Sunday 29th of March 2015

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by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2015-03-29 12:51


A group of farmers who travelled to Canberra as part of a climate change advocacy campaign were disappointed with the response from Coalition members of parliament.

The group were there to promote Earth Hour, which will aim to raise awareness for the impact of climate change on farmers and food production this Saturday.

Earth Hour is an annual event in which people around the world turn out their lights for climate change.

Over the course of two days, the farmers met with MPs from different parties, as well as independents, to share their personal experiences of working on the land, and the changes in temperature and rainfall variability they had witnessed.

Queensland producer and Dairy Farmer of the Year Greg Dennis said he and his peers were generally well received in meetings during the visit.

But Mr Dennis said it was during a meeting with Coalition members on Thursday that they met resistance to the idea of taking more action on climate change.

He said the farmers faced more opposition on their climate change message during the Coalition meeting than in any other.


by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2015-03-29 12:44


By and large, journalists, like most people, reflect the values embedded in their social milieu. And the fact is, in the Beltway, climate isn’t that important. Most journalists have absorbed the judgment that it’s somewhat gauche to be a denier (which is progress, I guess). But few wake up thinking about climate. Few hear friends and associates spontaneously raise the subject in conversation, or hear colleagues ask about it at press events, or see politicians benefit or suffer from any particular position on it. It’s an “issue” that belongs to one faction of the left base, and D.C. journos are acculturated not to take such things very seriously.

In a sane world, politicians would lose credibility after denying climate change. It wouldn’t be a “normal” position, but an extraordinary one, the province of kooks and eccentrics. But that doesn’t happen. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) can pull his absurd snowball stunt one day and complain about how the federal government assesses the social cost of carbon the next — and have his complaints treated respectfully! (Hint to reporters: If he thinks the social cost of carbon is zero, his real objection is probably not to the exact process the government used to determine its number.) At no point do D.C. journalists seem to think, much less say, “You know what, this guy is kind of a loon, maybe we should take what he says with a grain of salt.” Denialism carries no consequence in the sociopolitical ecosystem in which Inhofe operates.

See articles from top. I will reiterate here that "should we feel global warming with our senses, we would cook within five years".

Global warming is a scientifically studied phenomenon and the increments of rise are quite minimal but calculable. But to a great extend, even a two degrees rise in the earth climate would not be perceived by our senses — except that from time to time we would note "some (very) hot days". So why panic and do something about "climate change"?

First, 99.9 per cent of the evidence to global warming is that it is presently anthropogenically induced.

Second, a rise of two degrees Celsius by 2100 on 1900 temperatures WILL NOT STOP AT TWO DEGREES C should we not do something about it.

Third, should we do nothing about it, it is likely that temperature could rise to above 5 degrees Celsius by 2100, due to sudden increments and plateau-ing, induced by interference of other climatic factors, masking the relentless trend on short period. The equation of human population, energy, nature and supply of resources will be more and more critical. This equation which is ignored by our systemic economic relationship (capitalism) will prove that we are dumb — unless we understand the true destructive values of the future in what we're doing.


by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2015-03-29 12:21

Shortly after part one of the latest IPCC report came out back in September 2013, scientists gathered at the Royal Society in London to discuss the 1,552-page opus like a bunch of gossips around the latest People Magazine. Journalist Leo Hickman was at the two-day conference and, as he writes in this month’s Nature Climate Change, recalls the U.K. chief scientific advisor at one point standing in front of the crowd and saying, “Science is not finished until it’s communicated.”

Indeed, as complicated as climate science is, the problem of how to communicate said science can sometimes seem even more complicated — which is a pretty big problem, considering that the fate of our species rests on how well we understand this stuff.

So to get a sense of how the media’s doing with its coverage of climate change, a group of researchers from the University of Exeter (plus one dude from the University of Colorado-Boulder) decided to assess how various news outlets in both the U.S. and the U.K. covered the latest 3-part IPCC report (parts two and three came out in March and April of 2014, respectively).

Here’s the short version of their results: The U.K. had way more coverage than the U.S.; both countries appeared to lose interest by the third installment of the report; the Guardian was the overall shining star, which is maybe not surprising given its recent declaration of war on climate change; news outlets are drawn to dramatic narratives (but isn’t this all just one big dramatic narrative?) and human interest angles (ditto); and there’s been a notable lack of interest in the media on how climate change will impact human health.

The researchers looked specifically at stories that came out during the two weeks surrounding each of the three releases. They assessed both the amount of coverage and the content of the coverage, which they refer to as its “frame.”

The possible frames were: settled science (SS), political or ideological struggle (PIS), role of science (ROS), uncertain science (US), disaster (D), security (S), morality and ethics (ME), opportunity (O), economics (E), and health (H).

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by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2015-03-29 12:02

Antarctica’s icy edges are melting 70 percent faster in some places than they were a decade ago, according to a new study in the journal Science.

These massive ice shelves serve as a buffer between the continent’s ice-sheet system and the ocean. As they disintegrate, more and more ice will slip into the sea, raising sea levels by potentially huge amounts.

This study is just the latest bit of horrible news from the bottom of the world. Last year, we found out that the West Antarctic ice sheet was in terminal collapse, which could raise sea levels by 10 to 15 feet over a few hundred years. Then, earlier this month, we learned that an enormous glacier on the other side of the continent is in the same state, and could contribute about the same amount to sea-level rise.

This latest research, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, reinforces those findings, adding to the evidence that the continent’s future looks quite grim. Using satellite data, researchers found that “ice-shelf volume change accelerated from negligible loss” between 1994 and 2003 to “rapid loss” between 2003 and 2012. Within a century, a number of ice sheets, which are vanishing by dozens of feet per year, could completely disappear.

