Sunday, August 31, 2008

Australians would dig deep to fight climate change

Good news for the government implementing an ETS. We won't stand in your way (but woe betide it turns out trust is misplaced).

A MAJOR survey of Australians' views on climate change has found an overwhelming majority think it is happening and they're prepared to pay to address it.

The study by University of Technology Sydney found Australians wanted to see cuts in the nation's greenhouse gas emissions irrespective of the actions of other countries.

The key findings include that 83.7 per cent believed global warming was occurring and, of those, 84.9 per cent said Australia should proceed with an emissions trading scheme (ETS) regardless of the international response. "The bottom line from this study is that Australians think now is the time to adopt a climate change program that has some real teeth," visiting economics professor at UTS Richard Carson said.

"They believe that climate change will cause serious problems in Australia and elsewhere in the world, and they understand there will be sizeable cost going along with it."

We want the revenue an ETS will earn, to help low-income earners cope with the changes, and middle income earners want the GST reduced. Will it be an unnecessary tax, after the cost of pollution becomes a production input?

An interesting question about the role of government arises. Is it more efficient to tax consumption, or 'externalities', that is, the social cost of pollution.

And most want 20 percent of the ETS revenue to be dedicated to climate change R&D.

Professor Carson said 58.7 per cent of participants supported spending 20 per cent of ETS revenues on R & D, in keeping with a recommendation of the Rudd Government-commissioned Garnaut Review.

"The public clearly favours spending 20 per cent of the money on R & D … even though we told them that if they did that they would redistribute less money to the public," he said.

"That shows the Australians are very forward-looking, they see it as a long-term problem and the R & D efforts will help them get over the hump."

Survey participants' views were also sought on the different government plans and opposition policies to tackle climate change.

A majority (57.1 per cent) supported the government's plan to begin emissions trading from 2010 over the Liberals' later 2012 start date.

Participants were quizzed on their political leanings and Professor Carson said Green and Labor voters were more likely to favour the government's plan.

Interestingly, more than half (53 per cent) of Liberal-aligned survey participants also favoured the earlier 2010 ETS start date instead of official policy held by the Federal Opposition.

Views were split on whether transport should be exempt for the first three years of the ETS - with just over half (50.6 per cent) for the move to temporarily delay price increases at the petrol bowser.

The study, entitled Survey on Controlling Greenhouse Gases, was conducted by the UTS Centre for the Study of Choice.

Professor Carson is a Professor of Economics at the University of California and is a Visiting Distinguished Professor at the UTS.

These figures are consistent with other surveys. If this survey gets media traction, it's the death-knell for the AGW denial industry.

Hurrican Gustav to test Obama/Biden, McCain/Palin

The damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina also ruined Bush. A point clearly not lost on all presidential candidates as they prepare to respond to the 'certain political fallout' claimed for Gustav:

Republican White House hopeful John McCain and running-mate Sarah Palin will Sunday ditch their pre-convention plans and visit people in Mississippi bracing for deadly Hurricane Gustav.

The visit comes as the fearsome category four storm's approach overshadowed the buildup to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota on Monday, and stirred memories of the botched response to Hurricane Katrina exactly three years ago.

Katrina is still affecting the GOP.

Earlier, in an interview to be broadcast on Fox News Sunday, McCain suggested he might go as far as suspending the convention, if the storm turned into a huge human tragedy on the par with Katrina.

"It wouldn't be appropriate to have a festive occasion while a near tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a national disaster.

"So we're monitoring it from day-to-day and I'm saying a few prayers, " he said.


Forecasters said the storm could hit top category five force as it moved toward the US Gulf Coast for a direct hit Monday or Tuesday. In any case, "Gustav is forecast to remain a major hurricane through landfall along the northern Gulf coast," the US National Hurricane Center said.

Obama is keeping weather eye out as well.

Will the fallout involve a discussion on the US's response to combating global warming?

Mother of all storms bearing down on New Orleans

Remember Hurricane Katrina, hitting New Orleans this time to the day three years ago?

Mayor Ray Nagin hopes so, invoking her name by omission.

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has ordered the city emptied tomorrow in the face of "the storm of the century", warning anyone that stays behind that they are on their own.

"I am announcing today mandatory evacuation of New Orleans starting 8am Sunday (2300 Sunday AEST) on the West bank," Nagin said at a press conference. "We want everybody... we want 100 per cent evacuation. If you decide to stay, you are on your own."

"This is the mother of all storms," Nagin said. "This storm is so powerful and growing more powerful every day that I'm not sure we've seen anything like it."

Nagin estimated that less than half of the city's population has left despite days of dire warnings.

