Monday, October 24, 2011

Interesting election result in Switzerland

Greens lose ground but Green Liberals gain

Compared with the elections of four years ago, the Greens sustained a setback, taking 7.9 percent of the vote, a drop of 1.7 percent and seven seats in the lower house while the centrist Green Liberal Party, picked up 9 seats, in part riding a wave of anti-nuclear sentiment following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant in March. The Green Liberal Party campaigned for renewable energy while also promoting entrepreneurship.

So the Swiss appear to be unique in having a Green party that is NOT anti-business and anti-modernity. One can only hope that similar dilution of extreme environmentalism occurs elsewhere

More details here and here

More maybes

And maybe pigs might fly. Or as the old Middle English proverb has it: "If ifs and ans were pots and pans, there's be no room for tinkers". Who do they think this repetetive outpouring of vague speculation is going to impress? I think the reason behind it has to be that of Dr. Goebbels: "Tell a big enough lie often enough and people will believe it". It's not working very well this time however

Global temperature rise could exceed "safe" levels of two degrees Celsius in some parts of the world in many of our lifetimes if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, two research papers published in the journal Nature warned.

"Certain levels of climate change are very likely within the lifetimes of many people living now ... unless emissions of greenhouse gases are substantially reduced in the coming decades," said a study on Sunday by academics at the English universities of Reading and Oxford, the UK's Met Office Hadley Centre and the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

"Large parts of Eurasia, North Africa and Canada could potentially experience individual five-year average temperatures that exceed the 2 degree Celsius threshold by 2030 -- a timescale that is not so distant," the paper said.

Two years ago, industrialized nations set a 2 degree Celsius warming as the maximum limit to avoid dangerous climate changes including more floods, droughts and rising seas, while some experts said a 1.5 degree limit would be safer.

It is widely agreed among scientists that global pledges so far for curbing greenhouse gas emissions are not strong enough to prevent "dangerous" climate change.

Next month, nations will meet for the next U.N. climate summit in Durban, South Africa, where a binding pact to reduce emissions looks unlikely to be delivered.

Instead, a global deal might not emerge until 2014 or 2015.

The study found that most of the world's land surface is very likely to experience five-year average temperatures that exceed 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2060.

If emissions are substantially lowered, the two degree threshold might be delayed by up to several decades, it added.

However, even if global temperature rises are kept under two degrees by aggressive emissions cuts, some regions will still not avoid warming and the likelihood of extreme events such as heatwaves is still high in even a marginally warmer world.


UHI: Steven Goddard reports

Downtown Washington DC is 8-12 degrees (F) warmer this morning than surrounding rural areas. I’ve been out riding along the Little Patuxent River since 6:15 AM, and it is very chilly.

Temperatures in degrees Celsius as downloaded from Weather Undergound on 23 October, 2011. Note that the 12 degrees shown for Washington DC is much higher than that for all surroundung areas, and some areas are much cooler

Note also that the figures above are in whole degrees. Warmist statistics are tabulated in tenths of a degree so the gap between the reality above and what Warmists assert is huge

Leading expert Muller tells us that these large UHI effects do not affect the accuracy of the claimed 0.63C rise in temperatures over the last 150 years.

Experts also tell us that nighttime temperatures have risen, and the cause is CO2.


Another old-time revival preacher prophesying Armageddon

He says people are not coming to his rallies and criticizing him so much any more. He doesn't consider that people now know that all he has to offer are prophecies and they have seen too often that prophecies don't come true. As usual he cherry-picks weather events and finds portents of doom in them. Jehovah's Witnesses do the same. Also like Jehovah's Witnesses he relies on appeals to authority -- not the Bible in his case but campaigners like Jim Hansen

The one thing missing in his diatribe is science. That would require him to compare the present with the past or one part of the globe with another. No mention that droughts in Texas are accompanied by floods in Australia, for instance. If you are sincerely interested in GLOBAL phenomena you have to look at the global picture. South Florida is not the world, news though that may be to some

The rising sea will wash across great swaths of South Florida. Salt water will contaminate the well fields. Roads and farmland and low-lying neighborhoods will be inundated. The soil will no longer absorb the kind of heavy rainfalls that drenched South Florida last weekend. Septic tanks will fail. Drainage canals won’t drain. Sewers will back up. Intense storms will pummel the beachfront. Mighty rainfalls, in between droughts, will bring more floods.

