Monday, April 28, 2008

Sell all your re-insurance stock

Extreme weather is here to stay:

SOMETHING strange is happening to our weather.

Sydney has endured the most sodden school holidays in living memory, including the longest unbroken spell of April drizzle for 77 years, a month after some state capitals sweated through the worst continuous period of baking heat ever recorded. And unseasonably early snow fell in the mountains at the weekend.

"The weather's been anything but normal over the last six months," said Dave Williams, a senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology. "I've been in this game for 20 years, and I can't recall a longer period of sustained weather patterns, of various kinds."

The article explains that this has more to do with La Nina and a 'blocking' high pressure system, but...

"This has less to do with global warming and more to do with the natural kinks and dips you see in weather patterns each year," said Professor Matthew England, co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW.

"The extremes of heat are an example of the sort of weather we can expect to see a lot more often in the next 50 years, because the evidence is indisputable that the weather is getting warmer."

Personally, I don't think the reference to global warming belongs in that story.

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First to go: Iconic Polar Bear or Fabled Narwal?

Andrew Bolt repeats he doesn't want us to use polar bears as a symbol of global warming in our media any more:

Bear With Us: More Hype Deflated

The eco-hype is cooled, along with the weather:

The polar bear is in trouble in Canada because of overhunting and global warming, but it is not endangered or threatened with extinction, an independent committee advising the Canadian government said Friday.

The obligatory genuflection to global warming is there, of course, but perhaps we can now drop the absurd use of the polar bear as the emblem of global warming doom.

Andrew Bolt – Sunday, April 27, 08 (09:31 am)

He'll be pissed-off to read in Wired's story that, should his long-running persecution of the poor polar bear succeed, the narwhal is ready to drop in on its wave:

The polar bear has become an icon of global warming vulnerability, but a new study found an Arctic mammal that may be even more at risk to climate change: the narwhal.

It seems the 80,000 strong narwhal is highly specialised, reducing it's chances of adapting to a melting environment.

The narwhal, which dives about 6,000 feet to feed on Greenland halibut, is the ultimate specialist, evolved specifically to live in small cracks in parts of the Arctic where it's 99 percent heavy ice, Laidre said. As the ice melts, not only is the narwhal habitat changed, predators such as killer whales will likely intrude more often.

"Since it's so restricted to the migration routes it takes, it's restricted to what it eats, it makes it more vulnerable to the loss of those things," Laidre said in a telephone interview from Greenland, where she is studying narwhals by airplane.

Imagine the mileage that environment groups could make by elevating the fabled Narwhal 'as the emblem of global warming doom.'?

The narwhal, a whale with a long spiral tusk that inspired the myth of the unicorn, edged out the polar bear for the ranking of most potentially vulnerable in a climate change risk analysis of Arctic marine mammals.

Unravell the unicorn myth, that takes in Noah Ark and the Great Flood, a story embedded in our Abrahamic DNA, and you will have the genesis of the great green religion that Andrew so fears. He's much better off hoping the polar bears will pull through; and that's the Knuts and Bolts of it:

The Unicorn Song

A long time ago, when the Earth was green
There was more kinds of animals than you've ever seen
They'd run around free while the Earth was being born
And the loveliest of all was the unicorn

There was green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
The loveliest of all was the unicorn

The Lord seen some sinning and it gave Him pain
And He says, "Stand back, I'm going to make it rain"
He says, "Hey Noah, I'll tell you what to do
Build me a floating zoo, and take some of those

Green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
Don't you forget My unicorns

Don't forget the narwhal. The research study Wired's article cites was published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Ecological Applications.

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Brendan Nelson holds the line on global warming

I almost forgot to tell you about my first scoop ever: Last month the leader of the Liberals, Brendan Nelson, in reply to an email I sent to him, wrote this:

As Australians, it is time for us to start living on environmental interests, rather than just capital interests.

I made the observation, then, that he 'is working up a lovely line on climate change'.

Last week Brendan told Kerry, on The 7:30 Report:

We also need, I think, to have changes in our federation, the responsibilities of government, the sharing of money, the environmental challenges so that we start to live on environmental interest instead of the capital, security and defence of our nation and its interests and values and a cohesion of our society.

Keep working that line. It's thought provoking: This Earth with all working parts in good order, our capital inheritance; it's sustainable carrying capacity, our stipend.

