Stern talking (but not Nick)

At the UNFCCC Climate Change talks currently under way in Bonn the US Envoy Todd Stern has unequivocally announced the role the US will be playing in the time ahead.  It is an extraordinary transformation. The hopes raised by Obama still look strong.

Some extracts follow. First, the opening remarks:

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Telling porkies to Parliament

NZETS.jpgThe Emissions Trading Scheme Review committee has released the first batch of submissions it has received — those made by organisations and individuals who have already made their presentations to the committee. There are some heavy hitters in there: from New Zealand’s science and policy community there’s the Climate Change Centre (a joint venture between the University of Canterbury and Victoria University of Wellington, plus all the Crown Research Institutes – from NIWA to AgResearch), VUW’s Climate Change Research Institute, and GNS Science, and from the world of commerce, we have the Business Roundtable‘s “evidence”. Why the quote marks? Because the Roundtable’s submission is a fact-free farrago of nonsense.

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Welcome to the cheap seats

Hot Topic is pleased to welcome Bryan Walker, a regular columnist on environment issues for the Waikato Times, as its first regular contributor not called Gareth. Over the next few weeks he’ll be posting some of his Waikato Times articles, and as new columns appear in the paper they’ll be posted here (after a short delay). Bryan introduces himself thus:

I’m no scientist – a retired English teacher, and in a distant life before teaching a Methodist minister for some years before changing occupation (not a big change) – but I can cope at the interested layman level. My interest arose because I came to realise three years or so ago that climate change was for real – read Kolbert, Flannery and dismal Lovelock and haven’t been able to detach since – the beckoning serenity of my declining years disappeared – it was probably a mirage anyway.

I’m looking forward to bringing Bryan’s work to HT’s web audience, and I hope his thoughts will spark a lively conversation in the comments. Welcome, Bryan!

[Title reference]

Hit somebody! (The hockey song)

0901hockeythumb.png Expect a renewed interest in the shape of hockey sticks, as a new paper in the Proceedings of National Academy Of Sciences (PNAS) by Michael Mann (et al) finds that the last decade was the warmest for at least 1,300 years. The BBC headlines the story “Climate “hockey stick” is revived”, which rather stretches the facts about the controversy (nicely covered in the piece). More coverage at Mongabay, which notes:

The results confirm that temperatures today in the Northern Hemisphere are higher than those of the Medieval warm period, a time when the Vikings colonized Greenland are are believed to have become the first Europeans to visit North America.

Sounds like a red rag to sceptic bulls to me. Expect much nit-picking and fulmination. The rest of us will get on with trying to sort out the problem.

Mann et al. (2008). Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia. PNAS September 9, 2008 vol. 105 no. 36 (PDF available here)

Move on up

hot-topic-cover.jpg Sometime in the next day or so, Hot Topic will be moving to a new server and getting a spiffy new look. I’ll do my best to ensure that there’s little or no break in service, but given that my techno-competence is strictly limited there may be a hiatus – with luck only brief. There’s also the risk that some comments may get lost, especially any made after I’ve exported the blog to the new WordPress install. Tweaking the look will then take some time… so please bear with me in this, my hour of panic.