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I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

A series of emails released through a Freedom of Information Act request shine light on collusion between the United States government and TransCanada, a corporation building a controversial pipeline from the Canadian Athabasca oil sands into its southern neighbor. The controversy extends beyond the currently poor safety record for delivering oil between the two countries, and beyond the environmental and health consequences of the oil extraction process for locals and the cost of climate changes it will contribute to, all the way to legal wrangling between Canadian media and Saudi Arabia over the "death panels"-like term "ethical oil", based upon a conservative group's advertising that argues that the purchase of Canadian-sourced oil is a morally superior act, because of oppression of women and human rights violations by the Saudi kingdom.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Oct 3, 2011 - 73 comments

Death of Wangari Maathai announced.

I am sorry that Wangari Maathai, inspiring Nobel Peace Prize winner famous for tree-planting programme, has died.
posted by maiamaia on Sep 26, 2011 - 28 comments

CLOUDed Judgment Revisited

The experiment behind a previous post has been written up in Scientific American. The authors conclusion "At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it's a very important first step..." [more inside]
posted by TheProudAardvark on Aug 25, 2011 - 1 comment

Walking the Ganges

The Age of Dissolution. "Walking the Ganga river, from holy bacterial stews to crystalline glaciers: Shiva, eclipses, and the IPCC." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jul 30, 2011 - 4 comments

CLOUDed judgment

The chief of the world's leading physics lab at CERN in Geneva has prohibited scientists from drawing conclusions from a major experiment. The CLOUD ("Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets") experiment examines the role that energetic particles from deep space play in cloud formation. Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN, said in an interview: "I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them. That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters." [more inside]
posted by thescientificmethhead on Jul 20, 2011 - 40 comments

Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

Naomi Klein, David Suzuki, Wendell Berry and others invite you to come to Washington DC and get arrested in an ongoing protest that aims to stop the Keystone XL oil pipeline from being constructed.
posted by mhjb on Jul 20, 2011 - 24 comments

Carbon trading for Australia

Clean Energy Future. Australia has embarked on a tradeable carbon permit system, covering about 60% of emissions, beginning on 1 July 2012, and mixing in substantial progressive tax reform, putting a line under a very long debate on this matter indeed.
posted by wilful on Jul 11, 2011 - 100 comments

Asian pollution temporarily slows global warming

Although the past 12 years have seen the warmest 10 years on record, temperatures have remained fairly steady, even while CO2 emissions grew by nearly a third. Temperatures should have been increasing during this period, rather 1998 was tied with 2010 for hottest on record. Now a study suggests why (pdf): sulfur emissions from Asian coal plants (China mostly) are so high they mimic the effects of a volcano which can cause short term cooling by reflecting light back into space. Insidiously, the long-term warming caused by CO2 (coal) has been masked by short-term cooling of sulfur (coal).
posted by stbalbach on Jul 5, 2011 - 85 comments

Dr Frank Baxter & Bell Labs Films

Dr. Frank C. Baxter has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He played Dr. Research in the Bell Labs Science Series, beginning in 1956 with Our Mr. Sun. [more inside]
posted by warbaby on Jul 3, 2011 - 18 comments

New "Normal" temperatures released by NOAA, increased extreme weather events

When a TV meteorologist says "temperatures will be ten degrees above normal", the word "normal" has a specific meaning. Every 10 years NOAA re-calculates the "normal" temps for the USA based on the prior 30-year averages. The new normals have just been released, based on the 30 year period 1980-2010. Hotter is the new normal. With hotter weather comes more extreme weather. Extreme Weather and Climate Change, 3-part series from Scientific America .. and map of extreme weather events 1995-present.
posted by stbalbach on Jun 30, 2011 - 35 comments

Megacities on the move

Forum for the Future, a UK-based non-profit, has produced a series of short videos depicting possible future scenarios for sustainable urban mobility. Titled "Megacities on the move," the series explores "how we will live and travel in the cities of 2040". The four scenarios are (links to Vimeo): Planned-opolis , Communi-city, Renew-abad, and Sprawl-ville. [more inside]
posted by thescientificmethhead on Jun 26, 2011 - 23 comments

Meet Australia's and possibly soon the world's richest woman.

