for societies and ecosystems in already-arid places Hundreds of species of unique South African plants may be affected…

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Clean Energy Bill Passed Last Week. Sun Still Shines .

Having passed by 74 votes to 72 in the lower house, the Clean Energy Bill's passage into Australian law is assured with the Greens holding the balance of power in the senate.

What a wake of destruction she has left in her path. Four political leaders felled. Prime Ministers John Howard in 2007, Liberal, and Kevin Rudd in 2010, Labor. Howard lost because his 11th hour climate conversion was not believable. Rudd, because he deferred ETS action to appease a ratings slump.

Opposition leaders were not spared.

Support for Brendan Nelson as leader within the Liberal Party had all but collapsed by the end of July 2008, battered by his repeated gaffes on emissions trading and climate change. Malcolm Turnbull took over Liberal leadership late in 2008 prosecuting the case for an emissions trading system. He worked with Rudd's new Labor government and with business to design the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, only to be deposed in the leadership spill engineered by Tony Abbott, November 2009, in protest against Liberal Party support for the ETS.

In the path she followed we see a much altered, more volatile landscape. In 2007 there was overwhelming political support for an ETS, some 90% of the population. Now only about 30% support it. Abbott's personal approval and his party's ratings soared on the back of the carbon tax scare campaign mounted by resources industry front groups and fanned by red hot shock jocks like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt. Prime Minister Gillard's had sunk to an all time low by the time the Clean Energy Bill 2011 passed.

Yet both these trajectories have altered since the Bill was passed:

The latest Herald/Nielsen poll finds Labor's primary vote has jumped 3 percentage points in a month to 30 per cent, a small increase but psychologically significant because it is the first time since May Labor's first preference vote has been in the 30s.
On the downside for the Coalition, Mr Abbott's personal ratings fell to their worst levels since he became leader.

The poll, taken after the government passed the carbon price legislation through the lower house on Wednesday, shows attitudes towards the carbon policy have hardened, with 59 per cent opposed, a 3-point increase since August. Support for a carbon price fell 2 percentage points to 37 per cent. Support for a carbon price among Labor voters has slipped 5 points in two months.
Ms Gillard's rating as preferred prime minister rose 4 points to 44 per cent and Mr Abbott's stayed steady at 48 per cent. Ms Gillard's approval rating rose 1 point to 33 per cent while her disapproval was steady at 62 per cent.

Mr Abbott's approval fell 2 percentage points to 41 per cent and his disapproval rose 2 points to 54 per cent.

These are his worst ratings since becoming Opposition Leader on December 1, 2009, and are similar to numbers experienced by Mr Turnbull just before he was deposed. The poll finds 44 per cent of voters back Mr Turnbull as Coalition leader compared with 28 per cent for Mr Abbott and 23 per cent for Mr Hockey.

Mr Turnbull has much stronger support among Greens and Labor voters.

Mr Rudd is preferred as leader by 61 per cent of voters compared with 30 per cent for Ms Gillard. In a match-up against Mr Smith, Mr Rudd leads by 60 per cent to 29 per cent.

In a match-up between Ms Gillard and Mr Smith, Ms Gillard leads by 44 per cent to 40 per cent.

She has wrought her damage, littering political fortunes and polarised public opinion, leaving a long trail of destruction behind, this idea of pricing pollution into energy costs so clean energy becomes commercial. But look up. A week has almost passed and the atmosphere is calming. The sun still shines and soon we'll have tools to control emissions and move economic growth onto a more sustainable path.

We many not be able to give our kids and grand-kids a stable climatic inheritance that was once their birthright, but at least we can bequeath them tools to manage their footprint, and to drive refinement of cheap, clean, green energy.

After all that has passed, this is a time to savour. For the first time Australia's position in the clean energy race is looking better. We have moved from the back of the peloton to somewhere in the energy-saving middle - ahead of the US, China, India and the developing world, behind the Europeans taking up the front - positioning us for some leadership further down the track.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

House of Lords to impersonator: 'cease and desist'

Looks like the House of Lords has rebuked “Lord” Monckton and sent him a ‘cease and desist’ letter, in an unprecedented fit of annoyance at his grandstanding:

Climate sceptic Lord Monckton told he’s not member of House of Lords

Clerk of parliaments publishes letter on Lords’ site saying peer is not and has ‘never been a member of the House of Lords’

The House of Lords has taken the unprecedented step of publishing a “cease and desist” letter on its website demanding that Lord Christopher Monckton, a prominent climate sceptic and the UK Independence party’s head of research, should stop claiming to be a member of the upper house.

