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Thursday, December 27, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Global Warning Climate Change Energy
Articulately arguing for a sustainable way forward that recognises the claims of some Japanese to a whaling tradition, while exploding the 'research' myth, it bears republishing in full:
The whale hunt that knows no tradition
December 24, 2007
At the southern end of the Japanese island of Honshu is a small fishing village where community-based coastal whaling took place from the late 1600s to the early 1900s. Today, more than 100 years since the whaling ended there, the island is scattered with monuments dedicated to the spirits of whales caught in the region. Associated rituals and festivities continue, including daily prayers for the spirits of whales and dolphins by two elderly nuns.
It is true that whale meat, or more generally cetacean meat, had been - and in some regions still is - part of the Japanese diet. In some regions it is valued as celebratory food as it was closely linked with community unity based on collaborative labour, sharing of food, celebration and thanksgiving rituals, in which remorse was also expressed.
It is also true that whale meat was introduced as part of General MacArthur's regime to increase the protein intake of the starving nation after World War II. Older generations therefore associate whale with postwar food shortages. The meat was also used for school lunches, a practice reintroduced in recent years in some prefectures.
But small-scale coastal whaling largely diminished due to the transition to large-scale industrial whaling and the 1986 moratorium and subsequent ban on minke hunts for the coastal communities. Small-scale hunts for dolphins continue for a range of purposes, including sales to aquariums.
The claim by the Japanese Government that whale meat is part of Japanese culture is true in that it existed in this small-scale, community-based coastal whaling similar to the hunts of indigenous groups such as the Makah and Inuit, but this is, in my opinion, clearly separate from the large-scale industrial whaling conducted on the high seas.
If the Government is seriously committed to the maintenance of cultural tradition, the priority would be on the sustainable livelihood practices of coastal community fisheries, which may include a very limited number of whale hunts. It is human arrogance to assume harvest of any natural resource as a right but, if an inherent cultural right is to be granted to anyone, it would be the coastal communities.
This situation is comparable with mass clear-fell logging versus small-scale selected logging by specialised timber workers sustained by their knowledge, ethics and spirituality. A "wood culture" exists in the latter, the small-scale loggers who, with their knowledge, can make a positive contribution to today's environmental thinking. This would be the case with small-scale whalers and hunters. They have valuable knowledge that can inform us about sustainability.
Another argument Japan makes in favour of whaling is that it is for scientific research. Simply, if research destroys a species it should not be carried out, and if research is necessary to improve the ecological wellbeing of a species every effort must be made to minimise the impact of the research.
This is the fundamental consideration in any research. If the research was genuinely concerned with conservation of the humpback it would not be abandoned for a better bilateral relationship, or the hunt would not even have been considered in the first place. Humans are in no position to "cull" wild species, except in cases in which our past mistakes have skewed the natural balance and thus need to be corrected, such as with the cane toad.
Another issue requires urgent consideration: the reported high level of mercury in cetaceans like whales and dolphins. Two councillors from a coastal village, a birthplace of traditional whaling in Japan, recently spoke out about the dangerous level of mercury found in the locally harvested dolphin meat, some of which may have been used for school lunches. Reports and warnings have been issued about consumption of fish and cetacean products by the Ministry of the Health, Labour and Welfare, and the Japan Consumer Co-operative Union. This obviously has serious implications for consumers, as well as the wellbeing of the animals, which would benefit from urgent research.
The extent of the impact of humans on the planet is undeniable. This must be compensated for in every way possible, and we must keep changing unsustainable practices. Clearly it is time to move on.
Stop Japan's Whale Hunt: Sign the Daily Telegraph Petition
Global Warning Climate Change Energy
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Day One. Kevin Rudd made good his election promise by triggering the instrument that sets in process the Australian Government ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, as his first act of government. It was signed hours after the new Labor cabinet was sworn in by the Governor-General, Sir Michael Jeffrey.
Although climate change policy was a clear point of difference for Labor, Rudd's immediate ratification of Kyoto yielded maximum symbolic impact. For the Australian electorate the surprise was not the signing, but the timing. Kev was telling us, "Ok, I'm onto it".
For the outside world, Rudd's first act of a few hours old government clearly signalled a dramatic departure from Howard's active, overt and covert opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. The significance was not lost on China Daily...
CANBERRA - Australia's new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, took the oath of office on Monday and immediately signed documents to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, ending his country's long-held opposition to the global climate agreement.
...not the Beeb...
Australian Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd has been sworn in as prime minister, following a landslide victory in parliamentary elections last week. Immediately after the ceremony, he signed documents to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, reversing the previous administration's policy. "This is the first official act of the new Australian government," he said.
...neither on the NYTimes...
CANBERRA, Australia — Kevin Rudd, the new prime minister of Australia, said on Monday that he had signed the paperwork to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, making good on an election promise that overturns a decade of opposition to the international global warming pact.
...and nor the rest of the world...
And the UN Climate Conference delegates assembling in Bali now loved it, giving Australia a rousing applause that would make an AA convention blush.