You probably haven't heard of Gina Rinehart. However, she's Australia's richest person and will quite possibly be the world's richest person in a few short years. Her currently limited political activity appears primarily directed at maintaining profitability, avoiding taxes and stopping a price on carbon pollution.
posted by wilful on Jun 22, 2011 - 40 comments

May have a chilling effect

Sunspots, first observed by Galileo, normally follow an 11-year cycle. We are into a few years into (recorded) cycle number 24 but according to NASA it's looking rather underpowered. Nobody is certain exactly what the consequences will be, but one distinct possibility is a cold period; a previous low in solar activity, the Maunder minimum, is correlated with a brief Little Ice Age. Nobody really knows how this unusual solar weather pattern might interact with human-caused climate change. Previously, albeit somewhat controversially.
posted by anigbrowl on Jun 14, 2011 - 28 comments

Snowpack in the northern Rocky Mountains drying up

Snowpack in the northern Rocky Mountains has declined over the past 30 years more than at any other time in a least 1,000 years (30-year decline is old news, 1000 year perspective is new). Snowmelt from the Rockies provide water for at least 70 million people. Snow is also melting weeks earlier in the American West. Some consequences of earlier snowmelt (of less snow) are drier forests, more wildfires and less water for people in a West heating up and drying out.
posted by stbalbach on Jun 10, 2011 - 26 comments

Romney in hot water for belief that climate change is real; at odds with GOP

Agreeing with the scientific community when it comes to global warming could lose you an election if you are a Republican hopeful.
posted by Tarumba on Jun 9, 2011 - 93 comments

Learn to swim.

Energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2010 were the highest in history, according to the latest estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA). After a dip in 2009 caused by the global financial crisis, emissions are estimated to have climbed to a record 30.6 Gigatonnes (Gt), a 5% jump from the previous record year in 2008, when levels reached 29.3 Gt. The likelihood of exceeeding 450 ppm CO2 and associated two degrees of warming has now receded greatly.
posted by wilful on May 30, 2011 - 33 comments

More statistical hijinks on climate change

“certain styles of research were suggested to be prone to ‘groupthink, reduced creativity and the possibility of less-rigorous reviewing processes.’ Edward Wegman is a professor at George Mason and a distinguished statistician with a long career, a former winner of the ASA's Founders Award. In 2006 he testified before Congress on climate science, sharply criticizing the statistical methodology of Michael Mann's "hockey stick graph," which showed a sharp increase in global temperature in the last part of the 20th century. One section of Wegman's testimony concerned "social network analysis," and suggested that Mann's tightly-knit network of co-authors might have led to insufficiently aggressive peer review. USA Today reports that Wegman's testimony contained a substantial quantity of plagiarized material, and the peer-reviewed article derived from the testimony has been retracted by the journal that published it. John Mashey has compiled an obsessively thorough catalogue of the plagiarized text. (large .pdf.) [more inside]
posted by escabeche on May 21, 2011 - 26 comments

Anonymous Satire of Koch Industries Prevails

In December 2010, a Koch Industries press release spoof (Scribd; alt: screencap) was posted on a website that mimicked the appearance of the official site for Koch Industries. The press release stated that Koch would no longer support research and advocacy initiatives that denied or questioned the human role in climate change. The press release was quickly identified as a hoax, and both the fake press release and site disappeared quickly, yet the Koch company pursued the identities of those behind the stunt, going as far as to file a lawsuit to expose the anonymous pranksters as part of a larger lawsuit. This past Monday, the lawsuit was thrown out of court in Utah, with the judge citing that parody is not commercial speech, and thus a First Amendment issue. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 11, 2011 - 40 comments

Climate Change by Climate Scientists: the musical

In the media landscape there are climate change deniers and believers, but rarely those speaking about climate change are actual climate scientists... From the Power Episode of The Hungry Beast a weekly, half-hour, TV show on ABC (Australia) television combining journalism, comedy and the reportage of weird. It asks questions others don’t, covers stories others won’t and brings them to your screen in ways that only this unique team of broadcasters can do.
posted by MT on May 11, 2011 - 21 comments

US DoD and alternative energy

Despite continuing inaction and perverse subsidies from the US Federal Government, one of their largest entities, the US Department of Defense, has done the analysis and considers both peak oil and climate change to be a significant threat. In partial response, they're pushing heavily into alternative fuels, with the Air Force aiming to get fully half of its domestic jet fuel from alternative sources by 2016.
posted by wilful on May 3, 2011 - 50 comments

Yale's 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

Yale's 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national government scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals.
posted by wilful on Apr 22, 2011 - 8 comments

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears....

The Science of Why We Don't Believe In Science. Or How To Win An Argument: Try Not To Rely on Facts. MotherJones investigates what recent research can tell us about how we reason (or don't).
posted by Diablevert on Apr 18, 2011 - 45 comments

A nation of fickle fools

We care about climate change, but we hate the idea of having to do anything about it. Professor of Public Ethics at CAPPE, Clive Hamilton (also author of Requiem for a Species and Affluenza), tells it like it is on climate change policy in Australia.
posted by bystander on Apr 12, 2011 - 125 comments

Baez/Yudkowsky

John Baez (mathematical physicist and master popularizer, former operator of This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics, current promoter of the idea that physicists should start pitching in on saving the world) interviews Eliezer Yudkowsky (singularitarian, author of "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality," promoter of the idea that human life faces a near-term existential threat from unfriendly artificial intelligence, and that people can live better lives by evading their cognitive biases) about the future, academia, rationality, altruism, expected utility, self-improvement by humans and machines, and the relative merit of battling climate change and developing friendly AIs that will forstall our otherwise inevitable doom. Part I. Part II. Part III. [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Apr 2, 2011 - 47 comments

Koch-funded study confirms global warming

Koch-funded study confirms global warming. [more inside]
posted by russilwvong on Apr 1, 2011 - 63 comments

Bidder 70, your bid for fame has been accepted.