"This is the real deal," Nagin said. "Riding this storm out would be one of the biggest mistakes you could make in your life."

Nagin said police, fire and other emergency personnel are being pulled from the city to safer areas. A "skeleton crew" of fewer than 50 city workers will be left behind, according to officials.

Hurricane Gustav is on course to crash ashore near New Orleans. Nagin told anyone planning to stay behind to "make sure you have an axe because you will be busting your way out to get on your roof with waters surrounding you."

Gustav has left around 85 people dead in Caribbean nations.

In 2005, New Orleans was hammered by Hurricane Katrina which caused widespread flooding and left tens of thousands of people homeless.

While there is temporal symmetry with Hurricane Katrina there have been fewer hurricanes this year, or hurricane season is late.

How about those freaks who are staying?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Google Insights for Search on al gore, global warming, climate change

Google Insights for Search (GIS) is Google's latest functionette on offer. It is fascinating, but not all it could be. More like a tease.

GIS provides a graphical output for up to five search terms. Numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. They don't represent absolute search volume numbers, because the data is normalized and presented on a scale from 0-100; each point on the graph is divided by the highest point, or 100.

So away I went, plugging in two terms, global warming; and climate change for parameters, worldwide, and for all recorded time (2004 - present).

Interesting graph (I also chucked in Al Gore). GIS also scales countries of the world. Here's the top ten countries sorted on global warming.

Top regions for global warming

Region al gore global warming climate change
Indonesia 19 100 25
Philippines 41 77 29
India 18 76 27
South Africa 37 69 43
Australia 47 54 80
United States 100 51 19
New Zealand 38 49 56
Singapore 36 43 29
Canada 63 42 37
Kenya 0 39 100

Still, it's a cool tool.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Aussie solar generation — where are you?

Casting around me in Sydney to see what our suburban twenty+ year olds are into today, and well, it seems to be, well,.... themselves only. iPoded up (it's not called the usPod, is it?) they listen long enough to think of what they are going to say next when in conversation.

My question: It's your future, where's the protest over the mismanagement of your environmental inheritance? The younger you are, the more you have at stake, I would have thought.

Not so in India with SolarGeneration.

Solar Generation India is a part of the Solar Generation, an international group of young people working in creative ways to demand 'Clean Energy Now!' We started as a group in the early months of 2005; February 16th, to be precise. There were about 60 students at the time of our first organized concert against climate change and since then we've moved on. From one tree to another- for those who saw our tree top concert Now we have support groups at 20 colleges in Bangalore and Hyderabad and well wishers at Cochin as well. We have a long way to go. Also, we are a bit more organized- not in the dangerous sense of the word which it proposes to be- quintessentially, more together....and we would like to leave things there! We have around 15 member in the core group and quite a number of volunteers who are there at crisis times. We have much to do and much to give back...

Good luck. Their modus operandi seems to be bearing witness to local impacts of climate change, and in this post they film the results of sea-level rise, and 'ecogees' that have fled Orissa on the east coast of India, near the Bay of Bengal.

Investigating Solar Generation further I find that Greenpeace is behind it, and it was launched in 2003:

Solar Generation taking their future in their own hands

Solar Generation is made up of young people from all over the world taking action against climate change and calling for a clean energy future. Solar Generation, initiated by Greenpeace in 2003, is now active in Germany, Switzerland, France, China, Thailand, the Philippines, India, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Indonesia, Togo, Kenya, Uganda, US and Australia

The number of countries involved in Solar Generation is rapidly growing. All around the world, we are showing that change is possible and you can make it happen yourself.

Waiting quietly for politicians to act is not an option; Solar Generation are taking the future into our own hands.

Here are just a couple of examples of our achievements and activities:

  • Convincing several universities in the US and Australia to start purchasing clean energy and installing solar panels
  • Involved in over 120 solar panel installation projects in Switzerland
  • Solar Generation member Abigail from the Philippines gave the opening speech at the Renewables 2004 Conference
  • Celebrated the Kyoto Protocol entering into force with activities worldwide.

Solar Generation raise public awareness about climate change and the solutions and move politicians to act. Solar Generation organise solar powered concerts and hand out information about our work at other concerts.

We also install solar panels, support energy efficiency and start discussions in our universities. We show that action against climate change works: "While politicians are still talking, we are getting active!"

You can do something too!

Are you interested in starting a Solar Generation Group and getting active in your own country? Look at the bottom of this page for the email of your local contact person or check out the websites from where you live.

Is your country not on the list?

Send an email to our international office and see what the possibilities are of starting a Solar Generation campaign in your country.

