Saturday, June 30, 2007

It's not the first time we've almost died out

Have you ever wondered why people are fundamentally similar world over?

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All humans on the Earth today - over 6,000,000,000 of us - are homo sapiens. While homo sapiens appear to have emerged 200,000 years ago, in Africa, the population grew slowly and was subject to many setbacks. One such setback about 50,000 years ago or so, reduced the entire population of homo sapiens to just 2,000 individuals! Think about that. We were THAT close to extinction!

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Friday, June 29, 2007

50 million desertification refugees in next 10 years

More than 200 experts from 25 countries produced a report that warns of a grim outlook if we do not combat the growing problem of advancing deserts.

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Tens of millions of people could be driven from their homes by encroaching deserts, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, a report says.

The study by the United Nations University suggests climate change is making desertification "the greatest environmental challenge of our times".

If action is not taken, the report warns that some 50 million people could be displaced within the next 10 years.

The study was produced by more than 200 experts from 25 countries.

The UN report suggests that new farming practices, such as encouraging forests in dryland areas, were simple measures that could remove more carbon from the atmosphere and also prevent the spread of deserts.
"Things like ecotourism or using solar energy to create other activities."
World map showing human impact on desert
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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Climate science dicked by Dead-Eye Cheney

From Rolling Stone -- The Secret Campaign of President Bush's Administration To Deny Global Warming.

It is no secret that industry-connected appointees within the White House have worked actively to distort the findings of federal climate scientists, playing down the threat of climate change.

But a new investigation by Rolling Stone reveals that those distortions were sanctioned at the highest levels of our government, in a policy formulated by the vice president, implemented by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and enforced by none other than Karl Rove.

An examination of thousands of pages of internal documents that the White House has been forced to relinquish under the Freedom of Information Act - as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former administration scientists and climate-policy officials - confirms that the White House has implemented an industry-formulated disinformation campaign designed to actively mislead the American public on global warming and to forestall limits on climate polluters.
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Rich's carbon emissions doubles the poor's

The more we learn about the impact of global warming, the more it is apparent that the poor are going to bear the brunt of it.

We see that in Bangladesh. And in Australia. New research on carbon footprints across the socio-economic spectrum here, reveals that:

At a relatively low carbon price of $25 a tonne of greenhouse pollution, poor families around Australia would be paying about $558 a year more on their bills, while the wealthiest households would pay around $1446 extra.

But once those extra costs are adjusted to take into consideration income levels, as a proportion of their total spending, poor people could pay almost seven times more than the rich.
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Unlike previous studies, the research for the Brotherhood of St Laurence takes into account the indirect greenhouse gas emissions from producing everyday goods and services, from food and clothes to watching television, drinking alcohol and catching a plane.

The research found that wealthy, tertiary-educated households had by far the biggest "carbon footprint" in Australia, generating almost 58 tonnes of greenhouse pollution a year.

In contrast, poor families were only responsible for 22 tonnes of emissions, with pensioners and people living on welfare also recording the lowest carbon footprints. The national average was 32 tonnes a year.

The difference largely mirrors income, with the wealthiest households spending $1900 a week (excluding rent), while poor families spend just $468.

The analysis was conducted by the Melbourne-based National Institute of Economic and Industry Research.

The last word goes to the executive director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Tony Nicholson, who commissioned the analysis.

"This is a great opportunity, because if we seriously address climate change we can also do a lot to address entrenched disadvantage," Mr Nicholson said.

"For instance, we're advocating a national rental incentive scheme for landlords to make private rental properties more energy efficient, because we know many disadvantaged people have high energy bills because their homes aren't properly insulated.

"Australia has a national roads strategy; why don't we have a national public transport policy? More disadvantaged people tend to have older cars that consume a lot of fuel, and many live on the outskirts of cities and in country towns. So by improving public transport, you address both problems at once."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Help spread the word

This guy is good: wonderingmind42.

Watch him present a risk analysis that conclusively makes the case for taking action on global warming.

I haven't seen anyone logically refute him, yet. But I'll take submissions. If you can't then do like the man says and help spread the word.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Companies fighting climate change rated & ranked

The solution to global warming will be marketplace driven. For the market to work, consumers need to know what companies are doing to reduce their footprints. Schemes like Climate Count, and corporate carbon counting systems will be keenly observed.

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Companies Judged for Global-Warming Awareness, Found Lacking

A new group is giving consumers a way to evaluate the companies whose products they buy based on their commitment to fighting climate change. The takeaway: There is a lot of room for improvement.

