Archive for October, 2006

Australia defends climate stance

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Australian Treasurer Peter Costello has said there is “no point” in Australia signing the Kyoto Protocol on climate change unless China and India do too.

Australia, like the US, has refused to ratify the Kyoto agreement, but is set to face increasing pressure to do so in the light of a new hard-hitting study.

A report by former World Bank economist Nicholas Stern warned of severe problems if global warming was ignored.

If there was no action now, he said, the world would face a huge depression.

The UN has also just released new data showing that rich countries have made little overall progress in reducing the production of gases blamed for global warming.


Kyoto Failing to Cool the Planet

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

The industrialized world’s emissions of greenhouse gases are growing again, despite efforts under the Kyoto Protocol to cap them and stave off global warming, the United Nations reported Monday.

Emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases declined in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the shutdown of polluting factories and power plants in eastern Europe. But now those economies are rebounding, contributing to a 2.4 percent rise in emissions by 41 industrialized nations between 2000 and 2004.

“This means that industrialized countries will need to intensify their efforts to implement strong policies which reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. climate treaty secretariat, referring to taxes on carbon-based fuels, energy-efficiency regulations and other steps.


Stern Review on the economics of climate change

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

– this is a major report on the economics of climate change by the British Government.


Stern Review final report

The pre-publication edition of the Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change is available to be downloaded below either on a chapter-by-chapter basis or in parts covering broader themes. The report is available in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer you can download the software free of charge from the Adobe website. For alternative ways to read PDF documents and further information on website accessibility visit the HM Treasury accessibility page.

Hardcopies will be available from January at a charge of c. £29.99 + £3.50 postage and packing (quoting ISBN number: 0-521-70080-9). Copies can be ordered from Cambridge University Press via the website, by fax on +44 (0)1223 315052 or post from the following address: Science Marketing, Freepost, Cambridge University Press, The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge, CB2.


GLOBAL WARMING REPORT: Right-Wing Fiction vs. Economic Reality

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

As the scientific consensus on the reality of global warming’s effects have strengthened, global warming deniers have resorted to arguing that, even if it is real, it’s too expensive to mitigate. Some examples:

National Review’s Jason Steorts: “Even if warming is predominately the result of human activity, and even if its harms will outweigh its benefits, the question is whether it will be bad enough to justify the economic castration that significant greenhouse-gas reductions would require.”

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK): “The Kyoto Protocol is a lot of economic pain for no climate gain.”

Rush Limbaugh: “Would you get off the global warming stuff, some people are saying. No, I’m not going to get off of it because what’s at stake is the US economy, folks, what’s at stake is our lifestyle. The people that are trying to force this on everybody and take the natural fluctuations of our climate.”


Ocean dead zone off Oregon dissipating

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – An ocean dead zone off Oregon that killed fish, crabs and sea worms in an area bigger than Rhode Island last summer lasted nearly three times longer than any of its predecessors before dissipating with autumn’s change in the weather, scientists said Monday.

This year’s dead zone off Oregon ran for 17 weeks, compared to the previous high of six weeks in 2004, and saw oxygen readings near zero that left the ocean bottom littered with dead crabs, sea stars and sea anemones. This is the fifth straight year the dead zone returned. It covered 70 miles of the central Oregon Coast and there are indications a dead zone also formed off southern Washington.

Southerly winds in recent weeks have flushed out the oxygen-depleted waters that were stuck along the Continental Shelf off the central Oregon Coast, and put an end to the condition known as ocean upwelling that triggered the dead zone, Jack Barth, professor of physical oceanography at Oregon State University, said from Corvallis.

“The fact that we’ve seen five in five years now, and this one in 2006 was the most devastating does not bode well for the future,” Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at OSU who served on the Pew Oceans Commission, said from Corvallis. “We’re seeing a system that is acting very sporadically. It’s changing in ways we haven’t seen before, or at least we haven’t documented before. We can trace all those changes to changes in the winds.”

A recent United Nations report listed 200 dead zones around the world, including one off the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico. Almost all of them are caused by fertilizer and pollution running down rivers to feed huge algae blooms, which die and decompose on the bottom, depleting the water of oxygen.


research thx to MD

Senators call on Exxon to stop funding climate change denial lobby

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

In an act of surprising bi-partisanship so close to the mid-term elections, Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.VA) have penned a letter to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson demanding that Exxon, “end any further financial assistance [to groups] whose public advocacy has contributed to the small but unfortunately effective climate change denial myth.” The Senators singled out the Washington lobby group Competitive Enterprise Institute, whose penchant for promoting junk science on climate change has been stoked over the years by over $2 million oily dollars from ExMo.


The Synthesizer

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Let the waters teem with countless living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of heaven.'” E.O. Wilson is quoting from the biblical account of the fifth day of creation. “Isn’t that lovely?” he asks, his voice lilting with pleasure. “Whether you believe that there is a god who touched the universe with a magic wand or not, it’s a command—[one] I think scientists could respond to as well as religious folk.”

Wilson sits in his office on the fourth floor of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, across the hall from the university’s world-famous ant collection. His hands move in animated gestures, his shoulders falling forward into a natural hunch—the “lifetime posture” he developed by his late teens from stooping low to the ground to inspect small creatures.

