Something for the weekend

Lazy blogging. Just links to a few things I think you might find interesting to read (and a performance to enjoy) while I get some work done. First up: Swiss Re, the giant reinsurance company, has published a handy new report called Climate sceptic arguments and their scientific background (pdf), written by Swiss scientist Urs Neu for ProClim. It deals with common sceptic arguments under three headings — global warming, forcing factors and carbon dioxide. Everything’s referenced back to the literature, the graphics are good, and if you thought my recent thoughts on rainfall extremes were mere speculation, you might find section A6 interesting.. 😉 (Hat tip to Mr Rabett).

Last week’s New Scientist had an excellent feature on CO2‘s role in the world’s climate history by Anil Ananthaswamy. This is the last paragraph:

So while many of the details have yet to be settled, the big picture emerging from studies of past climate couldn’t be clearer. Carbon dioxide is the most important of the many factors affecting the planet’s climate. And if we double the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, we can expect the temperature to rise around 3 °C in the short term and keep climbing over the following centuries.

The web version lacks the nice graphics you get in the magazine, but is still well worth reading. Also in that issue of New Scientist, Chris Mooney reviews Fred Pearce’s book on “climategate” and finds he fell for the sceptic framing.

Climategate is certainly a story for our science-politicising times. But so is our failure to zoom out – way, way out – and understand it.

Here’s a nice quote from a piece by Andrew Simms in the Guardian, 77 months and counting:

The thinker Zygmunt Bauman makes the point that the “the good society is the society that is convinced it is not good enough.” He calls gardeners, “obsessive compulsive utopians,” always trying to improve the world around them in a job that is never complete.

That explains where I’m likely to spend a lot of time over the next month, obsessively pruning vines and hunting truffles. Simms is making the “quality not quantity” argument rather well, I think.

In other news: Meridian’s plans for a wind farm up the road from me (between Greta Valley and Motunau) are attracting local opposition, Jim Hopkins in the Herald demonstrates his rare facility for looking foolish, Cryosat-2, the new European satellite that promises to provide important information about sea ice and ice sheets is performing really well, and the Arctic sea ice carries on melting. Have a good weekend.

[PS: I’ve been tweaking the blog recently, as the observant may have noticed. The most recent innovation is a caching system which is supposed to speed up page loads and general site responsiveness. It seems to be working fine at my end, but let me know if it causes any issues.]

[The Divine Comedy]

6 thoughts on “Something for the weekend”

  1. …and we might also mention Mann being exonerated yet again! Perhaps there’s a HT article pending, which I look forward to, but I’ll save some the bother of posting by nipping in now and pre-emptively announcing the following:

    ‘It’s all a conspiracy!’
    ‘Penn State are only in it for the grant money!’
    ‘I know this is a whitewash because they didn’t get the result I wanted them to.’

    (If you think this is just a crude parody try browsing some of the ‘skeptic’ blogs about now…)

  2. The reference to Munich Re, was interesting. I have just finished reading “The Constant Economy” by the new conservative MP for Richmond Park in London Zac Goldsmith, past editor for the “Ecologist”. He also references the reinsurer Munich Re p11
    “the economic losses from natural disasters increased eightfold from the sixties to the nineties. About 80% of this resulted from extreme weather-related events. The company now predicts that by 2065, damages will outstrip global assets.”
    Which of course is pertinent to your earlier post “When the rain comes…”
    It’s companies like this that give one hope.
    It’s also good to see that it’s not just one side of the political divide that can be proactive on the desperate need to change the way we run our economies. One hopes that Goldsmith’s ideas and energy are not lost in the undeniable crushing house that is the House Of Parliament.

  3. Macro, I’m curious about that title; is Goldsmith actually looking to return to conservatism’s ‘steady-state’ roots? Interesting if so.

    As to the lovable Lagomorph’s latest – yes, well worth a read, as is Joe Romm’s long piece at Climate Progress on the same topic.

  4. He is advocating a society in which people have more say in what happens in their environment ie strong communities are valued as a country’s most effective hedge against social, economic, and environmental instability, where food quality and food security is put before the profit of multinational supermarket chains, where the conservation of global fish resources and the care of the Oceans receive far more consideration than today, where Alternative energy is seen as something to be embraced and developed not feared. – (he doesn’t consider Nuclear Energy as a viable power supply), where waste is eliminated or reduced – he quotes Canberra’s 70% recycling and NZ’s 2020 zero waste ambitions (if only!), Items built to last – not thrown away, All aimed at moving towards what might be termed a “steady state” economy. Basically an economy in which the the natural world becomes part and parcel of our thinking and not simply a resource.
    To quote
    “Since the industrial revolution, our economies have grown at the expense of the natural world. But as the pressure mounts on the world’s finite resources, we can no longer pretend that business-as-usual is a realistic option. One way or another we have to change. The longer we delay, the more our societies will be at the mercy of events and the harsher the eventual adjustments.”
    I believe there is a lot right with what he says and not a lot wrong.
    I don’t know enough about Tory historical economics to say where this is a return to the past. What I do know is that despite Zac Goldsmith being a very wealthy man in his own right – his mother I understand is listed as one of the top wealthiest women in Britan, and I understand that he himself has avoided tax by sending money off-shore. (I really don’t know if this is the case or not – but if you google him there is as always with politicians – “smear” ). And despite all that his book strikes at the heart of what I believe MUST be the way ahead. I’m not saying its all that needs to happen – but IF (and he has only just been elected so it’s early days) the thrust of his ideas and taken up by the new govt THEN there is hope and it may be the first of many steps on the way forward. The refreshing thing is that he helped draft the Conservative policy on Environment. So hopefully its not all lost in the ether of political machinations.

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