A nonprofit group called Climate Counts has come out with a new ranking of 56 companies divided into eight sectors. Each company was assigned a score on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 meaning the company is perfectly committed to fighting global warming. The highest-scoring of all companies was camera maker Canon (part of the “electronics” group), with a score of 77. Second in the electronics group was IBM, with a score of 70. In the apparel group, shoe company Nike topped the list with a 73. Leading the food-products group was Unilever, which makes Dove soap and Lipton teas, with a score of 71. These were the only four companies to score 70 or higher.

After that, the scores dropped off dramatically.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Internet literally global, topographically speaking

Internet is spherical with a dense core

SYDNEY: The internet is not web-shaped after all. Instead, it's more more like a globe, made up of a dense core and sparsely connected outer regions, according to a mathematical analysis of its structure.
Internet is spherical with a dense core
Visual representation of the topology of the internet. Data was collected by thousands of world-wide volunteers through a distributed computing project called DIMES. Color code indicates a relative measure of node importance, with nodes in the most inner shell (red) forming the nucleus of the Internet.
"A better understanding of the internet's structure is important in many ways," said Shavitt. "We can track the internet's evolution in time and generate predictive models to its growth [which will] help us understand how the Internet will look a few years from now so we can plan ahead."
the Internet consists of a dense, heavily connected nucleus of about 100 nodes, including Google and U.S. telecommunications giant ATT WorldNet.
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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Global warming threatens civilization says top six scientists

See first source for the full article.

Present knowledge does not permit accurate specification of the dangerous level of human-made GHGs. However, it is much lower than has commonly been assumed. If we have not already passed the dangerous level, the energy infrastructure in place ensures that we will pass it within several decades.

We conclude that a feasible strategy for planetary rescue almost surely requires a means of extracting GHGs from the air. Development of CO2 capture at power plants, with below-ground CO2 sequestration, may be a critical element. Injection of the CO2 well beneath the ocean floor assures its stability (House et al. 2006). If the power plant fuel is derived from biomass, such as cellulosic fibres grown without excessive fertilization that produces N2O or other offsetting GHG emissions, it will provide continuing drawdown of atmospheric CO2.

Climate change and trace gases

Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A

James Hansen1, *, Makiko Sato1, Pushker Kharecha1, Gary Russell1, David W. Lea2 & Mark Siddall3

Published online 18 May 2007

Six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the United States have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the world: civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.

They also implicitly criticise the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for underestimating the scale of sea-level rises this century as a result of melting glaciers and polar ice sheets.

The researchers were led by James Hansen, the director of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who was the first scientist to warn the US Congress about global warming.

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1NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025, USA
Department of Earth Science, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA

*Author for correspondence

White House censors global warming report

Take the science out, and Bush is right.

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Cannes Lions: Y&R Gore forum upsized by demand

If an ad agency can't toot it's own horn, who can?

Not everyone is playing in tune, though.

Already, some Australian ad industry executives have taken a shot at Mr McLennan's new green credentials. "Tell Hamish Patts in Sydney has left its lights on," quipped executive chairman Euro RSCG South Pacific Group Tom Moult last week.
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AUSTRALIAN expat and the global chief executive of Y&R, Hamish McLennan, has hit pay dirt this week at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival with his agency's decision to
fly in climate change poster boy Al Gore to address the industry on Friday.

Festival organisers have been forced to change the venue for the Y&R-Gore forum to the biggest venue in Cannes, the 2200-seat Grand Auditorium, and set up a live video feed to another 1800-seat venue in order to accommodate the expected demand from the 8000
festival delegates.

Mr McLennan struck up a relationship with Mr Gore late last year after offering to create a global ad campaign on climate change to support the Live Earth music concerts, which will be staged on seven continents on July 7.

"Y&R has shown real insight to bring Al Gore here," said Cannes Lions executive chairman Terry Savage. "Climate change is a real issue for the industry. Al Gore understands the power of the global marketing business."

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's concrete - China now top CO² emitter

China has officially become the world's largest CO² emitter, months ahead of the most dire warnings.

Estimates on when China would overtake the US on greenhouse gas emissions had varied, but Dr Fatih Birol, chief economist of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, said in April it could happen within months.

The country's economic growth had been so fast in 2006 and 2007 that the historic global shift of climate-changing emissions from west to east, which was previously predicted for 2009 or 2010, could now happen by November, Birol told the Guardian Unlimited site then.


According to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency's figures, China's emissions increased by 9.0 per cent in 2006 compared to its 2005 output. In the United States emissions rose 1.4 per cent from 2005 to 2006.
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China spewed out more carbon dioxide than the United States for the first time last year, making it the world's biggest producer of the primary gas blamed for global warming.

New figures from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency show China produced 6,200 million tonnes of CO2 in 2006, while the US produced 5,800 million tonnes, the Guardian Unlimited news site reports.

"China's 2006 carbon dioxide emissions surpassed those of the USA by 8.0 per cent," the agency said in releasing the figures late yesterday.