The reference to biodiversity in the seminal text of Judeo-Christian culture resonates deeply with Wilson. Raised a Baptist and “born again” as a teenager, he has championed biodiversity as an academic and a writer for more than 50 years. His new book, The Creation, is an appeal to the religious right to “consider forming an alliance to do something that science and religion, the most powerful social forces in the world, are uniquely prepared to do: save the creation.”


Ohio Election Portends Trouble

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Six years ago the world watched dumbfounded as the Florida 2000 fiasco exposed the messy underbelly of U.S. election administration. Since then states have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on new electronic voting equipment to ensure that the nation would never experience such mishaps again.

But two recent and lengthy reports examining this year’s May primary in Cuyahoga County, Ohio — a pivotal state where the electoral votes gave President Bush his second win in 2004 — make it clear that Florida-like fiascos are far from behind us.

The reports, totaling more than 500 pages, paint a disturbing picture of how million-dollar equipment and security safeguards can quickly be undone by poor product design, improper election procedures and inadequate training. From destroyed ballots and vote totals that didn’t add up to lost equipment and breaches in security protocols, Cuyahoga’s primary is a perfect study in how not to run an election.

The findings have ominous national implications. Cuyahoga County could play an important role in deciding two races in next week’s election that will help decide which party controls the Senate and House. But one of the reports concluded that problems in the county were so extensive that meaningful improvements likely could not be achieved before that election, or even before the 2008 presidential election.

Moreover, few voting activists and election experts believe the problems are unique to Cuyahoga.

“I suspect that Cuyahoga County may be below average (in terms of how well it ran its election), but if you lift up the rock and look at election administration across the country, you’ll see the same thing elsewhere,” says David Dill, Stanford computer scientist and founder of, a proponent of paper-verified elections.


when “Bar Harbor is underwater, then we can do global warming stories.”

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

At 2 TV Stations in Maine, What Al Gore’s Movie Says Isn’t News

How important is global warming in Maine? Not important enough for local television.

Michael Palmer, the general manager of television stations WVII and WFVX, ABC and Fox affiliates in Bangor, has told his joint staff of nine men and women that when “Bar Harbor is underwater, then we can do global warming stories.”

“Until then,” he added. “No more.”

Mr. Palmer laid out his policy in an e-mail message sent out during the summer. A copy was sent to The New York Times. Mr. Palmer did not respond to a phone message left with an employee of the stations nor to an e-mail message. But a former staff member confirmed the e-mail message that went out during the summer after the stations broadcast a live report from a movie theater in Maine where Al Gore’s movie on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” was opening.


– this story is from the NY Times and they are a bit of a pain as you need to have a password and an ID to read their stuff. The good news is, it is free to get these and you only need to do it once.

061028 – Saturday – general stuff

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

13 days until I fly for New Zealand.

Things are coming together well here. Business is good and today I think I sold my venerable old 1976 Toyota Landcruiser for $7000 USD.

I’ll miss Lulu Belle (the Landcruiser’s name). Acquiring her was coincident with getting married to Sharon and moving from California to Washington 16 years ago and that began what has undoubtedly been the finest part of my life.

There are a lot of memories since we moved which all have Lulu Belle in them or somewhere in their background. Our three beloved Japanese Akitas; Kato, Misha and Panda, are woven in and out with Lulu Belle from their first puppy days until they each passed away ten years on. Pulling logs and stumps from the forest to the burn piles. Hauling rocks for our dry stream bed from a building site. Taking the top off most springs and putting it back on most falls. Driving out to the Olympic Peninsula with my son, Chris, and up into the forest roads here with Sharon. The day that Basil, our sheep, jumped in the back to “go for a ride” because he imagined he was a dog too. Memories.

I drove her today and talked to her as if she were a child or a lover and I told her in all sincerity how much she meant to me and how well she had served and how much I hoped her future would go well with her new owner.

I think the emotions that arise when we let something go like this are somehow related to our mortality. I’m not sure just how – but it seems like letting something deeply loved go is like a reminder that someday, we must let it all go. Everything that’s touched us, scarred us and changed us comprise the memories which are unique to us, are that which makes our lives ours, which are special just to us and yet transient, just like us.

Lulu Belle’s going and I won’t come this way again my heart whispers.

Ah, life is good. Life is good. Years ago, in my thirties, I used to sit up late at night alone drinking wine and writing poetry to stoke my emotional fires and to make myself feel as if I was alive. Now, I watch a poignant movie, think too long about a dog that I loved, or wake up from a dream about my sons when they were young and the tears come easily.

These days, I’m close to the pulse and the heart in my life. Then, the walls were high and it took a lot to break through them and I wondered when it was all going to feel real. Now, it is all paper thin and very real and I cherish it all so much more.

These days, when I get out of bed in the morning, I thank the Beloved for this life, my wife, my health and everything that’s happening in my life. And when I get on my motorcycle, I ask the Beloved to be kind to me. These days, magic whispers around the edges of my life.

Today, I sold Lulu Belle for $7000 and that money will help defray my costs in New Zealand so that my time there won’t burden our business too badly over the winter. It means that I can probably buy a small car there and sit more often in a sunlite sidewalk cafe watching another culture walk by and realizing that there are other ways to do things than how we’ve been doing them of late in this country. There are alternatives.

Tonight, we’re going to go out for dinner together. With less than two weeks left and three months of separation before us, we’re already beginning to feel the sensation of missing each other.