Thursday, 17 December 2009

Who are you?

This from Al Gore in Copenhagen. Who are you?

Who are we?

If at some future date, the next generation faces the prospect of living in a world with steadily deteriorating prospects and no chance to reclaim the glories of this beautiful earth that we have enjoyed — if they look back at Copenhagen and ask, “Why didn’t you act? Why did you let this process fall into paralysis, and neither succeed or fail but become a symbol of futility? What were the arguments were again? You didn’t realize that we were at stake?”

If their conclusion was that the generation of human beings alive in the first years of the 21st century gathered together in Copenhagen with the leaders of virtually every nation in the world and instead of forthrightly addressing a mortal threat to the future of civilization, instead decided that the arguments were more important than the solution, that the compromises were just too difficult and allowed the process to fall into paralysis, thus condemning them to a life completely unlike what they deserve, they would be justified in asking of us:

“Who are you?

Didn’t you care?

Did you not feel any connection to us?”

The real source of the passion and the feelings that I have for this issue is a simple conviction: I don’t believe that’s who we are. I believe we are capable of rising to this occasion in spite of the difficulties. I believe that we are capable of resolving the remaining issues to the point where we can meet in Mexico City this July, in the aftermath of a successful action by the United States Senate in April, and conclude a binding international treaty that begins the process and builds our confidence and leads us to make bolder commitments and cuts in global warming pollution and provides the supports that are necessary until, like the Montreal Protocol process, we get to the point where we actually solve this crisis.

We can do it, we must do it, and as I have said many times, I believe political will is a renewable resource. Thank you very much.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The post-Copenhagen world?

Sigh. Just putting the latest MCFly (issue 29. Oh god, what a rod for my own back/enablement of my martyr complex).

And on the stepper last night read a rather fun (in a "we are so toast" kind of way) piece by Alex Evans and David Steven, of the grandly named Centre on International Co-operation.

It's about the post-Copenhagen world, and it's catchily titled "An Institutional Architecture for Climate Change." It was commissioned by the Department for International Development.

So, the authors do that "scenario" thing that we have Per whatsit and Vince Cable to blame for. You know, they come up with three different ways things could go over the next 20 years or so, then spice it up with some glib "humour" about Chelsea Clinton becoming prez and so forth.

Their three scenarios are - (drumroll please)

"In Age of Climatocracy, early success in negotiations nonetheless fails to lead to a sustainable deal.

"In Multilateral Zombie, an early breakdown in international co-operation is followed by the eventual emergence of a new order based on a patchwork of bottom up solutions.

"Finally, in Operating System, a long-term deal proves sufficiently robust to deliver results, based on an ambitious effort to integrate all aspects of international reform, and an approach based on agreeing shared principles and a long-term route map rather than just incremental initiatives. "

In all of these I think they ignore what some of the smarter climate scientists are trying to say. Susan Solomon and the "it's later than you think" line, Stephen Schneider and the "unpleasant surprises", Wally Broecker and the Climate Beast thing. You see, Evans and Steven live in the dumb-bell world, and either won't or can't think about it all going horribly tits up in uncontrollable ways. I'm reminded of what some Daniel Finkelstein wrote recently in the Times about Robert McNamara upon the old fraud's death
"The first less is this: that men of action want to act. They are paid to act, they are brought into government to act. From his very first visit to Vietnam, McNamara could have learnt- if he wanted to- how difficult things were. But he was an executive type and he wasn't about to tell the boss that he couldn't get the job done. So doubt was excluded. The facts were altered to suit the theory."

The men of thinking (and they're damn good at it, btw. Check out their Global Dashboard) want to think, and to plot out continuities. But we are facing such radical uncertainty that... Actually, maybe I am being unfair to these guys; I guess nobody pays you to throw your hands up in the air and say "fucked if I know" for 50 pages.

Good points are made throughout. Here's a small selection that resonated with me as I stepped away on the stepper:
"This demonstrates a crucial point: action taken on climate change today is fundamentally influenced by expectations of what will happen in the future. By extension, the primary task for climate institutions is to shape expectations about future policy responses over the very long time periods associated with climate change. " (p16)


"Today’s institutions are structured in such a way that assumes that:

The likely impact of climate change will be considerably less than predicted by the IPCC. Emissions are climbing at a rate that makes more rigorous stabilization levels difficult, or impossible, to achieve.

The cost of reducing emissions far exceeds the benefits, while there is little need to insure against catastrophic impacts. Countries, firms and individuals behave as if they believe that they cannot afford the transition to low carbon development.

Short-term economic imperatives outweigh longer-term interests, including both economic and – especially – non-economic ones. While there is growing appreciation of the damage we are doing to future generations, there is not sufficient commitment to overcome the obstacles to collective action.

The needs of the poor should be given less weight than those of the rich. The poor, both acros and within countries, will suffer far more from climate change."