The move follows a testy interview given by Monckton to an Australian radio station earlier this month in which he repeated his long-stated belief that he is a member of the House of Lords. When asked by ABC Sydney’s Adam Spencer if he was a member, he said: “Yes, but without the right to sit or vote … [The Lords] have not yet repealed by act of parliament the letters patent creating the peerage and until they do I am a member of the house, as my passport records. It says I am the Right Honourable Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. So get used to it.”

Oh, and you’ve heard about his nobel laureate he allegedly received? This is his from his biography on his own think tank website, and has been up there for years:

His contribution to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report in 2007 - the correction of a table inserted by IPCC bureaucrats that had overstated tenfold the observed contribution of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to sea-level rise - earned him the status of Nobel Peace Laureate. His Nobel prize pin, made of gold recovered from a physics experiment, was presented to him by the Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester, New York, USA.

When challenged on Australian radio about this Monckton said it was a joke. AGW deniers swallow any swill, don’t they? Of the accumulated biomass that the good “Lord’s” supporters make-up, there is not one sceptical neuron firing. “Lord” Monckton. More a symptom of an exhausted decay of the last rump of the British aristocracy.

This is the same fraud who has been bankrolled by Alan Jones, the shadowy patron of the astro-turf outfit.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Carbon Tax Phone Hack

A tumultuous confluence of events has hit the Australian climate debate and brought me out of a brief blogging hiatus.

Sorry for the headline, it reads like a 'pick-me' for Google's search engine algorithm. But it best describe this confluence.

It had been building up for a while. Climate change rumblings had been heard decades ago, but were only picked up on the public radar early in the 2000s. Agitated by Australian opposition leader, Tony Abbott, aka Dr. No, as it approached shore, the carbon tax wave crashed over Australia last Sunday when Prime Minister Gillard announced the details of the Clean Energy Future package.

The public, encouraged by right-wing jockery, has gone feral -- as Julia Gillard found out when spruiking her carbon tax in the mall.

Around the same time of Australia's carbon tax announcement another wave of discontent that had started decades deep, crashed over the celebrity scene, had receded and rebuilt. It now loomed higher over British shores. When the News Of The World Hacking scandal reached it's ugly nadir and crashed Rupert Murdoch quickly, ruthlessly and famously severed NOTW. The drastic action was too late to stop the contagion spreading to other organs of the News Limited empire and it's BSkyB ambition. Arrest are being made, nine so far, British politicians have found their voice, the US is questioning News' influence and the Australian arm of the country is undertaking self-criticism lifted straight out of the little red book.

The two wakes met today when an unusually pensive Canberra press pack interviewed Julia Gillard today. Some of the questions:

Laura Tingle, Financial Review:

The News Corporation group are facing questions in Britain and the US about whether they are led by fit and proper persons to control such extensive media assets. Do our media ownership laws have sufficient fit and proper tests in them and what will be the appropriate response from the Government if governments elsewhere in the world make adverse findings against News?

Mark Riley, Channel 7:

I think a few of us have been reflecting on this in the last few weeks and certainly in the last couple of days, very sharply, on our responsibilities. When we see a gentleman in Gladstone trying to encourage people to take up arms against the government, a woman in Melbourne being shoved out of a public meeting and harassed down the street to tears, you confronted in a shopping centre by people screaming and Liberal Party members calling you liar and then a radio station coming here and broadcasting all day on the first day back of Parliament to whip climate change opposers into a frenzy. How do you see our responsibility and the way that we should be reporting this matter?

I never though I would see the day when the media would self-reflect.

There is more of this Carbon Tax Phone Hack confluence to come, mark my words. And, we in Australia are sitting right where these swells break. We live in the continent most prone to AGW, off a coal- and resources-lead export economy. We are the birthplace of the de-robed, if not dethroned, Murdoch emperor and his empire. The same one that has been pushing climate change denial for so long.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Beat the carbon tax before it gets here

Buy this book:

The CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook – How to save energy, save money and reduce your carbon footprint

The CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook is a practical guide designed to help Australian households reduce their carbon footprints and take action against climate change.

