Venter made an artificial chromosome and may have already created artificial life in his lab. Is it a solution for global warming, or a plot for world domination? Anyway, it's a lot to think about and discuss.
A record number of floods, droughts and storms around the world has been characterized as a climate change "mega disaster" by a senior UN official, a measure based on 13 emergency "flash" appeals (PDF, map) issued so far this year (pic gallery) - three more than in 2005 which held the previous record. Sir John has expressed frustration at how little media attention in the west is being devoted to what he terms a global "creeping climatic catastrophe".
The Catholic Church is traditionally not seen as a progressive institution, but when it comes to global warming, Vatican City is aiming to become the worlds first fully carbon-neutral state, and the Pope is expected to use his first address to the United Nations next April to deliver a powerful warning over climate change in a move to adopt protection of the environment as a "moral" cause for the Catholic Church and its billion-strong following.
Not ones for subtlety, the Death of Environmentalism guys (previously) are at it again with a Manifesto for a New Environmentalism. Their Apollo Alliance is getting early support from both Clinton and Obama. But it's not the only "new environmentalism" out there. There's this New Environmentalism, while others would include both market-based approaches among the the idols of old environmentalism.
As the global climate changes, agriculture is sure to be affected. The Stern Review explains that "developing countries - in particular the poorest - are heavily dependent on agriculture, the most climate-sensitive of all economic sectors." Working Group II of the IPCC says that: "Smallholder and subsistence farmers, pastoralists and artisanal fisherfolk will suffer complex, localised impacts of climate change (high confidence)." Meanwhile, some important staple crops are especially threatened by rising temperatures (though genetic engineering may help). You can experience a taste of it yourself, with a climate change awareness fast, taking place on Tuesday, September 4th.
The "Great Climate Change Debate" finally on the cover of Newsweek - what's new, you ask? This is the story of the denial that global warming exists and how exactly the science behind the undeniable facts of increasing hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, heatwaves and monsoons was muddied for profit. Bonus links from the same issue: Timeline of global warming and its denial and a slideshow of images from around the world on the effects but its one of those fancy interactive thingamajigs that doesn't allow it to be linked by an URL so be sure to take a look at it. Extra bonus! Quiz your knowledge on global warming
HighWater Line is a public art installation in New York City that will be a 70-mile chalk line marking the boundary of a 10-foot sea level rise. More pictures under Timeline.
The Climate Engineers. "Efforts to manipulate the climate and weather have a long history of exaggerated claims and beliefs, and a dangerous tendency to become militarized. Even if they succeed, who will control the global thermostat?" Public policy scholar James R. Fleming explores the issues in a Wilson Quarterly article.
The Green Leap Forward "Environmentalism is China’s fastest-growing citizen movement. Beijing isn’t cracking down on these new activists—it’s empowering them."
Unnatural Disaster: Global Warming and Our National Parks (PDF). A new report from the National Parks Conservation Association explores the impact of global warming on America's national parks. [Via Gristmill.]
Personally, I always thought the whole global warming thing was a little bit overblown. Got to admit this guy makes a very compelling argument without debating any details. (via)
vivoleum ExxonMobil has hit upon a novel and renewable source of fuel "Attendees paid 50 dollars a head to hear a speech from the National Petroleum Council, a group that also advises the White House on oil and gas matters. It was rumoured a new joint energy policy from the Canadian and American governments was coming."
Federal Aviation Administrator Marion Blakey is valiantly fighting European attempts to extend the EU's emission trading scheme to aviation. Those silly Europeans, Ms. Blakey has argued, are so overexcited about global warming that they are even using helicopters with thermal imaging systems to enforce a green tax on outdoor BBQs! Unfortunately for her argument, it turns out that the story she quoted is a complete hoax. Now, unlike Brownie, nobody would ever accuse Ms. Blakey of being a novice. Apart from previous tenures at, among others, the Department of Transportation and the NTSB, Ms. Blakey also founded Blakey & Agnew, a "public affairs" firm with a special focus on transportation issues.
SUV sales are up. In spite of higher gas prices and concern about global warming, Americans still want bigger cars. It might not be enough to save the Hummer H2, though.
The Canadian government has released its new Turning the Corner plan for regulating greenhouse gases, setting mandatory intensity-based emission targets (18% reduction over three years) for major industrial sectors. Firms exceeding their targets will be required to pay $15/tonne starting in 2010. Expected cost: $7-8B per year, offset by an expected $6B benefit from improved health. Kyoto targets won't be reached until 2020, eight years late. Reaction from industry, Alberta, the Opposition. Previous proposal from Opposition leader Stephane Dion. Previously.
Connie Meskimen of Hot Springs, Arkansas has a down-to-earth explanation for climate change! What the scientists and the Fifth Column environmentalists bent on wrecking American industry hope that you'll overlook!
