For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Friday, August 31, 2007


Obligatory disclaimer...

It's articles like this one that really irritate me.

Nations scramble to agree on emissions target

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Five industrialized countries including Canada came under fire on Friday for blocking a draft agreement to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and counter the most catastrophic effects of global warming.

(Right from the start, it mentioned the "catastrophic" effects of global warming. First, there's the assumption that the globe is warming (which is hasn't been doing since 1998, even if a global average temperature statistic were actually meaningful). Second, there's the assumption that any warming will have catastrophic effects. Not "might," will. Truth is, any predictions of the effects of global warming are nothing more than guesses, and contradict the actual effects warming has had in the past, which have mostly been beneficial.)

But environmental groups accused the five countries of backtracking on previous pledges to take measures that would help keep Earth's temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius - a limit scientists contend is critical to prevent catastrophic flooding and other deadly weather patterns.

(I'm going to be posting on the misconception of an "Earth" temperature later. For now, there's a few things wrong with this paragraph. First, there's the bizarre belief that we can actually control global temperatures in the first place. Second, there's the 2C number. Even that prediction is for at least a hundred years in the future. Lots can happen between now and then that have nothing to do with us humans. Third, we're talking about a global average here - how do these "scientists" agree that 2C is the dreaded tipping point? Why not 1C? Why not 3C? Again, it turns out to be pure guesswork - albeit guesswork based on mathematical equations.)

The Climate Action Network, an umbrella group, accused Switzerland of being willing to let its alpine glaciers melt away;

(except they're not actually melting - they're receding, but not melting. The local temperatures are too cold for actual melting, which is true of most of the glaciers that are receding.)

Japan of being content to allow rising ocean levels to threaten its vulnerable coastline;

(wow. Japan is "allowing" the oceans to rise. Like they've given the ocean permission. Never mind that while some areas have receding coastlines, and many others are staying the same - which tells me that ocean levels have as much, if not more, to do with what the land is doing than the ocean.)

and Russia of opening itself up to more economically devastating droughts.

(because, you know, droughts are something a country can choose to have...)

Anderson said the Vienna talks, which began Monday as a prelude to a major international climate conference set for December in Bali, Indonesia, became bogged down when some countries were pressed on what range of emissions reductions targets they would be willing to take on.

"They need to be guided by the potential calamity," she said.

(No, they need to be guided by the actual science, not the rhetoric of calamity, and the actual science cannot accurately predict what will or won't happen in the next 5 or 10 years, never mind in the next 100 or more. All they can do is make educated guesses, which our leaders can then use to *guide* their decisions, not *make* their decisions for them.)

Failing to cut emissions by at least 30 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020 "would condemn millions to disease, water shortages and misery in the developing world," he said.

(Really? Just how do they know? Guess what - they don't! More guessing games. We don't actually *know* any of this, any more than we "knew" the world would be in an ice age right now, according to the predictions of 30 years ago. Also, these predictions seem to assume that we humans will just sit there and "let" these things happen. Is that what we're doing now? No, we have aid groups around the world, battling disease, drilling wells, and generally trying to help those in need. Do these people believe that we'll just stop doing things like this? Well, I suppose that's a legitimate concern. If they get what they want, the wealthier countries that are doing all these things to try and help poor countries will probably end up just as poor themselves. Then no one will be able to afford to help anyone else.)

The EU already has pledged to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases by 20 per cent by that year, and by another 10 per cent if other industrialized countries join in.

(Well, at least there was a token mention on "other harmful gases" ... except that CO2 is NOT a harmful gas. You'd have to be in an sealed room with nothing but CO2 for it to be harmful. It can happen, but the circumstances are very unusual, and it's the lack of oxygen, not the CO2 that'll kill you. Certainly not a concern on a worldwide basis. CO2 is a *necessary* gas, and one that has limited greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect of CO2 reduces exponentially as the amount increases. Meanwhile, what are these other "harmful" gases?)

You can read the full article here.

Anyhow, I just get frustrated when I see so many articles like this. There are so many false assumptions, misleading statements, and emotional rhetoric, it's ridiculous.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Did they have permission?

Just an aside from my usual topic.

