The answer lies in the soil (you have to have a sense of humus)

Ssomething a little different: soil expert Graham Sait talks about the importance of soil humus and its potential as a way to mitigate climate change at the recent TEDx in Noosa, Queensland. I’m not going to vouch for all his numbers, but as he devotes time to mycorrhizae he’s OK with this truffle grower… 😉

TDB today: The Big Crunch

My column at The Daily Blog this week looks at last week’s call from the Millennium Alliance for Humanity & the Biosphere (a cross-disciplinary group of hundreds of top scientists) for urgent action to address climate change, extinctions, loss of ecosystem diversity, pollution, and human population growth and resource consumption. To call it a big challenge would be an understatement… Comments over there please.

Hot Topic login not working

Due to a security issue1 at Hot Topic’s web host, login to the site has been disabled until the problem is resolved. I have no information on when that might be, so if you’re trying to log in to leave a comment, or to register for the first time, please accept my apologies. You could always take the conversation over to Hot Topic’s Facebook page…

[Update 1:25pm – seems to be fixed.]

  1. There has been a rash of attempts by hackers to break in to WordPress sites in recent months, and disabling login is one way that hosts can act to reduce server loads during attacks. []

Hypocrisy at the NZ Herald: de Freitas given platform for more climate lies

When the NZ Climate Science Coalition lost its court case against the New Zealand temperature record last year, the NZ Herald — the newspaper of record for NZ’s largest city — ran an editorial pointing out the stupidity of the climate cranks tactics. It went on to criticise the views of Auckland University’s Chris de Freitas — a man with a long history of distorting the facts about climate science — expressed in an opinion piece on the judgement published in their own paper. Two years ago the Herald also broke the news that de Freitas was teaching climate denial to first year university students.

You might think that those experiences would have left the paper a little wary about giving de Freitas a platform in its pages, but it appears that the newspaper is a slow learner. This morning, the Herald carried another opinion piece by de Freitas under the headline Science proves alarmist global warming claims nothing but hot air, a response of sorts to an opinion piece by Jim Salinger that appeared in Friday’s paper. Here’s the opening sentence:

Several aspects of Jim Salinger’s op-ed “Climate hurtling towards a hothouse Earth” (Herald 24/5/13) are quite misleading.

Unfortunately for the reputation of the Herald, de Freitas goes on to be more than “quite misleading”: he tells a remarkable number of straightforward lies about our understanding of climate change. It appears that the newspaper believes it’s acceptable to print lies when they masquerade under the flag of opinion.

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Morality, government and fossil fools (Bryan’s back!)

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.

Continue reading “Morality, government and fossil fools (Bryan’s back!)”