environment

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COP15, bigger than life

I'm getting a little confused. Just when you thought things would eventually get better for the COP15, there it comes. First Obama warns that there will be no deal: we're out of time. Then John Prescott encourages us explaining why the Copenhagen conference will be 10 times more difficult than Kyoto, finally the consideration that the US is a dead weight on Copenhagen talks, pulling down ambition ever lower. All of this just in the last three days.

Magic of Life / Magia de la Vida

Magic of Life by victor_nuno (CC-BY-NC).

Now, we come to know that the US and China, the world's two biggest polluters with over 40% of the emissions, today said they aimed to set targets for easing greenhouse gas emissions next month, potentially breathing new life into the flagging Copenhagen climate negotiations 1.

This continuous ping pong, while expected, is making me very suspicious, as well as frustrated. But I can understand that their position is not as easy one. On my side, it's all pretty simple. Identify the problem, look for solutions, apply them. Unfortunately, when you are in politics, things are far from being this easy. Obama and Jintao had a lot to talk about: Tibet, human rights in China, internet censorship, trade, Iran. And then, of course, climate change.

Being a politician, especially at this level, is very much like being a juggler: you need to keep things in balance, you have may balls in your hands, each of which plays a role in the success of the performance, and if you don't pay enough attention, they will fall to the ground. However, there is a catch: the balls are connected with a wire. That means, if you let one down, they all fall.

We all play a role in this big game: the outraged blogger, the "evil corporation", the corrupt politician, the environmental activist... but in the end, we are all people. We all have the same final goal: preserve life on this planet, especially ours. If you have any notion of biology, however, you would know that species are inter-connected, and that we can't live by ourselves. In the face of the obliteration of the species, economic growth, profit, class, the old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism, to rabid nationalist fervor, seem utterly irrelevant. Some of us just seem to forget what's most important.

p.s. This article was crossposted on the TH!NK ABOUT IT - Climate Change blogging competition.

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10:10 reduce your carbon emissions by (at least) 10% in 2010

Cut 10% emissions by 2010

I recently joined in the 10:10 campaign, which aims to reduce each person's carbon emissions by (at least) 10% in 2010. Using Ian Katz' words, the 10:10 campaign is "the world's response to global warming is a classic case of all mouth and no trousers. This new initiative aims to show that we can all act now - and achieve something significant". It may seem, at first sight, just a fancy trend to follow up, since in these days it's cool to be green, celebrities, public figures, businessman, actors, suddenly everyone wants to go green and they take the pledge.

Sure, it may seem like that, but only to people who do it for the wrong reasons. Personally, I think it's a reasonable pledge, a moral obligation, give the current state of things. But that's my point of view. Even so, does it really matter the reason for which people decide to take the pledge? After all, humans are not very known for being capable of consciously deciding for themselves. People tend to follow trends and advertisements. Climate change is a serious issue, possibly the most important problem that our species has ever had to face, and it would be desirable to have everyone involved with the same passion and conscious choice. It would be nice indeed, but we cannot expect that happen, nor can we know if someone is truly devoted or if they are just following the mass.

As of now, I don't really care, nor do I pretend to know which one is it. It's good enough that people well do something tangible in the right direction, then we'll work on the rest.

A few links and resources to help you out in this journey:

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TH!NK2 Climate Change - I'm going to Copenhagen!

2009 TH!NK2 Climate Change blogging competition

I am delighted to announce that I was selected as one of the 81 bloggers in the world that will take part to the 2009 TH!NK2 Climate Change blogging competition.

TH!NK2 Climate Change is a 3 month blogging competition with a focus on UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15) in December 2009. 81 bloggers from Europe with featured guests from India, China Brazil and the USA, representing the world's biggest players in climate policy, will come together on the European Journalism Centre's thinkaboutit.eu platform, to exchange ideas and debate the issues of climate change.

Participants are encouraged to report about stories in their own back yards; to bring out the local side of a global issue. The aim is to create a portal into the minds of 81 people, to show how each one experiences the effects of Climate Change policies every day.

To launch TH!NK2, TH!NKers head to Copenhagen! The FREE trip to Copenhagen takes place the 21-22 September and all participants must attend to be eligible as a TH!NKer. In Copenhagen, The EJC arms ALL particpants with a Flip HD to help them include multimedia content to their blog posts.

It is organised by the European Journalism Centre, the travel expense and accommodation will be covered by the EJC.