In the movie, AIT, Gore briefly touched on how he'd gone in a US nuclear submarine to the North Pole. He elaborated on it even more in the book. He made a big deal about how the US navy has spent years going back and forth under the Arctic ice cap, taking diligent measurements of the ice thickness so they'd know where they could safely surface. It bought up a question that has nothing to do with AGW.

While Gore was on board that US naval submarine, did they get permission from Canada (or Russia, or Denmark) to sail in their waters?

Of course, I know the answer to that one. It would be a resounding NO. The US military tends to infringe on the sovereignty of other countries on a fairly regular basis, but in respect to the Arctic, the US claims these are international waters. Well, they may say it, but the reality is that, unlike the Antarctic, the Arctic is within the international boundaries of at least three nations - this doesn't include the US, because Alaska isn't close enough to the Arctic Circle to fall within international coastal limits.

Based on the geography, it's pretty much a given that the submarine Al Gore was in was, at the very least, in Canadian waters. Probably Russian as well.

So what do you think? Do you think Al Gore insisted that the captain of the submarine he was on get permission from these countries before sailing in their waters?


Sunday, August 26, 2007

review - AIT - the movie

Obligatory disclaimer...

Well, I've finally seen the movie. Actually, I had to watch it twice because our dvd player was dying and I couldn't really see it the first time, so a proper viewing had to wait until we replaced it.

Having already read the book, which I reviewed here and here, not much has changed as far as my opinions of AIT. I'm not going to go too much into arguing the "science" behind the movie, as there is just too much, and others have done it better than I have. I recommend this site in particular, if you want to see where Gore got it right, wrong, and something in between. There are only a few points that I will discuss that have not been discussed elsewhere that I know of.

As I expected, the book was pretty much the movie in print form, though the book was able to expand on some areas while some things were completely dropped. Most of the slide show images were in the book, plus a few stills from the video clips used. In general, the two were very much alike.

First, the good. Al Gore is a fabulous orator. In between scenes of his slide show, he narrates throughout the movie. He has complete voice control. All the inflections, emotions, pauses - he gets them all perfectly. It's downright poetic. He's also a very good actor, with marvelous control of his facial expressions, down to the subtle nuances. He is clearly able to connect to an audience, both live and through film. He earned that Oscar.

He's also very passionate about his subject. Whether or not that passion is genuine, I increasingly find myself questioning, but he is passionate.

That's about it for the good, unfortunately. Like the book, this movie is more about Gore and how wonderful he is, than about global warming. This could best be described as a vanity movie. There are lots of scenes of Gore working on his laptop (you get the impression that all he ever does on that thing is move around scenes from his own slide show). There are lots of scenes of Gore looking pensively out of windows, with serious expressions on his face. You see crowds of smiling, worshipful people crowding around and taking pictures of him. You see slide show audiences hanging off his every word, clapping and cheering, or looking serious and worried, in all the right places. And, of course, laughing at all his jokes.

Actually, it was the jokes that started to get to me after a while. They are mocking jokes. They are insulting jokes. They display his contempt of the "so called skeptics," all of whom are, according to Gore, in the pockets of Exxon Mobile.

Oh, that was another good one. He actually portrays himself as some sort of eco-Dick Tracey. In an obviously staged scene, he's in his office, working on his laptop and his cell phone rings. "What did you find out?" he asks. "Working for who?" He, you are made to believe, has just 'discovered' that somebody working in the current administration (because Bush=Evil) is actually under the control of Exxon. Have you also noticed it's always Exxon? There are so many oil companies out there, but only Exxon is the company named. Go figure that one out.

But I've gone too far ahead, here. It was much earlier in the movie that I saw a clip that quite literally had me sitting with my chin down to the floor. I'd heard about an animated clip by Matt Groening. I was stunned when I actually saw it. Picture cheerful, friendly Mr. Sunbeam, sauntering over to the Earth to say hello. Then he says good by and turns to leave, only to be accosted by a gang of greenish, leather jacket and hat wearing blobs of green house gas. They proceed to beat friendly Mr. Sunbeam to death.

That's right, you have an animated murder of innocent Mr. Sunbeam by evil green house gases. Soon, a pile of Mr. Sunbeams forms with their "rotting corpses" heating up our Earth.

And this is a movie schools require our children to see, and wanted to send home with kids this past summer? (Actually, I think they did, but I can't find the article to verify that.)