Weather warfare. [more inside]
In a 5-4 opinion [pdf], the Supreme Court concluded today that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases that may contribute to global warming, and must examine the scientific evidence of a link between those gases contained in the exhausts of new cars and trucks and climate change. Justice Stevens wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Scalia wrote a dissent, joined by Roberts, Thomas, and Alito. ScotusBlog summary here.
A contrarian documentary on climate change produced by UK Channel 4 called "The Great Global Warming Swindle (Google Video) has been making the rounds in the internets. Prominent among the scientists featured in the documentary is one of the most highly regarded physical oceanographers active today, Carl Wunsch (MIT). Unlike his colleague Richard Lindzen, though, it seems that Prof. Wunsch is not exactly pleased with being cast as a global warming skeptic. It turns out that selective editing made him seem to be saying exactly the opposite of what he was hoping to convey. Wunch is pissed.. Also, reviews of the documentary: Real Climate, The Guardian (Monbiot).
After two big Antarctic ice shelves broke off several years ago, a world of new species was found underneath. Pictures and a press release came out yesterday, showing spindly orange starfish among other interesting creatures. Here is some more information on the expedition. The fact that the shelves melted when they did is most likely a result of global warming, but having them out of the way gave researchers a golden opportunity to study what lives beneath the ice. Other occassions where a disaster has simultaneously been a great research opportunity include radioactive fallouts: at Chernobyl the evacuated area has been monitored for the past decades to see which species move in and how they thrive (previously on Metafilter)
Want to increase your energy efficiency and use more renewable energy? Want to install solar panels on your roof, buy a hybrid car, put in new storm windows, or make any number of other green improvements to your home or business? Want to save money doing it? DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Just click on your state and take it from there.
Scientists claim that cosmic rays from outer space play a far greater role in changing the Earth's climate than global warming experts previously thought. For a demonstration of how cosmic rays affect cloud formation, you can build a Cloud Chamber.
Everyone complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. What are the climate change policy options? Paul Krugman on tax-shifting. William Nordhaus on carbon taxes vs. cap-and-trade (PDF). Mark Jaccard, Nic Rivers, and Matt Horne note that in Canada, voluntary measures and subsidies haven't worked, and propose a detailed policy package (PDF). [more inside]
Cheatneutral. "When you cheat on your partner you add to the heartbreak, pain and jealousy in the atmosphere. Cheatneutral offsets your cheating by funding someone else to be faithful and NOT cheat. This neutralises the pain and unhappy emotion and leaves you with a clear conscience." [Via Gristmill.]
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has endorsed the recent IPCC report, reversing the White House stance on the existence of global warming. Bodman claims that the Bush administration has always accepted scientific studies pointing to man-made climate change, even as Henry Waxman, House oversight committee chair, has been holding hearings on the White House's misleading the public on global warming for the last six years; hearing documents. Bodman also rejects caps on CO2 emissions, claiming that the US is "a small contributor when you look at the rest of the world," when in fact it's the largest contributor worldwide (and has an even greater share of cumulative CO2 emissions). Previously: IPCC, Waxman.
IPCC's 4th Assesment Report Summary for Policymakers [PDF] is now avaiable online, offering a necessarily simplified view of the scientific finding supporting the idea that global warming isn't just the theory of some lone scientist. Certain think-thanks are now allegedly attempting to finance disconfirming opinion. Previously on Meta.
Climate change a 'questionable truth'. Margaret Wente looks beyond the hysteria surrounding the climate change debate. Hysteria her own newspaper has been contributing to.
Instead of reducing emissions, maybe we can block out the sun. This is a proposal offered by the United States in response to a draft of a UN report on climate change, prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to the linked article, the U.S. has resisted a treaty that would involve binding targets for emissions reductions, and is instead pushing for the exploration of techniques for blocking out the sun, including (according to the Sydney Morning Herald article) "putting a giant screen into orbit, thousands of tiny, shiny balloons, or microscopic sulfate droplets pumped into the high atmosphere to mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption." This is via Yale Law professor Jack Balkin, who speculates that there is Biblical precedent for this proposal.
The Independent has some anticipations on the soon to be released first volume of IPCC's 4Th Assesment Report , concerning matters such as climate change and global warming. Quoting the article : It is virtually certain (there is more than a 99 per cent probability) that carbon dioxide levels and global warming is far above the range of natural variability over the past 650,000 years. It is virtually certain that human activity has played the dominant role in causing the increase of greenhouse gases over the past 250 years.
Vegetarian is the New Prius : following a report from the UN indicating that the billions of livestock raised for meat are wreaking more havoc on the environment than fossil fuels, environmental activists are linking vegetarianism with fighting global warming.
Global warming skeptic Ronald Bailey--Reason's science correspondent, adjunct scholar at CATO and CEI, and editor of the 2002 book Global Warming and Other Myths: How the Environmental Movement Uses False Science to Scare Us to Death--has changed his mind.
