Monday, October 29, 2007

Things we can learn from flies

A fly goes into a barn and sees a fresh cow pat on which he immediately begins to gorge himself, to extent that he is unable to fly. Seeing a rake leaning against a wall he reasons that if he climbs up the handle and flies off he should become airborne. He does this but crashes to his death.

Moral of story: Don’t fly of the handle when you’re full off shit!

Arctic melt drives Alaskan Walrus onto land

The Warlus are shifting onto the land. "The Big question is, whether they'll find sufficient prey where they are looking".

Clip stolen from Pokkets:
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Thousands of walrus have appeared on Alaska's northwest coast in what conservationists are calling a dramatic consequence of global warming melting the Arctic sea ice

Alaska's walrus, especially breeding females, in summer and fall are usually found on the Arctic ice pack. But the lowest summer ice cap on record put sea ice far north of the outer continental shelf, the shallow, life-rich shelf of ocean bottom in the Bering and Chukchi seas
Walrus feed on clams, snails and other bottom dwellers. Given the choice between an ice platform over water beyond their 630-foot diving range or gathering spots on shore, thousands of walrus
picked Alaska's rocky beaches

"It looks to me like animals are shifting their distribution to find prey," said Tim Ragen, executive director of the federal Marine Mammal Commission. "The big question is whether they will be able to find sufficient prey in areas where they are looking."

Walrus need either ice or land to rest
they cannot swim indefinitely
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Polar bears on the way out

U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey sci­en­tists do not hold out much hope that car­bon di­ox­ide can be turned around in time to help the po­lar bears...
Report: Most polar bears to die out by 2050
Two-thirds of the world’s po­lar bears will be killed off by 2050 — and the en­tire popula­t­ion gone from Alas­ka — be­cause of thin­ning sea ice from glob­al warm­ing in the Arc­tic, U.S. gov­ern­ment sci­en­tists fore­cast Fri­day.
Only in the north­ern Ca­na­di­an Arc­tic is­lands and the west coast of Green­land are any of the world’s 16,000 po­lar bears ex­pected to sur­vive through the end of the cen­tu­ry, said the U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey, which is the sci­en­tif­ic arm of the In­te­ri­or De­part­ment.
USGS pro­jects that po­lar bears dur­ing the next half-cen­tu­ry will dis­ap­pear along the north coasts of Alas­ka and Rus­sia and lose 42 per­cent of the Arc­tic range they need to live in dur­ing sum­mer in the Po­lar Ba­sin when they hunt and breed. A po­lar bear’s life usu­ally lasts about 30 years.
Sci­en­tists do not hold out much hope that car­bon di­ox­ide can be turned around in time to help the po­lar bears.
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Car makers abandon petrol for electricity

This is a big shift in our energy balance. With car manufacturers desperately trying to "counter a backlash" against the fuel guzzlers, by capitalising on the run away success of Toyota's Prius, they are articulating their solution to emissions problems, a flick pass to the electricity providers. Bob Lutz, GM of Product Planning puts it bluntly, "If people want an electric car, we can deliver it. Now go and get your electricity from a clean source."

The implications are huge. If we plug 'er in, rather than fill 'er up, then what was once a petrol station will become a local area green electricity generator. All because the market demands it.

Oil companies will lose their mainstream passenger vehicle market, but sell their oil to plastics manufacturers, which keeps the carbon sequestered.
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JAPANESE car-makers have led the way on environmentally friendly
vehicles but they're about to take frugality to new levels and
shift the pollution debate onto electricity providers.

At the opening of the Tokyo motor show yesterday Toyota, Japan's
biggest car-maker, unveiled a model that sipped fuel at half the
rate of its petrol-electric Prius. There are two catches: it has no
doors and you can't buy one. Yet. The 1/X is a concept only but is
a pointer to a shift in Toyota's view on "plug-in" hybrid cars that
can be charged overnight on a home power point.

