Sunday, February 19, 2006

Welcome Back, Professor Stott!

An excellent post from Envirospin. He has been quiet for a while but comes back with some astute observations that the global warming rhetoric is not going anywhere.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Greenland Ice Sheet is Melting

Here is another of those articles from the BBC. Yes, all ice sheets melt, otherwise glaciers would not form at all! But seriously, the research must be put into context. We are still coming out of the last Ice Age even though this warming trend has now been going on for 25,000 years. Sea level has been rising during this time. Sea level in some places has been dropping, however, due to tectonic adjustments.

For example, the Baltic Sea is currently rising in response to an isostatic re-adjustment now that the Scandinavian Ice Sheet is basically melted. Elsewhere in the world there are sea level changes that have nothing to do with ice melting - typically we can see plate tectonics at work along subduction zones, for example.

The article notes that if all the Greenland ice sheet melts then sea level will rise 7 meters. This would indeed have dire effects on many coastal cities. But, and here is the rub, sea level change is happening regardless of man's "interference". The problem is, we started building great cities on the sea shore long before geology was a science, long before scientists worked out that we live on a very dynamic planet. And now it is more convenient to blame something else for our poor positioning of so much "civilization" - isn't that what global warming is all about?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Nef

The BBC just can't stop issuing one report after another on climate change. They certainly keep this blog going with an interesting flow of facts and opinions.

Today's article is about an organization caled Nef. This stands for New Economics Foundation. Their web site states that

"nef is an independent 'think and do' tank. We believe in economics as if people and the planet mattered"

The article is about the "real" non-profits being made by oil companies. It also comes up with an intereting side issue, that the UK Treasury earns more from petroleum related taxation that the combined taxes on council tax, stamp duty, capital gains and inheritance tax combined. As a result, Nef contends that the UK Government has tied its own hands in dealing with the fossil fuel "problem".

I have a problem with Nef in that they are quick to criticize but slow to advance any alternatives. They have plenty of people (40) listed in their "about" page who seem to do nothing more than run committees and programs - example "Tim Jackson, Nef associate, well being"

BP has a corporate head office with not many more people than Nef yet it is capable of contributing to the world's energy needs (we do need energy!), it is capable of being profitable (even in the lean years) and is a good corporate citizen. Nef's credentials are that it likes to slag off one of the most successful industries on the planet.

Personally, I think the Oef (Old economics foundation) has a much better plan for the planet!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Oh my god, it really is a religion now!

This in from the BBC. I quote the "best" bit:

The leaders pledge to pray and work together to stop global warming

I'm at a loss for words on this one. After all, these people are the ones who preach that the universe was created 6000 years ago (plus or minus a few Old Testament generations) so I guess they have some biblical basis for global warming as well?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Tony's between and Rock and a Hard Place

Politics. It can be so difficult. Take Tony Blair's position on climate change. He has government scientists telling him of impending catastrophe, he has all the criticisms from the environmental lobbies, he has all the pressure from business and he has his own political survival to think about.

So, when MPs (who have virtually no responsibility in Government these days) put it to him that air travel needs to be taxed out of the skies, he is in a dilemma. Air travel has become a sacred cow in the UK. It supplies jobs, it supplies opportunities to get away from the weather, it supplies business contacts, it is one of the life bloods of society. So to suggest taxing it to save the planet is a difficult one for Tony.

His answer, naturally, is to deal the technological hand and suggest cleaner airplanes, etc. Which is good. But the truth is, air travel will continue to be an important contributor to pollution whatever the Government may consider doing. If you don't believe me, look at road travel. Every time the tax on petrol is increased there are those who say "we are doing something to cut back personal travel". But have you noticed how the roads don't get any less congested?

Virgin Trains has a better solution. They have a very clever ad out these days showing how much easier it is to travel from London to Manchester by train than to fly. One Virgin high speed train carries 447 passengers. That's a lot of people moving.

So the key is not necessarily taxation but investment in the right sort of transportation to get people where they want to be. You cannot take a train from London to the Azores but you can to Edinburgh!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Boris Johnson on the Religion of Climate Change

Boris Johnson is an interesting character. Not only a conservative MP he is editor of the Spectator and also a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph opinion pages. Like Mark Steyn he usually provides a "good read".

And today's piece is no exception. Focusing on "Dr. Gaia" James Lovelock's new disaster scenario book, Johnson admits to being a member of the non-scientific layity, but can't help ponder whether or not the whole climate change thing has become a religion. Welcome to the club, Boris!