Slamming the climate skeptic scame

Post from Jim Hoggan’s blog explaining climate change scepticism in the context of public relations. The PR practitioner’s task is to move the public perception in the desired direction, i.e. one that is more favourable to the client. A couple of points he makes:

  • climate change believers include the 2,500 scientists in the IPCC, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Canada, and the editor-in-chief of Science magazine;
  • University of California, San Diego science historian Dr. Naomi Oreskes had published an analysis in Science in which she had combed through 928 peer-reviewed climate studies published between 1993 and 2003 and found not a single one that disagreed with the general scientific consensus.
  • the environmental movement isn’t blameless either: ‘You could also criticize environmentalists, whose tendency has been to stray too far in the other direction, extrapolating scientific assumptions to create scare stories so dispiriting that they create apathy rather than activism. These, in turn, have made easy targets for the energy industry’s climate change deniers.’

Read the rest of this post.

Politics, technology and the environment

Interesting post from the Dot Earth blog on geoengineering and research funding. The former is being advocated by the American Meteorological Society, the latter by 34 American Nobel Prize winners and the Federation of American Scientists. Geoengineering has its critics, and the AMS is not advocating it as the answer, but as a backstop strategy. (I came across a good post on carbon sequestration also, by way of contrast.)

As for funding – the climate and energy bill that recently passed through the US House of Representatives did not include research dollars. Unfortunately, while the development of technologies like photovoltaics requires continuing funding, “politics is about building short-term coalitions by satisfying demands presented by influential players, from coal companies to unions”. We may not be able to do it without the scientists and engineers, but we can’t do it without politicians either – although some may disagree there.

350 climate action in China

“This past weekend, students from all over China came together for the first-ever youth organized conference on climate change and energy. This event, put together one of our closest friends, the China Youth Climate Action Network, provided youth leaders with workshops, lectures and field trips, to educate and empower. You could feel the energy in the room, as the future leaders of China found new ways to make their voice heard.” Rest of the post from the 350 web site. China gets some stick for being an A grade (aggregate) polluter, but there are also groups like the Network & the Green Long March which are trying to be part of the solution.

Low carbon way to “reshape” life in the UK

Ambitious plans to generate one third of UK electricity from renewables by 2020 form the centrepiece of government plans for a low carbon future.
Financial packages for wind and wave energy and changes to planning procedures are among key components of the Low Carbon Transition Plan.
“Smart” meters are to be deployed in 26 million homes by 2020. The government says the plan will create up to 400,000 “green jobs” without a major hike in energy prices. Hope Kevin and Penny read the rest of this story from the BBC Science & Environment web site. How about some targets, guys?

And a follow-up commentary on the LCTP containing a useful overview of the plan – introduction of special interest to cyclists!

First Australian town to ban bottled water

An Australian town has banned bottled water, claiming to be the first in the country to revert to the tap for the sake of the environment and prompting the nation’s largest state government to stop buying bottled water.

Residents of rural Bundanoon, a picturesque, tourist destination 150 kms (93 miles) southwest of Sydney, voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to rid the town of bottled water to combat the carbon footprint from bottling and transporting it.

Local businesses in the town of 2,500 people have agreed to replace all single-use bottles with reusable bottles that can be filled from water fountains and to bear the loss of sales.

“Bottled water has a role to play in various parts of Australia and many parts of the world but we don’t really need it as we have a wonderful municipal water supply,” local businessman Huw Kingston, who led the campaign, told Reuters.

“We’re not a bunch of raving greenies but this is us showing we can work together as a community for sustainability.”

Full story.

Belinda Goldsmith, Reuters.

Is a two degree rise small enough?

The G8 leaders’ recent announcement setting a limit of two degrees to global warming above today’s global average (and cuts in emissions by 2050) is the subject of a blog post in the NYT’s Dot Earth blog. Andrew Revkin explores the pros and cons of setting targets like two degrees; ‘It’s not hard to find climate scientists and policy experts who strongly feel the world needs to move rapidly to curb emissions, but who say there are no such clean lines. Some go further, saying that setting such thresholds can be counterproductive.’ Quotes from various sources illustrate some of the issues with the announcement.

Preserving biodiversity helps stop the spread of disease

New Scientist shows us another reason why preserving biodiversity is so important: Preventing the spread of diseases from animals to humans. A new paper from scientists at Portland State University looks at the spread of the Sin Nobre Virus, otherwise known as the Hantavirus (which kills about 500 people per year in the US) and found that increased biodiversity limited the spread of the virus among deer mice. It’s the droppings of the deer mice which spreads the disease among humans:

Low Diversity = High Disease
The researchers made the connection between increased mammal diversity and lower infection rates among deer mice after conducting field work in Portland’s parks for the past four years. In place where mammal diversity was lowest infection levels increased dramatically.’ Read the rest of this post from Treehugger. Good to have some (more) positive consequences of successfully limiting climate change to point to.

Is climate change the new asbestos?

“Just hours after the United States House of Representatives passed legislation curtailing greenhouse gas emissions, business groups were talking about going to court. The US Environmental Protection Agency proposition that greenhouse gas endangers public health and contributes to global warming is expected to result in a tsunami of litigation. [ … ] Elsewhere, climate change litigation is shaping up as an issue that will tie up the judiciary, companies and politics worldwide for years. While other sectors of the global economy are bracing for the negative impact of government legislation on climate change, the litigation industry is set to boom.”

Among its clients may be ‘climate refugees’ like Torres Strait Islanders suing for relief. Read the rest of this article by Leon Gettler on the back page of the Business Age.

Tropical zone expanding due to climate change

‘Climate change is rapidly expanding the size of the world’s tropical zone, threatening to bring disease and drought to heavily populated areas, an Australian study has found.

Researchers at James Cook University concluded the tropics had widened by up to 500 kilometres (310 miles) in the past 25 years after examining 70 peer-reviewed scientific articles.

They looked at findings from long-term satellite measurements, weather balloon data, climate models and sea temperature studies to determine how global warming was impacting on the tropical zone.

The findings showed it now extended well beyond the traditional definition of the tropics, the equatorial band circling the Earth between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.’ Read the rest of this story at Grist blog. Ironic that I’m reading about an Australian research study (James Cook University) from an American blog; they got it from Agence France-Presse.