(page 17)

And there's ammo to sling at Ed Miliband next he uses the "we're 18% below 1990 levels" line on UK GHG emissions. Maybe (just maybe) we are on our production, but not on our consumption, not if you count the "embedded carbon":

"Dieter Helm finds that on a crude calculation, the UK’s consumption of greenhouse gases increased 19% between 1990 and 2003, even though production declined 12.5% – in line with the UK’s Kyoto target.
Other research suggests that only around half of China’s rapid emissions growth is due to increased domestic consumption; the rest are exported.
In effect, rich countries have exported ‘dirty industries’ to emerging economies, who then hav to bear the cost of investing in technologies for reducing their emissions."
(page 21)

And a good point on the UNFCCC negotiations:

"In climate change, this problem is compounded by the fact that agreements are negotiated by environment ministers who generally have low status within their governments, and whose position becomes increasingly exposed as the potential impact grows of any deal on economies. One understandable response is to increase centralisation, both within national governments (as heads of state take increasing responsibility for international issues), and at a global level (where there is a trend towards escalating hard issues to fora such as the G8 and, more recently, the G20).
However, the problem with centralisation is that it comes with very limited capacity. At national level, heads’ offices have small staffs that usually have to focus on the urgent rather than the essential. At international level, the limited ‘bandwidth’ of the network of sherpas that prepares the G8 agenda means that summit outcomes more often tend towards headline-friendly ‘initiatives’ instead of comprehensive plans to manage global risks. " (page 23)

and the final bit I'll cut and paste (promise) is one dear to my heart, namely, the complete lack of work done on "softening up" people for the meaning of a 'successful' Copenhagen deal:

"Public engagement is therefore paramount. At present, to a surprising (and alarming) extent, international climate policymakers act as though what takes place in the climate ‘bubble’ is the key determinant of success.

"But in fact, recent experience underlines the extent to which publics matter in foreign policy. The European Constitution and its successor, the Lisbon Treaty, were both examples of agreements where policy elites successfully reached a bargain, but then found it bluntly rejected during the ratification phase by publics who had been largely excluded from earlier deliberations. Many other international institutions struggle with public apathy or antipathy towards them.

"Accordingly, it will be essential for policymakers to engage early in the process with non-state constituencies – not only to gauge what public opinion is likely to bear, but also to build a broader sense of buy-in in order to prevent catastrophic public-driven ‘wild cards’ from defeating agreements late in the process. Yet it is astonishing how little governments and international agencies are actually doing to prepare publics for the prospect of a far-reaching global deal on climate change – particularly given that such a deal will, after all, be designed to catalyse a massive change in public behaviour. " (page 39

In summary- read this essay, it is worth it. Just don't take comfort from the scenarios....

Monday, 8 June 2009

Brilliant denial/acceptance post on "Climate Progress"

I've used the "5 stages of grief" by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross a few times, and fellow PED author Marc Roberts' has done some great cartoons on the subject too.

So it was with great interest that I read Joe Romm's latest blog post -

Anti-science conservatives are stuck in denial, but for climate science activists the reverse is true.

The first three quarters of the post are about the various words you can use to describe so-called "skeptics", most of whose minds are made up, and are impervious to any reasoned or factual discussion. It's good stuff. But that on its own wouldn't have me urging you (yes, you, one single follower) to read the whole piece. No, it's when Romm continues that the fun starts -


And now let me end with what I promised — the five stages of grief in reverse.

Climate science activists begin with accepting the science. What else can one do? Science is the reason so many of us survived childbirth and childhood, science has fed the world, science is the reason computers and the blogosphere exist at all. And yes, science gave us our fossil-fueled wealth. I’m a scientist by training, but I just don’t see anyone can pick and choose what science you’re going to believe and what not. The scientific method may not be always be perfect in single studies — since it is used by imperfect humans — but it is the best thing we have for objectively determining what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen. It is testable and self-correcting, unlike all other approaches.

Really, you should read the whole thing, which ends with this-

Finally, you end up in a kind of denial. It just becomes impossible to believe that the human race is going to be so stupid. Indeed, my rational side finds it hard to believe that we’re going to avoid catastrophic global warming, as any regular CP reader knows. But my heart, in denial, is certain that we will — see “How the world can (and will) stabilize at 350 to 450 ppm: The full global warming solution (updated).” The great New Yorker write Elizabeth Kolbert perhaps best summed up this form of denial. Her three-part series, “The Climate of Man,” which became the terrific book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, famously ends:

It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.

It is impossible to believe. I myself can’t believe it.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Bent As A Nine Bob Note?

At last, a climate related link to the dismal tale of graft that has engulfed the two-faced pocket-liners that we entrust with our collective well being. Apparently they're a sorry shower of bent bastards. Imagine my surprise.

The circle is broken, etc...

Friday, 15 May 2009

On The Rebound

Researchers suggest that our self indulgence might diminish our cleverness, as we consume more of what we save in a "rebound effect".
What price water and food when there's no water and food.

Elsewhere, Russia reserves the right to wage its own wars for oil; the planet becomes increasingly unbalanced; marine wildernesses go the way of all fish.

Some fine urban pollution materials here, at Urban

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Active Listening

Burnout is bad for the environment.

There are ups and there are downs, and then more ups and more downs. Keeping a level head is tricky. Maybe we should spend more time in the garden.