Click for a radio interview by one of the CSIRO authors, who talks about how we can save an average of 50% off our energy bills.

Andy Pitman mops up misinformation mess

The proposed Carbon Dioxide tax has caused big fossil fuel to put a lot of misinformation about carbon dioxide out into radio-land. Every shock-jock around the country is plugging denier talking points. It's clear Big Denial is in campaign mode, facilitating Tony Abbott's "people's revolt".

Luckily, we have Professor Andy Pitman, Centre director for ARC Centres of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales, to help us with clean up some of the misinformation.

Professor Andy Pitman talks to Drive with Louise Maher:
666 ABC Radio, Canberra, 3:00pm - 6:00pm

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tony Abbott supports a carbon tax

It's hard to believe than Tony Abbott ever endorsed a carbon tax, even tacitly, given the ferocity of his sustained attack on Julia Gillard for announcing her government's intention to set a carbon price next year in anticipation of an emission trading system.

But endorse it he did, on page 172 of Battlelines, the book he wrote after the Liberals lost office and before he took over leadership of the opposition in the spill that cost Malcolm Turnbull the top job by a singe vote. The issue was the ETS that Malcolm had fought so hard for.

Tony's words are cautious, but the meaning is clear:

"...many now think that a carbon charge scheme directed at the least environmentally efficient producers would be simpler and fairer than an emissions trading scheme."

The description, "carbon charge scheme" is hilarious, given that he battered Rudd's ETS with his "great big new tax" positioning. The guy means 'carbon tax'; he doesn't mean 'carbon price', as you need to have a price in order to have an ETS.

Given this, and the multiple positions that Abbott has held on climate change, it's quite obvious that Abbott's line of attack on Gillard is rank opportunism. Throw in the hard to ignore fact that the opposition does actually share the same emissions reductions objectives as the Gillard government, and one is left wondering about the Abbott's credibility. No wonder he has worked so hard to paint Julia as a liar. A case of projection, perhaps?


Crikey has detailed Abbott's many stances on global warming, and included another example of Abbott's endorsement of a carbon tax:

Still, a new tax would be the intelligent skeptic’s way to deal with minimising emissions because it would be much easier than a property right to reduce or to abolish should the justification for it change.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Liberal's global warming history: fair weathered and fickle

Rod Tiffen is emeritus professor, government and international relations, at the University of Sydney.He catalogues the Australian Liberal party's shameful record on climate change and pens a devastating critique of their performance over time:

The Liberals were the first main party to wholeheartedly embrace the challenge of global warming. In 1990 Andrew Peacock, and again in 1993 John Hewson, went to the electorate with a commitment to cut Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by the year 2000.

In December 1997 the Howard government signed the Kyoto Protocol, which the prime minister described as an ''absolutely stunning diplomatic success''. He celebrated that Australia was able to ''make a massive contribution to the world environmental effort to cut greenhouse gases'' but had done so in a way that would protect Australian jobs.

Between 1997 and 2002 the Australian government, while trumpeting what a good bargain it had achieved, had no doubts about anthropogenic global warming and was committed to reducing it.

In 2002 the government reversed itself, refusing to ratify Kyoto, even though it argued it would still meet its commitments. Its rationale was diplomatic rather than scientific: it would only be part of an agreement that included the world's biggest polluters. It is unlikely it would have adopted this course if George W. Bush hadn't withdrawn the United States the year before. Neither leader had felt impelled to share their intentions with their electorates at the preceding election.

From late 2006 Howard realised that for political reasons the government needed to improve its credentials on global warming. (In his memoirs Howard declares himself agnostic on climate change, which is perhaps the reason all his discussions focus on the politics rather than the substance of the issue.) The government sprang into action, so much so that the environment minister, Malcolm Turnbull, claimed Australia led the world in policies on climate change. The government went to the 2007 election proposing an emissions trading scheme, apparently with unanimous internal support.

Under the first opposition leader, Brendan Nelson, the party adopted a classic harassment strategy. It did not question the need for an emissions trading scheme, but instead focused on any possible cost or inconvenience that would come with it.