Car-makers' increasing dependence on electricity could produce a
fundamental shift in the energy debate. At the Detroit motor show
in January, the product planning boss of GM, Bob Lutz, told the
Herald: "If people want an electric car, we can deliver it.
Now go and get your electricity from a clean source."

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Right Brain vs Left Brain test

I can only see her moving clockwise!
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THE Right Brain vs Left Brain test ... do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.

uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies

uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking

Spinning lady
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UK scientists defend Gore film

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Two of the UK's leading climate scientists have hit out at the judge who made the controversial ruling last week on Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore in promotional still
Professor Chris Rapley, head of the Science Museum (and also a Gore science adviser) and Professor John Shepherd from the National Oceanography Centre accuse the judge of misleading the public by ruling that Gore had made "errors".
The professors have no grouse with Mr Justice Burton's main conclusion that Al Gore's film should be accompanied by guidance notes in class. And they agree that Gore presented some climate extreme scenarios.
the judge's comments themselves were liable to misinterpretation.
He put the word "errors" in inverted commas because the points were debatable rather than wrong. But the professors say the judge should have known the error word would be repeated in the media without its inverted commas.
They say in general Gore's film presented an exceptionally high standard of scientific accuracy
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Melt opens Northwest Passage to science

I'm all for science, but I would have preferred the Northwest Passage frozen.
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On Monday, the Canadian Coast Guard is preparing to send one its research vessels, the Amundsen, through the Northwest Passage with about 40 scientists on board.

Equipped with a remotely operated robot submarine and a sonar system, the ship will undertake a detailed survey of the sea-bed - essential if the waterway is to become more open to commercial shipping.

Map (BBC)

Researchers on board also hope to study the changing patterns of the ice - not only the ice that grows and retreats with the seasons but also the far thicker multi-year ice which drifts with the Arctic currents and poses the most serious threat to any vessels.

A British team on board will study the sediment on the sea-bed to hunt for a chemical record of changes in the ice stretching back for the past thousand years - a vital task to help understand the likely rate of change in the future.

BBC News will join the ship for its journey through the Northwest Passage.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Peak fitness hour

National Ride to Work was an unmitigated success, given that the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, pledged $30 million over five years to construct 55 kilometres of separated cycle ways.

I am yet to bite the bullet, giving in easily to my partner's argument that the 50km round trip is too far.

I will let loyal blog readers know if and when I change my mind. Anyone a cyclist? Is 50km too much to fit into an intense working day?
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About 10,000 people pedalled in to work in Sydney during
National Ride to Work Day today, Bicycle NSW's Elizabeth Hole

"We have contributed to less congestion on the roads today,
reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and first-time cyclists are every
excited they can do this," she said.

Before today, more than 60,000 people nationally were expected
to participate in the event.

But organisers today said as many as 75,000 had taken part.

Sydney's Lord Mayor Clover Moore, state MPs, media personalities
and police officers joined about 700 cyclists at a Ride to
Work Day breakfast in the city.

The breakfast - at Hickson Road, Millers Point - was just one of
many that took place as part of Ride to Work Day, which aims to
encourage commuters to discover the benefits of cycling to

The City of Sydney was spending $30 million over five years to
construct 55 kilometres of separated cycleways, Cr Moore said to
strong applause from the cyclists.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

World poll tolls death knell for global warming denialists

I really like my BBC climate change news feed I embedded into my Firefox browser. Love it.

For example, coming up for quick air during a hard stint working, I mouseover the feed icon, to catch up on GW headlines of news pieces I may have missed over the last three weeks or so.

Seems I missed a sweet moment of poignancy when Howard was hosting his fascist-fence APEC green-bath with Bush, selling us not just a non-solution to global warming, but an irritant.

How else do you describe "aspirational goals"?