"To get credit for preserving the ocean or avoiding deforestation is like getting credit for not beating your wife," Tony Haymet, director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, (climate feedback)

Monday, 11 May 2009


Whilst the usual oodles and squillions change hands across the boardroom tables, the actual hardware upon which we are apparently doomed to depend turns out to be a bit shit.

It seems we only stop shitting in the kitchen when we're constipated

The part of the brain that finds cars irresistible seems to be missing in my case, so I'm probably embarrassingly late with this. The Honda hybrid is called the Insight. Oh how we laughed.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Bad Dream Time

Global warming is bad for your health - particularly if you're an aboriginal Australian, a Pacific Islander or a polar bear

The British police drum up a bit more business for themselves

Friday, 8 May 2009

Infernal Combustion

Frank is feeling a little better today. Thanks for asking.

While the UK entrenches itself up to its neck in car culture, the scientific world debates whether it is best to starve us all and destroy our biodiversity in the name of biofuel or bio-electricity - whichever gives most miles per acre.
Those on two wheels had better watch their backs.

So many choices, so little accurate information.

What price action?

China and Italy invest heavily in renewables

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Elephants in da house

I didn't have room for the elephant.

We're going through the housekeeping like there's no tomorrow, borrowing ourselves into the middle of next week, whilst the tabloids bark nonsense. Oh well, what's the worst that can happen?

Some interesting background to the swine flu pandemic, from Craig Mackintosh

Monday, 27 April 2009

Divine Interventions

The old sunspot chestnut raises its head again, threatening to give comfort to the denialists and maybe temporarily mask some of the unpleasantness so it can all crash down on us at once.

We at Throbgoblins International all trooped off to our local independent cinema yesterday, to watch "In the loop" and duly laughed our collective teeth loose. I mention this because the Westminster Prince of Darkness has set up a rival energy and climate power-base to scupper environmental legislation on behalf of business.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Creative Differences

Shock-horror. It seems that the big polluters actually suppressed evidence and denied the conclusions of their own scientific advisors! Who'd have thought it. Shocking and wholly unexpected. I, for one, am shaken to the core that such paragons of civic and environmental virtue would stoop to such shit-splattering levels of sociopathic deceit.

Meanwhile, our fellow creatures continue to vacate history apace, whilst the diverse inheritance of evolution gets reduced cut by cut to what biologists refer to as "fuck-all".

More shock horror as humungous hive-building is seen as potentially risky strategy

The text of Al Gore's statement to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environmnent, (courtesy of Climate Progress)

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Equality and diversity

As indigenous peoples worldwide are variously disenfranchised, de-iced and supplanted by agrobusiness and rip-offsets, their representatives gather to ask for some justice.

Meanwhile, great rivers turn to wadis worldwide whilst others are dammed to a future of post-glacial dribbling.
Oh - and the land's turning to shit

Should anybody soaked in the western press coverage be interested in triangulating a more thoughtful response to Ahmadenejad's UN speech, the full text is here.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Industry Exhales

Ern is, perhaps, identifying a little too closely with his industry interests. He's not alone.
The US EPA paves the way for significant legislation by deciding that CO2 is hazardous to human health and well being, whilst The Uk gov't promises a massive investment in CCS infrastructure, whether it exists or not.

Ice and water continue to make the news

Friday, 17 April 2009

When Fixes Need Fixing?

Grist provides these two links to reports of pending agricultural collapse in the Punjab due to (profit driven?) over-exploitation of resources.

The Huffington Post posts this , by Lise van Susteran, on Moral Obligation

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Drinking for England

The director of WWF Scotland - Dr Richard Dixon - has suggested that energy wastage should be regarded in the same anti-social light as drink-driving, and should be punishable under the law.

We are invited to stop passing the buck, seeing as it is easier to regulate one person who consumes a thousand watts, than a thousand people who consume one each.

Elsewhere - NCAR research suggests that we are not quite toasted yet, and Cuba and Rwanda are allowed some lifelines.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Aggravated Protest

Just a quickie. Details are still a bit sketchy as I post, but it seems a mass protest now constitutes a conspiracy. Well, at least there were no fatalities. Small mercies, I suppose.

Elsewhere some context concerning the Somali piracy news-fest, and some things to back it up.

Some thoughts on robustness and efficiency from Grist, and some on fragility and incompetence, from the FT

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Elective Deafness

This weekend many of you will be celebrating the annual festival of Easter - when we commemorate the point at which our nation traditionally goes into ecological debt - consuming beyond our means and damning us and the rest of the planet to a joyful future of instability, expensively shagged soils and dry taps. We celebrate this with over-packaged chocolate eggs to demonstrate that we are blessed with the requisite amount of kiddy-friendly blind faith, and that we really couldn't give a toss.

The prognosis is poor, and we don't have time to "rinky-dink" with half-arsed, poorly financed quarter-measures.

Some folk would have us believe that what we need is to wait for the same people who got us into this mess - respectable, wealthy folks in nice suits - to come up with a new visionary realism that supersedes the green agenda and saves us at the last minute without upsetting anybody. And if they fail? Well, after 3 days we shall rise again....