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-03-28 20:24


So does Caldeira think it's time to start blasting aerosols into the air? Nope. "It's a funny situation that I feel like I'm in," he says. "Most of our published results show that it would actually work quite well, but personally I think it would be a crazy thing to do." He thinks there's just too much risk.

Caldeira, now a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, recently contributed to a massive National Academy of Sciences report examining various geoengineering proposals. The report concluded that technologies to block solar radiation "should not be deployed at this time" and warned that "there is significant potential for unanticipated, unmanageable, and regrettable consequences in multiple human dimensions…including political, social, legal, economic, and ethical dimensions." As my colleague Tim McDonnell explained back when the NAS study was released:

Albedo modification would [use] airplanes or rockets to deliver loads of sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere, where they would bounce sunlight back into space. But if the technology is straightforward, the consequences are anything but.

The aerosols fall out of the air after a matter of years, so they would need to be continually replaced. And if we continued to burn fossil fuels, ever more aerosols would be needed to offset the warming from the additional CO2. [University of California-San Diego scientist Lynn] Russell said that artificially blocking sunlight would have unknown consequences for photosynthesis by plants and phytoplankton, and that high concentrations of sulfate aerosols could produce acid rain. Moreover, if we one day suddenly ceased an albedo modification program, it could cause rapid global warming as the climate adjusts to all the built-up CO2. For these reasons, the report warns that it would be "irrational and irresponsible to implement sustained albedo modification without also pursuing emissions mitigation, carbon dioxide removal, or both."

Still, the NAS report called for further research into albedo modification, just in case we one day reach a point where we seriously consider it.

Caldeira hopes it never comes to that. Like most other advocates of geoengineering research, he'd much rather stave off global warming by drastically cutting carbon emissions. In fact, he calls for a target of zero emissions. But he doesn't have much faith in politicians or in legislative fixes like carbon taxes or cap and trade. "The only way it's really going to happen," he says, "is if there's a change in the social norms." Caldeira envisions a world in which it's socially unacceptable for power companies to "use the sky as a waste dump."


by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-03-28 19:08


The concept of 'free will' is something that philosophers have been worrying about for thousands of years. free will is our ability to make a choice — for example, you might suddenly decide to walk to work rather than take the bus, because the Sun feels so nice on your face.

But what if neuroscientists could tell you what your spontaneous decision was before you made it? Would that mean that free will was an illusion? Are we making decisions, or is there a homunculus (a little man) sitting inside our brain making decisions for us, and then later, letting us know about them?

Now the idea of free will has all kinds of implications.

On one hand, we have thinkers like Martin Luther who rejected free will. On the other hand, thinkers like Thomas Ried and Robert Kane accepted free will.

In a legal setting, if there is no free will, are we to blame for our actions? And from an ethics point-of-view, how morally accountable are we for our actions?

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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-03-28 05:38


We simply must do more to shift away from fossil fuels and, despite what the naysayers claim, we can. We can even get partway there under our current systems. Market forces often lead to innovation in clean energy development. But in addressing the very serious long-term problems we’ve created, we may have to challenge another “impossibility”: changing our outmoded global economic system. As economist and Earth Institute director Jeffrey Sachs wrote in a recent Guardian article,

'At this advanced stage of environmental threats to the planet, and in an era of unprecedented inequality of income and power, it’s no longer good enough to chase GDP. We need to keep our eye on three goals — prosperity, inclusion, and sustainability — not just on the money.'

Relying on market capitalism encourages hyper-consumption, planned obsolescence, wasteful production and endless growth. Cutting pollution and greenhouse gas emissions requires conserving energy as well as developing new energy technologies. Along with reducing our reliance on private automobiles and making buildings and homes more energy-efficient, that also means making goods that last longer and producing fewer disposable or useless items so less energy is consumed in production.

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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-03-28 05:29

Tuesday's high at Esperanza – which translates to "hope" in English – beat its previous record, set in 1976, by half a degree, according to the blog post's author Christopher Burt. The new maximum was also about 17 degrees above the March average for the site, he said.

Climate specialists say strong north-westerly winds may have contributed to the unusual warmth over the Antarctic Peninsula, creating a so-called Fohn wind effect. Esperanza is on the leeward side of the peninsula, and temperatures are being nudged higher as dry winds descend after losing their moisture through rain or snow on the mountains.

Reports of the record warmth in Antarctica come as a study published on Thursday in the journal Science found the region's massive floating ice shelves are shrinking as the globe warms up.

Unusual warmth over parts of Antarctica.

Unusual warmth over parts of Antarctica. Photo: University of Maine

The study, covering satellite observations of more than 1 million square kilometres from 1994-2012 found some shelves have shrunk 18 per cent in that time.

During the first half of that period, the overall decline of ice volume around Antarctica was small, with West Antarctica losses almost balanced out by gains in East Antarctica, Reuters reported. After that, western losses accelerated and gains in the east ended.

"There has been more and more ice being lost from Antarctica's floating ice shelves," Helen Fricker, a glaciologist of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California said.

While Antarctic sea ice extent remains at or near record levels, the extra ice is less than a third of the loss of Arctic ice cover, climatologists say. The Arctic sea-ice extent is likely to report a record low this year in another sign of global warming, US agencies said this month.

While records may be melting at the Earth's polar extremes, the same was not true for Melbourne this week.

The chilliest March day on record was back in 1940, when the mercury made it to just 12 degrees, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

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See article about my granddad's refrigerator at top.