This was only the first of several clips I found disgusting. Gore is quick to bring in Katrina and the destruction of New Orleans, blaming it on global warming, even though hurricane experts said otherwise. The movie goes back to Katrina later on, with plenty of emotional scenes of death, sorrow and destruction.

There are quite a few scenes used inappropriately. Among the more innocuous, but no less misleading, are the scenes of smokestacks while he talks about all the CO2 "pollution" being spewed into the air by industry. CO2 is an invisible gas. All those smokestacks? They're spewing steam, not smoke, not CO2.

Then there was a cgi clip of an anthropomorphized polar bear, swimming in the open ocean, unable to climb onto the one tiny ice floe it finds, complete with the sounds of distressed breathing, as Gore talks about how, for the first time ever, polar bears are drowning. Never mind that his claim is based on a report of 4 - that's right, four - polar bears that were found drowned after a storm. Never mind that the people who actually *live* in the north say polar bears have drowned before. Never mind that polar bears are land based animals, that happen to make use of the ice floes. Never mind that polar bears are far from endangered, but that their population has been steadily increasing. We can't let a few facts get in the way of a dramatic, emotional scene, now can we?

Speaking of facts, one of the things Gore brought up was what would happen if too much fresh water gets dumped into the ocean. This has actually happened in the past, when Lake Agassiz suddenly broke through an ice jam and emptied huge amounts of fresh water into the ocean in a very short time. I happen to be familiar with Lake Agassiz, since I grew up on what used to be the bottom of it. We had a gravel pit on our farm, and we frequently found fossils from when that area was underwater. In the movie, Gore says that the Great Lakes are the remnants of Lake Agassiz, and that when it broke through, it created the St. Lawrence Seaway. While Lake Agassiz had indeed drained in that direction occasionally, the Great Lakes are not remnants of Lake Agassiz, as you can see by the map here. Lakes Winnipeg, Manitoba, Winnipegosis, etc. are the remnants. Also, the time Lake Agassiz suddenly drained into the ocean, it was through what is now Hudson's Bay.

There were many other problems I had with the movie. For example, the absolute focus on CO2, describing it as a pollutant, and the occasional interchanging of CO2 with Carbon, as if they were the same thing. There were also a great many references to "my friend" so and so, who did this study or that study. After a while, it seemed like so much name dropping. I wonder how many of these people actually know they are his "friends?" There was also the constant references of "they, them, science," and "scientists," as if Science were one great homogeneous being. There was his insistence that this is a "moral" issue, which of course insinuates that anyone who disagrees is, therefore, immoral. This was even more interesting, when you consider his love-in with China.

I could go on, but I'm already writing for too long, so I'll jump ahead. On the dvd, there were some extras. I never did finish watching them, as it went on so long, I finally stopped watching. I never got a chance to go back before we had to return the movie. From what I'd seen, it was a lot of Al Gore talking directly to the camera, with a few clips to illustrate, including a couple of extended scenes from the slide show. He goes on about how, since the movie was made, even more science has come out to "firm up the consensus." An interesting claim, since I've noticed that more and more scientists are actually willing to risk their careers and come out in public with their disagreements. Heck, even those that agree with him have objections to some of the stuff he has in his movie.

What I found almost funny, though, was when he started talking about population. In the movie, there's a slide show clip where he talks about how high the population explosion will be in the next while. In the extras, he does acknowledge that this is no longer believed to be accurate. But does he point out that, as nations become more secure, as people, especially girls, become more educated, as sanitation improves, and wealth increases, people tend survive longer, therefore they tend to have fewer children? Nope. According to Gore, the reason population *isn't* exploding as predicted in the past is strictly thanks to "science." That the population is expected to stabilize at 9 billion is a "success" story for "science."

Wow. And here I had the audacity to think that how many children we had was a personal choice.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Obligatory disclaimer...

The joys of unintended consequences...

Kyoto projects harm ozone layer: UN official
Mon Aug 13, 2007 9:07AM EDT

By Gerard Wynn

LONDON (Reuters) - The biggest emissions-cutting projects under the Kyoto Protocol on global warming have directly contributed to an increase in the production of gases that destroy the ozone layer, a senior U.N. official says.

In addition, evidence suggests that the same projects, in developing countries, have deliberately raised their emissions of greenhouse gases only to destroy these and therefore claim more carbon credits, said Stanford University's Michael Wara.