The answer to that is no. Though I note that some universities have had solar installed and are purchasing clean energy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Climate science, the public, and the Whiplash Effect

Andrew Dressler of the Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University spent time as a Senior Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. While there, he became extremely interested in how science gets used in policy decisions. He has published The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the debate (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006).

In a new post he discusses the whiplash effect that the public experience because of the nature of science, as postulated by Andy Revkin in The New York Times.

When science is testing new ideas, the result is often a two-papers-forward-one-paper-back intellectual tussle among competing research teams.

When the work touches on issues that worry the public, affect the economy or polarize politics, the news media and advocates of all stripes dive in. Under nonstop scrutiny, conflicting findings can make news coverage veer from one extreme to another, resulting in a kind of journalistic whiplash for the public.

Dressler says an 'understanding of how science works sheds a lot of light on this problem'.

If one focuses on the turbulent interface, science always looks uncertain because, by definition, the turbulent interface exists where the science is uncertain.

Because the turbulent interface is the focus of the scientific community, it is also, unfortunately or not, the focus of the media. And this can give the general public a view of science that is more uncertain than reality.

In climate change science, there is lots that we don't know. We don't know with precision how precipitation will change as the climate warms, or how climate change will vary from one region to another over the next century, or exactly how clouds and aerosols affect each other, etc.

One should not take this to mean that our knowledge of the climate is poor. In fact, our understanding of the climate is quite good. We know that greenhouse gases warm our planet. We know that changing greenhouse gases have been associated with changing climate on most timescales over the last hundred million years at least. We also know that humans are increasing the abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Given the paleoclimate record, as well as simulations from climate models, we can expect warming of several degrees Celsius over the next century if atmospheric greenhouse gas abundance continues to grow throughout this century.

Since these observations are well known, they are generally not at the center of the scientific debate. Rather, the scientific community is working to expand our understanding of the details of the theory of climate.

The whiplash effect does not work in isolation, but is reinforced by the denial industry and their agenda of pushing "uncertainty."

The ultimate solution is for the general public to become more savvy about how science works. Arguments about Greenland ice melts should not cast doubt on the fundamental certainty of climate change. In the meantime, I'm not terribly optimistic that things will improve.

I'm not sure how to take that last line. It sure sounds glum.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

LOLdenialists pr-revus teh klimit siens

Tim Lambert has posted submissions to LOLdenialists, a bit of fun. L. Ron Bolt cops it again, this time from Gummo Trotsky, for his insistence that his HadCRUT 'cooling since 2002 ' has significance. Itz teh underling tend, stewpid, by moi. Nexus 6's brilliant Global Warmin LOL is there plus a little dig at Littlemore LOL, and Stefan's Phlogiston is a riot. And there's more...

All good LOLs, and contagious. I went again...

Klik 4 wot strtd me on LOLdenialists.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008


clipped from

explain to future generations

"Found on a city street..

via :: Flickr

blog it

Hansen — Mankind now controls climate

Set aside an hour for yourself, and hear it from Dr James Hansen

C/o 回転ドア Revolving Doors

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James Hanson tips cold water on sun theory

This takes The Great Global Warming Swindle down with it...
clipped from

In another section of his recent "trip report " (see "westling" post below), James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, answers in careful but fairly accessible detail, the question of whether the sun can reasonably be blamed for recent global warming.

His conclusion:

Thus if the sun remains “out”, i.e., stuck for a long period in the current solar minimum, it can offset only about 7 years of CO2 increase. The human-made greenhouse gas climate forcing is now relentlessly, monotonically, increasing at a rate that overwhelms variability of natural climate forcings. Unforced variability of global temperature is great, as shown in Figure 4, but the global temperature trend on decadal and longer time scales is now determined by the larger human-made climate forcing. Speculation that we may have entered a solar-driven long-term cooling trend must be dismissed as a pipe-dream.

 blog it

Monday, August 18, 2008

LOLdenialists goes vrial

My entry... LOLlronbolt

Inspired by Tim Lambert, who was inspired by Jennifer Ouellette of Cocktail Party Physics who came up with LOLdenialists.

Update: Thread has been picked up by Nexus 6, who is always good for a laugh

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Monckton vs. Littlemore Debate audio

Monckton vs. Littlemore Debate audio

Monckton vs Littlemore Debate audio

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ratS delgnapS rennaB


Rice looks shocked.

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60 Minutes in denial over climate change

In the 60 Minutes story on climate change denial called Crunch Time, Rudd came off like he needs media-training on the issue.