We are steeped in messianic, exceptionalist thinking.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Wheels Within Wheels

Gordon Brown and sheep-dog Boris both make extravagant claims about the greening of their budgets and the blissful cornucopia of fairy dust technology that will miraculously trump the ugly realities of a finite planet. Should be worth a few votes.

It's a shameless re-tread of this early Frank strip.

Meanwhile the Lords of Saudi Arabia make a surreal plea for special consideration, and plans are laid at the Doc Fiendish Institute

It seems to be very deep in our genes, this buying and selling lark


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Choice and Prosperity

It's a conundrum, isn't it? Development and climate change. Such a dilemma -convoluted and labyrinthine, loaded and provocative. Whilst India pushes for escape from endemic poverty by pursuing a Nano for everyone, its' islands start to disappear, as do its' neighbours. The result of success will be failure. Hmm. Tricky. Plenty of arguments to be had there. Good job we're all totally focused on it and not distracted by beer and football.

Elsewhere the Murray dries up, as do the Cedars of Lebanon. Bankruptcy beckons.

The poles are not so far apart after all.

When even the CBI say we're not doing enough, we know we're in trouble.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

More nails in Satire's coffin

Truth is far stranger and dumber than fiction.

Noel Lynch brought the Tesco idiocy to my attention thus;

"Today's Guardian has a half page advert for TESCO. It is headed 'Turn lights into flights'. It shows a low energy light bulb and says that if you buy it you can get a clubcard voucher that you can turn into 60 Airmiles. So that's save a small amount of energy by buying a low energy light bulb and then consume a large amount of energy by flying an extra 60 miles. Doh!"

Quite so.

The Earth Hour folk drop a bollock with Alanis -really quite breath-takingly numb of them.

The Masters of the Universe would rather not be regulated, thankyouverymuch

We're probably all fucked now.

OPEC denies any part in Climate Change

An excellent cartoon from Martin Rowson in the Grauniad

Not a good week, on the whole. A lot of Obama-fueled Gordon Brown-nosing, coupled with a handful of pseudo-anarchist wankers playing to a phallanx of pseudo-journalistic cameras made for a poor display. Too much kettling and containment and predictably OTT PCs. A couple of non-committal half-statements at the end of an economists communique may quickly fade away.

Here's an excellent lecture by Dieter Helm. Succinct and informed and inarguably respectable.
(thanks to Richard Douglas via Marc Hudson)

Environmentalists should take the helm

When the Stern Review came out in late 2006, I scanned the papers to see if any of the Great and Good pundits would write something along the lines of-
"Er, ok, we misunderestimated the ecological consequences of rampant growth. We acknowledge that the greens, of various shades, got there first, about twenty years ago. So, in our new spirit of humility, we will now look at what greens are NOW saying, and engage with that seriously,- regardless of how deeply it offends our cherished beliefs- so 20 years hence, we're not making the same sheepish announcement that we're making today."
Yeah, right.

But now, Dieter Helm, a respected (and IMHO, from previous reading I've done, worthy of respect) economist specialising in energy policy, has come out and said "the Environmentalists are right." Helm is no swivel-eyed loon, and cannot be dismissed as such.

His lecture is extraordinary, and provides a HUGE stick for Greens to wave around in debates about economics, climate change, our way out of this grotesque mess that we in the West have created for everyone and everything on this rather lovely planet.

I'll quote a bit, but the lead up and everything is worth close attention. It's only 12 pages, but it's the most vital reading you will do for quite a while.

The environmentalists are right

What then can we conclude? First, the conventional economic growth model is at best highly misleading when applied to the big environmental question of our time. The environment is not just another factor input. Second, our consumption is far too high, and incompatible with sustainability. Third, by focusing on consumption rather than production, the developed countries have a dominant responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and biodiversity destruction – including much of that happening in developing and poor countries. Fourth, the solution to our environmental problems is therefore a significant transfer of wealth, resources and technology to the developing world.


The solution to our environmental problems is not wishful thinking. It is cold, hard realism. That has not been helped by the selective quoting by politicians from the Stern Report. It is time to tell voters some unpleasant facts.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Can the Can

The G20 and space-toilets

I can't imagine why this didn't end up extremely graphic and somewhat disturbing.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Apocalypse when?

This was much funnier in my head. Never mind. What d'ya want f' nowt?

Here's the link

The "revolution" gets underway, and we'll all be first up against the wall. The revolution will not be televised.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Songs of t'Apocalypse

What would you put on a compilation album of songs about the end of the world?
Excluding various strands of thrash/death/goth metal, natch.

"It's the end of the world as we know it" by REM
"The End" by the Doors
"We don't need another hero (Beyond Thunderdome)" by Tina Turner
"99 Luft Balloons" by Nena
"The Future" by Leonard Cohen

Less well-known/tenuous/tendentious
"Here at the End of the World" by David Rovics
"It's too late" by Carole King
"We'll all go together when we go" by Tom Lehrer

And this blog post on the same theme recommends "When the Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash

Taliking about the end of the world

No, that's not a typo: all will be revealed.