Kyoto is meant to curb emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, but is undermining a separate pact called the Montreal Protocol, meant to phase out gases which harm the earth's ozone layer.

Continued here...


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Interesting read...

Obligatory disclaimer...

Some interesting information to be had here.

Twisted Science
Bullies of the Beltway
By Michael R. Fox Ph.D., 8/13/2007 8:25:27 AM

The complexities of global warming, (renamed as climate change) should be the domain of scientific discussions. Such discussions should be held within the constraints of science, the scientific methods, the careful collection, management, and analyses of the climate data.


...consider the fate of Dr. William Happer who was dismissed from his position at the Department of Energy. At the time of his firing he was the Director of Energy Research at the DOE, and a past professor of physics at Princeton University with impressive scientific credentials.

As described in the June 1993 issue of Physics Today, Happer was fired for his attempt to perform some excellent physics and resolve major uncertainties in national “ozone hole scare” of those days.

At the time (and still so) major discrepancies existed between the estimated levels of UV-B radiation and actual measured levels of UV-B. He had proposed a network of UV monitors around the nation to perform the actual measurements and resolve the differences.

Such a program to minimize ozone uncertainties posed a threat to the environmentalists who had promoted ozone hole scare stories about skin cancers, cataracts in animals, and other musings.

This proved to be too great a threat to the environmental myths, and Happer was fired. The guy behind the firing was the powerful and unscientific vice-president Al Gore.

Read the whole article here.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Global Temperature

Obligatory disclaimer...

Ah, I just knew it was just a matter of time before someone finally wrote an article like this!

Thanks, jhuck, for passing it on.

Researchers Question Validity Of A 'Global Temperature'

Science Daily Discussions on global warming often refer to 'global temperature.' Yet the concept is thermodynamically as well as mathematically an impossibility, says Bjarne Andresen, a professor at The Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, who has analyzed this topic in collaboration with professors Christopher Essex from University of Western Ontario and Ross McKitrick from University of Guelph, Canada.

It is generally assumed that the atmosphere and the oceans have grown warmer during the recent 50 years. The reason for this point of view is an upward trend in the curve of measurements of the so-called 'global temperature'. This is the temperature obtained by collecting measurements of air temperatures at a large number of measuring stations around the Globe, weighing them according to the area they represent, and then calculating the yearly average according to the usual method of adding all values and dividing by the number of points.

Average without meaning

"It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth", Bjarne Andresen says, an an expert of thermodynamics. "A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate".

Read the rest here.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Why just one side's links...

Obligatory disclaimer...

Those who take the time and effort to visit my blog (hi there! Thanks for stopping by. :-D) may have noticed that the links I post tend to be one sided - those that argue against AGW. There's two reasons for this.

One, there's a dirth of pro-AGW articles absolutely everywhere in the news, so I see no need to link to them. Chances are readers are already tripping over them everywhere they turn.

Two, a lot of the pro-AGW editorials are full of this sort of blather. Yes, I see this sort of thing on the anti-AGW side of things, but they are greatly in the minority, while on the pro-AGW side, it's the majority. I have no patience for that sort of thing, and this'll probably be the last time you see me link to an example of it.


Article of interest

This is worth a read.

McIntyre's site (I have a link to it in my sidebar) is still down. I've recently heard it was shut down by pro-Kyoto hackers. Just a rumour, but the only one I've heard since it became unavailable, right after this story made the news.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Recycling revisited.

Obligatory disclaimer...
I didn't really think about it when I was growing up, but my family had always practiced the 3 R's - reduce, reuse, recycle. Being a mostly self-sufficient farm, we provided a great deal of our own needs. Since we also didn't have a whole lot of money, we didn't buy anything unless we really needed it (reduce). That also meant we did things like pass down clothing, and nothing got thrown out if there was any chance we could find a use for it (reuse). Finally, with older equipment that no longer had parts available, we often came up with amazingly creative ways to take old stuff and turn it into new stuff we needed. You'd be amazed what you can make with a welder and some scrap metal (recycle).

