Sunday, April 27, 2008

climate review April (B)


Wahnsinn! Is it my imagination, or is the information really surging? So much happened in the past few weeks that a review of natural and human dimensions of climate change is reeling in the data surf. But it's all good. I'm happy that, as they say, the chicken comes home to roost. It's time. The events are playing out as expected. Peak oil is invading the lifeworld. The food crisis is happening. The biofuel alternative has failed. The American lifestyle, which created climate change in the first place, is being questioned even by the Americans and has emerged as a style that cannot be universalized. The biospherical costs of China's emulation of this lifestyle make it plain, as one of our students put it, that "China needs to take one for the team." Foreigners watch the American decline with worry but also with relief. The gloves are off in transatlantic dialogues -- although it hardly made news (but see also here), it's unprecedented that a German minister can state, without reprimand by chancellor, parliament, or public, that climatewise, Gringos are Neanderthals. Even in planetary terms, a villager can act like a moron and pretend to be retarded only for so long before the community regards him as the global village idiot and starts talking down to him accordingly.

The Gringo Square has four corners: the red-eyed Baby Jesus angle, in which the biosphere is static, a means, and about to end; the Adam Smith angle, in which free markets are the final solution; the David Hume angle, in which the causal chain linking US lifestyle to global warming breaks down into a skeptic's cognitive disconnect; and the angle of Ayn Rand, a selfish bitch who moons the globe.

And now these things, formerly so obscure and esoteric, evolve into trivial truths, which is fair enough. In this post, I shall arrange data under the following headings: climate change events; climate policy events; climate mystery meat; global milieu; enlightenment, and dis-enlightenment--and that should do it for the next two weeks.

Let's hope so.

Best link: Sea Level Rise Explorer

Best dude: Sigmar Gabriel

Best news: at last, bike sharing reaches US


... Scientists unveil high-res map of the US carbon footprint 4.7.
... The US nears the limits of its water supplies 4.8.
... US Center for Disease Control: climate change health risks 4.10.
... logging boreal forest could detonate 'carbon bomb' 4.10.
... link to Greenpeace's April 2008 Turning up the Heat
... melting causes lake in Chile to empty 4.10.
... warmer seas, overfishing spell disaster for oceans 4.11.
... as Australia dries, a global shortage of rice 4.17.
... E N Lorenz, a father of Chaos Theory, dies 4.17.
... March warmest on record over world land surfaces 4.17.
... sticker shock in the organic aisles 4.18.
... Greenland, instant Niagaras, and climate wars 4.18.
... US CO2 emissions to rise 23 % over UN benchmark: IEA 4.18.
... watching wolves, moose--and heat--on Michigan island4.19.
... Europe-Africa bird migrations undergo alarming decline 4.21.
... arctic ice going fast: last year, only 13% of new ice survived4.22.
... sun cycles not key to recent global warming 4.24.
... WWF warns Arctic ice melting faster than predicted 4.24.
... Greenhouse gas levels rose in 2007: US agency 4.24.
... narwhals at risk 4.26.
... carbon dioxide, methane rise sharply in 2007 NOAA 4.24.8
... CO2 now at 385 ppm NOAA AGGI plus graph.


... New Zealand speeds up exportation of top soil to China 4.8.
... the World Bank's carbon deals 4.11.
... World Bank "playing both sides of the climate crisis" 4.11.
... financing crucial to next climate change pact: UN 4.12.
... what price a clean planet? OECD / Enviro Outlook 2030 OECD
... climate change has a new battleground: coal plants 4.14.
... M Klare: the end of the world as you know it4.15.
... Bush climate plain said too little, too late 4.17.
... Bush climate plan under fire 4.17.
... Stern Review author: bleaker climate change picture 4.17.
... Paris talks on global warming 4.17.
... George Bush and the Neanderthals 4.17.
... EU lukewarm on Bush climate plan 4.18.
... EU set to scrap biofuels target amid fears of food crisis 4.19.
... US climate plan branded 'Neanderthal' 4.18.08
... Bush and the Neanderthals 4.18.08
... the climate-changer-in-chief speaks official US link
... Bush called out as Neanderthal official EU link
... climate a 'life and death' issue for native peoples 4.24.


... Moron U 4.10.
... US climate skeptics complain of being silenced April
... Iwo Jima Vets blast Time's Environmental cover 4.18.
... F*ck the Earth Day 4.22.