Anyway, it seems the UN was finding out the rest of the world has moved on from the recalcitrance of the fossil-fuel friendly Coalition of the Unwilling:

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Large majorities in many countries now believe human activity is causing global warming, a BBC World Service poll suggests.
More than 22,000 people were surveyed in 21 countries and the results show a great deal of agreement on the issue.
An average of 79% of respondents to the BBC survey agreed that "human activity, including industry and transportation, is a significant cause of climate change".
If we do not act now, the impact of climate change will be devastating

Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary General


Arctic landscape, Lancaster Sound, Nunavut, Canada

Major action needed: 65%
Modest action later: 25%
No action needed: 6%
Source: BBC World Service poll

Climate change graph
However, US President George W Bush was not present. Instead, he is hosting a meeting of 16 "major emitter" countries in Washington on Thursday and Friday.
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Monday, October 15, 2007

Dreaded hyacinth returns to Lake Victoria, wreaks havoc

Can't beat that for a headline, so I am stealing it.
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One of world's worst weeds

OFF THE SHORES OF LAKE VICTORIA, Kenya — The common water hyacinth, a floating weed that's spreading across the world's largest tropical lake like a moss-green carpet, is known to botanists as "Eichhornia crassipes." Fishermen call it something else.

"That thing is satanic," said Jim Otieno, an angular 33-year-old, to murmured assent from a handful of men gathered by the water's edge in the town of Mbita. They blame the feathery, fast-growing hyacinth for trapping their boats, choking off the fish supply and breeding malaria and other diseases along the southern rim of Lake Victoria.

— introduced by an unwitting farmer and multiplying within months to cover 260 square miles of the lake's surface —
Experts blame a mix of sediment in the water and climatic changes, in the form of unusually heavy rains that helped the plant to proliferate.
After several years and tens of millions of dollars of investment, the hyacinth was finally beaten back by swarms of locally bred weevils
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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Australia 10 England 12

Bugger that.

Well done England. I'm getting some sleep. Good luck NZ in yr game against France.
Australia 10 England 12

John Connolly's worst nightmares came to fruition as England's
Jonny Wilkinson kicked the Wallabies out of the World Cup with a
12-10 quarter-final boilover at Stade Velodrome today.

Australia failed to cope with the rugged English pack and the
pressure at Marseille's 'bull ring' today as Wilkinson scored all
England's points with four penalty goals.

The Wallabies scored the only try - through Lote Tuqiri for a
10-6 half-time lead - but that was little consolation for coach
Connolly as the loss equalled Australia's poorest result at a World

It was also England who sent Australia packing during the
quarter-final stages in 1995 at Cape Town.

For the eight members of the Wallabies team which lost the 2003
extra-time final 20-17 to England, today's defeat was even more

It is the last Test for veteran halfback George Gregan, who had
an unhappy time at the base of a fiercely-contested ruck,
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Saturday, October 06, 2007

ANZ calls independent Gunns pump mill environmental assessment.

The ANZ is creating an image for itself as a greener bank, as I discovered when researching who is behind Project Andromeda, a climate initiative by business.

So, what are they going to do about the Gunns pulp mill, which as already pulped Turnbull and Garrett and it is only in approval stage? As Gunns' bank for the last 20 years, they face a dilemma.

They have gone public when they could have remained quiet, hoping not to attract attention to a potentially unbalanced triple bottom line. So good on them. I know that the trend among financiers and developers is to take their environmental commitments seriously now.

It would be great if they were legally able and willing to make the environmental review aspect of their technical review public. As infinitely preferable as it is to not chop down productive carbon sinks, I mean trees, I'm not against anything that the stake-holding public has been fully informed about, as part of a two way dialogue.

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ONE of the country's largest banks, ANZ, is considering whether it will fund the Gunns pulp mill, saying it must first assess whether the Tasmanian project meets its own environmental

In a statement issued yesterday the bank said it had commissioned an independent review of the $1.7 billion Tamar Valley mill, approved by the Federal Government on Thursday.

"The review is testing the technical aspects of the mill's design and its overall feasibility with reference to engineering specifications, design plans and other supporting information," it

"As this project proposal involves significant social and/or environmental issues, the technical review will also include an assessment of the adequacy of measures proposed by the company to manage these risks on an ongoing basis."

Gunns has been a customer of ANZ for more than 20 years.