Being in the middle of no where, there was no such thing as garbage pick up. What we couldn't use again often went into the burn barrel. Then we went to the dump about once a month or so. Back then, there were no restrictions, and the garbage was burned. I remember my siblings and I crawling through the piles of stuff, in awe of all the "good" things people would throw away, often bringing things home. I remember my brother finding a perfectly good car radio once. The only problem with it was that it was next to a fire and the volume knob got melted, so it was really loud. He used that thing for years, since he could hear it over the power saws, etc.

So to me, the whole idea of reduce, reuse, recycling was just an extension of what I grew up doing. Things have changed a great deal over the years, though. Dumps are now called landfills. The pits are lined to keep the groundwater from being contaminated. They don't burn anymore, and there are recycling stations, too.

Recycling has changed a lot from what we did when I was a kid, too. Now, it's big business, as cities implement blue box programs and more people are willing to sort through their garbage for recyclables.

Unfortunately, modern recycling systems are not without their problems. I experience on of those problems on a daily basis. We're in a large apartment complex that has 2 recycling bins, the same size as the garbage bins, in our tower alone. There's even an extra room for tenants to put large items, like furniture, bbq's, tv's, and whatever else they need to get rid of. You can always tell when some one's moving out by how much is in there. A lot of it is really junk, but e very now and then, there's stuff that's perfectly fine, but the previous owners just don't need anymore, or can't take with them.

Unfortunately, we are above the driveway leading to the garbage room. In the morning, the first truck comes. With much banging and crashing, the 4 garbage bins are emptied. Then they take any of the big stuff people have left behind that hasn't been taken by other tenants. In the afternoon, the other truck comes. This time, for the 2 recycling bins. More banging and crashing. The thing that gets me is that there's a second fleet of trucks, just for the recycling. So right from the start, recycling programs double the vehicles, and their emissions, for any city that has them. I mean, garbage trucks aren't the most efficient vehicles out there, right?

I wouldn't mind that, if the recycled products actually made up for it, but they don't. I won't go into too much detail - there are plenty of sources out there that cover it in far more detail. I'm just going to write on three things - a success, a failure, and an in between.

First, there's the recycling success. Metals. Especially aluminum.

Metals take a great deal of energy to extract from the earth and convert to the items we use every day. This is one area where it's far more efficient to recycle metals - and why companies will actually pay people to return their aluminum cans and scrap metal. I have a brother who's in demolitions. When he bids on a job, he takes salvage into account. Copper is a big one. Stop and think for a moment. Many pipes and all the wiring servicing buildings are made of copper. He told me of an old hospital that was torn down. The company that did it got back about $10,000 just from salvaging the copper alone! Recycling metal is a win/win situation. The recyclers get paid to hand over the scrap metal, and the manufacturers save money by melting down the old metal instead of extracting new metals all the time.

The in between. Glass.

You'd think this would be a success story. Glass is the one item that is endlessly recyclable. Most items can only be recycled once, sometimes two or three times, before it degrades to the point that it cannot be recycled again. Then, it's just garbage. Unusable. Not so with glass. While things are added to glass for strength, colour, etc., in the end, it's just sand. There isn't much more energy needed to melt down glass to use it again than is used to make it in the first place. Where energy loss happens the most is before that - cleaning the glass enough to make it usable again.

In some areas, it's practical to recycle glass. This would usually be in urban areas, where access and facilities can meet more easily. In rural areas, the glass has to be shipped farther, and sometime, it just doesn't make sense to do so.

The first time I'd heard of problems with glass recycling, it was in reference to large piles of glass in Norther Ontario. Today, I read this post, with photo, about the same thing in Manitoba, at Dust My Broom.

The failure. Paper.

This probably comes as a surprise to most people. We've been taught for years that recycling paper saves trees, thereby protecting old growth or virgin forests. We're told that it does less damage to the environment to recycle paper, and that it's cheaper and more energy efficient.

Wrong, wrong wrong and wrong, it turns out.

Paper doesn't come from old growth trees (those tend to be used for things like housing and furniture). Almost all paper comes from tree farms. These are trees grown specifically for making paper. Which means that the paper industry *increases* forests - after all, it takes quite a few years to grow trees until they're big enough to use for paper. That's a LOT of trees at various stages of growth.

As for damage to the environment and being more energy efficient, that turns out to be completely off base. To recycle paper, a tremendous amount of energy is needed to clean the paper - leech out the inks and other additives, bleach it, then reduce it back to a usable pulp. The process leaves behind a toxic sludge that's far more dangerous than anything produced in manufacturing fresh paper.