Under the second opposition leader, Turnbull, there was more involvement in trying to frame a bipartisan policy, with detailed bargaining between government and opposition rarely seen in Australian politics.

But then a group of Coalition party members dramatically broke ranks. After the issue had been part of Australian politics for two decades, in 2009, probably for the first time, there were senior Liberals prepared to publicly deny the science. The factional chief Nick Minchin declared that climate change sceptics probably constituted a majority in the party. Suddenly, instead of conformism, there was a very public and uncompromising stance against Turnbull.

Tony Abbott won the leadership by a single vote, and the party had been split down the middle on the Rudd government's ETS. However, only Turnbull publicly signalled his difference from the new party policy, which was in direct contradiction to the previous position all had publicly adhered to.

Partly because his militant oppositionism unnerved Labor, bringing reversals from Kevin (greatest moral challenge of our time; let's put it off indefinitely) Rudd and Julia (public forum) Gillard, this stance served the Coalition well in the lead-up to last year's election. Abbott's ''Direct Action'' slogan remained largely uncosted and its environmental effectiveness unexamined, while the diplomatic isolation into which his stance would cast Australia also went unremarked.

From July on, there are likely to be majorities in both houses of Parliament supporting action to combat global warming, and the Prime Minister has committed herself - seemingly irreversibly - to introducing a carbon tax.

These mongrels should hang their head ground-zero low with shame:

We can expect loud and unanimous outrage from the Liberals on the perfidy of Labor and the Greens, but whenever the substance of global warming is discussed or the complexities of policy responses to mitigate it arise - Turnbull aside - they will seek to be as mute and inscrutable as their 1960 Laotian counterparts.

Turnbull aside... who is the stand-out Australian politician from the major parties in showing the conviction of his beliefs with respect to carbon mitigation. I believe this will stand him in good stead in the future. Gillard is on notice. Not from Tony "climate change is crap" Abbott, who has two conflicting positions. But from the Liberal who has not used up his moral capital.

Watch this space. Climate change politics is the most fascinating politics of all, including Australia's, as even the doyen of the local denier press has noted.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ice sheets melting faster than predicted

... causing a greater rate of sea-level rise:

The pace at which the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting is "accelerating rapidly" and raising the global sea level, according to findings of a study financed by NASA.

The findings suggest that the ice sheets - more so than ice loss from earth's mountain glaciers and ice caps - have become "the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted".

This study, published on Tuesday, the longest to date examining changes to polar ice sheet mass, combined two decades of monthly satellite measurements with regional atmospheric climate model data to study changes in mass.

Your blog is a load of crap

I received this in my comments section of my last post.

The Sciolist said...

since you are running this awesome blog.....maybe you can just read what i have to say on global warming and tell me wat u think......

12:07 AM EST

Thank god you are a denier, because I don't have time to guild the lily. I make no apologies if this is harsh; If you want my opinion, you'll get an honest one.

Firstly, you lose points for dishonesty. I like the fact that the title, "The Sciolist" is rare word, but don't expect everyone to look it up. I only bothered because you asked me to review it. But, it is a misrepresentation of the content of your one page blog:
sci·o·lism [sahy-uh-liz-uhm]
superficial knowledge.

1810–20; Late Latin sciol ( us ) one who knows little (diminutive of scius knowing; see conscious, -ole1 ) + -ism

You don't have 'superficial knowledge'-- you indeed have no knowledge. You don't know little -- you know nothing but AGW denier talking points that are stuffed into your bloated denier brain from 20 year of fossil-fueled propaganda. No amount of cherry-picking from Shakespeare, in that sickeningly cheery, pleasant voice of yours, can save you:

Shakespeare wrote in Henry VIII: “Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself.” By the way, didn’t he also write in Hamlet: “The air bites shrewdly, ‘Tis very cold”
"By the way, didn't he..." Save it, it's so transparently an attempt to project reasonableness. An attempt that is missing a question mark, though. Yes, I get it -- you are introducing a reasonable tone to present the denier's reasonable sounding premise that if global warming is happening, how come it gets hot and cold at the same time?

Well, I don't have time to waste pointing out how stupid that idea is. Suffice to say you do it yourself when you use Svante August Arrhenius' early identification of global warming:

...who in 1896 wrote on how the excessive carbon emission could result in an overall global rise in temperature

See, you know nothing. And painting James Hanson as Brutus? That's overreach, even for a Tea-Party denialist freak. OK, maybe not. Enough with the Bard, already.