PM KEVIN RUDD: I'm not going to lie to you and say this is going to be cost free. This is a tough decision, we need to take it for the country's long-term future and its long-term economic future. But economic cost of not acting is massive, it's through the roof. Think about food production, the Murray, think about the impact on tourism in QLD, no more Barrier Reef, Kakadu, no more Kakadu. Think about the impact on jobs, it's huge.

TARA BROWN: How certain are you that mankind is the cause behind global warming?

PM KEVIN RUDD: Well, I just look at what the scientists say. There's a group of scientists called the International Panel on Climate Change - 4000 of them. Guys in white coats who run around and don't have a sense of humour. They just measure things. And what they say to us is it's happening and it's caused by human activity.

Kevin Rudd, you have the broad brush-strokes down well, but if you are going to deliver on your election promises to implement an ETS, and politically remain in a position to be able to do so, then you have to pay attention to the many niggling details.

Firstly, you don't want to lose your franchise with the voters who support the ETS and who do understand climate change. Secondly, you can't afford to give professional denialists like L. Ron Bolt any traction. Their product, doubt, is an easier sell than action to tackle an unseen threat. By way of exmple, here's Bolt swooping in: Rudd feels the heat on 60 Minutes.

PM KEVIN RUDD: Well, I just look at what the scientists say. There’s a group of scientists called the International Panel on Climate Change - 4000 of them.

No, it’s actually called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And no, there are not 4000 IPCC scientists. Try 2500, instead. Rudd is lucky that this exaggeration wasn’t picked up by Brown. What’s more, a number of those 2500 don’t stand by the IPCC conclusion on man’s effect on the climate. Many others were not even consulted over the report’s bottom-line finding.

One mistake, and L Ron pounces, then thows red meat to his flying monkeys, to rip apart, who affirm these denialist talking point just as they have been programmed to.

Andrew Bolt is incorrect in his correcting Rudd, strictly speaking. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC is essentially the world's largest review of peer-review climate-science research by a panel of UN goverment member representatives and World Meterolical Organisation (WMO) scientists. They draw on the research of 2500 climate scientists.

In short, the IPCC reports on the body of scientific literature produced by 2500 climate scientists to develop policy responses. It is right Mr Rudd (and Ms Wong before him) should state he relies on this, and he needs to say it clearly and simply.

Especially when 60 Minutes is doing a clear Denier's Special. Here they are balancing the scientific views of 2500 of specialist climate scientists, with the unscientific view of one computer program architect.

TARA BROWN: No doubt the ice is melting, but the big question is - are we to blame? The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change reports it is 90% certain we are. But other equally eminent scientists believe what were seeing is just part of Nature's great cycle.

DAVID EVANS: Now since 1990, western governments have spent about $50 billion looking for evidence that carbon causes global warming and they haven't found any.

TARA BROWN: Dr David Evans has six university degrees and once worked for the Australian Government's Greenhouse Office. But he no longer thinks global warming is caused by our carbon dioxide and so isn't concerned about his or any one else's carbon footprint. So does that mean don't give up your V8 cars? Does that mean continue flying, don't worry about changing light bulbs, don't worry about trying to capture carbon or shutting down coal-fired power stations? Is that what that means?

As his resume shows, David Evans was just a computer programmer at the AGO. 60 Minutes missed out reporting that detail in favour of blowing hot air up his balloon.

Desmogblog clear the air: Evans is a self-promoting computer geek, not a science geek.

Oh the gravitas you lend this code-cowboy, 60 Minutes. You should be ashamed.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

AGW deniers — sue Hansen, Al Gore! Or shut up

The normally collegiate International Journal of Inactivism has thrown down the gauntlet to deniers like Christopher Monckton, Anthony Watts, James Inhofe, et al, to back their threats of legal action against Al Gore and Hansen .

It is unusual for this esteemed institution, one that is known to be cautious almost to the point of inertia, to be publicly challenging the deniers like this.

Something must be up. Look for the sign.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Alarm!! By Nexus 6

This very clever cartoon will appeal to the alarmist in us all.

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Global warming needs a Dr Evil

Psychologist, Dan Gilbert says humans have been conditioned through millions years of evolution to react to PAIN threats:
The threat must have one or more of these qualities
  • Personal
  • Abrupt
  • Immoral
  • Now
"Global Warming is happening too slowly", says Gilbert explaining why humans are failing to act in the face of the threat of global climate dislocation.

Fascinating insight into our evolutionary psychology courtesy of Stoat. It identifies where we need to evolve further. Quickly.

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AGW Denial: Obama makes fun of wilful ignorance

Oh yea... tell it like it is.