So, the latest New Scientist is out, and Fred Pearce, author of the superlative "The Last Generation" (among many others) has a frankly terrifying piece called "Arctic meltdown is a threat to humanity".

It starts grim:
'"I AM shocked, truly shocked," says Katey Walter, an ecologist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. "I was in Siberia a few weeks ago, and I am now just back in from the field in Alaska. The permafrost is melting fast all over the Arctic, lakes are forming everywhere and methane is bubbling up out of them."

'Back in 2006, in a paper in Nature, Walter warned that as the permafrost in Siberia melted, growing methane emissions could accelerate climate change. But even she was not expecting such a rapid change. "Lakes in Siberia are five times bigger than when I measured them in 2006. It's unprecedented. This is a global event now, and the inertia for more permafrost melt is increasing."'
and just gets grimmer.
'The rapid warming in the Arctic means that a global temperature rise of 3 °C, likely this century, could translate into a 10 °C warming in the far north. Permafrost hundreds of metres deep will be at risk of thawing out.'
and grimmer
'Schuur estimates that 100 billion tonnes of this carbon could be released by thawing this century, based on standard scenarios. If that all emerged in the form of methane, it would have a warming effect equivalent to 270 years of carbon dioxide emissions at current levels. "It's a kind of slow-motion time bomb," he says.'
There's the usual bit where scientists admit that they have (for understandable and normally admirable reasons) underestimated the speed and scope of the changes:
'Put together, the latest research paints a disturbing picture. Since existing models do not include feedback effects such as the heat generated by decomposition, the permafrost could melt far faster than generally thought. "Instead of disappearing in 500 years, the deepest permafrost could disappear in 100 years," Ciais says.

And the talik thing?
' What's more, if summer melting depth exceeds the winter refreezing level then a layer of permanently unfrozen soil known as a talik forms, sandwiched between the permafrost below and the winter-freezing surface layer. "A talik allows heat to build more quickly in the soil, hastening the long-term thaw of permafrost," says Lawrence.'

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Biochar arguments are batted about, technofixes bite the dust and market stalwarts call for state intervention in the energy markets to ensure renewables targets are met.

Meanwhile, borders go missing in Europe

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Socially unacceptable

Ed Milliband seeks to shame NIMBYs into following the cuckoo into silence, while German researchers tell us that money is a drug. Who knew?

Monday, 23 March 2009

Bear essentials

While humans concentrate on launching an "affordable" car for billions of bicyclers, and prepare to meltdown the amazon for palm-oil, the incredible shrinking polar bear seeks protection where it may

Water and space are at a premium

Friday, 20 March 2009

So... what are you advocating, exactly?

There was a meeting of scientists in Copenhagen this week, ahead of a meeting of politicians, ngos and several thousand well-paid lobbyists this December.

They basically said our situation is Very Very Serious. As they've been saying for a wee while now.

And then Mike Hulme, former top bod of the Tyndall Centre, made another of his very useful (not) interventions, which you can read here. Normally I'd say don't bother, but it drew this response (posted below) from a mate of PED called Leo Murray (you may recognise him from this or that)

Hi Mike,

Leo Murray here, of Plane Stupid and so on. I thought you made a very good point about the key messages statement issued by the conference organisers last week in your BBC article. I couldn't help but wonder what you sought to achieve by writing it though. I would urge you to read through the comments that have accreted beneath your piece, so you can appreciate the actual effect of such critiques of calls to action on climate change.

What do you think you're doing, exactly? This is not a rhetorical question. I ask because I am interested in the answer. You're no fool; the exception you took to the disingenuous nature of the Copenhagen statement is extremely reasonable. When we met you made a convincing case that your over-arching ethical consideration is to the principle of justice, although there remained some unresolved questions over how this relates to your disdain for any and all proposed practical responses to the ethical question posed by climate change.

This latest article is genuinely puzzling to me, as it appears to be a vivid continuation of an ongoing crusade to deliberately sabotage any attempts to formulate a political response to the challenge we face as a consequence of anthropogenic climate change. Whilst the rigour of the internal logic of your critique is not in question, the purpose of this public intervention most certainly is. These outbursts have a real and eminently predictable effect, and it is to militate against our chances of avoiding extremely severe adverse consequences for human welfare and prosperity - and against 'justice', for the myriad innocent victims of dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate systems, both in the global south and in generations to come.

Can this really be your intention? If not, you're not as clever as you seem, as this is a fairly obvious and concrete outcome of using your expert status to speak out against 'urgency' and 'action' of any sort to prevent such outcomes. But I don't believe you are stupid.

So... what are you advocating, exactly? Is criticising 'action' endorsing inaction, as it is universally read? Or do you have some other 'action' in mind that you haven't told us about? Something non-urgent perhaps? Can you really be being obstructive just to make a point? Really?

I'm not stupid either Mike, but try as I might, I just don't get what you're about. If you're trying to help - stop it. You're not helping.

Leo Murray

Bang bang, you're dead.

Frank is a cartoon character. Shooting people is wrong. Of course Frank would never actually DO anything like this. It's probably just a dream. We'll all wake up soon.

The great ice sheets may not be set to completely collapse overnight, but the processes being set in motion today will make that collapse unstoppable.