Not quite the t-shirt slogan needed to be Australia's next PM, but the Liberals need to move their base, quickly, to understand that the economy is a sub-system of the environment, fully. The unions did well with a parallel meme they ran during the Workchoices battle in the lead up to last year's election: We live in a society, not an economy.

Now that passes the t-shirt test.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Carbon dioxide up 2.4 ppm on last year

Here's the sobering bit: The average annual increase of carbon dioxide between 1979 and 2007 is only 1.65 parts per million (ppm). Suddenly, we are measuring a 0.5% rise in a year.

Researchers from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) reported new data that shows a higher than usual average increase in carbon dioxide levels over the last 30 years.

The recently released report from NOAA scientists is an annual update to the agency’s greenhouse gas index, which tracks data from 60 regions around the world. Concentrations may have increased by as much as 0.5% from 2006 to 2007.

That was the consequence of the rise of China and India, Business-As-Usual in the United States and Australia, and, I believe, the successful shilling by the AGW denial industry (See post below).

The above link goes on to talk about a sharp rise in methane levels as well.

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Trolling the climate trolls

Professor Barry W Brook is Director of the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability at the University of Adelaide. He warns against engaging with climate change deniers on science blogs, likening them to Internet trolls:

"Don't feed the troll!" This is a common admonition in the expanding science blogosphere - at least the rational quarters.

Trolls, in the internet vernacular, are people who intentionally post false or controversial messages to gain attention or foment a conflicting style of debate. Most remain shielded within the anonymous confines of their online pseudonym. A rare but vocal few are sufficiently emboldened by self-confidence (or hubris) to speak out in public.

For the long-standing "debate" over the relative merits of evolution versus creationism, they usually style themselves as "creation scientists" or "intelligent designists". In climate science and policy, those few apparently well-educated people who continue to deny the now vast body of scientific knowledge and analysis on the causes and consequences of global warming are variously called sceptics, denialists, contrarians, delayers or delusionists. Whatever the label you attach to them, they are all cut of the same anti-intellectual cloth.

Their business is the dissemination of disinformation, doubt and unscientific nonsense. One of their most regular ploys is to leverage the widespread lack of public appreciation of how science operates. The scientific process of theoretical postulates, hypothesis testing, critical evaluation (and re-evaluation) of ever accumulating empirical evidence, model validation and peer review is inherently complex and often technical.

Quick diversion to a bugbear of mine: "Internet" is capitalised.

Meanwhile, back under the bridge at Andrew Bolt Blog, the good Professor's characterisations has Andrew raising his hand to say, 'Who me?':


Reader Elsie notes the Professor’s word for those who disagree on apocalyptic man-made global warming:


I notice that Andrew has finally accepted man-made global warming, and now seems to only be against people saying man-made global warming could be apocalyptic. A cartoon at the excellent Skeptical Science blog (as recommended by the good Prof. himself) exposes the logic supporting Andrew's numerous positions on the subject over the years. And it's a clever parody of the processed meat he throws to his gaggle murder irritation of climate trolls, on a daily basis:

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I'd love to have a beer with Brendan...

...'cos Brendan's me local member; leader of the opposition; he replied to my email; .... and he is working up a lovely line on climate change:

Climate change is one of the most significant moral, political and economic challenges that will face our generation.

Ok, that's Kev07, and Blair05, and Gore06. But the next line is Brendan's. You read it here first.

As Australians, it is time for us to start living on environmental interests, rather than just capital interests.

That's a lovely, sweeping sentiment. My guess is, it is an understanding that the economy, and all that sail upon her, is but a subset of the environment.

Bit of a head-turner, given the stance of the previous Federal Liberal leader and the early rumble for leadership after Howard lost Bennelong. I had the impression Turnbull self-servingly leaked the revelation that he had earlier told the party room they had to promise to sign Kyoto to win. And this played out in the Liberal party machine as engendering disunity. So Brendo, more moderate on Kyoto, got the numbers.

That's history; Kyoto is ratified, and that bipartisan act came into effect last month. The rest of the letter from Brendan's office in response to me expressing my concerns about the need for political action, gives a clear acknowledgement of the problem, and the need to...

...focus on practical effort and initiatives that will ensure responsible environmental behaviour and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

So I guess their policies are nascent. The letter goes on to confirm this, say Brendan is listening to ordinary Australians, consulting widely and will consider many opinions in developing their policies, including... what for it... Global Warming Watch.

Good. I'll be suggesting how he needs to hold Labor to account.

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