Obama Insists Inflating Tires Better Than Oil Drilling

Obama's Energy Plan: Really good

So says Climate Spin:

Obama came out with his energy plan yesterday. I agree with Joe over at Climate Progress that its pretty darn good from a major-party candidate (I don't recall if its better then Gore's 2000 plan. Anyone?)

Here are some good points:

  • cap-and-trade program with all credits auctioned
  • Reduce emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.
  • Raise CAFE by 4% a year
  • Increase building, appliance and power generation efficiency (still the easiest "win")

And tucked way at the bottom was this nice part about building more sustainable and livable communities: "Obama is committed to reforming the federal transportation funding and leveling employer incentives for driving and public transit." Yeah!

I didn't like the mention of exploiting oil shales in Montana and clean coal but, overall, this is great. Too bad energy, except for gas prices, and climate has fallen off the radar in the campaign or this might get more attention.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bone up on Tamino AGW denier debunkery

I so want to lift this Best of Tamino holus bolus from Desmog Blog, I'm going to do exactly that. I feel I am entitled to because I have just used Tamino in another post. Thank you, Brian D:

Best of Tamino: Urging an Open Mind

8 Aug 08

More Summer Reading:

Thanks to DeSmogger Brian D., we now have this well-categorized version of The Best of Tamino, a veritable celebration of debunkery courtesy of the clearest writing statisticians around. Brian's recommended (and annotated) reading list is posted below.

"It hasn't warmed since 1998!"

Garbage is Forever


(Also an excellent introduction to the concept of signal and noise to those unfamiliar with statistics.)

"The hockey stick was debunked!"

Hockey Sticks

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

(This is rather technical. The first one is an overview, the rest are in-depth. Number 4 goes into detail on the McIntyre/McKitrick argument and clearly shows why it's wrong. Part 4 can be read without reading the others, although some of the math won't make sense. Part 5 goes into more detail and demonstrates the robustness of the stick.)

"NASA / Hansen is lying / cooking the data! / The surface stations are unreliable!"

Best Estimates

Surface Stations


One of These Things is Not Like the Others

(This covers joint bullshit from Antony Watts and ClimateAudit, depending on which particular form this argument takes. MSU is the only odd one out - it covers adjustments in the SATELLITE data, and compares the different records. [Surprise surprise, but Christy and Spencer's UAH is poorly adjusted for variation and is cooler than all the others or the surface stations. The other posts validate the surface station system used to compare.] One Of These Things covers one of McIntyre's adjustment bitchfests in detail. Surface Stations covers one of the surface station adjustments as an example. Best Estimates is an overview.)

(There's a followup series to the surface stations, where he analyzes the differences and historical trends in the three largest datasets, but those are less pertinent to communication purposes and more for general interest.)

Those are the most frequent inactivist arguments I've seen here that are based on statistics.

While I'm at it, you might also appreciate the following:

Tamino showing, mathematically, how a basic climate model is built (a first-order approximation with no weather included, but explained VERY clearly; those who suspect the models aren't based on science or who don't know what a model is would find this interesting).

See also the giant "Climate Data Links" link at the top of every page; this lets you get the actual datasets he uses. Some require subscriptions, sadly, but most are public. (Note to Gary et al: Look up Excel's LINEST function and try it out on any of the land-ocean temperature indices.)

Smackdown of shoddy 'analysis' from Antony Watts and his crowd; even if you don't know who Watts is, you've probably heard some of his arguments before. This is entertaining on other grounds as well -- read it and see. This also serves as a decent model of peer review -- suffice it to say, nothing analyzed there would have made it into the peer-reviewed literature, and for good reason.

What's Up With That

Exclamation Points

How Not to Analyze Data Part 1

HNTAD Part Deux

HNTAD Part 3

HNTAD Part 4: Lies , Damned Lies and Anthony Watts

The comment threads here are also interesting, as the accused always stop by to try to defend themselves... poorly. Watts himself tries an (unsuccessful) PR smokebomb in Part 1, for instance.

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Satellite temps slipstream surface readings

Lately, AGW denial shills have made a meal out of the differences between satellite, and land-based temperature measurement GISS, HadCRUT, UAH MSU, RSS MSU (click to enlarge):

I came across a link to this Tamino post that clearly explains the difference. Seems Anthony Watts has been pinged for not providing his audience clarity that these are four superimposed graphs are of temperature anomalies, each with different baselines.