... China to consume 63% more oil in 2020 compared with 2006 4.8.
... the last days of cheap Chinese goods 4.8.
... victims of the Bhopal disaster: abandoned to their fate 4.9.
... Euro scores record highs against dollar, sterling 4.10.
... Oil at $ 112 4.10.
... starving Haitians riot as food prices soar 4.10.
... Soros prophesizes doom 4.11.
... sounds the alarm again 4.11.
... G7 passes plan to ease credit woe 4.11.
... Cheney, others OK'd harsh interrogations 4.11.
... US Treasury Secetary says food price controls won't work 4.13.
... Beijing combats pollution ahead of Olympics 4.14.
... biofuels getting blame for high food prices 4.15.
... global hot spots of hunger set to explode 4.15.
... Oil at $115 4.16.
... 'threat' to future of Russia oil 4.15.
... Iraqi militias use food as recruiting tool, report says 4.15.
... global warming rage lets global hunger grow 4.19.
... it's time to scrap the ethanol boondoggle 4.18.
... across globe, hunger brings rising anger 4.18.
... Asian food crisis has political and civil implications 4.18.
... darkness starts to fall across America's malls 4.20.
... food rationing confronts breadbasket of the world 4.21.
... Oil at $117 4.21.
... San Fran Bay Area shoppers asked to limit rice purchases 4.21.
... Japan's butter shortage result of agri commodities crisis 4.21.
... Euro hits record high of $1.60 after US housing data 4.22.
... Oil at $120 4.22.
... Euro breaks through $1.60 as dollar slumps to record low 4.22.
... Earth Day 4.22.
... climate change 'may put world at war' 4.23.
... Indians collect debts from Americans 4.23.
... gas hits $3.60 a gallon 4.28.
... behind record oil prices, troubling signs in production 4.28.
... industry trackers expect $10 gas in 2-3 years 4.28.
... Americans unload prized belongings to make ends meet 4.29.


... Nine healthy habits 4.3.
... Spain's gain from wind power is plain to see 4.8.
... growth in 'green-collar' jobs 4.8.
... are you unhappy? Is it because of consumer addiction? 4.11.
... how to change the way we think about water 4.11.
... the Munich lifestyle 4.13.
... California OKs think tank on global warming 4.11.
... NAB 2008: Tim Robbins decries media 'abyss' in NAB keynote 4.14.
... if you care, eat less meat 4.15.
... 10 fixes for the planet 4.14.
... we can save the environment and get rich 4.17.
... how to get rid of junk mail in 7 minutes or less orig '07
... D Jackson: one less burger, one safer planet 4.15.
... green roofs popping up in big cities 4.15.
... G Monbiot: we aren't going to become vegetarians 4.18.
... J Godoy: but what is good about biofuels? 4.18.
... T Boone Pickens makes big bets on wind 4.18.
... Gore says laws must change 4.21.
... Toyota takes 1Q world sales lead from General Motors 4.23.
... Oil prices to double by 2012: Canadian study 4.24.
... two major US retailers ration rice amid global food crisis 4.24.
... G Hunsinger: history will not absolve us 4.25.
... Sweden takes lead in cutting carbon tracks of shipping 4.25.
... bicycle-sharing program in NYC first in US 4.27.


... Top 10 most useless consumer items Mar 08
...Before you write that next check to the Sierra Club 3.28.
... US attempt to control Iraq's oil continues 4.7.
... J Kunstler: blind spot 4.7.
... the administration that has given us a mess 4.12.
... rush to biofuels is driving up the price of food 4.12.
... the Cairo lifestyle 4.14.
... L Skenazy: cellphone holdouts are right: buy phone, become baby April 08 repost, orig '07
... Bush to announce intermediate goal for CO2 emissions 4.15.
... McCain offers deeper look at economic policies 4.15.
... T Rall: the cavalry isn't coming 4.16.
... T Whipple: the peak oil crisis 4.17.
... global food crisis and bad policy 4.17.
... it's 1984 at the Wall Street Journal 4.18.
... US concentration camp update 4.19.
... US poll: all atmospherics, no climate 4.19.
... G Collins: the fat Bush theory 4.19.
... J Holland: life expectancies dropping, wages falling 4.23.
... US has less than 5 percent of world population but almost a quarter of its prisoners 4.23.
... E Fiske: a nation at a loss 4.25.
... environmental cost of shipping groceries around the world 4.26.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Neanderthal Earth Day 2008