But your main error of fact is this clanger of chauvinism:

Now, let’s go to the Northern Hemisphere where better part of the human civilization resides.

I would argue the opposite. There may be fewer in the Southern Hemisphere, but we all know we are better than you lot, particularly us Australians.

And, that is here I stopped reading. But, I'll pick up from where I left, last time. OK -- your blog has potential, even though you are a denier.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Dumb, dumber, and dumbed right down

I doubt my challenge to Andrew Bolt Blog's winged monkeys will be published in the readers' comments section following another post about Tim Flannery's alleged failed climate change "predictions". This time Bolt is piggy-backing off Clive James, a part time denier.

So here it is for posterity:

Except it's a lie, a denier's canard, a propagandist's fit-up. It’s a lousy deception that relies on an uncritical audience's poor brain-power and poorer prejudice to evade challenge.

Flannery never once said that a particular city would unconditionally and certainly run out of water by a certain date since passed, which is what he is regularly charged with. Tellingly, no one can produce a quote to this effect. Repeat: I predict with absolute certainty that no one will be able to produce this mythical quote that agitates deniers so.

What they will find are quotes about potential scenarios and probabilities, sometimes containing conditional logic. Quotes containing auxiliary verbs carefully used to express possibility, such as "may", and "could", but not the predictive "will" that Andrew Bolt and other deniers sadly waste much of their productive lives accusing Flannery of. Quotes with "if... then" statements of such pure logic that they can be understood by computers and children, but not by ABB readers. E.g., something like, "If Perth doesn't build a desalination plant soon, then the city could run out of water within XXX years." "If the drought continues for XXX years, then city Y will be a ghost-town by ZZZZ.

In these working examples, intelligent people would investigate whether the condition had been not met before declaring the 'prediction' wrong or right - did Perth build a desalination plant, or not? Did the drought break or not?

How insulting that these fossil-fuel pimps lie so brazenly to push their poisonous merchandise on us, our children and grandkids. How miserable that they gut language of its logic. There is a special place reserved in infamy for these failed human-beings, these manipulators, these doubt-merchants. And it is filling up fast.

Yes, I am stirring. But the highly respected Laurie Oakes is not stirring about the sad turn to US style politicking that scummier elements of the Australian polity are taking:

WINGNUTS are coming out of the woodwork. The mad and menacing phone calls to independent MP Tony Windsor are just one indication.

There are plenty of others, especially online. The carbon tax and Tony Abbott's call for a people's revolt have crazies foaming at the mouth.

You see it on the "Revolt Against the Carbon Tax" Facebook page, for example.

Like this message from a Gillard-hater about a rally in front of Parliament House being planned for March 23.

"Just like Egypt we stay there and protest continuously until she and her cronies, Bob Brown greens etc, are ousted! We have got to get rid of this Godless mistress of deceit."

Hosni Mubarak was a dictator while the Gillard Government is democratically elected, but it doesn't seem to matter to the fanatics.

Rather, he is worried. Personally, I don't think Australia is close to being that far gone yet. Mind you, Laurie is the guy with his finger on the national pulse and I'm just a stirrer in blog-land tilting at wind-bags.


I did get my challenge published in comments (alias "Big Ted") and, as predicted, no one could provide evidence to support Andrew Bolt and Clive James. I, therefore, took the opportunity to stick the knife in further and deeper. I am starting to see how denial is such a fascinating condition where deniers know they are being lied to but are ok with it as long as their world-view is reinforced. We see this with religion, for example, where two or more internally logically contradictory positions may be held at the same time (e.g., homosexuality is asserted to be 'evil' yet homosexuals are also part of God's creation, so how could homosexuality be evil?), but the honesty here is that religion is premised on faith, or suspended disbelief.