All these data are temperature anomaly. Anomaly is the difference between temperature at a given time, and the average temperature for the same time of year during some reference period. So temperature anomaly doesn’t really tell you, in absolute terms, how hot or cold it is — it tells you how much hotter or colder it is, than it was (on average) during the reference period. And there’s the rub: these data sets use different reference periods. GISS uses the reference period 1951 to 1980, HadCRU used 1961 to 1990, and the satellite estimates use 1979 to 2000. The coldest of these reference periods is the 1951-1980 GISS reference, the warmest is the 1979-2000 satellite reference. That means that GISS anomaly is the difference between present temperature and a colder time period, satellite data are the difference between present temperature and a warmer time period.

We can’t directly compare the numbers in a meaningful way without compensating for the difference in reference. Otherwise, it’s just like measuring my height in inches above Shaquille O’Neill (which makes the number quite negative) while measuring a newborn child’s height in inches above the ground (which makes the number certainly positive), noting that the infant’s number is greater, and concluding that the newborn is taller than I am. If we fail to compensate for the different reference, then we expect that the GISS numbers will be highest, the HadCRU numbers next, and the satellite data lowest. And that’s exactly what we observe.

So what does the graph look like after compensating for the differences in terms of reference? Tamino shows (click to open):

The result is very little variation between the four sources.

The satellite measurements' close correlation with the three surface based measurements provides squeezes all joy out of the deniers' argument once differences in baselines have been adjusted for.

AGW denial myth #2,971 busted.

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Nest of deniers exposed

Cameron Stewart, Associate Editor of The Australian describes the battle to confuse the public that is waged by the fossil-fuel industry (read ExxonMobil) and prosecuted though a network of think-tanks, their media hacks, and... bloggers.

Of course L. Ron Bolt is taking credit:

Blogs blamed

Andrew Bolt

You readers are starting to rock the Church of the Global Warming Apocalypse.

That Church of GWA link points to Marohasy, AGW denier-in-resident at the IPA , and blogger. Cameron Stewart mentions her in his article, Key degrees of difference.

It's a good piece. It opens dissecting the current sceptic argument that 'the earth hasn't cooled for 10 years'.

HAS global warming stopped? The question alone is enough to provoke scorn from the mainstream scientific community and from the Government, which says the earth has never been hotter. But tell that to a new army of sceptics who have mushroomed on internet blog sites and elsewhere in recent months to challenge some of the most basic assumptions and claims of climate change science.

Their claims are provocative and contentious but they are also attracting attention, so much so that mains

tream scientists are being forced to respond.

The bloggers and others make several key claims. They say the way of measuring the world's temperature

is frighteningly imprecise and open to manipulation. They argue that far from becoming hotter, the world's temperatures have cooled in the past decade, contrary to the overwhelming impression conveyed by scientists and politicians.

As such, they say there should be far greater scepticism towards the apocalyptic predictions about clima

te change. Even widely accepted claims, such as that made by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong that "the 12 hottest years in history have all been in the last 13 years", are being openly challenged.

"She is just plain wrong," says Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs. "It's not a question of debate. What about the medieval warming period? The historical record shows they were growing wine in England, for goodness sake; come on.

It is not disputed by anyone that the Vikings arrived in Greenland in AD900 and it was warmer than Greenland is now. What Penny Wong is doing is being selective and saying that is a long time ago."

Mmm, Jennifer, I wonder how many science bloggers are tapping away, as we speak, to pull that one apart? Will you retract if they wholesomely rebut you? We'll see.

Cameron Stewart makes this alarming point.

But selective use of facts and data is fast becoming an art form on both sides of the climate change debate now that real money is at stake as the West ponders concrete schemes to reduce carb on emissions. So what is the validity of some of the key claims being made by these new blogger sceptics?

Oh, what a dreadful prospect! A PR and counter PR blizzard as coal, oil, alt. energy, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, government, opposition and the scientific community, etc, tries to win a share of the public mind. Click for the validity of key claims bit.

I believe the public has made up its mind in Australia. We want out politicians to act, act now, and act significantly to prevent run-away climate change.

Update: ABC Lateline story on AGW denial bloggers L. Ron Bolt and Marohasy getting exposure. The lovely (funny, witty, gorgeous) Annabel Crabb features from an Insiders section. She looks like Dian Fossey in Gorillas In The Mist attempting the placation of a chest-thumping attack by L. Ron Bolt, doing his intimidatory best to impersonate a charging silverback breaking out the jungle.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

0-100 kmh in 3.9 seconds.... electric Tesla Roadster

It's no surprise the world's first green sports car is red...

... at 0-100 kms in 3.9 seconds.


HOLLYWOOD stars anxious to prove their green credentials are paying more than $100,000 for a sexy electric sports car now rolling out in the US.

The sleek Tesla Roadster, pictured, is modelled on the Lotus Elise, and goes from 0-100 kmh in 3.9 seconds.

