I’ve been in Paris for over a week now, and the speed at which everything goes past, including time, is frightening. I think the 40,000 expected have now all arrived. I’m getting worried the only Eiffel Tower I’ll see is the one made of red folding chairs at the end of the “Champs Elysee” at the meeting.
We began last week with the Heads of State arriving and making grand statements about grandchildren, climate impacts, the importance of the issue, etc..
Arnold Schwarzenegger was here today, Richard Branson was here yesterday. We’ve had Leo Dicaprio, Sean Penn, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle: a veritable feast of celebrity and wisdom. Ben & Jerry’s are giving out free ice cream.
There’s been major announcements on progress from climate finance, to cities taking action, and absolutely everything and anything to do with climate change and workers, and indigenous peoples, and everything else under the sun. There’s a lot of noise, everyone trying to get their message heard. My quote of the day today was a journalist saying “my inbox is my enemy.”
Now we’re into the second week and the French Presidency is doing its best to keep this show on the road. After a week of officials fighting over the text, we saw the Draft Paris Outcome (note: not “agreement” but “outcome”) posted on the UNFCCC website on Saturday, and government ministers took over from officials on Sunday. Continue reading “1.5 to stay alive: big issues for small countries as Paris climate talks get down to nitty gritty”
Elizabeth Kolbert’s recent book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History is science journalism of a high order. As with her earlier notable book on climate change, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, she includes lively narrative accounts of her visits to places around the world where scientists are at work and communicates the import of their work with clarity and intelligence. Well-informed background discussions on the general topic of extinction are woven into these narratives, in passages well pitched to the understanding of the general reader. Foreboding though the subject may be the book is a pleasure to read.
The phenomenon of species extinction has only begun to be understood in relatively recent times. Kolbert traces the discussions of the 19th century from the ground-breaking conclusion of Cuvier to the doubting Lyell and finally Darwin, whose theory of evolution necessarily involved the disappearance as well as the emergence of species.
In evolutionary terms the mass extinctions of the distant past are a special case, arising from relatively sudden events for which natural selection over long periods of time had not prepared many of the species which disappeared under the stress of a rapidly changed environment. Kolbert comments on the fact that just as we have recovered the story of these past events and identified five of them we have discovered that we are causing another. Whether it will reach the proportions of the Big Five is not yet known, but the indications are significant enough for it to be called the Sixth Extinction. She notes the estimation that one-third of all reef-building corals, a third of all freshwater mollusks, a third of sharks and rays, a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles , and a sixth of all birds are headed toward oblivion. It’s no small matter.
Continue reading “The Sixth Extinction”
We’re running a bit late with this one: recorded last week before the big wind left Gareth powerless for six days (a bit like Glenn’s PC), John Cook ruminates on the result of the Australian election, the boys marvel at the Mail’s myth making about Arctic sea ice, and look forward to the release of the first part of the next IPCC report. And much, much more. Show notes below the fold…
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Continue reading “The Climate Show #35: elections, extremes and a big wind”