The economic losses and the mitigation costs associated with the effects of global warming over the next few decades will be overwhelming. It will cost a medium-sized town like Pompano Beach hundreds of millions just to salvage its water and sewage systems.

A sobering study released by Florida Atlantic University contemplated the effects of global warming in specific terms, particularly for South Florida, considered one of the more vulnerable metropolitan areas in the world, with six million residents clustered by the ocean, living barely above sea level.

The study from FAU’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions, adding to an overwhelming scientific consensus about the disastrous effects of global warming, and along with growing hard evidence that temperature changes are already altering the environment, ought to have sent tremors through the halls of government.

Except it didn’t. Perhaps the most peculiar phenomenon associated with global warming has been a burgeoning disdain for climate science even as scientific consensus grows more urgent. Forget the stickier question of whether global warming has been fueled by human activity (as an overwhelming percentage of climate scientists believe), a poll by the Pew last year found that only 59 percent of Americans will even acknowledge the earth is warming, compared to 79 percent just five years ago.

This peculiarly American phenomenon comes despite a decade of record high temperatures. And despite findings of a sustained global temperature increase from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Hadley Centre in England, and, just last week, the University of California’s Berkeley Earth project, which compiled more than a billion temperature records dating back to the 1800s from 15 sources around the world.

If a billion temperature readings and a record-breaking drought this summer in Texas and Oklahoma weren’t convincing enough, global warming should be as plain as the Google Earth satellite photos of polar icecaps.

“It is really quite an unbelievable time,” said Harold Wanless, chairman of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Miami. Wanless, who contributed to the FAU study, described the “dramatically accelerating melt from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.” He said, “We have forced the greenhouse gasses to levels that have not been reached since sea level was about 100 feet higher than present.”

And yet, Wanless lamented, “The population and many politicians seem to be grabbing at whatever denial statements are tossed out. Seems a bit like smoker and alcohol addiction.”

Somehow, lamented FAU’s Ricardo Alvarez, an expert on structural vulnerabilities and hazard mitigation, denial of global warming has been absorbed into an ever more contentious competition between political convictions in the U.S. “It’s no a matter of belief. It’s not religion,” he said.

Climate is not politics. Not abortion. Not gun rights. Yet another Pew poll this spring found 75 percent of far right conservatives, 63 percent of libertarians and 55 percent of self-described “Main Street” Republicans did not “believe” in global warming. The denial doctrine seems to have been embraced by the contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, with the exception of Jon Huntsman, as a rite of passage.

Barry N. Heimlich, lead researcher on the FAU study, suggested Friday that the media has contributed to the gulf between science and the public. “By giving equal credence to positions that are not well supported by science, the media presents a confusing and distorted picture to the public,” he said. “I believe that the media has a responsibility to present all sides of a story, but it also has an obligation to emphasize the truth and provide people with the proper balance of information so they can make intelligent, informed choices based on information that is reliable, supported by facts and not manipulated by special interests.”

Yet Heimlich is something of an optimist. In a state dominated by right-wing politics, with a climate denier in the governor’s office, he said, South Florida has remained a relative island of climate enlightenment. Heimlich talked about the green initiatives by both the Broward and Miami-Dade county commissions and by city governments. He spoke of the sense of urgency among the 40 South Florida water managers he interviewed for the study.

Heimlich insisted that in the hundreds of talks he has given across the region, from schools to political groups to civic organizations, deniers are a diminishing presence. It could be that the utter specifics that Heimlich and his researchers have accumulated simply scare the skeptics into silence. Daunting facts just tumbled out of his mouth: add another six inches to the sea level, he said, and 15 of Miami-Dade’s 28 flood-gate structures lose their ability to drain the region. Those six inches are an imminent inevitablity.