Everyone noted the significance... "Australia's new stance on Kyoto will isolate the US as the only developed nation not to have ratified the treaty." read the BBC.
Another dramatic departure from the Liberal's core policy of slavishly following Washington everywhere.
Day Ten. Australia, PNG to 'restore' relationship
Instead of acting the regional bully, the Rudd government has signalled our intentions to move past blunderbuss and fishnet stockings diplomacy.
Australia and Papua New Guinea will work on restoring their relationship after a frosty period under the previous Howard government. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his PNG counterpart Michael Somare agreed to restore contact after a bilateral meeting in Bali on Thursday on the sidelines of the United Nations climate change conference. The relationship soured over PNG's involvement in helping disgraced former Solomon Islands attorney-general Julian Moti evade an Australian extradition attempt. But Mr Rudd said both countries were determined to repair the damage after a "good and long" conversation. "I said to Sir Michael, and he agreed, that it was time to turn a new page in Australia's relationship with Papua New Guinea," Mr Rudd told reporters at the Australian consulate. "This relationship has been through a very difficult period in recent times. There has, in effect, been a freeze on ministerial contact between the two governments. I do not believe that's an appropriate way forward for the future. "We have to get on with the business of reviewing the totality of our relationship and taking that relationship forward." Ministerial relations between the two nations will resume and a top-level delegation of ministers will visit PNG early next year for an Australian-PNG Ministerial Forum. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith will head the Australian delegation, which will also include Climate Change Minister Penny Wong and economist Ross Garnaut, who is conducting the Rudd government's climate change review. "This is a critical relationship for Australia. We've got to get this relationship right," he said. The two leaders discussed climate change and deforestation. Australian officials will visit Port Moresby in January to discuss ways to stop the cutting down of PNG's rainforests.
Day Fifteen. Parliament to sit for 15 days longer under Rudd
Under the Howard Government it was unusual for the Upper or Lower House to sit on a Friday but now the House of Representatives will regularly sit five days a week.
Apart from allowing greater accountability and scrutiny, and greater access for the backbench, hopefully Australia is getting 25% greater productivity per ton of carbon emissions spent schlepping the parliamentarians in and out of Canberra.
Day Nineteen. Australia leads 31 countries in formal whaling protest to the Japanese Government
Er... Howard would not have done that. He never lifted a finger to stop the Japanese whalers conducting their 'research' in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary that Australia has responsibility for protecting. To be fair, we always had strong leadership in the International Whaling Commissions under Howard. But he would never have risked ruffling diplomatic feathers with our biggest trading partner.
The Federal Government and anti-whaling groups today welcomed as a small victory Japan's decision to suspend the planned kill of 50 humpbacks. But they have pledged to maintain pressure on Tokyo to end the so-called scientific whaling program. Japan said its decision not to catch humpbacks for "one year or two" came after consultation with the International Whaling Commission (IWC), although it noted the strength of the Australian opposition to the annual hunt.
There is a bit of wow factor here. How will this affect the relationship between our two countries, where the whaling issue being is the only note of discord in an otherwise harmonious relationship? Not a jot, I reckon, but who knows? The whaling lobby in Japan must be powerful to persist with their pursuit in the face of diminishing demand for whale meat.
Day Twenty. Federal Government Paves Way for Haneef To Work In Australia
Former terrorism suspect Mohamed Haneef is keen to reapply for his position at the Gold Coast Hospital after the federal government yesterday paved the way for his return. New Labor Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the Indian national was entitled to return to work after the full bench of the Federal Court upheld a judge's earlier decision to reinstate his work visa. The doctor's visa was withdrawn by the former Howard government on character grounds despite terrorism charges against him being dropped. Dr Haneef's Brisbane-based lawyer Peter Russo today informed the devout Muslim, who is currently in Mecca with his wife and mother, of Mr Evans' decision not to appeal the court's ruling.
Rudd's Government is signalling that it is not going to run the War on Terror as one of Howard's famous Culture Wars. I so hope this is born out. I am bored to death of 'em. Not only did this culture-skirmish make for bumpy relations with India and discredit us in their eyes, the Queensland hospital system copped collateral damage by losing a good doctor and the generation of bad PR for future overseas recruitments.
Global Warning Climate Change Energy
Saturday, December 15, 2007
- It's complex! (and that's becoming problematic)
- Linking national cap and trade with international climate funds
- Deforestation progress on funding and structure (with unwelcome guest)
- Australia ratifies but fails to take the lead
- Two degree consensus approaching: just adopt c&c you fools!
- CDM Review
- Adaptation Fund
- Technology Transfer
Click. He's been doing the hard work following the progress of the conference.
Global Warning Climate Change Energy
Reality bumped Howard out of the way, and put Kyoto Kevin on the winner's dais.
And reality is crudely bumping a recalcitrant, intransigent US along in the direction that the progressive front-runners are heading in.
Overall it's better than I expected, but less than I hoped for. And I am pleased that the Washington wrecking crew did not manage to spoil further.
