The illustrated McKibben

If you watch nothing else today, watch this: Bill McKibben’s recent opinion piece on recent US and world weather extremes illustrated with pictures of the events Bill describes. Excellent work by Plomomedia.

[Update: Amy Goodman at The Guardian provides more context: “The troubled sky reveals the grief it feels…“]

The (un)principled sceptic

Over at Treadgold’s emporium, the owner is mining a rich vein of nonsense: he’s posting the letters to the editor the newspapers won’t print. One that caught my eye is from Professor Mike Kelly, a Cambridge nanotechnologist and climate sceptic who happens to hail from New Plymouth. Professor Kelly makes a good start:

It is perfectly possible to adopt a position, as I have, of ‘a principled climate science scepticism’.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But a bit later on, in attempting to adduce evidence in support of his position he writes:

She [the author of the piece he’s complaining about] might like to look at the recent analysis by Pat Franks (sic) which tightens the conclusion that the anthropogenic contribution is at most 0.3°C per century. This concludes that it is rising temperatures that are increasing the atmospheric carbon dioxide, not the other way round.

Oh dear.

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Mad, bad and dangerous

Australian climate scientists have been receiving abusive emails — even death threats — from people who mistake violence for political expression. Graham Readfearn provides some examples (not for the squeamish). The Canberra Times broke the story at the weekend and it’s been covered in depth at The Conversation (one, two). Tim Lambert comments on the vapid response from right wing commentator Tim Blair, but I was horrified by the unrepentant tone adopted by Joanne Nova:

This is sheer beef-it-up spin, making a mountain out of a molehill, clutching at straws in desperation to eek out a PR victory from the dregs of a fading scam.

I might have expected a ritual “we do not condone violence” from Nova and Blair, but it’s nowhere to be seen. Nor is this tactic new. It’s been a fact of life for climate scientists in the USA for years. That it’s crossing the Pacific and polluting the discourse in Australia should be a matter of shame for those opposing action on climate change.

It’s also evidence of how desperate the campaign of denial has become. Denied recourse to the evidence because it is overwhelmingly against them, they resort to bullying and hate speech. There’s a lesson here for those who would argue against action on climate change. When you make common cause with the crazies by invoking conspiracies as your case for inaction, then you open the doors on a very dangerous form of debate.

Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist

The Ecology of Commerce Revised Edition: A Declaration of SustainabilityIn 1994 Ray Anderson, a captain of industry, founder and CEO of the large and successful carpet tile company Interface, was indicted as a plunderer of the earth.  At least that’s how he describes what happened when he took up Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce and read it overnight. It marked a turning-point for his petroleum-intensive company which set out on a journey towards a zero environmental footprint, with 2020 as the deadline. The story to date is told in his new book Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist. I’d seen reference elsewhere to the fresh path the company had taken, and turned to the book with some interest but not expecting the intellectual rigour and full environmental awareness that I encountered, expressed in engaging and energetic prose. It’s a notable book which well deserves wide attention.

The company began with this exacting goal of sustainability which was to inform their journey:

“To operate this petroleum-intensive business in a manner that takes from the earth only that which is naturally and rapidly renewable – not one fresh drop of oil – and to do no harm to the biosphere.”

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Hansen in NZ: final roundup

Here’s a high quality video of Jim Hansen’s talk at the University of Canterbury last month (excellent work by the audiovisual team at UC). Well worth watching, if only because it provides a succinct summary of Hansen’s current thinking. As Dr. Chuck Kutscher of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the US said:

If you want to know the scientific consensus on global warming, read the reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But if you want to know what the consensus will be ten years from now, read Jim Hansen’s work.

Hansen has also published his open letter to John Key (at HT here), with added observations on his time in New Zealand. I particularly enjoyed his heartfelt reference (in a footnote) to his minder, former Green Party leader Jeanette Fitzsimons:

[…] slave-driver Jeanette Fitzsimons unceremoniously routing me out of bed at 6 or 7 AM every day to get moving to the next town – not exactly a case of sipping piña colada on a beach.

See also: R0B at The Standard draws attention to a podcast of Hansen’s talk at Otago University, who notes that he described his meeting with Environment Minister Nick Smith as “a very unpleasant discussion”. With the recent news that John Key has given his support to lignite mining in Southland, it’s clear that the disconnect between reality and the New Zealand government is growing ever greater.

[Climate Show interview with Jim Hansen here. Hat tip to Jason Box for the Kutscher quote.]