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Wallabies — 24, England — 15

That's my prediction for the game tonight.

The Rugby Heaven article linked reckons it will all come down to how well we can tie down Johnny Wilkinson, he of the magic boot. While we keep 'em in their half, and don't give away penalties under the inevitable pressure, our backs will pick them off.

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What happens after global warming?

So this century is going to be a scorcher for Australia, but the next one is going to see Australia become a (relatively) desirable place to live for populations fleeing the big freeze:

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A new study from the Australian National University (ANU) has found that this country may not be as severely affected by a new ice age as countries in the Northern Hemisphere.

"There are some fears that warming in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly around the Greenland ice sheet, might cause quite a bit of meltwater to come into the North Atlantic Ocean," he said.

"That might change the salinity of the water there and stop what's called 'the great conveyor belt of the oceans' forming deep water that releases an enormous amount of heat that keeps Europe out of an ice age, essentially.

"So if global warming does stop this circulation from occurring, then we could potentially have a new ice age in Europe."

He says that finding lends support to a theory that heat will accumulate in the Southern Hemisphere if there is cooling in the north.

...supports a theory called the bipolar seesaw, which has to do with where heat goes on the planet when the conveyor belt is operating or not operating,"...
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

GetUp! gets $250K to put down Government climate campaign

Story so far ... John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, still hasn't made that trip to the Governor General to call the election date. That's because he is so far behind in the polls that he is foisting every bit of taxpayer funded pro-Government advertising he legitimately can while the election hasn't been called. Kevin Rudd, leader of the Labor opposition, is saying the Liberal's spend is $1 million a day.

But, the air-time assault is annoying audiences, to the tune of $243,900. That's how much money Australians have given GetUp! Sydney at time of writing, to run the anti-ad below, pointing out that the Government's greenwash media blitz amounts to advertising puffery.

GetUp! bought the following media time during the AFL Grandfinal, smack bang in the ground zero of the Liberal's saturation advertising. It's a goal.

Good on everyone who dipped into their pockets to counteract the misappropriation of their own taxes. It's eye-opening for normally politically-relaxed Australians to see how powerful organised, grass-roots, community activism can be. Here is the time GetUp! bought:

These are the spots GetUp has purchased to show the ad on Saturday's AFL

AFL Grand Final in Melbourne - 15.08pm
AFL Grand Final in Sydney - 14.16pm
Pre-game in Brisbane - 12.07pm
Pre-game in Adelaide - 11.08pm

Based on the overwhelming response we have purchased a further 50 ad slots in Newcastle, Tamworth, the Gold Coast, Lismore, Taree, Coffs Harbour, Canberra, Wollongong, Albury, Shepparton, Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland, the Sunshine Coast, Rockhampton, Toowomba, Cairns, Bundaberg, Townsville, Mackay, Darwin, Launceston and Hobart. There are none left in WA.

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New addition to blogroll

I came across a groovy little global warming blog:

回転ドア — Revolving Doors (kaiten doa)

A blog mainly devoted to the concern of our madly accelerating world, destined to crumble if we don't slow down.

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Climate Change in Australia

The CSIRO and the BOM put their heads together to work out what the findings of the 2007 IPCC Report means to Australia.

In a nutshell, we have to dramatically reduce emissions to keep Australia's average temperature from increasing more than the 1% that is already programmed into the system.

If this is a Government agency report, then how can any self-respecting Government ignore the implications.

In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their fourth assessment report, concluding that:
  • Warming of the climate system is unequivocal

  • Humans are very likely to be causing most of the warming that has been experienced since 1950

  • It is very likely that changes in the global climate system will continue well into the future, and that they will be larger than those seen in the recent past.
These changes have the potential to have a major impact on human and natural systems throughout the world including Australia.

The IPCC reports provide limited detail on Australian climate change, particularly when it comes to regional climate change projections. For this reason the Australian Greenhouse Office, through the Australian Climate Change Science Programme, engaged CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology to develop climate change projections for Australia.
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