But it's cheaper, right? Nope. The only reason manufacturers are willing to use (and afford) recycled paper at all is because it's subsidized by the government. Where it not for those subsidies, it would be more expensive than non-recycled paper.

Oh, and one last point. Quality. Like most recycled material, the quality of the substance goes down. Paper can only be recycled once, and even then the quality is so low that it's mixed with non-recycled paper to improve it.

So does this mean I'm not going to recycle anymore?

Nope. I still recycle diligently, though I'm not as fanatical about it as I used to be. Particularly when it comes to paper products. Mostly, though, I abhor waste (that was ingrained in me throughout my childhood). If there's any chance it'll be used rather than just dumped, I'll take it.

As for other myths surrounding recycling, you might want to check out Penn and Teller's show on recycling and the belief that we're running out of landfill space.

part one
part two
part three

Warning - there's an awful lot of swearing, and he's pretty rude, but I think that's the signature of the show (I've never seen it except on youtube, since we don't watch tv).

In the end, the only "good" thing they come up with about recycling is that it makes people feel good about themselves. As my husband and I talked about it after watching the show, he brought up another positive about recycling. It gets people into less wasteful habits, and increases their awareness that the things they do can have effects far beyond themselves.

Which means the people might be more likely to remember the first two R's - reduce and reuse - a lot more often.

I'll close this off now, to the crashing and engine rev-ing noises of the recycling truck outside my balcony.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Follow the money.

Obligatory disclaimer...

Among the accusations made against those who disagree with AGW is that the "skeptics" are being paid to cause dissension - usually by Exxon/Mobile, but by big industry in general. Scientists who dare to disagree with the status quo are accused of being in the "pockets of Big Oil." It doesn't matter if it's true or not, the accusation is enough. I'm seeing uncomfortable parallels to false accusations of sexual assault. The accusation is enough to presume guilt, and even if the person is found innocent, they are often branded for life.

Follow the money, we are often told, and you'll find your answer. Well, here's a couple of numbers for you.

$50 billion vs $19 million

Take a while guess as to which side is better funded?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Conspiracy theories

Obligatory disclaimer...

I, through my blog, have already been accused of being a promoter of "conspiracy theories" in regards to AGW. I'm told that, because I don't agree the global warming is caused by people (though I do believe we're causing damage that we need to deal with), and that I don't believe that CO2 is a pollutant, etc., that I believe there's a conspiracy about AGW.

For the record, I don't believe there's a conspiracy. I believe that, while there are certainly individuals and organizations who are taking advantage of the fears of others and deliberately causing and manipulating those fears through exaggerations and falsifications of facts, I do NOT believe that there's some vast conspiracy to do so. I believe that most of the people involved are well meaning, honest people who truly believe in AGW. That I disagree with them doesn't mean I don't respect their beliefs - until they start accusing me of conspiracy theories and start equating me to holocaust deniers!

So it's interesting to read about Newsweek's front page story about how anti-AGW proponents are all part of a vast conspiracy funded by Exxon. I found this rebuttal by Noel Sepphard does an excellent job of challenging the article. If you want to read the Newsweek article, there's a link to it near the beginning of the rebuttal.

Oh, a recently found out just why Exxon is so frequently singled out as the most evil corporation in the world by environmentalists. It turns out the Exxon is the only fossil fuel company that doesn't donate to the many environmental groups that are out there.

Or, as the writers of Taken By Storm put it, they didn't pay the protection money.

The environmental groups won't go after companies that help fund them, even if they are involved with fossil fuels. Funny, when you think that any time someone writes a story that doesn't agree with their views on global warming, etc., they are automatically accused of being in the pockets of "big oil," - which is always Exxon/Mobile.

Suddenly, it makes sense.

Recycling myths

Obligatory disclaimer...

I was going to post about some of the successes and failures of the recycling system, but until then, this article covers much of what I was planning to write about, and then some.

The conclusion sums it up very well.

Recycling is a long-practiced, productive, indeed essential, element of the market system. Informed, voluntary recycling conserves resources and raises our wealth. In sharp contrast, misleading educational programs encourage the waste of resources when they overstate the benefits of recycling. And mandatory recycling programs, in which people are compelled to do what they know is not sensible, routinely make society worse off. Market prices are sufficient to induce the trashman to come, and to make his burden bearable, and neither he nor we can hope for any better than that.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I probably shouldn't find this funny...