With a top speed of 200 kmh, the two-seater has a range of 370 kilometres between recharges of its lithium ion batteries.

Actors George Clooney, Matt Damon and Jenny McCarthy, boxer George Foreman and singer from the Black Eyed Peas are among those on the year-long waiting list.

Australian-born Michael "Flea" Balzary, bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, said on his blog he decided to go electric after watching the documentary Who Killed The Electric Car?

A dozen Teslas are already on Californian roads.

The company founded by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk, plans to produce 10,000 Tesla sedans next year at a plant in New Mexico.

Going green doesn't have to mean giving up speed, performance and luxury. Who would have thought? No hairshirts for those on the waiting list.

Meanwhile, closer to home, for those seeking something a bit more accessible.

In Australia, Ross Blade is converting Hyundai Getz hatchbacks into his electric Blade Runner in Victoria.

They sell for $40,000, have a range of 120 kilometres per recharge with a top speed of 120 kmh. Melbourne City Council and the Victorian Government have bought one each.

"Orders are piling up and we expect to convert 200 cars this financial year," Mr Blade said.

Big US car makers are developing electric versions of existing models. Hyundai will release an LPG/electric hybrid Elantra next year while Mitsubishi will sell an all-electric car in 2010.

The NRMA has demanded the Federal Government help speed up development of electric cars.

So this petrol engine Hyundai Getz 1.6 SX is offered for $14,990 at the mid year sale.

I would have thought it had a low emissions profile, but the Prius Fuel Saver Calculator can tell you. Plugging the Hyundai Gets 1.6 in, selecting the 4 speed automatic petrol engine option, at 15,000 kms per year and $1.55 per litre of petrol the Hyundai will cost $1,651 per year in petrol.

Interestingly, a $39,000 1.5 litre hybrid electric engine Prius will cost you $1,023 per year in petrol to run (and cause 1590 kg / year carbon emissions from a fuel economy of 4.4 L / 100km verses the Hyundai Getz' 2550 kg / year at 7.1 L / 100km)

And Ross Blade's Bladerunner would cost $150 per year for off-peak green power, to approximately $250 for peak green power. Or $0 if it's solar.

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Starbucks downsizes — Australia froths

Much has been written in media and blogs about Starbucks' retreat from their strategy of market saturation. A fresh announcement about the closure of 61 Australian stores from tomorrow has awakened Australian punditry, and everyone is excitedly offering their opinions. The thread is buzzing on the bus, by email, in letters to the editor, on opinion blogs, over talk-back radio, the lot.

Is this coming out of a collective caffeination? Seems seems the whole country is slightly over-protective — first sign of an addiction — about the morning wake-up shot. With the threat of the take-over drug-gang receding, coffee-crazed citizens are vocally seeing them off their local turf.

It's unbelievable who is leaping out of the cappuccino closet: Andrew Bolt shows, underneath it all, he is privately a latte-lover. A self-congratulating, chattering-class connoisseur.

Our coffee culture has two elements fatal to Starbucks. First, influenced by the Italians and Greeks in particular, we like our coffees stronger and straighter. Second, coffee for us is as much about relationships as a product. Which means boutique beats supermarket every time.

You get that roasting every day on, Lygon Street, Melbourne, or Rundle Mall, Adelaide, or Victoria Street Sydney, what a surprise to know Australia's premier AGW denier is a sipper who sinks the slipper into US cultural and commercial imperialism.

OK, that's a stretch, I've had a coffee, but you get the drift.

And talking about Melbourne, they can't hide their conceit in claiming single-handed victory:

And now, with the American coffee giant announcing the closure of 61 Australian stores from tomorrow — 16 of them in Melbourne, including the Lygon Street venture — Australia's home of discerning coffee drinkers appears to have been vindicated.

"Melburnians would argue to their death that you can get a better coffee in Melbourne than anywhere else in Australia," says Andrew Brown-May, a senior lecturer in history at Melbourne University and author of a book on Melbourne's coffee past. "We've actually got, not just superficially but deep in our culture, a great knowledge and appreciation of coffee and certainly a mythology about it."

Hmmm, wonder where most of the other 35 stores were locally out-competed, Melbourne? Well, 17 of them were in Sydney. Put that in your double-shot and froth Mebl. What snobs you all are.