A UN agency exhumes the old Ehrlich population scare

That birthrates in just about all developed countries are sub-replacement does not matter apparently. It is undoubtedly true that members of many African populations will starve in the future but they have been doing that for many years and all the best efforts in the world have so far been unable to stop them doing that. A major fallacy below is to regard the world's population as one undifferentiated whole. You can't get much more divirced from reality than that

But not to worry, we all disappeared in a cloud of steam in 1992 anyway:

H/t Steve Goddard

The United Nations will warn this week that the world's population could more than double to 15 billion by the end of this century, putting a catastrophic strain on the planet's resources unless urgent action is taken to curb growth rates, the Observer can reveal.

That figure is likely to shock many experts as it is far higher than many current estimates. A previous UN estimate had expected the world to have more than 10 billion people by 2100; currently, there are nearly 7 billion.

The new figure is contained in a landmark study by the United Nations Population Fund (Unfpa) that will be released this week. The report –The State of World Population 2011 – is being compiled to mark the expected moment this month when somewhere on Earth a person will be born who will take the current world population over the 7 billion mark, and will be released simultaneously in cities across the globe.

Some experts reacted with shock to the figure. Roger Martin, chairman of Population Matters, which campaigns on population control, said that the Earth was entering a dangerous new phase. "Our planet is approaching a perfect storm of population growth, climate change and peak oil," he said. "The planet is not actually sustaining 7 billion people."

The Earth has now doubled in population since the 1960s, boosted by high birthrates in Africa, Asia and Latin America as the spread of medicine and better healthcare has seen the mortality rate for young children decline. This has easily offset the general decline in the birthrate of advanced countries. It has also been boosted by an increase in lifespans of people across the world.

Some experts reacted with scepticism that the population would really hit the upper end of the predicted spectrum of growth and reach 15 billion so quickly. Professor Jack Goldstone of George Mason University, author of The Population Bomb, said that he thought world leaders would act to ensure the Earth's population would start to plateau below that higher level. "The means and the desire to reduce the number of children people have is spreading around the world," he said, adding that he thought a level of 10-12 billion would be more likely by 2100.

Many policy experts believe that governments and NGOs have the tools to limit and control the world's population. The key effort, many say, is simply making sure that effective family planning spreads throughout the developing world. "What's really critical is the political commitment of governments. Family planning is not actually that expensive," said John Bongaarts, vice-president of the New York-based Population Council.

However, campaigners on family planning issues often come across cultural and religious factors that make educating women and reducing the size of families difficult.

Some governments make a point of trying to increase their populations, while many religious groups preach against the use of contraceptives.

The Population Research Institute, a Virginia-based group linked to anti-abortion organisations in America, last week welcomed the news that the world's population was set to hit 7 billion this month. "Humanity's long-term problem is not going to be too many children, but too few," said the institute's president, Steven Mosher.


Greenpeace leader booted out by Indonesia

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, was denied entry to Indonesia because he would “threaten the stability of the country,” the immigration office has said.

“There was the possibility that [Sauven] would bring instability and disorder here,” immigration spokesman Herawan Sukoaji said on Friday.

When pressed for further details he declined to comment, saying that it was a “state secret.”

He also declined to comment on whether, as has been suggested, the private sector had anything to do with the ban. The state, he said, had the right to prevent entry to any non-Indonesian.

Sauven was turned back by immigration officials at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Thursday afternoon.

Sauven said in a written statement to the Jakarta Globe that in his more than 20 years working for Greenpeace, it was the first time he had been refused entry to a country.

“I had the correct visa, issued from the Indonesian Embassy in London, but apparently that doesn’t count for very much when fighting against companies who have powerful connections in Government. At immigration I was informed I am on a “red list,” banned from the country. No official explanation was provided,” he said.

He said that during his visit, he had planned to meet with several government officials, the British ambassador, one of Indonesia’s largest palm oil producers and visit an area deforested by a pulp and paper company in Sumatra.

Sauven denied that he had previously been refused entry to the country to attend a conference on deforestation where President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged to prioritize rainforest protection for the rest of his presidency.

Sauven said: “What sort of message does it send to the world about Indonesia when representatives from an environmental group working peacefully in support of the President’s stated commitments to stop deforestation are banned from the country, whilst the companies undermining those commitments in Indonesia continue business as usual?”



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