Today was Earth Day. It was a beautiful day throughout. Now it's a few hours after dusk. A few hours after dawn, with the sun still hanging low in the sky, we headed out and into the forest near the river, a mix of oak-palm hammocks and sandy pine flatwoods. Trails are maintained by a group of mountain, uh, swamp bikers. They're nice and don't mind barefoot optimodal runners. I'm happy that more and more people around here discover and enjoy the woods. I'm a bit weirded out, though, that these "greenest of the Green" around here tend to drive gigantic SUVs, GMCs, Tundras and the like. What's up with that? Eventually some foreign anthropologist is going to write a book on this: in the Southern US, driving a two ton elephant with studded tires and a bike rack on back signals local love of nature.

Later I bicycled to work. From home to campus there are no bike paths; the Tampa city government hasn't figured out how to build them yet. So I head out on a 50 mph four lane road, balancing at the paved edge while the snarling grilles, chrome bumpers, spinning hubcaps, and roaring engines zoom by, and try to stay on the lookout for inattentive drivers -- which requires to violate road regulations and to bike against the traffic flow. But then again, how else to be safe and to see the Americans? (A thought for comfort: only dead fish float with the current.)

Zipping across the Citgo 7-11 parking lot makes me marvel, like every day, about peak oil and rising gas prices. A speaker once came to a class I taught on sustainable community design, and he told us that the Tampa Bay area would build a light rail mass transit system only if it were profitable, but as long as the gallon of gas costed less than a buck, mass transit wouldn't pay for itself. Yet one cent higher than $ 1.00 per gallon, and all the numbers would start checking out. That was -- when? 10 years ago? Now it sells for $ 3.49/3.61/3.71, with diesel at the Shell Station at $ 4.15, and they still don't allow trains or trolleys around here. Buses are few and far in between; with bus stops without schedule or shelter, so you can't use them. Thus all Americans drive. And one Mad Hun is bicycling. I see one Chinese man who walks. How high do prices need to go before patterns will shift?

On campus, there is Earth Day celebration. The Anthropology club is there; the Philosophy organization shows up, and there are tables with stuff. I stop and chat with the good folks there. I see one (1) other professor. The University of South Florida has one thousand (1,000) faculty and staff. I see about twenty (20) students there. The University of South Florida has thirty-five thousand students. This is the Green Revolution 2008 at a Florida research university -- less than one tenth of one percent care. I smile and roll on.

This is the last week of classes. The Climate Seminar -- the last one the Honors College allows -- is coming to an end. The students give concluding presentations and are turning in their research papers. When I compare their performance to how we began in January, I'm happy to see how much they've learned. Spring term started a week after the year of records had ended. And what had happened since then? The world seems to be tumbling beyond last year's tipping point into the first phase of real instability. There are now food riots in the developing world; food shortages in the developed world; and the first signs of food rationing in the United States (see also here; for the blog reaction abroad see here).

The former chief economist at the World Bank, Lord Stern, told the Financial Times on April 17 that the Stern report on climate change underestimated the risks of global warming ... and should have presented a gloomier view of the future.

Well, that's nice to know, eh?

But at least the German government has finally grown itself a set of brass balls. What brought this on was that on April 16 the climate-changer-in-chief acknowledged that "here in Washington, the debate about climate change is intensifying." Ain't that great? The moron-at-the-helm, the US Petro-Nazi, now thinks that there is a debate!

So Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's Federal Minister of the Environment, put out the following press release (I translate):

The [U.S.] president gave a disappointing speech, which fails to do justice to this global challenge. His words fall behind [the 2007 Climate Summit at] Bali; indeed, they even fall behind [June 2007 G-8 Climate BS Summit at] Heiligendamm. In Paris, today and tomorrow, there is the third Meeting of Major Economies (MEM). Bush's speech carries the risk of undermining the MEM process, which had been initiated by the United States. Without binding emission caps and reduction goals for the industrialized countries it will be impossible to stop climate change. Europe and the US must lead if others are supposed to follow. But instead, the [American] president, with his proposals, is hopelessly lagging behind the problems. His speech could be summed up in the words: losership instead of leadership. We are glad that there are also other voices in the USA.
Neat about this German government declaration is the title of the official release: it says Gabriel criticizes Bush's Neanderthal speech.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

climate review April (A)


At the University of South Florida, things are surely looking as if they're now slipping into the long emergency.

