Southern lights

If you watch nothing else today, take the time to look at this spectacular movie of an aurora australis taken by the International Space Station on September 17, and made available by NASA’s Earth Observatory a couple of days ago. Not really climate-related, unless you’re into solar/climate linkages, but posted because the images are spectacular. And it is an atmospheric phenomenon…


We have the technology, but…

One word sums up the attitude of engineers towards climate change: frustration.” That’s Colin Brown, director of engineering at the UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers, writing in the latest New Scientist. Political inertia combines with continuing noise from the vocal minority of sceptics to mean that we are doing woefully little to prevent the worsening of global warming.

It’s not as if we are lacking the technology:

Engineers know there is so much more that we could do. While the world’s politicians have been locked in predominantly fruitless talks, engineers have been developing the technologies we need to bring down emissions and help create a more stable future.

Wind, wave and solar power, zero-emissions transport, low-carbon buildings and energy-efficiency technologies have all been shown feasible. To be rolled out on a global scale, they are just waiting for the political will. Various models, such as the European Climate Foundation’s Roadmap 2050, show that implementing these existing technologies would bring about an 85 per cent drop in carbon emissions by 2050. The idea that we need silver-bullet technologies to be developed before the green technology revolution can happen is a myth. The revolution is waiting to begin.

The barriers to a low-carbon society are not technological but political and financial, he declares. That’s why at a London conference this month 11 national engineering institutions representing 1.2 million engineers from across the globe decided on a joint call for action to be presented at December’s COP17 climate change conference in Durban, South Africa.

Continue reading “We have the technology, but…”

Get a grip!

David Mitchell (on his soapbox) tells it like it is, with an appropriate degree of emphasis. By way of being a place-holder to mark my return to NZ and climate blogging. Currently overwhelmed by the amount of catching up of all sorts that I have to do, but something like normal service will resume shortly. Meanwhile, my heartfelt thanks to Bryan for doing so much work in my absence, to Simon for his thoughtful contributions, and to Glenn and John for keeping the Climate Show ticking over so well. Thanks all!

[Hat tip: Dan at Irregular Climate.]

Rough Winds: Extreme Weather and Climate Change

James Powell has produced a Kindle eBook, Rough Winds: Extreme Weather and Climate Change, which in brief compass links climate change to the extreme weather events increasing across the globe.  As a Kindle Single it has the advantage of being right up to date with what has been happening in the US, including the visit of Hurricane Irene. You don’t need a Kindle to read it – apps are available for other devices and I read it on my PC. It cost 99 cents!

Powell is the author of the recent book The Inquisition of Climate Science which I reviewed here. He’s a former geology professor, college president and museum director who also served as a member of the US National Science Board for twelve years. In Rough Winds he writes for the general reader. He points out that scientists have been thinking about global warming for nearly two centuries. It is one of the oldest concepts in science, recognised first in the 1820s and then refined in the 1860s and 1890s and steadily throughout the second half of the 20th century. Moreover it’s uncomplicated and incontrovertible. There’s no escape from the elemental fact that the extra CO2 we are putting into the atmosphere will cause future temperatures to be higher than they would otherwise have been. And the warmer the earth, the more extreme will be the weather. Continue reading “Rough Winds: Extreme Weather and Climate Change”

Support for greening the economy

It’s been interesting to see some NZ Herald articles bearing on the Green Party’s “100,000 green jobs” policy which I discussed a few days ago.

John Armstrong shared my view that the Green’s jobs policy deserved more than the “ritualistic slagging” offered by John Key and Steven Joyce.

National might still claim the Greens do not understand economics. The purpose of yesterday’s policy release was to demonstrate the Greens do understand – and are deadly serious about remedying the economy’s structural weaknesses, though not in a fashion National would favour. Continue reading “Support for greening the economy”