Saturday, January 10, 2009

climate review January (A)

The United Nations released the Human Development Report (HDR). There is the usual time lag from data collection (through 2006) to published interpretation (Dec '08). The last report, over a year ago, was Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world. The new one is On the Move. The focus is migration. It reflects the fact that global distributions of resources and cababilities are now quite unequal. That climate change and mass migration follow one another is fitting, for the former, in practice, implies the latter.

The HDR contains the Human Development Index (HDI). This index is a summary of data on literacy, educational attainment, per capita gross domestic product (GDP), and life expectancy. A year ago, the US held rank 12 on the HDI (2007 pdf p. 229). Eight years ago, at the start of Bushism, the US had been on rank 6 (HDR 2001 pdf p. 141). In the 2008 HDR released a few weeks ago, the decline continues. This time the Bushist US has fallen to rank 15.

Top political entity overall, according to this quantification of flourishing, is the European Union. Top ten nations are Iceland, Norway, Canada, Australia (down 1), Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. The US is flanked by Austria (14) and Spain (16). What the ranking does not tell us is the nature of the average. In Austria or Spain, the average, say over per capita GDP, reflects a sound Gaussian curve, with a broad social bulge in the middle. In the US, such averages refer to sickly bipolar distributions, illustrated by a dwindling middle class.

Criticisms concern the HDI's failure to account for sustainability. The annual HDI analysis is terrific and valuable info, but rests on a flawed premise--the assumption that human well-being is isolated from environmental impact. When the UN changes this, presumably in one of the future HDR's, odds are the results will be surprising. Chances are the US will plummet like a led zeppelin in the ranking. After all, the systems structure of the US at present is unsustainable.

Right now, an alternative analysis, which involves conventional HDI synthesis plus sustainability data, is done by the New Economics Foundation (NEF). NEF publishes the Happy Planet Index, which has a nice acronym: HPI (say it loud!). The happiest states are island nations and some Latin countries. They are followed by China (# 33), East Asian countries, and more places in Latin America. Next come European nations (Netherlands # 70; Germany # 81). Canada, a nice country but an oil-hog, is # 111. The US craters at rank 150, close to Rwanda (# 152). Over human development plus sustainability, the USA, due to Bushist ideology, is such a failure that its niveau of sustainability makes it similar to Rwanda. US Americans are at the anthropological limit. Turbo capitalism, pathological consumerism, postmodern relativism, and amerigenic climate change have made them go against the dao. Now the dao goes against them.

Locally, the American Disenlightenment goes on. Folks are defensive but unchanged. Tampa continues to be trainless. The University of South Florida continues to be without solar. USF administrators continue to debate whether a sustainable switchover is worthwhile. And I continue to be grateful for living in such historic times in such a radical place. If I were in Canada or another enlightened society, I'd suffer, forced to watch the madness from afar. Being here, in the American bathos, gives me a sense that I might make a difference.


"the Moron Crescent"

Usage: "... the Jesus-soaked Nascar fans who inhabit the Moron Crescent that runs from West Virginia south through Dixie and then west into Idaho. "
Jim Kunstler, Farewell GWB, Clusterfuck Nation 1.5.09.

"Lemon Socialism"

Usage: "Call it 'lemon socialism' -- the auto bailout engineered by North America's two neo-con governments as the year ended is an exercise in putting deadbeat corporations on the dole."
Wayne Roberts, downhill from here, Now Toronto 1.7-14.09
(Thanks Scott Schneider for this text!)

"Sunrise Industry"

Usage: "What we really need is investment in local infrastructure for sunrise industries that make the things we need, thereby shifting the focus from mobility of goods to local provision and access."
Wayne Roberts, downhill from here, Now Toronto 1.7-14.09

"Sunset Industry"

Usage: "By contrast, auto is a sunset industry from the horse-and-buggy era."
Wayne Roberts, downhill from here, Now Toronto 1.7-14.09


C Booker is Jan '09's proud recipient of the "liar, liar, pants on fire" award, for the delightful essay 2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved, Telegraph 12.31.
For a reality check, see the '08 climate data analysis by Tamino 1.8.