Going back to the thread, much of the Australian chatter has been a triumphant cultural rejection of the US franchise mentality viz coffee. Others rejected the palate; "tastes cr@p", too much choice, no cappuccinos on the menu. But Andrew Brown-May, an author on the Melbourne coffee scene and history, gives reasons to be cautious about gloating:

But don't think the downsizing of Starbucks has been all thanks to you. The trimming down of the Seattle-based coffee goliath, not just in Australia but in the 600 stores to be closed in the United States, may not have entirely been a result of the anti-brand, anti-consumer revolution. Nor was it especially about coffee.

"In the US they were new; there wasn't anybody else doing this. I think Australia
has had a lot of cafes well established, so I think there was just more entrenched competition," Deakin University marketing professor Michael Polonsky says. "Any street in Melbourne you could get a good coffee, so (Starbucks) had to be substantially different."

Starbucks had attempted the Coca-Cola strategy of being available wherever people looked, Polonsky says. But it was its market saturation that was its undoing.

Writing in The Christian Science Monitor, Temple University historian Bryant Smith argues that when Starbucks began, it offered Americans an entree into a status-filled world with is own language of ventis, grandes, Tazo teas and special-blend coffees, all stamped with the company's distinctive green logo.

But by becoming too common — Starbucks first opened in Australia in 2000 and expanded to 84 stores in eight years — the company "violated the economic principles of cultural scarcity", Smith says.

So the novelty just wore off.

But in a city steeped in coffee, and coffee of a particular preparation, Andrew Brown-May thinks it may also have to do with taste.

"Starbucks coffee does taste different, and to many Australian palates has an over-roasted, almost burnt taste to it," he says. "And all the syrups and additives and so on, I think we're more sophisticated than that, actually."

Snobs? Us? Never.

Dewi Cooke is an Age reporter.

Since everyone has had their shot, I might as well have one too. My theory why Starbucks failed is because their standard lowest wages 17 / 18 year old coffee-person just does not cut it against a trained barista. When you find one who can make the perfect cup for you, and remember each time without you asking, that's gold. And because they are around coffee all the time, they usually can talk. I guess this is pretty much the relationship point Bolt was making.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

There are no "smoke-free areas" on the planet

Climate denial may turn out to be the world's most deadly PR campaign.

The headline and opening line are the last two sentences of an article by David McKnight, associate professor of the University of NSW. Asking, 'Who is behind climate change deniers?', McKnight tracks the emergence of the AGW denial industry, phoenix-like, from the dying embers of the tobacco-cancer link denial industry in the US.

We how the Australian denial scene even reaches into to the cabinet of the opposition. And who is engineering the campaign of doubt:

In Australia, the main group that tries to undermine the science of global warming is the Lavoisier Group. It maintains a website with links to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (over $2 million from Exxon), Science and Environmental Policy Project ($20,000) and the Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide (at least $100,000).

The Lavoisier group is certainly influential in the Federal Opposition. A senior figure in the group told Guy Pearse, author of High and Dry, a study of climate policy in Australia, that there "is an understanding in cabinet that all the science is crap".

And why it's so easy to sell doubt.

But perhaps the oil companies' PR campaign is not the main reason for the success of the climate change deniers. There are at least three others. First, the implications of the science are frightening. Shifting to renewable energy will be costly and disruptive. Second, doubt is an easy product to sell. Climate denial tells us what we all secretly want to hear. Third, science is portrayed by the free market right as a political "orthodoxy" rather than objective knowledge.
The tide slowly turned on tobacco denial and the science was accepted in the end. But climate is different. There are no "smoke-free areas" on the planet...

Read in full.

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Sydney seeks to be carbon trading hub

Verity Firth, the NSW State Government Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, is sticking her hand up to have Sydney house the National Carbon Market.


"Not a lot of people are aware but the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme, which was introduced in 2003, was one of the world's first mandatory greenhouse gas emissions trading schemes," she said.

"It was run in NSW, has been running for the last four or five years and means that we now have a significant cluster of energy companies, financial service providers, law firms."

Ms Firth says she will be lobbying for NSW to be the base and regulator of the industry.

"We are establishing a taskforce in NSW and we'll be including representatives of the business community, who have a strong interest in the new carbon economy," she said.

"They'll be advising us on what we can do to help secure the hub for Sydney.

"I mean naturally we do believe that Sydney has the natural advantages. We have a well established finance sector and experience in carbon trading."

Well put. But I'm not biased.

L. Ron Bolt hits one million eyeballs

Credit where due, Andrew Bolt has been the MSM journalist to cross over into blogland most successfully. July saw his blog break the one million page impressions mark. Big in anyone's language.

So of course he is asserting his bragging rights, using something that is fast becoming his latest shtick — the Andrew Bolt Graph:

This one even has a trend-line. Congratulations on that too, and no, the plateau at the end of the trend-line is not 12 months of cooling.