I am expected to write blog posts for the competition from 23 September to 20 December 2009. To stay in the competition, I need to submit at least 3 posts per month. Not a problem, it sounds much more like an incentive.

I am excited to be part of this project and I can't wait to start blogging from Denmark. ^_^

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The world has never seen such pile of freezing heat crap

Global Warming
Global Warming. The Earth became the newest Waterworld. by SoftPIX_Techie

There is an article by By Christopher Booker which goes something like this.

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious "hockey stick" graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.

A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen's institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.

If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)

Yet last week's latest episode is far from the first time Dr Hansen's methodology has been called in question. In 2007 he was forced by Mr Watts and Mr McIntyre to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.

Another of his close allies is Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, who recently startled a university audience in Australia by claiming that global temperatures have recently been rising "very much faster" than ever, in front of a graph showing them rising sharply in the past decade. In fact, as many of his audience were aware, they have not been rising in recent years and since 2007 have dropped.

Dr Pachauri, a former railway engineer with no qualifications in climate science, may believe what Dr Hansen tells him. But whether, on the basis of such evidence, it is wise for the world's governments to embark on some of the most costly economic measures ever proposed, to remedy a problem which may actually not exist, is a question which should give us all pause for thought.

The Earth is burning
Global Warming (Effetto Serra) by Roberto Rizzato

It's been circulating on the internet over the last few days and it spread out virally. So, who exactly is the author of this masterpiece? Let's find that out.

  1. Booker's scientific claims, which include the false assertion that white asbestos (chrysotile) is "chemically identical to talcum powder" [2] were analysed in detail by Richard Wilson in his book Don't Get Fooled Again (2008). (The chemical formula for talc is H2Mg3(SiO3)4 or Mg3Si4O10(OH)2, while the formula for chrysotile, the primary ingredient of white asbestos, is Mg3(Si2O5)(OH)4).
  2. Wilson also highlighted Christopher Booker's repeated endorsement of the alleged scientific expertise of John Bridle, who has claimed to be "the world's foremost authority on asbestos science", but who in 2005 was convicted under the UK's Trade Descriptions Act [3] of making false claims about his qualifications, and who the BBC has accused of basing his reputation on "lies about his credentials, unaccredited tests, and self aggrandisement".[4].
  3. Christopher Booker's scientific claims about asbestos have been criticized several times by the UK government's Health and Safety Executive. In 2002, the HSE's Director General, Timothy Walker, wrote that Booker's articles on asbestos had been "misinformed and do little to increase public understanding of a very important occupational health issue."[5].
  4. In 2005, the Health and Safety Executive issued a rebuttal[6] after Christopher Booker wrote an article suggesting, incorrectly, that the HSE had agreed with him that white asbestos posed "no medical risk"[7].
  5. In 2006, the HSE published a further rebuttal[8] after Christopher Booker had claimed, again incorrectly, that the Health and Safety Laboratory had concluded that the white asbestos contained within "artex" textured coatings posed "no health risk". [9].
  6. In May 2008, the Health and Safety Executive accused Booker of writing an article that was "substantially misleading"[10]. In the article[11], published by the Sunday Telegraph earlier that month, Booker had claimed, falsely, that a paper produced in 2000 by two HSE statisticians, Hodgson and Darnton[12], had 'concluded that the risk of contracting mesothelioma from white asbestos cement was "insignificant", while that of lung cancer was "zero"'.

But who am I to gudge? And beside, these things abou him do not say anything on the content of the article itself. Fair enough, let's go deeper. Booker's articles in The Daily Telegraph on asbestos and also on global warming have been challenged by George Monbiot in an article in The Guardian newspaper [12]. Read it through. I also found some interesting comments on the reddit page regarding this article. Here's a collection of the smartest remarks:

If you think this was great, you should wait until I publish my landmark paper, "Twenty Years of Climate Science Disproven By My Astute Observation That It Was Kind Of Warm Here Last Month".

Don't forget the chapter on "Even in rising average temperature, some places will be colder than that and some places will be hotter". Global weather allows for some truly bizarre anomalous local aberrations.

A few measurement over a single month do not constitute hard evidence for a pattern, and the fact that a pseudoscientist is reporting it with the smirking ambition of debunking global warming studies without actually oing through the scientific process of analysing data and publish apapers accordingly it tells a lot about the credibility of the author. last time I checked the scientific consensus by real scientists was overwhelming, as reported by the peer-reviewed process. Until I see hard evidence against it I will not waste my valuable time debunking an attention freak that posts a questionable article.

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