But with climate change denial, it's the deniers themselves who charge their stated enemy with being part of a 'green faithful'. Why, even our esteemed Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, makes that charge. From his own website, in a speech against unions, he says: "...People who think that unions are just another sectional interest, who heed climate change science rather than green religion, "

As we have seen from our experiment on the denizens of Andrew Bolt Blog, deniers clearly are projecting, in the psychological sense of the word, when they fling accusations around against the alleged 'global warming religion'. It is their own irrational beliefs that they are refusing to countenance when they attack others. They should be called-out every single time, until this debate is characterised by common sense, and common courtesy. I know I do my bit ;-) even though I stirr.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Hidden carbon price: We already pay $170 a tonne

Every since Gillard's unsurprising statement a week ago that there will be a carbon price set by the end of next financial year (in preparation for an ETS in a few years) there has been Federal mayhem. Death-threats, comparisons of Gillard to Gaddafi, and shrieks of outrage as Tony Abbott marshals his "People's Revolt" via angry, right-wing shock-jockery and his Liberal troops hyperbolate the morning's talking point all over the MSM.

From all this noise, one fact stands out at me. It's why the Coalition's 'government-picked-winner' approach must be never be put into practice:

Australians are paying a hidden carbon price of about $170 a tonne through a range of inefficient renewable energy programs. Wouldn't it be more sensible for the community to pay an explicit one that creates the conditions to lower greenhouse gas emissions through a market-based scheme?

Set a carbon price to prepare the economy for an ETS that will let the market do all the hard work of pricing. Why is it that Labor/Greens are pushing a market approach to reduce emissions, while the Liberals are still planning to smuggle in their command-controlled model should they stymie the Government's plans? To quote Barnaby Joyce this week:

"Every day just gets weirder and weirder,"

It sure does.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

IPCC attack: US house Republicans win day, risk epoch

US Republicans may have won the day in the recent house vote to cut all their funds to the UN IPCC, the planet's leading climate science synthesis body, but they risk losing the Holocene. For everybody.

America is to cut off all funding to the United Nations climate science panel under sweeping Republican budget cuts that seek to gut spending on environmental protection.

The funding ban to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – stripping $2.3m (£1.31m) from an international organisation that relies heavily on volunteer scientists – was among some $61bn (£38bn) in cuts voted through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Saturday.

Driven by the mad-hatter Tea Party astroturf outfit who, as ignorant of their own history as of science, seemingly don't see the irony of taxing future generations without representation by burdening them with an increasingly dysfunctional global climate, let alone environment:

If enacted, the cuts package would reduce spending on environmental protection by nearly one-third, or about $3bn (£1.85bn), advancing a key objective of the conservative Tea Party of dismantling government regulation.

The cuts also exhibit the strong hostility to climate science among the Tea Party activists with funding bans on the IPCC and a newly created climate information service under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – a reorganisation which was to be funded out of existing budgets.

Instead of throwing crates of British East India tea overboard, the Tea Party of today plots to arrest knowledge, understanding and accumulating know-how and throw climate predictability overboard. All without a native American Indian costume in sight.

I'm not one to tell folks how to be, but that's not a good narrative for a proud nation to build on, going forward. What kind of example does it set to other nations in their funding decisions? What if all give up?

In proposing the ban on IPCC funding, Blaine Luetkemeyer, a Missouri Republican, called the UN panel "nefarious".

"The IPCC is an entity that is fraught with waste and fraud, and engaged in dubious science, which is the last thing hard-working American taxpayers should be paying for," Luetkemeyer said in a statement.

He claimed the US funds to the IPCC were $13m, but Henry Waxman, the California Democrat, told Congress the figure was $2.3m. He argued that the contribution helped the US get access to global scientific body of work – that would not exist without American support.

This has to be stopped in the US senate. I'd like to think that, in a world where we see Wikileaks fanning freedom in Tunisia, Twitter toppling tyrants in Egypt, and Facebook defriending dictators in Libya, that we, the world, can find a way to get our say in decisions affecting our global climate, wherever they are held. Overseas friends and family of American citizens should encourage them to tell the flat-earthlings among their numbers not to impose their ignorance on the rest of us.

And to make their voices heard by their representatives. Can the US people marshal and overthrow the tyranny of big fossil-fueled ignorance? I am encouraged to think so when I look at the success of Wikileaks in promoting transparency, and Sea-Shepherd, in defeating the Japanese government-subsidised whaling industry. What Julian Assange and Capt. Watson have in common is that they are hard-core; all Davids need a bit of that to triumph over Goliath. Their results speak for themselves. It's hard not think that more of that is what is needed.