With our current "democratic" processes falling short, and road traffic increasing 25% in just 15 years, it looks like we're grabbing the shit end of the stick with both hands

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Baby, you're a rich man too.

Opportunities abound for those who dare, as China asks he who calls the tune to pay the piper, and we are all cordially invited to Cap the rich

Elsewhere, both Shell and the UK government go into bat for the opposition

Friday, 13 March 2009

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Cognitive Malfunction

Our closest cousins show definite signs of being... well... our closest cousins, while the Heartland Jamboree keeps churning out the misinformation. There's a lot of it about

I'm not sure whether I'm contravening RealClimate's "Advice to Climate Bloggers" number 6, or adhering to number 13 here. It's a complex situation

Oh, and this story sums us up nicely, don't you think?

Monday, 9 March 2009

Kevin Anderson on Copenhagen

I know Kevin Anderson. I like Kevin Anderson. I wish Kevin Anderson were wrong. But I don't think Kevin Anderson is.


"Two leading climate scientists have broken ranks with their peers to declare that hopes of getting a meaningful deal on halting global warming this year are already lost.

"Professor Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and Professor Trevor Davies, one of the centre's founders, told The Times that it was time to start looking for alternatives to an international deal.

"They made their comments on the eve of a three-day conference in Copenhagen this week in which thousands of climate change researchers will meet to discuss the latest discoveries in the field. The findings will be used in December when world leaders attend a UN summit, also in Copenhagen, to try to work out an international treaty on greenhouse gas emissions."


A question of taste

Readers from beyond these shores might like to insert the finance minister and business troll of their choice. Suggestions welcome. Thanks once again to Roy Bailey

While the Big Polluters hit the campaign trail and scientists warn that there's only a 50/50 chance of avoiding the shitstorm even under politics' best projections, the UK chancellor opts to pull the rug out from under any chances we might have.

Oh, and the police decide to bust the phantom custard flinger

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Human Sacrifice?

I may be being a bit previous here, as I have only one source for this story. Any confirmation or rebuttals welcome.

We in the west are so swamped with Christian and Islamist fundamentalisms that we spare very little media space for their Hindu co-delusionists.

As ever, the sea gets more toxic, and there's going to be a lot more of it, whilst clocks are cruelly turned back in DR Congo and the North of Ireland

Text is a verb

Today's stolen punchline comes with apologies to Roy Bailey who I saw today with Tony Benn at the Salford Lowry - inspiring as ever.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Still nothing to fear....

Another repost (plain lazy, me) to celebrate the Guardian's uncovering of what everybody already knew - that the police keep information about anybody and everybody who pops their head up to exercise their democratic rights. They maintain an extensive database of personal details. Its all terribly selective and contains only absolutely everything they can get on absolutely everybody. Far be it from me to suggest that they do this in an effort to intimidate the citizenry into accepting whatever comes their way.

We've - got - a - file - on - YOU!

Friday, 6 March 2009

News Corpse

Yes. It seems that Uncle Rupert will henceforward be using the unfathomable might of his media empire for good rather than, well, ...the other thing

meanwhile...In the spirit of quantative easing I went down to my local gargantmart with some freshly minted banknotes of my own design, in order to stimulate the economy. They didn't seem to appreciate the sound financial wisdom of my actions and there was an ugly scene involving a lot of shouting, some custard and a security guard. There's no helping some people.

In the news - there's a lot of stuff about Rainforests
and a lot of stuff about biofuels

Thursday, 5 March 2009


The expected punch lime was unfortunately a victim of structural adjustment.

This was sparked off by watching this video (which I must admit I abandoned half way when the flying saucers appeared) and reading this interview with Uncle Noam.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Birds of Prey

Birds - forever the canaries in our coalmine -are first off the blocks in the race over the edge. Our own migratory upheavals will not be far behind.

Meanwhile - The EU bottles out of Climate Funding for poor nations whilst the media call for it all to be left to the philanthropic urges of uber-capitalists (who have been doing such a bang-up job lately)

Monday, 2 March 2009

The only sane response

I alerted London-based friends to an upcoming seminar at the Royal Society (April 27th), given by Richard Leakey.
The title is "Climate Change and extinction."
Further details below these good suggestions from one recipient of the email...

No! Not of interest! Why would I want to go to a talk entitled 'Climate change and extinction'? Why can't you find me a happy seminar to go to? Like Willy Wonka Has The Answer: He's making Charles Fourier's utopia a reality, and using all the CO2 to turn the oceans into lemonade? Eh? Something like that? Planet Earth is Fucked But It's All OK Cos Willy Wonka Says There's Plenty of Room in His Great Glass Elevator? Mmm? Something like that? The Seas Are Rising But Worry Not, The Oompa-Loompas Will Build Us All A Dam. Come on. Get something like that put on at the Royal Society. Who's got Gene Wilder's number?

"Over one hundred years ago the first national parks were established in order that nature might be preserved for the enjoyment and benefit of the current and future generations. Today countless protected areas' for biodiversity are maintained at huge public and private expense. The question we must consider is whether our protection' strategies actually protect when the real threats are related to the current climate change.