Tim DeChristopher goes on trial in a Salt Lake City District Court today [Case No. 2:09-CR-183], facing a ten year sentence and/or $750 000 fines. His crime? Intentionally making false bids on fossil fuel leases. His supporters include Dr James Hansen and Bill McKibben. (previously)
posted by wilful on Feb 27, 2011 - 26 comments

Welcome to the 21st century, Australian economy.

The Australian Government has committed to a price on carbon from 1 July 2012, prior to a likely full emissions trading scheme within three to five years. The Opposition are outraged, predicting a people's revolt. This should clearly define the next election.
posted by wilful on Feb 24, 2011 - 102 comments

Yasi is coming

Australia is copping another pounding from natural disasters. After the floods across Brisbane (previously) in South-east Queensland, North Queensland is in the firing line for a Category 5 cyclone called Yasi. The official warning: THIS IMPACT IS LIKELY TO BE MORE LIFE THREATENING THAN ANY EXPERIENCED DURING RECENT GENERATIONS. [more inside]
posted by bystander on Feb 1, 2011 - 183 comments

Trusting Nature as the Climate Referee

NYT article discussing a hypothetical proposal for a temperature based tax on carbon by Canadian economist Ross McKitrick.
posted by Philosopher's Beard on Jan 31, 2011 - 44 comments

The God delusion

“Nature doesn't remind us that we are small, but rather provides chilling, awesome evidence of our size and strength. We glance up to the snows of Mount Kilimanjaro and think of how quickly our coal generators have heated the earth. We fly over the denuded stretches of the Amazon and see how easily we have gashed the planet.” Alain de Botton considers how climate change is reshaping our relationship with the environment.
posted by londonmark on Jan 24, 2011 - 19 comments

No civilisation by 2100?

The world is well on track to achieve 4 degrees of warming by 2100. In September 2009, a conference organised by the Tyndall Centre looked at this scenario, with the papers recently published in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Pr. Anderson of the Tyndall Centre suggests that only 10 percent of humanity may survive this conflagration.
posted by wilful on Jan 18, 2011 - 114 comments

Don't Peak, it's a Surprise

The Nation recently interviewed public intellectuals including Noam Chomsky, Bill McKibben (previously), and Dmity Orlov (previously) to produce a series of videos centered around Peak Oil and a Changing Climate. The first video, online now, combines all of the people interviewed while the videos yet to be released will be longer sections featuring them one at a time. [more inside]
posted by Glibpaxman on Jan 13, 2011 - 91 comments

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Recent heavy rain in Queensland has bought destructive flooding to many towns and cities. Yesterday the mountain city of Toowoomba was hit with heavy rain and experienced flash flooding. With (so far) eight confirmed dead and 70 missing, the disaster is set to worsen as more rainfall is predicted.
posted by the noob on Jan 10, 2011 - 264 comments

Google Trees + Amazon Drought

We've discussed the "once in a century" Amazon Drought of 2005-06. Five years later and we are seeing another once in a century drought in the Amazon. How serious are the effects of these droughts for global climate? The science appears to be mixed. Helping monitor is the newly released Google Earth 6.0, which can track individual trees within a section of the Amazonian forest, and 80 million other trees in 7 cities around the world (video).
posted by stbalbach on Nov 30, 2010 - 10 comments

Stoichiometry is a harsh taskmistress

Sustainable Growth is an Oxymoron Text of an outstanding talk that explains clearly why the idea of "sustainable growth" is impossible in the finite system that is the earth; how the compact energy-delivery system of fossil fuel is equivalent to mind-blowing amounts of free human labor, which cannot be sustained indefinitely; and why it's imperative for scientists to help humanity find ways to go back to "liv[ing] on the sun in real time." [more inside]
posted by Sublimity on Nov 25, 2010 - 95 comments

whither US action on climate change?