The great downsizing has begun.

Three five departments in the humanities may be disbanded.

The Honors College prohibits teaching climate seminars 2009.

Honors' rationale: only natural scientists have legitimacy teaching the data; the natural scientist at Honors is quitting USF; other natural scientists interested in teaching Climate Seminars are not invited; and while social scientists, economists, etc can study it, they shouldn't teach it ... they might teach "propaganda".

Nice going, Honors. That's, like, so "outstanding"!

There are alternative views on the role of the humanities regarding climate change, but never mind.

Best graph:

High-res here (thanks Wired). This image shows carbon footprints. The bluer, the better; the redder, the worse. Here's the Vulcan Project video on quantifying fossil fuel CO2 emissions over the US, by the Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at Purdue. The New York Times calls this visualization quite politely "the breath of a nation".
I'd rather be frank and call it "the exhalation of climate change".

Best perspective:

The Sanity of Downshifting 3.28.08 Ecologist

Best quote:
And like whoever wins the presidency, Obama can never acknowledge any significant truth, such as that the nation is waaay beyond being just broke, and is even a net debtor nation to Mexico, or that the greatest touch-me-not in the US political flower garden, the "American Lifestyle," is toast.

Joe Bageant, via idleworm


... Los Angeles considers global warming tax 4.7.
... Climate debate shifts as emission caps are not enough 4.6.
... New heat on Bush environment chief 4.5.
... World Bank accused of climate change "hijack" 4.4.
... Coal power policy under science attack 4.3.
... Can carbon offsetting help the planet? 4.3.
... IMF: climate fight need not dent growth 4.3.
... Bangkok intersessional aftermath (deutsch) 4.4.
... Bangkok intersessional (fran├žais) 31.3.
... Bangkok Climate Change talks (UN link)
... next: 2-13.6.08 Bonn, Germany; 1-12.12.08 Pozna├▒, Poland


... Al Gore: New thinking on the climate crisis (video)
... Same link, below the vid: the 60-odd comments (up to 4/9) highlight the level of skepticism in the US. Seen in this light, the USF Honors College is not fringe; locally it's mainstream.
... 2008: the year the world will cool down 4.7.
... Worldwide water shortage on horizon 4.3.
... Ecosystem flips imperil world's poorest regions 4.3.
... China drought worst in decades 4.2.
... Florida drought's grip may be loosening 4.2.
... Ocean cooling and global warming 4.1.
... state of the planet conference Columbia U 27-28.3. blog / site
... Geo-engineering: capturing emissions 3.30


... T Turner: global warming will lead to cannibalism 4.3.
... Why Christians shouldn't care (April)
... Maunder minimum Google groups (spring 08)


...US torture, Diego Garcia 4.9.
... peak oil review 4.7.
... P Krugman: food crisis and climate change 4.7.
... American decline I 4.7. ./ English /Italian
... American decline II 4.6.
... American decline III 4.6.
... Bush officials will be indicted for war crimes 4.6.
... American decline IV 4.6.
... B Maher: biofuel boom 4.4.
... American decline V 4.4. / English
... U.S. droughts endanger Canada's water 4.4.
... Extreme weather starving Uganda's pastoralists 4.3.
... Will the US solve the climate problem? 3.29.
... Tech keys to climate protection March 08
... Climate change as market failure March 08
... American decline VI 2.15.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

climate review March (B)


March/April 08 Foreign Affairs 87.2 (2008): 63-77:
Scott G. Borgerson "Arctic Meltdown: The Economic and Security Implications of Global Warming"

... quote I (first paragraph, p. 63):

The Arctic Ocean is melting, and it is melting fast. This past summer, the area covered by sea ice shrank by more than one million square miles, reducing the Arctic icecap to only half the size it was 50 years ago. For the first time, the Northwest Passage--a fabled sea route to Asia that European explorers sought in vain for centuries--opened for shipping. Even if the international communtiy manages to slow the pace of climate change immediately and dramatically, a certain amount of warming is irreversible. It is no longer a matter of if, but when, the Arctic Ocean will open to regular marine transportation and exploration of its lucrative natural-resource deposits.