"Mounting evidence suggests that the parks are in fact very vulnerable and mass extinctions may be the consequence.

"This lecture is free - no ticket or advanced booking required. Doors open at 5.45pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

"This lecture will be webcast LIVE at and available to view on demand within 48 hours of delivery.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Half in love with easeful death

There was a little piece in the Lex Column of this weekend's FT

Market stages of grief”- that used Kubler-Ross's “Stages of Grief” as a hook

“With tottering eastern European economies throwing an emerging markets crisis into the financial and real economy turmoil and trade levels collapsing in Asia, investors are not yet ready to move on to acceptance.”

That, and a fortuitous (for me, if not for you, gentle reader) unearthing of a scrap of paper suggesting that I compare the 'stages of dealing with your own mortality'/grief thing that Elizabeth Kubler Ross formulated and the Issue Attention Cycle of Anthony Downs, leads to this;

Kubler-Ross's “Stages of grieving”

Downs' Issue Attention Cycle



1. The pre-problem stage.

We've heard (and some have felt) the signs for a long time (20 years plus), but have stuck our fingers so far into our ears that they're now just about touching.


2. Alarmed discovery and euphoric enthusiasm.

A lot of the victims are getting angry. (Anyone taking bets on a vengeful nuke sometime in the next 25 years?) A lot of the perpetraitors (sic) are too deafened by the “ker-ching” sounds as they think about the carbon trading/money making scams that they see in all this to hear the mutterings.


3. Realizing the cost of significant progress.

The poor have nothing to bargain with. Within a few years we in the West will realise quite how much adaptation costs. For us that is. Screw the poor- we always have...


4. Gradual decline of intense public interest.

A lot of environmentalists (including some famous names who'll remain nameless) are battling a sense of hopelessness in themselves. And that's even before the inevitable clusterfuck of Copenhagen. The public has “gotten” climate change as much as it ever will, and moved on to the credit crunch and losing their jobs and houses and so forth


5. The post-problem stage.

Well, we are going to have to “accept” reality, at some point. Mother Nature doesn't do accounting tricks, or bailouts, after all. Post-problem stage? The only problem is that the public hasn't even really got its head around climate change. Properly I mean. You know, the feedback loops, the methane burp etc. We Don't Do Non-linear. We just don't. WAAGTD.


K├╝bler-Ross model

Up and Down With Ecology: The "Issue-Attention Cycle"

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Glass half empty

As 9 out of 10 firms ignore their supply chain emissions in calculating their climate impact, and the daily hate gets alarmed at something other than immigration, we hurtle towards Copenhagen without effective brakes

With thanks as ever to Dr Glenn Barry and Climate Ark for sterling work in digging up the links

Facilitating your protest in a safe and peaceful manner

OK, this post should have been done 6 weeks ago. What can I say, I'm lazy.

The image is the two sides of an A5 flyer the police gave out to each person who chose to take part in the "Northern Climate Rush" at Manchester Airport in January 09 . No "ticket", no progression through the revolving doors.

That sound you hear is Kafka chortling, with a Max Weber chuckle in the background.

The police, to "Facilitate your protest" were willing and able to say how many, where and when and how long this little 'disruption' (sic) would continue. You can hardly blame them of course. Given their responsibilities and the danger of real egg on face, who would have done anything differently?
But you can wonder at the tactical nous of the protestors, announcing exactly where you will be and what you will do months in advance, when nimbleness is about all you have going for you. What did they hope to acheive by this?!

So, let's look at the balance of forces after this little event.

The Police
Now have dozens of photos of every single person willing to walk through an intimidating paparazzi to exercise their democratic rights.
Have doubtless racked up some impressive overtime payments processing this vital intelligence.

The Airport Security and PR teams
See above.
Feel relieved that they didn't have to do a public debate like after the very recent (i.e. November 2007) previous action.

The Protestors
Um. What HAVE they achieved by this?
Other than damaging their own credibility by claiming there were nearly a hundred people there?
What do the people who attended now know that they didn't before? How were they inspired or empowered? What can they do that they couldn't before?
Was their time well-spent?
Maybe some felt it was, but the (admittedly few) that I spoke to didn't think so.

The onlookers
Did anyone watching make any connection at all?

God help us all.

BBC complaints- morons who can't read.

Yonks back I blogged about the December 6 interview Peter Sissons did with Caroline Lucas of the Green Party, where he trotted out a line we've not been subjected to for a while by the BBC, the "some doubt it's even happening" line.

Slightly less yonks back I got a reply to a complaint letter I sent.

Lucia Fortucci, of BBC information, kindly informs me that
"As an impartial broadcaster, we have to reflect all viewpoints. There are scientists who dispute climate change and Peter was simply pointing this out."
Bollocks. Bollocks on stilts. There are historians who dispute the Holocaust. There are tobacco company shills who dispute the cancer/smoking link. The BBC doesn't wheel these clowns out on Holocaust Memorial Day or when there's a Smoking-Bad-For-You story. As I pointed out in the letter I sent in, which she's not bothered to read...