With half of the new GOP Congressmen affirmed climate science deniers,and facing opposition even within his own party, President Obama has acknowledged that "cap and trade" legislation on US carbon emissions is dead. Regulation of emissions by the EPA appears to be the only way forward. Republicans are seeking to nobble that option, while Karl Rove thinks that "climate is gone" from the political landscape. Thankfully, according to John Shimkus, God has promised no more climate change, so we're all right then.
posted by wilful on Nov 9, 2010 - 155 comments

Go north

What I've always wanted- an atlas of the world's vulnerability to climate change (downloadable pdf on page).
posted by leibniz on Oct 20, 2010 - 12 comments

Geoengineering

The current American Scholar has a good article on geoengineering, latest greatest solution to the climate crisis (or not). (And see geoengineering and the new climate denialism previously).
posted by JL Sadstone on Oct 10, 2010 - 31 comments

Ten Ten Ten

The Coalition of the Willing is a broad movement that began with an animated short about open source culture and the role it could play against global warming. Today, on 10th October 2010, people at 7347 events in 188 countries are getting to work on the climate crisis at the 10/10/10 Work Party. [via Appropedia] Previously
posted by The Lady is a designer on Oct 10, 2010 - 50 comments

Meet the Denialists

A handful of US scientists have made names for themselves by casting doubt on global warming research. In the past, the same people have also downplayed the dangers of passive smoking, acid rain and the ozone hole. In all cases, the tactics are the same: Spread doubt and claim it's too soon to take action.
posted by gerryblog on Oct 8, 2010 - 31 comments

No Pressure

Sorry. Today we put up a mini-movie about 10:10 and climate change called 'No Pressure’. Many people found the resulting film extremely funny, but unfortunately some didn't and we sincerely apologise to anybody we have offended. As a result of these concerns we've taken it off our website. We won't be making any attempt to censor or remove other versions currently in circulation on the internet.
posted by thescientificmethhead on Oct 1, 2010 - 65 comments

What Terrifies the Terrorists?

Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda are apparently very concerned about climate change.
posted by clarknova on Oct 1, 2010 - 40 comments

Indonesian Glacier Drops 12 Inches in Two Weeks

"Rain is probably the most effective way to ... cause the ice to melt. So this was the first time you could see the surface actually lowering around you." A rare tropical glacier in Indonesia has dropped by a foot in the space of two weeks, as observed by a team sent to collect ice cores to study the effects of global warming. (Glaciers, previously.) [more inside]
posted by spitefulcrow on Sep 4, 2010 - 17 comments

Bjørn Lomborg on global warming

Global warming skeptic Bjørn Lomborg changes position, saying global warming is "undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today" and "a challenge humanity must confront." He says in a new book forthcoming this year that governments should levy a tax on carbon and spend billions annually on research for new technologies. I suppose it's hard to ignore when 10 of 10 key indicators show the world is warming, and Lomberg is not the first prominent skeptic to change position. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Sep 1, 2010 - 37 comments

Whack-a-mole climate denialism

Investigative reporting continues to attack the credibility of the IPCC reports on climate change, as well as vicious personal attacks. These stories gain wide coverage in the denialist echo chamber, yet several months down the track, after thorough independent investigation, they are found to be false. Weak retractions are published in newspapers, but the damage is done.
posted by wilful on Aug 26, 2010 - 36 comments

One Big Interdependant System

How are heatwaves in Russia and flooding in Pakistan related? Both result from a kink in the jet stream that has frozen in place. (Previous coverage of the disasters in Russia and Pakistan on the blue.)
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Aug 15, 2010 - 19 comments

Dangerous Ideas

Every day in August 2010, the chin-scratching blog Bigthink will post a "Dangerous Idea" supplied by one of its expert contributors. So far it has been suggested that we spike the water supply with lithium, darken the atmosphere to blot out the Sun, and leave lots of children behind.
posted by escabeche on Aug 8, 2010 - 37 comments

Executive Decarbonization

With the climate bill dead and blame portioned, Ezra Klein asks what happens when congress fails? He concludes that "regulations to reduce carbon emissions are alive and well. The Environmental Protection Agency can attack carbon as a pollutant, and the Obama administration's announcement that efforts to hamstring the EPA will be vetoed suggests that they mean to do exactly that." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jul 30, 2010 - 18 comments

Well, I guess that proves Robert Frost's famous poetic conjecture

Phytoplankton Population Drops 40 Percent Since 1950. Estimates are that the population of these little critters that form the base of the global food chain and that "also gobble up carbon dioxide to produce half the world's oxygen output" is declining by roughly one percent annually. One possible causal factor cited for the decline is global warming. The latest findings on that issue are out, too, and in case you were still wondering: Ten key indicators show global warming "undeniable". [more inside]
posted by saulgoodman on Jul 29, 2010 - 60 comments

Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya

Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya is an exhibition currently on in New York City, showcasing the work of photographer and mountaineer David Brashears. The Glacier Research Imaging Project is re-imaging historic photos of shrinking glaciers in the Himalaya. [more inside]
posted by wilful on Jul 18, 2010 - 13 comments

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