My prediction is that come the start of the 2009 climate pact meeting the first black, female, or climate-friendly, white, male Republican US President will receive the same rousing standing-ovation that greeted Kevin Rudd when he set in train the Kyoto Protocol ratification.
It is highly symbolic that he chose Kyoto ratification for his first act as Australian Prime Minister. Rudd has set a precedent; he has set-up a stage for a correctly thinking, new US President to step onto and send a powerful signal of, not just an engagement with the rest of the world on climate change solutions, but a highly symbolic collaborative re-engagement. It would improve their global image problem, overnight. As it has Australia's under Rudd's ratification.
Bali talks set 2009 for new climate pact
"I think the situation is good, and the climate in the climate conference is good, and we will have success in the end," Germany's Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters.
Britain's early industrialisation means it has probably produced more greenhouse gases than any other
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has told world leaders in Bali that climate change is the
The community of nations must reach agreement. There is no plan B. There is no other planet any of us can escape to. We only have this one.
"It will require tough choices, and some of these will come at a
He also gave the US a poke in the ribs.
Cc: Tim Blair, Daily Telegraph
Bcc: Global Warming Watch
Re: Gettin' me some of that Global Warming Religion
Dear Mr Swan,
Firstly, thank you for organising with Tim to answer the questions raised by his thought-provoking article in Saturday's Daily Telegraph.
Any questions about this column should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wondered about the wisdom of your accepting the hospital-pass, and tacking the weighty climate change issues Tim aired for his knowledge-starved readership — you must be busy delivering my tax-cuts. But it soon becomes apparent how clever Tim is. You are the Treasurer after all (btw, congratulation your new job, and good luck).
As you know, Tim is considering switching his belief system — Capitalism, it seems — to "Join the Green revolution!", and his article is about his due diligence.
My questions, which I now raise to you, are:
1) What part of that bloody year long electoral assault did I sleep though to miss the news that global warming awareness is now a religion?
"Ditch your old ways of thinking," emailers urge. "Join the Green revolution!"
Very well. I'm game.
But first, some due diligence is required. Before signing any contracts, a fellow needs to know his new belief system is in sound working order, unburdened by internal contradictions and free of technical glitches that may end up causing frustrating warranty claims.
Now, I had always thought that climate science, like any science, was more about establishing the the absence of belief. But hey, if living green is somehow a new religion, so be it; You are the new Government. And Tim's a good journo.
So... I re-use, reclaim and recycle.
I offset. I vegetate with drought-tolerant natives. I pay extra for green electricity. I invest in energy-efficient lighting. Catch public transport, or I fill up on E10 at an indy petrol station, getting between 8-12 litres to the 100kms. I wear out more shoe leather than before. Often I don't travel, I Skype instead. I eat locally produced, and less meat now. I consume conscientiously. It's all going rather well, and it's a welcome change from the frenetic pace of before. My doctor is happier with me, and food tastes better. Well, I do some of these things.
So you can imagine my joy at the startling news that now
All that stuff is nice to have for your religion taxonomist, but Tim knows that a tax-free status is what's definitive. Which is why he referred me to you, no doubt: My second question is:
2) Where's my tax deduction for expenses occurred in all of the above?
It doesn't stop there. I don't want to go as far as Cate Blanchett's $1.5 million greenovation of her Hunter's Hill mansion, but I do want to throw a few squid on the solar panels BBQ.
Unless I see a fat little rebate in my tax-return, I'm forced to conclude that climate science is exactly that, science, not faith. And to look twice at the rest of Tim's claims.
Like his problem with your new prime minister appointing a petrol commissioner to monitor price-fixing among petrol companies.
But he also vowed to appoint a petrol price commissioner to monitor big oil companies, with the aim of keeping fuel prices down. Now, the purpose of ratifying Kyoto is to cut our carbon emissions; but the result of cheaper fuel will be to increase carbon emissions.
Tim's not really making a clear conversion from his Capitalism here, which clearly is Orthodox Cartel Capitalism, as distinct from Free-Market Capitalism. He's arguing against ratifying Kyoto, yet wants to limit emissions by ignoring the week-to-week evidence of oil-industry price-collusion.
But I like his argument that Green is the New Religion. I want a tax advantage for my carbon cuts since I am doing my bit.
Yours, in speaking truth to green power,
Global Warning Climate Change Energy
The brain isn’t a flawless piece of machinery. Although it is powerful and comes in an easy to carry container, it has it’s weaknesses. A field in psychology which studies these errors, known as biases. Although you can’t upgrade your mental hardware, noticing these biases can clue you into possible mistakes
The entire domain of the scientific method has largely been an effort to overcome the natural inclination towards bias in reasoning.
Common thinking errors
1) Confirmation Bias
2) Hindsight Bias
3) Clustering Illusion
4) Recency Effect
5) Anchoring Bias
6) Overconfidence Effect
7) Fundamental Attribution Error
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Since the Bali Conference began, he has devoted six posts to bagging it. Here is his latest.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
four positions were found possible without "mechanical assistance"
six needed a special elastic belt and inflatable tunnel, like an open-ended sleeping bag