In 2005, China's emissions were 2.0 per cent below those of the US, it said.

The agency said the figures were based on its own preliminary estimates derived from recent energy and cement production data.

Industrial processes and the burning of fossil fuels - oil, gas and coal - are the main causes of carbon-dioxide emissions. Of the industrial processes, cement production is one of the principal sources of greenhouse gas, the agency said.

U.S. Senate squares off on ambitious energy bill

:::[Grist: We Can't Bear to Look]
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Daily Grist
All eyes are on the Senate this week as it debates a controversial Democrat-penned energy bill.
The legislation contains several provisions that make Big Oil, Big Auto, and Big Republicans squirm: it would shift nearly $15 billion in tax credits and subsidies from oil to renewable sources like wind and solar; require utilities to produce 15 percent of their power from renewables; give the feds more power to prosecute gasoline price-gouging; and mandate a fuel-efficiency standard for cars, SUVs, and small trucks of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Ambitious! But potentially doomed, as opponents are doing their best to puncture the plans, and majority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may scuttle the whole thing temporarily to take up the immigration debate instead. Meanwhile, as the House floats its own energy solutions, powerful Michigan Democrat John Dingell has backed off of plans to support coal-to-liquid fuels and weaker efficiency standards -- at least for now.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The War on AGW Denial, Part 2

(Second 5 of 10) By PeakEngineer:
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6. Scientists get paid big bucks to skew their data to indicate global warming.
It is far more lucrative to produce research denying global warming.
And with tens of thousands of scientists producing research indicating human-induced global warming, the task to compromise the ethics of so many esteemed professionals would be, to say the least, challenging.
7. Variations in solar output cause global warming.
Solar variability plays a very small role, if any, in global warming.

8. All temperature data is suspect due to the urban heat island effect.

That argument might be valid if all measurements were taken in the heart of cities. But they aren’t.

9. Because it snowed a great deal and got very cold in some areas, global warming isn't happening.
Global warming is about the long-term average trend.
10. It isn't possible to distinguish the effects of human activities from natural processes with regard to CO2.
We know how much CO2 a barrel of oil and we know how many barrels of oil we use.

The War on AGW Denial, Part 1

Holocaust denial is illegal in civilised countries of the world.

So why shouldn't we render the orchestrated efforts of the well-funded global warming denial industry to nought, by making anthropogenic global warming denial illegal (unless it's genuine scientific research published in peer-review journals)?

Advertisers are not allowed to make false and misleading claims about their products. Isn't it time we subjected fossil-fuel funded think-tanks and 'foundations' to the same scrutiny as advertisers?

Until political will makes it happen, we need to destroy the vast army of denialist zombies they have spawned, ourselves. Persuade the dumb-relays of thinktank-crafted propaganda to be part of the solution, by driving a PeakEngineered stake through the hearts of their malformed, miscreant arguments. Choose your stakes below:

(First 5 of 10)
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This is my collection of rebuttals for the most prominent arguments put forth by the folks who deny anthropogenic climate change.

1. Mars is undergoing global warming, therefore humans can not be causing it on Earth.

No. Mars is not undergoing global warming.

2. Volcanoes release much more carbon dioxide than humans.

No. Volcanic activity is 0.02 to 0.05 Giga-tons/year.

3. The Earth (and its carbon cycle) is too big for humans to affect it.
During 1850-2000, through a combination of fossil fuel burning, cement manufacturing, and land-use changes, humans added a net 174 Gt of carbon. This caused the majority of an increase from 288 ppm (parts per million) to 369.5 ppm of CO2.
Without human influence, this regulatory process produces a net carbon increase of 0.0 Gt/year.
4. The sea level has not changed.
Since 1900, sea level has risen by about 35 cm (13.8 inches). This change in sea level is accelerating.

5. Scientists predicted imminent global cooling in the 1970s.

No, they did not.

Monday, June 18, 2007

No Ball! Climate denialist retracts lawsuit

If you have ever wondered how little integrity a professional anthropogenic global warming denialist must have to ply their trade, this is instructive.

From Kevin Grandia of Desmogblog:
Thought you might be interested in this. It is a follow up to a story from about a year ago in which a retired professor, Tim Ball, filed suit against a professor of environment at the University of Lethbridge over a letter to the editor that appeared in the Calgary Herald. Since then, Dr. Ball has continued to be used as a source of climate science by popular media, including the UK Channel 4 documentary "The Great Global Warming Swindle" and CNN Glenn Beck's "Climate of Fear" special.

Here's the link to the story:

Ball Bails on Johnson Lawsuit
14 Jun 07

The self-styled Canadian climate change expert, Dr. Tim Ball, has abandoned his libel suit against University of Lethbridge Professor of Environmental Science Dan Johnson. Ball dropped the suit without conditions, but also without acknowledging that Johnson's original comments were accurate and were reported in good faith.