When you drive on local streets you can be a Wingman for Grandma. Help make Grandma safer when she goes out for a walk. Drive the speed limit on local streets. Help set the pace for your community. Small increases in vehicle speed increase the threat to pedestrians. By helping to calm your local streets you can make it safer and more pleasant for you and your family.
A revised U.S. plant hardiness map has been put out by the National Arbor Day Foundation, based on numbers from 5,000 cooperative climate observation stations throughout the United States. The foundation forged ahead with their own revisions since the official USDA map update has stalled. One unofficial draft [PDF] does exist. A USDA spokesperson said their map delay is because of fine-tuning where to draw the zone lines; the agency also plans to incorporate other data such as wind.
ThreatDown! Scientists and other liberals reporting BEARS no longer hibernating in Spain! Global warming deniers, however, determined to continue their hibernation.
It may feel hip to go carbon neutral, but are carbon offsets real? Now you can find out by reading Clean Air Cool Planet's Consumer's Guide to Carbon Offsets which asseses 30 providers of carbon neutrality and sets out criteria for understanding which are doing the best to help you save the planet. The consumer's guide reads more like an enviro geeks master's thesis, but it quickly becomes clear that the core of the matter is additionality, i.e. to what extent will this investment create emission reductions in addition to those that would have occured in its absence. If this is all too much for you and just want to cut to chase and save the world, you should just take the pledge at Treasure Our Planet. It's pretty simple stuff.
'The "climate-change" scare is less about saving the planet than, in Jacques Chirac's chilling phrase, "creating world government"...'
Climate change denial gets a sort of semi-mainstream platform in the UK. The author, Christopher Monckton, seems to be a colourful figure. Now that all the major political parties accept that it's time to do something about climate change, is this a last ditch effort by 1980s right wing relics to stave off the inevitable? Or are we going to be hearing a lot more of this kind of stuff, post-Stern Review (previous)?
Earth's temperature is dangerously high, Nasa scientists warn notice the global warming stories that don't get much coverage anymore
Branson makes $3bn climate pledge Following, perhaps, the recent philanthropic example of Warren Buffett, Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Group has pledged to donate 100% of the profits from his transportation interests for the next ten years to fight global warming. Given California's recent lawsuit against auto manufacturers for contributing to global warming (previously), could this be a way to blunt similar criticisms and liability generated by contributions from Virgin Group's own activities?
"Not knowing may kill us." Seed Magazine asks why the DSCOVR climate satelite (constructed for a paltry $100 million) is just sitting in a storage warehouse collecting dust when several nations outside the US are offering to launch the thing on their own dime.
'Drastic' shrinkage in Arctic ice: 'The extent of "perennial" ice - thick ice which remains all year round - declined by 14%, losing an area the size of Pakistan or Turkey.'
Melting glaciers - Once this site stops messing with your windows, there are some views of glaciers. The before and afters are supposed to be (in some cases) 100 years apart - maybe, maybe not - summer v. winter [who knows?] it's pretty harrowing what we're presented with in terms of glacier reduction - if that's what we're looking at here.
Ice bubbles collected from core samples in Antarctica reveal the biggest rise in CO2 in 800,000 years.
To hear Rupert Murdoch's newspaper The Australian tell it, "Science" is now tempering its claims about the urgency of Global Warming. Arts and Letters Daily goes even further, declaring a "Catastrophe Postponed" on its front page. But a closer look at the meager factual content of The Australian article (as opposed to the specious inferences and dramatic allusions to "leaked IPCC documents") suggests that, in fact, "Science" has just gotten more specific about its Global Warming claims, and the real situation remains as urgent as ever if we continue on our current track. Meanwhile, in tangentially related news, Chevron is reporting a massive new oil find in the Gulf of Mexico. Not to imply any kind of conspiracy here (since, you know, "Science" has proven that actual conspiracies are an urban myth).
Anyone interested in climate change or is still wondering about it's potential effects and possible solutions should check out this must-read Special Issue of Scientific American. Here is a freebie article they have posted online called A Climate Repair Manual.
The Toronto Globe and Mail on climate-change denial in Canada. Includes a description of how donations from oil companies to anti-Kyoto groups like Friends of Science are laundered through the Calgary Foundation and the University of Calgary's Science Education Fund. Previously.
"Animals are on the run. Plants are migrating too. The Earth's creatures, save for one species, do not have thermostats in their living rooms that they can adjust for an optimum environment. Animals and plants are adapted to specific climate zones, and they can survive only when they are in those zones...Gardeners and bird watchers are well aware of this, and their handbooks contain maps of the zones in which a tree or flower can survive and the range of each bird species. Those maps will have to be redrawn." Jim Hansen on the global impact of global warming. Meanwhile, the National Association of manufacturers is happy to tell you everything you really need to know on the subject. (More from NAM here.)