I signed off regular writing for Hot Topic some months ago. But failing eyesight doesn’t mean failing concern, and my anger at the way our government heedlessly pursues the expansion of fossil fuel exploration led me recently to reflect I could still see sufficiently to write letters to editors. Publication of a letter by the NZ Herald emboldened me to try something for the dialogue page. It wasn’t accepted, on the reasonable ground that they were about to publish an article by Jim Salinger which they described as along the same lines.
However I thought Hot Topic readers might be interested in my attempt to attack the government on moral grounds. I acknowledge that politics and morality make uneasy bedfellows, and that moral absolutism is hardly a suitable tool for political effectiveness. Nevertheless sometimes issues arise where shades of grey can legitimately be challenged by something closer to black and white, and that transition is certainly much earlier along the path of fossil fuel exploitation than our government (and many other governments) is currently inclined to allow.
The moral appeal is strongly made by many who write and speak on the climate issue. Al Gore sounds it regularly. Among the many books I have reviewed on Hot Topic I recall being struck by what William Calvin’s book Treating a Fever had to say on the question, as I summarised in the review:
“He also pins hope on religious leaders coming to see that climate change is a serious failure of stewardship and our present use of fossil fuel is a deeply immoral imposition on other people and unborn generations. Their arguments will trump the objections of the vested interests, just as they did when slavery was ended in the 19th century.”
Whether there’s any hope of an onslaught by religious leaders in church-going US, or for that matter in less religion-oriented NZ, is hardly yet clear, but the appeal to morality can be sounded just as well by those of no religion, and is worth making if we set any value on the finer human traits.
Here’s the piece I submitted to the Herald. Hot Topic readers will understand that it was written for a general public audience.
[now read on…]
So Cook et al confirms that there really is a consensus in climate science: 97% of the peer-reviewed literature over the last 20 years supports the fact that humans are responsible for the warming. It’s a solid result, confirming the earlier work of Oreskes and others, but its importance lies in the fact that public perceptions of that consensus lag behind reality. As John puts it:
Quite possibly the most important thing to communicate about climate change is that there is a 97% consensus amongst the scientific experts and scientific research that humans are causing global warming. Let’s spread the word and close the consensus gap.
Indeed. Count this as my small contribution. Meanwhile, another recent paper very nicely demonstrates that the existence of a consensus on the basic facts of warming does not mean that scientists have to agree about everything. [now read on…]
You can take the boy out of politics, but you can’t take the politics out of the boy — at least, not if you’re former ACT party leader Rodney Hide. In my Daily Blog column this week, I take a look at Rodney’s latest dalliance with climate denial, and wonder why it is that the extreme right think that refusing to accept the facts makes for good politics. Comments over there, please…
It had to happen eventually. The creaking old laptop that was once my pride and joy has finally gone to the great orchard in the sky, and I have been forced to visit the grocer for a new piece of fruit. Being that I am a creaky old geek, I couldn’t just nip down to the computer store and buy an off-the-shelf model. No, I had to have the processor upgrade, the maximum memory and a Fusion drive, which means it will be about a week before I can access all my files. Until then I will be servicing the digital world from this iPad, which is a wonderful device for everything but writing. Posting will be (even more) intermittent, at best, and brevity will be my watchword. You have been warned…
Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite ‘em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
And so, ad infinitum.
We’ll start in the middle, shall we, with “high priest of climate scepticism” Chris Monckton still railing against the failure of the halls of NZ academe to bow down before his obvious intellect. You could say that Chris is doing his best to be a flea in the fur of climate science, what with all his attempts to irritate scientists with scattergun accusations of fraud and libel. But the potty peer is also collecting his own fleas, attracted by his conspiracist thinking and intent on feasting on his fanaticism.
A few weeks ago, John O’Sullivan — the serial liar behind vanity crank science startup Principia Scientific International — wrote an open letter to Monckton, taking him to task for dismissing people who don’t accept the existence of the greenhouse effect as cranks. It’s a question of credibility amongst cranks and their peers, and Monckton could not resist a snotty response.
[now read on…]
This year’s NZ climate change conference is fast approaching, and I’ll be heading up to Palmerston North at the beginning of next month to cover proceedings for Hot Topic. The conference runs over June 4th and 5th at the Convention Centre, and covers just about every aspect of work on climate and related issues in NZ, organised under four main themes:
- The Physical Science
- Impacts, Vulnerability & Adaptation
- Integration & Cross-cutting Issues
Keynote speakers are Professor Jon Barnett from the University of Melbourne, Andy Reisinger, Dave Frame and Professor Robert Anderson. I’ll be blogging/tweeting from the conference, and plan to post some short audio interviews with key participants. I’ll have to sing for my supper too — my abstract for a short talk entitled When two worlds collide: Communicating climate science on the internet was accepted by the organisers.
In other conference news, Wellington readers might like to pitch up to Parliament on Friday, June 7th, where Green MP Kennedy Graham is organising a one day meeting “with the aim of fostering cross-party and public dialogue on climate change”. Speakers will include the UNFCCC’s Christina Figueres (by video) Dave Frame, Andy Reisinger, Adrian Macey, Judy Lawrence, HT’s own Cindy Baxter, Peter Weir, Suzy Kerr, Simon Terry, Jonathon Boston and more. Should be an interesting and worthwhile day: register (for free) here.