... but I do.

Obligatory disclaimer...

Walking to the shops ‘damages planet more than going by car’

Walking does more than driving to cause global warming, a leading environmentalist has calculated.

Food production is now so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance. The climate could benefit if people avoided exercise, ate less and became couch potatoes. Provided, of course, they remembered to switch off the TV rather than leaving it on standby.

Ok, I don't take this article too seriously, but it does bring up a few good points, particularly this list at the end.

Shattering the great green myths

— Traditional nappies are as bad as disposables, a study by the Environment Agency found. While throwaway nappies make up 0.1 per cent of landfill waste, the cloth variety are a waste of energy, clean water and detergent

Having used both with my own children, I found pluses and minuses for both. With Eldest, we used cloth for most of the time she was in diapers. Exceptions were when we were traveling. My daughter, however, started out larger than average and stayed that through most of her toddlerhood. Which means she grew out of the fitted cloth diapers we had shortly before she was toilet trained. We had a choice - spent a couple hundred dollars on larger cloth diapers that she would only use for a few months, or go with disposable. We went with disposable.

With Youngest, we started out with cloth, but quickly switched to disposable. She reacted to cloth diapers in a way I'd never seen with Eldest. Her skin turned bright red and puffy under the cloth diaper, but no where else on her body. When we put her in disposables, it would go away with a couple of hours. If we put her back in cloth, the redness reappeared even faster than it went way. We never did find out why it happened, and she's never had that reaction with anything else since.

One of the big concerns with cloth diapers - the amount of energy, water and detergents used to clean them, was partially offset by the fact that we've always used environmentally friendly detergent - environmentally friendly right from manufacture, to how it reacts with other cleaners, and finally to when it breaks down after use. That doesn't do much about the amount of water and energy used, though.

Disposables are more expensive in the long term, no question. The big concern mentioned most frequently about them is that they all end up in the garbage. There's a perception that disposable diapers take up a large amount of landfill space - when asked, people estimated as high as 45% of garbage in landfills are made up of disposable diapers! While I never imagined it that high, I too believed that disposable diapers took up significant amounts of landfill space. I was wrong. In reality, they take up very little space (I believe it's less than 1%, but I no longer have the references for that) .

Then there's the issue of manufacture, and from what little I know about both, neither is particularly good for the environment.

— Paper bags cause more global warming than plastic. They need much more space to store so require extra energy to transport them from manufacturers to shops

— Diesel trains in rural Britain are more polluting than 4x4 vehicles. Douglas Alexander, when Transport Secretary, said: “If ten or fewer people travel in a Sprinter [train], it would be less environmentally damaging to give them each a Land Rover Freelander and tell them to drive”

— Burning wood for fuel is better for the environment than recycling it, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs discovered

The recycling of paper products are a whole 'nother issue I'll be blogging about later. Sadly, recycling paper is one of the failures of recycling programs.

— Organic dairy cows are worse for the climate. They produce less milk so their methane emissions per litre are higher

— Someone who installs a “green” lightbulb undoes a year’s worth of energy-saving by buying two bags of imported veg, as so much carbon is wasted flying the food to Britain

— Trees, regarded as shields against global warming because they absorb carbon, were found by German scientists to be major producers of methane, a much more harmful greenhouse gas

Sources: Defra; How to Live a Low-Carbon Life, by Chris Goodall; Absorbent Hygiene Products Manufacturers Association; The Times; BBC

An interesting thing about methane, which is many times more potent a "greenhouse" gas than CO2. It seems that methane concentrations in the atmosphere had been increasing a great deal until 1992, when it began to slow down until they finally stopped increasing at all in 1998. The Satanic Gases discusses the methane issue in detail, and it's worth checking out.

Fred Thompson's looking pretty good to me!

Obligatory disclaimer...

Wow. I liked Fred Thompson as an actor. I'm starting to really like him as a politician, too! Nice to see someone willing to show a bit of sanity in an insane field.

While on the subject...

I've been rolling my eyes for a while now, on how absolutely everything is being blamed on global warming these days, but this really takes the cake!