Fiji: floods 1.11.
Greenland: maybe no massive meltdown? 1.11.
Europe: brutal freeze 1.10.
Australia: extreme heat 1.10.
Spain: freak snowstorm 1.9.
Alaska: extreme cold 1.8.
Washington State: heavy flooding 1.7.
Washington State: record snow 1.7.
Australia: reef decline warns of ocean changes 1.2.
Planet: coral reef growth slowest ever 1. 2.
Washington State: state of emergency 12.30.
Planet: Naturkatastrophenschaden $ 200 Mia '08 12.29.
Planet: natural disasters killed over 220,000 '08 12.29.
Midwest: flooding threats 12.29.
Chicago: icy roads worst ever seen 12.26.
Greenland: glaciers lose ice faster 12.23.
Planet: Klimawandel bedroht Artenvielfalt der Seen 12.22.
EU: Klimapacket verabschiedet 17.12.
Germany: 2008 eins der wärmsten Jahre 12.16.


US: Bush reverses Forest Service rules 1.6.
US: Bush burns the 'midnight rules' oil 1.4.
UK: Lord Stern hopeful over US change 12.31.
US: court reinstates pollution rule 12.23.
EU/US: el clima también espera a Obama 12.13.


China: sustainable, quake-proof, zero carbon schools 1.10.
Germany/South Africa: "climate fix" ship dumps iron 1.9.
EU: emergency declared across Europe over gas 1.8.
US: flight powered with biofuel takes off 1.7.
China: größtes Solarkraftwerk der Welt 1.3.
EU: airlines step up search for viable biofuels 12.30.
UK: food needs 'fundamental rethink' 12.27.
EU: rail system moving full steam ahead 12.25.
US: first offshore wind-farm permitted 12.23.
EU: tough climate goals easier than feared 12.22.
EU: how to save the Netherlands 12.22.


US: even more obesity expected 1.10.
US: 33 percent overweight; 34 percent obese 1.9.
US: worst job market since WW2 1.9.
Mexico: risk of becoming a failed state 1.9.
US: Ecotopia's Callenbach makes comeback 1.7.
Polar Regions: climate change threatens conflicts 1.7.
UK: predicting unprecedented US $ collapse 1.6.
US: ex-detainee describes 6 yrs torture 1.6.
M Parris: managing an empire in decline, 1.3.
SvGelder, hopeful, terrified about 2009, 1.2.
RealClimate: 2008 climate year in review 12.31.
HDS Greenway, out with Bush, 12.23.
T Friedman, time to reboot America, 12.23.
US: the American cult of consumerism 12.21.
OECD: US faces deep problems, 12.9.


Wayne Roberts: downhill from here--bailout bomb 1.10.
Exxon supports carbon tax 1.9.
M. T. Klare: the problem of cheap oil 1.8.
NYT: the costly compromises of Oil from sand 1.7.
Tom Engelhardt: Bush's legacy of destruction 1.6.
Jim Kunstler: farewell GWB 1.5.
Bill McKibben: think again: climate change 1.5.
Jim Hansen, letter to Obama, 12.29.
Debbie Bookchin, time for utopia, 12.25.
M Ahmadinejad, Iranian Christmas message, 12.25.
J Freedland, Bush must face a reckoning 12.24.


Der Fluch des billigen Benzins in den USA 1.7.


C Holden higher temps seen reducing global harvests science 323
A Vieli/F Nick maybe no massive Greenland meltdown 1.11.
E Zorita how unusual is the recent series of warm years? GPR 35
Tamino 'taint likely (comments to Zorita) 1.10.
C Brahic billions could go hungry from global warming newscientist
V Smetacek iron-dumping 'climate fix' ship sets sail (A Wegener Inst)
P Berardelli after a brief vacation, La Nina is back science 1.8.
Tamino cold hard facts 1.8.
Weather Eye: the days of the little Ice Age 1.8.
A Revkin China's power surge ends (for now) dotearth 1.6.
Realclimate finalist for 'best science blog' award realclimate 1.5.
USGS: Sundquist Carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change
S Hopper (Kew Gardens UK): plants more vital than ever 12.31.
USGS: faster climate change feared 12.25.
O Heffernan a record year Nature Reports Climate 12.24.
A Mascarelli what we've learned in 2008 Nature Reports Climate 12.18.
J Bogardi here comes the flood Nature Reports Climate 12.11.

Recommended new climatology literature (via Real Climate 12.22.)

Lastly, via NewScientist, transcendent climate art by Harry Holcroft.

I'll post links to more science publications in the next climate review of this month.

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