Friday, July 01, 2011

If Brazil has to guard its rainforest, why does Canada/U.S. get to burn its tar sands?

Bill McKibben: If Brazil has to guard its rainforest, why does Canada/U.S. get to burn its tar sands? McKibben has joined with ten other prominent US and Canadian activists and scientists in calling for large-scale civil disobedience over a proposed new pipeline to deliver Canadian tar sands oil to the US.

SMH: The deadliest form of food fight, perhaps the best short piece in a mainstream media outlet on this topic. The Carbon Brief has a useful list of links on climate change and food security (more links are here).

Guardian: At the same time as they put forward a "what peak oil?" report, the UK Government had a second, far less rosy, peak oil report compiled a few years ago. It was not published, until now.

Scientific American: a three part series on the links between climate change and extreme weather. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Politicians and pundits may pontificate and procrastinate, but the insurance industry takes this very seriously, with more places becoming uninsurable.

Oxford University: Elephant numbers have halved in the last forty years across protected areas in West and Central Africa.

Climate Central: Extreme events related to climate change threaten three US nuclear facilities. Of course, the usual caveats apply to attribution, but the point remains: nuclear has been widely touted as a low-carbon baseload energy solution, yet we are entering an increasing unstable world (climatically, ecologically, and most likely economically and politically). Is it really so wise to build nuclear plants that require rich, stable governments and predictable weather?

CP: Senator Inhofe, perhaps the most outspoken critic of climate science in US politics (a stiff contest), was forced to cancel his appearance at the flagship denier conference due to being "under the weather" after swimming in a blue-green algae bloom exacerbated by drought and a heatwave in Oklahoma. I hope he gets better soon.

Telegraph: warming oceans cause largest marine migration in two million years.

BBC: World's oceans in "shocking" decline. I recently attended a popular open-air lecture by a marine biologist who was presenting unusual creatures from the Norwegian Sea. It was a lighthearted lecture illustrated with a variety of critters and curios in small tanks. During question time afterwards, I asked what changes were evident in the ecosystems she studied. Within seconds of beginning to answer, she was fighting back tears and had to cut short her response.


byron smith said...

Weather catastrophes in China soar.

byron smith said...

Mongabay: another summary of the report from the International Program on the State of the Oceans. Notice the language: "mass extinction"; "faster than we thought"; "shocking". These are scientists, not activists.

phillip said...

how amusing that you say 'these are scientists, not activists' as if to suggest there reporting isn't skewered by their own pre-suppositions.

byron smith said...

Phillip - I'm confused. You seem to suggest that there are only two options: claims which are skewed (which is what I assume you meant to say) by someone's presuppositions and claims which are not. I assume from your other comments that you are not suggesting epistemic relativism, in which all knowledge claims are equally valid/invalid. Yet given that all claims are affected by our presuppositions, I don't think it is particularly contentious to assume that some ought to be given more weight than others. So I'm not sure why you find it amusing that I take the published claims of respected scientific institutions with a higher level of seriousness than those of activists (many of whom I also respect, by the way). This is not to say that everything written in such publications is infallibly true, but I would submit that it has good reason to be taken seriously.

Do you have any evidence that these claims about the dire situation of the world's oceans are not true? How would you go about determining what is going on and what the effects of human activities on these places is?

byron smith said...

An overview of the oceans report in a 10 min interview.

"I think if we continue on the current trajectory, we are looking at a mass extinction of marine species. Even if only coral reef ecosystems go down, which it looks like they will, certainly by the end of the century, that would in my mind constitute a mass extinction event and that's simply because of the huge diversity associated with those systems [...] there are up to nine million species associated just with coral reefs."

byron smith said...

Guardian: Oz palm oil labelling bill.

"A 2007 report by the UN found that 98% of natural rainforest in Malaysia and Indonesia could disappear by 2022, with palm oil production seen as a key driver of the destruction that sees the equivalent of 300 football pitches of forest wiped out each hour."

byron smith said...

NYT: Editorial calls on Obama's administration to reject the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline: " the wrong pipeline for the wrong oil".

byron smith said...

Bill McKibben: Our turn to go to gaol.

byron smith said...

Bill McKibben: A watershed moment for Obama on climate.

byron smith said...

A climate scientist joins the protest against the tar sands XL pipeline.

byron smith said...

TEDx talks: The true cost of oil. Discussion of tar sands.