Then Lucia tells me they have a website on climate change. No shit sherlock. I kind of already knew that, and it is patronising in the extreme to think that anyone who wrote in to complain as I did would be ignorant of this. The BBC correspondents do some very very good work on climate change (see here and here). Peter Sissons might try to pay attention to some of it.

What I got from Lucia is simply the "Send this crazy the bug letter" treatment. What a surprise.

Fourth World Reviewed (issue 149)

Latest "Fourth World Review" slaps onto the doormat. (Last issue reviewed here)

Highlights include;

a provocative list of actions for re-imagining society by Will Sutherland,
"It is such a shame we cannot use the brains that evolution has given us. We may not be fiddling while Rome burns but rather frantically shopping until the planet is destroyed. 'Me now and feck thefuture' is the scream of a culture that is barely out of nappies. It is ugly and pathetic and will be viciously removed by nature- a rather unpleasant prospect for our children."
"How Green became a Screen" by Keith Farnish
"Greenpeace, WWF, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and every other mainstream environmental organisation believe that you can "fix" the problems inherent inthe system, to make this planet a better place; that you can appeal to the goodness of politicians and industrialists to make them curb their destructive behaviour; that you can bring about a sustainable society by urging people to change their light bulbs, shower instead of bath, travel a bit less, offset their emissions and recycle."
True, but doesn't address the institutional reasons for this, making it not just an issue of ideology, but practicalities (maintaining the flow of direct debits, relations with ministers, the need for regular victories etc etc). And the Thatcherite call- "what's the alternative?" is, to me, unanswered, here at least.

Transition Today- Peter North sort of responds to critiques made by Trapese, except he sort of doesn't.

"Planning a New World Order" by Donald Henry is- for me- the highlight of the issue, showing the conflicts of interest involved in planning consultancies when they work for councils and retailers, and the toothlessness of the regulatory bodies.

John Papworth closes out, as he does in every 4NW I've read so far, with some pungent observations.
"The motive power of the global economic system seems to have collapsed, and the prints, both tablids and broadsheets, appear to share a common ground of utter incomprehension, manifest contradiction and a capacity for limitless self-delusion."

All in all, worth a read, worth subscribing, which you can by sending a cheque payable to Fourth World Transition

FWR, 96 Gayton House, Knapp Road, London E3 4BY

Sheeple, frogs and walking out

This Labour Government- slouching towards a massacre no later than June 2010- is like any other government, only maybe more so. Deeply suspicious of the population, unwilling to tell anyone what's going on [treating them like sheeple], and more and more up to its neck in alligators when it (says it) wanted to drain the swamp.

So, people opposing it, and its assault on civil liberties, should be trying to do the opposite, right? Telling folks what is going on, encouraging them to make links of their own rather than wait for Salvation?


I went to the Manchester "Convention of Modern Liberty" event this morning. I should still be there, but instead I am here at home, smashing my fingers into the keyboard in frustration.

The event programme looked a little passive for my liking- large chunks of time spent watching a bunch of the great and good pontificate in London, rather than figuring out what we are going to do, here, now, hearing about local successes, failures, challenges, lessons learnt. But still, a joined-up national conference is a worthwhile venture, and you got to dance with the one that brung you, so I sat there. And sat there.

The appointed start time of 9.45- to watch Shami Chakrabaty of Liberty give the keynote- came and went, with no announcement.

10am came and went and we were supposed to be watching video link of pontificators.

No announcement of welcome, apology for delay or -crucially- explanation of what was going on.

A few more minutes and then I went up to the front.
Me: "While we're waiting, can I encourage people [the room had filled up, but everyone was in rows, subdued] to talk to the people behind them?"
Chap struggling with a laptop: "For what purpose exactly?"
I was a little gob-smacked at that. Surely events like these should be about creating new networks, stronger weak ties? Or do the organisers imagine that everyone who attends will fall in serried ranks behind them and they'll then somehow magically storm the Winter Palace?

Anyway, permission granted, I gave a little spiel, and a fair proportion of people did indeed start talking to those behind them, or alongside them, and energy levels raised a bit.

And still we waited. No apology (and there were circumstances beyond the organisers control- the venue hadn't opened early enough for them). No welcome. Nothing.

If that's how No2ID treats potential members/volunteers, then I weep.

So I walked out. That's the law of two feet in action.

P.S. The frogs reference? Well, climate change and the erosion of civil liberties are both things that don't Happen Overnight. We aren't going to go to sleep one night in perfect liberty and wake up in a fascist regime. It is a slow chipping away, a steady erosion, where each new restriction seems not worth the effort to resist. Like, as the environmentalists are wont to point out, the frog: throw it in boiling water and it jumps right out. Put it in water of comfortable temperature and slowly raise the heat and the thing will just sit there, till it boils.

UPDATE: Reading through the Feb 23-March 1st edition of "The Big Issue in the North"- an excellent publication- I learn that "The convention is here so people can find others with similar concerns. And it's designed so that people can find groups campaigning in the area that concerns them and find things that they can go away and do."

Well, that may well be what the organisers aspired to, but they didn't begin as they meant to continue. Maybe it all got better later. I have my doubts.