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 royalsociety.org/live 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"