June 28, 2007

The Darfur Genocide and Global Warming

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Recently, the new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the root cause of the current genocide in Darfur is … global warming.

Oh, for crying out loud...


My new hero! *L*

This is just too cool!

Queen guitarist's thesis out of this world

Posted Sat Aug 4, 2007 8:27am AEST
Updated Sat Aug 4, 2007 8:28am AEST

Guitarist Brian May says he was distracted by his musical career. (File photo) (Getty Images: Kevin Winter)

Queen guitarist Brian May has handed in his doctoral thesis, more than 30 years after first starting the academic dissertation on a highly specialised area of astronomy.

May started the thesis at Imperial College, London, in 1974, but shelved it when his musical career with the band headed by legendary showman Freddie Mercury took off.

He finally returned to it last year, and completed the 48,000-word extended dissertation after dusting off the manuscript left for over three decades in the loft of his Surrey home.

On Friday he handed in the thesis, called "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud", to Imperial's head of astrophysics Professor Paul Nandra. Once assessors have read it he faces an oral exam on the work later this month.

Way to go, May!


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Two on the go.

Obligatory disclaimer...

At this time, I'm working on two climate related books at once.

The first is The Cooling; Has the next ice age already begun? Can we survive it? by Lowell Ponte. For those of you old enough to remember, back in the 70's, the great climate disaster awaiting us was global cooling, not warming. I'm not even a quarter of the way into the book yet, but it's fascinating reading. So many of the same things now used to promote AGW were used to promote AGC. Like warming, the cooling was blamed on humans; particularly industry. Where AGW proponents talk about CO2 now, it was aerosols - the particulate matter spewed into the atmosphere by human activity, as well as natural causes such as volcanoes and forest fires - that were being being blamed for AGC. A vast, vague conspiracy of industry types, especially in oil and coal, is also blamed for the lack of government action to stop climate change. The author does, however, discuss natural causes for cooling more than human causes, with a great deal of text dedicated to describing the role of the sun, as well as things like the Earth's tilt and wobble, changing geography, etc.

The main difference between this book and anything I've read from the AGW proponents is that this author doesn't pretend that there's any sort of consensus among scientists, and the author is a lot more respectful of those with opposing viewpoints than today's AGW proponents are. It even devotes a chapter to warming, which some were claiming even then (though predictions at the time were of a 400 ft rise in sea level; a far cry from even Gore's exaggerated projection of 20 ft, or the IPCC claim of, at most, 17 inches - unless that's changed again). The author then explains why the claims made don't make sense. Interesting that it was already known then, that CO2 has a limited influence on global temperature.

While some of what's described in this book is no longer accurate, it's only because modern technology has enabled us to gather more, and more accurate, information. Even so, the information in the book hasn't necessarily been proven wrong, so much as incomplete.

It's enlightening to read an older book on climate change like this, and see so many similarities between claims for cooling then, and claims for warming now. This is especially true in the language of urgency and crisis that are being used. Back in 1975, the predictions of doom and disaster were exactly the same as they are now, but for opposite reasons!

Another interesting perspective to read about. In The Cooling, one of the subjects discussed is glaciers. After demonstrating how much glaciers had been growing in the previous decades, it then goes on to claim how disastrous this is for the Earth and human survival.

Today, as many glaciers recede, AGW proponents tells us that this spells disaster for the Earth and human survival.

So either way, we're toast, apparently. *L*

It's also interesting to read about things that have since changed dramatically. One example is that, during the time The Cooling talks about, the Northern hemisphere was in a cooling trend, while the Southern hemisphere was warming. Today, it appears to be the other way around.

The other book I'm working on is Taken By Storm; The troubled science, policy and politics of global warming, by Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick. I actually just started this one today, and am finding it an amazingly enlightening read! It grabs you right from the preface, where it opens with the following quote from Albert Einstein.

In the realm of the seekers after truth there is no human authority. Whoever attempts to play the magistrate there founders on the laughter of the Gods.

This quote sets the feel for the entire book so far, as the authors explain how scientific consensus in *anything* runs counter to scientific thinking, which is pretty much to question and doubt everything. It then goes on to explain how and why the notion of consensus, among other beliefs about AGW, came to be. It's been a fascinating read so far.

I'll be blogging my thoughts on both books as I read them.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

a quote

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it.

- H.L. Mencken