"This is great news," Dr. Johnson said today, "but it still leaves a cloud over my name that I would like removed. Even though I can now demand that Ball pay what the court calls 'taxed costs,' that won't begin to cover the actual legal bills, to make up for lost time or to repair the damage that Ball has done to my reputation."

Ball, a spokesperson for two industry front groups fighting against climate change regulation, sued Johnson and the Calgary Herald over a letter the paper ran on April 23, 2006. In an earlier Opinion Page article in which Ball attacked the qualifications of renowned climate change author Tim Flannery, the Herald described Ball as "the first climatology PhD in Canada and … a professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg for 28 years."

Johnson wrote a Letter to the Editor challenging those details. He noted that when Ball received his PhD (in Geography) in 1983, "Canada already had PhDs in climatology and it is important to recognize them and their research." Johnson also pointed out that Ball had been a professor for a much shorter time (Ball later admitted eight years), during which Ball did "not show any evidence of research regarding climate and atmosphere."

Ball filed suit, asking for damages of $325,000 plus costs.

But Calgary Herald satisfied itself as to the accuracy of Dan Johnson's letter, and rose in defence. In a Statement of Defence filed with the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, the Herald dismissed Ball's "credibility and credentials as an expert on the issue of global warming," saying: "The Plantiff (Dr. Ball) is viewed as a paid promoter of the agenda of the oil and gas industry rather than as a practicing scientist."

In the face of this rebuff, and of the earlier Statement of Defence filed by Dan Johnson, Ball discontinued his lawsuit.

Since his retirement from the University of Winnipeg in 1995, Tim Ball has worked as an industry-supported climate-change campaigner, sowing doubt about the science of global warming. He first associated himself with a Calgary-based group called the Friends of Science, which the Globe and Mail reported in August of 2006 was funded primarily by the oil and gas industry. Ball then moved to the chairmanship of a new group called the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, which the Toronto Star reported in January 2007, is a creation of the Toronto-based energy-industry lobby firm the High Park Group.

"I never intended any specific damage to Tim Ball's reputation," Dan Johnson said today. "But climate change is a critical global issue and I thought it was important to set the record straight. If people want to argue the science, I'm all for that, but Tim Ball was claiming expertise and specific credentials that he does not have. That needed to be corrected."

Johnson said he is now considering whether to accept basic costs or to seek special costs, adding, "I also deserve an apology. I think the nation deserves an apology."

Johnson said he would like to thank and acknowledge James Hoggan and the team of for offering considerable assistance in putting together his defence.

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Bush Doctrine vs. Peak Oil

In a thought-provoking article Michael Klare explores "How wars of the future may be fought just to run the machines that fight them".

My question is, if the amount of fossil-fuel energy that the mighty US military machine consumes daily is more than Sweden's national consumption, what is the carbon-debt? Tropospheric or stratospheric? The way war is conducted now is unsustainable. To maintain expeditionary forces and a pre-emptive posture, the US Military will either have to adapt - learn to fight mean, lean and green - or go out of business.

Or maintain a permanent presence in the Middle East.

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Sixteen gallons of oil. That's how much the average American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes on a daily basis -- either directly, through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters, or indirectly, by calling in air strikes. April 2007 report by a defense contractor, LMI Government Consulting, suggests that the Pentagon might consume as much as 340,000 barrels (14 million gallons) every day. This is greater than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland.
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The resulting study, "Transforming the Way the DoD Looks at Energy," was a bombshell. Determining that the Pentagon's favored strategy of global military engagement is incompatible with a world of declining oil output, LMI concluded that "current planning presents a situation in which the aggregate operational capability of the force may be unsustainable in the long term."
LMI arrived at this conclusion from a careful analysis of current U.S. military doctrine.

Arctic plants can survive climate change

Expanded north-south habitants of plants and ranges of animals is going to be one of the features of a shift to a warmer world.

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Arctic ice no barrier for plants

Mountain avens (Image: Bjorn Erik Sandbakk)
Arctic plant species can travel vast distances, researchers suggest

Arctic plants are able to migrate the distances needed to survive changes to the climate, scientists have suggested.
Habitats are expected to shift further north as the planet warms, and plants' inability to move quickly enough has been a cause for concern.
But researchers, writing in the journal Science, suggest seeds can be carried vast distances by the wind and sea ice.
The biggest challenge, they added, was likely to be their ability to establish themselves in the new habitat.
Researchers from Norway and France analysed more than 4,000 samples of nine flowering plant species found on the remote Svalbard islands inside the Arctic Circle.
By analysing the genetic fingerprints of the plants, the team reconstructed past plant colonization and decline in the area.