Monday, November 12, 2012

Fear and identity: the insufficiency of facts

Katharine Hayhoe - mother, evangelical Christian, pastor's wife and highly regarded professor in atmospheric physics - makes an excellent point. Climate change threatens more than ecosystems, economies and the stability of societies; it also threatens certain identities, and we often hold those even closer than our children's future.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Burden of proof

Yes, 0.1% = 1 in 1,000, not 1 in 10,000. But otherwise, amen.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

"By leaves we live"

Ice sheets: A new study confirms with greater accuracy than ever before that world's major ice sheets are melting at an accelerating rate. This is why sea level rise is happening 60% faster than was expected in the most recent IPCC report.

Coal boom: 1200 new coal plants planned. Three quarters of the new plants are to be located in China and India. A breakdown of the countries is available here. Though India's expansion plans need to be taken with a grain or two of salt.

Extinction is forever: Tim Flannery reflects on the challenges facing Australian biodiversity and suggests that the current approach isn't working. With a reply from David Bowman. Perhaps how do we triage conservation priorities?

Coal seam gas: Recent measurements (yet to be peer reviewed) suggest coal seam gas production may have significant "fugitive emissions" of methane that render the claims of the gas industry to be somewhat less bad for the climate questionable. Some have suggested that natural gas is methadone to coal's heroin.

Fracking: Stories from the front line in the US. In the UK, academics have just advised the government that it is "categorically clear" that pursuing a shale gas dominated energy strategy is incompatible with legislated UK climate targets. But it looks like they are going to do it anyway.

Big cats, small space: Only 25% of the original African savannah remains undeveloped, leaving less and less room for the iconic megafauna that call it home. Lion numbers are plummeting and they may soon be listed as endangered.

IPCC: The IPCC has been repeatedly wrong on climate change, frequently underestimating the rate and impacts of change.
Note that the first link makes an embarrassingly obvious mistake in its opening claim, confusing carbon with carbon dioxide and so getting the numbers hopelessly muddled.

Trees: All around the world, ancient trees are dying at an alarming rate.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Landfillharmonic orchestra

God doesn't do waste.
H/T Ruth.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

In the blink of an eye

During the 24 hours of the earth's history, the 77 seconds of "humanity" include only 4 seconds of anatomically modern homo sapiens sapiens, 1 second of behaviourally modern homo sapiens, 0.23 seconds of agriculture and less than 0.04 seconds since Christ.

And in the last 0.001 seconds we have deforested half the world's tropical forests, dammed or diverted more than 80% of the world's major rivers, sent tens or hundreds of thousands of species extinct, killed more than one third of all wild vertebrates, altered the energy balance of the planet (melting more than 75% of summer Arctic sea ice), shifted the chemistry of the oceans (30% more acidic), removed roughly 90% of marine apex predators, dumped tens of millions of tonnes of plastic into the oceans, degraded more than 50% of coral reefs, introduced thousands of novel chemical compounds, disrupted the nitrogen cycle and caused dozens of other dramatic impacts.