... quote II (in the text, p. 65):

The Arctic has always experienced cooling and warming, but current melt defies any historical comparison. It is dramatic, abrupt, and directly correlated with industrial emissions of greenhouse gases. In Alaska and western Canada, average winter temperatures have increased by as much as seven degrees Fahrenheit in the past 60 years. The results of global warming in the Arctic are far more dramatic than elsewhere due to the sharper angle at which the sun's rays strike the polar region during summer and beause the retreating sea ice is turning into open water, which absorbs far more solar radiation. This dynamic is creating a vicious melting cycle known as the ice-albedo feedback loop.

... quote III (last paragraph, p. 77):

Washington must awaken to the broader economic and security implications of climate change. The melting Arctic is the proverbial canary in the coal mine of planetary health and a harbinger of how the warming planet will profoundly affect U.S. national security. Being green is no longer a slogan just for Greenpeace supporters and campus activists; foreign policy hawks must also view the environment as part of the national security calculus. Self-preservation in the face of massive climate change requires an enlightened, humble, and strategic response. Both liberals and conservatives in the United States must move beyond the tired debate over causation and get on with the important work of mitigation and adaptation by managing the consequences of the great melt.


"Kyoto II" climate talks open in Bangkok 3.31.
... UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Intersession Meeting Bangkok Climate Change Talks 31 March to 4 April
... UN FCCC Bangkok intersessional Agenda
... UN FCCC Bangkok intersessional Schedule
... UN FCCC Bangkok intersessional Webcast


World first & largest commercial tidal stream energy generator in EU 3.31.
... American decline I 3.31.
... European cargo spaceship in orbit 3.31.
... American decline II 3.31.
... Asian rise 3.31.
... American decline III 3.31.
... Peak Oil game (multimedia links) 3.31.
... World Bank climate profiteering 3.31.
... Sportsfans boo Bush (video) 3.31. ... Stadium visitor told to hit delete button
... Rising food prices 3.31.
... Karl Rove is Grendel (video) 3.30. ... Rove hated by his neighbors
... Earth Hour review 3.30.
... Al Gore on Flat Earthers (video) 3.30.
... Peak oil, peak water 3.30.
... Climate mitigation: biofuels suck 3.29.
... Sustainable design: congestion pricing 3.28.
... Canada v. seal pups 3.28.
... Climate change: US infrastructure is f*cked 3.28. ... ... Climate change: US infrastructure is f*cked (pdf) US Climate Change Science Program
... Legal fights of the future 3.27.
... Unsustainable Bushonomics 3.27.
... No maglev for Munich 3.27.
... The clean energy scam 3.27.
... Antarctic Sea Pine passage has opened 3.27.
... A recipe for disaster 3.26
... Republicans steal the vote 3.26.
... Islands drowning in plastic 3.26.
... New solar power 3.26.
... Bush is evil 3.26.
... Yukon Flats NWR v. Bush 3.26.
... Track carbon footprints 3.25.
... American decline IV 3.25.
... Melting tundra, trading tusks 3.25.
... Antarctic Wilkins breakoff 3.25. ... West Antarctic chunk collapses
... Peak oil & dumb Bush 3.25.
... Las Vegas future (pics) 3.24.
... US Fed climate censorship (Hansen interview) 3.24.
... China-US pollution path (pics) 3.24.
... B. Fagan The Great Warming (review) 3.24.
... Running out of rice: climate-crop feedback 3.24.
... Unsustainable Bushonomics 3.23.
... Climate mitigation: save the rain forest 3.22.
... carbon trading as climate mitigation tool 3.20
... American decline V 3.20.
... Invest in railroads 3.20.
... Melting glaciers, dwindling food 3.20. ... Melting glaciers, shrinking harvests in China/India
... Running out of water: climate-drought feedback 3.13.
... Hong Kong's hot future 3.12.
... China emissions to swamp Kyoto reductions 3.11.
... Green homes are red hot 3.8. ... How to green your home (quiz)


... 2007 Climate records World Wildlife Fund Dec 07
Climate change 2007 update Green Facts (Switzerland) Dec 07
Climate change jelly fish effects Telegraph Nov 07
The first climate casualty: Bangladesh The Nation Apr 07
A climate repair manual Scientific American Sep 06
James Lovelock homepage